About "My experience in the ICC - Devrim Valerian"

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Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Nov 2 2013 19:40
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I just want to stress that by "have an actual practice linked to the class struggle", I didn't mean any great thing. I didn't mean that they had to be leading strikes of hundreds of thousands of workers, just that they had to be a group who were orientated towards the class struggle,

Honestly not trying to be snarky, but would you consider this a political or economic orientation?

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Devrim
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Nov 2 2013 22:51
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
I just want to stress that by "have an actual practice linked to the class struggle", I didn't mean any great thing. I didn't mean that they had to be leading strikes of hundreds of thousands of workers, just that they had to be a group who were orientated towards the class struggle,

Honestly not trying to be snarky, but would you consider this a political or economic orientation?

I am not sure if I really understand the question. Perhaps the problem is one of us having completely different 'political vocabularies'. I have never come across any sort of difference between a 'political or economic orientation', and I am not sure what you really mean by it.

I do understand the difference between political and economic organisations. For me the first would be an organisation that recruits people on he basis of their political ideas, and the second would be an organisation that recruits people bases on their relationship to the means of production.

Can there be a political-economic organisation as advocated by some in SolFed? Yes, I think there can. Perhaps the Argentinian FORA could be a model for this. Is SolFed this organisation now? I think not, it is undeniably a 'political organisation'.

I am for an orientation towards the working class. I don't think that it is possible to be a revolutionary and not to have this orientation.

I have been called a 'workerist' by people who were members of organisations I was a member of including both DAM-IWA and the ICC as well as others.

I don't really understand your question though.

Devrim

meerov21
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Nov 2 2013 23:11

Can there be a political-economic organisation as advocated by some in SolFed? Yes, I think there can. Perhaps the Argentinian FORA could be a model for this.

Ya. Also AAUD-E was a political-economic organisation as i know.

paul r
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Nov 3 2013 07:42

Thanks for that info, Devrim.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 3 2013 13:57

I guess, Devrim, you said you'd helped distribute leaflets to striking workers. That seems like an intervention - which seems like political activity to me. Of course, it's possible that you did more than that and having a monthly paper, but I find it odd that you find the two activities you mention as "an actual practice linked to the class struggle".

SF, on the other hand, has members who consciously organise as SF members at work (and in some cases, groups of workers in the same workplace). It just seems like your standards are pretty different here.

To me it seems like SF is oriented towards the workplace and larger, anarchist political goals. And an organisation with such an orientation strikes me as a political-economic organisation. But, maybe you're right, and it's just semantic disagreement that won't ever be bridged.

Based on your definition though, I'm curious how successful SF would have to be at recruiting economically to meet your definition of a political-economic organisation. What's the threshold? Is intention enough? If an organisation consciously seeks to recruit economically (albeit first through struggle that opens up deeper political conversations) is that enough? Do they have achieve a certain level of success? If SolFed called itself a "class struggle group" would you see that overcoming what you see as its current linguistic contradiction even if its practice didn't change at all?

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Devrim
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Nov 6 2013 09:01
Chilli Sauce wrote:
SF, on the other hand, has members who consciously organise as SF members at work (and in some cases, groups of workers in the same workplace). It just seems like your standards are pretty different here.

Yes, it seems like my standards are pretty different here. Being a militant at work is just something that I assume people who consider themselves to be revolutionaries do anyway. During the period that we are discussing, I was actually involved in a small strike at my work to protect a victimised worker. I didn't mention it as I didn't think that it was really the point. It is not really the task of an organisation to do this until you get to the point where you have more than one person in a workplace, which tiny groups like the one I am referring to didn't have, and to be honest, I doubt that an organisation the size of SolFed has in many cases.

So yes, my standards are different. This is just something that virtually all left political groups do. I don't make a big thing out of it claiming it is something different like SolFed seems to.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
I guess, Devrim, you said you'd helped distribute leaflets to striking workers. That seems like an intervention - which seems like political activity to me. Of course, it's possible that you did more than that and having a monthly paper, but I find it odd that you find the two activities you mention as "an actual practice linked to the class struggle".

I think that you have missed the point that I was making totally. The context of this discussion is somebody suggesting that you could form some sort of international organisation apparently from the top down. I was saying that you had to have real groups to base it on, an actual 'practice' as it were. In a way it refers to the strategy of the ICC (which is discussed in the piece mentioned by the OP) of basically collecting a few people in a country who are interested in your ideas, and proclaiming it to be a section. In this sense the phrase "an actual practice linked to the class struggle" is far less grandiose than you seem to make it out to be. It just means 'people who try to do something about politics in an organised way addressed to actual workers' rather than 'people who just have discussions amongst themselves'.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Based on your definition though, I'm curious how successful SF would have to be at recruiting economically to meet your definition of a political-economic organisation. What's the threshold? Is intention enough? If an organisation consciously seeks to recruit economically (albeit first through struggle that opens up deeper political conversations) is that enough?

