We Need to Organise

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pingtiao
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May 7 2004 09:41
We Need to Organise

Below is an article that John from Freedom and I have written. It is intended to provoke dicussion, so please put your comments in this thread (no matter how derisory!)

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We need to organise

We are writing as two people who have just returned from the congress of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA, of which the Anarchist Federation is the British section) in Besancon, France. Present were delegates and guests from groups from all over Europe, as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, Russia, Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay.

It was an inspiring event, not just to hear from the struggles of comrades all over the world, but to see large scale, directly democratic, anarchist decision-making in practice.

Local groups and then national federations had discussed the agenda and sent mandated delegates to the congress, where people from different countries discussed the points and came to mutually agreeable conclusions. Congress proposals were made by small working groups with multiple translators, and then reported back to the full assembly, where the consensus of all the federations was sought.

The scope of the decisions was very large, and yet the anarchist process meant that all individuals could have a big input and all could be happy with the outcome. For us it was the biggest example we have seen of libertarian organisation in practice, and has confirmed to us that this is the best way for us to work, and ideally the way in which a free society should function: a global federation of freely-associating, autonomous groups and individuals.

It has also confirmed to us the need for us to really get organised. We want and need a better world, and we know in our hearts that one is possible. We feel the crushing alienation on the streets and in the trains: millions of pairs of eyes desperately avoiding contact; in our homes as we cut ourselves or destroy our minds with drink or drugs; at work as we stare at the clock wishing our lives away, saving pointlessly for a pittance as our debts escalate...

And we know it could all change, if only we realised our own power. Isolated we cannot do that. In one of our working-group meetings, we discovered that both the Spanish and French federations had a small number of different contacts in Morocco, each of whom were desperate to meet with other anarchists. Better communication and co-ordination is essential if we are serious about changing the whole social order.

And how, without international co-operation, do we help spread anarchist ideas in countries like Morocco where there has never been an anarchist movement? We need to get to a position where we can provide real help to comrades living in these countries: outreach materials, books, money, and hopefully one day arms. We, who have never believed in borders, shouldn’t allow them to constrain our activity.

Being part of a federation doesn’t mean losing autonomy or being controlled by a central council, it means that we can connect the struggles that our rulers have atomised into coherent and organised opposition. We can learn from the mistakes made by other comrades, provide more effective solidarity to each other, and share ideas, tactics and knowledge.

Our struggle is a global as Capital, and we must develop effective organisational forms to express this. The federation is the anarchist solution to complex social organisation. It is the method by which we can maintain our individual and collective autonomy, but organise effectively over large distances and numbers of people. Discussion and debate is face to face, between mandated delegates, but decisions are taken at the local level by the federated groups themselves. This is not a call for everyone to join the IAF, since there is also the anarcho-syndicalist International the IWA (British section SolFed) and the syndicalist IWW, which we also stand in complete solidarity with. But this is a call for people to work together better, and not be instinctively afraid of the “O” word (“organisation”, if you haven’t guessed). Action without theory is directionless. It will take all of us to transform society in the way we desire, and we must develop our theoretical framework and tactics together, in an inclusive and accountable way.

It just seems so much more sensible for us to join our efforts together – why should so many groups struggle with basics such as writing and printing an anti-war leaflet when we could all pool our efforts and save so much time and money?

And should we all struggle to keep all our publications going, like Resistance, Freedom, Class War, Catalyst... when maybe together we would find it easy? Using the example of websites just look at enrager.net. It’s a collaborative effort between people in different groups and is far more useful than any one organisation’s site.

There are thousands of anarchists in Britain (just look at the Bookfair, or the subscription numbers to the anarchist press), but isolated we achieve nothing. Our potential is squandered as we all fragment and accomplish fractions of what we could achieve working together. Unless we get our shit together of course the Trots will attract new people wanting to change the world, because everyone knows they can’t do it alone. Isolated in small collectives it is easy to burn out just from doing organisational basics like updating a website or putting together a newsletter. In federations, we can divide tasks out to democratically-accountable working groups, and stop the perpetual cycle of activist burn-out which sees older militants disappear while younger ones re-invent the wheel and repeat the errors of the past...

We have in our number such incredibly skilled people; organisers, workplace militants, theorists, historians, graphic designers, public speakers, web designers, street fighters, linguists etc. Yet how many groups use these skills effectively? Imagine what we could achieve if these people could work together on the project we all hold in common: making the anarchism a social force capable of transforming society.

