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Effective resistance

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Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 18 2005 14:50
Jack wrote:
I'd get better returns in terms of 'recruitment' if I spent the time and money I'd have spent going to G8 on say printing £100 of leaflets and handing them out at the opening of all the local colleges/schools/uni

But most groups don't do either of those.

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 18 2005 15:15
Jack wrote:
But that assumes the activist ghetto is more valuable to 'recruit' out of than the general public.

Not "more valuable". Easier.

An event like a protest march, a summit, the ESF and so on pre-filters a crowd for you. You might get more people at a football match, but the sections of society present at the big left event are the people most likely to be persuadable in the short term. They are, almost by definition, people who are already questioning capitalist society and willing to be involved in activity of some kind. Some of them will be hardened members of other political currents, whether that means actual groups or people from the anarchisty "activist-ghetto, but most are not.

There are good reasons why the left organisations which do value recruitment make an effort to be at these gatherings, you know.

Jack wrote:
Just because 'something' supposedly lefty is happening, doesn't mean I have some duty to get involved in it.

Of course not. But surely you, as a movement, do have a "duty" to take advantage of opportunities offered.

Jack wrote:
I mean I'd venture that I'd get better returns in terms of 'recruitment' if I spent the time and money I'd have spent going to G8 on say printing £100 of leaflets and handing them out at the opening of all the local colleges/schools/uni, and while it might've been a bit boring, it wouldn't have been a horrible soul destroying experience which carried a chance of arrest.

And did you actually produce £100 of leaflets and hand them out at the local schools?

There are two different points here.

1) Colleges and the like are useful places to try and make contact with people, and that's something which should be paid attention to as well. Doing so should not be counterposed to taking other opportunities.

2) There is always a risk of arrest, but the degree of risk is in large part determined by your own attitudes and activities. You aren't going to the summit to get involved in set piece confrontations or to strut about in a mask. You are going to talk to people, to reach them with your ideas. There were 350 or more people from my own international organisation in Scotland, not one was arrested to my knowledge.

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 18 2005 16:48
Jack wrote:
I'm not going to go down some ridiculous guilt fueled 'who's not doing enough' path.

Not the point I was making at all. This isn't about you (Jack) not doing enough. It's about you (class struggle anarchists) not taking a serious attitude towards recruitment and winning people over to your ideas more generally. I'm no more a fan of activity for the sake of activity than you are.

Jack wrote:
and anyway, I disagree with the entire premise; I don't particularly think a bunch of anti-socials who want to go fight the man are particularly going to be more receptive to libertarian communism than to the average person.

Leaving aside your caricatured picture of the kind of people who go to summit protests for a moment, I think you are wrong here. Not just wrong in fact, but missing the bleeding obvious.

Tens of thousands of people go to big "left" events. That includes a fair number of "anti-socials who want to go fight the man" but they are only ever a small minority (and even some of them aren't immune to reason). The crowd at root consists of people who are pissed off about some aspect of capitalism or are questioning it more generally and have been attracted to some set-piece event. Of course this means that many of them are going to be more receptive to class struggle ideas than the average person currently is.

Every organisation which does take recruitment seriously attends these events precisely because many of the people most open to their ideas are there. It's a great deal easier to meet people who are willing to consider socialist and class struggle politics at a summit protest or other big "left" event than it is going door to door about a community issue - believe me on this I've done both more often than any healthy person should admit to. And what's more, talking to someone at the big lefty event, winning them over to your politics, convincing them to get involved, means that there are two of you going door to door the week after rather than one.

Quote:
I know several people who went there with no intention of getting arrested and not acting in a manner likely to do so who were arrested as a result of the stupid activities of the anti-socials.

I don't doubt it for a second, yet 350 plus of my lot managed to attend and leaflet and talk to people and organise without a single arrest. They were lucky I'm sure, but there are ways of minimising the risk of needless arrests.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 18 2005 16:56

As well as summit protests, there's STWC demos, ESF events, TUC and specific union conferences, local public events, radical bands and comedians, village fetes, etc. What we need to see is a consistent class struggle strategy to engage with people at these vents and try to win more people over.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 19 2005 11:34

Surely this subcultural activist ghettoism is how most younger people get involved in any sort of political activism and those who have sufficiently progressed in order to be able to reject lifestylism and take up the class struggle represent the minority (at least within that demographic)while most either continue hanging out in this subculture, establishing a neat social clique that becomes increasingly apolitical or just quit caring??

