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A question - NEFAC and national liberation

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daniel
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Apr 19 2007 22:55
A question - NEFAC and national liberation

Admin: thread locked.

I read Anarkismo.net often, and I've found the articles of NEFAC member Wayne Price interesting, tho at times a bit lefty and even trot -sounding. My question is, does NEFAC support national liberation? It says in your Aims and Principles that:

NEFAC wrote:
We do not support the ideology of national liberation movements, which claims that there are common interests held between the working class and the native ruling class in the face of foreign domination.

However, Wayne Price, again a NEFAC member, clearly supports national liberation.

Mr. Price wrote:
...strangely enough, many anarchists who champion nonclass liberation struggles often refuse to support national liberation (here meaning the same as national self-determination: the right of a people to determine its own fate). National liberation is also not a direct class struggle, even though its connections to capitalism are pretty clear. That is, the big capitalists of the industrialized nations seek to expand their wealth by dominating the weaker, “underdeveloped,” nations. The international capitalists seek to super-exploit the workers of these nations (workers who accept lower wages), to sell goods to their states and populations, and to loot their natural resources--oil being the most important resource but not the only one. This is imperialism. Since the imperialist states no longer directly “own” colonies, this is its neocolonialist phase. The oppressed people of these nations are mostly workers, peasants, and small shopkeepers. But they also include “middle class” and upper class layers. These either aspire to be the local agents of imperialism or to replace the imperialists as the new rulers (or both).

http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=3614

Mr. Price wrote:
Historically, the attitude of anarchists toward national liberation movements has been ambiguous. There are aspects of the socialist anarchist program which have been interpreted as supportive of national self-determination and aspects which have been interpreted as opposed to national self-determination. I believe that anarchists have been correct to oppose nationalism as a political program, which includes the advocacy of new national states. But anarchists should be supportive of the MOTIVES which lead oppressed people toward nationalism, particularly the desire to oppose imperialism and oppression. And anarchists should support the right of nations to self-determination, which is NOT the same as supporting nationalism.

http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=1016

Now, don't mistake this for trouble-making. I think NEFAC is a great organisation, and if I was staying in America longer I'd become a supporter most likely, but this is kind of a test. A pretty basic test.In fact if I was thinking of becoming a supporter I'd want some kind of resolution to this issue before I joined. NEFAC's official "position" is one thing, a NEFAC member is publishing on a website read by people around the world articles supporting national liberation, even identifying himself as a member of NEFAC! Wow.

Deilo Trouda Group wrote:
1. Unity of theory
Theory is the force which guides the activity of individual people and individual organizations along a specific route towards a specific goal. Naturally, it must be shared by all persons and all organizations who join the General Union. The activity of the general anarchist Union, both in general and in detail, must be perfectly consistent with the theoretical principles professed by the Union.

Is NEFAC really true to that basic, basic platformist principle? How do you justify having a member openly supporting national liberation contrary to the Aims and Principles.

Again, I'm not trying to wind anybody up! I'm sure you've probably already discussed this issue internally, but would just like to hear what you have to say.

-Cheers

Admin - please give your threads meaningful titles

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 19 2007 22:58

There are some threads in thought on this, in particular this one -
http://libcom.org/forums/thought/for-john-how-is-the-wsm-soft-on-nationalism

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Apr 19 2007 23:21

Yes, but I'm interested in what NEFAC do about members clearly going against supposedly central tenents of the organisation. I think it's extremely important - how serious is NEFAC, does it have teeth, is it serious?

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Apr 19 2007 23:41

Ah, read some of that thread. Jesus fuck... That'll make me much more critical of people calling themselves "platformists." Seem like there was a lot of trot cobblers from "platformists" on that thread to me. The references to Wayne Price were interesting. One poster claimed Mr. Price doesn't support "oppressed nations" against "imperialist nations". Wrong.

Mr Price wrote:
Anarchists must continue to participate in and champion the struggles of women, queers, of oppressed races and nations.

http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=5352

"Oppressed nations"???!!!

rebelworker
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Apr 19 2007 23:57

The short answer is this, the official position of the organisation is what you read in the aims and principals.

