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

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Yorkie Bar
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Feb 18 2011 23:27
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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.

Sure, OK. Would it be possible for someone to come up for a weekend or something a run the training, or at least give us a bit of a workshop on it? We would pay for transport costs and put them up obviously. If so, I might raise the possibility of this at our next group meeting.

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 18 2011 23:31
Yorkie Bar wrote:
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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?)

yes it is. training [at] solfed.org.uk

can you see how such things - from the simple act of a go-around about your conditions to training and more - shift the orientation of a group from being simply political, to a group which helps its members organise as workers, but without dropping the political aspect?

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Alf
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Feb 18 2011 23:45

I see the point you are making about your experience at work, and I agree that you need an organisation to back you up, but I don't thimk it leads automatically to the conclusion that the Solfed model is the best one....
On another point:
"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".
I don't think this at all. In the 80s I helped to set up a 'workers action group' at my workplace and for a while it extended into a wider group which had some people who were unemployed, a postal worker or two, etc. Whenever we have participated in struggle groups at a particular workplace, we have argued for opening out to workers from other sectors, or supported efforts to do so - the most recent examples being the 'Platform of Workers in Struggle' which came out of the Tekel strike in Germany, or the group that has come out of the 'interprofessional' assembly at the Gare de L'Est in Paris. In my opinion any networks that develop today wneed to have the same 'interprofessional' approach.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 18 2011 23:45
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an you see how such things - from the simple act of a go-around about your conditions to training and more - shift the orientation of a group from being simply political, to a group which helps its members organise as workers, but without dropping the political aspect?

Well... yes and no.

I think it's worth pointing out that Leeds AF has been a very dysfunctional group for a long time (despite also being completely fabulous people) and hasn't really had much of a political praxis let alone a political-economic one. We're taking some real steps to try and solve our problems now, and I think with a bit of time we'll get our act together. So maybe I don't see it as a change from political to political-economic so much as from zero capacity for activity to some kind of together organisation practice. But that's just our trajectory.

I think I'd add as well that we kind of do it more out of concern for individual member well-being and support rather than as an active organising tactic, which is obviously a bit different to the way SolFed sees itself functioning. Although one of our members who just joined is actively organising at their college (see http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001983488933).

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 19 2011 00:03
Alf wrote:
but I don't thimk it leads automatically to the conclusion that the Solfed model is the best one....

of course not, but to debate the relative merits of strategies, we first need to be clear on their similarities and differences.

Alf wrote:
In my opinion any networks that develop today wneed to have the same 'interprofessional' approach.

well, that's what having networks/locals as a dual structure of a single organisation means, and we think it needs to be organised according to a clear revolutionary perspective (which is as much practical as ideological).

Yorkie Bar wrote:
I think I'd add as well that we kind of do it more out of concern for individual member well-being and support rather than as an active organising tactic, which is obviously a bit different to the way SolFed sees itself functioning.

SolFed sees the function of a revolutionary organisation as such activity. i get the impression the AF might see it as one of many functions, alongside other, perhaps mutually exclusive approaches (not having a go, but the approach to the IWW for example was one of autonomy and pluralism rather than a single organisation-wide approach). i think SolFed's aims are at the same time more ambitious and more circumscribed than the AF - ambitious in the sense of setting out to organise conflicts, which via direct action win concessions and radicalise workers. circumscribed as in, with corresponding community stuff (a mixture of the SeaSol style stuff and maybe class-based anti-fascism), that's it.

The AF's aims are much wider, developing theory, acting as a memory of the class, functioning as a forum for debate, being a 'leadership of ideas', intervening in pretty much any kind of struggle from social movements to ecological stuff to (some) forms of activism. I think there might be a symbiotic relationship in there somewhere, but it's yet to be worked out, and there's various potential problems too. and of course, we need to start from where we are, not ideal types or utopian blueprints.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 19 2011 00:06
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SolFed sees the function of a revolutionary organisation as such activity.

Sorry, I'm not entirely sober just atm, but I don't understand - what "such activity" is it you are referring to?

