UK organisations: where do we stand?

120 posts / 0 new
Last post
cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
Offline
Joined: 15-03-04
May 16 2012 06:04

Meh agree with caiman that these convos on here are seldom that useful. They always look silly and make it look like theres more organisational patriotism, as b-scarred, JK and others have put it, than there really is. This is partly because all that are being expressed are the views of a vocal minority, not most people in the orgs in question.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
............
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..

I think you're overstating all this a bit imo. Many afed branches are very workplace focused and in many cases branches are very similar, especially if you strip away some of the hypothetical fluff and get down to practical day to day activity.
I'd say that while there are clear political differences, a reasonably large part of what group people end up in does depend on where they are geographically.

Generally speaking i really wouldn't stress about all this too much. I'm sitting here applying for jobs in dagenham, romford and basildon atm for example. Lets be honest, out there it doesn't really matter too much which london anarchist group i'm in.

cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
Offline
Joined: 15-03-04
May 16 2012 06:36
Caiman del Barrio wrote:

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...?

Unfortunately we have workfare stuff saturday and stuff for another campaign aswell. Just not enough spare saturdays atm, otherwise i'd definitely go to the st imiers thing.
If i had more cash and time i'd go to switzerland aswell but i'm a bit too skint this summer, if it'd been last year i'd have defiitely gone for the week.

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
May 16 2012 08:10
Standfield wrote:
You're a star, cheers Jim, helped a lot.

I disagree with some of Jim's definitions but if you're interesting in more I think he's already linked to a long and fruitless discussion that didn't really get anywhere!

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
May 16 2012 09:10
nastyned wrote:
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.

This is true. But the AF has goals (e.g. 'a culture of resistance'), and (presumably) takes steps to move towards those goals. I think what people are picking up on is it's not clear what the AF's strategy is (at least without reading RORO or OTF - maybe a sub-1000 word summary on the website under 'strategy' would address this?).

From what's been said before, it may be that the AF prefers a very federal approach where branches interpret building a culture of resistance in terms of local conditions - setting up a SeaSol-style Solidarity Network in one place, joining the IWW in another, getting involved in Coalitions Against Poverty in another, setting up a radical library in yet another. Which is fair enough, it's not for anyone else to tell AF members what constitutes meaningful activity. Maybe there is more strategy too (someone mentioned ongoing discussions), but it's kept internal for tactical reasons. Which is also fair enough.

Battlescarred wrote:
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!!!

I also said I was ducking out, d'oh. In brief, I don't think anyone in SF is a 'FORAist', or for that matter a 'CNTista' in the 1930s sense. We don't think you can transpose organisational forms as blueprints from one time and place to another, especially when they're as different as 1910s Argentina, 1930s Spain and post-industrial 2010s Britain. But this is a big discussion. The new pamphlet which will be out in the next few months (if all goes to plan) sets out our idea of revolutionary unionist practice appropriate to present conditions in historical and theoretical context.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
May 16 2012 09:23

In terms of dragging this away from AF vs SF part 318572812...

- IWW have seemingly made big steps over the last few years becoming a union that break-away union branches can join. The London cleaners are the obvious example, but as the TUC unions stitch-up and demobilise more militant branches, there could be scope for more of that kind of 'hot shop' activity.

- The Commune. Seem to bring out the most regular paper. Not sure what else they've been up to - anyone?

- ALARM - last I heard was their first annual meeting was 'possibly the last'. Couldn't tell if that was tongue-in-cheek or straight, and don't have any first-hand involvement/knowledge.

- Plan C. Don't know anything about it except a Twitter meme ('after plan B fails, plan C for communism!')

- Collective Action. I've read their blog and had a look around the website. I don't know anything more, it's early days. I'm interested how especifismo applies in British conditions, as afaik latin american social movements are a bit, er, livelier. It sounds like they might not have 'the anti-cuts movements' in mind giving their mayday critique.

- I'm probably missing some but it's not intentional!

bulmer's picture
bulmer
Offline
Joined: 17-11-10
May 16 2012 09:31
Joseph Kay wrote:
- I'm probably missing some but it's not intentional!

