Fascism, anti-fascism and anarchism

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The Blast
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Feb 18 2004 10:58
Fascism, anti-fascism and anarchism

Sorry if the title of this thread is somewhat grander than this initial post to it, but I couldn’t think of another.

I’ve been over on Urban 75 reading the “Fascists Bashed” thread and started to get pretty wound up by it. I was going to register and post there but decided I couldn’t be bothered with dealing with responses from 1) The liberal whingers, and 2) The sanctimonious ex-AFA types who are either RA/IWCA or have bought in to their “we need to drop absolutely ALL other activity and join THE organisation that is providing the REAL alternative for the working class” line. Some of us, of course, have never seen militant anti-fascism and community/workplace activism as mutually exclusive categories.

Anyway, on to the matter in hand. I can’t think of many anarchists at all who do solely anti-fascist work. Maybe there are some out there, but I don’t know them. Most of us are involved in building an alternative to both the BNP and capitalism in general for working class people to get involved in, and have been doing so for quite a few years.

We all do this in different ways, depending on whether we work, are students, unemployed, etc but as I understand it most of us seem to be involved in grassroots organising of some kind or another.

I suspect that our political opponents would ignore/rubbish these efforts regardless. However I believe that our lack of co-ordination of these efforts, and our failure to publicise them in a consistent manner, only makes it easy for them. And so they paint a picture of us anarchists as incapable of providing a revolutionary alternative for people to tap in to.

As well as this, our disorganisation doesn’t just make us appear less effective, it actually does make us less effective.

So, assuming that people reading this are anarchists who want to get stuck in to building an revolutionary alternative for working class people, here are some practical suggestions for you to mull over:

1) We need to publicise what we do more. All anarchists involved in grassroots campaigns could send reports of their activities to the main 3 feds and Freedom who then publicise them. The 3 Feds and Freedom could prioritise this sort of news (that is, stuff relevant to working class people) over and above news written for the benefit of other anarchists. They could also positively encourage submissions of this sort from aligned and non-aligned anarchists alike.

2) We should be working together more at a local level. We should not be wasting time organising big national events like Resist G8 and Mayday in central London. We should argue against others sucking people in to these dead end activities.

We should be getting organised where we live, work or study and encourage others to do the same. In a nutshell, we need to put down some roots.

There are a number of ways we can do this. The most obvious is to meet up with other anarchists in your area and see if you have enough in common to work together. If you do then you could try producing a local news sheet together – something simple and cheap like a double-sided A4 effort is enough to get the ball rolling. Dish it out locally and see what response you get. Once you are up to issue 2 or 3 you should start getting feedback from people and may even have flushed some other anarchists out of the woodwork.

To aid this, article sharing should be encouraged. Maybe enrager could facilitate this by providing an article “dump”. All articles written by the different local groups around Britain that might have more widespread appeal could go in there. In the Walthamstow Anarchist Group we have published a lot of practical anti-bailiff info that has been reproduced by others. In turn, we have nicked stuff of the WMA website. A more formal pool of articles would make this sharing easier and so hopefully encourage the growth of local publications.

3) We need to talk to each other more. Again, maybe a forum on enrager dedicated to local class based activity could be set up. Maybe there should be a once-a-year meeting of anarchists involved in this sort of work. I recently discovered that a group of anarchists in South London have been campaigning against the very same organisation that w@g has north of the river and we didn’t even know it for the best part of a year. This is crazy!

4) Join the national federation that you are closest to politically or that has a local/regional group in your area. For some reason suggesting something like this is perceived as lefty recruiting by some, whereas calls to join in with Mayday organising groups (for example) aren’t. Personally I don’t see the difference. And I actually do think that people should sign up to either Class War, SolFed or the Anarchist Federation (I’m in the latter) for very practical reasons.

This would immediately lessen a lot of the shortcomings outlined above.

To finish, I’ll just add that I’m not at all in to some kind of parochial “localism”. Often, maybe always, local issues are not separate from whats going on in the big bad world and fit in to the bigger picture in some way or another. This is why we need to be organise locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

The firefighters strike would be an example of this. We did what local support work we could, as many other anarchists did, but there was no co-ordination/information swapping at a national level amongst anarchists which can only be a weakness.

Well that’s my piece. All constructive criticism welcome. Any additional ideas welcome.

PS - I'm pretty new to enrager so well done to those who got it up and running. An excellent forum and resource. Hopefully it will lead to more co-operation between anarchists and help spread our ideas further.

redmist
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Feb 19 2004 17:27

I think you make a lot of worthwhile points here but I have to take issue with the following

Quote:
Quote:
We should not be wasting time organising big national events like Resist G8 and Mayday in central London. We should argue against others sucking people in to these dead end activities.