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 19 2011 00:07
Yorkie Bar wrote:
Sorry, I'm not entirely sober just atm, but I don't understand - what "such activity" is it you are referring to?

orientation to organising struggles (and supporting members doing so) as the raison d'etre of the organisation.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 19 2011 00:17
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i get the impression the AF might see it as one of many functions, alongside other, perhaps mutually exclusive approaches (not having a go, but the approach to the IWW for example

I don't know if they're exactly mutually exclusive, I mean you've said yourself above intervention isn't incompatible with the political-economic approach you outline.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 19 2011 00:23
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The AF's aims are much wider, developing theory, acting as a memory of the class, functioning as a forum for debate, being a 'leadership of ideas', intervening in pretty much any kind of struggle from social movements to ecological stuff to (some) forms of activism. I think there might be a symbiotic relationship in there somewhere, but it's yet to be worked out, and there's various potential problems too. and of course, we need to start from where we are, not ideal types or utopian blueprints.

This is pretty much exactly on the money imo. But that's why I want SolFed to let us join its industrial networks! That'd be really useful! It's so ridiculous that we have separate Industrial networks, I mean for fuck's sake! It couldn't be more of a duplication of effort! This isn't utopian, the organisations are more or less already there, they're just grotesquely un-joined-up.

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 19 2011 00:24
Yorkie Bar wrote:
I don't know if they're exactly mutually exclusive, I mean you've said yourself above intervention isn't incompatible with the political-economic approach you outline.

well for example, organising an IWW branch and trying to win recognition, is pretty exclusive to the SolFed approach - at least in a given workplace, you could obviously do different things in different places if you wanted. i do think political-economic organisations would be less suited to 'intervention' generally though, since they're not likely to give as much thought to things outside the remit of organising struggles, and there's no necessity for a coherent position on things like, e.g. climate camp.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 19 2011 01:11
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I would really welcome the AF supporting SF's strategy of building a revolutionary union, but I don't think its right for the members of another organisation to be telling us that we should change our structure and strategy to suit them.

As a purely hypothetical question, when the networks become industrial unions, how would the AF members in them feel?

If those unions were not representative structures in the sense laid out in A&P 7 (which they wouldn't be) then I think they'd feel pretty good about it. Organising for resistance is our tagline, dontcha know.

Of course some AF members might have other, separate criticisms of the tactic, but there'd be no reason for them to join the networks anyway. If I can repeat what others have said, I'm not saying the networks should drop their existing principles to gain more members. I'm saying that if they were accessible without also being a member of SolFed, then the AF could more or less dissolve our industrial networks into yours and remove a whole silly duplication of work.

Jesus, it's getting late again and I'm fookin exhausted, I'm going to bed.

mons
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Feb 19 2011 01:28

Is there some way of making them accessible, but obviously keep the principles word for word, without joining SolFed for a time? Then as they build up they become part of SolFed. I don't know how you get past the difficulty otherwise, since loads (by our pathetic standards) of people who are basically up for industrial networks will not get involved otherwise (understandably since they don't want to be part of two organisations that are mainly doing similar things), and that seems like a pretty ridiculous situation. But I can see the industrial networks/unions must be the basis of SolFed if it's to be a political-economic organisation. Difficult.

radicalgraffiti
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Feb 19 2011 01:44
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
When a load of you joined the IWW you were effectively running a number of the branches,

i was never a member of the iww but i think this is one reason that many members that joined iww have since left.
i don't see why members of afed would want to join another political organisation (again) to do stuff they could do exactly the same within afed

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 19 2011 06:47
radicalgraffiti wrote:
i don't see why members of afed would want to join another political organisation (again) to do stuff they could do exactly the same within afed

Well why do you want to join, but not join? This doesn't make any sense. As people have stated over and over there isn't 'SolFed' over here and some 'Networks' over there; SolFed consists of locals and networks and so this makes about as much sense as wanting to join the AF womens caucus of the Resistance collective 'but not join AF'. And this suggests that people don't actually 'get' what networks are, seeing the networks as 'economic' and the locals as 'political' (and thus duplicating the AF). At present both networks and locals are political organisations oriented to the economic sphere. They mutually support each other. Are you seriously saying that an AF education worker in, Brighton say, wouldn't meet with local members of other networks? Because if they would, that's called a local!

