Organising for revolution?

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billysmith
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Oct 6 2005 22:18
Organising for revolution?

Okay I've been looking around and as I've said elsewhere I did have a couple of conversations with an anarchist while at ameeting through work.

I see how you don't want to take part in the structures of the state, although my experianc, again through my work, is that some anarchists seem more shall we say flexible on this question than others, so how do you organise for revolution. The Marxist left have their political parties to sieze state power one way or another. As I understand it anarcho-syndicalists see the union structure as the way to organise. What about other anarchists? Will it all be spontanous? Will organisations be formed at some future yet to be determined date and if so what is to stop these organisations from being manipulated?

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Lazy Riser
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Oct 6 2005 22:28

Hi

I’m probably alone in foreseeing the installation of a puppet government whose only mandate is to sweep away the existing parliamentary system to allow a network of neighbourhood councils to “break through Capital’s shell like a baby eagle” to replace the existing legislature.

Love

LR

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JDMF
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Oct 7 2005 07:52

Welcome to the board mate! Hope you will find it useful.

rather than getting bogged down on some irrelevant scenarios of "revolution" and pretending like we have any idea how it would happen, i would focus on the actual organising methods and style of anarchists here and now.

The main difference to many other revolutionary groups is that anarchists seek to put forwards ideas of mutual aid, direct democracy, direct action, solidarity and so on. So the aim is to empower the working class rather than use the working class to get power. The power of the state and capital relies on us, the majority class, to keep it going, and any action, any organising, any step to empower our class is eating away that power.

Now will this then end up in some bloody mess, or will it happen this or that way in some apocalyptic revolutionary situation which sounds like the predictions jhehovas witnesses talk about - i don't know, nor do i care that much. And i think anarchists spend far too much time on discussing these scenarios, in the expense of doing the much needed organising here and now.

Anyways, i am not very good in talking about those utopian situations, so i better not get too involved, and let some other people who have knocked all the books to give you better answers grin

ps. i gotta say mate, sounds like your workplace is buzzing with anarchists, whats up with that???

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Lazy Riser
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Oct 7 2005 08:14

Hi

Quote:
like we have any idea how it would happen

I don’t think we should be especially averse to working ideas through. It beats doing crosswords. It’s Ok for some people to sit on the fence though, whatever floats your boat my friend.

Quote:
i would focus on the actual organising methods and style of anarchists here and now.

Chance would be a fine thing, but with no programme to guide the method, the actual organising remains ineffective or, worse still, counter productive.

Quote:
Now will this then end up in some bloody mess, or will it happen this or that way in some apocalyptic revolutionary situation… …i don't know, nor do i care that much.

Those aren’t very attractive options you’re offering there comrade. In conversation with everyday people I find they are much more interested in understanding how autonomous society would work than knowing where they can turn up to hand out leaflets.

Quote:
And i think anarchists spend far too much time on discussing these scenarios, in the expense of doing the much needed organising here and now.

Really? I get the impression that most anarchists share your perspective and only a small number (imagine how small that is) dare to construct a forward vision. I’d go as far to say that the option to defer offering positive alternatives to capitalism attracts many to the milieu, and accounts for the vast array of political positions that sit under anarchism’s umbrella.

Love

LR

Steve
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Oct 7 2005 09:18

Hi there billysmithbillysmith grin It's Steve from Preston. How are you mate? Haven't seen you for a while. You know the anarcho-syndicalist take on this don't you? Challenging the state and capitalism through the economic/political organisation - the a/s union. I can't answer for other anarchists, as I don't agree with their methods of organisation.

Others may not know the circumstances you talk about in your first post but it's up to you to explain or not as you see fit. Just a word of warning though try not to get embroiled in certain arguments if you get my drift. wink

redtwister
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Oct 7 2005 15:03
billysmith wrote:
Okay I've been looking around and as I've said elsewhere I did have a couple of conversations with an anarchist while at ameeting through work.