Having said that two things must be kept in mind. One, nefac has a somewhat healthy level of internal debate going on about alot of different issues at all times.

Second, memebers are not allowed to do political work which counters positions of the organisation, now as far as articulating opinons on issues that do not directly affect th work we are doing on a day to day, things get much less clear what our position is.

Wayne, I think, is in the minority on his opinions about "the national question". Where I am, In Quebec (the largest section of the organisation, most people have a pretty hard line against nationalism, due to them coming out of the national question here in quebec.

I have a position much closer to waynes, though I hold many of the criticism of national liberation movements that most anarchist identify with, i would say I am much more sympathetic to people fighting for what they see as their liberation through nationalist colored struggles which alften have a strong class character.

I personally feel that alo of anarchist have very kneee jerk positions on many issues (electoralism is another one), now I fall within the anarchist position on that also, but I think we have to be alot more open to pragmatic politcs. Most anarchists disagreee with me. For the record, i recenetly publicly kept my mouth shut on the electoral issue because my section took a position and i respected it, although privately I hold the right to express my beleifs.

I would say the same goes for Nationalism, the differences is none of us are directly involved in National Liberation struggles so its a mute point for US to hold a "hard line" on that issue. I personally think encouraging debate, when political reality alows is a good organisational culture to encourage.

I think with nefac, some vocal individuals, often supporters, not full members, are mistaken to be the organisational line. The reality is most nefacers cant be bothered to have political debates over the internet all day, so you are getting a very small cross section of what the organisation is all about. I would go by what we say is our official statement, and what we actually do in real life. Internet debates and unofficial documents are just healthy debate.

Hope that helps a bit,

Dave

Smash Rich Bastards
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Apr 20 2007 21:06

I'm bored of this topic of discussion. That's my position.

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Apr 20 2007 21:21
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
I'm bored of this topic of discussion. That's my position.

No doubt. But here am I, a member of the public (wink) seeing a huge gap between theory and practice. The only time I hear much about NEFAC is on Anarkismo, and from a guy what's going on about how important national liberation, "supporting" "opressed nations" etc. should be to anarchists and I gotta wonder - wtf is going on here. Are these trots in anarchists clothes (heh) or what? It's important.

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Apr 20 2007 21:48
rebelworker wrote:
The short answer is this, the official position of the organisation is what you read in the aims and principals.

Having said that two things must be kept in mind. One, nefac has a somewhat healthy level of internal debate going on about alot of different issues at all times.

What, so you may be in the process of changing over to a position of support for national liberation? Sheesh!

Quote:
Second, memebers are not allowed to do political work which counters positions of the organisation, now as far as articulating opinons on issues that do not directly affect th work we are doing on a day to day, things get much less clear what our position is.

Hmmm... so in other words, NEFAC won't be sending arms money or personnel (smile) to national liberation movements. If Wayne Price up and flew to Bagdad with an AK he'd be expelled. If he writes articles supporting national liberation read by people around the world, and is NEFAC's largest presence on the net (correct me if I'm wrong), and does in fact seem to be speaking for the federation as a whole - that's okay. Blimey, I'm sure Makhno and Arshinov wouldn't approve.

Quote:
Wayne, I think, is in the minority on his opinions about "the national question". Where I am, In Quebec (the largest section of the organisation, most people have a pretty hard line against nationalism, due to them coming out of the national question here in quebec.

Okay. but where's the whole 'theoretical unity" thing - out the window? "National liberation - good, bad or just sticking it to the man" is a kinda important issue. If there is an extremely vocal minority pushing a line directly contradictory to the rest of the organisation - that ain't platformist, as far as I can see!

Quote:
I have a position much closer to waynes, though I hold many of the criticism of national liberation movements that most anarchist identify with, i would say I am much more sympathetic to people fighting for what they see as their liberation through nationalist colored struggles which alften have a strong class character.

Like where, when...??? Nationalism just ties together people, no matter what class, cos they live in a particular area. That's the POINT.

