Joining forces on a UK-wide publication (was AF/Platformist split)

What is this I'm reading on the news forum about an AF split? Clarification sought.

admin - this quickly turned into a discussion about greater co-operation between the UK anarchist federations, Freedom, Black Flag and independents on publications - discussion starts a few posts in

Posted By

playinghob
Mar 27 2008 22:34

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Django
Jun 16 2008 23:24
Saii wrote:
Quote:
I think we'd do a lot better with 1 good magazine, with organisational input from the 2 Federations

Well ideally, yeah. It's not like it'd be tremendously difficult to organise say, an editorial team which has mandated Fed members alongside independents, and turn over dedicated chunks of Black Flag (for example) to different groups in exchange for the security of financial backing/distro groups that would bring. The increased input could easily make for an on-time quarterly (or even bi-monthly) which was distributed right across the country and the only thing that would be lost content wise would be the dross.

The SWPs journal and Anarchist Studies are stocked in my local Borders.

Global Dissident
Jun 16 2008 23:53

I belong to the International Anarchist Federation of Myself and I subscribe to the constantly reviewed and improved Global Dissident Platform of Anarchistic Anarchy Anarchism which strongly opposes the unanarchistic, anti-anarchy anarchism which has become all too common these days.

georgestapleton
Jun 17 2008 00:12
888 wrote:
I'd be interested to know from teh people who left why they thought they couldn't work within the AF and move it ina more platformist direction.

Although I'm not one of those who left, I've sent you a PM to answer this.

Anarcho
Jun 17 2008 09:26
Saii wrote:
Quote:
I think we'd do a lot better with 1 good magazine, with organisational input from the 2 Federations

Well ideally, yeah. It's not like it'd be tremendously difficult to organise say, an editorial team which has mandated Fed members alongside independents, and turn over dedicated chunks of Black Flag (for example) to different groups in exchange for the security of financial backing/distro groups that would bring. The increased input could easily make for an on-time quarterly (or even bi-monthly) which was distributed right across the country and the only thing that would be lost content wise would be the dross.

That sounds sensible. As it stands now, Black Flag has a collective of 5 people. That can be expanded with delegates from specific organisations, however many seems sensible (at least 2, I guess). The magazine is currently 40 pages and a set number of pages can be given over to organisations to fill (numbers depending on numbers of organisations, probably but we could start with 10). Size could increase as well as frequency, assuming we can get the material and distribution sorted out. The collective would be accountable to the member groups, of course, as a group.

But I could see a very good magazine of 40+ pages coming out at least 6 times a year being produced relatively easily. We are capable of that, I think. However, whether the national organisations would want that seems a moot point.

Personally, in these times I think it is best if we work together. If this co-operation works and we grow then different organisations can produce their own material. But just now, it seems silly to waste resources, time and energy duplicating basically the same magazine (in terms of politics). But I've said this before, years ago, and nothing came of it. Still, if specific groups or individuals want to get involved in such a project I'm sure the Black Flag collective would be interested in hearing from you.

But surely this is all common-sense? Mutual aid and so on? smile

john
Jun 17 2008 09:38

I think the main stumbling block for this kind of proposal is that the different organizations see their publications as recruiting tools as well as propaganda. They'd therefore be reluctant to give up their existing publications. And as a result have no time left over for this kind of collective publication.

Anarcho
Jun 17 2008 09:40

Well, there is talk of having a Black Flag and Freedom meeting at this year's London bookfair, which may be expanded into a general meeting on the anarchist media (including other groups). Maybe that would bea good idea to organise?

My basic ideal for an anarchist media in the UK (in print) would be:

Regular free newsheets (by specific organisations or groups)
Freedom (supported, i.e., sold and written for, by all Federations and groups)
Monthly or bi-monthly Magazine (supported by all the Feds -- name to be decided).
Bi-annual or annual journal (a class struggle "Do or Die" sort of thin -- name to be decided)

In addition, joint leaflets for "big" political events (such as anti-war marches, that sort of thing).

