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

455 posts / 0 new
Last post
no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Feb 18 2011 00:23
Yorkie Bar wrote:
no1 wrote:
The locals arr no less economic, the networks are no less political than any other part of the organisation.

Sorry to ask this again, but is it your position that SolFed locals are now, not in aspiration, not in the future, but in the here and now, a form of political-economic organisation?

It is my position that they are to the same degree political-economic. The limitation is mainly our size rather than our nature, but I think we are quite focused on acting more like a political-economic organisation within our means. Even typical propaganda functions such as Catalyst are used in a way to further that - for example the Know your rights series. (I'm not saying we are a revolutionary union).

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 00:23
Yorkie Bar wrote:
As far as I can see all you're really saying here is that revolutionaries should take the initiative i.e. not just wait for other workers to kick off, but actively agitate for class struggle and organise to make it happen. This is something that AF groups are actively doing at the moment e.g. Sheffield AF with MASH. The only difference I can see is that MASH 'is an organisation', whereas a workplace assembly isn't (even if it elects delegates and comes together with other assemblies into a region- or industry- wide federation?). I don't think that difference is really all that meaningful tbh.

is MASH a revolutionary organisation? it appears to be copiously absent from their About Us. Now MASH might be brilliant. I'm not passing judgement here, but saying 'it's all the same i don't see any difference'. If there's no meaningful difference, why is MASH a separate organisation to the AF?

Now as it happens, setting up a separate, not explicitly revolutionary organisation within which to operate is completely in line with the practice of "a specific anarchist communist organisation" that "must be an organisation of intervention" (since intervention, by definition requires some prior struggle or second organisation to intervene in). In this case, MASH does the organising, AF members 'intervene' by being active within it.

In fact the basis of the group appears to be purely economic, since it's "open to any worker or unemployed person across any sector". Again, this is all fine. You've obviously chosen to set up a group that doesn't have the revolutionary principles of the AF, presumably to attract a broader membership.

This is precisely what we're talking about. MASH is organised along essentially economic lines open to all workers, AFed members are active within it. The specific political organisation intervenes in the broad-based economic one. Brilliant. That's a strategy. It reflects your constitution. But quite self-evidently it reflects the fact you do not think it is the role of the revolutionary organisation to organise things, but of broader non-revolutionary groups.

You're saying this is the same as organising a mass meeting to push for direct action. I fundamentally disagree. A better analogy would be it's like setting up a union "open to all workers" in a workplace. Like the IWW for example. The point is, as the AF are at pains to point out, such permanent organisations, if not based on an clear revolutionary perspective degenerate and are recuperated. A mass meeting is called for a specific purpose, as a culmination of organising, to do a specific thing. It is not a permanent economic organisation.

Now maybe you'll point out that 'MASH organises using direct action.' Fine. I refer you to the AF's critique of apolitical syndicalism; if MASH successfully attracts lots of non-revolutionary workers, it will likely decide to do non-revolutionary things. Maybe that's why it uses consensus, so the revolutionaries can block dodgy things. Fine. But that's sacrificing organisational democracy to maintain (unwritten) revolutionary principles.

Honestly, read the Organise critique of permanent economic organisations. I mean, this is what i find perplexing. You've got a bang-on critique of the inevitability of the degeneration of permanent economic organisations, regardless of the efforts of the 'conscious anarchists' within them. And then you do it anyway. I mean it's your prerogative. But a permanent economic organisation with no revolutionary principles is not the same thing as one with them. Evidently. Axiomatically.

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Feb 18 2011 00:26

I can't really get involved in this round of discussion as I'm off on holiday tomorrow morning but a couple of things:

'The union makes us strong' articles being Organise! articles don't have any 'official' status beyond being in agreement with our aims and principles. They were very much greeted with popular acclaim though and are indeed as sound as a pound.

My problem with the version of anarcho-syndicalism advocated by many SolFed members on this forum, where you have to be a committed anarchist to join, is how does the revolutionary group interact with non-revolutionary militant workers. Calling for mass assemblies is all well and good but seems to miss out a whole host of work place interactions and the possibility of forming organisational links with people that could advance the class struggle without them having to formally commit to revolutionary politics. My understanding of 'workplace resistance groups' fits this better and seems more practical to me.

I look forward to reading further detailed posts where neither sides understands each other and does more harm than good on my return. wink

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 00:38
JoeMaguire wrote:
At present our industrial networks are composed of people who are recruited based on political agreement with SF. At no point in its future trajectory will this course ever be anything other than a union of anarcho-syndicalists.

this is already not the case. not all SF members identify as anarcho-syndicalists, nor are they meant to.

JoeMaguire wrote:
So it will be entirely stuck within the political realm of activity because it won't attract sufficient enough militants to ever be anything other than ineffective at industrial organisation.

but a single militant, backed by the training, support and resources of an organisation oriented to such economic activity can organise their workplace. if the organisation dedicates itself to political activity, then they're far far less likely to be able to do that. Hence organiser training etc - which is clearly an economic orientation without ditching the political.

JoeMaguire wrote:
By cherry picking militants who are simply wanting to commit fully to joining SF, you have set the bar so high its completely self-defeating. How many full anarcho-syndicalists are you expecting to meet out in the wilderness, seriously? It does not sound like this has anything to do with principles, as far as I can see, but sectarianism (in its proper sense) and political conservatism. If someone agrees with the core of a networks work and politics, then they should join and learn what they lack through our activity.

Comrade, that's pretty strong language aimed at fellow SolFed members and our stated strategy.

nobody's saying we don't see struggle as an educative process. nobody is expecting to meet revolutionaries fully formed. nobody is putting their organisation before the struggle (au contraire, we think it's essential that there's a revolutionary organisation in the workplace, even if it's isolated members to begin with, precisely in order that struggles can be organised along direct action lines, so that there is a clear opposition to class collaboration and so on, perspectives most workers, to begin with, lack).

we've developed an organising model based on getting workmates to take direct action for the first time, which should be a learning experience, and hopefully in the medium-long term something which creates more revolutionaries, grows the organisation, allowing it to organise more and better, hopefully reaching a point of virtuous circle of struggle-radicalisation-growth-struggle... the alternative which you seem to be suggesting is to welcome in people straight away and do the political education later. if we believe that, why aren't we in the IWW?

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 00:44
nastyned wrote:
My problem with the version of anarcho-syndicalism advocated by many SolFed members on this forum, where you have to be a committed anarchist to join, is how does the revolutionary group interact with non-revolutionary militant workers. Calling for mass assemblies is all well and good but seems to miss out a whole host of work place interactions and the possibility of forming organisational links with people that could advance the class struggle without them having to formally commit to revolutionary politics. My understanding of 'workplace resistance groups' fits this better and seems more practical to me.

