Sol Fed

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VisionOfTheFuture
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Feb 28 2009 20:04
Sol Fed

Have they seen much success recently? I was attracted to them but quesitoned there tactics and hard many criticisms of them, syaing they're sort of inclusive and defeatist. I'm interested because I'm wondering what the bets tactics to formulate united working class fightback are these days.

Heathen_Soul
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Feb 28 2009 20:25

I was wondering the same thing.

I've started taking a more active interest in politics after years of only taking a mild interest and now I want to get involved but dont know where to start!

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 28 2009 20:44

speaking as a member of the brighton local, things have been looking up lately. we've started to act more strategically following the publication of our pamphlet - we're helping organise a public meeting on the crisis (which we hope will lead to a local network to co-ordinate responses). we're also getting involved in the national shop stewards network which has just launched in brighton. alongside this, we've had a bit of growth, with several people getting in touch about getting involved - one of whom's now an established member and two more of whom we've recently met up with and who are keen to get involved.

what part of the country are you guys in? i can find out a bit more of what solfed are up to in your areas and let you know.

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VisionOfTheFuture
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Feb 28 2009 22:02

I wa smore interested in knowing just what they do. I am currently in a lot of sul-searhcing in terms of tactics and organisation and I was drawn to SolFed, but some comrades made me sceptical when I heard calims that they're a bit iffy with recruitment, i.e. something about only letting solfed memebrs getting involved in front groups. I also question there tactics, so I desired some sort of open discussion about them.

martinh
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Feb 28 2009 22:32

Er, we don't have "front groups". There is currently a policy on industrial networks which says they are for SolFed members only. As there is only one, in education, this discussion is a bit moot, but it's fair to say that the policy is not supported universally. There is a motion to change it at our next national conference, but that shouldn't be prejudged.

In reality, we end up working through locals most of the time and that is the chief way we would support each other etc. If there isn't a local near you, it's a bit harder but we can always try. And in practice, we will work with people who are not in SolFed quite happily. We've recently met with AF comrades in London to discuss co-operation; and we work in other campaigns like CAIC and LCAP.

If you have any specific questions please ask,

Regards,

Martin

Heathen_Soul
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Feb 28 2009 22:56

Im in South London and work for a Housing Association.

Is the South London group active?

cheers

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 28 2009 23:03
VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
I wa smore interested in knowing just what they do.

ok. in brighton we're mostly trying to organise around the developing crisis and the various ways it affects us (unemployment, lay offs, housing) - at present this is mostly propaganda activity, helping organise a public meeting and the like, but we'd like to see a wider network/group form to co-ordinate various direct action activities. as i said, we're also getting involved in the national shop stewards network. we've also been involved in strike support activities, visiting picket lines and the like, and produced leaflets for demonstrations against the war in Gaza and the BNP.

i know the manchester local are involved in organising a similar crisis meeting (in co-operation with the AF and no borders), as well as being involved in the education workers network and organising with students. the two london groups are involved in things like the london coalition against poverty, campaign against immigration controls and the national shop stewards network. there's also active locals in various other cities/regions, but i'm not as up on their activities off the top of my head.

VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
I am currently in a lot of sul-searhcing in terms of tactics and organisation and I was drawn to SolFed, but some comrades made me sceptical when I heard calims that they're a bit iffy with recruitment, i.e. something about only letting solfed memebrs getting involved in front groups.

as martinh says we don't have front groups, we're very open about our involvement in other groups and do not see our role as to use them as fronts but to argue within them for anarcho-syndicalist goals and tactics. at present, you do have to join solfed to join an industrial network (we only have one - education workers), but this is up for discussion at the next conference. we generally have good relations with other groups, which seem to be improving further of late (with specific examples in brighton, london and manchester).

VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
I also question there tactics, so I desired some sort of open discussion about them.

that's certainly a discussion i'm interested in. what tactics do you question in particular?

Heathen_Soul
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Feb 28 2009 23:19

For me, Im not sure where I feel my energy is best placed. I want to be involved in 'alternative' community groups, as i want to be able empower people (me included) to take ownership of their lives and build solidarity with their community, but am unsure how I could use my ideas within the workplace. I work in an office that has no active unions that i am aware of and seemingly little interest.

Politically Im not sure what strand (for want of a better term) of anarchism i would sit in, but am happy exploring all ideas and possibilities if it means building a better future. The main reading i have done has been the crimethinc stuff, along with other bits and pieces along the way, so im trying to build a bigger knowledge base and some direction for action.