Thanks to the activities of groups like Earth First! and RTS, interest in anarchism has never been higher in recent history. But what will happen to this interest if all people see is a tiny collective in isolation (most likely bitching about other collectives), rather than a small group but one which is linked to a wider nationally and internationally organised network, which shares information on its struggles, meets face-to-face and works on a common plan to transform our lives and our relationships with one another.

We have a world of co-operation to win, and nothing to lose but solitude...

For libertarian communism,

John (Freedom Group/enrager.net) and Mark (Anarchist Federation/enrager.net), in personal capacities.

www.enrager.net

www.freedompress.org.uk

www.afed.org.uk

red n black star [/b]

rich
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May 7 2004 10:38

"It has also confirmed to us the need for us to really get organised."

Something I would add personally is to take it seriously - something that was brought up on the Class War board about a lot of meetings ending in drunkenness etc.. There also seems to be a general lack of strategy - (this could just be my not finding it - the best look at revolutionary strategy I have seen is the on in the front of the latest Do or Die, and a few postings on the Class War board). Without some sense of a plan - the process seems somewhat futile.

"It just seems so much more sensible for us to join our efforts together ? why should so many groups struggle with basics such as writing and printing an anti-war leaflet when we could all pool our efforts and save so much time and money?"

For example a generic anarchist anti-war leaflet which anyone could download - with a box in it for the local group to put their contacts in.

I think with regard to the having lots of different publications... I think that's quite a good thing. The trouble is that the better articles in each are unlikely to be noticed. However, if grouping together our efforts meant that we could cut down the costs of producing a combined journal, that would make sense - if instead of all our publications being quite expensive they were cheaper, we may reach a wider audience. How about a federative newspaper, which delegated editing a certain number of pages to each organisation? (as I understand the transfer of Freedom's editorship was done)

"Imagine what we could achieve if these people could work together on the project we all hold in common: making anarchism a social force capable of transforming society."

I think the process of making anarchism a social force is worth discussing in more detail. What strategy is the most effective? How do we reach the point where anarchism is common practice? The most convincing case for anarchism would be for it (by it, I mean anarchist organisation of production) to be working in practice in a very visible way - this is as I understand it, what led to mass collectivisation in Spain - people seeing it working. (And the fact they knew it worked from having a village collectivist tradition). The thing is - how to reach that point?

I think matters of presentation are important as well - if you have a stall that has 3 burly blokes behind it, that has Hardcore Riot Porno video on the front - who is going to take you seriously? While its important to not be deadly serious all the time, if injecting humour makes what we do a joke, is it productive?

More questions than answers, I'm afraid!

P.S. Could you put a thread or link about what the International of Anarchist Congresses talked about, and decided?

captainmission
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May 7 2004 13:21
Quote:
P.S. Could you put a thread or link about what the International of Anarchist Congresses talked about, and decided?

Yeah it would be could to know what was decided and how it's going to be implemented?

Quote:
Thanks to the activities of groups like Earth First! and RTS, interest in anarchism has never been higher in recent history.

So why do you think it is that groups that opperate on more of a network basis have lead to this intrest in anarchism, whilst the national feds by and large haven't?And to be fair however fucked and bitchy EF! may be it is part of a national and local network, that meets face to face, shares information and works on common plans.

strangefrog
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May 9 2004 18:11
pingtiao wrote:
It is intended to provoke dicussion, so please put your comments in this thread (no matter how derisory!)

I'm relatively new to anarchism and I'm not sure if I can call myself an anarchist. But if you want feedback from a 'fresh pair of eyes', here it is:

This article is a good backgrounder on why anarchists need to organise, but how and when will it be done?

(Here's a general rant. Just skip to the 'end of rant' if you want.)

In order to do something, we need a 'Why', 'How' and 'When'.

So far, most of what I've seen related to anarchism is about direct action for specific interest groups. Tactically, anarchists seem to be quite good at providing the 'Why', 'How' and 'When'.

Strategy is where anarchists seem to fall over. During each skirmish the general public say, "what do these weirdos want?" This is a sure sign that anarchists have a problem with strategy.

Diversity is anarchism's greatest strength, but in my opinion, also it's greatest weakness. I don't know how such diverse views will ever agree on a common strategy.

In order to bring about an anarchist society, we need a strategy. In order to organise, we need a strategy.

(End of rant.)

In the absence to a strategy, we can have a framework. A framework can help prevent energy being wasted in re-inventing the wheel.