You've missed out the one true vanguard of the proles, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Their best action this year has to of been them Celebrating the Centenary of Kim Il Sung in London groucho

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 16 2012 09:36
Quote:
An anarcho-syndicalist organisation is an organisation structured on anarcho-syndicalist lines (self-organised, federalist) but not necessarily a revolutionary union

I'm not sure I agree with this JC. I think anarchist organisations are self-organised and federalist. They're only anarcho-syndicalist if they're based in the workplace.

Really tho, this is all pretty semantic, since there's massive overlap and considering that all our activities as proletarians (domestic, reproductive, consumption, and wage labour) reproduces capitalism every day.

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
May 16 2012 10:10

" The Commune. Seem to bring out the most regular paper. Not sure what else they've been up to - anyone?"
Not really the most regular paper, 10 issues for 2010, 8 for 2011 and 2 so far this year whilst traffic on their website has slowed to a mere trickle.

801
Offline
Joined: 23-02-12
May 16 2012 11:13

As an interested outsider, I'm not in any groups, I would say that in London at least it seems as if SF have got a bit of momentum behind them.

I was impressed with the Solfed turnout when I went to meet friends after Mayday at the pub, (had to work during the day) easy to get numbers at a pub though...

I'm tempted to join but haven't for a couple of reasons. Some personal and arguably rubbish, like wanting to think less about politics, because that anarchotopia isn't exactly round the corner and it can be alienating to other friends if I'm always going on about communism and anarchism.

What does put me off though is internal politics. I know in any group about anything internal politics are a problem and of interest to those in the group. However discussions about someone that people haven't met doing something on the other side of the country and what should be done about it/something someone said on Twitter make me want to pull my eyes out.

Re: students

I was probably 'radicalised' (terrible word) during the student protests like many people. I studied politics at uni including a module on anarchism so had a good base in theory but I would say my politics have solidified over the last year whilst being unemployed, working hyper-casualised jobs now working a regular, marginally secure job in an office. I am more likely to join a group now than at any point as a student.

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
May 16 2012 11:53

ALARM appears to be continuing
http://www.soundthealarm.org.uk/
but with far lower numbers

little_brother's picture
little_brother
Offline
Joined: 30-01-06
May 16 2012 12:18
801 wrote:
Re: students

I was probably 'radicalised' (terrible word) during the student protests like many people. I studied politics at uni including a module on anarchism so had a good base in theory but I would say my politics have solidified over the last year whilst being unemployed, working hyper-casualised jobs now working a regular, marginally secure job in an office. I am more likely to join a group now than at any point as a student.

I think these are really important points. Anarchism is getting more exposure through degree modules, and also through self-study groups on radical politics more generally. Plus more and more students are working as well as studying, and in casualised work after finishing degrees. This sort of thing can only increase with the massive rise in fees (and cuts/changes to EMA). There is also the travesty of unpaid internships. If as anarchists we are involving ourselves in anti-workfare and activities relating to casualised working I'd say we are becoming more relevant to students' material conditions than ever. So much the better if the same people know something about anarchism from studies.

Member of AF in Nottingham.

Puzzled_individual's picture
Puzzled_individual
Offline
Joined: 12-02-12
May 16 2012 12:14

Not currently a member of SF/ AF but this is an interesting thread all the same.

A few (largely off-topic) observations:

Students
There's alot of contention, as i see it, in not just anarchist circles, but the left itself over the role of students. An approach that i quite like is 'students are the workers of tomorrow'. It doesn't mean that you ignore students or focus on them entirely, just that an effort is made to involve them in anarchist politics. The problem that people seem to pick up on is that they don't get involved in politics after uni, so it's not worth getting involved with them at all. For me this is about the poor situation we have in the UK; towns where there is no existing anarchist movement. Uni is great at bringing small town people together in a city, but it's despairing to think of the political desert that awaits afterwards, being politically isolated and facing up to the prospects of having to start from scratch. Not really sure what we can do about this, but forums like this and having friends to turn to help alot.

AF/ SF.

Met people from both groups before. They're all cool smile

SF's workplace training was very beneficial for someone who's never really thought about organising in workplaces meaningfully before. They have a cool paper. W. Yorkshire is a massive area to cover though and really highlights the 'political desert' point from above.

AF is where my orientation is towards, and everyone seems friendly, they do need to sort out a better format for Resist though. It just looks not very good frankly, that isn't to say that people don't put in alot of hard work at all. Seem to be quite abit more informal than SF, and younger from what i've seen, which is less than SF so far.