The argument against actively trying to recruit from that ghetto is obvious though: the norm amongst lifestylist "anarchists" (ie radical liberals) is to pretty much take up the opposite of contemporary societal lifestyles via squatting, voluntary unemployment, confrontational clothing etc etc, which sets them directly at odds with the other 99.9999% of British society. As such, to pander to one group is to actively scare off the other group (which may explain why some lifestylists find class struggle anarchism/communism so disagreeable), and there's far more logic in not trying to alienate yourself from 59 million people.

marinebroadcast
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Sep 19 2005 11:47

I dont know that that is true. The 59 million that you speak of are not a homogenised type. How do you locate the right "type" for dialogue - or recruitment as some put it? What attributes are given preference?

Garner
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Sep 19 2005 11:52
Alan_is_Fucking_Dead wrote:
The argument against actively trying to recruit from that ghetto is obvious though:

Is anyone actually arguing for trying to recruit from the activist ghetto?

As far as I can see, IrrationallyAngry and others are arguing for trying to recruit in competition with the activist ghetto, i.e. going along to summits and such in order to poach recruits from among those who might otherwise become anti-social activist freaks. And you can't deny that there are significant numbers of people at those events who could quite easily go either way, or get recruited by trots or liberals, or just give up. It makes sense for us to have a presence there so that libertarian communism is one of the options they can choose from, at least.

That said, it'd still be a waste of time for those of us in the south of england to take a week off work and spend lots of money going to scotland to recruit - there should be enough of our lot already there, or at least much closer, who can do the job with much less effort.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 19 2005 11:54

I think I was being a bit waffly up there. The point I was trying to make, in rather generalised terms, but ones that have proved and will again prove to be true, was that in order to recruit from the relatively tiny activist ghetto, the approach and tactics you'd use would have to be markedly different to the approach and tactics you'd use in recruiting those in or looking for jobs, with families or whatever. And in doing so, I think you would run a very serious risk of losing any relevance you may have had with those in or looking for jobs, with families etc etc.

Am I making sense yet?? I always have these grand ideas for posts which I can never quite put into words.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 19 2005 11:56
Alan_is_Fucking_Dead wrote:
in order to recruit from the relatively tiny activist ghetto, the approach and tactics you'd use would have to be markedly different to the approach and tactics you'd use in recruiting those in or looking for jobs, with families or whatever. And in doing so, I think you would run a very serious risk of losing any relevance you may have had with those in or looking for jobs, with families etc etc.

That post does make sense, but since no one is arguing for recruiting from the activist ghetto, its a bit of a redundant one, sorry.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 19 2005 11:59
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
I have some sympathy with the people here who give out about the pointless subcultural activism of the anarchist "scene" - but whose fault is it that the largest class struggle anarchist organisation in Britain has, what, 60 members? Not the juggling and squatting brigade, they're just wrong. It's you lot who fail to engage with them, convince them, recruit them, win them over.

Remember many of the newer class struggle anarchists came out of that "scene" themselves, even if they are ferociously hostile to it now. Wouldn't it be a lot more effective to make a serious orientation to winning such punters over rather than waiting for them to draw their own conclusions in little dribs and drabs? The issue isn't where you find people its where you point them afterwords.

Is that not an argument for recruiting from the activist ghetto?? Or have I misread it??

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 19 2005 12:08

"Tens of thousands of people go to big "left" events. That includes a fair number of "anti-socials who want to go fight the man" but they are only ever a small minority (and even some of them aren't immune to reason). The crowd at root consists of people who are pissed off about some aspect of capitalism or are questioning it more generally and have been attracted to some set-piece event. Of course this means that many of them are going to be more receptive to class struggle ideas than the average person currently is." (Irratang)

I think that, this, coupled with my talk about about TUC, ESF and STWC events above, indicates that we're arguing for engaging with mass events in order to create something better than a ghetto, and offer an alternative organised form that isn't such an unhealthy 'scene'.

<can't believe I'm siding with the trots on this one, BTW Mr. T >

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Steven.
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Sep 19 2005 12:28

Yeah of course what IrrationallyAngry is saying is correct.