It can help anarchists get organised by setting out:

- how groups communicate with each other;

- how groups co-operate with each other;

- how groups can exchange resources;

- how groups can participate in direct action tactics;

- how groups can establish a common strategy;

- how groups can amend the framework itself.

People may have already cracked these issues, but the solutions need to be in a central place where everyone can access them. Newcomers and outsiders must know where to find them.

The idea of a 'framework' may sound terribly prescriptive to many anarchists. Even to me, these ideas are already starting to smell of bureaucracy. But how will we affect large-scale change if we can't even agree on something as fundamental as a framework?

Our safeguard is that the custodians of the framework must be accountable to everyone, and the framework must never be 'set in stone.'

When should we start building the framework? How about now, on this forum; on this thread?

[EDITED:]

This is my suggestion for the 'How' and 'When' of getting organised. Of course, I realise that we need a 'How' and 'When' of building a framework. Being a relative newbie to this forum, I don't think I'm qualified to provide these.

rich
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May 10 2004 13:11

I think that there would be some justification in wanting to hold some kind of national scale conference of anarchists - there has been an international one, but no national one! The closest thing we have is the bookfair and that is way too hectic to get anything done at.

Aside from this, I think that just the basic sharing of ideas is crucial and addresses some of the above. And for this we need communication. Enrager is a great example of this in action. Recently in Colchester we held a regional (East Anglian) Social Forum - from this links have been made which could be very useful in the future (nothing massive, but things like making contacts for benefit gigs, sharing ideas etc.) Sorry! Got to go, will continue with this later.

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Steven.
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May 11 2004 13:41

Cheers for the comments (I'm john, as some of you prolly know)

Quote:

Thanks to the activities of groups like Earth First! and RTS, interest in anarchism has never been higher in recent history.

So why do you think it is that groups that opperate on more of a network basis have lead to this intrest in anarchism, whilst the national feds by and large haven't?And to be fair however fucked and bitchy EF! may be it is part of a national and local network, that meets face to face, shares information and works on common plans.

I usually think of EF! As being something much like one of the other nat feds really. Cos there’s regional autonomy, a federal publication, network meetings and other stuff you mention.

I spose I think the success was less about organisation of fundamental theory than the fact that energy was put into one campaign (anti-roads), and people stuck with it, and it had mass public support. And anarchist tactics in themselves if used on a large scale do attract a lot of attention (cos they’re fucking effective!).

Cos it seems the activities of Class War roused a lot of public interest, during the 80s… But I suppose that was less of a “campaign” than just general appeals to street/picket violence.

So I spose I think that things will attract attention, and interest in anarchism if we can show that we can win concrete victories on things which people care about. So I think it’d be good for the anarchist movement to get some kind of common focus. I think that we would be freer to do this kind of stuff if we all stopped duplicating each others’ efforts all over the place, and stopped re-inventing the wheel every 5 (or however many) years when people burn out and fuck off, and knowledge gets lost…

er yeah well I’d better go do some work wink

Lazlo_Woodbine
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May 11 2004 15:52

So who's volunteering to junk their journals first?

I don't think that there is a lot of duplication. Maybe with some leaflets and some publications, but apart from that I don't see what else could be 'shared' in that way. A social centre, a campaign, banners and meetings all have to be organised locally.

Are you saying that we need a better national profile? I'd agree. However, that'n not how anarchism has grown among communities in struggle; it's grown through direct action getting the goods. If we're not providing effective strategies for people to win, then we don't deserve to have a well known brand!

This is still the part we're lacking -- how are we to create ways of working that are effective?

I think that a general gathering of anarchists would be good -- it may even come up with some answers. One that went on for 2/3 days, rather than the bookfair's one, and that involved less eager drunkeness....

Shall we do it before or after the G8 summit? There's a plan for an action camp in early 2005, and we could plan a general gathering at that, or maybe have organising/publicising meetings at the ESF.

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Jacques Roux
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May 11 2004 16:25

Just a couple of points:

1. Unrelated to everything else - 140 ppl have read this thread (say half of those are people who have posted checking it out MAX - that leaves 70 ppl who have just read it) and it only has 6 replies.

Why is this? Are people hostile to organisation? Do people see this as a technical subject only a few shoudl discuss? Are people just fucking lazy?

2. While i totally agree with everything in the proposal - and i havent read the replies - i think it fails to mention local organisation, local groups - for example for different areas of London - and then federations for regions - then national federations.