Again, this sounds like SolFed have something radically different here, but the vast majority of left organisations would like to pick people up at work in many cases to develop their activity at work. The fact of the case is though that very few of them manage to do it these days. I don't think that this is because they don't want to. I think it is because of the absolute beating the class has taken through the defeat of struggles and restructuring during the last thirty years.

It is very rare for people to be recruited like that these days, and it hasn't been common in my experience since the 1980s. I am sure the SWP (I use this example as they are one of the left groups that appears to be least orientated towards the working class) would like to do it though, does that 'intenetion' make them a 'political economic organisation'? I would think not.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
To me it seems like SF is oriented towards the workplace and larger, anarchist political goals. And an organisation with such an orientation strikes me as a political-economic organisation. But, maybe you're right, and it's just semantic disagreement that won't ever be bridged.

Yes, I think it is a semantic difference that we won't resolve. I think that there is a level of self-deceit in this in that by calling yourself something different you get the idea that you are something different. To me SolFed is just another political group, some of whose politics I agree with, some of whose I don't, some things I think they do well, others not so well. To you though it seems to me that you think you are some different sort of entity. Of course this is useful in your publicity. It is good to be different and stand out from what is very much a tired and jaded crowd. It can also lead to misunderstanding though.

Devrim

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Nov 8 2013 03:38
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In this sense the phrase "an actual practice linked to the class struggle" is far less grandiose than you seem to make it out to be. It just means 'people who try to do something about politics in an organised way addressed to actual workers' rather than 'people who just have discussions amongst themselves'.

Very well put.

You raise a good point contra Sol Fed/Chili Sauce, that virtually all left groups 'would like' to recruit at work. Any classical Leninist party included factory cells. Maybe Sol Fed or the direct unionist current in the IWW can see ourselves as innovators because most of the left groups that actually had workplace orientations going into the 70's vanished off the face of the Earth (Sojourner Truth, Big Flame, Italian autonomia) while those that were oriented around academia or activist-based recruiting survived and now appear to be the big fish in what is a very small pond. As you said, this is very tightly linked to the defeats and restructuring of the 80s.

Farcically many of the left groups in the US today seem to substitute sending their cadre into the factories, with sending their cadre into the union staff machines - the ISO and Solidarity being the most prominent examples. However it has to be recognized that there are still some small and medium groups that do organize directly in workplaces. From what I hear, one of the main leaders of the recent wildcat of Boston school bus drivers was a cadre of Workers World Party (an organization that split from trotskyism in support of the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and which now supports Nukes for North Korea - their main political practice is dominating large-ish anti-war marche).

Among anglophone anarchists, of course, the idea of organizing at work as part of revolutionary practice is basically non-existent. I'd include most 'class struggle'/platformist groups in this, as generally it seems their practice includes intervening in union struggles, but I've never been aware of any placing a particular importance on militancy at the workplace of members (the only exceptions I can think of seem to have been initiated by the members but without organizational emphasis). This does mark out Sol Fed and the direct unionist current of the IWW. As organizations they don't just have an abstract desire to organize at work, a large amount of the internal political and practical emphasis is on being militant at work and organizing one's co-workers to take action together.

I think that what distinguishes the whole set of ideas behind 'political-economic organization' is a rejection of the social-democratic idea that proletarian organizations must be classified as 'political', which intervenes and organizes on the ideological sphere, and 'economic', which intervenes and organizes on a more practical sphere. Those of us who reject that, and therefore use the phrase 'political-economic organization' as a rhetorical device, are in favor of a revolutionary organization which organizes at work directly as such, without focusing on 'influencing' the mass organizations; and therefore also an organization whose theory is based on the daily world of work and resistance, rather than just theorizing.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 12 2013 09:18

Good post Oliver - and good to see you around generally.

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To you though it seems to me that you think you are some different sort of entity. Of course this is useful in your publicity.

The thing is though, is that SF is exceedingly aware of our limitations. An 'anarcho-syndicalist union initiative' might be a bit clunky, but it's used precisely because we take pains to present ourselves honestly in our publicity.

Anyway, I think Oliver's covered all the rest pretty well, so I'll leave it there.