Rather than what we have now, which is Freedom as well as various magazines (of varying quality, in terms of content and of layout, as well as frequency) which cover much of the same ground. That seems silly to me, particularly when some of them obviously has material which is filler.

That vision of a cooperative anarchist media would take time to create, but it is possible. Maybe if some groups start the process off, then others would join in?

Anarcho
Jun 17 2008 09:43
john wrote:
I think the main stumbling block for this kind of proposal is that the different organizations see their publications as recruiting tools as well as propaganda. They'd therefore be reluctant to give up their existing publications. And as a result have no time left over for this kind of collective publication.

yes, that could be an issue -- but I would argue that a more regular, better quality magazine would benefit all the organisations far more than a multitude of less frequent magazines with articles of lesser quality.

As for being reluctant to give up their existing publications, well, that could be an issue -- but progress often involves moving away from what we have to get something better.

Rob Ray
Jun 17 2008 09:56
Quote:
I think the main stumbling block for this kind of proposal is that the different organizations see their publications as recruiting tools as well as propaganda.

Easily fixed, you just have a strapline at the bottom of each piece with contact details for the Fed which has done it. Bearing in mind here, the recruitment value in any publication is in the potential for people to agree with its views enough to get in touch and try to find out more. As such, the best way of recruiting via literature is...

1. to put forward intelligent, well-researched and written views.
2. To do so to as wide an audience as possible.

Putting resources into one big and well-resourced publication while retaining editorial control over a section of it it the best of all worlds for the average Fed, as it allows them to put their best work forward, benefit from a wide range of skills to help them improve that work's presentation further and to do so to a wider audience than they can pull in on their own.

Django
Jun 17 2008 10:22
Quote:
Easily fixed, you just have a strapline at the bottom of each piece with contact details for the Fed which has done it. Bearing in mind here, the recruitment value in any publication is in the potential for people to agree with its views enough to get in touch and try to find out more. As such, the best way of recruiting via literature is...

1. to put forward intelligent, well-researched and written views.
2. To do so to as wide an audience as possible.

Plus aims and principles of groups and contact details in the back pages, along with sites, resources etc? The groups would be publicising themselves much better than currently if this happened, surely?

Mike Harman
Jun 17 2008 10:24
Jack wrote:
I'd also question how many people joined sol fed solely due to reading DA or AF due to reading organise?

I've certainly never met anyone in SF who discovered the organisation through (magazine incarnation) DA.

I remember quite clearly Direct Action putting me off SolFed, and quite liking one edition of Organise! which I read before I joined, although I joined the AF after meeting pingtiao, because he's so lovely.

I agree though that keeping hold of them because they might be used for recruitment seems like a pretty bad argument, and that having a very well produced magazine with your name attached to it would do better on that side anyway.

Additionally - a frequent, centralised magazine with good content would provide plenty of material for feeding into an annual organisation-only publication - I don't see it happening the other way 'round though.

john
Jun 17 2008 11:18

I agree that the strategy of publication-led recruitment might not be particularly successful - my point was more that the groups themselves get attached to them in this way.

on the whole, though, I think this kind of collective media production is a very good idea.

Why don't anarcho, Jack (Solfed) and someone in AF who agrees with this (presuming there is someone) put together a proposal that you can sell back to AF/Solfed - maybe you could also try the neo-platformist AF splinter group to see if they'd be interested?

Mike Harman
Jun 17 2008 11:49
jack white wrote:
Steven. wrote:
on a similar note I think it would be worth anarchist groups collaborating with libcom as a website as well, to make one decent paper, one decent mag and one decent website instead of loads of small, shit ones.

How would you see that working in practice? I'm not asking for a full blueprint but what kind of input do you think groups could have?

