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What is the point of WMA?

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davethemagicweasel
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Joined: 14-11-05
May 9 2006 16:15
What is the point of WMA?

At the last meeting (and as I recall one before I left for Easter) we were talking about what exactly WMA is for, what its role is, how its organised and so forth. There has also been some talk (esp. related to the Warwick Anarchists) as to whether this is a West Midlands or a Birmingham group.

I don't mind the fact that we got sidetracked from discussing the issue by organising (however chaotically) the Ryton solidarity - because actually doing something makes a nice change to certain meetings - but I do still think that its something we need to discuss (hence this thread).

Basically, I'm not sure what WMA is supposed to be, and mores the point, I'm not sure practice matches up with theory. Is it intended as a venue for a wider meeting of the anarchist "movement" (such as it is) in Birmingham to come together and organise collectively?

That seems to be the intention, but in reality I think its more of a separate group within that divided movement. And its not just me saying this, a few people (who probably wouldn't mind if I named them, but I won't) have expressed the view that WMA is a talking shop that doesn't do anything and that many of those involved with it are sectarian (or riot porn watching lifestylists) and just spend the time talking to themselves and preaching to the converted - and thats why a number of people who would call themselves anarchists don't regard WMA as worth getting involved with.

And frankly, if I had to travel from Warwick/Coventry/Wolverhampton to come to WMA meetings then I rather suspect that I'd be less inclined to go to the effort when so little is achieved sometimes.

So, ummm... long story short, what is WMA?

Ghost_Of_Durruti
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May 10 2006 06:45

I dunno. I suppose the obvious answer is its whatever people make it.

'Cause I'm in a bit of a shit mood, I'll try and list a few positive things regarding WMA;

1. Growth. The number of people at meetings has shot up since since late last year when I joined. We were by far the biggest at the Mayday Trades Council thingy, and I reckon we've got to be one of the larger local groups in the country.

2. Move towards having some theory/discussion based meetings, not just business ones.

3. Revival of news-sheet in form of Black Star.

4. Actions. Ok we could have more, but I think comrades have been pretty good at supporting actions people have proposed.

Suggested improvements;

1. Assign new posts; treasurer, chair, minute-taker, secretary. I venture this is urgent, given some cmrds are jumping ship in the very near future.

2. New internal list to accomodate new members

3. Stalls - now the weather is nicer (fair weather anarchists of the world unite!)

4. Agendas at all meetings, and strict time limits for discussion, business.

5. Skill sharing - share the loads a bit more and allow for more effective rotation.

Its all slightly off davethemagic's topic, but I thought I'd throw it in anyways. red n black star

davethemagicweasel
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May 10 2006 10:51
Ghost_Of_Durruti wrote:
I dunno. I suppose the obvious answer is its whatever people make it.

'Cause I'm in a bit of a shit mood, I'll try and list a few positive things regarding WMA;

1. Growth. The number of people at meetings has shot up since since late last year when I joined. We were by far the biggest at the Mayday Trades Council thingy, and I reckon we've got to be one of the larger local groups in the country.

2. Move towards having some theory/discussion based meetings, not just business ones.

3. Revival of news-sheet in form of Black Star.

4. Actions. Ok we could have more, but I think comrades have been pretty good at supporting actions people have proposed.

Yeah, sorry, re-reading that it does come across as more negative than I meant it to be. I do think that we're moving in the right direction, but since we seemed to get distracted whenever we tried discussing this stuff at the meetings I thought I'd bring it up on here. And I think its better if people are aware of the view of WMA held by quite a few people outside it.

Ghost_Of_Durruti wrote:
Suggested improvements;

1. Assign new posts; treasurer, chair, minute-taker, secretary. I venture this is urgent, given some cmrds are jumping ship in the very near future.

2. New internal list to accomodate new members

3. Stalls - now the weather is nicer (fair weather anarchists of the world unite!)

4. Agendas at all meetings, and strict time limits for discussion, business.

5. Skill sharing - share the loads a bit more and allow for more effective rotation.

Its all slightly off davethemagic's topic, but I thought I'd throw it in anyways. red n black star

I think I'd agree with most of that. Is Vaneigeappreciationclub actually still the secretary or not though? Cos I'm not sure where we stand on that, but sorting the secretary out seems like a good place to start.

I definitely think an email list is a good idea - and we make a decision about what should be posted on here/indymedia and what should be kept a bit more private at the same time. WTY was going to email me the details about the existing email list but I haven't heard anything yet...?

And the skill sharing is a good plan - pagemaker and flag-making being the obvious places to start.

