UK organisations: where do we stand?

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Battlescarred
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May 15 2012 11:41

Yes, but it's the same with the Trot organisations except they actually recruit far more students and lose them as quickly.And no, they don't seem to drop out, they do just that in the main.

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Joseph Kay
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May 15 2012 11:43

tbh, I can probably still count the students in SF on my fingers. maybe a few toes if you include post-grads. there's no big push to recruit students - far from it, campus activity is very much workplace focussed.

Battlescarred
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May 15 2012 11:48

"campus activity is very much workplace focussed"
Meaning...?

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Joseph Kay
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May 15 2012 11:54
Battlescarred wrote:
"campus activity is very much workplace focussed"
Meaning...?

where we have groups on campuses, they're principally made up of education workers, and are principally doing workplace organising, afaik.

Battlescarred
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May 15 2012 11:56

Ok, thanks.

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Chilli Sauce
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May 15 2012 12:08
Battlescarred wrote:
I'm talking about what we do on the ground, not our theoretical/organisational differences which I thought I had already made clear in previous emails on this thread.
And what I am saying is , is there any more coordinated activity in SF than there is in AF?

I think JK's right that we shouldn't make this a contest, but the impression I get having been around SF as a national officer and given trainings to a couple of AF locals is that AF's activities are much more broad. I think this is why on JK's lists it's mostly stuff to do with our industrial strategy and your AFed list has a lot to do with publications and international stuff, which is sort of what I'd expect and I think it actually a really good and useful division of labour. But this does mean that we have different activity on the ground.

AF, as far as I know, gives a lot talks on anarchism while SF has given over 20 workplace organiser trainings over the past 2 years and our talks tend to be much more focused on the practicalities of workplace organising.

In terms of co-ordination, I can only speak from SF experience, but I think the feeling within SF is that we have a level of growth, density, and political agreement where we can start co-ordinating things nationally. This kicked off with the Office Angels stuff and has carried through to the SF-specific anti-workfare campaign. Of course, both these brought in other individuals and groups, but they were specifically SF initiatives on first a regional and then national level.

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cantdocartwheels
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May 15 2012 15:17

Not sure on the student thing tbh, i mean north london solfed only has two or three students out of 20 odd. Afaik they were all involved in politics before becoming studennts aswell.
I became an anarchist while i was a student, and can say that people will stick around if stuff is going on, so i would't worry too much.

Solfeds doing ok atm, but we'd all be the first to admit its still micro-politics in the grand scheme of things.I think we all stil have the 'often nothing happens outside some geographical hubs' limitations that continue to dog all strands of anarchism and at times the left.

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Steven.
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May 15 2012 15:37

TBH I would trust Battlescarred's experience here - he has been around a lot more than any of us, and would know patterns better than us. Certainly in the AYN days there were a lot of students involved, almost all of whom just dropped out of politics quite quickly

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Joseph Kay
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May 15 2012 15:45

nm

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the button
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May 15 2012 15:57
Joseph Kay wrote:
now ducking out of this thread if it's going the way of dick-waving.

Aye.

Will have another look in the morning when it's 15 pages of recrimination. smile

no1
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May 15 2012 16:05
the button wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
now ducking out of this thread if it's going the way of dick-waving.

Aye.

Will have another look in the morning when it's 15 pages of recrimination. :)

+1

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Steven.
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May 15 2012 16:35

I think if this discussion is to stay positive Jim needs to retract that unhelpful post

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Awesome Dude
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May 15 2012 16:44
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Of all the national libertarian communist organisations in the UK we seem to be the only one with any momentum behind us, the AF seems to lack direction, The Commune don't do much, the IWW has a number of internal problems and Collective Action haven't been around long enough to really judge.

The IWW in the UK is not a "libertarian communist" or "anarchist" organisation. There have been large groups of workplace based workers organised this year with some impressive militant "wildcat" actions. It seems things are on the up for the anarchist mileu as a whole. Quick one for SolFed. Are there now functional workplace networks? Also for AF, what is happening with workplace resistance groups?

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Steven.
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May 15 2012 16:52
Awesome Dude wrote:
Quote:
Of all the national libertarian communist organisations in the UK we seem to be the only one with any momentum behind us, the AF seems to lack direction, The Commune don't do much, the IWW has a number of internal problems and Collective Action haven't been around long enough to really judge.

