"Activ"ism?

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patchanga
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Apr 18 2007 06:01
"Activ"ism?

Am I alone in noticing the difference between the Theory forum and the Organise forum? Let me present some facts and figures:

Thesis, antithesis and synthesis: 156 posts
Situationists: 73 posts
Anarchist take on gun control: 118 posts
Communal councils in Venezuela: 171 posts
FARC-EP thread: 196 posts

In comparison:

Call for solidarity (my own thread...I have to admit): 4 posts (three of which are mine)
Photo solidarity with Taiwanese leprosy campaign - request from an anarchist: 3 posts
German hospital workers request support: 0 posts
The Campaign Continues - solidarity request: 4 posts
Solidarity request: Crichton campus/Glasgow Uni pone blockade: 5 posts

When people ask me why anarchism hasn't ever raised its public profile, I'm never quite sure what to tell them.

Dundee_United
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Apr 18 2007 07:46

Yeah, Organise is a bit dull, which is a shame really as it's the only forum I look at, and I know that's true of a lot of other people. Theory forum is often really wanky.

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Steven.
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Apr 18 2007 09:12

I look at the organise forum a lot, but don't post so much. Generally though on a lot of the organise things there's not a lot you can say. And certainly not that much disagreement - which is when you get the really long threads.

I don't think the difference in numbers reflects anything other than how discussion works really.

Mike Harman
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Apr 18 2007 09:36

yeah exactly - I mean you could have 50 posts saying good luck or "I sent one" but I rarely post stuff like that and there's a limit on how many ways that can be said. Also a lot of discussion about organising sometimes happpens in news or regional forums.

Having said that, this discussion has been interesting: http://libcom.org/forums/organise/blood-service-dispute-trying-raise-awareness

patchanga
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Apr 18 2007 09:38

It occurs to me that people are more attracted to the cut and thrust of debate than they might be to expressing solidarity and offering suggestions for practical measures. As far as requests for solidairty go, a few lines saying that you're going to write the letter/send the e-mail/ raise the matter with... would be better than nothing.

It ends up looking as if it's all about theory and not at all about practice. I'd be surprised if there is complete homogeneity of thought when it comes down to how bet to express/shw solidarity. I suspect it is more to do with people preferring to sound off rather than act.

But maybe I'm just being cynical.

Mike Harman
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Apr 18 2007 10:08
patchanga wrote:
It occurs to me that people are more attracted to the cut and thrust of debate than they might be to expressing solidarity and offering suggestions for practical measures.

Well it's a discussion forum, so people tend to come here for discussion, I think that's a given. I've seen plenty of practical advice on here as well though - housing, workplace stuff - if you ask you'll usually get great advice very quickly.

Quote:
As far as requests for solidairty go, a few lines saying that you're going to write the letter/send the e-mail/ raise the matter with... would be better than nothing.

To be honest, letter writing and e-mail sending I don't see as doing very much at all, and for me it doesn't count as solidarity in any real sense, more a way for people to feel good about doing it. Note: there might be exceptions, but a lot of the time it's not got much of a connection to the struggle itself and will fall on deaf ears. For example during the CPE protests there was a lot of theoretical discussion about how it was going on these forums, alongside tonnes of news reporting both on the forums and the blog - which ended up with a fair number of people in France writing to thank us for the effort. In terms of solidarity, trying to publicise, discuss and understand that struggle was far more important than writing letters to Sarkozy or something, even if it wasn't necessarily "doing something".

Also I just checked your thread (which I'd not looked at yet), you might be interested in the thread about the Higher Education strike last year, which resulted in a fair bit of real life co-ordination by posters involved: http://libcom.org/forums/organise/university-higher-ed-strike-on-7th-of-march

Also it'd be worth looking for threads on the education workers network which I know has some people involved in Manchester.

Sorry your thread didn't get more responses though. I just changed the title to the same as the first line of your post - that might get you a bit more interest in it, hope that's alright.

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Steven.
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Apr 18 2007 10:29
Mike Harman wrote:
Also I just checked your thread (which I'd not looked at yet), you might be interested in the thread about the Higher Education strike last year, which resulted in a fair bit of real life co-ordination by posters involved: http://libcom.org/forums/organise/university-higher-ed-strike-on-7th-of-march

yeah damn that thread was great.