Quote:
I personally feel that alo of anarchist have very kneee jerk positions on many issues (electoralism is another one), now I fall within the anarchist position on that also, but I think we have to be alot more open to pragmatic politcs. Most anarchists disagreee with me. For the record, i recenetly publicly kept my mouth shut on the electoral issue because my section took a position and i respected it, although privately I hold the right to express my beleifs.

Yeah, people shouldn't be dogmatic. But there are some pretty solid principles learned *down the ages* that can't be lightly shrugged off - an opposition to nationalism, parliamentarism, trade unionism (yes, I'd venture that one), racism, sexism, blah blah blah.

Quote:
I would say the same goes for Nationalism, the differences is none of us are directly involved in National Liberation struggles so its a mute point for US to hold a "hard line" on that issue. I personally think encouraging debate, when political reality alows is a good organisational culture to encourage.

Not 100 percent sure what you're on about here. A "hard line" on national liberation is important in america. Native American nationalism (wierd but true), black nationalism (pretty much entirely dead nowadays). Debate is one thing, wooly-headedness is another.

Quote:
I think with nefac, some vocal individuals, often supporters, not full members, are mistaken to be the organisational line.

that's unfortunate!

Quote:
The reality is most nefacers cant be bothered to have political debates over the internet all day, so you are getting a very small cross section of what the organisation is all about.

Sure. That's always the case. But that might be taken to mean "oh some of us are too busy doing stuff to think about stuff like that ." You don't wanna run around like a headless chicken tho, do you?

Quote:
I would go by what we say is our official statement, and what we actually do in real life. Internet debates and unofficial documents are just healthy debate.

Hope that helps a bit,

Dave

Thanks. it doesn't lay my mind to rest at all tho. as I said, theory is one thing, practice another. Platformism, far as I understand, is about uniting the two. So if NEFAC is saying one thing and members are doing and saying another, it'd not very good and it's not very platformist!

Finally, I'd like to say, i have immense respect for you lot at NEFAC and all. I think you're possibly the best thing that's happened to american anarchism for decades. This (and your ambiguous relation to unions) are the only things bother me, so far as I've seen.

-cheers

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Apr 20 2007 22:10
daniel wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
I'm bored of this topic of discussion. That's my position.

No doubt. But here am I, a member of the public (wink) seeing a huge gap between theory and practice. The only time I hear much about NEFAC is on Anarkismo, and from a guy what's going on about how important national liberation, "supporting" "opressed nations" etc. should be to anarchists and I gotta wonder - wtf is going on here. Are these trots in anarchists clothes (heh) or what? It's important.

I personally think people tend to read too much into Wayne's (admittedly clunky) rhetoric. I think it is safe to say that when he writes something about "supporting oppressed nations" he means it in a fairly benign, protesting-imperialist-aggression sorta way (ie, "U.S. outta Iraq, Afghanistan... wherever else"). He's hardly rallying anyone to materially support bourgeois nationalist factions on the ground in any of those countries. Of course, anything short of generic ultra-left sloganeering apparently places him (and, by association, all of us from NEFAC) as somehow holding a nationalist line. Whatever.

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Apr 20 2007 22:23

"Generic ultra-left sloganeering"? Oh leave it out! I'm sure as fuck not into sloganeering and I'm sure as fuck not into ultra-leftism. I find leftism distasteful enuf as it is, let along blooming "ultra." It's not about slogans, it's quite concrete, pragmatic, and what have you. It's about BASIC principles. I don't think the way Mr. Price expresses himself is the problem, it's the content. Now, I understand he used to be a trot. Well, I'm sure unintentionally, he sounds like one. I'm sure he's a great guy, and I've enjoyed many of his articles (including his critiques of anarcho-reformism.) I just can't agree with him on this one, and the fact remains - it reflects on the rest of NEFAC.

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Apr 21 2007 15:29
daniel wrote:
"Generic ultra-left sloganeering"? Oh leave it out! I'm sure as fuck not into sloganeering and I'm sure as fuck not into ultra-leftism. I find leftism distasteful enuf as it is, let along blooming "ultra." It's not about slogans, it's quite concrete, pragmatic, and what have you. It's about BASIC principles. I don't think the way Mr. Price expresses himself is the problem, it's the content. Now, I understand he used to be a trot. Well, I'm sure unintentionally, he sounds like one. I'm sure he's a great guy, and I've enjoyed many of his articles (including his critiques of anarcho-reformism.) I just can't agree with him on this one, and the fact remains - it reflects on the rest of NEFAC.