So for the next agenda I think we need to include:

1. mandated positions (what positions we have, who's in them and how long for)

2. Email list details given to all to sign up for

3. What skills do people have? When can they be shared? (Particularly relevant in the case of those people soon to leave)

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Spartacus
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May 10 2006 12:00

yeah, i think we do need to get the actual organisational structure of wma sorted, it just kind of brushed over at the last meeting. a few months ago we had decided on having a paid membership, but then at the next meeting which i missed apparently this decision was reversed. why? i think we need to have a very clear definition of what it is to be a member, not just a vague sense of anyone who's come to a meeting. at the last meeting we said we'd have membership list, and apparently already have one, but this is presumably just a contact list. it doesn't have to be paid if people are really so against paying say the price of a pint each month, but it does need to be clear. doesn't mean trusted non-members shouldn't come to meetings and take part, but i don't think they should be able to make decisions/vote if they're not willing (or unable) to make the (fairly small) commitment to the group.

i think if people are members they should make an effort to come to meetings or let the secretary know if they can't. this isn't to be arsey, but you can't have a anarchist organisation without clear decision making procedures, and at the moment we don't, decisions are made by whoever turns up to meetings and talks the most. the decision making procedure i would suggest is: item proposed to agenda -> that at least half the members be present at the meeting and absent members let their views be known on subject via secretary (if it is a contraversial subject then i think 75% of members should be present) -> item discussed (with strong chairing to make sure everyone who wants a say gets one, not just the usual suspects which it can occassionally be) -> vote taken -> majority wins and decision is made. and stays made unless the whole process is gone through again, otherwise we get a situation as above where decisions get made then go back and no one knows what the hell is going on...

the point of wma: a think it should be an organising network for class struggle anarchists to share experiences and coordinate their work in their everyday life, as the main focus. doing stalls and the occassional "action" is fine as secondary activity, but i think by and large that is mainly useful in getting more people who already more or less share our ideas to get involved and develop them, we won't bring the revolution nearer by doing any of that. i'm not really interested in forging some sort of "movement" out of the few activists in and around birmingham, if they want to get involved, fine, that's great, and if not they can do their own thing i don't care. but i'm not in favour of "doing something" for the sake of it or creating some scene centred around substitutionist action isolated from everyday life and the working class, that's not anarchism.

as for local groups, i think that hopefully as wma grows, more of these will pop up as there are more people in one locality and they can be autonomous from wma. birmingham is good for people without anyone else in their area, that's the only reason it's chosen as the venue. it would be good to have a meeting every month or two with a delegate from local groups to let each other know what's happening, maybe coordinate stuff and so on, but until there's more than one i don't see any point in forcing it. ideally eventually it should have a proper federated structure, but there's just two groups at the moment, warwick and wma, we should just let it grow organically. rebel lion continues to come to wma meetings and lets us know what warwick are doing, and presumably let's them know what we're doing, maybe they could pool their resources and properly mandate a delegate but that's up to them. i don't expect them to come to birmingham, and think it's a positive thing that for the moment they're entirely seperate.

not wanting to take it seriously or anything, but what's with this accusation of lifestylism? who watches riot porn in the group anymore? i know i've got a fair few but haven't watched any for about 2 years, and i thought i was the only riotporn afficionado of the group. we've also managed to keep lifestylism out of the group so far i think, if people are into animal rights/veganism or whatever they keep it seperate from the group. so i think that's bollocks to be honest.

but yeah, otherwise i agree about positions and skillsharing. maybe if this discussion carries on a bit it should be distributed to members who don't post here before we have the discussion in real life so we can avoid repition without leaving people out.

davethemagicweasel
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May 10 2006 15:53
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
yeah, i think we do need to get the actual organisational structure of wma sorted, it just kind of brushed over at the last meeting. a few months ago we had decided on having a paid membership, but then at the next meeting which i missed apparently this decision was reversed. why? i think we need to have a very clear definition of what it is to be a member, not just a vague sense of anyone who's come to a meeting. at the last meeting we said we'd have membership list, and apparently already have one, but this is presumably just a contact list. it doesn't have to be paid if people are really so against paying say the price of a pint each month, but it does need to be clear. doesn't mean trusted non-members shouldn't come to meetings and take part, but i don't think they should be able to make decisions/vote if they're not willing (or unable) to make the (fairly small) commitment to the group.

I don't think the decision was really reversed. If its the meeting I remember being at then all it was was one or two comments about whether or not we really needed the money and some people not being too keen on the idea, not really an officially voted on decision or anything. But thats still a perfect illustration of the issue - we don't actually know when a decision has been taken or when its been reversed.

I would be fine with membership myself, even if we just have it as a token amount each month I think the balance could mount up pretty quickly.

GenerationTerrorist wrote:
i think if people are members they should make an effort to come to meetings or let the secretary know if they can't. this isn't to be arsey, but you can't have a anarchist organisation without clear decision making procedures, and at the moment we don't, decisions are made by whoever turns up to meetings and talks the most. the decision making procedure i would suggest is: item proposed to agenda -> that at least half the members be present at the meeting and absent members let their views be known on subject via secretary (if it is a contraversial subject then i think 75% of members should be present) -> item discussed (with strong chairing to make sure everyone who wants a say gets one, not just the usual suspects which it can occassionally be) -> vote taken -> majority wins and decision is made. and stays made unless the whole process is gone through again, otherwise we get a situation as above where decisions get made then go back and no one knows what the hell is going on...

