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

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

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

Posted By

playinghob
Mar 27 2008 22:34

Share

Attached files

Comments

JoeMaguire
Feb 25 2011 02:04

Devrim, the problem with the sex pamphlet is that it does not help orientate the organisation in practical work and as nothing to do with quality control. If we wanted to put something together about sex workers organising or offering them support then I would jump for joy. Otherwise I found the piece objectionable because it was a non-practical political document, and secondly it was full of the worse kind of moralism about porn, as though we should just abandon the people who work in said industry. From a communist point of view it was moralistic rubbish derived from liberal feminism.

Ronan, I am clearly not arguing to abandon 'politics', SF members are anarchist-communists and not about to lose our position on anti-imperialism, simply we do not need to replicate a body of ideas that already exists in the movement. To argue we should smacks as surreal for a communist. I am not a sectarian, if people outside SF produce good work, I am willing to say and argue so. I don't like the trots feel the need to argue someone else's point like its mine or my groups own.

If AF/or any political entity did not exist I could only speculate to the outcome, because its a hypothetical question. They do exist, why do we in SF need then to broach a series of theoretical ideas on war, environment, gender etc?

communal_pie
Feb 25 2011 02:56

Keeping multiple anarchist organisations intact sounds lilke a good idea to me, don't merge Solfed with AFed or even suggest such a ridiculous thing. Instead, a new organisation in which both groups participates sounds like a perfect idea, maybe you can chuck L&S in there too.

A mixed group with political and economic aims, which has a broad base of semi-politicised workers as the majority within it, sounds like a good idea to me. If you can win workers over by actually being a useful organisation, then you can do something really, really good. I don't see why left-communists couldn;t participate in such an organisation either. This isn't necessarily possible practically, but in the near future it may well be worth a shot.

Devrim
Feb 25 2011 10:51
JoeMaguire wrote:
Devrim, the problem with the sex pamphlet is that it does not help orientate the organisation in practical work and as nothing to do with quality control. If we wanted to put something together about sex workers organising or offering them support then I would jump for joy. Otherwise I found the piece objectionable because it was a non-practical political document, and secondly it was full of the worse kind of moralism about porn, as though we should just abandon the people who work in said industry. From a communist point of view it was moralistic rubbish derived from liberal feminism.

I was actually joking about quality control based on this comment:

JoeMaguire wrote:
in terms of content it was extremely bad, was pretty much slated heavily by everyone

The thing about "not help[ing] orientate the organisation in practical work" is an important consideration though. I think it comes down to the way federalism is interpreted in some cases. Should a branch of an organisation be ale to 'set the agenda' for the whole organisation?

Devrim

no1
Feb 25 2011 13:00
wrote:
I disagreed with it hugely, but I'd defend fully their 'right' to publish it.

Will you defend to the death their right to publish it, Mr Voltaire?

(I agree of course, just being silly)

Harrison
Mar 9 2011 15:19

this thread has been going on for TWO YEARS!

on another note....
is there a chance that Network X might evolve into a federation of federations?
it could be run by delegates from each organisation.

i only discovered anarchism/left marxism about a year ago, and the main thing that has prevented me from joining a group is the fact i have to choose from a myriad of very similar groups.

an over-arching federation would be really nice. you could even do the stupid EU thing of having a principle of 'working toward ever closer union'.

Spikymike
Mar 9 2011 15:58

Harrison,

Well it would be interesting to know how N-X is doing in London and elsewhere (for another or refreshed thread perhaps) as I'm not sure from my experience that it has progressed very far in the North West - as yet. It seems to have some potential for linking together the libertarian anti-cuts movement but despite the formal adoption of an anarchist-communist political statement it is not as grounded as the cross section of groups who put that statement together at the national gathering. That cross section which included the AF and SolFed has much more potential to work together in practice but as you can see from this and similar threads it is no easy matter.

As to reasons for not joining any of the existing groups you need perhaps go no further than the derailed thread 'Libcom posters not in formal orgs' under 'General'.