To save repeating myself anymore, I'm just going to literally repeat myself:

Joseph Kay wrote:
fwiw, as of last national conference, all SF members are supposed to be attached to a local and a network (setting these up is still in progress), but are free to direct their activities towards each as they see fit. So if you were solely active in your network, and your local was ok with that, that would be fine. In principle, AF members could join as dual members, negotiate with their local only to pay subs to the network (only the EWN has subs at present, afaik) and be mainly active through that.

To me, if you had a local in your area it seems weird you'd only participate in SF via network email/skype conferences but not face-to-face meetings. But you'd be within your rights to do so (like i say, subject to agreement with your local). Obviously if you were geographically isolated from SF locals this would make a lot of sense (as it does for isolated SF members).

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Feb 19 2011 14:16

I can't remember who said it, but it'd be like Solfed folk wanting to join the feminist caucus in the AF but not the AF itself.

For whatever it's worth, I'd be happy to dual card if there was a closer Solfed branch, and it didn't mean dramatically more meetings or subs.

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Feb 20 2011 15:07

Joseph,

For the record, in my previous post I was simply saying that I had a different and less positive assessment of the potential, in the current circumstances, for a specific anarcho-syndicalist 'union' to form and operate with the specific benefits referred to of 'long term' association in the workplace, whilst suggesting that workers outside of the influence of your a-s 'union' are quite capable of organising resistance - NOT spontaneously in the commonly used sense of that word, but through some of the day to day mechanisms you (and Alf, Steven and others ) describe, in so far as these have proved not to be the exclusive property of a-s 'unions' to-date. This is not to deny the worth in some places of what you are proposing, which I think I now have a full grasp of, but stresses the continuing need for, and potential of, other forms of both political and resistance organisation.

The other part of my rambling was related to the wider question of how, from these day to day acorns of resistance, an oak of revolutionary change might or might not emmerge - this relates to other discussions on Libcom ( see for instance the debate between Internationalist Perspectives and Blaumachen flowing from reflections on the Greek struggles and also the Bruno Astarian text on communisation amongst others).

The two are linked in my mind when the current tiny associations of pro-revolutionaries are discussing their priorities. You/Solfed are quite clear on what your priorities are. The logic seeming to be that without basic day to day (workplace based) resistance by the class nothing more will emmerge with revolutionary potential, so lets concentrate on actually organising that - but is that resistance wholly dependent on the efforts of todays tiny minority of pro-revolutionaries and if not, is this choice of priorities wholly justified? I continue to have my doubts.

(PS: I'm sure AF members and others will join your new SolFed if you get to where you are aspiring to be, the problem rests with the fact that at present the SolFed continues to be another political group publishing material which is often (not always) of poorer analytical and propaganda quality to that of others - bridging the time gap to get others on board with helping Solfed get to its objective in the first place seems tricky if not actually insurmountable.)

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Feb 20 2011 22:12

Okay, let me interject with my idiot's reading of the situation. Let me see if I have my logic straight:

Some AF members would like to join SolFed's Industrial Networks. Right.

Some SolFed members are saying you should have to join SolFed if you want to be in a Network. Right.

However, SolFed members have also pointed out that Industrial Networks are an inherent part of SolFed, not seperate from it, but a core part of the organisation.

So therefore, if an AF member was allowed to join of a Network they would, by definition, be a part of SolFed.

Doesn't this mean that we're all sat here quibbling over semantics? Surely the only real issue here is over these new members' exact conditions of affiliation to the Networks (i.e. dues to be paid, duplication of effort such as meetings, etc). By my understanding, if an AF member was allowed to join a network, they would become an active part of SolFed by virtue of being a member of the network and abiding by it's Aims and Principles.