Unfortunately I myself can't really bring myself to do something like that. I'm sure the G8 would've been a good place to go, chat to people and win some over to useful ideas. I just couldn't spare the time/money/sanity, but I know some with decent politics would have done.

That said I disagree with Lazlo that it's worth wasting months of your life in organising meetings beforehand, even if you are far enough up the informal clique to influence anything tongue

raw
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Sep 19 2005 13:31

It's good to see Jack that you yourself are now spreading the same shit as your lefty friends in the SWP, Socialist Action and Morning Star.

As a factual correction, the "storming" was organised against Ken Livingston who was due to speak. He and the ESF politicians shat their pants and the SWP tried to call in the cops to protect the event, unfortunately we had formed much better relationships within the ESF, notably the COBAS who said that if the police intervened then they will fight on oursides against them.

It had nothing to do with "anti-fascism", the meeting itself, held in a hall with over a 1,000 people capacity was only 1/4 filled by the time we arrived it was full. The action was composed of around 300 people, many of different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds who also spoke out against the exclusion of the poor, low-paid and immigrants in the ESF event.

And to digress,

Jack, whats your involvement in the Stop the War Marches,it's just that I've read you promote coaches from colchester (are you involved in organising these?) to attend the marhces in London. Surely you know that marching A to B isn't gonna stop the war. So why do you promote, spend money and everything else in such a useless event...any parrallels to your perception of the anti-g8 mobilisations?? Me thinks yes.

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PaulMarsh
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Sep 19 2005 13:57
Jack wrote:
My own idea of effective resistance is a bunch of white people in masks storming a stage during an anti-fascist meeting.

Jack - That is a really, really stupid thing to say, and you should withdraw it.

Jimmy
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Sep 19 2005 14:04

I tend to disagree that big protests are a waste of time per se, but on the more specific issue:

John. wrote:

Admin edit - John said this not Jack

That said I disagree with Lazlo that it's worth wasting months of your life in organising meetings beforehand, even if you are far enough up the informal clique to influence anything tongue

But it hardly takes months of non-stop work. Organised anarchist groups should be capable of putting some resources into something like the G8 and also - as oposed to instead of - local organising. They're not mutually exclusive. The relative weight of effort can be changed from case to case. But any group with more than a few members should be able to delegate some members to the summit thingmebob and others to the local community campaign and when one issue heats up a bit, throw a bit more resources into that. The advantage organìsation is that you can do many things at once.

Even the WSM in Ireland managed this, and we're tiny, only about 20 members. We had some involvement in the G8 protests, though not as much as the previous year's Mayday or the anti-war stuff in 2003. While those campaigns were going, even at their height, we kept the work going on the other stuff RTS, bin tax, racist referndums. As well as doing the ordinary propaganda.

And we had half that membership in 2003. You don't necessarily recruit from being invoved - given the reluctance of many anarchists to join anything formal I see it as a bonus. I don't think anybody joined from the G8, but it does give you an opportunity to engage with people who are at least critical of capitalism and often are very similar in politics to commies like us. Working together can help break down misconceptions, build a bit of trust etc.

Apart from that, I think is necessary for organised anarchist groups to grow, to have branches dotted around the country, for anarchist ideas to become popular. The more members we have, the more work we can do etc, so anarchist groups should probably be a bit more into recruiting than we are.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 19 2005 17:16
raw wrote:
It had nothing to do with "anti-fascism", the meeting itself, held in a hall with over a 1,000 people capacity was only 1/4 filled by the time we arrived it was full. The action was composed of around 300 people, many of different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds who also spoke out against the exclusion of the poor, low-paid and immigrants in the ESF event.

Was the meeting you stormed not organised by UAF?? That is the common belief and if it wasn't, you'd probably be best placed making sure everyone knows that. Cos the SWP were able to make a huge great big deal out of how the actual storming happened during a speech by a black Jewish woman about anti-fascism. If I was in that meeting, I would have instantly assumed the stormers were fascists, and probably grabbed the nearest tool to hand.

raw
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Sep 19 2005 17:57

Alan - I meant the action had nothing to do with the anti-fascist meeting but was targetted against Ken Livingstone and the ESF hierarchy. Anyway this old news, there have been huge discussions bout this a year ago when it happened, the SWP & the GLA were shown to be using the "race card". The only people that still repeat this misinterpretations are the leninists-stalinists left.