But in London especially there is much you can still do both on your own and in cooperation with various groups without joining! so don't despair. ( Edit.PS: just noticed from other threads that you were of course doing that anyway).

nastyned
Mar 9 2011 20:08

Harrison: There aren't going to be any moves towards closer organisational unity I'm afraid. sad

But now the SolFed are a revolutionary union in all but size you should have a clear choice of which you feel closet to: anarchist communism or anarcho-syndicalism.

Ed
Mar 9 2011 20:52

Ned, I really have no idea how you came to that conclusion from what SFers on this thread have said. And, to be perfectly honest, the tone of your post has the feel of someone who's just stuck their neck in to have a snipe rather than contribute any friendly or constructive criticism. "There aren't going to be any moves towards closer organisational unity I'm afraid" sounds like it should be finished with "at least, not if I have anything to do with it"..

Even from my position in another country, I know that AF and SF people are working together on two things in London at the moment.. sounds like "moves towards closer organisational unity" to me, at least in activity.. and isn't that what's important?

Awesome Dude
Mar 10 2011 11:02
Ed wrote:
Ned, I really have no idea how you came to that conclusion from what SFers on this thread have said. And, to be perfectly honest, the tone of your post has the feel of someone who's just stuck their neck in to have a snipe rather than contribute any friendly or constructive criticism. "There aren't going to be any moves towards closer organisational unity I'm afraid" sounds like it should be finished with "at least, not if I have anything to do with it"..

Even from my position in another country, I know that AF and SF people are working together on two things in London at the moment.. sounds like "moves towards closer organisational unity" to me, at least in activity.. and isn't that what's important?

I'm afraid Nastyned is right. I think it's time people stoped dreaming of an artificial synthesist 'federation of federations'. Anarchist Federation and Solidarity Federation have each got a clear set of politics defining how they see the class war being won. That doesn't mean they cant work closely together (they'd be stupid not to) or build something new that corresponds to developments in the class war in late capitalism (and personally I think that's whats needed). But for now it comes down to whether you think this (Winning the class war - An anarcho-syndicalist strategy) or this (THE UNION MAKES US STRONG? ) is a good interpretation.

flaneur
Mar 10 2011 13:19

Two anarcho-communist groups on the same page doesn't equate to synthesism either. It's not like Stirnerites are in the mix.

Ed
Mar 10 2011 13:56
blackrainbow wrote:
I'm afraid Nastyned is right. I think it's time people stoped dreaming of an artificial synthesist 'federation of federations'.

I wasn't saying that I think AF and SF will (or even should) merge. I was more taking issue with Ned's uncomradely charicature of SF's position ("But now the SolFed are a revolutionary union in all but size"). The projects in London I mentioned are things which point towards better inter-organisational co-operation (I neither think they are nor want them to be a precursor to a new 'federation of federations').. a kind of co-operation I'm glad to see happening regardless of nastyned's sniping.

Spikymike
Mar 10 2011 14:51

blackrainbow,

Those two older summary statements are valuable, and from my point of view that from the AF, based on sound historical experience, draws the correct conclusion.

But at the risk of setting this off on the same merry-go-round, hasn't the discussion moved on a bit to the point where the SolFed's promised clarification of it's understanding of the nature and function of an a-s union (at least in Britain at present), as in practice a 'minority' 'political-economic' organisation rather than a staightforward alternative, more radical union (as in theory would be the IWW), come close to the AF's understanding of what, in their terminology, would be an 'organised network of workplace militants' but with perhaps a more definitive political basis that both organisations could share??

I have expressed my own doubts elsewhere as to the potential to develop this proposed SolFed model to any great extent at present, but in principle, this 'division of functions' approach could work for members of both organisations at some future point in time ?

The 'proof of the pudding will be in the eating' though, as theory and practice are not always so easily united.

Harrison
Mar 10 2011 22:40
flaneur wrote:
Two anarcho-communist groups on the same page doesn't equate to synthesism either. It's not like Stirnerites are in the mix.

exactly, we're all class-struggle.

blackrainbow wrote:
I'm afraid Nastyned is right. I think it's time people stoped dreaming of an artificial synthesist 'federation of federations'.

poltical and economic struggles compliment each other, and they always have done. (CNT, FAI ..... AAUD, KAPD)
and there are groups like the commune that like to keep their marxist analysis, but operate almost identically to AF.

i'm not saying 'everyone abandon your current organisations/positions and join this new mushy one', i'm saying keep your group and political autonomy, just operate within a higher federation, and work together on as many things as possible, retaining your autonomy for things you disagree over.

how can anyone here place any hope in a federated society, when our tiny class-struggle organisations cannot federate to produce monthly magazines?