Personally I think this is less likely than a joint publication, however I think there's some stuff that could be done pretty much now, and this applies to publications as much as sites. For example Saii has been using libcom news articles as the basis of longer articles in Freedom, and reposting Freedom articles back to libcom news. What's missing at the moment is proper use of syndication - both reposting intelligently and decent use of RSS feeds - this applies to libcom as well.

georgestapleton
Jun 17 2008 14:02
Saii wrote:
Quote:
I think the main stumbling block for this kind of proposal is that the different organizations see their publications as recruiting tools as well as propaganda.

Easily fixed, you just have a strapline at the bottom of each piece with contact details for the Fed which has done it. Bearing in mind here, the recruitment value in any publication is in the potential for people to agree with its views enough to get in touch and try to find out more. As such, the best way of recruiting via literature is...

1. to put forward intelligent, well-researched and written views.
2. To do so to as wide an audience as possible.

Putting resources into one big and well-resourced publication while retaining editorial control over a section of it it the best of all worlds for the average Fed, as it allows them to put their best work forward, benefit from a wide range of skills to help them improve that work's presentation further and to do so to a wider audience than they can pull in on their own.

I think this is a good idea over all. And when I move to England I'll be arguing in the yet-to-be-launched-new-org that we should commit ourselves to Freedom and Black Flag so I do think this is a good idea. However....I don't think what you've laid out as a problem is the real problem.

The are minor but real political differences between the various organisations. So for example, I wouldn't be happy selling a magazine that called the CGT/SAC/CNT-Vignobles reformist etc. which is as far as I know basically the SF position. Nor would I be happy selling a magazine that argued against supporting the Zapatista because they are nationalist which could conceivably be argued by AF. I think its around questions like this that a common magazine would run into problems. I think this problem can be overcome by agreeing clear editorial guidelines. But agreeing editorial guidelines would be difficult and there is no use in saying something will be easy to do and then get disappointed when it doesn't happen or goes bottoms up after 1/2 issues. Its worth trying to do but it would be very difficult to pull off.

Rob Ray
Jun 17 2008 14:22

Yeah good point, I reckon that could be dealt with though. Freedom often carries stuff I don’t agree with at all, I just make it very clear that we have a policy of free speech – and free reply – within some very loose guidelines (ie. no fash, no primmies).

Django
Jun 17 2008 14:46

Well all the organisational magazines make it clear that articles are the opinion of the contributors, not the federations anyway.

On the few controversial subjects (which aren't really obscure and boring), different opinions could be opposed in different articles - it just takes good editing and communication.

Rob Ray
Jun 17 2008 14:51

Mm the most likely thing would be to have a mailout to all editors (we already do this for Black Flag at the moment) of all the articles, and anything really controversial can be discussed or easily have an ‘alternative view’ box incorporated somewhere to make clear that the matter is disputed.

Mike Harman
Jun 17 2008 15:08
Quote:
The are minor but real political differences between the various organisations. So for example, I wouldn't be happy selling a magazine that called the CGT/SAC/CNT-Vignobles reformist etc. which is as far as I know basically the SF position. Nor would I be happy selling a magazine that argued against supporting the Zapatista because they are nationalist which could conceivably be argued by AF.

Two points:

1. Personally I wouldn't be very interested in selling a magazine with articles about European syndicalist groups or the Zapatistas,. Full stop. I don't personally find articles like that very interesting, and in terms of producing something which can actually engage people I think it's a dead end. An article about the Planka freeriding thing which mentioned SAC, fine. Article about Oaxaca, fine. General articles in favour of or slagging off obscure political groups really don't need to be in print.

2. I agree this is a real problem - however as an ex-AF member I disagree with a lot of things some AF members say (IWW for example) and did when a member, I also agree with some things solfed members say, etc. etc. - there's as much disagreement within the groups as there is between them. For me this is an issue with all the UK groups which makes me pessimistic about ideas like this, despite thinking it's a great idea in principle.