Like I say, this is an idiot's reading of a very complex issue, but I can't shake the feeling that there is a compromise that could be reached, with all parties' principles being left intact.

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Feb 21 2011 00:54

Auto, some AF members want in on the industrial networks but are opposed to joining SF. I conclude this is primarily because they have problems with our politics outlined as being our fundamental definition of unionism, ie does it mediate in the 'interests' of workers? and how do we define ourselves towards non-members?

Ignoring the rather tedious issue around semantics of 'whats a union?' I think its difficult to overcome this issue here on libcom because as knightrose highlights he and others are convinced some SF members are "want[ing] to create a mass union in the traditional sense." Which I find a little difficult to fathom.

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Feb 21 2011 01:07

having spent the weekend discussing this, hopefully some stuff should be forthcoming at a national level which might dispell some of the misconceptions here.

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Feb 21 2011 11:50

I would just like to say that I now understand what Joseph is talking about - I figured it out around the same time as Mike did, and his long post above I think spells

out the position pretty well.

Having understood Joseph's position, pretty much I agree with him. But I would not say that the AF is qualitatively different from Solfed in terms of being purely

political as opposed to political-economic.

However, I would say that the comments of some AF members on here, where again some AF members are talking about joining Solfed industrial networks in order to "do"

economic stuff does add evidence to what Joseph was saying about the AF being a political organisation, doing economic stuff through other organisations (like the IWW

in the past). But as was pointed out previously this was not everyone. And as has also been pointed out there are tendencies in the AF towards acting in a political-

economic way, for example members sharing their situations at work, members being militants in their workplaces etc.

So I support the idea of political-economic organisation that Joseph is talking about. However, I think it is also important that such organisation should intervene in

political respects, as Alf points out.

Trying to bring things down to a very practical level, while I believe in that sort of organisation, and am a member of the AF who thinks that the AF should act more

like that, I have concerns about the actual practicalities of some of it.

The organiser training, I think that is all good. The industrial networks, they are a nice idea, but I don't think we should expend energy trying to build them where

they will not be worthwhile. For example, I am a council worker, and am a militant in my workplace. My department had members of two unions in, but was unorganised and

passive, but after a year and a half of organising work this changed to having a pretty active level of organisation, with more members of one union, and participation

in meetings and action (including a boycott and strike) from nonmembers and agency workers. I'm sure that other AF members do stuff like this as well. But I haven't really talked to other AF members about it, although I have posted on here about it. There is not really anything other AF members could do to help me with it.

If I hadn't had support from other union reps in my branch, nor had the benefit of reading about workplace organising attempts on libcom and elsewhere, then being part

of a bigger organisation with people to advise me on stuff like that would have been great.

However, I think there are a few issues worth discussing, which perhaps should be in a new thread as this one has now got totally derailed (this stuff would be better

back in the role of the political organisation/revolutionary union one). Some of these issues are:
-having networks for the sake of it would be pointless, and a waste of effort (see MWR interview quote: "1000 times nothing is still nothing"), there has to be a real basis for it.
-I am a council worker, and public sector worker, but can't see any particular benefit to me being in a council workers, or public sector workers network. Many aspects of my job are very similar to lots of work in the private sector for example, and I work alongside outsourced colleagues in the voluntary and private sectors. And most issues which affect me at work are local, so I share them with people in the same office or employer.
-Focusing on us organising in our everyday lives is all good, and completely where our attention should be focused. However, small defensive struggles are not that significant when it comes to huge events when they occur, such as the current crisis and austerity, or the war in Iraq etc, so we still need to think about ways to try to have some sort of impact here.
-Avoiding duplication with much bigger, reformist organisations. Things like producing rights at work leaflets is very time-consuming for small organisations, and much bigger organisations like the TUC/worksmart already produce very good material around this.
-Similarly, organising training is provided free by the TUC to union reps, and most of this is based on organising models which focus on collectivising issues. I'm not sure how much difference there would be between this and more radical training. I would really like to attend a Solfed training to see the difference.