We have a quite detailed organiser training aimed at just this. I don't think it needs to all go in the strategy, but some clarification mightn't go amiss. that training is becoming a centre-piece of our organisational activity in orienting us to the economic sphere.

'Workplace Resistance Groups' are just a placeholder concept as far as i can tell, meaning all things to all men. sorry, "which can take radically different forms as a result of different contexts" wink

I mean, just saying 'form a workplace resisitance group' doesn't actually address your questions any more than 'call a mass meeting'; the point is we're devoting considerable organisational effort to training to fill out the latter. fwiw it's not so much "committed anarchist" as "agree with our A&Ps", i.e. you could self-identify as anything. I mean there's a political basis to it yeah, but it's not a massive leap from being a militant worker who doesn't believe in party politics to accepting the A&P, especially if you're joining on the basis of participating in SF-initiated direct action, having conversations with your SF workmate about why we do things this way and our wider goals etc. To me at least it's a plausible way to create new revolutionaries, membership isn't the end of political development but there needs to be a basis of principled agreement or it would just be apolitical syndicalism all over again.

nastyned wrote:
I look forward to reading further detailed posts where neither sides understands each other and does more harm than good on my return. ;)

innit.

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Feb 18 2011 01:52
Quote:
Now as it happens, setting up a separate, not explicitly revolutionary organisation within which to operate is completely in line with the practice of "a specific anarchist communist organisation" that "must be an organisation of intervention" (since intervention, by definition requires some prior struggle or second organisation to intervene in). In this case, MASH does the organising, AF members 'intervene' by being active within it.

Why is it 'intervention' when Sheff AF do it in MASH but not when you do it in a mass assembly?

Quote:
You're saying this is the same as organising a mass meeting to push for direct action. I fundamentally disagree. A better analogy would be it's like setting up a union "open to all workers" in a workplace. Like the IWW for example. The point is, as the AF are at pains to point out, such permanent organisations, if not based on an clear revolutionary perspective degenerate and are recuperated. A mass meeting is called for a specific purpose, as a culmination of organising, to do a specific thing. It is not a permanent economic organisation.

OK. But this seems to be different to what you were saying before. If your objection to the AF's organising is that we organise the wrong sorts of organisations then that's fine, but say so. Don't say that your problem is that we don't actively organise (we just take part in organisations that are set up externally of us) because that's not true.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 01:49
Yorkie Bar wrote:
Why is it 'intervention' when Sheff AF do it in MASH but not when you do it in a mass assembly?

mass assemblies are a bit of a distraction here. what's crucial is the day-to-day organising: mapping. identifying people to do one-on-ones with. agitating. building contacts. arranging a meet-up out of work. following up. eventually this process might mean you've got a decent proportion of your workmates in a room together where you make the case for direct action.

saying 'that's intervention!' makes the organising process up to and beyond that point - the whole point of what a revolutionary union exists to do - disappear, since there isn't just a mass meeting to intervene in, you've organised it. organisation is prior to intervention, by definition. i mean you could say the CNT 'intervened' in the mass meetings in Puerto Real, and therefore that it's the same kind of organisation as the AF, or the ICC, or whatever. I don't see what's gained by such obfuscation - it makes the day-to-day activity of the organisation, which defines it, disappear.

IF SolFed's strategy was to form apolitical unions open to all workers, based on consensus, which we were active within, then you'd have a point.

Yorkie Bar wrote:
OK. But this seems to be different to what you were saying before. If your objection to the AF's organising strategy is that we organise the wrong sorts of organisations then that's fine, but say so. Don't say that your problem is that we don't actively organise (we just take part in organisations that are set up externally of us) because that's not true.

It would really help if you were able to distinguish between personal and organisational activity. Obviously AF members organise all sorts of things. Nobody is saying otherwise. the AF is a specific political organisation, in the case of MASH, and the IWW before it, it has sought to operate through economic ones "open to all workers".

The question is which organisation does the organising. At the Sheffield Cinema, it was the IWW. In the case of MASH, it's MASH. SolFed is not looking to set up formal, permanent, economic organisations in addition to itself. all sorts of means are necessary to communicate with fellow workers, from conversations to meetings. but styling these as 'organisations' in which we 'intervene' completely obfuscates the organising process.

And that's just today. In future, SolFed wants to become (or help found) a workplace-based revolutionary organisation, a federation of workplace groups (i.e. a revolutionary union). that is clearly at odds with say, trying to get all our workmates to join the IWW or a TUC union and build a job branch. Obviously those are different strategies. One involves a political organisation based outside the workplace setting up economic ones within it to do the day-to-day organising, the other a political-economic one based in the workplace which does the day-to-day organising.

i mean it's not just the legal issue, but of course the IWW or TUC are constrained by the law in the ways mass meetings aren't. But beyond that, any ABC critique of the unions will tell you that even without such legal restraints, they bureaucratise, slide into class collaboration etc. A mass meeting can't really do that, because even if it votes to do something dodgy it will whither and die without ongoing agitation. if the boss tries to institutionalise it into a 'team meeting' or something, you just organise another one outside the workplace and carry on, because it's not the same thing as organising through a separate, permanent economic organisation to which people belong.

You can only make them 'the same' by a series of conflations; ad hoc = permanent, open = membership-based, and so on. And this matters. The strategies pull in different directions - are we trying to build up economic organisations in our workplace, through which we work? Or are we trying to build up a revolutionary workplace organisation that organises indepedently of them?

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Feb 18 2011 03:16
Joseph Kay wrote:
saying 'that's intervention!' makes the organising process up to and beyond that point - the whole point of what a revolutionary union exists to do - disappear, since there isn't just a mass meeting to intervene in, you've organised it. organisation is prior to intervention, by definition. i mean you could say the CNT 'intervened' in the mass meetings in Puerto Real, and therefore that it's the same kind of organisation as the AF, or the ICC, or whatever. I don't see what's gained by such obfuscation - it makes the day-to-day activity of the organisation, which defines it, disappear.

I ask a question. You tell me I'm obfuscating. Fuck it, I don't know if I can be bothered with this.

Quote:
It would really help if you were able to distinguish between personal and organisational activity.

Care to be a little more patronising?