I don't understand why so many people have to make, what so often seems to be, a false distinction between 'local' activity and more 'general' activity-like organising against things like the G8 summit. It is possible to get involved in these more 'general' activities AND get involved in workplace struggle etc.!

I remember a few years ago attending a meeting where someone suggested that we should not bother with summit protests etc. and should instead do things in the community such as an anarchist roofing programme-whatever happened to that idea! No misunderstanding-I'm not knocking genuine community involvement,but when suggestions are made to stop bothering with summits etc. which have been very successful in making radical politics visible to large numbers, and to suggest instead giving this up for what can at times seem like suggestions full of hot air then I think its time for some serious reflection on what we can actually achieve.

raw
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Feb 19 2004 18:26

1) We need to publicise what we do more. All anarchists involved in grassroots campaigns could send reports of their activities to the main 3 feds and Freedom who then publicise them. The 3 Feds and Freedom could prioritise this sort of news (that is, stuff relevant to working class people) over and above news written for the benefit of other anarchists. They could also positively encourage submissions of this sort from aligned and non-aligned anarchists alike.

reply:

How many "readers" do the 3 national federations get? How many papers do they print and newsletters distributed? I don't think centralising the information in what I term the "old" anarchist left is the answer. People should be making their own propaganda and distrubuting it because they wrote it and want people to see it rather than some sort of collectives central distribution.

2) We should be working together more at a local level. We should not be wasting time organising big national events like Resist G8 and Mayday in central London. We should argue against others sucking people in to these dead end activities.

We should be getting organised where we live, work or study and encourage others to do the same. In a nutshell, we need to put down some roots.

There are a number of ways we can do this. The most obvious is to meet up with other anarchists in your area and see if you have enough in common to work together. If you do then you could try producing a local news sheet together – something simple and cheap like a double-sided A4 effort is enough to get the ball rolling. Dish it out locally and see what response you get. Once you are up to issue 2 or 3 you should start getting feedback from people and may even have flushed some other anarchists out of the woodwork.

To aid this, article sharing should be encouraged. Maybe enrager could facilitate this by providing an article “dump”. All articles written by the different local groups around Britain that might have more widespread appeal could go in there. In the Walthamstow Anarchist Group we have published a lot of practical anti-bailiff info that has been reproduced by others. In turn, we have nicked stuff of the WMA website. A more formal pool of articles would make this sharing easier and so hopefully encourage the growth of local publications.

reply:

"Sucking people in to dead end activities"?! I like how you use "we should not be wasting time organising big national events", well if you are in the AF then YOU don't and are, in your own logic, not wasting your time - leave the people "wasting their time" to it!

3) We need to talk to each other more. Again, maybe a forum on enrager dedicated to local class based activity could be set up. Maybe there should be a once-a-year meeting of anarchists involved in this sort of work. I recently discovered that a group of anarchists in South London have been campaigning against the very same organisation that w@g has north of the river and we didn’t even know it for the best part of a year. This is crazy!

I knew it, 'cos I speak to people outside of walthamstow, that I check out other groups websites, that I make it my job to meet as many anarchists in other groups as possible.

4) Join the national federation that you are closest to politically or that has a local/regional group in your area. For some reason suggesting something like this is perceived as lefty recruiting by some, whereas calls to join in with Mayday organising groups (for example) aren’t. Personally I don’t see the difference. And I actually do think that people should sign up to either Class War, SolFed or the Anarchist Federation (I’m in the latter) for very practical reasons.

This would immediately lessen a lot of the shortcomings outlined above.

reply:

Calling people to join organisations, get a membership and subs paid to feel like they are proper anarchists? People involve themselves in Mayday - the day of action, they don't neccesarily become a member of "Mayday federation". Big difference. Haven't you ever thought that the reason people don't join membership organisations is that they are old hat, they are hardly the most inspiring groups in the UK are they. Plus the shortcomings isn't that there isn't enuff people, or maybe it is the case for the 3 national feds, but they don't have any quality to them, they seem to be competiting with the lenist left or IWCA and not creating their own anarchist position to the world.

I'm not having an unconstructive dig for no reason, I will try and post up a more positive reply but it would be nice to extend this dialogue beyond assumptions on the anarchist movements in London. There are hundreds and hundreds of anarchists in London if not thousands the more you define the anarchist movement to being 3 national feds and a partridge in a pear tree the more you discredit the diversity of the anarchist movement in London that exists here and now.