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Feb 21 2011 13:03
Steven. wrote:
-Avoiding duplication with much bigger, reformist organisations. Things like producing rights at work leaflets is very time-consuming for small organisations, and much bigger organisations like the TUC/worksmart already produce very good material around this.
-Similarly, organising training is provided free by the TUC to union reps, and most of this is based on organising models which focus on collectivising issues. I'm not sure how much difference there would be between this and more radical training. I would really like to attend a Solfed training to see the difference.

Just to focus on these last two points, I'd say that even though I broadly agree, I think you are taking some of these things at face value..

For instance, yeah, the TUC Worksmart website is very good for your rights at work etc and so we shouldn't be trying to duplicate that (coz, well, they're better than us at that and we shouldn't be relying on TU legislation anyway).. but having something that outlines people's rights at work make a good starting point for a conversation about conditions (esp. as often, employers don't even give a toss about respecting really shitty basic workplace rights!)..

Also, given that 80-odd% of the UK works in the service sector and the TUC is completely unable to organise it, I think things like Stuff Your Boss can make good headway in making links in the style of SeaSol etc whereas the TUC is doing next to nothing in that direction (I would hazard a guess that most service workers would only have heard of the TUC from TV, and even fewer would have heard of Worksmart)..

As for TUC rep training. Two main points, firstly, it's only open to union reps and given that two-thirds of workers don't even have a union, let alone the opportunity to be reps in their workplace, I think it's not particularly useful to most workers. Secondly, I don't know about your training, but when I did rep training, I think we spent less than one training session (out of ten) on collectivising grievances.. the rest was about how to look up legislation, how to handle individual grievances, role-plays of negotiations with management in completely abstract contexts ("the union wants to negotiate with management on improving environmentally friendly work practices at the factory" - no joke)..

Anyway, gotta eat and leave again for work.. flexible working hours.. delicious.. wink

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Feb 21 2011 13:25

Yeah the point of Stuff Your Boss etc isn't to be a free advice service, it's an agitational tool to start a conversation about conditions (the solution to which is direct action, not legalism, though e.g. grievance procedures can be used tactically, such as to stall management initiatives). And I'd be absolutely amazed if TUC rep training was all about building for unmediated direct action which serves as a practical education in anarchist ideas!

I'll reply properly later, no time atm.

Yorkie Bar
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Feb 22 2011 05:56
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However, I would say that the comments of some AF members on here, where again some AF members are talking about joining Solfed industrial networks in order to "do"

economic stuff does add evidence to what Joseph was saying about the AF being a political organisation, doing economic stuff through other organisations

Why is it that whenever I'm referred to as "an/some AF member(s)" on here I get this awful feeling I've done something wrong. sad.

I'd just like to say that I don't want to join the SolFed industrial networks to do economic stuff (I'm a middle class student anyway, remember?), I want there to be joint industrial networks which the two organisations would support through 'political-economic' activity. So, local AFed groups would help out and support workers in their industries in the same manner as SolFed locals.

Of course, I've no real experience of workplace organising so maybe I should just shut my trap and leave it to those (like Steven.) who have a bit more idea what they're talking about. I certainly agree that the AF shouldn't be a 'strictly political' organisation, and I'm all for us taking on political-economic functions as described by SolFed.

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Feb 22 2011 09:29
Yorkie Bar wrote:
Of course, I've no real experience of workplace organising so maybe I should just shut my trap and leave it to those (like Steven.) who have a bit more idea what they're talking about.

It is not just you though. I don't think that many young people today have much experience of it at all. It is a result of the period we live in. I can't imagine that many of the people on this thread have been in a mass meeting or on a strike committee.

I remember a couple of years ago talking to Steven once about the amount of experience that people have regarding this, and mentioning when he said he had very little experience that compared to some people he actually had quite a lot.

I don't think it is a reason to 'shut your trap'.