I think its important to to be too ambitious. For example i think now there is no point in the national federations taking an active role. There are simply not enough local groups to warrant putting energy into national feds (NFs). I think while keeping the structures in place for NFs we need to concentrate on building local groups and making sure they get involved with NFs rather than just dissappear off on their own tracks - which i think is where GBs point about repition comes in.

Simply i dont think its worth putting effort in NFs at the moment in Britain when we cant even sort out the simple things, like organising basic local groups which interest people and have regular attendances (is that a word?).

Of course one could argue that NFs and local groups should be developed at the same time... but i'll leave it to someone else to argue that wink

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Ed
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May 12 2004 11:37

Wow Rkn either your politics are getting better or mine are getting worse coz I seem to find myself agreeing with you more and more!

I was chatting to GenTerror the other day I thought that something he said was really interesting: NONE of the nat feds can really call themselves federations. 15 people in London then two local groups consisting of six or seven folk and four other local groups consisting of individuals acting as a contact address doesn't count as a federation. Let's get real about this. A federation is a network of local groups working together, to my knowledge, most of the feds barley have enough members to have local groups and those local groups that do exist barely have enough people to keep running. Any strong local groups are usually on their own in the federation. What do you call a federation without strong, independant local groups? Fuck all. The worst part was when talking to someone about two feds with local groups in the same area consisting of one or two people each!!! No wonder we're not getting anywhere!

Really, I'd like to see the nat feds merge and incorporate all the local groups within them. That would be the beginnings of a real federation. Firstly, it would have national breadth (is that a phrase?) and wouldn't be based in London. And secondly, it would have far bigger numbers (especially as people who don't feel particularly close to any particular fed would be more likely to join a general fed). Imagine if we had one federation with everyone in the the UK anarchist movement pulling together in the same direction, putting their energy into the same publications and the same campaigns. We might actually make something of this movement.

But on the other hand, who wants unity and effective action when we can have sectarian bickering and stagnant theorising. Yeah, sorry that does sound more appealing......... red n black star Mr. T red n black star

rich
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May 12 2004 11:53

(I've started another thread in organise to talk about local groups, and so we can share good ideas and experiences.)

I think perhaps the reason for few replies is that it is a wide topic so you can't just type in "ninjas". wink

A general congress of anarchists I think could be a positive step towards helping us pool resources, share skills etc. If we could use it as a chance to set our own agenda, set some kind of strategy into motion... I think that would be good. It's easy to feel like you're plugging away in isolation. And I think it would need lots of time, several days. And I like the idea of promoting it at the ESF.

The idea of a united anarchist movement is very compelling. (That's something we talk about a bit at Norwich Anarchists... <it's our equivalent of 'after the revolution!'> One federation would have to be on the most inclusive grounds - that is something like ": we aim for the abolition of state & capital, and for the resulting freedom to live as we like" - the idea of this is to avoid petty disputes between factions but to have a clear goal. This is something that could be discussed/created at the national anarchist gathering?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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May 12 2004 12:06

It seems like a general gathering of anarchists would be a good start. Are there enough people with the time to organise it? I'm committed to anti-G8 and social forum stuff. Both of these projects are aiming at a similar kind of libertarian unity, but aimed at slightly different types of peopl.e/activities.

rich
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May 12 2004 12:30

I would like to help organise it - but I've no experience of organising things like this. Maybe we should start a separate thread?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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May 12 2004 12:53

I could offer help, in a consultancy position, like...

Class War organised a similar event in Bradford, 1998. It attracted lots of people, from Green Party to International Communist Current (approx 300?). Nothimg much came of it, in concrete terms.

I'd like to hear what the people who wrote the document at the start think about the responses.

Steve
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May 12 2004 12:59

The point being made about the National Feds merging. Surely that is up to them and not people who are not even members?

I'd like to point out that the minimum for a SolFed Local is three people, and I understand a new one is about to be established in Northampton.

A national meeting of anarchists. That suggestion seems to surface every year or so with very little concrete results.

rich
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May 12 2004 14:52

I personally wasn't suggesting the federations merge, it's up to them what they do! But the idea of a general anarchist grouping seems good.

Why does the idea of a national meeting of anarchists fall down every year? If the idea comes up every year it must have some relevance. Is there any reason to not have this kind of event take place?

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pingtiao
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May 12 2004 15:01

I will respond in a more in-depth way to the issues raised here tomorrow.

