the role of an anarcho-syndicalist organisation and the role of an anarchist federation

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Oct 3 2009 03:03

Sorry, to be more specific when I said "pareconist" i was using a shorthand to mean the 3-class analysis (proles, capitalists, and "co-ordinators") as outlined in Where We Stand and some of the "self-management" writings that strike me as advocating "self-management" of the capital relation (I'm sure you'd disagree). I have little doubt that if I were interested in membership I could join WSA and argue against such things that I find problematic, and clarify any, perhaps, semantic differences. Further that such theoretical concerns would not seriously impact the practical activity that I would undertake with WSA comrades. My apologies if you found my comments to be an unprincipled attack or some-such.

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Oct 3 2009 03:09
Joseph Kay wrote:
i've no experience of caucuses, but i guess they could act like 'think tanks' within the organisation; discussing, producing aritcles and propaganda, making proposals for practical activity involving the wider group...

In the US "caucuses" are generally associated with often awful identity politicks. But the type of caucus I meant is, exactly of the type you are describing (perhaps committee, or 'think tank', or some other word might suit better)...

syndicalist
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Oct 3 2009 03:41
prec@riat wrote:
Sorry, to be more specific when I said "pareconist" i was using a shorthand to mean the 3-class analysis (proles, capitalists, and "co-ordinators") as outlined in Where We Stand and some of the "self-management" writings that strike me as advocating "self-management" of the capital relation (I'm sure you'd disagree). I have little doubt that if I were interested in membership I could join WSA and argue against such things that I find problematic, and clarify any, perhaps, semantic differences. Further that such theoretical concerns would not seriously impact the practical activity that I would undertake with WSA comrades. My apologies if you found my comments to be an unprincipled attack or some-such.

Apologies accepted, clarification point mostly understood.

I would say that, like all statements, they are of a transitional nature. That is they reflect a moment in time or discussion and are still open to further debate, discussion and modification.
I would say that the current WWS is still a work in progress and was a document based on signifcant compromise. There are some in WSA who feel strongly about the 3-class theory, there are others who do not. In an effort to wrap up a long process, the current language appears.

Perhaps WSA will never win the award for the best anarchist political documents.....some of this is reflected in the balancing act of being an organization which brings comrades from a number of differnt backgrounds together. That said, being a founding member, WSA has been pretty clear (and essentially correct) about a number of different tactical, organizational and other questions over the years. And this seems to be slowly born out by a new generation of younger class struggle anarchists now joining the WSA.

Are we perfect, hardly. But for an organization that was nearly given up for dead 10 years ago (after the IWA inflicted implosion), we are slowly coming back.We are trying to play a constructive role in helping to coordinate and cooperate with other north american class struggle anarchists. I think we have played a positive role in that regard.

WSA takes great pride in closing in next month on our 25th birthday. We still have a long way to go; we still have alot to accomplish (both internally and externally), but we are still here, we are modestly growing. Not many anarchist or libertarian worker groups on these boards can say they are near 25 years old....certainly not in north america or english speaking europe for that matter (sans DAM into Solfed).

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Oct 3 2009 03:51
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Not many anarchist or libertarian worker groups on these boards can say they are near 25 years old....certainly not in north america or english speaking europe for that matter (sans DAM into Solfed).

AFAIK, the WSM are 25 yrs old, and A-Fed are 23...for whatever that's worth - I don't think that takes anything away from the WSA's ability to survive as long as they have of course smile

syndicalist
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Oct 3 2009 04:02

The A-Fed is 23? Ah, inclusing their years as the Anarchist-Communist Federation. Ok, fair enough since I included DAM & Solfed together.

Yes, of course, WSM is 25..... I actually remeber them when there were the Libertarian Socialist Alliance (I think that's what they called themselves). Actually, while I may not agree with a bunch of the WSM's politics, I will give them great credit for starting off as two people and developing some of the best uses of electronic and print media. They have been ace about that.

Fair points ... I wish them both another 25 years of active struggle.... cheers.

raw
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Oct 3 2009 08:51
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Finally, I'd like to second JK's post above regarding raw's comments. That idea sounds like a recipe for fragmentation and disorganization and I think we're looking for the opposite.