Christ, best of luck with the Grand Plan and all, but if all you're interested in doing is trying to cram my views into your terminology so you can tell me why I disagree with you I see no point in continuing this conversation. You might as well just have it in my absence.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 03:26
Yorkie Bar wrote:
Care to be a little more patronising?

botched edit/typo; halfway between 'you distinguish' and 'we're able'. sorry.

i'll try and explain it a completely different way. plain english, minimal jargon, really really trying not to patronise.

1. SolFed goes round talking to workers, soliciting them to get in touch if they have a problem. We don't solve it for them, but work with them to collectivise it and take direct action. They need to do much of the work, getting their mates involved, but the 'conflict' is organised by SolFed (together with them) - since it's us going round talking to people, sitting down and coming up with an escalation strategy etc.

2. MASH seems to have a different approach to a similar activity. Instead of a revolutionary organisation doing it, it's notionally apolitical and open to all (though, presumably dominated by anarchists to begin with?). Workers need to join MASH to get its help, and together you organise an action, i.e. MASH - not the AF - organises the conflict.

I'm not passing any judgement at this point. Just pointing out some differences in what seems like pretty similar activity. In the first case, a conflict is organised by a revolutionary organisation. In the second, it is organised by one which has minimal political content. Why does this matter?

First example
In the first case, what is likely to happen? You help the person, you win or lose, they thank you and move on. You keep their contacts and ask if they'd help out someone else in a similar situation. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. They're unlikely to have developed a revolutionary perspective off the back of one small conflict, so they almost certainly won't join up. They might subscribe to an announce list, or a paper or something. They might come to a public meeting, or a fundraising social, and be kept in the loop that way (maybe picking up some bits of revolutionary politics - or at least getting where we're coming from if not agreeing).

Scale this up many times, and the revolutionary organisation begins to get a bit of profile locally off the back of some high profile wins. People look it up, those who like what they read may get involved on the basis of the group's politics. The group continues organising on the same basis, but having built up more contacts can mobilise more people for pickets etc, the beginnings of a culture of resistance, with people who for whatever reason (politics, time, inclination) don't join the group but come to the odd picket, public meeting, celebratory drinks, fundraising gig... The group can continue to organise and slowly expand this way, building up a bit of a periphery of semi-polticised types, and acting as a centre for class-based organising.

Second example
In the second case, you get the person to join the group and set about organising the action. You win or lose. Maybe having formally joined a group, they feel a bit of moral obligation to stick around a while. Who knows what their politics are? Probably didn't come up. No doubt the anarchists in the group would bring up the topic over a pint or whatever. If they stay involved in the group, they may become interested in anarchism. They may well drift away - they were never really an activist, but just needed some help and came to MASH as a last resort. Fair enough. Keep 'em on the contact list etc. Scale this up, MASH could well grow quite considerably. A few victories, people get a bit of a buzz out of it, and it provides a kind of social group many people may appreciate in an atomised society. Anarchists will be chatting to, and maybe influencing people. But so will leftists, trots, greens, and the other miscellaneous politico types who are likely to be attracted to such a group.

There's the danger of becoming a victim of your own success - recruitment on an apolitical basis puts revolutionaries in the minority. Now MASH has anticipated this, and written in independence from political parties and trade unions into the 'about us', which serves as the basis of the group. They've done the same for consensus decision-making. That means the majority can't vote to run/endorse a local election candidate. but what if say, the local council or a local entrepreneur decides to recognise your good work by offering you a grant and some office space? Wouldn't that be the perfect way to expand, consolidate, continue the good work? Maybe even take on a full-timer to handle all the enquiries? Unless you've got some kind of revolutionary perspective, why the hell not? Of course, revolutionaries can make the arguments, and block if they have to. But the likely result, sooner or later is that a group that isn't made up of revolutionaries is going to do unrevolutionary things, or the majority split and take up the offer.

What does it matter?
Ok, none of that's inevitable. But they're two different approaches - is that much at least clear? The first approach would mean much more modest growth, but would mean a long-term project of building a revolutionary organisation with a rep for taking on bosses and landlords and winning. The second approach might pick up members for a revolutionary organisation, but build it no reputation and - if successful - it's likely to become a victim of that success, bureaucratising and losing its former radical edge, shifting from direct action to advice and mediation etc. You'd have built something that's become an obstacle to a culture of resistance, since all those years of work building it up means it's them that disgruntled workers take their grievance to.

Of course, these are two extremes - a revolutionary group and one with minimal stated politics open to all workers. there could be something in the middle, a MASH with some very basic political principles or something, but not revolutionary. the question is where does radicalisation best take place? inside a membership organisation? or outside it but in sporadic contact with it? Ok, it's both, so what's the membership threshold? That's a very valid conversation to have. I don't know the answer, i doubt there is a universally valid one, though we've made a choice to go with the first approach in Brighton at least - inspired by SeaSol but wary of the trajectory of OCAP. But they're not the same strategies; each ascribes a very different role to the revolutionary organisation.

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Feb 18 2011 06:01

OK. Sorry I got the wrong end of the stick. It probably has something to do with being up at 5 am.

I think I now have more of a handle on the distinctions you're drawing here, and why. I'm still not completely sure I buy the division between intervening/organising 100%; I mean, presumably the struggles organised by SolFed would still have autonomy - they'd be controlled by the workers involved in them and not stage managed by the SolFed militants - so there's still something there that's independent of your revolutionary organisation, even if it's not a formal organisation like MASH, which you as a revolutionary organisation have to relate to and interact with as an external thing. On the other hand, I'm pretty receptive to your criticism of MASH, although I'd be interested in hearing from Sheffield AF on what they think of it (I know Red'n'Black was reading this thread up 'till a while ago, maybe he still is and he'll respond).

I'd be interested to see how SolFed gets on anyhow. Heck, if I ever get a job, I might even join.

Awesome Dude's picture
Awesome Dude
Offline
Joined: 31-07-07
Feb 18 2011 06:43
Joseph Kay wrote:
And that's just today. In future, SolFed wants to become (or help found) a workplace-based revolutionary organisation, a federation of workplace groups (i.e. a revolutionary union).