Well, if we knew who the secretary was we could tell them when we can't come to the meetings. I also think thats another reason to get an email list up and running in a meaningful sense so that more of us can then discuss things in-between meetings and hopefully make the actual meetings run a bit more smoothly.

Obviously it would be better if we mandated a group to come up with some proposals at a meeting, but how about a few of the libcommers in the group draw up a few ideas about the organization in this here thread and then present it as a proposal at the next meeting? I'd be happy to type it up and print off a copy for everyone to hand out at the next meeting - that way we would have a basis upon which to discuss and for people to suggest changes to.

I think we should probably aim for 100% agreement on the initial decision making procedure (i.e. if you turn up and are willing to put your name on the proper members list then you get veto - and I think its a small enough group for consensus to be possible on one issue). Then as part of that we agree on what proportion is needed to alter that at a later date.

I think the basics you've got there are fine - but how do we define what is and is not a 'controversial' issue? And if people express their opinions on issues prior to a meeting they can't attend can they mandate a comrade to vote for them by proxy?

GenerationTerrorist wrote:
the point of wma: a think it should be an organising network for class struggle anarchists to share experiences and coordinate their work in their everyday life, as the main focus. doing stalls and the occassional "action" is fine as secondary activity, but i think by and large that is mainly useful in getting more people who already more or less share our ideas to get involved and develop them, we won't bring the revolution nearer by doing any of that. i'm not really interested in forging some sort of "movement" out of the few activists in and around birmingham, if they want to get involved, fine, that's great, and if not they can do their own thing i don't care. but i'm not in favour of "doing something" for the sake of it or creating some scene centred around substitutionist action isolated from everyday life and the working class, that's not anarchism.

I'd pretty much agree with that - but I do think that the slightly blurred nature between whether its a discussion group or an "action" group is an issue. When the idea of discussion meetings was first brought up the idea was to have a clearer split between what is a discussion meeting and what is a business meeting. The last one where the business of the Ryton demo distracted us from the discussion maybe shows that we should properly split things up into completely separate meetings. That is, unless we start becoming more efficient, sticking to an agenda and having working groups come up with proposals in advance of a meeting.

GenerationTerrorist wrote:
as for local groups, i think that hopefully as wma grows, more of these will pop up as there are more people in one locality and they can be autonomous from wma. birmingham is good for people without anyone else in their area, that's the only reason it's chosen as the venue. it would be good to have a meeting every month or two with a delegate from local groups to let each other know what's happening, maybe coordinate stuff and so on, but until there's more than one i don't see any point in forcing it. ideally eventually it should have a proper federated structure, but there's just two groups at the moment, warwick and wma, we should just let it grow organically. rebel lion continues to come to wma meetings and lets us know what warwick are doing, and presumably let's them know what we're doing, maybe they could pool their resources and properly mandate a delegate but that's up to them. i don't expect them to come to birmingham, and think it's a positive thing that for the moment they're entirely seperate.

Yeah, the Birmingham or West Midlands thing is a secondary issue. I think we probably need to meet the rest of the Warwick lot (and vice versa) long before we can even start considering some sort of federated structure. If any kind of demo happens in Coventry for Ryton then that could be a good chance to do something together, and if we keep cooperating when were able to the wider relationships will start forming on their own.

Is it worth us having regular updates on Solfed, Food Not Bombs, No Borders, Trades Council, and all the other stuff people are involved in at the WMA meetings? Or would that just take up a lot of time for little real benefit?

Maybe if we just have updates as and when there's something to say.

Also, does anyone know what the 'Northampton Socialist Forum' that appeared on the boards is?

GenerationTerrorist wrote:
not wanting to take it seriously or anything, but what's with this accusation of lifestylism? who watches riot porn in the group anymore? i know i've got a fair few but haven't watched any for about 2 years, and i thought i was the only riotporn afficionado of the group. we've also managed to keep lifestylism out of the group so far i think, if people are into animal rights/veganism or whatever they keep it seperate from the group. so i think that's bollocks to be honest.

Well, I only heard the lifestylist comment mentioned once and I don't think its fair (maybe its just now out of date, I don't know). But I think it was meant more in the sense of wma being all talk and no trousers, which is the main point that people have made. I was just listing every comment that has been made to be thorough - besides, if there's one surefire way to get anarchists debating something its by throwing in the dreaded L word grin

GenerationTerrorist wrote:
but yeah, otherwise i agree about positions and skillsharing. maybe if this discussion carries on a bit it should be distributed to members who don't post here before we have the discussion in real life so we can avoid repition without leaving people out.

Good point - could someone who has a list of people's emails maybe send a message round alerting them to the existence of this thread so we can get more people involved.