Maybe there needs to be a process of "fragmentation and disorganization" as you put it. TBH I think it may allow people to realise how off track they have become with their politics.

Anyhiw thats my two pennies worth. I would love to the see the national federations growing but like I said before, it needs a radical rethink, some strategies that have legs and some collective leadership.

A

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Oct 3 2009 10:07

Raw, to be honest, I think you have the wrong idea altogether about how the federations work internally. Groups and individuals already have a great deal of autonomy, there is no interference from the fed in the activity of local groups, for the simple reason that the fed is the local groups. What we do do (quite well, IMO) is work together whereever possible and communicate with each other and learn from other groups' experiences and activity, something that is much easier to do if you have a federal organisation in place.

It's also untrue that our ideas are static or that we are resistant to change. Within the AF (and presumably everything I'm saying is true of SolFed too) we're constantly holding discussions internally and developing our ideas with respect to new developments, again, if anything we're able to do so more efficiently than a fragmented and disorganised milleu of vaguely related informal groups.

Personally, I don't think that there's anything the AF can do to force a sudden growth in membership, it's not our role to seek such growth. Our role is to argue for anarchist communist ideas and tactics within the wider class struggle, not to attempt to be the sole organ of the class.

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Oct 3 2009 12:41
Madashell wrote:
Raw, to be honest, I think you have the wrong idea altogether about how the federations work internally. Groups and individuals already have a great deal of autonomy, there is no interference from the fed in the activity of local groups, for the simple reason that the fed is the local groups. What we do do (quite well, IMO) is work together whereever possible and communicate with each other and learn from other groups' experiences and activity, something that is much easier to do if you have a federal organisation in place.

ditto that. and we've had no problem working with the AF, Organise! etc whenever we've needed to. I think that would be enhanced by the kind of political-economic organisation i've described that we all join.

the only thing resembling 'interferance' we've had was comrades requesting we didn't further circulate 'Strategy & Struggle' pending discussions - we recognised there was a lot of valid criticisms being made so we agreed. there's been absolutely no limitation on our practical activity or our theoretical/political development - quite the opposite in fact with the very constructive debates we've been having recently.

Madashell wrote:
Personally, I don't think that there's anything the AF can do to force a sudden growth in membership, it's not our role to seek such growth. Our role is to argue for anarchist communist ideas and tactics within the wider class struggle, not to attempt to be the sole organ of the class.

i don't think seeking growth is analagous to wanting to be the sole organ of the class. obviously there's a plateau somewhere limited by the number of anarchists and the state of the class struggle, but i don't see anything wrong with wanting to be better organised and maximise your size and effectiveness within the prevailing conditions. i think the kind of organisation we've been discussing would be an attempt to do that (i've been arguing against the unitary 'One Big Union' throughout - the mass meetings are the unitary bodies, federating into workers' councils in times of mass unrest).

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Oct 3 2009 12:55

Just a thought, would it be worth getting the lads from Organise! in on this as well as SolFed and AF (assuming it gets off the ground in the first place).

~J.

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Oct 3 2009 16:47

With all due respect to syndicalist who seems--from countless posts--to have totally sound politics this is actually very on point to the conversation in that most regular posters on here are much, much tighter politically than the WSA is internally.* Prec@riat's comment about the North American concept of caucuses is exactly right and the basis of my concerns, but when described as committees or think tanks all my concerns are dropped.

Not to pile on Raw but I don't think the idea is a Maoist like self-denunciation of previous political errors. In fact, the point of this discussion is that multiple groups have pretty spot-on politics (and have for some time) and that just maybe it is semantical differences that have kept libertarian communists divided.

*Honestly not an attempt to knock WSA. I'm sure practical activity is rarely interrupted by your internal differences. And thanks syndicalist for the clarification. I've often wondered why it is that many of you seem to have excellent politics while others' ideas . . . not so much.