If your around Kentish Town, come down to our social centre at 93 Fortess Road, NW5 --mind the dope smoking spanish squatter, the juggle, the clown training workshops, the middleclass wankers --- on your way in.

wink

nastyned
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Feb 19 2004 18:56
raw wrote:
There are hundreds and hundreds of anarchists in London if not thousands

This looks just a little optimistic to me. Either that or there were some very big meetings I missed!

To answer earlier points about Mayday my feeling, having been involved in organising a couple of them, is that they take up too much time and effort for too little return. Also other activities that i think are more important do suffer because you don't have the time or energy for them.

I think we need to move away from doing stuff that is only of interest to other 'activists'. So that's what i've been doing. red n black star circle A

raw
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Feb 20 2004 00:31

Hi again,

But instead of discussing on these boards don't you think it's time that the AF/Solfed/Class War sat down with EF!, wombles, ayn types, the comrades from the various social centres and discuss where we are at, what we are doing and we should relate to each other. at the end of the day we are for [or should be for] creating a really exciting movement and we have, collectively in London the resources to make it happen. It took two of us to do up the Autonomie club and loads of groups use it, simple initiatives by a relatively small group of people can make a huge impact if we look at things like a movement. I don't give a shit about expanding the wombles or whatever, I want to be in a movement that is worth fighting for.

anyway we have this excellent social centre that might be a good place to hold such discussions or any discussions for that matter. Lets give it a go.

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PaulMarsh
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Feb 20 2004 19:10
The Blast wrote:

Anyway, on to the matter in hand. I can’t think of many anarchists at all who do solely anti-fascist work. .

There used to be - in the early -mid 90s there were people in the Anarchist movement who lived, ate and breathed anti-fascism. My god they were boring! We used to joke in London Class War that if you asked comrades from elesewhere to come down to London to help with an action, the only way you could guarantee they would come was if you lied that the BNP would be doing a counter-demo!

Now of course things have gone to far the other way (as tends to happen) and people are suddenly waking up to the problem. They will wake up even more when the BNP have 100 councillors!

I think a strong anti-fascist movement will come out of a strong anarchist movement. And I think we are some way for getting that, certainly compared to some European cities.

At the moment everything has gone to extremes - the ex- AFA people who consider the IWCA THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE and condemn everything else, to the extreme of the Searchlight/Unite Against Fascism nonsense, where all that matters is a cross-community appeal to vote Labour, or if not, anyone who is not a Nazi. Is there one person in Britain who would be put off voting BNP when told Diane Abbott is a signatory to Unite Against Fascism?

We need to avoid the extremes of our own. Anarchists are very good at finding reasons not to work with each other, from citing obscure regulations of International bodies virtually no one has ever heard of, to old personal disputes that people are not big enough to put behind them.

I do think a class based approach is essential though, because the majority of people voting BNP are staunchly working class. The weakness of fascism is nearly always its cross-class appeal, fascist organisations always end up disappointing their working class members - there are real points to be made here, if we can be bothered to do so.

But doing this requires focus. Something the movement sorely lacks.

The Blast
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Feb 21 2004 12:04
raw wrote:
1) How many "readers" do the 3 national federations get? How many papers do they print and newsletters distributed? I don't think centralising the information in what I term the "old" anarchist left is the answer. People should be making their own propaganda and distrubuting it because they wrote it and want people to see it rather than some sort of collectives central distribution.

I didn't say that i thought information should be centralised in this way. I also didn't say that people ought not to make and distribute their own propaganda.

what I did say was:

"The most obvious is to meet up with other anarchists in your area and see if you have enough in common to work together. If you do then you could try producing a local news sheet together – something simple and cheap like a double-sided A4 effort is enough to get the ball rolling. Dish it out locally and see what response you get...To aid this, article sharing should be encouraged....and so hopefully encourage the growth of local publications. "

Why have you tried to use a point that I made myself against me confused

Quote:
"Sucking people in to dead end activities"?! I like how you use "we should not be wasting time organising big national events", well if you are in the AF then YOU don't and are, in your own logic, not wasting your time - leave the people "wasting their time" to it!

The AF isn't a big national event. Its an organisation. There is no contradiction between supporting such an organisation and being opposed to one off grand protests such as Mayday and Resist G8 as the two are clearly different things. I also don't agree with the organisational struture of planning groups for big anti-capitalist do's as they are usually invisible to most people involved in them. The AF's organisational structure, on the other hand, is explicit.

Quote:
I knew it, 'cos I speak to people outside of walthamstow, that I check out other groups websites, that I make it my job to meet as many anarchists in other groups as possible.

Seeing as you have just mentioned that I'm in the AF, you are aware that I in fact do speak to other anarchists outside of Walthamstow.