Finally, most people knew or were to find out quickly what was happening because there had been alot of publicity as an annoucement was made as soon as we occupied the main stage.

cheers

RAW

for more on the ESF see: http://www.wombles.org.uk/auto/reflections.php

lucy82
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Sep 19 2005 18:23
Quote:
in order to recruit from the relatively tiny activist ghetto, the approach and tactics you'd use would have to be markedly different to the approach and tactics you'd use in recruiting those in or looking for jobs, with families or whatever. And in doing so, I think you would run a very serious risk of losing any relevance you may have had with those in or looking for jobs, with families etc etc.

look, i know everyone will probably ignore me but in reality those who inhabit the relatively tiny activist ghetto have lives outside the ghetto which include looking for jobs, having families etc. its the minority who are full time activists on a trust fund. so i don't get where the serious risk of losing relevance is. talking with people is talking with people and to a large degree, we all share the same problems and big demos are a receptive audience.

also about the ESF storming. the tensions around the ESF were I think widely known to the majority of people and as Raw says, the reason why people were there was made obvious really early on the stage. This is against a background of months and months of dissent and increasing polarisation between those who felt the ESF should not have been a corporate sheebang and those who were happy to play the game with the Ken et al. so the target was Ken Livingstone, there were good reasons for this. The episode was used by the SWP to big up their own propaganda and they lied about what happened quite blatently. I think it was unfortunate that the meeting was about anti-racism but I don't honestly believe anyone in that room thought it was facists attacking the stage.

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Steven.
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Sep 19 2005 18:28

Did someone just say something? confused

wink

lucy82
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Sep 19 2005 18:29

naw, i just farted wink

Mike Harman
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Sep 19 2005 19:05

I think what Irrationally Angry is saying, is that the audience on, say, the 2 million StWC march in February is neither trot nor radical liberal in the majority - mainly people who are pissed off with the government. And that we should go to those events and try to recruit people to class politics in competition with Dissent/SWP etc. etc. - not that we should try to recruit people from Dissent/SWP etc. at that kind of event.

The problem is most of the events that happen contain a majority of activist ghettoites - StWC marches after the big Feb 15th one were pretty poorly attended by people outside the subcultures.

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JDMF
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Sep 19 2005 19:23

catch, how many people have you recruited outside already politicised people (what you call 'subcultures'), say within last two years?

Mike Harman
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Sep 19 2005 19:54

me personally? And recruited to what?

I don't think I'd be prepared to take personal responsibility for either an individual's political development, or them joining an organisation. Not at this stage anyway. I don't have any protegés yet wink black bloc

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 19 2005 20:02
Catch wrote:
I think what Irrationally Angry is saying, is that the audience on, say, the 2 million StWC march in February is neither trot nor radical liberal in the majority - mainly people who are pissed off with the government. And that we should go to those events and try to recruit people to class politics in competition with Dissent/SWP etc. etc. - not that we should try to recruit people from Dissent/SWP etc. at that kind of event.

The problem is most of the events that happen contain a majority of activist ghettoites - StWC marches after the big Feb 15th one were pretty poorly attended by people outside the subcultures.

Almost.

I wouldn't advocate trying to recruit hardened activists from other small left groups. That's Spartism basically and as they and their kind have shown us over decades it just doesn't work. It's a waste of everybody's time.

But take a gathering of ten thousand or thirty thousand people (ie a lot smaller than the StWC marches). How many of them are actually in left groups, whether its something like Dissent or for that matter the SWP? Fuck all in percentage terms. At every anti-war march, big social forum, summit protest and similar event there are thousands or tens of thousands of people who are not strongly politically affilated and who are asking the kind of questions you lot should have answers for.

I'm not saying that there is some mass of eager punters, each of whose mind is an empty bucket just waiting for your words of wisdom to be poured in. People are complex and most people who go to a big left event are attracted to various political ideas already, in a more or less coherent way. The point though is that attitudes are fluid. People can draw the same political conclusions you have already drawn and its part of a socialist activist's job to help them do so - by talking to them, getting in and around them, leafletting, organising, persuading.