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Oct 3 2009 17:06

Organise! currently have good relationships with both SolFed and AF and have worked together on a few co-ordinated efforts - e.g. the Subway Day of Action in support of a sacked Belfast worker earlier this year. So obviously we're very happy to work with other groups.

As for a larger organisation, while this seems a desirable long-term goal, short-term it definitely seems unlikely. At the minute Organise's strength, particularly in our recent output (Leveller and libcom news) has been our local focus and our effective solidarity work in local community and workplace struggles. And where we've co-ordinated wider stuff and built links with other groups (e.g. Subway) to me it hasn't been apparent that being part of a larger national organisation would have necessarily facilitated this any better than simply keeping up good communications and relationships with the groups like we have done.

I'm speaking in a personal capacity though I do have dual-membership of Organise and SolFed from this month on, but yeah in theory I doubt Organise would be opposed to being the part of a larger group some way down the line - obviously this would be preceded by a LOT of discussion - which this thread has been very helpful in kick-starting.

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Oct 3 2009 18:24

Just echo what a couple of other people have suggested, but I think the idea of having these additional "caucuses" (or whatever you want to call them) within a very slightly looser organisation seems like a more functional idea and having a whole separate organisation, with a whole separate set of dues, organisational meetings, etc and with only a minimal remit.

However, I would be interested to see how this has functioned in practice elsewhere.

I think it would be different to most organisations with caucuses, because the level of political agreement would already be very high.

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Oct 3 2009 18:53

It's taken me a while to catch up with this discussion since I last posted and it does seem to have progressed a bit since then.

I think I mostly agree with the approach taken by Joseph here including the criticism of the confusions in the current published AF approach to workplace organising.

I do think there is potential for the AF and SolFed and others to join together in some kind of workplace network (preferably not called a revolutionary union, though I might be pursuaded)) but this would depend on agreeing a basic (political) strategy for the network which would raise a number of issues.

One point of agreement seems to have been the common comitment to promoting 'mass assemblies' and 'recallable delegates' etc as a means of decision making in struggle and important as these are in contrast to the traditional union organisations, I think there is a danger here of fetishising 'formal workers democracy'.

This occured to me when the question was asked earlier as to whether members of the 'network/revolutionary union' would take up delegate roles in situations where such assemblies did wish to negotiate rather than just post demands.

I can envisage individual network members doing this but equally network members might oppose what the assembly wished in some circumstances and not necessarily just verbally!
Sometimes minorities (when they can) do need to act outside the decisions of mass meetings, even if only because not everything can always be discussed openly.

(There was a whole debate about this in the pages of the old 'Workers Playtime' , London Workers Group bulletin and the early 'Wildcat' but I don't know if any of this is available on the net)

Some of these issues would need to be considered as part of any discussion of strategy.

I don't think a full agreement on the material and historical basis of our opposition to traditional trade and industrial unionism is necessary for such a network, but I don't personally think current anarchist understanding of the structural role of of existing unions (even at it's best here) fully comprehends the extent to which the whole development of modern global capitalism has undermined the past role of unions in all their forms as 'workers organisations', so that they are not simply incapable of being revolutionary, now or in the future, but are inevitably integrated fully into capitalism at all levels and must of necessity operate against the interests of our class.

Aside from the potential of the AF and SollFed to merge their activities here in the UK which seems sensible I wonder how this would relate to each of their international affiliations? as I don't understand all the differences between the affiliated groups within the IAF and IWA?

On a separate note Joseph asked about the 'matters of detail' where I was concerned about the DA statement on Revolutionary Unionism - well one was the reference to the 'right of self determination for all economic groups' which I found slightly confusing but then I have always been critical of anarchist federalism in the economic sphere.