Awesome Dude
Mar 12 2011 01:54
Spikymike wrote:
Those two older summary statements are valuable, and from my point of view that from the AF, based on sound historical experience, draws the correct conclusion.

You're absolutely right about those two statements: they're pure poetry that succinctly sum up both organisations.

About a week and a half ago I stumbled by chance in to posi and the commune types at my local pub. Posi wanted to know why I hadn't joined a political organisation. More specifically why I hadnt joined the commune after attending countless meetings. He saliently pointed out that I have had quite a track record of joining and then fucking off from political organisations. And it's true: first Robert Mugabes' ZANU-PF ('forced' as a three year old to join my old mans' former organisation during the transition from colonial Rhodesia to Zimbabwe), then seduced into join the Old Labour party by my old school lefty trade unionist uncle (he worked for British Telecom as an engineer. As a minor I use to wonder why they always threatened strike action and now as a worker I now know exactly why. I remember him coming home one day after strike action the day clause 4 had been dropped by the British Labour Party and having me sit down. He pulled out his trade union and labour party card and set both on fire, looked me in the eyes and told me socialism had just been murdered in Britain), I then joined the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) out of liberal guilt after personally witnessing this
. I left the MDC after coming to a class analysis that it was weak when pitted againsed the efficiantly organised ruling party (ZANU-PF) because of its' cross class nature (it was heavily supported by very rich white commercial farmers and impovershed workers through the Zimbabwean Trade Union Congress). I then made my biggest political blunder and joined the Militant tendency
(a.k.a the Socialist Party of England Wales much to SPGBs' irritation). But I learned the most precious political lesson a worker can have: there is no difference between liberal and state capitalism (capitalism is the same no matter what shape it takes). I fucked off joined the Anarchist Federation and left for reasons that were unclear (tbh the worker in me was getting pissed off with the predominant dilettante petit-bourgeois lifestyle orientation of British anarchism).

I am glad to tell you all that after attending a London Anarchist Federation meeting last night (the first in almost two years) I have now rejoined the organisation. And it was this piece of poetry that did it. No offence to the Solidarity Federation comrades but we've had a good two years of arguing why I was not in your organisation, which towards the end descended in to unhealthy rants and personal slanders (to be fair my sectarian effort two London Anarchist Book fairs ago didn't help). I'd still like to know how my council communist orientated political outlook would fit in solfeds politics? I seriously thought The Brighton Manifesto was a move in the right direction. I am still in the IWW (and know exactly why I'm in it without illusions) and intend to remain in it for the foreseeable future. I agree that we need to comradely discuss the IWAs' relationship with the IWW (especially with the development of the Red and Black committee of non-IWA syndicalist unions). I think this can only be done in a regular (quarterly?) open format Syndicalist Forum where organisational and theoretical positions and solidarity intervention proposals (like joint solidarity efforts of the Berns cleaners type) are discussed in an honest and comradely fashion. I'll shortly draw up a proposal for a London Syndicalist Forum and see where that takes us. I don't think Internet discussion about the IWA and the IWW are going to get us anywhere and I wont take part in it.

Spikymike wrote:
But at the risk of setting this off on the same merry-go-round, hasn't the discussion moved on a bit to the point where the SolFed's promised clarification of it's understanding of the nature and function of an a-s union (at least in Britain at present), as in practice a 'minority' 'political-economic' organisation rather than a straightforward alternative, more radical union (as in theory would be the IWW), come close to the AF's understanding of what, in their terminology, would be an 'organised network of workplace militants' but with perhaps a more definitive political basis that both organisations could share??.

That clarification is sorely awaited comrades.

Spikymike wrote:
The 'proof of the pudding will be in the eating' though, as theory and practise are not always so easily united.

The one thing I love about proletarians is their attitudes regarding those who are trying to sell them of something: they absolutely hate bull shitters. If you talk the talk, you better damn well better be able to walk the fucking walk.

