UK organisations: where do we stand?

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Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
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May 17 2012 13:20
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Who are Plan C aint heard of em?

Raw's fairly involved I think, if he's knocking about he might comment at some point. As I understand it they're from the autonomist tradition, but not quite at formal launch stage yet. There was a short thread about them here.

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Theft
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May 17 2012 17:01

I will respond when I have a little more time, being as I've done the layout since November tongue
Should also say we are always open to positive criticism smile

Puzzled_individual wrote:
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old and out of proportion compared with other papers, it must be about 1/4 of the page and appears grainy, therefore outdated to me vs. other papers.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!

Theft's picture
Theft
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May 21 2012 16:38
Theft wrote:
I will respond when I have a little more time, being as I've done the layout since November tongue
Should also say we are always open to positive criticism smile
Puzzled_individual wrote:
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!

Sorry this is a very quick reply still, I agree with many of your comments with regards layout, however the reason for a lot of the things like font, font size things being well spaced out etc is so that it easy to read. For example the font Calibri is much better for people with reading disabilities than say Times.

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Diddy-D
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May 22 2012 04:18

It's a very interesting debate, and I've found it helpful. But there's something fundamental that needs facing up to.

A point was made regarding the Trot groups, that they tend to be on the whole small, like anarchist groups. All revoutionary groups are small. But to say the Trot groups are anything like as small as anarchist ones is absolute bollocks.

In the city near me, the SWP alone holds THREE meetings per WEEK. I have only experience of one of the main anarchist groups represented here, having met a couple of its members. The group meets only FORTNIGHTLY, and has only 10 members 'on the books', so to speak, and only gets a regular attendance of about 6 people, often less. Not that good, to be candid.

Anarchism as a way of organizing towards revolution, is inherently appealing to working-class militants. It's democractic, in that there are no leaders, and people have their say, and participate in discussions an planning.

This is way, way better than the Trot groups I experienced in my youth, with their top-down approach, where a party official visits the branch, and gives a speech, with comrades sat in rows of seats like good little girls and boys, taking it all in.

Then why are the Trot groups so much bigger than the anarchist ones? I really, really want to know.

Cos something is going wrong somewhere pink black star

Standfield's picture
Standfield
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May 22 2012 07:34

It's probably a combination of things. First of all, the SWP partake in voting, right? So already you have quite an easy theoretical leap for newcomers to "leftism". I'd say 99% of people out there believe in parliament's "democratic" system, they just see the problem lying within certain parties. So people with a vague understanding or appreciation of leftist ideas, naturally gravitate towards parties like the SWP. I often read that some anarchists on this board started off in the SWP, or in other Trot groups, so I'd say that's one reason. In the early days, they also worked as a tiny fraction within the Labour Party, in order for them to garner a larger audience, and of course an Anarchist organisation isn't going to do that.

Why they join is probably just because of the numbers that they have, and thus, donations are more numerous and forthcoming, and in turn, propaganda more easily spread, and so it goes full circle again. I've never been a member of the SWP, but I saw for myself at uni the large presence their official clubs can have on campuses, and I believe that is spread across the UK. That's probably another reason.

And also of course, you've got people's misconceptions of what Anarchism is. I think propaganda plays a large part in this, and in the areas I just mentioned. Again, on the SWP, I found this quote interesting regarding their use of propaganda.

From Wiki:

Quote:
From 1978 Tony Cliff became convinced by some of his comrades that the period of rising militancy had come to an end and a downturn had begun. Cliff wrote that: "The crisis in the organisation went on for about 3 years, 1976-79". By 1982 the SWP was refocused completely to a propagandist approach, with geographical branches as the main unit of the party, a focus on Marxist theory and an abandonment of perspective of building a rank and file movement. The rank and file organisations were wound down [...]

During the 1984-85 miners strike the SWP's propaganda concentrated on the need for solidarity and explaining why this was not happening. Cliff described the approach as one of concrete propaganda: "It had to answer the question 'What slogan fits the issue the workers are fighting over?"

This change in outlook and methods was viewed by many on the left as being a retreat into sectarianism by the SWP but this change in methods is credited by the SWP as allowing it to survive a very hostile period with substantial numbers of party members. In contrast Murray Smith described it as "jumping from one campaign to the next and hostility towards the rest of the left."