I'm not looking to piss off anyone and am genuinely trying to understand the IWAs' position regarding the role of revolutionary unions. Sorry if this has been articulated previously (if it has can someone point it out to me). Is there literature detailing how the IWA views the process of how political-economic organisation of pro-revoltionaries emerges into mass revolutionary proletarian organisation (workers' council system that actually expropriates the capitalist economy and actively seeks to annihilate the bourgeois-capitalist state)? As I understand the IWA sees workers council system organically emerging from daily class struggle waged through anarcho-syndicalist revolutionary unions. Communists like Otto Ruhle distinguished what he called workers unions (including anarcho-syndicalist FAUD and left communist AAUD-E in the same category) from a system of workers councils which emerges from factory organisation. He limited the role of workers' unions to "keeping the place for the councils' system". How does the IWAs' view differ?:

Quote:
Therein lies the doom of the Russian Revolution, which long ago - not lastly on that account - ceased to be a proletarian affair. The party must give itself up as finished with the constitution of the Congress of Councils. Likewise the trade union. Yes, even the Workers Union (Arbeiterunion), which is structured on the councils principle and embodies propaganda for the councils' idea made flesh and blood, has fulfilled its task with that. In the case where a Congress of Councils should come about alongside the parliament before the end of the bourgeois-capitalist period - which, of course, could only be a prefiguration of the real Congress of Councils - the Workers' Unions (we refer explicitly to the Union of Manual and Intellectual Workers, a foundation of the KPD; the KAPD's Workers' Union (AAUD); the syndicalists' Free Workers' Union (FAUD), and the German General Workers' League-Unitary Organisation (AAUD-E), as the most consistent and unified in their programmatic and organisational constitution) are perhaps conceivable as fractions in this Congress of Councils. In proportion, however, as they influence and determine the effectiveness of the Congress through their activity, as their nature overflows into the nature of the Congress, they bring about their own end and make their existence superfluous. For the time being, the Workers' Unions are, so to speak, keeping the place for the councils' system. In the councils' system itself lies the fulfilment of the organisational, administrative-technical, society-forming ideals of the socialist epoch. With the councils' system socialism stands or falls.
Joseph Kay wrote:
mean it's not just the legal issue, but of course the IWW or TUC are constrained by the law in the ways mass meetings aren't. But beyond that, any ABC critique of the unions will tell you that even without such legal restraints, they bureaucratise, slide into class collaboration etc. A mass meeting can't really do that, because even if it votes to do something dodgy it will whither and die without ongoing agitation. if the boss tries to institutionalise it into a 'team meeting' or something, you just organise another one outside the workplace and carry on, because it's not the same thing as organising through a separate, permanent economic organisation to which people belong.

I'm guessing sol-fed fundamentally views that 'legal' (regulated by the bourgeois-capitalist state apparatus) rank and filist unions and TUC unions as being incapable of escaping the limits of capitalist society. But strategically, in the here and now, do solfed view rank and filist break aways from the TUC strangle hold as an advance (even if they eventually end up being recuperated) in class organisation from TUC unionism towards a workers movement for self-organisation? If so can such formations be used to help establish revolutionary unions?

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 10:55
Yorkie Bar wrote:
I think I now have more of a handle on the distinctions you're drawing here, and why. I'm still not completely sure I buy the division between intervening/organising 100%; I mean, presumably the struggles organised by SolFed would still have autonomy - they'd be controlled by the workers involved in them and not stage managed by the SolFed militants - so there's still something there that's independent of your revolutionary organisation, even if it's not a formal organisation like MASH, which you as a revolutionary organisation have to relate to and interact with as an external thing.

if we stick to the workplace for now (since we don't have an agreed community strategy, and it's historically been the point of difference between AF/SF)... A revolutionary union is a permanent organisational presence. I don't think you should underestimate the amount of day-to-day organising that goes into agitating, getting people to a meeting etc. If you think of the regular mass meetings in the Puerto Real dispute, or the Workmates collective, they were largely organised by the unions (in the first case) and over-reliant on one guy in the second. that's not to dismiss 'self-organisation' - but those were both pretty militant disputes and even then mass meetings took a lot of effort to make happen, and only happened regularly for a finite period of time.

i mean i don't think any anarcho-syndicalist would be complaining if workers just started organising mass meetings completely independently! but most of the time that doesn't happen. it's not about stage-managing, sure, it's about encouraging a culture where workers do self-organise as much as possible. but that takes ongoing day-to-day organising work and a long-term strategic approach. if you're lucky, getting people to take direct action means they get a taste for it and want to fight again. but it's highly likely if you win a grievance (ending unpaid overtime say), a decent proportion of people are chuffed and see no reason to organise any more. so the agitation begins over, 'so-and-so needs childcare provision, remember they stood with us over overtime, let's repay their support. want to go for a coffee after work to discuss it?' and so on.

if you can develop a culture of militancy and permanent conflict (or the potential thereof), that's a culture in which revolutionary principles - based on class struggle, at the end of the day - begin to make sense. if you're locked in conflict with the boss and see them as your enemy, it's a pretty small step to want rid of bosses per se. if you're already dissillusioned with party politics, its a pretty small step towards an anti-state perspective. but those are only small steps in the context of class conflicts, which for the most part need to be organised. hence a revolutionary union bridges the day-to-day struggle and the long-term one, using direct action as both a means to win concessions and as an education in acting for ourselves, and thinking of a world based on it.

Yorkie Bar wrote:
On the other hand, I'm pretty receptive to your criticism of MASH, although I'd be interested in hearing from Sheffield AF on what they think of it (I know Red'n'Black was reading this thread up 'till a while ago, maybe he still is and he'll respond).

tbh, it's not necessarily a criticism. i've come down on one side of the discussion (since if you're going to actually try and do this stuff, like MASH, you need to take a position even if it turns out to have been flawed), but there's a strong case that getting people to be members of a fairly apolitical direct action group can radicalise them, and that there's less recuperative pressures outside the workplace since for various reasons. i mean the North American IWW seems to be having some success in this model at work, as does SeaSol out of it. but my nagging worry with any permanent group not explicitly based on revolutionary principles is that it gets sucked back into capitalism (trade unions, many revolutionary unions, formerly radical community organisations, workers' co-ops etc). i'm fully in favour of a trial and error approach, and it might be that MASH's incorporation of consensus gives revolutionaries a block and prevents degeneration, without too much antagonism over a minority blocking things (people may respect the block if you're the founding activists who've put in loads of work for example). stuff rarely pans out exactly as theory predicts, but we have to try and generalise from experiences so as to not make the same errors over again.