I see how you don't want to take part in the structures of the state, although my experianc, again through my work, is that some anarchists seem more shall we say flexible on this question than others, so how do you organise for revolution. The Marxist left have their political parties to sieze state power one way or another. As I understand it anarcho-syndicalists see the union structure as the way to organise. What about other anarchists? Will it all be spontanous? Will organisations be formed at some future yet to be determined date and if so what is to stop these organisations from being manipulated?

Not all Marxists are for 'seizing the state' stuff, recruiting you to their sect, etc. Some of us are far closer to the anarchists in practical matters, and they to us. JDMF laid it out pretty well, which doesn't answer the question what kind of organizations to form, but hey, that's not an easy question.

Mostly, we need to defend and extend whatever allows workers the most room to maneuver, to exert their power, to become aware of their strength and use it. This may at times involve 'using' the formal institutions of the state, but that is very limited and not a 'strategy', but a tactical decision for a specific situation.

Mostly, it involves figuring out what people (including us) want in a fight, what they want to achieve, what they are ready to do (which may have nothing to do with what we are ready to do), to offer resources where possible, etc. That's the day-to-day thing.

Extending that outward is hard because the character and forms of organization of major social struggles seems to change over periods (the Paris commune was one form, the councils ar another and do not seem to take place in the more 'advanced' capitalist countries after the 1930's), so who knows what the 'appropriate' forms of such organizing are? That much will have to develop out of the character of the organization of labor and the forms of resistance that specifically target that organization of labor. That is part of the reason that effective resistance can be slow in forming in the face of a decomposition of labor and a recomposition of capital.

So for now, i think JDMF is on the right track for thinking about the daily grind.

Cheers,

Chris

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 7 2005 15:06

I am a JDMFist myself as well 8)

Hey, it even sounds cool: 'JDM Fist!' Mr. T

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Steven.
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Oct 7 2005 15:23

You know Maoists in the States +Canada try to copy the Black Block with their own "Red Fist"

embarrassed

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Oct 7 2005 15:40
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
Hey, it even sounds cool: 'JDM Fist!' Mr. T

it does indeed, and it is hereby Trademarked 8)

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 7 2005 15:44
John. wrote:
You know Maoists in the States +Canada try to copy the Black Block with their own "Fed Fist"

WTF would 'fed fist' mead? Federated and recallable fisting? confused

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Steven.
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Oct 7 2005 16:08

Er whoops corrected - it was "Red Fist"

billysmith
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Oct 8 2005 10:31

I've still got the problem with anarchist organisation of how it prevents authoritarian groups from manipulating and dominating things and eventually swamping them. I think I'm closer in thinking to the Sol Fed idea but maybe that is because I've actually talked to someone about it.

Which brings me to

Hi Steve I'll email you as I'll be in Preston next week so maybe we can meet for a cuppa. I left that other job and moved so no longer in Lancs but have some interesting stuff to tell you about. wink

Steve
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Oct 8 2005 10:40

Hi Billy I'm on here now so if you email I'll get it. Tuesday's best.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Oct 8 2005 11:49
Quote:
I see how you don't want to take part in the structures of the state, although my experianc, again through my work, is that some anarchists seem more shall we say flexible on this question than others, so how do you organise for revolution. The Marxist left have their political parties to sieze state power one way or another. As I understand it anarcho-syndicalists see the union structure as the way to organise. What about other anarchists? Will it all be spontanous? Will organisations be formed at some future yet to be determined date and if so what is to stop these organisations from being manipulated?

I think that the general distrust of the the structures of state and a releuctance to attempt to utilise them to seize power is a well founded one. Its important that we dont seperate our theory from practice or the means from the ends, if we want a society of free people, without hierachy or authority and based upon direct democracy then that is the way we must organise now or else what is there to stop those in positions of power within 'revolutionary' organisations simply consolidating their power in the event or any social uprising. If we want direct democracy, the abolition of political power and horizontal organisation then attempting to change things through hierachical and statist organisations simply repudiates these principles and turns them into abstract ideas or just ideology. The revolution will be the self emancipation of the working classes or it wont be at all. History is littered with examples of the pitfalls of allowing power to hijack the class struggle, the bolshevicks being the obvious ones but you can also see similar contradictions in the CNTs compliance and collaboration with elememts of the spanish army and politicians.