So I'd basically say it's propaganda. Of course you need some substance as well, but you need to get people's attention. I think this comment by Spikymike in the merger thread is quite relevant:

Spikymike wrote:
Such a strategy in the current circumstances (given the actual size and distribution of both the SolFed and AF plus suppport) does not however adequetly distinguish itself as specifically anarchist-communist and to the outsider is often little different in form or content to that of much other leftist activity. This then leaves both an opening and need for a more specifically communist propaganda effort, which however is not the preserve of the AF even though, on paper at least, it is better placed than the SolFed to carry out this function.

For this to work, I believe Solfed and AF would have to work extremely close together. The one thing that benefits Trot groups like the SWP is that their propaganda promotes themselves. AF would pretty much have to propagate for Solfed (as well as themselves of course), and Solfed would use AF to distinguish themselves as an Anarchist organisation.

I'd just like to point out that I'm not a member of AF or Solfed, so it's purely an outsider's (with only a recent understanding of anarchism) viewpoint.

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May 22 2012 10:26

Why are trots bigger than anarchists in the UK?

Well, if you take the SWP and their approach, and read their party notes; (a good insight into their mentality with paper sale numbers and recruitment numbers usually), they allocate out meetings and give 'suggested titles'. Stuff like Greece and their particular favourite 'How can we beat the Tories' (LOL), are repeated a heck of alot. As pointed out above they have people who drive around the country to do this stuff, compare that to anarchists with more autonomous locals who don't really focus on public meetings (in my experience at least). So yeah, 'big issue' meetings repeated around the country, repeatable posters and propaganda to go with it draw alot of people to their meetings, it doesn't however, means that people actually join by any means. But yes, they can have 3 meetings a week easily because they're all just repeated from other meetings.

SWP isn't a typical Trot group though. It's much more opportunistic. Tony Cliff compared himself to Lenin with his 'bending the stick' (oscillating positions and general inconsistency), and that behaviour is what runs the SWP today. As long as it looks like there's a campaign that can sell papers and get fresh recruits the SWP are there like rats.

They also have alot better street presence than anarchists with their religiously weekly sales. The problem with anarchism is that no-one actually knows about it.

All being said, i wouldn't bother with comparing anarchist to trot groups, they're both so small :/

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May 22 2012 10:59

Just thought I'd chuck my two pennorth in as to why there are fewer anarchist than trot groups.

Tradition, there is little or no anarchist tradition in the UK, other than that based on recent history and on what we do today.

The trots have had much longer to create their niche. Post World War 2 there were perhaps several hundred trotskyists in Great Britain, but after Hugary 1956, what with people starting to grow disillusioned with the CPGB and stalinist orthodoxy, with some CPers going over to trotskyism, add to this the successful recruiting tactic of Labour Party entrism, plus ruthless recruting methods, opportunistic changes of political line scooping up new members disgruntled by whatever was the issue of the day, capturing positions in trade unions, including running their own unions like the Liverpool dockers' blue union, etc, etc, then the organised trotskyist movement, in spite of all the splits and new parties still numbered tens of thousands in the late 70s/early 80s. You went on a demo in the early 80s and you were literally swamped with thousands of the fuckers with (if you were lucky) only about four or five anarchists hanging about at the back of the march getting gyp off the twats. You organised a meeting and you were amazed if anyone actually turned up, let alone one person and a dog.

But since the Labour Party booted out the Militant and since the collapse of the Soviet Union, etc, marxist-leninism has taken a massive nosedive. Most former trots dropped out of politics and we're now left with a few rump organisations, a shadow of their former glory. Meanwhile, anarchist groups are increasing albeit slowly. The number of people you get at the anarchist bookfair would have been inconceivable 30 years ago and the existence of anything like an anarchist block on demos would have been pie in the sky.

We're steadily getting there... baby steps, chumrades... baby steps...

no1
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May 22 2012 11:05
Puzzled_individual wrote:
The problem with anarchism is that no-one actually knows about it.

I think that's very true. Most people don't have a clue what anarchism is about and assume it's some kind of weird far-out anti-social thing. I think we need to emphasise how common sense and practical anarchist ideas are, and their social (rather than individualist) character. There's also a lack of easily accessible opinion and comment articulating an anarchist perspective of every day events - I hope that the libcom blogs can change that: libcom blog posts are already spread quite a lot via Twitter and facebook.

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May 23 2012 15:30

Standfield, Puzzled_individual, Serge Forward and no1, thanks for your replies, comrades.