I will say now that I am very very interested i getting a national (or even local) general meeting of anarchists off the ground. I helped set up SWAG (soth+west london anarchist group), and this is one of the things that we, as a local group, are very keen on working on. With my AF hat on, I can also say that this is a bloody good idea, if just to meet each other, find out what campaigns are going on, what shared work can be embarked on etc..

Perhaps starting with a London meeting, and then getting a working group together to help plan a national meeting? The Bradford conference might have not lived up to it's potential, but that doesn't mean that the next national conference won't. And Steve, stop being so bloody negative all the time! wink

If the outcome of posting this article up is that we get a real dialogue going between the groups, and a national conference, you can all kiss my face.

Steve
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May 12 2004 15:17

Hey I'm the positive anarchist I know! Just been around a long time and realistic.

Manchester SF & AF have been meeting as far as I understand. Here in Lancashire we (SF) meet up with Lancaster Anarchist Group - that's how we got the Mayday Roadshow well, er, on the road. As a direct result we are holding a get together in Preston next week which is open to all althought the majority of people will be SFers.

The merger idea is a non-starter IMO. As for a national meeting it's been tried and failed, the last attempt in Bradford last year got nowhere. Some people are very enthusiatic about the idea but many others are just not interested.

nastyned
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May 12 2004 17:25

I’ve been busy of late so here’s my response to the initial post…

General appeals for unity (of which there have been a few recently) don’t really seem to achieve anything, so we need to look at specific proposals for working together.

The area you’ve highlighted is anarchist publications, of which there does seem to be a duplication of effort. Organise!, Black Flag and Direct Action are all pretty similar magazines and potentially one magazine coming out more frequently with more people involved could be better than the sum of the parts. Similarly, resistance, Catalyst and Counter Information have a look in common so could also benefit from a pooling of resources.

If new, better, more frequent anarchist publications are created then currently unaffiliated groups and individuals may want to get involved.

In Ireland, the joint bulletin produced by the AF and ASF lead to a new, larger organisation being created.

I can see problems though. Direct Action is the main voice of the SolFed, as resistance is for the AF. I’m not sure how the two organisations would feel about giving others joint control of these and consensus would have to be achieved about exactly how this could work.

Also, I’m not sure how the anarchist newspapers Freedom and Class War would fit into this. Both occupy a middle ground somewhere between agitational and theoretical. I suspect it’s unlikely the Freedom collective or the Class War Federation will want to give up their papers.

There can also be problems in a unified organisation. As I understand it the forerunner of the SolFed, the Direct Action Movement, was formed by several groups merging and it later had several splits. The row between an Organise member and Class War members on these boards shows that there are real political differences out there.

I hope we can work together more though and I think we decided to use this text as the basis for next months joint AF/Freedom discussion meeting. It should be an interesting discussion.

The Blast
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May 15 2004 15:06

A tree with no roots ain’t gonna bear fruit. The priority is for us to put down some roots. We need workplace and community based anarchist groups. Until we have this we don’t have a movement worthy of the name.

The Walthamstow Anarchist Group was formed after 2 AF members living there called a public meeting. We couldn’t have held it without the support of the London group (for security reasons as much as anything else). We had enough interest from people who came to a follow up meeting to form an independent anarchist group. Hey presto, there is now an anarchist presence in the area. This is not rocket science. There is no secret formula to discover.

Joining or contacting a national fed may help this process. If you want to start up a local anarchist group contact the 3 main feds and see if they want to help, at least by putting you in contact with any members they may have in the area.

If you don’t want to set up a local group, why not? What form will an anarchist movement take if it is not a genuine federation of local, regional and national organisations, starting with the creation of local groups?

Salvoechea
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May 17 2004 10:41

hiya all, though i'm spanish, i live in britain; so i think i can have something to say tongue

I think that the most important thing to do is to organize locally, then network locally and regionally and finally nationally. It's not a good idea to go too fast and create a national network without having good roots (as someone has said) in your towns.

Regional Networks may help to build a movement. Just check how the american are forming new networks (GPAN, SWAN, SCAF, SEANet, NEMA…). I honestly think they’re doing the right thing. They organize locally and they network regionally. Networks provide help to the groups that need it, it is an easier way to organize campaings or to have bigger demos in a town. An interesting idea is to use the network for tours spreading anarchist ideas in an area. You can study different cases of successful anarchist scenes around the world (but don’t repeat their mistakes).

For national campaings it’s easier to give propaganda in local areas if the work is divided among the regional networks than if all the work is to be done by the feds and a few individual around the country.