Devrim

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Feb 22 2011 09:49
Devrim wrote:
Yorkie Bar wrote:
Of course, I've no real experience of workplace organising so maybe I should just shut my trap and leave it to those (like Steven.) who have a bit more idea what they're talking about.

It is not just you though. I don't think that many young people today have much experience of it at all. It is a result of the period we live in. I can't imagine that many of the people on this thread have been in a mass meeting or on a strike committee.

I remember a couple of years ago talking to Steven once about the amount of experience that people have regarding this, and mentioning when he said he had very little experience that compared to some people he actually had quite a lot.

I don't think it is a reason to 'shut your trap'.

Devrim

Yeah, don't feel like you shouldn't say anything - I know that I am very unusual in my situation, especially for someone my age, but basically that is due to my disability which means that I can't change employer (for fear of being sacked). If it weren't for that I would have got the hell out of here to try to get a job for more money years ago. And I think you can only really be in a position to be organising when you have been somewhere for quite a while and are respected by your colleagues. Before this I was a temp for like seven years and could only do a couple of tiny really basic organising things, but otherwise nothing…

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Feb 22 2011 11:09
Steven. wrote:
And I think you can only really be in a position to be organising when you have been somewhere for quite a while and are respected by your colleagues…

I'd agree with that, in the type of jobs where people are likely to be there long-term, or the type of job where you have to be seen to 'earn your dues'. But in the sort of places SolFed might be looking at (retail/service/places TUC unions wouldnt be interested in), theres a good chance that few people, perhaps nobody, have been there for 'quite a while'.

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Feb 22 2011 13:05
Steven. wrote:
However, I think it is also important that such organisation should intervene in political respects, as Alf points out.

i think this is problematic, 'yeah that all sounds good, but so does this, it's all good'. different kind of organisations are set up to different things, i'm by no means convinced you can do all things under one roof, nor that it's desirable. the theoretical/tactical unity required to make coherent interventions as an organisation seems to be much tighter than that required to organise struggles.

i mean, it's kinda academic. if there's a (proto) revolutionary union type of organisation and some big struggles come along completely apart from it (as will surely happen), it can 'intervene' from a position of strength having got some rep for organising/solidarity. if it proves unsuited to doing so, members of it can decide to form specific political organisations in order to do so.

Steven. wrote:
The industrial networks, they are a nice idea, but I don't think we should expend energy trying to build them where they will not be worthwhile. For example, I am a council worker, and am a militant in my workplace. My department had members of two unions in, but was unorganised and passive, but after a year and a half of organising work this changed to having a pretty active level of organisation, with more members of one union, and participation in meetings and action (including a boycott and strike) from nonmembers and agency workers. I'm sure that other AF members do stuff like this as well. But I haven't really talked to other AF members about it, although I have posted on here about it. There is not really anything other AF members could do to help me with it.

If I hadn't had support from other union reps in my branch, nor had the benefit of reading about workplace organising attempts on libcom and elsewhere, then being part of a bigger organisation with people to advise me on stuff like that would have been great.

i think this is also a bit problematic; you know full well what's wrong with trade unions, yet see them as the best way to organise at work! (since you'd only want a revolutionary organisation backing you in their absence?). i don't think we should be actively building up participation in organisations we know to be anti-working class, but rather should be trying to organise independently as much as possible (which may well be under the umbrella of union meetings etc, which may well be what you've done).

methods matter - direct action is a practical educatation in anarchist ideas. it's not just about getting people to a meeting or to respect a strike/boycott, but also getting people to take on organsing tasks, bringing a friend to the next meeting, determining the action etc. You may well have done a lot of this too, and good on you. but personally i'd never assume that with the help of a trade union i had all the support and know-how i needed to organise.