Also, I'm quite fine with presenting different sides of arguments if they're reasonably well argued or thought provoking- part of the reason why we have a bunch of stuff that none of the libcom admins remotely agree with in the library. The issue for me would be if there was an actual editorial line which I disagreed with - that might be a sticking point, but there's ways around this:

Editorial guidelines for any such project would have to allow for either opposing views to be presented side by side or in series. To take your example of the Zapatistas, if there was an article cheerleading them, then you could carry a reply in the next issue, and a reply to the reply. Aufheben do stuff like this and that's one of the things I like about it. Mute put out a pamphlet about the 2005 French riots with three somewhat opposing takes on it - and this was along similar lines. Much better than one article I'd disagree with completely, or even worse something pummelled beyond recognition, to placate contradictory positions.

This would also be a major benefit of such a project compared to oganisationally specific publications where that sort of thing is a bit harder to do.

edit: cross-posted with saii and Django.

syndicalist
Jun 17 2008 15:54

Sorry for being a late comer to this (and not having read all the submissions).

Is this a seculative dicussion (here) between members of the AF and the SF about a joint UK publication? I gather it's not about organizational mergers, right?

Again, sorry for entering mid-stream. Thanks for any replies.

knightrose
Jun 17 2008 17:34

I'm also following the discussion. I'm sure others are.

Beltov
Jun 17 2008 21:09

Well, is there any public statement from those who have left the AF yet or not? It will be interesting to see what the political differences were.

Devrim
Jun 18 2008 07:18
Anarcho wrote:
As it stands now, Black Flag has a collective of 5 people. That can be expanded with delegates from specific organisations, however many seems sensible (at least 2, I guess).

Just to stick my oar in where it is not wanted, I don't really understand where the collective of five people come in. I mean if the AF, and SF wanted to have a joint publication wouldn't it be more logical to run it with an editorial board made up of delegates from the two organisations?

If I were a member of the AF, or SF, I would be quite appalled with the idea that an unelected 'collective of 5 people' could have the majority say it the contents of the paper representing my organisation.

Devrim

Anarcho
Jun 18 2008 08:11
Devrim wrote:
Anarcho wrote:
As it stands now, Black Flag has a collective of 5 people. That can be expanded with delegates from specific organisations, however many seems sensible (at least 2, I guess).

Just to stick my oar in where it is not wanted, I don't really understand where the collective of five people come in. I mean if the AF, and SF wanted to have a joint publication wouldn't it be more logical to run it with an editorial board made up of delegates from the two organisations?

If I were a member of the AF, or SF, I would be quite appalled with the idea that an unelected 'collective of 5 people' could have the majority say it the contents of the paper representing my organisation.

Christ, it was a statement of fact plus spectulation of what could happen next. Obviously, if those proposal gathers steam we would have to discuss exactly the composition of any editorial board. And any said editorial board would have to be accountable to those organisations involved, including any independents on said board.

In terms of the existing Black Flag collective, I fail to see why they should be expelled from this project just because they are not in any specific organisation or delegates of said organisations. This is about co-operation between existing publications and organisations, not the destruction of one collective simply because they do not happen to be in an organisation.

Ultimately, I believe that anarchists can work together in a co-operative and fair way -- the notion that members of an organisation would be abused by an "unelected" collective of 5 people suggests a distrust of comrades which is staggering. Particularly as their delegates would be working with them and, ultimately, the whole board would be responsible to the organisations taking part.

but as you say, you are sticking your oar in where it is not wanted...

Rob Ray
Jun 18 2008 08:31

Apart from any other consideration, retaining 'independents' on the editorial board would be a necessity to both to encourage other independents to contribute and as mediators for Fed disputes. The whole point is for it to become an open platform for Feds and independents, to pull in the benefits of each. It's also why the suggestion of each fed having a dedicated section was made, to avoid scraps over any one group having undue influence.