So, an ideal future would be a British Anarchist Network formed by, let’s say, 6 regional networks and 12 local networks. Federations local groups could be involved in local and regional netwks and the Fed. as a whole in the national network.

Someone has suggested to have an Anarchist Congress. Given the different kinds of anarchists a Congress would be a waste of time. It is better to do conferences, as the Australian do or gatherings like the irish.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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May 17 2004 18:33

What's the difference betwen a congress, a gathering and a conference? confused

i liked what you said, Salvochea, despite you being forn and all tongue

I think the way to go is to reach out to other people in your local area of the UK -- the midlands, for me -- as well as doing outreach in the immediate vicinity.

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Steven.
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May 28 2004 18:53

Hmm cheers for all the replies, sorry about being lax at replying.

Me n mark didn't really write that piece with any set agenda so I don't really know what to say about it either really.

I don't think that a big anarchist conference would be particularly useful, cos as others have pointed out little seems to come from those kind of things.

As for something practical... well maybe some kind of shared publication as rich suggested might be an idea - I think something to figure out in face-to-face meetings.

It's true though about none of the feds being properly-functioning federations. Which is a real shame...

I dunno didn't the Spanish anarchists at some point sign some kind "solidarity pact" whereby groups agreeing to certain principles wouldn't start "rival" groups in an area where one Fed already had one? Would this be a worthwhile idea?

I think one problem of the local-only approach is that at least with nat feds a certain percentage of money goes into a fund to help new groups start up elsewhere (nationally and internationally) and I think we need a framework to assist that.

A national profile and central information point would also be really useful, which is kinda what we'd like enrager to help with, but we're just a collective, not accountable to anyone really, so it'd be good to see things like enrager and i think Freedom being more owned by the class struggle @ movement as a whole.

Rich I also like the idea of a united federation, although I think that you'd need something a bit more specific than "we aim for the abolition of state & capital, and for the resulting freedom to live as we like" to prevent splits between class strugglists and individualists, which'd be bound to happen.

Is there a reason Norwich Anarchist don't join a particular federation? Is it the membership fees issue? Cos TBH if loads of the independent groups (Bradford, norwich, maybe cardiff, walthamstow, gwent, west mids, aberdeen etc. etc.) joined one nat fed it'd be a properly functioning network.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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May 29 2004 11:53
George'sBush wrote:
if loads of the independent groups (Bradford, norwich, maybe cardiff, walthamstow, gwent, west mids, aberdeen etc. etc.) joined one nat fed it'd be a properly functioning network.

If this happened the membership of that Fed would multiply by 10 -- it would no longer be the same organisation. There would need to a complete shakeup, turnover of positions, etc. Are any of the people running the Feds willing to effectively dissolve themseves in this way?

In the Feds, as in any tiny organisation, personalities and relations between the few participants becomes the main defining feature, rather than it being defined by its stated aims and principles. I think this is one major reason why local groups don't sign up -- they see the Feds as representing, not an idfea or an organisational strategy, but as representing the activities of the handful who run it.

Can this be overcome?

I think any new coming together will have to be initiated from a wide range of different groups, and would create a new entity -- rather than being a recruitment drive by an exisitng federation. Maybe the Dissent! network will give rise to this kind of unity?

rich
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May 30 2004 14:41
Quote:
Rich I also like the idea of a united federation, although I think that you'd need something a bit more specific than "we aim for the abolition of state & capital, and for the resulting freedom to live as we like" to prevent splits between class strugglists and individualists, which'd be bound to happen.

"We aim for the abolition of state & capital" etc. etc. was simply me trying to avoid these splits - "to live as you like" means those who want to live in a non-monetary economy can do so, those that want to live as hunter-gatherers can do so, etc. etc. I think perhaps a slightly more specific wording might be good (In only dashed the last one out in a few seconds), but I think it should be able to fit on a credit card!

The idea of having a federative newspaper would mean that class strugglists and individualists would both be catered for, as well as eco-anarchists and others - and including broad anarchists (such as myself - that Nicolas Walter quote: in my private life I am an individualist, at work I am a syndicalist etc. )

Quote:
Is there a reason Norwich Anarchist don't join a particular federation?

Norwich Anarchists is quite an inclusive group - it aims to include people from all different strands of the @ movement - and I think the group as a whole affiliating with one of the national federations would go against this. However it's not something that is often discussed, to be honest. This may well be a reason why other groups don't join the national federations.