Yorkie Bar wrote:
I'd be interested to see how SolFed gets on anyhow. Heck, if I ever get a job, I might even join.

you don't need to be employed wink But yeah, point taken about not wanting to join two political organisations, even if one of them's a self-hating poltical organisation. this is why i honestly think the best thing is for SF to get on and make strides towards being what it wants to be (which i think is primarily a change in orientation and attitudes rather than size, i.e. qualitative rather than quantiative). that doesn't preclude co-operation, and i'd like to see closer joint work, e.g. the EWN did a conference at Sussex with the ASN - something like that organised jointly by EWN + AF education workers might be good in itself, and help improve mutual understanding in a practical setting.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 18 2011 11:12

On whether the networks should be open to non-SolFed members or not, I think this is one of the main misunderstandings of the discussion, and I know it's taken me ages to figure out what was being said on the SolFed side. @Auto - this was also discussed on here about 3-4 years ago, the result of those conversations eventually being that many AF members joined the IWW, so it's an old discussion but it's by no means a solved one otherwise we wouldn't be at 12 pages.

Auto, October Lost, Knightrose, me, SpikeyMike have all indicated we'd like to see networks that are open to people outside of SolFed or asked why that isn't the case - although still with a high bar of political agreement (how high probably varies a bit between everyone on this thread but not necessarily that much). JK and no1 counter this by saying if SolFed did that there'd be no need for SolFed to exist.

I think both sides are right, just coming at this from completely different angles.

While there's other things here to discuss that are more important (I think the discussion between JK and Yorkie Bar on what the relationship is between workplace groups and assemblies etc. is one that needs to be expanded and clarified for example) I'll ignore those for now and try to explain why I think it's somewhat the same.

The medium term goal of a network (or proto-revolutionary union) (I still think there's quite a lot of room between people on the long term goal, whether semantic or not), as I see it at least would be this:

Members of that network actively agitate in their workplaces - mapping, one-to-one chats, informal meetings, trying to develop grievances into active conflict - direct action, mass meetings etc.

While that applies to many individual anarchists and communists whether or not they belong to an organisation, the role of the network would be to provide a support structure for this. Such a network would have to be limited to people who share the same critique of representation - which restricts it to a particular subset of anarchists and communists (and potentially people who've arrived at those conclusions themselves without identifying with a tradition).

At the most basic level, that support structure would provide a means to exchange experiences, organiser training etc. (I think both the AF and SolFed have had intentions to do this on some level, my impression is it hasn't actually happened that much within either over the years, but that SolFed is currently undergoing major efforts to turn that around with the organiser training etc.)

In some cases like wage theft (or non-workplace class issues like housing) where action by people not in the workplace can help, then it might also incorporate elements of the SeaSol model as well. (JK and Yorkie Bar already went over the difference between Brighton SolFed and MASH in terms of the latter). I think the idea of an organisation that combines workplace organising with the SeaSol-style type stuff is a bit different to having a separate workplace networks (and presumably localised groups like MASH) - as well as the membership criteria - but I doubt AF members are wedded to the particular structure of MASH, and JK's criticism fits with some of my concerns about the SeaSol influenced groups in general.

Via new members or accident of employment, people at the same workplace/industry would try to co-ordinate efforts within that workplace/industry (whether working together to get a particular workplace organised, or things like bulletins). Again there's nothing controversial here, except there's very few examples of this.

So the question is - on one side, why can't people join SolFed to do this, and on the other, why can't SolFed open up its networks.

I think the answer to this comes down to three scenarios:

1. SolFed turns existing networks and new ones into an independent organisation that people from the AF and others with a high level of political agreement (but who wouldn't join SolFed) can join. SolFed continues as a political organisation that does political organisation-type stuff like producing a theoretical magazine, but the main role of it is supporting the network and being active in it. As said earlier, at least some SolFed members don't see any point in SolFed being a standalone political organisation (as it is now or as it would be in relation to a more open network), but maybe some people would keep it going.

2. SolFed turns existing networks and new ones into an independent organisation, that people from the AF and others blah blah same as #1. Because people in SolFed don't see the point of it existing as a standalone political organisation, SolFed the organisation dissolves, likely absorbed entirely into this new organisation after a period of time.

3. SolFed attempts to turn itself into a workplace (plus non-workplace class-based organising) political-economic organisation, in the process it leaves some of the explicitly political stuff to other groups (like the AF or editorial collectives, which SolFed members might be a part of individually). As this happens, it manages to clarify (dis)agreements with people who would have joined #1 or #2 (but not SolFed), and at least some of them end up joining SolFed in the end since its function no longer competes with the organisation (or lack of organisation) they're in anyway.

If either #2 or #3 happened successfully, frankly I think they're more or less the same process medium-term. SolFed ends up looking nothing like it does now, and it becomes a functioning network (or federation of industrial networks + locals) that's entirely based around organising on a class basis. Some people in the group will be members of political groups or editorial collectives, for others that might be the only organisation (formal or informal) they're in.

What the differences are I see as this:

- SolFed setting up a new organisation then dissolving itself into that new organisation is likely to be much fairly unpalatable to people who've been members of x amount of time.

- The new organisation couldn't be called SolFed, so it'd have to have a new name.

- AF members (and people who are in the same ballpark politically) currently seem a lot more likely to join an independent organisation that's explicitly political-economic (even if it's just starting out), than join SolFed while it's still in the process of trying to transform itself.

So what it comes down to I think is whether SolFed is able to make that transition internally, while explaining this process to people outside. And also I think there needs to be genuine clarification on all sides in terms of what the medium-long term goals of such an organisation would be (things like job branches, 'staying just a network' etc.) - and what those really mean in practice.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 11:13
blackrainbow wrote:
How does the IWAs' view differ?

the IWA doesn't have a singular view. anarcho-syndicalism, rightly, is adapted to various local historical, cultural, legal etc contexts. there's major differences with the AAUD-E though. it (1) explicitly didn't organise day-to-day struggles, whereas anarcho-syndicailsts see day-to-day struggles as vital, (2) it was only to be formed as a political-economic organisation 'in a revolutionary period', whereas IWA sections typically try and organise this way wherever possible (3) supported 'the dictatorship of the proletariat' which may well suggest a very different approach to the role of councils (or not, Ruhle's conception wasn't Lenin's)...

the relationship between anarcho-syndicalism and councils is interesting, and i'll write something on it at some point. Rocker sees the council idea as central, tracing a line from the libertarians in the first international to anarcho-syndicalism. after the Russian experience, some concluded soviets were inadequate since they weren't exclusively workers bodies but included delegates from political parties, trade unions etc. so the CNT reverted to something more like the old CGT model*, where in the revolution the union transforms itself from an active minority organisation of struggle into the organ of administration, by welcoming all workers into its ranks and using its federal delegate structure to co-ordinate production. that didn't work out too well, as it didn't incorporate e.g. the UGT rank-and-file, and in areas where more council-based organisation was pursued (Aragon), the revolution was pushed more towards libertarian communism.