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 28 2009 23:38
Heathen_Soul wrote:
I work in an office that has no active unions that i am aware of and seemingly little interest.

same here. while i do my best to promote solidarity at work, discuss things with workmates and co-ordinate low-level resistance, things are very informal. consequently our strategy is based at more 'community' based class organising - particularly in brighton we're focussing on lay-offs and unemployment at the moment.

Heathen_Soul wrote:
Politically Im not sure what strand (for want of a better term) of anarchism i would sit in, but am happy exploring all ideas and possibilities if it means building a better future.

i think that's a sensible approach. while i see myself in the anarcho-syndicalist tradition, this is not to the exclusion of other traditions or new ideas. it's more a source of inspiration than a dogma to be upheld.

Heathen_Soul wrote:
The main reading i have done has been the crimethinc stuff, along with other bits and pieces along the way, so im trying to build a bigger knowledge base and some direction for action.

i'm now pretty critical of crimethinc, but i had those kind of politics for a while and their stuff remains some of the best produced propaganda out there (my doubts are over the political content). in practical terms if you're interested in class struggle politics, it's probably worth contacting whatever group's nearest you - particularly the AF and Solfed are pretty sound. it's also worth discussing stuff on here - i know it can seem quite intimidating with people throwing round encyclopedic knowledge of marx and the like, but i learned a lot from lurking then discussing on these boards before i got invloved in running them.

Heathen_Soul
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Feb 28 2009 23:50

Thanks for the words.

Im trying to get people discussing ideas in the work places, especially since the director of our area is a cock; it kind of helps backing up my ideas! smile

I do like the crimetinc material, its very well produced and attractive, although i can see why there are crits of it/them. Like i say im open to ideas and just want to get active and take control of my life a little more.

i think i felt useless after a few years on the edges of the SWP and then checking out anarchist meetings in Brighton which i found elitist, although looking back I was probably too immature to get involved.

Im getting in touch with Solfed and will see how i go from there, especially if i can chat to someone face to face, im not one for forums really.

ta.

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VisionOfTheFuture
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Mar 1 2009 00:14

Well i thought the idea of SolFed was for members to spread class conciousness in workplaces, creating mass meetings and solidarity across sectors etc, in attempts to build 'networks' that can develop into an fully fledged anarcho-syndicalist union.

This appealed to me because it means the union will be formed grass roots and people will naturally become involved, seeing the benefits and control they will have over it. But if you have to already be a solfed member to join a network, how would someone ge tinvolved who isnt politically aware? Seeing as to be in a network, they need to be solfed, but to be solfed they'd have to become interested through a network.

Also, to spread ideas and create networks you need members. Seeing as SolFed is not a union, its a political faction working to create one, how do you attract workers in the first place?

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 1 2009 07:19
VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
This appealed to me because it means the union will be formed grass roots and people will naturally become involved, seeing the benefits and control they will have over it. But if you have to already be a solfed member to join a network, how would someone ge tinvolved who isnt politically aware?

i basically agree. the Brighton pamphlet i linked to above argues that membership of a political organisation shouldn't be a prerequisite of network membership, and there will be a motion at our conference in may to that effect. i don't think networks should be apolitical though, they do need some political principles alongside their economic basis imho.

VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
Also, to spread ideas and create networks you need members. Seeing as SolFed is not a union, its a political faction working to create one, how do you attract workers in the first place?

again, in our pamphlet we argue that we need to recognise we're a minority organisation of politicised workers, and act accordingly. locally we're interested in members who share our politics, but we also take part in broader organisations/struggles to promote our ideas (solidarity, direct action, rank and file control...), and hope that we can win those arguments as we think our ideas are both the most consistent and most effective. in brighton at least we don't see solfed gradually recruiting itself into a mass organisation of workers, but being a minority group of politicised workers who can organise to make such mass organisations more likely, and for them to take anarcho-syndicalist forms (mandated recallable delegate councils, industrial/regional federation) when they do arise.

Heathen_Soul wrote:
I do like the crimetinc material, its very well produced and attractive, although i can see why there are crits of it/them. Like i say im open to ideas and just want to get active and take control of my life a little more.

i would highly recommend prole.info's Work. Community. Politics. War. - looks as good as crimethinc material and has great politics too.

Heathen_Soul wrote:
i think i felt useless after a few years on the edges of the SWP and then checking out anarchist meetings in Brighton which i found elitist, although looking back I was probably too immature to get involved.

Im getting in touch with Solfed and will see how i go from there, especially if i can chat to someone face to face, im not one for forums really.

ta.

brighton anarchism is a mixed bag to be honest. i'm sure some people from the south london group will be happy to meet you for a pint and a chat.