They both have their places and appeals, just as they have their downsides and benefits, they both do good work. They both deserve to be massively bigger smile

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 16 2012 12:24
Quote:
However discussions about someone that people haven't met doing something on the other side of the country and what should be done about it/something someone said on Twitter make me want to pull my eyes out.

I'm curious if you're thinking about something specifically SF here? I'm not on twitter, but I've had some conversations internally and it does seem that some of the anarcho and specifically SF twitter scenes has its problems...

Re: students

I agree that building an organisation primarily of students it problematic, but there's nothing wrong with having a student presence especially if that's orientating to (1) students organising alongside workers on campus and (2) there's a means to for students to continue their work within the organisation as they move toward paid employment.

Also, shit, I don't think I realised how much of the libcom lot have been through the workplace organiser training program!

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 16 2012 12:28

Anarchist mathematics...

ALARM wrote:
Around 15 turned up and we all awaited our turn to share our thoughts. Nearing the end of our first half of the meeting was a vote. The results were worthy of any satanic cult. 666. 6 abstained, 6 wanted to keep Alarm and 6 wanted to see it die.

wink

ALARM wrote:
Where our strength could lay as a group is propaganda. Propaganda is one of the most effective ways to spread our message in this concrete jungle. We would like to create a constant street presence and be creative with it. And never compromising on the tone of our radical voice.

I actually think that's a really good orientation for the group.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 16 2012 12:29

Does ALARM have subs?

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
May 16 2012 12:34

Yeah, little pocket ones.

801
Offline
Joined: 23-02-12
May 16 2012 13:02

Still can't work out how to quote sections of text.

I agree, a 'constant street presence' would be great.

I always get a little lift when I see a bit of propaganda in my everyday life. I like the AF 'Armed thugs off our streets' and Fit Watch 's 'meet your friendly neighbourhood police team' stickers/posters I've seen around south London.

Alarm had some stickers at the book fair and I took some but then realised they were rubbish propaganda as they were just a picture of a burning Tottenham bus. Not exactly relating anarchism to people's everyday lives and just reinforcing the impression that anarchism fetishes riots and that's about it.

So, to conclude, great idea but think a bit harder about the picture.

lzbl's picture
lzbl
Offline
Joined: 19-09-11
May 16 2012 15:00

On the student thing:

Although I understand what people are trying to say it would be AMAZING if you could all just stop making assumptions about who students are and what they do. Our student members are of all ages and backgrounds. Some of us aren't 'preparing for the workplace' we've been there (and still are) We're not talking about an organisation run on or by students, we're talking about organisations with specific aims and objectives that students can join. Different.

Dickwaving from everyone aside, this is a really interesting thread, thanks for starting it.

Theft's picture
Theft
Offline
Joined: 17-08-11
May 16 2012 17:19
Puzzled_individual wrote:

AF is where my orientation is towards, and everyone seems friendly, they do need to sort out a better format for Resist though. It just looks not very good frankly, that isn't to say that people don't put in alot of hard work at all.

In what sense do you think the format could be better?
The layout? articles? style?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 16 2012 23:00

Good post lzbl. Points very well taken.

Puzzled_individual's picture
Puzzled_individual
Offline
Joined: 12-02-12
May 17 2012 08:06
Theft wrote:
In what sense do you think the format could be better?
The layout? articles? style?

Theft, if you've already read this, its been edited it a couple of times as stuff has been picked up and more thought has gone into it.

---

I like the article content for the most part, although being an anarchist and reading an anarchist news paper will give a different picture than anyone else picking up Resist!.

In general, the layout just doesn't feel right to read.

The pictures are placed in a style that makes it feel disjointed to read articles, not good. Clearly pixelled pic on the front of the current issue, personnally, i'd reduce the size or something to try and make it less apparent.

The front page header feels old and out of proportion compared with other papers, it must be about 1/4 of the page and appears grainy, therefore outdated to me vs. other papers.

The 3 column layout pretty much continuously, with articles arranged one below the other, and no deviancy in layout isn't particularly engaging. The headlines on each article must cost alot of space too (either side blank).

Articles with pictures placed below those without pictures and general inconsistencies that make the pictures feel wasted and just thrown in.

The font seems overly big too; compare it to the back page which feels alot better to read (although i'm a young person with good eye sight).