post-war, i think something like the Puerto Real dispute is instructive. the assemblies included all those in the community, that would include local politicos etc. if there were to have been delegate bodies - soviets - (e.g. to link with other shipyards), it could have been done on a worker-only basis or a residency basis. members of political parties could be either, but full-timers only the latter. if they were bound to operate as mandated, recallable delegates that should minimise the chances of a temporary politico majority voting to give itself executive power over and above the assembly/soviet - since unless ratified by the assembly it would be seen as a coup.

blackrainbow wrote:
I'm guessing sol-fed fundamentally views that 'legal' (regulated by the bourgeois-capitalist state apparatus) rank and filist unions and TUC unions as being incapable of escaping the limits of capitalist society. But strategically, in the here and now, do solfed view rank and filist break aways from the TUC strangle hold as an advance (even if they eventually end up being recuperated) in class organisation from TUC unionism towards a workers movement for self-organisation? If so can such formations be used to help establish revolutionary unions?

i don't think there's a 'SolFed position' as such. i think we'd see them as a positive development, but not revolutionary. perhaps with the potential, or at least the potential of militants within them, to become so, depending on the circumstances. i'm sure we'd work with them insofar as they wanted to organise along direct action lines, offering support, practical solidarity etc. it's hard to speculate whether they could help form revolutionary unions. i can imagine circumstances where they would, but equally i can imagine them just being 'old fashioned militant trade unionism', forced to break away since the TUC is so shit even at bread-and-butter stuff (overseeing year-on-year real terms pay cuts etc).

on legality, i think the general consensus is you can't operate on an anarcho-syndicalist basis within UK industrial relations law. but that's not a principled thing, if the law was (inexplicably) changed so that sacking anyone for organising, legal union or no, was an offence, we might use those channels if a direct action remedy wasn't possible - after all it's somebody's livelihood. the CNT do this, although it's provoked an internal debate about the extent they're getting sucked onto the legal terrain, and what direct action approaches they could develop instead - since the point of direct action isn't just the results but the educative/preparative element.

* which is much misunderstood, as most people seem to base their opinion on Engels/Luxemburg's hatchet job rather than reading Pouget or someone.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 11:41

Excellent post Mike.

Mike Harmann wrote:
So what it comes down to I think is whether SolFed is able to make that transition internally, while explaining this process to people outside. And also I think there needs to be genuine clarification on all sides in terms of what the medium-long term goals of such an organisation would be (things like job branches, 'staying just a network' etc.) - and what those really mean in practice.

something you didn't mention is the IWA. i think it's really important, there's been a lot of international solidarity stuff organised through it of late (simultaneous solidarity pickets etc). and of course it's the largest libertarian communist organisation in the world. if you formed a new group, disbanded SolFed, then reaffiliated to the IWA under a new name that's just a roundabout way of people joining SolFed without joining SolFed tongue

fwiw, when i met some CNT people last year one of the first things they said was SolFed changes its name every time it changes its strategy... personally i don't think we need to reinvent the wheel, and that organisational evolution is more productive than radical novelty, clean breaks and starting from scratch with a new organisation, new constitution, new A&Ps, new arguments etc. i mean at this stage, that would mean this thread was an internal discussion. that would be horrible, and lead to paralysis.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Feb 18 2011 12:13
Joseph Kay wrote:
fwiw, when i met some CNT people last year one of the first things they said was SolFed changes its name every time it changes its strategy...

As far as I am aware, the UK IWA section has had three names since 1950, the first change from Syndicalist Workers' Federation to Direct Action Movement happened in 1979 when the SWF was down to just the Manchester branch, and the organisation was relaunched with a lot of new people. I'm not that clued in on the details of the change from DAM to SolFed (which in my opinion is actually a much better name), but I think with two changes in just over six decades, they are exaggerating a little.

Devrim

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 12:16

it was a joke like.

Spikymike
Offline
Joined: 6-01-07
Feb 18 2011 16:05

Just to add a bit more explanation to my previous post:

Whilst I think the sort of solid 'day to day' organising work which the Solfed is seeking to do has it's usefulness in some areas, the changes which modern capitalism has gone through in the last decades since the historic examples we have debated around Germany and Spain in the 1920's and 1930's, would suggest to me that the potential for the growth of pro-revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist 'unions' is more severely limited than is perhaps assumed.

Long term stable employment in industry or geographical location in much of the older capitalist heartlands is far less common than it was and the benefits referred to in some of this discussion of organising over the long term are harder to come by. They can be overcome up to a point by networking both accross and outside of the workplace but this would seem to undermine some of the 'workplace' based models being discussed here.

There is also the matter of changes in workers increasing lack of identification with 'work' and the workplace resulting from increased precariousness, employment and geographical mobility and degradation of work skills, which might make willingness to identify with even pro-revolutionary wotkplace based groups more difficult whilst not necessarily making them less open to anti-capitalist ideas.

Having said that 'assembly' and 'council' forms of self organisation do not appear to have lost any of their validity in the course of modern class struggle even if they have sometimes taken on a more geographical cross 'professional', cross employment form.

There will no doubt be opportunities (as even recently in France for instance), where minority anarcho-syndicalist 'unions' of the type which SolFed are promoting, to themselves organise assemblies and direct action struggle, but experience suggests that in far more cases workers will demonstrate that they are well able to organise themselves without this particular assistance. In these circumstances if the anarcho-syndicalist minority 'union' exists it will most certainly be 'intervening' in much the same way as any other pro-revolutionary group.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Feb 18 2011 16:23

Not 'intervening', surely?

Seriously, this is an important discussion. I agree with a lot of what Spikymike is saying. With the France thing: it seems to me that the joint 'intervention' of the CNT and the ICC in Toulouse was possible (and relatively successful) because they both shared the same goal: the formation of open general assemblies which were not passive audiences for the official unions or leftists. To me, this was a good example of the work of a politicised minority: in reality neither the CNT, nor the general assembly, had the characteristics of a 'revolutionary union' when they were doing this.
I don't see how it would be different in a workplace or across workplaces: there is always a more active minority who are willing to propose actions which go beyond the official union framework, and they should regroup as much as it is possible, but their aim is always to encourage the formation of wider organisations (assemblies etc) to actually organise the struggle.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 17:01

re: changes in capitalism, i really think it's the opposite. if anything, the only possible approach to organising in a casualised, atomised, flexible service economy is one based on direct action, relying on agitation and organisation rather than density and backed by a combination of local and industrial organisation. by contrast, i don't think TUC unions could really make much headway in many sectors even if they tried; they rely on (a) acceptance by management as partners and (b) a stable membership and significant density. i mean, most of the jobs i've worked i could never imagine a mainstream, recognised union, but i could at least conceive of getting some workmates together for a chat and taking some low-level direct action (and have done odd bits, really could have done with the training and organisational support behind me in the last one though!)