The IWW in the UK is not a "libertarian communist" or "anarchist" organisation. There have been large groups of workplace based workers organised this year with some impressive militant "wildcat" actions. It seems things are on the up for the anarchist mileu as a whole. Quick one for SolFed. Are there now functional workplace networks? Also for AF, what is happening with workplace resistance groups?

The "workplace resistance groups" the AF speaks of are essentially the informal workplace groups which form the basis of all workers' organisation on the shopfloor.

There are also comparable to the IWW/Solfed shop committees, albeit more informal, although I suspect that in Solfed there are not normally formal shop committees but are instead more informal groups the AF and others (Stan Weir, Kampa Tillsammans, etc) speak of.

no1
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May 15 2012 18:45
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
How exactly was my post unhelpful anyway?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dick%20Waving%20Contest&defid=1700669

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Django
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May 15 2012 19:02

Having been in the AF for several years, up until last summer, I do think it has problems. These are probably reflected in the split/non-split/whatever that formed the basis for Collective Action forming recently.

Despite it being consistently described as a growing organisation while I was involved, the AF's membership was consistently somewhere between a low of 130 and a high of 160, with an extremely high membership turnover. I think this led to a number of related problems when I was a member - the same 20-odd people (max) would be taking on the national jobs, meaning getting publications out on time with enough content was a constant struggle. People would leave positions only to carry on on a de facto basis, which is a recipe for burnout. It's not surprising if the turnover is so high that this happens.

It does beg the question of why the turnover is so high in the first place, and this is probably down to the organisation having less of a sense of collective purpose than Solfed. I mean, if I asked a handful of Solfed members where they want to be in 5 years, I'm going to get the same answer. I can't see that happening with the AF tbh.

Obviously all this comes from the perspective of someone who has invested lots of time and energy into the organisation, who is speaking from a position of affection for it and has lots of friends inside it.

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Cooked
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May 15 2012 19:45

Interesting thread. Unfortunately a fair bit of "organisational patriotism", no wonder really but it's still unfortunate.

As someone who has been planning/considering to join a London organisation for the last year and a half the discussion is interesting. The reason I didn't join was a combination of unreliable (late, weekends) working hours and to much other stuff going on. I've now resolved the job issue(given notice), and managed to weasel out of some of the other commitments but instead I'll be leaving the country in a few months.

I was always leaning towards AF but I have to say I still don't know what joining would actually mean in terms of commitment, time and activity. Because of this I always though I'd wait for things to calm down with my other stuff. Things never calmed down wink But in hindsight I realise I could probably have made myself useful and learned a few things anyway.

Battlescarred
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May 15 2012 20:27

I'm ducking out of this thread too, cos JC is just being admin: no flaming . He was an organisational patriot when he was in the AF, now he's doing the same with Solfed. Let's see where we all are in two years time shall we? and whether this momentum is still there.

Caiman del Barrio
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May 15 2012 20:36
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
That wasn't an attempt at dick waving, I am genuinely interested in hearing why other groups have not developed the same level of momentum that we have over the past couple of years.

....!

Caiman del Barrio
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May 15 2012 20:40
Battlescarred wrote:
I'm ducking out of this thread too, cos JC is just being an arse. He was an organisational patriot when he was in the AF, now he's doing the same with Solfed. Let's see where we all are in two years time shall we? and whether this momentum is still there.

I think that's a fair enough comment and obviously Tommy Ascaso is only speaking for himself, not for the organisation (before anyone rushes off to quote "SF Nat Sec" IRL). I'm honestly not interested in comparing SF's "momentum" with the AF's and I've always attempted to shut down this sort of talk when I hear it. Quite clearly neither organisation is anywhere near where it wants to be and we're all still pretty marginalised and facing an uphill struggle.

I think there is a lot of scope for joint activity, especially in London. Unfortunately we've both scheduled activities near enough simultaneously on Sat though, although hopefully some NLSF folk should be able to go to your meeting. Likewise, it'd be good to have some AF folks come to our Workfare pickets, although I'm told that the AF have more presence in north/east London than south?

nastyned
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May 15 2012 21:47
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Sorry you feel that way, I've not tried to be an arse!

I think you manage without trying! wink

nastyned
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May 15 2012 21:54
Django wrote:
if I asked a handful of Solfed members where they want to be in 5 years, I'm going to get the same answer. I can't see that happening with the AF tbh.

This is one of the areas in which the AF and SolFed differ though. The SolFed's strategy is based on moving from being a political organisation to becoming a revolutionary union, the AF doesn't have a problem with being a political organisation.