Joseph Kay
Mar 11 2011 10:26
blackrainbow wrote:
[But for now it comes down to whether you think this (Winning the class war - An anarcho-syndicalist strategy) or this (THE UNION MAKES US STRONG? ) is a good interpretation.

You realise the conclusion to the AF piece is an endorsement of SolFed's strategy?

blackrainbow wrote:
In Britain, for example, the tactic by anarcho-syndicalists (Solidarity Federation) to set-up networks of militants in various industries is one we would support. Rather than being the foundation for an eventual 'general' union, however, we would see such co-ordinations as a means to building revolutionary workplace groups linking with militants locally and beyond. Such groups would produce propaganda, organise resistance groups, intervene in struggles and argue for self-organisation at all times. When struggles break out these networks would co-ordinate action and promote the creation of strike and struggle committees outside of union control. When struggles end, these groups maintain an organised presence, bringing together militants in order to build for further struggles. Such groups would be linked, not by a union-type structure but organically

but of course it's not aiming at a revolutionary union, but at "revolutionary workplace groups" (i.e. the same thing). it's not a "union-type structure" (federalism?), it's "organic". which seems like word games.

Edit: But i reiterate, if people aren't sure what SolFed think, or think the views on libcom are unrepresentative, there's hopefully some new pamphlets in the works on practical workplace organisation and a more theoretical/historical account of anarcho-syndicalism and its relation to other traditions. fingers crossed these will be proposed as national publications (there's a motion to do so, conference is in April). When those appear, AFed can discuss them and if there really is no difference other than you'd prefer to call a revolutionary union a revolutionary workplace group, then a 'merger' is a serious proposal rather than perennial wishful thinking. On the flipside if the disagreements are more substantive, we can put this talk to rest and pursue co-operation wherever there's overlap, made easier by mutual understanding. Either way rightly or wrongly the ball's in our court to produce something as a national organisation outlining our approach.

Battlescarred
Mar 11 2011 11:58

Tommy Ascaso: "It is good to hear you've joined an organisation comrade! How many of you are there now? I'd been starting to worry we'd completely left the AF behind through our recent growth!"
Is there really any useful purpose for this group triumphalism, which doesn't help cooperation between the 2 organisations at all and to boot dwells in the realms of fantasy as to relative numerical stremgth of SF and AF

Joseph Kay
Mar 11 2011 12:16
Battlescarred wrote:
Is there really any useful purpose for this group triumphalism

no. jim, stfu eh?

Joseph Kay
Mar 11 2011 12:56

Pride before a fall mate wink

Edit: does that sound like I'm threatening London SolFed? tongue

Rob Ray
Mar 11 2011 14:47
Quote:
Is there really any useful purpose for this group triumphalism

North and South London have been trash-talking each other about sizes, banners etc recently in a jokey way cos we've both been doing alright, which just didn't translate well cos it was out of context.

JK, we'd blatantly swamp your Brighton kung-fu skills with sheer numbers tongue.

Battlescarred
Mar 11 2011 16:46

OK, Fairy Nuff.
Sizes? Oooerrr!!!

JoeMaguire
Mar 14 2011 00:06

The low point from what I can see was around mid 2005 around education networking. Since the beginning of this thread generally, mutual respect as grown, there has been a greater understanding around political/economic strategies (which have tightened both groups up IMO), we have done joint political activity and now have a handful of joint members.

These things have not come easy and there are plenty of naysayers in both groups but I am resilient that things will improve and with more intense class battles it will hopefully provide more fruition.

T La Palli
Jul 17 2011 14:53
Joseph Kay wrote:
Personally I'd favour turning DA into a web magazine and resurrecting the Black Flag proposal from earlier in this thread, if there's any traction to that it will turn into a formal proposal, but it's impossible to say at the moment because we haven't discussed it as an organisation, and our last opportunity to do so was postponed.

Since postponing a discussion on this, has there been another opportunity?

I just noticed from the website that the last Direct Action was summer 2009, is this right?

Rob Ray
Jul 17 2011 15:24

Most recent thing on it is that there will be a new DA at some point, but atm the media collective is still getting itself together so whether that'll be in time for the bookfair I dunno.