Steven. wrote:
having networks for the sake of it would be pointless

if you can point me to somebody advocating setting up networks "for the sake of it", then i'll respond to your point wink

Steven. wrote:
I am a council worker, and public sector worker, but can't see any particular benefit to me being in a council workers, or public sector workers network. Many aspects of my job are very similar to lots of work in the private sector for example, and I work alongside outsourced colleagues in the voluntary and private sectors. And most issues which affect me at work are local, so I share them with people in the same office or employer.

firstly, questions as to organise on an industrial/local/trade/craft etc basis are questions of how and not if to organise a revolutionary union, so this is less important than 'top level' discussion of political vs political-economic. three points though: (1) that's precisely why we have a dual industrial and local structure, rather than one or the other (you can organise on the most appropriate basis, it being quite flexible), and (2) i'm still not sure you've got the logic of industrial organising. it isn't about your subjective experience of work, since you've certainly got more in common with some hipster admin in a bank than the cleaner in your council office. it's about power, and seeking to organise the workplace, its supply chain and its competitors. obviously that's some way ahead of where we are now, but the whole point of a strategy is to aim beyond where we're at.

(3) even in local government, i'd imagine many issues are industry wide (and so could benefit from industrial networking even at a propaganda level, industrial bulletins etc). it's not just your local authority making cutbacks etc, the way capitalism works means industries tend to be effected in similar ways at the same time, at different times to other industries (e.g. i was laid off from the financial sector 18 months ago, public sector redundancies are only just beginning).

Steven. wrote:
Focusing on us organising in our everyday lives is all good, and completely where our attention should be focused. However, small defensive struggles are not that significant when it comes to huge events when they occur, such as the current crisis and austerity, or the war in Iraq etc, so we still need to think about ways to try to have some sort of impact here.

i would say we can't have any less impact on big things for building up capacity and reputation for organising work in the decade or so downtime between such huge events. i mean if you'd got to the point over 5 years where you'd been marching into your boss' office en masse, demanding and winning concessions, even winning you your job back when you got fired for organising (this has all happened in the Starbucks IWW iirc), then you'd be in a much, much stronger position to organise industrial action against the war, say.

and if you were in a network of local government workers who'd been doing the same thing, there might even be the possibility of co-ordinated action, acting as a pole of attraction to the huge numbers of people newly mobilised by opposition to the war. obviously, i'm not saying we can single-handedly organise an industry-wide anti-war general strike by mere patient day-to-day organising, only that we'll be in a better position to organise something than if we don't. i mean i think only two individuals 'struck' over the war (the train drivers), it's well within the realms of possibility we could do better than that (even if it was on-the-job action or whatever, strikes aren't always the best form of direct action - you risk your job, don't get paid, leave the workplace free for scabs etc).

Steven. wrote:
Avoiding duplication with much bigger, reformist organisations. Things like producing rights at work leaflets is very time-consuming for small organisations, and much bigger organisations like the TUC/worksmart already produce very good material around this.
-Similarly, organising training is provided free by the TUC to union reps, and most of this is based on organising models which focus on collectivising issues. I'm not sure how much difference there would be between this and more radical training. I would really like to attend a Solfed training to see the difference.

replied to this already:

Joseph Kay wrote:
the point of Stuff Your Boss etc isn't to be a free advice service, it's an agitational tool to start a conversation about conditions (the solution to which is direct action, not legalism, though e.g. grievance procedures can be used tactically, such as to stall management initiatives). And I'd be absolutely amazed if TUC rep training was all about building for unmediated direct action which serves as a practical education in anarchist ideas!
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Joseph Kay
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Feb 22 2011 13:20
PartyBucket wrote:
Steven. wrote:
And I think you can only really be in a position to be organising when you have been somewhere for quite a while and are respected by your colleagues…

I'd agree with that, in the type of jobs where people are likely to be there long-term, or the type of job where you have to be seen to 'earn your dues'. But in the sort of places SolFed might be looking at (retail/service/places TUC unions wouldnt be interested in), theres a good chance that few people, perhaps nobody, have been there for 'quite a while'.