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Mar 1 2009 17:17

It still seems a bit iffy. I'd really like to join the group, they have some good ideas and a good history/international links which is appealing, and I'd like to be in an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist group I can get active in. However at the moment I'm not entirely sure with the approach of SolFed and how its better than say, the IWW. Not to create any sectarian divides but I'd just like to know what SolFed have got which makes them worth joining for a syndicalist class-conciouss person such as myself.

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 1 2009 17:43

it's a fair enough question to ask. I'd say the main difference between solfed and the wobblies is that solfed isn't trying to be a 'real union' but has a strategy of industrial networking. In fairness there's a tendency in the Wobblies to do this too (particularly amongst the AF members), but the second difference is that solfed networks aren't constitutionally apolitical and so are less restricted in their potential activities. As I say I think that requiring people to join solfed in order to join a network is an unneccesary barrier to their development, and our local will be one of those arguing this should be changed at conference in a couple of months. Your best bet is to grab a pint or two with your nearest solfed local and have this conversation with them to see if it's something you'd like to be involved in.

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Mar 1 2009 20:09

I might do this. Depending on urgency (i.e. depending on my working conditions, any developements in the labour movement, etc) I might do this by emailing someone in my local, or I might just leave it until october with the anarchist bookfair in London.

no1
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Mar 2 2009 01:41
VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
I am currently in a lot of sul-searhcing in terms of tactics and organisation and I was drawn to SolFed, but some comrades made me sceptical when I heard calims that they're a bit iffy with recruitment, i.e. something about only letting solfed memebrs getting involved in front groups. I also question there tactics, so I desired some sort of open discussion about them.

I know what you mean by soul-searching in terms of tactics and organisation, I felt like that for a long time. I don't think anyone has got a definitive answer, the world is just too complex and the best one can do is to make a good guess. I like Chomsky's attitude to this problem - just find a group of people who share your outlook, decide on what you want to do and how you want to do it, and push the tactics to their limits. Usually severe limitations will become apparent - which is not a bad thing, because you can learn a lot from that and develop your politics further. On the other hand, maybe there won't be limits and things will work out, which would be even better. I wasn't necessarily born an anarcho-syndicalist, but I thought SolFed was interesting, so I joined just a few months ago, and my experience has been extremely positive.

Regarding front groups, i.e. groups that appear independent but are in fact controlled by a particular organisation - that's a strategy used by the SWP and other trots, but not by SolFed. In 'democratic centralist' organisations like the SWP, their central committee decides what their current party line is, what issues they want to push to further their current strategy and then their various branches and front groups simply implement them. So the limits of what the front group can and can't do are drawn up by some party boss, although this will be invisible to unsuspecting front group members. I was involved in the anti-war movement, and when I realised that the front-group nature of much of the anti-war movement meant that the SWP leaderships interests (foremost keeping control over the movement, but also recruitment, paper sales, electoral positioning etc.) were more important than actually stopping the war, I felt used and really pissed off. Solfed functions very differently to 'democratic centralist' parties because it has a federal structure - locals take the initiative in deciding what they do, as long as their practices don't contradict SolFed decisions and the constitution. Participation in other groups/campaigns and the industrial networks is also very different - the aim isn't to control the group (or workplace) and subordinate its activity to SolFed, but the aim is to spread a-s politics and ideals like solidarity, which obviously requires being open about who you are.

VisionOfTheFuture wrote:
I'd like to be in an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist group I can get active in. However at the moment I'm not entirely sure with the approach of SolFed and how its better than say, the IWW. Not to create any sectarian divides but I'd just like to know what SolFed have got which makes them worth joining for a syndicalist class-conciouss person such as myself.

Well, if the IWW was active where I live and SolFed wasn't, then I would have joined the IWW. However they are explicitly a-political. What do you think of the SolFed industrial strategy? I like it because it is pretty down-to-earth. Also what do you think of our local's strategy pamphlet ?

Heathen_Soul wrote:
For me, Im not sure where I feel my energy is best placed. I want to be involved in 'alternative' community groups, as i want to be able empower people (me included) to take ownership of their lives and build solidarity with their community, but am unsure how I could use my ideas within the workplace. I work in an office that has no active unions that i am aware of and seemingly little interest.

I'm in a similar situation - most people aren't unionised, in fact those who are have more managerial positions. Nobody shares my politics, and things are pretty quiet at work in general, no big conflict, no big issues a lot of people are angry about. It's difficult to do much in such a situation, especially if there are no others who share your political outlook. But joining a local really helps, because it helps you develop your political ideas.