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Spartacus
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May 10 2006 18:14
davethemagicweasel wrote:
I would be fine with membership myself, even if we just have it as a token amount each month I think the balance could mount up pretty quickly.

even if we don't have a membership fee, it just needs to be some mechanism for joining as opposed to just coming to meetings cos you're interested.

davethemagicweasel wrote:
Well, if we knew who the secretary was we could tell them when we can't come to the meetings.

yeah, all this stuff is tied up together, but as the need to get posts like secretary filled was already covered above i didn't go into it.

davethemagicweasel wrote:
I think the basics you've got there are fine - but how do we define what is and is not a 'controversial' issue? And if people express their opinions on issues prior to a meeting they can't attend can they mandate a comrade to vote for them by proxy?

by a controversial issue i meant one that when the secretary phones round to people unable to attend a meeting, there's a great difference of feeling, e.g. i doubt anyone would feel strongly about setting a deadline for black star submissions, but if there was a proposal to have support for animal rights as part of the aims and principles of the group, i'd bloody well hope people would have very strong feelings about it! and yeah, i think people should be able to mandate someone else e.g. the secretary, as long as it's properly minuted so if for some reason what get's voted for in their name isn't what the wanted it can be nullified.

davethemagicweasel wrote:
I'd pretty much agree with that - but I do think that the slightly blurred nature between whether its a discussion group or an "action" group is an issue.

i think it should be an "ideas" group: discussing and improving our own ideas, and spreading them via stalls etc. i don't think we as a group should be involved in any "action" beyond informing people, e.g. the stalls and leafletting like for ryton and anti-recruiting. anything more than that should not really be what "wma" does, that's for individual members. but yeah, i agree strict chairing and maintaining a seperation between the discussion and action is important. this should be added to the decision making process really: strict time limits on discussion of one topic in business meetings, anything which is generating too much discussion either gets stopped (if trivial), pushed to the end of the meeting or made the topic for the next discussion meeting. i know seperating theory and practice isn't ideal but this is probably the best compromise.

davethemagicweasel wrote:
Is it worth us having regular updates on Solfed, Food Not Bombs, No Borders, Trades Council, and all the other stuff people are involved in at the WMA meetings? Or would that just take up a lot of time for little real benefit?

i think it would be good to have space at the end of meetings for a report back from other groups, just for anyone else interested and that. if we tighten up the meetings then there should be room for it. some of us were also discussing after last meeting setting up a kind of union/workplace working group for those organising/interested in organising in the workplace to share experiences etc. maybe this could be part of the discussion meetings though, have the main topic, then some time for workplace organising chat and time for kind of community organising chat (making it clear of course that school/college/uni counts as workplace too...). or would this make things needlessly complicated? on the plus side everyone gets to hear whereas seperating off into groups makes things isolated and as if workplace stuff doesn't concern others, on the negative side sadly not everyone is thrilled about workplace organising, or may be intimidated by larger meetings or whatever... dunno, what do others reckon?

davethemagicweasel wrote:
Also, does anyone know what the 'Northampton Socialist Forum' that appeared on the boards is?

they're a group in northampton (unsurprisingly) that northampton solfed are heavily involved with, kind of like wma in some ways i guess, from what i know anyway.

davethemagicweasel wrote:
besides, if there's one surefire way to get anarchists debating something its by throwing in the dreaded L word grin

i don't think it's very useful though, just makes people defensive. particularly as the only time i've really heard it used around birmingham was to mean something which i consider to be the complete opposite of lifestylism (it was used at people for shopping at tescos, cos apparently real anarchists only support the petty bourgeois small shopkeepers...). also i was way more activisty when i did watch riotporn and think veganism was more than matter of individual choice. but yeah, i got it was just listing things people had been saying. worth remembering though that people have been saying stuff like that since wma started four years ago, and none of them have ever bothered to get involved to change it to what they claim to want, even when there were only about three of us, so i don't take that stuff very seriously.

let's keep this going and come up with a proposal for the groups perusal at the next meeting then, good stuff so far.

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Lab Rat
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May 10 2006 20:55

wow, interesting discussion here.....im wondering what exactly the benefit would be of having paid memberships? dont get me wrong, ive got no problem with it, im just not sure how that would change the situation from what it is now. i also think it would help if we had meetings in some place other than a busy pub, bound to get derailed there. but as we have already said there isnt much choice in brum

there was also the whole issue with the name wma, and who it should include, i reckon we should go over that again. i would also like to formally apologize for not showing the last couple of times, theres not only been family issues, but ive been working like fucking crazy on my final exhibition. i feel bad about not being involved as much as i should be, but i have extremely little time on my hands right now. anyhow, im fairly dertain to be at the ryton demo, so see you guys there!

WeTheYouth
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May 10 2006 21:21

First of all, i want to say. WMA is not a talking shop, and those who slander us with that need to look at what we actually do in the wider movement, week in week out. As for the people who call us lifestylists need to look at little closer to home, not to be sectarian but they can fuck off, WMA is the only credible anarchist group until you reach northhampton.