One of the reasons - and there are a number of them - why I was never attracted to the anarchist movement, even to the class struggle parts of it, is that at least in the English speaking world you don't take this kind of thing seriously. You aren't serious about building your organisations and movement, which as far as I am concerned translates at least partially into not taking your politics seriously. I'm not a socialist activist because it's the most enjoyable way to spend my time or because I like being critical of the world around me. I'm in it to change the world and a movement which doesn't recruit, organise, build and grow is a movement which isn't going to play much of a part in that.

(I bet that last part isn't going to make me particularly popular round here but anyway...)

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 19 2005 20:10
Jack wrote:
I spend 18 months and £200,000 of movement money organising for them

'Movement money'? Who's movement? Surely you're not in the same movement as a bunch of anti-socials?

FWIW I agree with Irrationallyangry, that most anarchist activities don't reflect the supposed seriousness of the task, which is why I'm more hopeful of the IWCA as a vehicle for change, because there's a lot of solid, consistent activity behind it, rather than the sporadic and sub-culturally constrained actions of most anarchist groups.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 19 2005 20:39
Jack wrote:
How can you make so little sense, and then so much, in such a short space of time??

I contain multitudes. It was me Negri was talking about...

redyred
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Sep 19 2005 20:43
raw wrote:
It's good to see Jack that you yourself are now spreading the same shit as your lefty friends in the SWP, Socialist Action and Morning Star.

That is an interesting accusation, coming from an anarcho-vanguardist.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 19 2005 20:44

Shut it! I am the productive, creative and worryingly vaguely defined multitude black bloc It's composed of all the good stuff, you know the good stuff, not the bad stuff?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 19 2005 20:45
redyred wrote:
raw wrote:
It's good to see Jack that you yourself are now spreading the same shit as your lefty friends in the SWP, Socialist Action and Morning Star.

That is an interesting accusation, coming from an anarcho-vanguardist.

Remind me, are the anarcho-vanguardists with or against the neo-Leninoids? confused

Mike Harman
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Sep 19 2005 20:51
IrrationallyAngry wrote:

But take a gathering of ten thousand or thirty thousand people (ie a lot smaller than the StWC marches). How many of them are actually in left groups, whether its something like Dissent or for that matter the SWP? Fuck all in percentage terms. At every anti-war march, big social forum, summit protest and similar event there are thousands or tens of thousands of people who are not strongly politically affilated and who are asking the kind of questions you lot should have answers for.

30000 people read this site every month (a bit more iirc). I write stuff for this site, how many who find this site for the first time are "not strongly politically affiliated and are asking the kinds of questions I/we have answers for"? Probably a fair few judging by google keywords. And if they find one article on here, they're far more likely to read more than if they're given one issue of a paper or pamphlet.

I'd rather put time into a permanent resource like this site, potentially read by tens of thousands of people, than into a leaflet to hand out to maybe 1000 at a demo that'll probably go in the bin in 5 minutes - considering I myself am accustomed to not taking leaflets in the street anyway after years of being offered them on high streets around the country. Same as I don't talk to those charity muggers any more.

Quote:
You aren't serious about building your organisations and movement, which as far as I am concerned translates at least partially into not taking your politics seriously. I'm not a socialist activist because it's the most enjoyable way to spend my time or because I like being critical of the world around me. I'm in it to change the world and a movement which doesn't recruit, organise, build and grow is a movement which isn't going to play much of a part in that.

(I bet that last part isn't going to make me particularly popular round here but anyway...)

Waltham Forest council is about to try to turn the longest daily street market in Europe, 2 minutes from where I live, into "Bluewater" according to the local paper. They're going to (probably ineptly) attempt to Islingtonise Walthamstow, with expensive flats and shopping arcades that will push out all the cheap market stalls and shops that currently occupy the area. The local cinema was sold off to the UCKG, the library/arts centre that was supposed to be built nearby is now going to be a retail/leisure complex, a local community college is in the process of being closed down. I've only been in the area three months, so I've not worked out even where to start on all this, but I consider all the people that are pissed off about this attack on their community and local services a far more likely group of people to take up ideas about self-organisation, direct democracy and the impact of class on their lives than most of the issues that large events are organised around. They may never identify as "libertarian communists", or join an organised group, but they may well fight the further encroachment of capital into the area as public spaces are divvied up into coffee shop kiosks, rents go up, etc. etc.