Some of the articles have sentences that could be improved, and in some cases shortened. If there was a reduction in spacing underneath/ above lines, font and some editing out of what i see as very elongated sentences, there might even be a page free to put in events/ letters or something else other than news.

Front page should always be something people care about. People will pick up stuff about the NHS, not so much stuff that we think is interesting. It should always be relevant to the audience. Same with the rest of the paper, it's very anarchisty with not alot of appeal to non-anarchists, at least that's my opinion.

In general there's a feeling reading it that the articles have been composed, then put into a template with no editing or thoughts of how it reads. I'm sure this isn't the case, but it feels that way to read.

Sorry, i don't mean to moan or anything, just some things that really stick out and could really do with fixing to improve Resist!

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 16 2012 23:54

The SF member who works in the industry often talks about the importance of people reading a paper which has a layout (paragraphing, font, text and image style) which they're used to. This is why Catalyst, in part I think anyway, is on newspaper paper and sort of mimic the the structure of a tabloid.

sawa
Offline
Joined: 18-02-09
May 17 2012 00:01

Woah what's with the slagging off of students. :[ I certainly got involved in politics before starting uni and whilst I'm sure a lot of people were radicalised by the student movement so what? I would have though any sensible analysis would see student and university based politics as just an aspect of community organising. Students should be organising for their own interests not just supporting education workers we see education as part of making shit better now. A focus on workplace organising may encourage people such as students to drop out when like many they struggle to find non casual jobs post graduation.
Does seem to me as an outsider(who doesn't intend to join either org) that Solfed is or has been gaining more momentum and this is clearly because of a practical education programme and a narrowing of focus. Strategy is often more about what an organisation doesn't do than what one does do. :]

I do not know what is wrong with internal politics if organisations don't attempt to make themselves safe for their members then they should fall apart. tongue

Who are Plan C aint heard of em?
Do find such threads like this interesting though. :]

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
May 17 2012 08:14

It's actually called Resistance, Puzzled_individual, not Resist!

Cooked's picture
Cooked
Offline
Joined: 6-04-10
May 17 2012 08:35
Puzzled_individual wrote:
The front page header feels old and out of proportion compared with other papers, it must be about 1/4 of the page and appears grainy, therefore outdated to me vs. other papers.

Ah noes! The Resistance header is nice, it's actually a decent piece of artwork. It must stay! wink

There aren't that many people around who can do good illustrations so when you've got one don't ditch it. Perhaps looking into scanning it again or re-drawing it digitally might be worthwhile.

Looking like everyone else isn't great, the Resistance front page is unusual these days but it's good.

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
May 17 2012 09:51
sawa wrote:
I do not know what is wrong with internal politics if organisations don't attempt to make themselves safe for their members then they should fall apart. tongue

There's definately been some positive development in this area within the AF, having women's and queer caucuses has been a big part of that, I think.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
May 17 2012 13:06

Just as a general note, backslaps all round to folks for having the shortest SF-AF bunfight I've seen in ages, culminating in some really interesting and practical posts. There's been progress!

jonthom's picture
jonthom
Offline
Joined: 25-11-10
May 17 2012 13:14
sawa wrote:
Woah what's with the slagging off of students. :[

I don't really think anybody is slagging off students, more just pointing to some issues around student involvement in wider orgs. Which is fair enough I think - there are certain factors specific to student life that can cause issues, it's good to be able to discuss them.

IME one big issue is that a lot of students return to their hometowns during holiday periods. Combine that with not being able to do much during exam period and you've got about half the year when (some) students simply won't be around or able to do much. This can be very frustrating if you're working within a mixed groups of students and non-students, since it's hard to organise ongoing activity when people are coming and going all the time.

Obviously that's not universal, nor is it something specific to students necessarily, but it is (or can be) a problem nonetheless.

That said, I would agree with your point that

Quote:
any sensible analysis would see student and university based politics as just an aspect of community organising. Students should be organising for their own interests not just supporting education workers we see education as part of making shit better now.
Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 17 2012 13:12

I have to say, the impression I get this that this tread has had more input from AFers and the other thread has been more SFer. What does that say about us?!

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
May 17 2012 13:16

No one is slagging off students, just saying that you cannot build a lasting organisation on them, and with the concomitant problems that jonthom mentions above. The AF, including me, has done its fair share of leafletting colleges and universities and running stalls outside them, etc and invested itself in the recent wave of student agitation but that's just one of the things you do.