I think organisation is definately needed, but this is the self organisation of the working classes, with no compromise with politicians or bureaucrats, theory should never be subordinated to short term gains as these gains will only be worn down once again and we´ll be back at square one. So organisation should take place at the grass roots in communities and at work and never lose its revolutionary content or be recuperated back into the political system. No political party is revolutionary, they just play the role of revolutionaries. What will prevent the emergence of anybody in a position of power within anarchist organisations is the simple fact that they are anarchist organisations, how can someone seize power in an organisation that is organised horizontally through direct democracy, without representatives and based upon the participation of all its members?

lucy82
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Oct 9 2005 16:37

i think we should let JDMF lead us forward. with a bit of a beard he could be the new messiah Mr. T

billysmith
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Oct 10 2005 10:03

When I asked the original question I wasn’t thinking of some time in the future I was more concerned with how anarchists see organising now in the present day. I understand what has been posted but what form will the organisation take? Not a political party I can see that but will it always be fluid and transitory, changing and reacting along with the situations or some form of permanent organisation that seeks to set its own agenda?

If the working class organisations are fluid what happens if there is a desire to make them permanent? Also should there be an anarchist organisation existing outside of these working class organisations trying to influence them along with other currents or do individual anarchists also make short term and changeable alliances as the situation dictates?

afraser
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Oct 10 2005 11:56

Can't beat Nestor Makhno's 'Platform' for having enduring anarchist organisations with:

* Ideological Unity

* Tactical Unity

* Collective Responsibility

* Federalism

[http://struggle.ws/platform/plat_organise.html and http://anarchism.ws/platform.html]

Falls down at present on the first point. Without agreement on basic theory, on aims and goals, an effective organisation is impossible. Practice has instead been to try and include everybody inside a big, vague, anarchism without hyphens, which prevents any effective organisation forming.

The Friends of Durruti made a similar call in http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/fod/towardsposition.html

I love their use of 'slight' in:

Friends of Durruti wrote:
We are introducing a slight variation in anarchism into our programme. The establishment of a revolutionary Junta.
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JDMF
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Oct 10 2005 12:22
afraser wrote:
Falls down at present on the first point. Without agreement on basic theory, on aims and goals, an effective organisation is impossible. Practice has instead been to try and include everybody inside a big, vague, anarchism without hyphens, which prevents any effective organisation forming.

can you cite examples please mate? I would have said it exactly the opposite, and i think we should base this kinds of claims on proper evidence rather than predetermined political claims.

All organisations have some level of ideological and tactical unity, platform does not have a monopoly on ideological and tactical unity. And i would claim that stricter the criterias demanded from this unity, smaller and more insignificant the group is - and it sounds like you claim exactly the opposite?

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the button
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Oct 10 2005 12:28
afraser wrote:
I love their use of 'slight' in:
Friends of Durruti wrote:
We are introducing a slight variation in anarchism into our programme. The establishment of a revolutionary Junta.

That old canard, eh? "Junta" is Spanish for "council." Nothing more.

knightrose
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Oct 10 2005 16:44

This is how the AF organises, if that's any help.

We have formal membership, based on agreement with our Aims and Principles AND a commitment to work with the organisation. We all pay subs.

We meet once a year for a conference. At the conference we discuss political issues, elect officers, decide priorities and publications.

Three other times a year we have a delegate meeting(NDM). This is to deal with matters that come up between conferences. Conferences meet for two days, NDMs one day.

Groups and members have autonomy within the organisation. We decide our reaction to issues according to the A&Ps, but don't seek approval from others to do so. Anyone is free to write or speak in the name of the AF. We work on the principle of trust.