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Oct 3 2009 19:40
Joseph Kay wrote:
we have complete autonomy to develop already because we're part of a federation not a leninist party

Curious. What differentiates a network (The Northern Anarchist Network) from a federation (AF,SOLFED) from a party (Liberty and Solidarity, IWW)?

john
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Oct 3 2009 20:01

L&S and IWW are not parties - and it does sound a bit like trolling to say so...

knightrose
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Oct 3 2009 21:17

The Northern Anarchist Network is a loose association of people who wish they could be part of something proper, but sadly can't find enough people of like mind to do so.
The AF and Solfed are anarchist communist propaganda groups with sets of coherent principles that bind them together.
And I'm in an unpleasant mood sad

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Oct 3 2009 23:54
spikeymike wrote:
Aside from the potential of the AF and SollFed to merge their activities here in the UK which seems sensible I wonder how this would relate to each of their international affiliations? as I don't understand all the differences between the affiliated groups within the IAF and IWA?

Well the IAF is definatley looser than the IWA, from what I understand. The IWA is specifically anarcho-syndicalist, whereas the IAF is a federation of anarchist federations, with a huge variation of politics within it.

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Oct 4 2009 02:54
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Prec@riat's comment about the North American concept of caucuses is exactly right and the basis of my concerns, but when described as committees or think tanks all my concerns are dropped. .

I'm not sure what Prec@riat was refering to as "caucuses" being a common north american practice. Maybe they do it in the IWW, but I'm not in the IWW. At conferences there are, at times, different caucuses held. But as a regular feature, I don't think so. But I'm open to learning which who uses them.

I must admit, I really haven't read this thread in detail, but it seems like some of the dicussion about is about a "theoretical" discussion of a unified Solfed and AF organization. If it is suggested that there be a, for xample, a anarcho-syndicalist caucus, an anarchist-communist caucus, and so forth, I would just think it would not be a good unification. I would feel the same way about any such "regroupment" in north america if it was worked out that way.

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Oct 4 2009 03:39

I think he was referring to the connotation of the word "caucus" as a feature of bourgeois politics.

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Oct 4 2009 10:32
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Best thread ever! Please get this done. A synthesis organization doesn't have to have watered down politics because we agree on enough things around here as to be relatively tight politically. Folks here who are A-C, A-S, Left Coms, and Councilists probably have more political unity than within their respective organizations. Just call the damn thing Libcom and be done with it and I'm sure a bunch of us yanks and others will follow suit and suddenly it's an international. The infrastructure is already in place with this website. Sorry to sound like a silly schoolboy but I really do find this to be a thrilling possibility.embarrassed

I think that this is a mistaken way of looking at things. I don't think that it would be possible to initiate something like this as some sort of organisation appearing out of thin air. Surely it would have to be built upon real groups that develop in particular workplaces/companies/industries.

It is not a question of setting up a structure, but of developing groups with a real existance.

Devrim

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Oct 4 2009 13:33
Devrim wrote:
I think that this is a mistaken way of looking at things. I don't think that it would be possible to initiate something like this as some sort of organisation appearing out of thin air. Surely it would have to be built upon real groups that develop in particular workplaces/companies/industries.

It is not a question of setting up a structure, but of developing groups with a real existance.

the AF, SolFed etc hypothetically adopting a joint industrial/community strategy isn't 'out of thin air' - i think you're trying to shoehorn the discussion into an off-the-shelf critique of 'build it and they will come' syndicalism. if this hypothetical organisation came into being, then in the course of struggles members of more informal, organic workplace resistance groups may also come to agree with its revolutionary principles and methods and join, or such groups might vote to affiliate to the organisation. so getting our shit together as a tiny revolutionary minority and the organic growth of workplace organisation aren't mutually exclusive imho.

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Oct 4 2009 13:43
syndicalist wrote:
I must admit, I really haven't read this thread in detail, but it seems like some of the dicussion about is about a "theoretical" discussion of a unified Solfed and AF organization. If it is suggested that there be a, for xample, a anarcho-syndicalist caucus, an anarchist-communist caucus, and so forth, I would just think it would not be a good unification. I would feel the same way about any such "regroupment" in north america if it was worked out that way.

reading the thread is an excellent way to comprehend its contents comrade wink

i'll summarise. i posited that there's a division of roles between a political-economic anarcho-syndicalist organisation which finds its unity in an agreed industrial/community strategy and revolutionary goal, and a political anarchist federation which finds its unity in more stringent principles of anarchist communism in its fullest sense (including materialist atheism, critiques of race and gender roles per se rather than mere opposition to discrimination on those grounds and so on).