Spikymike wrote:
'assembly' and 'council' forms of self organisation

just to be clear, i know you've acknowledged the 'day-to-day' element, but while we make use of mass meetings etc, i don't think our approach can be reduced to such forms. it's much more about the content of everyday agitation, education, organising... but since this isn't in any public document (and in fact, can't really be distilled to a document all that easily without reifying it, since it's more of a process, an approach, an attitude...) i can see why people focus on particular forms though.

i think it would be better to say our approach is based on day-to-day workplace organising, which makes use of things like mass meetings as tactics as a democratic means to involve as many workers as possible in a conflict. of course in practice most stuff is way short of mass meetings; a couple of people in a team arranging to make sure they take their breaks or leave on time despite pressure to work, a march on the boss maybe... it's easier to talk about the bigger, sexier stuff, but i think that misses the most distinctive thing here.

Spikymike wrote:
experience suggests that in far more cases workers will demonstrate that they are well able to organise themselves without this particular assistance. In these circumstances if the anarcho-syndicalist minority 'union' exists it will most certainly be 'intervening' in much the same way as any other pro-revolutionary group.

what experience suggests this? do you have in mind big, visible, public struggles, like LOR or the CPE? maybe we just have different experiences (generational?) of work, or maybe we're talking at crossed purposes...

as far as i'm aware, none of us are in workplaces where workers have just spontaneously started organising collective direct action. it would be fucking brilliant if they did, but they're not. the only example i'm aware of would be some of the stuff on the London underground, but there's a culture of solidarity there that's been built up by long-term organising (both inside the RMT and alongside it). that culture simply doesn't exist in most workplaces, and the responses people have to problems are overwhelmingly atomised; quiting, knuckling down, drinking, looking for a new job etc. That culture doesn't change spontaneously in response to attacks, they've got workplaces set up as separation perfected. the boss is always organising the workplace against us, if we don't organise it against the boss, then 99% we'll lose, usually without a fight.

now, as and when big struggles break out, whether union-organised or not, i'd say we're in a far better position to influence them if we've done the groundwork building up a workplace culture amenable to action, if we've got existing networks of industrial propaganda, if we've built a reputation for 'direct action solidarity' in the local area etc. i mean, to use two imperfect examples, if a big struggle broke out in Seattle, the last 5 years or so work by SeaSol and the Wobblies may well put them in a better position to 'intervene' than a group which hadn't spent the last 5 years doing that. i mean, every leftist and his dog would be peddling papers, even brilliant communist propaganda would get lost in the flood. but if groups had some visibility off the back of solidarity work then workers may give a shit what they think. now of course it's possible a big struggle over-takes such small organsiations altogether. brilliant, we're still in no worse position, and i'd argue for the above reasons a better one. i mean, there'a reason the CNT were influential in Puerto Real, but not some random political group (as far as i'm aware).

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 17:15
Alf wrote:
I don't see how it would be different in a workplace or across workplaces: there is always a more active minority who are willing to propose actions which go beyond the official union framework, and they should regroup as much as it is possible, but their aim is always to encourage the formation of wider organisations (assemblies etc) to actually organise the struggle.

cross-posted, but like i say this abstracts away what organising actually involves. you're conceiving of advocacy of assemblies, then advocacy within assemblies. that would be a massive over-simplification of what i'm talking about. day to day organisng isn't a matter of advocacy, waiting for your chance to have your say, have a debate, put across a communist perspective or however you conceptualise it. it's an actual process of organising, one that's concrete, conscious and strategic and barely about advocacy of forms at all. that just completely disappears in this schema where abstract 'minorities' 'propose' and then 'intervene'. at that level of abstraction, the SWP are the same too, since they're a minority who propose things and make interventions. I'm not sure what the benefit is of talking at a level of abstraction where the SWP, ICC and CNT are the same.*

the CNT doing an intervention is neither here nor there, i mean when things blew up at Sussex last year we threw ourselves into it and weren't acting as a revolutionary union, but a tiny group of politicos with little prior activity there (in an organising sense - we had involvement in 'anti cuts' stuff which was more campaiging than organising). that's fine. i'm not saying i'm always and against 'intervention' (i use the term because it appears in the AF's constitution as the practical element on top of propaganda, theory, ideas etc). but it has nothing to do with our day-to-day activity and orientation, which isn't based on such things. and again, strategy is about direction, not description of current conditions, i.e. if the ICC or the AF was bigger you'd have essentially the same practice (since you're political organisations, and already intervening), if SolFed was bigger it might facilitate us better taking on organising functions and taking the initiative in struggles beyond individual workplaces.

* i'm not equating you with the SWP - that's the whole point!

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Feb 18 2011 17:31

"it's an actual process of organising, one that's concrete, conscious and strategic and barely about advocacy of forms at all".

Can you be more concrete about this - i.e. give examples?

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 17:31
Alf wrote:
their aim is always to encourage the formation of wider organisations (assemblies etc) to actually organise the struggle.

another way to look at this, this was approximately my thinking on reading the SolFed industrial strategy at my last job. how do i organise a mass meeting? i don't know... but the mass meeting has to organise the struggle. hmm. maybe get people to go to the pub? it's a mystery. how do you "encourage" a mass meeting in a young, atomised workplace where everyone feels precarious...?