Quote:
That seems to be the intention, but in reality I think its more of a separate group within that divided movement. And its not just me saying this, a few people (who probably wouldn't mind if I named them, but I won't) have expressed the view that WMA is a talking shop that doesn't do anything and that many of those involved with it are sectarian (or riot porn watching lifestylists) and just spend the time talking to themselves and preaching to the converted - and thats why a number of people who would call themselves anarchists don't regard WMA as worth getting involved with.

We always make offers of solidarity to all anarchists groups in birmingham and the midlands, and we have tried to be inclusive as possible to the rest of the anarchists round and about.

We are not sectarian, the next black star will show how open we are to the wider movement not just work place struggles, but community and green issues, WMA has anarcho synidicalists, anarcho communists, green anarchists, animal rights activists and every other shade other anarchist you could think of.

I think those who say we just talk to each other need to realise that every big strike which has been called in the last six months we have supported and shown solidarity, we were the biggest contigent at the mayday celebrations, we have upto 20 people at our meetings, we are involved in anti fascist activities, we are involved in trade unionism and workplace struggles, we support food not bombs and everything else that individuals get upto, so just because we are not doing what they consider as actions does not mean we are a talking shop, it just means we dont do mindless activism for activism sake.

...ahh well thats my rant...

Well as for what is WMA, i think we should look at what it has been recently it has been a group which is actively engaged in the workers struggle and has actively played a role in struggles such as the AUT/NATFHE striike which we supported. We will need to discuss this at a meeting because only a minority of members post on here.

vaneigemappreciationclub has not been the secretary for two months, we have not mandated one since the mandate finished. We will need to discuss the inner workings of WMA because the majority of all internal work is done by a couple of people.

I am sorting out the iternal list in the next two days so that will be up and running.

Quote:
i feel bad about not being involved as much as i should be, but i have extremely little time on my hands right now. anyhow, im fairly dertain to be at the ryton demo, so see you guys there!

Dont be, everyone has been busy and under pressure eitehr at uni or at home recently.

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Spartacus
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May 10 2006 21:51
WeTheYouth wrote:
We are not sectarian, the next black star will show how open we are to the wider movement not just work place struggles, but community and green issues, WMA has anarcho synidicalists, anarcho communists, green anarchists, animal rights activists and every other shade other anarchist you could think of.

i bloody hope not! unless you are calling any anarchist concerned with the environment a green anarchist, but generally that label is for the misanthropic filth that is anarcho-primitivism, and that should not be part of wma (and as far as i know isn't) or even associated with anarchism. that's not being sectarian, it's just anarcho-primitivism has as much in common with class struggle anarchism as national socialism does, if not less.

and as far as animal rights stuff is concerned, then i think that should stay out of wma as an issue. i'll reserve judgement on this forthcoming article in black star on vivesection, but i'm not too happy about it going in, because i think apart from anything else black star should be a NEWSletter, not a theoretical journal, and also think that articles that the group does not all agree on should not go in it because it represents the groups views as a whole, not the spectrum that individuals hold within it. i mean, i'm not going to submit an article on black metal or buffy the vampire slayer, and if i did i would hope it would be rejected. i think we should maybe have some basic aims and principles to limit group activities and publications to class struggle anarchism.

otherwise i agree with the rest of your post.

Lab Rat wrote:
wow, interesting discussion here.....im wondering what exactly the benefit would be of having paid memberships? dont get me wrong, ive got no problem with it, im just not sure how that would change the situation from what it is now. i also think it would help if we had meetings in some place other than a busy pub, bound to get derailed there. but as we have already said there isnt much choice in brum

one thing is it gives the group a small amount of financial security so we can do stuff like book meeting rooms in advance, order stuff for stalls, do photocopying etc. without having to necessarily rely on people feeling generous at the time, or the developing of hierarchy of who is able to put money forward to do it etc. (less of aproblem now, but it's best to avoid these problems in the future).

and secondly with paid membership you know exactly who is a member and who isn't: if someone stops paying dues (without giving a reason obviously, we wouldn't exclude those who can't afford it cos they're going through a bad patch or whatever) then they're no longer a member and can't vote until they rejoin. that doesn't necessarily have to be by paying of course, we could have a system that every two months or when the secretary changes or whatever, everyone is asked to confirm that they still want to be a member and can make the minimum commitments necessary. its to maintain the internal democracy, as otherwise as we've seen people who are barely involved can vote on stuff that then doesn't really effect them and people heavily involved who happen to miss a meeting can find stuff decided they think goes totally against their ideas without a say.

Lab Rat wrote:
there was also the whole issue with the name wma, and who it should include, i reckon we should go over that again.

well the "anarchists" part should be class struggle anarchists i think (hence need for aims and principles type thing), and west midlands should mean it's for anyone in the west midlands that doesn't have a group more conveniently located than wma. anything else like a federal structure will come further down the line and we don't really need to worry about it apart from encouraging any members who all live nearish each other to start local group if they want. or is that not what you meant?