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Chilli Sauce
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May 15 2012 22:31
nastyned wrote:
Django wrote:
if I asked a handful of Solfed members where they want to be in 5 years, I'm going to get the same answer. I can't see that happening with the AF tbh.

This is one of the areas in which the AF and SolFed differ though. The SolFed's strategy is based on moving from being a political organisation to becoming a revolutionary union, the AF doesn't have a problem with being a political organisation.

Maybe it's semantic, but we understand a revolutionary organisation to be a political-economic organisation. It's not about not being or stopping being "a political organisation."

I think the gist of JC's questions are legitimate, but tact and phrasing goes a long way comrade...

Battlescarred
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May 15 2012 22:36

That's where we- AF and SF- differ, I believe although it seems to me that some in Solfed want the creation of this "political-economic organisation" a la FORA, whilst others might adhere to a more classic anarcho-syndicalist model. But please correct me if I'm wrong. Ooops I said I was ducking out!!!

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Chilli Sauce
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May 15 2012 22:57

I don't think the two are in contradiction comrade!

I /think/ we are officially committed to becoming a political-economic organisation. Of course, we're also officially an anarcho-syndicalist organisation, too. wink

Stick around Battlescarred, JC's up on internal tribunal as we speak... [/kidding]

Harrison
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May 16 2012 00:14
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
although I'm told that the AF have more presence in north/east London than south?

Verified:

Beyond Hackney: On the frontline of establishing specific anarchist influence in spaces of hipsterism (Anarchist Communist Editions, 2012)

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A Wotsit
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May 16 2012 00:15

Last year when my interest in anarchism was growing, SolFed and AF were the only anarch orgs I aware of who were bigish and active in London. SolFed were slightly quicker in responding to my emails and so it just happened that they got me through the door and AF didn't. I went to a couple of NL SolFed meetings and their workplace organiser training. SolFed gave me what I felt was an excellent steer on how to play a small role in advancing the class struggle and live up to anarchist principles a bit more in a day-to-day work context and they gave me a generally warm welcome and helpful introduction to anarchism which was all pretty new to me at the time (other than what I'd read online and experienced after stumbling upon a black bloc). I've since got more active in workplace organising and generally helping workmates (so far with limited results). I haven't yet got round to becoming a dues-paying SF member, not sure if I will any time soon, but I do recommend them to people I think might be interested in what they get up to. In many ways I would like to get more involved in SolFed and give something back, but in many other ways I am lazy and unreliable (or less inclined to give myself additional commitments at the moment with a list of weak excuses which, when combined, almost approach a passable justification).

Other than my local solidarity network I haven't had much contact with other anarchist groups, bar the half-hearted attempt to meet AF last year (which wasn't followed through on my part due to other distractions, including solfed inviting me to their meeting quite swiftly and me deciding to take it one group at a time). I don't feel the need to join a group at the moment as there is so much I could do in my workplace. Though I might actually join SolFed... maybe, one day. As a newbie anarchist I did feel that SolFed's training and workplace focus did give me an opening to start engaging in anarchist praxis for the first time. Perhaps without a workplace focus or a locality focus it is harder for AF to offer something practical and empowering and fun for new members (or new anarchists) to get their teeth into? I don't know because I never met them, but I do know the active AF and SolFed members do some good work and I do think there is more than enough other stuff to do up for there to be 2 (or many more) strong anarchist organisations which are mutually-supportive of each others work but have different organisational focuses.

syndicalist
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May 16 2012 00:30

Not that anyone asked my opinion:

"Certainly in the AYN days there were a lot of students involved, almost all of whom just dropped out of politics quite quickly"

My experiance is, you can not build a heavily student dominated organization that lasts and does things over the long haul.

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Standfield
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May 16 2012 00:50
nastyned wrote:
The SolFed's strategy is based on moving from being a political organisation to becoming a revolutionary union, the AF doesn't have a problem with being a political organisation.
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I /think/ we are officially committed to becoming a political-economic organisation. Of course, we're also officially an anarcho-syndicalist organisation, too. wink

I was following the whole conversation until I got to these terms. What's the difference between "revolutionary union", "political organisation", "political-economic organisation" and an "anarcho-syndicalist organisation"? In layman's terms please wink

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Standfield
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May 16 2012 01:38

You're a star, cheers Jim, helped a lot.