So, since at this point SolFed had no training or systematic pooling of knowledge/experience etc, i had to make it up as i went along. i did what i'd now recognise as a 'one on one' with a workmate (we had a team of 3, down from 4 with no replacement hired, the third was the boss - a millionaire company director was actually our line manager!). since our workload had shot up when they didn't replace the girl who left, we decided we'd stop working through breaks and working unpaid overtime, and they'd just have to hire someone else, or otherwise reduce our workloads. this was pretty effective, work piled up, and we got called into an off-the-record meeting with the boss and HR and grilled, told it was "unacceptable" to take our contracted breaks etc.

my collegue shit herself, she'd just moved into a new place in London, and had high rent/commuting costs etc. since i'd been doing this stuff blind, without any strategy i hadn't done 'inoculation', preparing and preempting likely consequences and counter-attacks. Nobody in my SolFed local knew any of this stuff either, so i was completely on my own and being in a revolutionary organisation (at this point, a straightforward political organisation) was no benefit to me as a worker whatsoever. so we were back to square one. eventually, we got back to our 'action', they reduced our workloads (by technical means, somewhat increasing workload on admin and sales staff). the reduced workload meant i got made redundant a few months later, and my workmate went back to doing two peoples jobs (the recession was also a factor, but the reorganisation of the labour process we'd forced accentuated it).

basically, it was a learning experience but overwhelmingly, with hindsight, a series of fuck-ups and oversights. notice how "encouraging assemblies" doesn't figure at all in everyday organising? now the point of e.g. organiser training is to orient what's been a political organisation to the economic sphere, to give us the skills, confidence and support to organise at work. that may, down the road, mean a mass meeting. that's an organising tactic, not the goal, and organising activity necessarily precedes it. the goal would be something concrete; reduced workloads, more breaks, or something more ambitious. with hindsight, there's loads i did wrong that i wouldn't do if i was in the same position over again. but that's not just through personal reflections, but directing considerable organisational effort towards building the capacity for workplace organising - and really we've only taken baby steps in the scale of things.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 17:32
Alf wrote:
Can you be more concrete about this - i.e. give examples?

cross-posted again - was already on the case!

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Feb 18 2011 18:05

I agree that day to day resistance takes place in all kinds of ways that fall very short of the entire workforce getting together, through all sorts of informal channels, people getting together in their most immediate situation and sometimes in groups of two or three. But if we agree on that, where is the actual disagreement?

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 18:17
Alf wrote:
I agree that day to day resistance takes place in all kinds of ways that fall very short of the entire workforce getting together, through all sorts of informal channels, people getting together in their most immediate situation and sometimes in groups of two or three. But if we agree on that, where is the actual disagreement?

it's contained in all the words you're apparently missing, you know, about the role of the revolutionary organisation not being political but oriented to the economic sphere, 'intervention' as an inadequate strategic perspective since it overlooks organisation etc.

i'm saying the point of a revolutionary organisation is to organise in the workplace, you're saying 'lots of informal things happen yes'. i mean, are you actually claiming that the CNT(-E) and ICC are basically the same, have the same approach, see their role the same etc? seriously?

maybe i missed the ICC's organisational orientation building revolutionary workplace organisation to shift the balance of power between management and workforce, organise direct action grievances to both win concessions and provide a practical education in anarchism etc? and no, before you say it (it's come up two or three times already), i'm not accusing you personally of not being active in your workplace i'm talking about the role of revolutionary organisation.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Feb 18 2011 19:35

I'm not saying that the ICC and CNT "are basically the same, have the same approach, see their role the same". What I am saying is that on many day to day issues in the workplace, and even in the wider class struggle, ICC militants and CNT or Solfed militants might well be doing the same things and be able to work together, even form some kind of group or committee together, despite their differences. It is this which for me reinforces the view that the 'networks' or struggle groups we create cannot be identified with a particular organisation.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 18 2011 20:40
Alf wrote:
What I am saying is that on many day to day issues in the workplace, and even in the wider class struggle, ICC militants and CNT or Solfed militants might well be doing the same things and be able to work together, even form some kind of group or committee together, despite their differences.

ok, but people being able to work together as individuals has little to do with the role of revolutionary organisation. and in my (admittedly limited) experience, politicos are often not really very interested in actually organising (possibly cos it's a bit of a lost art and/or many see it as the role of others; trade unions, spontaneous associations etc). i'm not sure if you missed the point of my post about my old job - doing this as individuals just leads to avoidable fuck-ups with real consequences, but having a revolutionary organisation oriented to workplace struggle gives its militants training, support, resources etc to help avoid such problems. SolFed is trying to be such an organisation.* If people support or oppose that isn't really the issue so much as recognising it's a different kind of organisation to specific political organisation. so long as we're at the level of 'it's all the same' it's impossible to even speak of agreement or disagreement, because there's clearly no common understanding.

Alf wrote:
It is this which for me reinforces the view that the 'networks' or struggle groups we create cannot be identified with a particular organisation.

networks ARE a particular organisation. the problem seems to be it's SolFed, and you'd prefer something virginal. networks and locals mutually support one another. if you're organsing in your work, it's your local, being local to you, that provide the immediate support. they understand the organising process, can help you strategise, plan, bounce ideas etc. networks are geographically dispersed, and until we get more of our workplaces organised aren't likely to do much more than industrial bulletins and share experiences via email/skype. they'll begin to come into their own when workplaces in the same industry are more organised, and may be able to link up things more concretely. i mean, separating networks from locals would mean, for example, you don't think an education worker (education network), an unemployed person (unwaged network) and a public sector worker (public services network), living in the same town should meet together. that's what a local is; the militants in a geographical area of various indistries as opposed to the militants of a particular industry of various geographies. it really doesn't make any sense wanting to 'separate' them imho.

* not to the exclusion of all else, but it's simpler to focuss on one thing at a time.

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Feb 18 2011 23:13
Quote:
Nobody in my SolFed local knew any of this stuff either, so i was completely on my own and being in a revolutionary organisation (at this point, a straightforward political organisation) was no benefit to me as a worker whatsoever.

Just to pick up on this: in my local AFed group, Leeds AF, we recently started to try and do a go-round of peoples' situation at work, on the dole, at uni, at college etc. at the start of each meeting. This was inspired by Sheffield AF, who also do this. If someone was in trouble or trying to organise or anything then we'd definitely try and help/support them in any way we could. (Obviously that organiser training would come in handy in that regard though! Is it open to non-SolFed members at all?)

Auto's picture
Auto
Offline
Joined: 12-04-09
Feb 18 2011 23:21
Yorkie Bar wrote:
Quote:
Nobody in my SolFed local knew any of this stuff either, so i was completely on my own and being in a revolutionary organisation (at this point, a straightforward political organisation) was no benefit to me as a worker whatsoever.

Just to pick up on this: in my local AFed group, Leeds AF, we recently started to try and do a go-round of peoples' situation at work, on the dole, at uni, at college etc. at the start of each meeting. This was inspired by Sheffield AF, who also do this. If someone was in trouble or trying to organise or anything then we'd definitely try and help/support them in any way we could. (Obviously that organiser training would come in handy in that regard though! Is it open to non-SolFed members at all?)

As far as I'm aware it's open to anyone (i.e. so that non-politicised co-workers can get involved). You still need to have one of the SolFed guys run it though, as they are the only ones who've had the training in how to run the sessions.