Well, I apologize for making political assumptions, but your general approach here kind've smacks of the ultra-left purity pissing matches that often get thrown our way (particularly around the topics of unions and national liberation). Don't take this wrong way, because you generally seem like a solid comrade (and if your the same person I think youu are, your posts to Infoshop always brighten my day a little) but honestly people like you aren't a huge priority in who we are trying to appeal to. Usually someone who premises interest in our group with "well, I would be closer to your organization if you changed this minute aspect of your politics, or were just a bit stronger on this point, or shut X member the fuck up, etc" isn't really interested in our group at all. At least not in a way that would ever amount to anything fruitful. They just like to argue, and labor over minor details, and feed their own sense of political superiority because they apparently hold an immaculate position (...of one) that is as pure as the driven snow. Not saying this is where you are coming from necessarily, but in my experience a majority of "supportive" detractors unfortunately do fall in this category. Anyways, that's where the jaded cynicism comes from on my part.

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Apr 21 2007 16:10

I understand where you're coming from, mate. Some people can talk a lot and do fuck all. I'm unfortunately isolated and cannot get as involved like what I want to. But the thing is, again I see your point about the types NEFAC is looking out for. Thing is, there's a difference for me between being a supporter and a member. If I was looking at membership I'd be interested in the "doing stuff" side of it, tho of course the theoretical side too. But when I'm considering supporter status, that means I'm representing and fully agreeing with the theoretical stuff. Now with national liberation, i just think it's fucking important, because the Left in North America (from left-liberals to stalinists) strongly based their thought around national liberation movements. "Ho ho ho Chi Ming the NLF is gonna win!" etc. That leads to third worlism and a desertion of the "western" working class. the New Left even tried to wish us out of existence.

Btw that first quote from Mr. Price about national liberation and imperialism (taken from Lessons for the anarchist movement of the Israeli-Lebanese War) is pure trotskyism. That is the trot line, I believe, in a nutshell.

Anyway, I'm sorry if you find this annoying. Btw who do you think I am on Infoshop? Just wondering.

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Apr 21 2007 19:00

Wayne also puts anchovies on his pizza while NEFAC's official line is for peperoni. WTF is wrong with you people?

throwhen
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Apr 21 2007 19:54

wayne likes to masterbate with his left while, the the official line of nefac is right handed masterbation, and flints position is whichever way is girlfriend can fit the strap on up his ass.

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Apr 21 2007 19:59
throwhen wrote:
wayne likes to masterbate with his left while, the the official line of nefac is right handed masterbation, and flints position is whichever way is girlfriend can fit the strap on up his ass.

You alsways take a simple analogy too far.

throwhen
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Apr 21 2007 20:05

that is not true....

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Apr 21 2007 20:31

Feighnt
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Apr 22 2007 05:29

thug thinks "pizza," chuck's mind goes to "masturbation"....

just what's going on in those nefac meetings, anyway??

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Apr 22 2007 06:05
Feighnt wrote:
thug thinks "pizza," chuck's mind goes to "masturbation"....

just what's going on in those nefac meetings, anyway??

Neither of us are nefac members. Although we are both ex-members and overlap membership of the same collective by one day.

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Apr 22 2007 09:05
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
I'm bored of this topic of discussion. That's my position.

It comes up often. I can see why you are bored of it. Do you think that it comes up often for a reason though?

Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
but your general approach here kind've smacks of the ultra-left purity pissing matches that often get thrown our way (particularly around the topics of unions and national liberation).

This seems to becoming the standard defence. I don't think that is anything to do with purity though. They are two of the most important questions. It is not an abstract theoretical line.

Rebel Worker wrote:
I would say the same goes for Nationalism, the differences is none of us are directly involved in National Liberation struggles so its a mute point for US to hold a "hard line" on that issue.