Lab Rat wrote:
i would also like to formally apologize for not showing the last couple of times, theres not only been family issues, but ive been working like fucking crazy on my final exhibition. i feel bad about not being involved as much as i should be, but i have extremely little time on my hands right now. anyhow, im fairly dertain to be at the ryton demo, so see you guys there!

that's fine mate, this isn't the cnt so personal stuff comes before wma shit wink but this again highlights why we need a proper membership and decision making structure, so that when people can't make meetings they don't get left out of loop (unless they want to be).

WeTheYouth
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May 10 2006 22:00
Quote:
as far as animal rights stuff is concerned, then i think that should stay out of wma as an issue. i'll reserve judgement on this forthcoming article in black star on vivesection, but i'm not too happy about it going in, because i think apart from anything else black star should be a NEWSletter, not a theoretical journal, and also think that articles that the group does not all agree on should not go in it because it represents the groups views as a whole, not the spectrum that individuals hold within it.

It is an article on vivisection and Vioxx, it is not a theoretical piece it is an up to date issue. And why should it not go in Black Star? WMA is not a wholly anarcho syndicalist group, we have that in the form of Brum SF. WMA is full of different anarchists, and if Black Star is our voice then that voice should represent the diversity of WMA, and we should be prepared to have the discussion with different factions and ideologies in WMA.

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Spartacus
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May 10 2006 22:09

wma should be a class struggle anarchist group. i've got nothing against there being platformists and other non-anarcho-syndicalists in it, and i have nothing against members being involved in stuff which falls outside of class struggle anarchism (well, apart from obviously dodgy stuff like nazism or blowing up doctors giving abortions etc.), but it should be kept seperate from wma. and i think black star, as it is small with limited space should be kept to matter-of-fact articles, preferably about the working class fighting back locally through whatever means, apart from a subtle bias against capital and the occassional statement of what anarchism is, i don't think it should really reflect any ideological standpoint.

as i said, i'll reserve judgement on the article until i read it, but if it is slanted to the position of "vivisection is bad" and there is no declaration that it is the view of one member and one member alone, not the whole group, then i will be unhappy if similar stuff goes in in the future. similarly i will not be submitting any articles along the lines of "alf nutters dig up granny, the misanthropic sick fucks" because it is of no significance to what i think black star should be reporting.

WeTheYouth
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May 10 2006 22:15
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
wma should be a class struggle anarchist group. i've got nothing against there being platformists and other non-anarcho-syndicalists in it, and i have nothing against members being involved in stuff which falls outside of class struggle anarchism (well, apart from obviously dodgy stuff like nazism or blowing up doctors giving abortions etc.), but it should be kept seperate from wma. and i think black star, as it is small with limited space should be kept to matter-of-fact articles, preferably about the working class fighting back locally through whatever means, apart from a subtle bias against capital and the occassional statement of what anarchism is, i don't think it should really reflect any ideological standpoint.

as i said, i'll reserve judgement on the article until i read it, but if it is slanted to the position of "vivisection is bad" and there is no declaration that it is the view of one member and one member alone, not the whole group, then i will be unhappy if similar stuff goes in in the future. similarly i will not be submitting any articles along the lines of "alf nutters dig up granny, the misanthropic sick fucks" because it is of no significance to what i think black star should be reporting.

I agree, but we still need to look at the diversity of wma as a whole, and we will have this discussion on wma next meeting with everyone else. I

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Spartacus
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May 10 2006 22:25

well this is all preliminary discussion for that, and we should get as much done on here as possible, although obviously we can't come to a decision we can draw up a proposal. especially as some people, or me at least, are not as coherent in expressing themselves face to face and have a tendency to mumble and not be heard, so if this gets printed of and read by people before discussion then it'll help.

as i said, i think we should have a set of aims and principles, and then anything produced in the name of the group should fall within them, it's a simple matter of accountability. maybe these theoretical discussions will get so good we'll want to produce a theoretical zine or something, then individual opinions can be discussed in that because it's a different format, but for stuff that is meant to represent the view of the group as a whole it should be representing the views we hold in common, not the vast spectrum of what we don't agree on.

WeTheYouth
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May 10 2006 22:28
Quote:
it should be representing the views we hold in common, not the vast spectrum of what we don't agree on.

Im sure we all share in common a disgust of vivisection.

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Spartacus
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May 10 2006 22:31

well clearly we don't, because i think if it is the only way of finding cure to diseases or making sure drugs are safe for humans then it should used, although obviously i recognise it's limitations when we have capitalism, but that applies for everything. it may disgust me sure, but so does the idea of cleaning sewers, doesn't mean i'm politically opposed to cleaning sewers. hence the need for a set of aims and principles.

btw, did you get my txt?

davethemagicweasel
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May 11 2006 00:23

Nice to see the debate has got going so well. However, can we maybe postpone debate about the vivisection article until we've actually seen it and the author can put their viewpoint forward at the next meeting. Because I think its in danger of derailing a useful thread.

Just to sum up how I'm reading it then, the organizational structure that were talking about is something along the lines of:

1. Creation of official WMA membership. This may or may not involve a subscription, although personally I think it would be a good idea because precisely as GT states it will mean we have a clear way of knowing who is and is not a member at any given time. That way we know how many is the magic number needed for a binding decision.