others responded that this division of roles was arbitrary, and a debate ensued between those who favour a merger and those like myself who see anarcho-syndicalist organisation as qualitatively different to a political anarchist organisation. this is where the 'caucuses' idea came in as a sort of 'halfway house' position - while there is a range of roles, they overlap, so those with more particular political views and tighter agreement would form a 'think tank' within the wider political-economic organisation. this is not a synthesist organisation; it's rooted in principled strategic agreement not 'anarchist without adjectives' wishful thinking.

there's also nothing 'theoretical' about this beyond it being a hypothetical scenario. the bulk of this thread deals with industrial strategy, a very concrete issue for those of us involved with the organisations concerned, and one where it appears there is very close agreement between different organisations. in that context, discussions of a merger or new organisation were raised as a possible practical course of action.

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Oct 4 2009 13:53
Spikymike wrote:
One point of agreement seems to have been the common comitment to promoting 'mass assemblies' and 'recallable delegates' etc as a means of decision making in struggle and important as these are in contrast to the traditional union organisations, I think there is a danger here of fetishising 'formal workers democracy'.

this is why our SolFed comrades rightly criticised us for conflating mass meetings and the revolutionary union. the example given was that if we organised a mass meeting which then voted to participate in works councils, we wouldn't drop our principled objection but would continue to argue our case. of course since we wouldn't be 'representing' the workers, we wouldn't make any decision on their behalf either. we use democratic means of organising, but we neither drop our revolutionary principles in the face of majority opinion, nor act as representatives imposing our views on the workforce 'for their own good.' i don't usually quote malatesta, but "neither dictators nor democrats; anarchists."

Spikymike wrote:
On a separate note Joseph asked about the 'matters of detail' where I was concerned about the DA statement on Revolutionary Unionism - well one was the reference to the 'right of self determination for all economic groups' which I found slightly confusing but then I have always been critical of anarchist federalism in the economic sphere.

tbh i doubt the author could explain either, it reads like a copy and paste from the IWA 'principles of revolutionary unionism.' if i had to hazard a guess, i would say that being written in 1922, with much of the world still to be proletarianised and in drafted opposition to Bolshevism/the dictatorship of the proletariat, this refers to the peasantry and the proletariat determining and directing their own struggles rather than subjugating the rural peasants to the leadership of the urban proletariat. with the massive proletarianisation that's happened since then, 'self-determination for economic groups' seems to have lost any useful meaning - since we want the proletariat to seek its own abolition and certainly don't want 'self-determination' for the bourgeoisie!

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Oct 4 2009 14:01
Steven. wrote:
Just echo what a couple of other people have suggested, but I think the idea of having these additional "caucuses" (or whatever you want to call them) within a very slightly looser organisation seems like a more functional idea and having a whole separate organisation, with a whole separate set of dues, organisational meetings, etc and with only a minimal remit.

However, I would be interested to see how this has functioned in practice elsewhere.

I think it would be different to most organisations with caucuses, because the level of political agreement would already be very high.

this may well be a workable compromise, but i think SolFed would only disband itself if the new organisation joined the IWA in its place, and I don't know that the AF would be keen on disbanding itself without a corresponding commitment from others. tbh these are practical matters to be addressed in the course of discussions if the principle of a joint industrial strategy (and possible organisation formed to pursue it) gets seriously considered by the relevant parties.

as to subs etc, yeah, as members of the wider organisation 'caucuses' would have a right to space in the organisation's press and so would only need subs of their own if they wanted to finance additional activities such as their own newsletter, website or whatever; e.g. you could imagine a feminist caucus producing an independent newsletter as well as submitting articles to the organisation's press.