Also, threads titled "call for solidarity" and similar don't really get many views cos there's no idea given what it's about, email writing requests are similar. Threads about industrial disputes generally get a lot of talk (like the blood service, Simclar occupation, etc.), but they're often split between here and the news forum.

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Lazy Riser
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Apr 18 2007 10:41
Quote:
To be honest, letter writing and e-mail sending I don't see as doing very much at all, and for me it doesn't count as solidarity in any real sense, more a way for people to feel good about doing it.

Well precisely. The leftist myth that expressing support for or condemnation of this-or-that is in someway meaningful is just another way of keeping the working class in line by presenting political activity as a matter of writing letters of protest and marching up and down whining and shouting like a bunch of wet little losers. As for “awareness” or “consciousness” raising, well that particular set of 70’s hangovers defines the entire character of the modern left milieu and accounts for its merciful lack of effect.

patchanga
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Apr 18 2007 11:00

Let's not go down the lazy line of brandishing things that we disagree with as 'leftist' or bourgeois. If people ask for solidarity, then I'd expect it to be forthcoming from an anarchist movement -- that's not about leftism or anything else. There is some meaning to writing letters of support: most of the people in the union are not that political. When they get letters of support, or copies of letters of complaint, it can serve to rally their hopes; to make it harder for them to back down; to feel connected to a wider movement; to steer them towards a stronger sense of solidarity...and so on. To dismiss all of this as 'whining and shout like a bunch of wet little losers' comes across as a bit elitist, actually. Especially when this wet little bunch of losers is actually about to enter into industrial action with all the problems that that brings with it. There are some who would argue that such elitism defines the entire character of the modern (English) anarchist milieu.

I take catch's point about letter-writing not being the most active way of expressing solidarity, but it is fairly easy to do. It isn't going to make the bosses think, "OH shit, that's right. What the hell were we thinking?" but it can have a positive effect on the people who are taking action. It may also be the first time that people have come into contact with anarchist groups. I also take the point that people come here, in the main, to discuss, and his doesn't mean that they are not acting in other places.

Sorry if I came across as a bi snotty: I was perhaps projecting a bit too: it's easy to sit around discussing how many Bakunin's one can get on a pin head whilst ignoring the fact that Bakunin is completely irrelevant to many people today. It takes more of an effort to actually get off your arse and do something, even if that thing is just to fire off an e-mail of support to striking workers. If you want to go that step further, financial donations to a strike fund would also be very welcome!

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Lazy Riser
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Apr 18 2007 11:12
Quote:
If people ask for solidarity, then I'd expect it to be forthcoming from an anarchist movement

It's about all I'd expect. They’ve got a support group or defence campaign for every day of the year. You can always spot a doomed course of action by the number of anarchists who pledge their moral support for it.

Quote:
If you want to go that step further, financial donations to a strike fund would also be very welcome!

Now you’re talking. Financing stuff is great. The working class don’t need anarchists “support”, they need their (parents’) money.

Quote:
Let's not go down the lazy line of brandishing things that we disagree with as 'leftist' or bourgeois.

The word is “branding”. Either way, I don’t disagree with anything. Neither am I against anything. The problem with organising and solidarity as conceived by the left is that it is reactionary, it is against-this-or-that, it seeks merely to obstruct change rather than to develop it.

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Steven.
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Apr 18 2007 11:14
patchanga wrote:
If you want to go that step further, financial donations to a strike fund would also be very welcome!

There was actually a discussion about that recently, and i was pretty much won round to the argument that this is largely a waste of time/money. If nothing else the money almost never gets near any strikers.

But yeah messages of support are all well and good.

patchanga
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Apr 18 2007 14:19
Quote:
You can always spot a doomed course of action by the number of anarchists who pledge their moral support for it.
The working class don’t need anarchists “support”, they need their (parents’) money.

He he he.

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If nothing else the money almost never gets near any strikers.

If it goes into the plastic bucket, it does. If it goes to The Union's offices, it doesn't.

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888
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Apr 19 2007 06:13
patchanga wrote:
Sorry if I came across as a bi snotty: I was perhaps projecting a bit too: it's easy to sit around discussing how many Bakunin's one can get on a pin head whilst ignoring the fact that Bakunin is completely irrelevant to many people today.