Quote:
Calling people to join organisations, get a membership and subs paid to feel like they are proper anarchists? People involve themselves in Mayday - the day of action, they don't neccesarily become a member of "Mayday federation".

Mayday organising groups are organisations. They just have different politics and a different structure to say, the AF or SolFed.

Quote:
Haven't you ever thought that the reason people don't join membership organisations is that they are old hat, they are hardly the most inspiring groups in the UK are they.

Plus the shortcomings isn't that there isn't enuff people, or maybe it is the case for the 3 national feds, but they don't have any quality to them, they seem to be competiting with the lenist left or IWCA and not creating their own anarchist position to the world.

I'm not sure i get your point. The AF is a federation. People in it are involved in all sorts of activity. Some of it explicitly AF stuff - writing for and editing AF publications, maintaining and expanding our international contacts in a given part of the world, producing stickers/posters, prisoner support etc - some is not. It might be more general workplace or community work that we report back on to the main group to see if we can co-ordinate around it. I'm not sure I particularly want to "inspire" people to join the AF. I'm not trying to sell anyone anything after all.

Quote:
I'm not having an unconstructive dig for no reason,

So what is your reason for having an unconstructive dig then?

Quote:
I will try and post up a more positive reply but it would be nice to extend this dialogue beyond assumptions on the anarchist movements in London....If your around Kentish Town, come down to our social centre at 93 Fortess Road, NW5 --mind the dope smoking spanish squatter, the juggle, the clown training workshops, the middleclass wankers --- on your way in.

With respect, your reply has reminded me of the futility of debate with those of your ilk. Maybe the constructive comments that you've promised to put up here will change my mind, if and when they appear.

I don't have anything against social centres. But I can't see the point of attending meetings with people I have so little in common with. My original remarks were really aimed at other class struggle anarchists.

The Blast
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Feb 21 2004 12:14

Redmist,

You'll find a partial reply in my respose to raw. I don't have anything againt these events in themselves. I just don't think they should act as a substitute for a genuine grassroots anarchist movement. I think that such big events should really be manifastations of an already existing movement that has its base in the workplace and community. The priority is to get this going. Once we have, then we can have the big national anarchist demonstrations of the type they have in Italy tongue

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Steven.
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Feb 21 2004 12:28
The Blast wrote:
So, assuming that people reading this are anarchists who want to get stuck in to building an revolutionary alternative for working class people, here are some practical suggestions for you to mull over:

1) We need to publicise what we do more. All anarchists involved in grassroots campaigns could send reports of their activities to the main 3 feds and Freedom who then publicise them. The 3 Feds and Freedom could prioritise this sort of news (that is, stuff relevant to working class people) over and above news written for the benefit of other anarchists. They could also positively encourage submissions of this sort from aligned and non-aligned anarchists alike.

Hmmm, well regarding Freedom, we don't really want to prioritise the actions of anarchists really- we kinda want to cover general news of people using DA to improve their lives, with strikes, rent strikes that kinda thing..

But I do agree that @s should publicise their activities more - particular the nat feds who are very bad at that! Cos they and their members do do loads of stuff, but everyone thinks they do FA grin

It might be worth them electing someone who could compile monthly reviews of activities and advertise them on IMC, a-infos etc. etc.

I think fora like indymedia are good places for that, and stuff like the local forums here (as the Wombles have been doing), and the enrager newswire.

Quote:
2) We should be working together more at a local level. We should not be wasting time organising big national events like Resist G8 and Mayday in central London. We should argue against others sucking people in to these dead end activities.

We should be getting organised where we live, work or study and encourage others to do the same. In a nutshell, we need to put down some roots.

...

To aid this, article sharing should be encouraged. Maybe enrager could facilitate this by providing an article “dump”.

We're trying to do this now - the WAG anti-bailiff info together with the red+black club's anti-bullying article and other things are going up in the Organise section, and we want more articles for th e thought section, explaining anarchist/libertarian ideas about certain subjects (crime, immigration etc.) clearly and succintly - I know wag have done some of these so it'd be cool if you could email us some "wot anarchists fink" (admin AT enrager.net ).

Quote:
3) We need to talk to each other more. Again, maybe a forum on enrager dedicated to local class based activity could be set up. Maybe there should be a once-a-year meeting of anarchists involved in this sort of work. I recently discovered that a group of anarchists in South London have been campaigning against the very same organisation that w@g has north of the river and we didn’t even know it for the best part of a year. This is crazy!

Well we don't want too many forums, cos then discussion dies - but there are specific local forums for each area, which we hoped would be used for stuff like this

Quote:
PS - I'm pretty new to enrager so well done to those who got it up and running. An excellent forum and resource. Hopefully it will lead to more co-operation between anarchists and help spread our ideas further.