But Anarkismo, which NEFAC is involved in, does have at least one group in a country where there is an armed national liberation movement, AKİ in Turkey. The Kurdish question is one of the most important political issues in Turkey. Would it be ok for AKİ to not have a line on this question, let alone a hard line?

Also, it is not only something that effects the so-called 'third world'. Daniel makes a good point about this:

Daniel wrote:
Now with national liberation, i just think it's fucking important, because the Left in North America (from left-liberals to stalinists) strongly based their thought around national liberation movements. "Ho ho ho Chi Ming the NLF is gonna win!" etc. That leads to third worlism and a desertion of the "western" working class. the New Left even tried to wish us out of existence.

NEFAC usually tries to play down the importance of this:

Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
I think it is safe to say that when he writes something about "supporting oppressed nations" he means it in a fairly benign, protesting-imperialist-aggression sorta way (ie, "U.S. outta Iraq, Afghanistan... wherever else"). He's hardly rallying anyone to materially support bourgeois nationalist factions on the ground in any of those countries. Of course, anything short of generic ultra-left sloganeering apparently places him (and, by association, all of us from NEFAC) as somehow holding a nationalist line.

It is a fact that Wayne Price goes beyond this. Maybe, members of NEFAC feel that this is 'benign'. It is also a fact that sites like Anarkismo, and Libcom have a much wider influence than among the member groups, or posters. What is Wayne suggesting that comrades in those countries where there are national liberation movements do.

Again Daniel's comments seem to hit the nail on the head:

Daniel wrote:
If Wayne Price up and flew to Bagdad with an AK he'd be expelled. If he writes articles supporting national liberation read by people around the world, and is NEFAC's largest presence on the net (correct me if I'm wrong), and does in fact seem to be speaking for the federation as a whole - that's okay.

As Daniel also points out, for all of the Platformists talk of theoretical unity, they seem to have very little at all. Their ideas do seem to be reheated Trotskyism with a little liberal sauce.

Last year I wrote that the only thing that distinguished Platformism from Trotskyism was the rhetoric, and their positions on parliamentarianism. When I suggested that this would be the next think to be questioned, I was mocked. I think that Rebel Worker has made my point for me here:

Rebel Worker wrote:
I personally feel that alo of anarchist have very kneee jerk positions on many issues (electoralism is another one), now I fall within the anarchist position on that also, but I think we have to be alot more open to pragmatic politcs. Most anarchists disagreee with me. For the record, i recenetly publicly kept my mouth shut on the electoral issue because my section took a position and i respected it, although privately I hold the right to express my beleifs.

Devrim

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Apr 22 2007 16:32

Yeah, good post Devrim. But I think you're being too hard on platformism. The organisational ideas of platformism are excellant, I think. For some reason however, platformists (in North America and Ireland at least) seem to have a certain "lefty" tendency. In North America perhaps anarchists are reacting too strongly against the wierd, lifestylist shite that came before and leaping into the arms of dear Leon and Co. The other thing, of course, is that anarchism in neither countries is as influenced by anarcho-syndicalism as elsewhere. Anarcho-syndicalism is a healthy, grounding, pragmatic tradition - now far past it's prime, I believe, but a proud tradition. But I ramble.

Anyway, Devrim you aren't an anarchist, but I'd say don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I remember reading on here two North American nutters calling themselves platformists who came and ranted on like a pair of stalinists about how ace Hugo Chavez, North Korea, the FARC, etc. were. Wow! Maybe, because nowadays the leninists have pretty much vanished, the types that would join those groups are calling themselves anarchists. A very scary thought!

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Apr 22 2007 17:08
Quote:
But I think you're being too hard on platformism. The organisational ideas of platformism are excellant, I think. For some reason however, platformists (in North America and Ireland at least) seem to have a certain "lefty" tendency.

I am not arguing against Platformism, or even anarchism as a whole here. I think that there can be, and are revolutionary currents within anarchism. I just don't think that the Platformist trend today is one of them.

Devrim

throwhen
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Apr 22 2007 17:10

don't forget about the anarcho-maoists...

knightrose
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Apr 22 2007 17:24

I don't think you can dismiss the issue of national liberation as "boring" or unimportant. It's not a simple issue like anchovies on pizzas or which hand you wank with. It's life and death for many and deserves serious debate.

throwhen
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Apr 22 2007 17:35

it is boring in america. nationalism in america is a dead end for revolutionaries. I'll defer to folks in their home countries whether or not it works for them.