Steven, i actually think this is really wrong-headed, although understandable as it's the attitude i had for my first few jobs (which reflects lack of experience, etc). i kept my head down, didn't rock the boat, then got let go. and again. sooner or later it dawned on me you just have to get on with it. that doesn't mean taking reckless risks or being a loudmouth revolutionary or whatever, and i would certainly have done a better job of it with organisational support rather than making it up as i go along.

i mean you might not be able to organise an action until you've got to know people, 'earned your dues' etc, but you can be organising from day one (physically and socially mapping the workplace, thinking about the flow of production and any bottlenecks, making notes of gripes and grievances and a whole load of other preparatory work). the one job i worked where people had been there long term (an office of a factory, the two women closest to me in the office had both been there 25 years), i don't think my newness would have been an issue. maybe in other sectors it would be more so, but i still think you could probably do stuff, even basic groundwork rather than waiting for the time to be right, which will probably never come. but sure, respect is something you earn, as is trust, both of which are essential.

radicalgraffiti
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Feb 22 2011 14:19
Joseph Kay wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
i don't see why members of afed would want to join another political organisation (again) to do stuff they could do exactly the same within afed

Well why do you want to join, but not join? This doesn't make any sense. As people have stated over and over there isn't 'SolFed' over here and some 'Networks' over there; SolFed consists of locals and networks and so this makes about as much sense as wanting to join the AF womens caucus of the Resistance collective 'but not join AF'. And this suggests that people don't actually 'get' what networks are, seeing the networks as 'economic' and the locals as 'political' (and thus duplicating the AF). At present both networks and locals are political organisations oriented to the economic sphere. They mutually support each other. Are you seriously saying that an AF education worker in, Brighton say, wouldn't meet with local members of other networks? Because if they would, that's called a local!

To save repeating myself anymore, I'm just going to literally repeat myself:

Joseph Kay wrote:
fwiw, as of last national conference, all SF members are supposed to be attached to a local and a network (setting these up is still in progress), but are free to direct their activities towards each as they see fit. So if you were solely active in your network, and your local was ok with that, that would be fine. In principle, AF members could join as dual members, negotiate with their local only to pay subs to the network (only the EWN has subs at present, afaik) and be mainly active through that.

To me, if you had a local in your area it seems weird you'd only participate in SF via network email/skype conferences but not face-to-face meetings. But you'd be within your rights to do so (like i say, subject to agreement with your local). Obviously if you were geographically isolated from SF locals this would make a lot of sense (as it does for isolated SF members).

you don't seem to have understood my post
what i'm saying is, afed has industrial networks, now these are still being formed, but i don't see why an afed member who wanted to be in an industrial network with other libertarian communists would decided that there best option was to join solfed rather than building up the internal afed networks? except in a couple of cases where there is already an active solfed group in the area. it seems to me it would make more sense for solfed members to join afed and build our industrial networks.

Tommy Ascaso wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
When a load of you joined the IWW you were effectively running a number of the branches,

i was never a member of the iww but i think this is one reason that many members that joined iww have since left.
i don't see why members of afed would want to join another political organisation (again) to do stuff they could do exactly the same within afed

So do you actually think that SF is just 'another political organisation'? I'm struggling to understand why you're asking to join part of our organisation, but not all of it. It seems to me that the AF still doesn't understand SF or the way we organise, I'm not sure if this is a failure on our side to articulate it clearly, or a failure on yours either way it would be good to resolve it as I don't think we are ever likely to just let people join the networks without joining the organisation.

i thought it was generally acknowledge by solfeders on libcom that solfed is a political organisation, i'm not sure why you would dispute this?

radicalgraffiti
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Feb 22 2011 15:08

i'm having a lot of trouble seeing what those differances are, at lest if the members who post on libcom are actual representative of solfed.

I half think we should all join solfed, if only to see your reaction.

the form a revolutionary union that solfed could dissolve its self into dosn't seem to be an option since solfed refuses to consider joint networks or most other joint work, and mostly just says join solfed.

edit.
did you delete your post?
when you say organise struggles, if you mean we should try to initiate struggles where we can and try to influence them in a libertarian communist direction, then is that not inherent to anarchist communism?