I don't think it is particularly the membership fees issue. NA don't have membership fees currently, but we all fork out towards what we do.

I think Freedom and Enrager are really good - and largely because there is no (not to my eyes) bias toward a particular organisation. Enrager is facilitating idea sharing, discussion and I think that's really positive.

It seems worth asking what would the function of a national federation be? Is it to be a large propaganda and action group, or a communication group, or a mutual aid and solidarity group? Is it an anarcho-syndicalist style union? Or all/some of the above? A large general union with small fees could generate alot of resources. Donald Rooum's old estimate that 1 in 100 people is an anarchist would mean that if the 600,000 @s in the country gave a quid a year - we could do something pretty spectacular with that - build social centres, finance outreach etc. We need to snowball to the point where we can set our own agendas, rather than being mainly reactive.

The Dissent! network has potential because we're organising with a specific purpose, there's not much room for ideology. Hopefully alot will come from it!

It might also be worth looking at how the new groups formed - what catalysed their formation? Why did XYZ Anarchist group form? Why do people join @ groups? The business world is good at this - looking at what works and then doing it - we need to do more of that.

AnarchoAl
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Jun 17 2004 16:12

I'm from Glasgow, where I organise with the Glasgow Autonomous Project and Defy-ID Glasgow.

One problem that might present itself is, unfortunately, the word anarchist... including 'autonomist' and 'libertarian socialist' would allow far more broad-based locals to join.

A big barrier for us is factionalism SolFed is anarcho-syndicalist, AF is anarcho-communist, Class War is based around class struggle... all of these strategies have their uses, but I for one would block our organisation from assuming one of these ideologies. We have an anarchist theory group to develop new alternatives, we don't need to cling rigidly to one old theory over another. We can incorporate and improve on the old, and adapt to our new conditions. The social centre movement is a powedful example.

It's also hard to see what we would gain from it. It would involve extra effort and money to attend conferences etc. I favour the approach of organising locally, build until you can get and support a social centre if it's possible. When you have a coherent group, build links with other groups in your region, and start to have dayschools, regional meetings to coordinate on specific issues or events, leaflet, prop and publication exchanges, and so on. More importantly perhaps, go down the pub together and get to know each other. Then you can move towards network and federation.

National feds are too unwieldy unless they're a federation of regional feds IMO. I concur with the call for us to establish roots.

Steve
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Jun 17 2004 16:51
AnarchoAl wrote:
SolFed is anarcho-syndicalist, AF is anarcho-communist, Class War is based around class struggle...

Surely all three would argue that they are based around class struggle? confused

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Jacques Roux
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Jun 17 2004 17:05

Surely its more to do with people's desire to constantly pigeon-hole themselves?

If people were less pedantic about how they identify and just agree that they are all basicaly anarchists interested in class struggle working with direct action it would make life a hell of a lot easier.

AnarchoAl
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Jun 18 2004 01:43

Steve True... just can't think of a phrase to describe CW's ideological uniqueness.

Chuck0
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Jun 18 2004 17:27

Greetings comrades in the UK from rainy Kansas! I saw a link to this thread from an A-Infos post and thought I'd add my feedback after reading through this thread. I've been an anarchist organizer in four cities (Lawrence, KS, Madison, WI, Washington, DC, and Kansas City). I've been back in Kansas City for slightly more than 9 months and as of this week we are setting up a new anarchist bookstore in downtown Kansas City. From my experience, I think I have some ideas about effective organizing.

First of all, anarchist organizations are helpful in organizing, but if they are explicitly sectarian, they can't be all things to all people. Not every anarchist is an anarcho-communist, for example, and would feel uncomfortable joining an explicitly anarcho-communist organization. Politically-based organizations and federations can provide stability, resources, and intellectual discourse, but if you want to organize anarchists locally, regionally or nationally, you need an additional set of tools in your revolutionary toolbox. An important ingredient are anarchists who believe in "unity in diversity" when it comes to anarchist organizing. These would be the people who are more interested in promoting anarchism than in just recruiting people to an organization or group.

Networks are a very effective tool in organizing anarchists, esepcially if there are geographical barriers and/or when existing anarchist organizations aren't that big. Here in Kansas and the Midwest USA, we have the Great Plains Anarchist Network (GPAN). It is pretty anti-sectarian when it comes to anarchist politics, which is one reason why I think that it is effective. GPAN meets every six months in a different city. Last Fall we met in Kirksville, Missouri. In May we met in Columbia, Missouri and later this year Kansas City will host GPAN. GPAN conferences bring anarchists together from South Dakota to Southern Illinois. Our conferences have a mixture of business meetings, workshops, and social events. The important thing is that we have fun together, which goes a long way in building solidarity over the long term.