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Apr 22 2007 20:38
knightrose wrote:
I don't think you can dismiss the issue of national liberation as "boring" or unimportant. It's not a simple issue like anchovies on pizzas or which hand you wank with. It's life and death for many and deserves serious debate.

I actually wasn't commenting on Wayne's support or lack of support fr nationalist struggles. More that tactical and theoretical cohesion is about what the organization does in practice after a healthy internal debate, not about what this or that individual member thinks as an individual.

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Apr 23 2007 09:31
guydebordisdead wrote:
I don't know much about left communism but as a platformist and someone who considers platformist anarchism revolutionary I would be interested in hearing (pm or seperate thread if not here?) which currents in anarchism you believe are revolutionary and how you qualify platformism as not revolutionary.

There must be criteria which we use to decide if groups have proletarian politics, or not. Otherwise, we would have to take every group that calls itself 'socialist' at face value. To take the example to a ludicrous extreme it would mean excepting that the Brithish Labour part was a socialist group. How do you decide that they are not? For us the first of these criteria is the attitude to capitalist war. We feel that the attitude of the Platformist current to national liberation struggles places it outside of the 'proletarian camp' (yes, I know it is a terrible phrase).

Devrim

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Apr 23 2007 09:34
Revol 68 wrote:
What is it with the Platformists and their relationship to national liberation? Is it related to their idea of social insertion? Is it cause they see their role as to come into existing struggles and educate with the 'right ideas', does this explain their position on the unions?

Yes, I think so. I don't think that it means that Platformism has to be like this though. I think that Platformism as it is constituted today can't recognise the difference between a struggle in which is on a class base, and a struggle which involves workers.

Devrim

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Apr 23 2007 09:36
Devrim wrote:
guydebordisdead wrote:
I don't know much about left communism but as a platformist and someone who considers platformist anarchism revolutionary I would be interested in hearing (pm or seperate thread if not here?) which currents in anarchism you believe are revolutionary and how you qualify platformism as not revolutionary.

There must be criteria which we use to decide if groups have proletarian politics, or not. Otherwise, we would have to take every group that calls itself 'socialist' at face value. To take the example to a ludicrous extreme it would mean excepting that the Brithish Labour part was a socialist group. How do you decide that they are not? For us the first of these criteria is the attitude to capitalist war. We feel that the attitude of the Platformist current to national liberation struggles places it outside of the 'proletarian camp' (yes, I know it is a terrible phrase).

Devrim

Its a bit silly to say things like "platformist current" eh? There are a handful of organizations that relate themselves to the platform, none of them are really all that close to the OPLC even if they refuse to admit it, and none of them have the same politics as any other of them.

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Apr 23 2007 15:57

Yeah, this thread is prime example of what makes these discussions worthless and boring. Like listening to hens clucking. I don't care what sinister underlying politics some person from a tiny ultra-left sectlet from Turkey or a stuck up know-it-all from a small anarchist collective in Belfast attributes to our group based on a few vague sentences taken from an essay written by one of our members. In actual collective positions and practice, our group DOES NOT support nationalism or national liberation ideology. The closest we have come is, crime of crimes, we raised some money for RAWA in Afghanistan once (which went towards building self-managed schools for young women) and we have critically supported indigenous struggles in our region. That's it. Everyone got it now?

Smash Rich Bastards
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Apr 23 2007 16:09
Devrim wrote:
We feel that the attitude of the Platformist current to national liberation struggles places it outside of the 'proletarian camp' (yes, I know it is a terrible phrase).

Ouch. This is almost as devestating a critique as the time the Sparticist League called us "bourgeois class collaborators" or when the International Bolshevik Tendency claimed we were "reformist, pacifist, anarcho-opportunists" or when Green Anarchy called us "boring workerists who are unable to grasp the oppressive totality of civilized existence".

Its really tough on the collective self-esteem when EVERYONE is oh-so-much-more radical then you. *sigh*

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