Hopefully yeah! Welcome to the boards.

Re: mayday and big events - I don't think you can deny that they have helped anarchism regain a lot of limelight recently. I mean I know that pretty much everyone who joined AYN (which was up to about 70 nationally) did so following j18, maydays etc. OK a lot of those people have drifted off now, but there are still a good few of us around - and lots of people have heard of anarchism now where they wouldn't have done a few years ago. So I do think we've gained a lot from them

The Blast
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Feb 21 2004 13:30
Quote:
We're trying to do this now - the WAG anti-bailiff info together with the red+black club's anti-bullying article and other things are going up in the Organise section, and we want more articles for th e thought section, explaining anarchist/libertarian ideas about certain subjects (crime, immigration etc.) clearly and succintly - I know wag have done some of these so it'd be cool if you could email us some "wot anarchists fink" (admin AT enrager.net ).

Excellent! - Expect a hefty e-mail from me soon.

Quote:
Well we don't want too many forums, cos then discussion dies - but there are specific local forums for each area, which we hoped would be used for stuff like this

True! Fair enough George's

nastyned
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Feb 22 2004 21:43

As i still don't seem to fit enough nerd-time into my day I'm going to have to go back a few posts and respond to some things there. A point was made that membership organisations are 'old hat'. This is of course true. There have been anarchist organisations for over a hundred years. But just organising in affinity groups without a defined membership is nothing new either so i'm not sure what the point is. When you join a membership organisation you don't get tatooed or branded you know, and there's nothing to stop you leaving if you decide your time is better spent elsewhere. Not having a formal membership and structure has caused problems with mayday, like when RTS packed a meeting (with people never seen before or since in mayday organising) and more than one person has complained about the old 'tyranny of structurelessness'.

Then again, perhaps the next thing mentioned, paying membership subs, is the important point. Again, i'm not quite sure why people object to this, unless they're just being tight. Though it's funny how people who can only cough up a few coppers when the hats passed round never seem short of beer when they hit the pub! Whether we like it or not, in the current society we need money to get things done. So we need to raise some. Asking each person involved in a group to contribute something seems to me a very reasonsonable way of raising money to me. Better than relying on rich backers wink

As to the idea that all groups that could broadly be termed libertarian/anarchist should be talking to each other, well, fair enough, we probably have a lot of common ground. But events like Bradford '98 and the Mayday 2000 conference didn't seem to make very much difference in the long run. OK, so we all had a 'group hug' and were a bit more friendly when we bumped into each other, but without any organisational structure being set up nothing much changed and i don't see how a new general get together would be any different. Similarly, the point that an individual can keep up to date with what the entire anarchist movement is doing by regularly checking out websites and going to lots of different group's meetings isn't very satisfactory. Not many people are going to have the time, energy or resources to do this, and anyway wouldn't it be better if we could collectively work together to keep each other informed of what's going on.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Feb 24 2004 12:46

I think anarchists are very widely spread in what we want to do. It's amazing we manage the degree of unity we've already got... An 'organisation' by itself won't sort us out. We need to address the lack of common activity in the here and now.

Plus there's too much worry over the need for all anarchists to work together. I think that many self styled anarchists are not very useful people to work with, or only on certain issues.

Let's establish short term, achievable goals tha will benefit us ALL and work towards them. maybe this will deliver an all-islands anarchist co-ordination, or maybe it will just get that one thing done. Either way we'll be better off.

For example, we'll all benefit from anarchist spaces at the ESF; we could all contribute to that...

The Blast
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Feb 25 2004 14:29
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:

For example, we'll all benefit from anarchist spaces at the ESF; we could all contribute to that...

Please explain how this will:

1) help counter the rise of the BNP,

2) form a base for a movement capable of challenging capitalism as a whole.

This, after all, is supposed to be the subject matter of this thread.

I was hardly expecting the 4 practical suggestions in my initial post to be agreed with by everyone, but I had hoped that those who disagreed with them would provide some feasible alternative suggestions.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Feb 25 2004 15:29

It's a short-term, achievable project that we could all work on, and so is covered by your initial points 1 and 3. It would help to achieve greater publicity for anarchist activities, so that answers your latest posts point number 2.

It's one example; I'm not pretending that it would help counter the rise of the BNP, other short-term projects should be devoted towards that. The most obvious would be sustained work with residents'/tenants' associations. I think the IWCA are the best example of a group offering a political alternative to the BNP, and I think that anarchist activity has to learn from that example. Too often we jump from one issue to another.