GPAN has been moving in the direction of a federation, but local groups still aren't established enough to support that structure. GPAN runs a website where people can contact us. We have a solid working group doing prisoner support. We do organizing for protests and we are planning do do regional caravans in the Fall. We've talked about doing an outreach tour through Iowa.

The GPAN conference this spring provided an opportunity for anarchists in Kansas City to get to know each other. It gave some of us an opportunity to expose friendly non-anarchists to anarchist methods and ideas. This is why anarchist conferences, bookfairs, and educational events are so important to overall strategy. Like in Washington, DC, we've broadened our network here through social activities such as anarchist/radical soccer, film nights, having dinners and picnics, and generall doing the stuff associated with a radical resistance culture. Remember that people aren't going to work for some nebulous revolution if the process is only meetings. In my experience, social events are absolutely vital towards building networks, expanding the base of anarchists, and helping lay the foundation for bigger plans.

One of my major strategies over the past ten years has been to help reconstruct the radical infrastructure that we once had in the U.S. In Washington, DC I helped start the Brian MacKenzie Infoshop and helped with the DC IMC. Washington, DC now has some radical counter-institutions which should help grow the movement (if those institutions are nurtured). Here in Kansas City I've been working with people to open a new bookstore/infoshop. Organizing anarchists is greatly helped by existing counter-institutions. New groups and organizations and campaigns can be spun off from these institutions. Indymedia centers are vital for communication, outreach and education. By this Fall, our neighborhood in downtown KC will probably have the infoshop, the new bicycle collective, and the local 100,000 watt independent radio station.

Direct action campaigns are a key component in organizing anarchists. In the UK, many of you are familiar with Reclaim the Streets and the long term impact that has had on the anti-capitalist movement. Direct action campaigns that revolve around single issue, or workplace organizing, can help galvanize people, inspire anarchists, and make the local anarchists more visible. Direct action is a form of propaganda by the deed, or practcal anarchy, in that we show people how we put our politics into action. Instead of just talking about union organizing, we organize a campaign against a chain, perhaps involving strikes, agitation, property destruction and so on. Direct action is important advertising for our movement. Without direct action campaigns, your movement isn't going to grow very fast. And direct action campaigns also serve as living "laboratories" where anarchists and other folks gain experiences from putting their politics into practice.

Direct action, of course, means being confrontational with the rich and powerful. This means that you will need a support infrastructure and some anarchists to fill certain roles. You will need standing prisoner support and legal collectives. You will need people who are talented in doing research. You will need creative people who can design publications, make puppets, or come up with interesting ways to express dissent. You will need people who are good at writing article for Indymedia and anarchist websites, people who can make good speeches, people who can write analysis, people who can pen protest songs and poetry, people who can write propaganda, and most importantly, people who have excellent skills in talking to people face-to-face. Don't forget people who are good at social hacking. And one of the most important ingredients is the person or persons who like to take risks and who don't mind getting arrested. In other words, you need to find the fearless provacateurs in your midst. These people are special, but they are hard to find.

Resources. We need more resources. I've found that many organizing opportunities have been missed because of the lack of resources. E-mails that go unanswered because people are too busy. Trips not made to protests because people don't have money for transportation. One of the great weaknesses of our movements is the attitude that because many of us volunteer our labor, that everything should be free and unsupported. People don't think twice when it comes to buying 7 inches or anarchist books, but they look at you like you are from Mars when you ask them to donate money to support an anarchist speaking tour or an anarchist space. The resource issue is a big challenge.

Hope this helps!

Good luck with your organizing!

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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Jun 21 2004 09:19

Interesting post, thanks Chuck smile

raw
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Jun 30 2004 13:16

This discussion has been going recently for the past 2 years and nothing has come out of it. Maybe a anarchist gathering in London maybe needed or wherever. But who is gonna organise it?

If people are interested in working jointly in London to discuss some issues then why don't we get 2 people from CW, AF, SF, WOMBLES, Social Centres, WAG, SWAG...etc together and have a chat on the state of the anarchist movement, the changing nature of capitalism, how we intervene in the social struggle and see if there is an interest in organising collectively.

We can meet in two weeks if you want. Email us if your interested.

Raw

WOMBLES

wombles@hushmail.com