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Oct 4 2009 14:15
Choccy wrote:
As for a larger organisation, while this seems a desirable long-term goal, short-term it definitely seems unlikely (...) in theory I doubt Organise would be opposed to being the part of a larger group some way down the line - obviously this would be preceded by a LOT of discussion - which this thread has been very helpful in kick-starting.

i think that's a sensible perspective. if this happens it will shape things for years to come, so there's no point rushing into anything - which would also meet resistance from those who have seen similar wide-eyed schemes amount to nothing in the past.

Choccy wrote:
At the minute Organise's strength, particularly in our recent output (Leveller and libcom news) has been our local focus and our effective solidarity work in local community and workplace struggles. And where we've co-ordinated wider stuff and built links with other groups (e.g. Subway) to me it hasn't been apparent that being part of a larger national organisation would have necessarily facilitated this any better than simply keeping up good communications and relationships with the groups like we have done.

the last thing an industrial-local federation should do is stifle local initiative! the point would be by combining resources and formalising communication channels (having one email list, or internal forums) we'd be more than the sum of our parts. e.g. 300-500 people paying subs at £3/person/month to the national organisation (with everything above that kept locally/industrially) would give a budget of £900-£1500 per month. that would easily finance a monthly free tabloid if we were able to fill one with decent content, leaving plenty left over for other projects (co-ordinated national propaganda campaigns and so on). you'd be free to carry on the leveller if you wanted, or do what we do in Brighton and produce a local insert for the national freesheet.

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Oct 4 2009 16:06
Joseph Kay wrote:
Choccy wrote:
At the minute Organise's strength, particularly in our recent output (Leveller and libcom news) has been our local focus and our effective solidarity work in local community and workplace struggles. And where we've co-ordinated wider stuff and built links with other groups (e.g. Subway) to me it hasn't been apparent that being part of a larger national organisation would have necessarily facilitated this any better than simply keeping up good communications and relationships with the groups like we have done.

the last thing an industrial-local federation should do is stifle local initiative! the point would be by combining resources and formalising communication channels (having one email list, or internal forums) we'd be more than the sum of our parts. e.g. 300-500 people paying subs at £3/person/month to the national organisation (with everything above that kept locally/industrially) would give a budget of £900-£1500 per month. that would easily finance a monthly free tabloid if we were able to fill one with decent content, leaving plenty left over for other projects (co-ordinated national propaganda campaigns and so on). you'd be free to carry on the leveller if you wanted, or do what we do in Brighton and produce a local insert for the national freesheet.

Oh I wasn't suggesting it would stifle local initiative!
I just said that in the specific instances of co-operation I mentioned, it's not apparent to me that they'd have been done any better by a national larger group - but I could be wrong, and I guess that's the whole purpos of this element of the discussion.

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Oct 4 2009 18:29
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the AF, SolFed etc hypothetically adopting a joint industrial/community strategy isn't 'out of thin air' - i think you're trying to shoehorn the discussion into an off-the-shelf critique of 'build it and they will come' syndicalism. if this hypothetical organisation came into being, then in the course of struggles members of more informal, organic workplace resistance groups may also come to agree with its revolutionary principles and methods and join, or such groups might vote to affiliate to the organisation. so getting our shit together as a tiny revolutionary minority and the organic growth of workplace organisation aren't mutually exclusive imho.

No, I don't mean to suggest that SolFed and the AF agreeing on a joint policy is nothing. In my opinion closer cooperation between revolutionaries is a good thing. However, just doing this doesn't mean that these networks will sudenly spring into being. SolFed and DAM before it always had a policy of setting up networks of some sort. How many of them actually came into existance? I think that them coming into existance is also connected to the level of struggle within the class.

Devrim

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Oct 4 2009 18:37

no of course, but an organisation of 50 people is always going to struggle to set up industrial networks plural. the kind of organisation we've been discussing here would be an order of magnitude larger, and from a pool of 300-500 people you'd fair far better. the question is whether we'd like 500 people acting like a proto 'revolutionary union' or 50 people talking about it, as I understand has been the case since your DAM days.