2. Mandated positions for a Secretary (who arranges meetings, takes and distributes minutes, etc) and a Treasurer (money). We also need a chair, but whether thats a mandated position or a rotating thing (possibly with priority to new members and interested observers) isn't clear. We also need to define the length of time for which someone serves in any position, and then get ourselves sorted replacing them at the end of that.

3. Binding decisions can be made when at least 50% of members are in attendance and at least 51% vote in favour. The same conditions apply for reversing or changing decisions once made. The Chair calls a vote, and the Secretary minutes the decision (obviously). Possibly a more stringent threshold for 'contentious' decisions, though at this point we have no mechanism for determining what is and is not contentious (maybe a certain proportion of people need to back a proposal that they regard a certain thing as contentious in order for it to be classified as such?)

4. Absent members are asked to inform the Secretary in advance if they will not be able to make it to a meeting, and they can mandate someone else to vote on their behalf on certain issues if they so wish. Votes cast in this way should be specifically recorded in the minutes and absent members retain the right to nullify the votes of their proxies (maybe a time limit on that - the next meeting they're at they need to say so if they want to change the vote?). If the nullification of a proxy vote means a previosuly passed decision now fails then it is automatically on the next meetings agenda.

Anyone take issue with any of that?

So a couple more points worth considering:

- do non-members who wish to attend have any voting rights?

- Can they put forward proposals?

I'd say no to the first one but yes to the second one (so someone from another group can come and put a proposal to WMA in person if they so wish).

- how long must someone be inactive before they cease to be a member?

If we have a paid membership then however often that is would be the obvious amount. And I think the Secretary should be responsible for contacting them before they are removed from the list (i.e. they have to actually get it confirmed from them).

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Spartacus
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May 11 2006 12:24

i've got no major problems with that, just some small additions:

1) i would suggest £2 every month. this is less than the price of a pint in most places, so most should be able to afford that. this should then be enough for us to pay for a meeting room if/when we find one, cover secretary's costs (printing, phoning etc.) and any left over be used for stuff like black star. this can be raised later if necessary. if this proves contentious in the meeting we can take a vote on whether to have it paid or not, but i don't see what the problem with this would be.

2) it might be possible to have two secretaries: an internal (arranging meetings, keeping track of membership, internal list etc.) and external (getting back to people interested, dealing with email, the website, moderating this forums - we could do with creating a group account to do this). one person could hold both positions, but if they feel they can't then i don't see why the two can't be seperate, it does involve a fair amount of work. the only grey area is people who have got in touch and met us but have not yet joined, but i think that should be the job of the internal secretary then. i reckon a two month mandate is reasonable, and one person can't hold the same position more than two consecutive times.

3) maybe the deffinition of contentious issue could be that if there are less than 75% of members present and the absent members have declared themselves against what is voted at the meeting. then the proposal needs to be postponed to a later meeting with more people so that it can be discussed face to face. or is this too complex?

4) the time limit sounds fine to me.

i agree with you about non-members voting rights. they can contribute to discussion, make proposals etc. but if they can't commit to the group then they can't vote because they're not accountable. simple.

also agree about losing membership: if they don't pay when asked by the secretary (unless they give a reason, like being skint) then they're no longer a member. if the secretary is unable to contact them for a month after they should have paid or explained why not, they should get automatically removed, they can always join again when the get back in contact. obviously allowances can be made for special circumstances, like going on holiday or whatever.

on chairing: i think ideally it should be rotated, with preference for new members/people who haven't chaired yet, because it will avoid an posibility of internal hierarchies of who gets allowed to speak and hopefully will increase new people's involvement and confidence in taking part. on the other hand, given how chaotic meetings have been and the little order there has been often being due to the current chair, maybe for the first few meetings of having this structure they should stay in place until we get used to having decent meetings.

maybe we should also draw up a kind of template meeting structure: how long we wait for people who said they were coming, how long we discuss items before either taking a vote of pushing the item to the end for more discussion, how do we make sure everyone gets a chance to have their say, etc. might seem a bit anal, but meetings have been such shambles i think it would be worth it.

although the vivisection arguement is something to be kept seperate, it does highlight the need for us to have some aims and principles. not as stringent as the af (cos otherwise we'd all join the af) but just some basic statement of what the group does. we started that at the beginning of the thread, but then got busy with the structure which is important, but a lot easier to agree on. so any suggestions as to what these could be? this is an important part of the structure as well because it then ties into the accountability of material the group produces.

as i think i've made pretty clear i think the principles should be along the lines of class struggle, human centred anarchism. these aren't what members have to hold exclusively, but they should be something we all agree on and that is the focus of the group, beliefs outside of it should be kept outside the (public) workings of the group. let's come up with these first, then we can move on to the general practical purpose of the group (discussion vs action or whatever).