But Bakunin is a genius! And everyone knows you can fit 666 Bakunins on one pin head - have you not read God and the State?

I think that everyone's correct on this thread, or rather that the first few posts illuminated to some extent the mystery of the organise:theory post ratio. There's a little truth in both sides (patchanga's and catch/john's) of the argument. What a shitty truism. Let's be more quantitative: I agree 60% with post 5 and 40% with posts 3 and 4.

Maybe one day I'll actually say something constructive.

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Devrim
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Apr 19 2007 08:48

As I said recently on another thread, I have never recieved a day's strike pay even though I know that in the longest strike I was in (three, and a half weeks) people collected money "for us", nor have I ever read, or had read to me a message of support, even though I know that my union branch recieved some.

To quote from one of the mentioned threads:

Quote:
What you can do:

We feel we are in a strong position to win this. With your help we can we can minimise the cost to ourselves in the process. To help us, please send messages of protest, and indications of your support for us, to-

Tony Nightingale, Chair of Governors - tnightingale [AT] ccm.ac.uk

(and copy this to Principal Bill Grady – bgrady [AT] ccm.ac.uk and UCU Branch Sec David Swanson- dswanson [AT] ccm.ac.uk ).

If you have the time and wish to send us a separate message of support we wouldn't say no. Please send it to dswanson [AT] ccm.ac.uk

I think that this is nonsense that has nothing to do with the actual struggle.

Devrim

patchanga
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Apr 19 2007 11:59
Quote:
I think that this is nonsense that has nothing to do with the actual struggle.

I think that this is insulting and elitist. Who gave you the right to decide what is and is not to do with "the actual struggle"? Isn't offering support --in whatever form-- to striking workers relevant to the aims and objectives of anarchism? Or did you mean to post to a thread about your favourite ice cream flavour?

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Devrim
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Apr 19 2007 12:56
patchanga wrote:
I think that this is insulting and elitist.

Insulting to Whom? If you are suggesting that I am being insulting to you in saying that your post was nonsense, I accept that I could have been more diplomatic. I don`t think, however, that it is insulting to workers to tell them that they are not going to win this, or any other struggle by sending letters along the lines of:

Quote:
Dear Mr Nightingale
...
I hope that you will reconsider this attack on the rights of your employees to negotiate their terms and conditions with the college and that you will suspend these new contracts until you have had meaningful negotiations with the unions and come to a mutually agreeable solution - one that respects the rights of all parties concerned.

I think that it is more insulting and elitist to tell people that this is useful when you actually believe:

Quote:
It isn't going to make the bosses think, "OH shit, that's right. What the hell were we thinking?"

Devrim

patchanga
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Apr 19 2007 16:28

Well, I'll type slowly so you get it:

I think it is useful for reasons I have already given. I accept that it isn't going to be the determining feature of the industrial action. I don't think that this is insulting: I am quite sure that nobody expects the management to say, "Goodness me! Look at all of these letters. Let's give in!".

We neither expect nor wish to present cards of protests/solidarity as being the key to winning the strike. As the branch sec wrote

Quote:
We feel we are in a strong position to win this. With your help we can we can minimise the cost to ourselves in the process. To help us, please send messages of protest, and indications of your support for us

I accept that you probably didn't write your message with the intention of insulting. It looks as if you have misunderstood what the requests for help were about. Perhaps a good strategy for you would be to seek clarification before you attack. If you work on the assumption that things which look wrong may look wrong because of the way you read them, rather than because of the ay that they are written, you can hold back on the insults until you are sure that they are well and truly deserved. I really think that on this occasion, they weren't.

Mike Harman
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Apr 19 2007 18:53

In what way will letters minimise the cost to you? postage??

patchanga wrote:
I take catch's point about letter-writing not being the most active way of expressing solidarity, but it is fairly easy to do. It isn't going to make the bosses think, "OH shit, that's right. What the hell were we thinking?" but it can have a positive effect on the people who are taking action.

How?

It being easy doesn't make it good.

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Lazy Riser
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Apr 19 2007 18:58

Praying for them works too.