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Oct 5 2009 18:06

I just want to reiterate something which I think is important... namely that (whether in a unitary organization or the specific type of dual organization approach described in this thread) the type of activity this organization(s) would be involved in appears qualitatively different than the way neo-platformists most often elucidate their 'dual organization' approach (which is the specific political organization, where one does theory/ strategize as anarchists, and practical activity in "mass organizations", such as trade unions and existing community organization).
To risk a bit of poop-stirring what is being proposed seems almost more like a more formal version of the insurrectionary anarchist method of the 'affinity group' and the 'autonomous base nuclei'. http://www.batko.se/en_issue2_ch4.php
That is within a workplace the 'affinity group' is the local org or industrial network calling for mass meetings... the 'autonomous base nuclei' is the 'mass meeting' (or perhaps the 'workplace resistance group' calling for the mass meeting).
To be clear I think this is a good thing as I think the neo-platformist approach tends to end up with anarchists working as unpaid organizers and volunteers for trades unions and existing community organizations where the insights and style of approach that they would have as conscious anarchist/ libertarian communists is basically made nil (that is in terms of practical activity they are indistinguishable from any other militant - trotskyist, chrsitian democrat, etc.). I.E. - "social insertion" plays out as 'social dilution' ...
But what is being proposed here is a more explicit strategy for something like the I@ approach (at least the I@ approach I am referencing with the link) w/o the fetishization on 'informality'.

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Oct 7 2009 11:25
prec@riat wrote:
I just want to reiterate something which I think is important... namely that (whether in a unitary organization or the specific type of dual organization approach described in this thread) the type of activity this organization(s) would be involved in appears qualitatively different than the way neo-platformists most often elucidate their 'dual organization' approach (which is the specific political organization, where one does theory/ strategize as anarchists, and practical activity in "mass organizations", such as trade unions and existing community organization).

yeah i think so. the platform was drawn up in reaction to the disorganisation of the anarchists in the russian revolution and the success of the Bolshevik party. they were certainly right to sit down and draw lessons. unfortunately their organisational model was essentially based on the party form - a disciplined, specific political organisation which intervenes in struggles, only instead of leading by taking control of leadership positions, leads by ideas.

in practice this often leads to a fetishisation of 'mass organisations' or 'social movements' regardless of class content (there were even a few people getting all excited about Obamamania on ABC), and a populist 'say what the workers want to hear' which is precisely the opposite of leading by ideas (everytime i get into an argument with platformists - e.g. over blaming "greedy bankers" - i get told something like "yeah because the correct line has *always* been effective in uniting the working class!" - as if the actual ideas the 'leadership of ideas' expresses are secondary to populist appeal.

as i'm a materialist i think these kind of leftist politics are a product of the organisational model and its logic with regard to the orientation to the wider class. funnily enough, i think the lessons of the disorganisation of the Russian anarchists point more in the direction of anarcho-syndicalism - organsiations of revolutionary workers, organising industrially and in communities as workers, not as politicos who 'insert' themselves into any inviting social orrifice. that's certainly what the Bolsheviks feared anyway:

GP Maximov wrote:
the Bolsheviks were forced by the course of events to assume a position toward the Factory Committees which differed little from that of the Anarcho-Syndicalists. Only gradually did they assume this position. At first they combatted it.

"The Anarcho-Syndicalists entrenched themselves behind the Factory Committees. They created a veritable theory around it, saying in effect that the trade unions have died, that the future belongs to the Factory Committees, who will deliver the knock-out blow to capitalism, that the Factory Committees are the highest form of labour movement, etc. In a word, they developed in regard to the Factory Committees the same theory which the French Anarcho-Syndicalists developed in regard to the trade unions. Under these conditions the divorce between the two organisations (trade unions and Factory Committees) represents the greatest danger for the labour movement of Russia.