WeTheYouth
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May 11 2006 16:19
Quote:
well clearly we don't, because i think if it is the only way of finding cure to diseases or making sure drugs are safe for humans then it should used, although obviously i recognise it's limitations when we have capitalism, but that applies for everything. it may disgust me sure, but so does the idea of cleaning sewers, doesn't mean i'm politically opposed to cleaning sewers. hence the need for a set of aims and principles.

btw, did you get my txt?

Its not the only way to test drugs though is it. I did get your text but ive got no credit so ill pm you my answer.

I agree mostly with the proposals set out,

Quote:
2) it might be possible to have two secretaries: an internal (arranging meetings, keeping track of membership, internal list etc.) and external (getting back to people interested, dealing with email, the website, moderating this forums - we could do with creating a group account to do this). one person could hold both positions, but if they feel they can't then i don't see why the two can't be seperate, it does involve a fair amount of work.

That is a brilliant idea, it also will addrss the problem of how democratic is it to give one person that much control over internal affairs.

davethemagicweasel
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May 12 2006 01:07

The two secretaries sounds like a great idea. And if we have their terms overlapping (i.e. one job switches once a month) then that will give us a bit of redundancy in the system in the event that one position goes unfilled for any length of time. By a 'group account' I take it you mean a separate WMA libcom account that would be the moderator?

If someone can't pay on a particular month for any reason then we could just have it as the group votes on whether or not to grant them a waiver on it.

I'd be happy with us having some reasonably flexible aims & principles. But I think we should do the organization stuff first and just propose the a&ps at the next meeting.

I think the definition of a contentious issue is still a bit too messy though. I think changes to decision-making procedures and a&ps (once they're decided) would automatically require the higher threshold, but other things can easily be contentious as well, so we need some way of people flagging up things they take serious issue with.

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May 12 2006 10:19

yeah, a group account would be a collective account that would moderate, at the moment i think the moderators of this forum are me and wetheyouth, and we're both leaving!

i think if someone can't pay and informs the secretary that they can't but still want to be a member there's no need to have a vote, that's fair enough. if the can't pay say 3 times running then maybe it should be put to the group. the paying isn't the most important bit, it's the confirmation that people want to stay members.

next meeting is a discussion about involvement in the workplace/trade unions etc. so this will mainly be for the meeting after that. i see no reason not to have the structure we draw up here as one proposal, some a&ps we draw up as the second, then other stuff. because they're interrealted: part of the structure should be that any material produced by in the name of wma should not contravene the a&ps and be approved by the group.

yeah, changing structure and a&ps should automatically require a higher threshold. but i'm not sure about this procedure of proposing that something is contraversial. i imagine most stuff that is contraversial would be stuff that would go into affect pretty fast, so if you can't make it doing all that would take time. maybe i'm misunderstanding what you mean though. i suppose if someone feels very strongly opposed to a proposal they can say they consider it contraversial, the threshold automatically gets raised to say 75%, and if the person saying so is absent then it gets moved to the next meeting they can come to (within reason) or we have a special meeting if it's an urgent matter. obviously we'd need to stress that this should only be used in extreme cases, like if someone thinks a proposal goes against the a&ps or whatever.

Ghost_Of_Durruti
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May 12 2006 13:50

On the paying of subs: I gotta say, I don't agree with fixing a set price. Why can't we all just throw some money on the table at the last meeting of the month (perhaps suggest 2 squid as a starting point)? Unless someone is seriously hard up, I don't think anyone will be so sneaky as to put 1p in, or not bother at all. The idea of ex-communicating (or its equivalent) someone who doesn't pay up after 1 or 2 or 3 meetings, strikes me as ridiculous. From each according to their means wink Surely its more important people come along to meetings whenever they reasonably can. Can't we have membership based on attendance and commitment rather than financial obligation? A suggestion was maybe have a list of members and a list of sympathisers. If someone doesn't come for a couple of months, transfer them to the sympathiser list. Seems more decent to me.

Also, I know we said next meeting was a discussion one, but there seems to be some pretty basic shit we gotta sort out and move on from, as shown by this thread. How do cmrds feel about bringing the blood-bath that will be the next business meeting forward?

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Spartacus
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May 12 2006 14:58

the advantage of a fixed amount as it allows a bit of planning in advance (just asking for donations when we don't know precisely what it's for isn't always that effective, whereas with a fixed sub we could suddenly find ourselves with enough money to put on an event or something), and also gives a date when people confirm their commitment, rather than it being wishywashy. as i think i said at the start though, it doesn't have to be paid, it could be donation as you said, but the main bit of having a regular confirmation of a commitment to the group is the important bit.

i've got no objections to bringing the business meeting forward, other than this discussion was what we were meant to have last time, and didn't, so people may feel we need a break before attempting it again. also, one of the few decisions we made last meeting was to have this next one as a discussion, seems a bit silly for the few of us posting here to change that. if we print off what's been said here for the next meeting, and if there's any time after what's scheduled to be discussed we can start it, then people can go away, think about it, and hopefully we can get it all sorted in one meeting. unless everyone disagrees obviously...