There is only one type of membership, no candidates or such like, everyone has the same say and vote (as long as they are bothered to express an opinion), everyone gets a chance to do a job within the AF. Nobody can hold a post for more than 2 years.

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Oct 10 2005 22:49

Isn't it 3 years? And every officer is up for election annually?

red n black star

Vaneigemappreci...
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Oct 11 2005 10:09
Quote:
If the working class organisations are fluid what happens if there is a desire to make them permanent? Also should there be an anarchist organisation existing outside of these working class organisations trying to influence them along with other currents or do individual anarchists also make short term and changeable alliances as the situation dictates?

The organisations must be fluid, theoretically lucid, if theyre not then they will be easily defeated, youve got to be able to adapt to different situations while not abandoning the basic desire to abolish the existing order.

The organisations aim must not be its own self preservation and this is what tends to happen to bureaucratic unions, that their end goal is their recruitment of the biggest numbers and the perpetuation of the union as opposed to the realisation of any meaningful change. Anarchist organisations need´nt operate solely at work and most i think have some community role, i think its hard to seperate work and community or social life since its part the same social organisation and nothing under that social ordering of things can escape its influence entirely, however alliances with non revolutionary organisations and groups often leads to compromise with such groups and as such the repudiation of the ideal at the heart of any anarchist organisation and the following integration and neutralisation of the organisation leading to complete impotence.

billysmith
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Oct 11 2005 10:27
knightrose wrote:
This is how the AF organises, if that's any help.

We have formal membership, based on agreement with our Aims and Principles AND a commitment to work with the organisation. We all pay subs.

We meet once a year for a conference. At the conference we discuss political issues, elect officers, decide priorities and publications.

Three other times a year we have a delegate meeting(NDM). This is to deal with matters that come up between conferences. Conferences meet for two days, NDMs one day.

Groups and members have autonomy within the organisation. We decide our reaction to issues according to the A&Ps, but don't seek approval from others to do so. Anyone is free to write or speak in the name of the AF. We work on the principle of trust.

There is only one type of membership, no candidates or such like, everyone has the same say and vote (as long as they are bothered to express an opinion), everyone gets a chance to do a job within the AF. Nobody can hold a post for more than 2 years.

So would you envisage the AF having a membership of thousands or even millions at some stage? And what about in the workplace? Would workers remain in their present unions or in some more radical variant but not specifically anarchist?

I’m just trying to make the connection between anarchist organisation today when it is very small and in some future time when the situation has changed.

billysmith
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Oct 11 2005 10:31

Re the Platform. I must admit I've only skimmed it but isn't that advocating a sort of 'anarchist party' trying to direct worker's organisations from outside similar to the relationship between the Marxist parties and the present unions?

billysmith
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Oct 11 2005 10:43
Vaneigemappreciationclub wrote:
The organisations must be fluid, theoretically lucid, if theyre not then they will be easily defeated, youve got to be able to adapt to different situations while not abandoning the basic desire to abolish the existing order.

The organisations aim must not be its own self preservation and this is what tends to happen to bureaucratic unions, that their end goal is their recruitment of the biggest numbers and the perpetuation of the union as opposed to the realisation of any meaningful change.

Do you include anarcho-syndicalist unions in this critique? Do you see them as bureaucratic and if so what is the alternative?

billysmith
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Oct 18 2005 10:23

Well the answers seem have have dried up. Never mind I think I've got most of information I need. Thanks to those who answered.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Oct 18 2005 15:13
Quote:
Do you include anarcho-syndicalist unions in this critique? Do you see them as bureaucratic and if so what is the alternative?

I dont know enough about the anarcho-sydicalist unions to say to be honest, what is it that defines an anarcho syndicalist union from a syndicalist union? I´m guessing its the fact that the anarcho one is based upon the practice of direct democracy, the election of revocable delegates and not negotiating with the bosses but aiming at their abolition, right? This would make it harder for the union to become bureaucratic since its members would be in control of the situation.