I have found your posts very helpful. And I agree with the point that anarchism isn't well known about and understood in the UK. I was a leftist in my youth, and though I was aware of the terms 'anarchy' and 'anarchism', I knew nothing about it at all. Since reading about it and meeting anarchists, I've come to appreciate that it is the best way of organizing for revolution, and that it is also the most likely way of giving a fledging workers democracy a fighting chance of survival. The seeds of leaderless organization - essential to get a successful workers democracy - are already sown in the way peeps prepare for insurrection and resistance.

And I particularly like Serge's comments about chumrades, and getting there, even if it is baby steps. As I often say, from small acorns do tall oaks grow.

The anarchists have my support smile pink black star

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Rob Ray
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May 23 2012 16:16

And my Axe!

etc wink.

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welshboy
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May 23 2012 16:20

soz Mr. T

vanilla.ice.baby
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May 23 2012 17:11
Rob Ray wrote:

And my Axe!

etc wink.

BNP supporter

raw
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May 24 2012 12:40
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
Who are Plan C aint heard of em?

Raw's fairly involved I think, if he's knocking about he might comment at some point. As I understand it they're from the autonomist tradition, but not quite at formal launch stage yet. There was a short thread about them here.

Hi,

Plan C is a new revolutionary organisation with currently three groups in Leeds, London & Manchester. As Rob Ray has said, it isn't formally/publicly launched yet, as it attempted to develop through some focussed debates over the last 12 months. Plan C came from the need to seriously look at the limitations that occur through "activism" and ideologically codified groups ( anarchist, socialist, leninist ) and attempt to create a much more open radical identity. The people involved have been involved in anarchist and autonomist politics in the UK for the past 25 years - so there is a huge experience and practice that have informed our perspectives.

Plan C orientates itself around 'social reproduction' - the ways in which we are produced and reproduced as workers for capitalism (whether waged or unwaged), and at the same time the ways in which we produce and reproduce ourselves as human beings. This opens up several perspectives on how we attempt to approach labour struggles and so-called 'community' struggles, and also how we see struggles emerging. Because we are tied to the wage / welfare subsistence to sustain and reproduce ourselves, limitations emerge on how we can collectively resistance. By orientating ourselves around social reproduction - how we fight, what we fight against, how we live, what do we need to live...etc, we hope to develop a much more far reaching and engaging movement that can open up opportunities for radical action/intervention.

In London, we have began by setting up a commission around housing and an 'aspirational' commission around education. These are the two main areas currently that those of us involved in Plan C are already involved in and ones we feel could do with some re-analysis/strategy/tactical overhaul...etc

Plan C will be organising meetings at the Sheffield & London Anarchist Bookfair as well as having several panels at the Historical Materialism conference. There is a membership structure and decision making process ( consensus at the first instance, 2/3 majority vote in the second ).

A website will be launched in early July.

Hope that helps!

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May 24 2012 12:43

Good stuff. cool

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Rob Ray
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May 24 2012 12:48

Cheers for that raw, giss a shout when the group's going a bit more public, might be some folks who aren't up for joining SF/fancy dual carding who this might just float the boat for and we can pass on etc smile.

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May 24 2012 12:51

Looking forward to the website.

raw
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May 24 2012 12:53
Rob Ray wrote:
Cheers for that raw, giss a shout when the group's going a bit more public, might be some folks who aren't up for joining SF/fancy dual carding who this might just float the boat for and we can pass on etc smile.

Cheers will do! wink

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May 24 2012 15:25

I see you guys are having a joint meeting/Stall with Collective Action, will look forwards to hearing what you both have to say smile

The only question remains do Solfed want a meeting and stall at Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair???

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May 24 2012 15:45
Theft wrote:
The only question remains do Solfed want a meeting and stall at Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair???

tbh I'd email the external relations officer (solfed[AT]solfed.org.uk), as I don't know how many nearby SF members will be reading this.

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Theft
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May 24 2012 15:52
Joseph Kay wrote:
Theft wrote:
The only question remains do Solfed want a meeting and stall at Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair???

tbh I'd email the external relations officer (solfed[AT]solfed.org.uk), as I don't know how many nearby SF members will be reading this.

I did a week ago on the contact forms on Solfed website, as I couldn't find a email address. I just figured I'd bump on here as well smile

Due to not having a direct email contact on the site we missed Solfed on the list that was sent out in April for requests.

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May 24 2012 18:10

Ah, our ERO has been in Brighton all week and I'm seeing him in a bit. I'll give him a prod to check the email.

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May 24 2012 18:13
Joseph Kay wrote:
Ah, our ERO has been in Brighton all week and I'm seeing him in a bit. I'll give him a prod to check the email.

Thanks, just didn't want Solfed to miss out on a Stall and Meeting.