Anarcho
Jun 18 2008 08:35
Jack wrote:
It's a discussion between 2 member of sol fed (one editor of freedom newspaper, one a libcom admin), a soon to be member of the new platformist group, the editor of black flag and the de facto libcom head admin ( wink ) about the benefits of a joint publication.

Actually, it is by two members of the Black Flag editorial collective. I'm one, as is Saii. I am not "the" editor of Black Flag!

In terms of which way forward, would it be wise to make some practical suggestions? In terms of how we seeing it would be organised, for example, and proposals to the feds? And what about a meeting at the bookfair in London?

Mike Harman
Jun 18 2008 08:54
Anarcho wrote:
In terms of which way forward, would it be wise to make some practical suggestions? In terms of how we seeing it would be organised, for example, and proposals to the feds? And what about a meeting at the bookfair in London?

I think a first step should be moving this discussion to it's own thread instead of "AF Platformist split". wink

jambo1
Jun 18 2008 08:58
Mike Harman wrote:
I think a first step should be moving this discussion to it's own thread instead of "AF Platformist split".

i think this is what is needed as it has turned into a totally different discussion!

welshboy
Jun 18 2008 10:03

I think that that the idea of both/all three feds concentrating on Freedom and Black Flag as well as keeping on producing their own free sheets is a great idea.
Oh and maybe this could be discussed in the Freedom forum, neutral territory and all that. smile
Any updates on what is happening with L+S btw?

Rob Ray
Jun 18 2008 10:13
Quote:
neutral territory and all that

Hell yeah, we’re like Acas except without the governmental ties and tendency to serve business.

Vaneigemappreci...
Jun 18 2008 10:51
Quote:
Really, this is getting silly -- we have a multitude of organisations and magazines already -- why create yet more? Is there a Guinness Book of Records entry on "number of organisations within a specific national political movement" or something?

It seems as though anarchist groups go through more rebrandings than the post office! Often these groups consist of the same members and the splits/rebrandings etc seem to come about due to a lack of momentum or impetus in the previous group. It is irritating given the tiny stature of anarchist groups in the UK.

I agree that a national publication with contributions from AF, SF, IWW, Antifa and other independent groups would be far more effective in terms of distribution and far more coherent in content than having all the various mags that are currently produced. One of the best things we've done in brum over the last couple of years was when we put out "brum star", which had articles on the local elections, anti-social behaviour, education etc. We distributed about 3,000 of these door to door, unfortunately the project lost momentum though there are rumours of it being reignited, possibly by some former AFers in brum.

I think Catch's point about the content is also spot on, theoretical positions on the Zapatistas aren't going to be all that interesting to people here in the UK who are staring recession in the face, there's more than enough stories and issues to write about that are far more petinent than the zapatista's so i really wouldnt worry about groups differing positions on issues such as this.

Tacks
Jun 18 2008 18:46
Vaneigemappreciationclub wrote:
I agree that a national publication with contributions from AF, SF, IWW, Antifa and other independent groups would be far more effective in terms of distribution and far more coherent in content than having all the various mags that are currently produced.

mate, you know its not possible. Actaully i may be getting you mixed up with someone else, so i'll tell you - having been in those orgs, it's not possible. They have too many opposing views to do a publication, sorry. The best option would be for them all to submit reports on their activity to Freedom, then increase their role there as the built a up a steady flow of articles for the paper - IMHO.

Quote:
One of the best things we've done in brum over the last couple of years was when we put out "brum star", which had articles on the local elections, anti-social behaviour, education etc.

but that's the thing mate, you actually came together as a group to do that, and faced essentially one issue with what you said - that's totally different from several different groups that are already long established getting together to somehow not contradict each other. I'm not going into it but there are clear and insurmountable differences. Brum Star was a project set up by a united group in and of itself really.

Quote:
We distributed about 3,000 of these door to door, unfortunately the project lost momentum though there are rumours of it being reignited, possibly by some former AFers in brum.

I heard that too wink