"This danger is the greater, that even among active people of the Factory Committees who are not Anarcho-Syndicalists, we also see this tendency to oppose the trade unions to the Factory Committees and even to' replace industrial unions and their local branches with respective organisations of the Factory Committee type." - Lozovsky, Workers' Control (p. 37).

as to...

prec@riat wrote:
To risk a bit of poop-stirring what is being proposed seems almost more like a more formal version of the insurrectionary anarchist method of the 'affinity group' and the 'autonomous base nuclei'. http://www.batko.se/en_issue2_ch4.php

That is within a workplace the 'affinity group' is the local org or industrial network calling for mass meetings... the 'autonomous base nuclei' is the 'mass meeting' (or perhaps the 'workplace resistance group' calling for the mass meeting). (...) what is being proposed here is a more explicit strategy for something like the I@ approach (at least the I@ approach I am referencing with the link) w/o the fetishization on 'informality'.

tbh the analysis in that link is pretty woeful; conflating everything bad about any form of organisation into some straw man "synthesis organisation" which seems to be a mish mash of One Big Union, synthesist anarchist organisation, a popular front and so on... so the counter-revolutionary turn of the CNT is explained by "synthesis organisation reaching full strength", which doesn't really tell us anything (except 'see! this is what happens when you organise formally!' - Durruti's own rejection of 'individual expropriations' in favour of 'collective expropriation' is actually a very relevant critique here, as were his arguments against the 'thirtyism' of the CNT). really, i think the problems with insurrectionism are threefold:

1. the fetish for informal organisation (which you note)
2. the corresponding fetish for 'autonomy'
3. the elevation of 'attack' from a tactical imperitive to a strategic principle

together this results in a tyranny of structurelessness dominated by those willing or able to take the most 'daring' action and subsititutes local tactical initiative (which is vital) for strategic goals (which are indispensible). that's why it predominates as the de facto ideology of activist groups, comfortable subcultural cliques that kick it til it breaks and respond to any criticism of their lack of strategy with either silence or an insistence that all they need do is kick it some more; "It has a certain attraction precisely because it is not revolutionary."

fwiw, 3. seems also largely based on a straw man - Bonnano's 'critique of syndicalist methods.' i mean there are all sorts of things to critique in syndicalist methods, but bonnano's more interested in creating an amalgam of reformist unions and formal organisation per se to knock down. and his insistence on "abandoning of methods of resistance and moving to methods of attack" is essentially a call to abandon everyday class struggles, which by neccessity are sometimes defensive, in favour of masking up, smashing windows and robbing banks. in fairness to comrade Bonnano, at least he puts his getaway car where his mouth is - pointless or even counterproductive adventurism irrelevant to the class struggle.

in practice the nearest insurrectionism comes to a strategy is 'turn every demonstration into a riot, turn every riot into an insurrection.' it's just a competely uncritical fetish for surface-effects - social revolutions are often marked by violent street clashes and broken windows, so they set about trying to create violent street clashes and broken windows as if these almost incidental expressions of social revolution are in fact its causes. it's basically a macho cargo cult politics. fetishising "attack" without any regard for context is a recipe for defeat. the point is to assert our needs against those of capital - sometimes this is defensive, sometimes offensive. attack is a tactical matter not a strategic one.

Batko Group wrote:
We believe that due to profound social transformation it is unthinkable for one single structure to try to contain all social and economic struggle within it. In any case, why should the exploited have to enter and become part of a specific anarchist organization in order to carry out their struggle?

yeah, i think that's sensible enough (only really One Big Unionists argue otherwise, and even then the One Big Union is not "a specific anarchist organisation" - so we're in straw man territory again really). however, i think the "autonomous base nucleus" differs from a mass meeting since "the importance of permanent conflictuality and attack is fundamental." mass meetings may achieve their (limited) aims and dissolve, or may, under the influence of more militant/revolutionary workers escalate the struggle taking one victory as a sign that more can be won. they may wage defensive or offensive struggles, and so on.

tbh while there are some similarities, i think the odd insight in insurrectionist theory is usually undermined by amalgamations and straw men, so you're usually left with passionate evocative turns of phrase that at best have usually been said better elsewhere anyway (i.e. any critique of trade unionism, revolutionary syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism that focusses on them being "formal" is literally one dimensional; the left/council/anarchist communist critiques are much more nuanced, as i daresay was our own - albeit flawed - analysis in Strategy & Struggle that took into account the mass/minority status of the organisation and its permanent/non-permanent nature.)