An interview with new British organization, Collective Action

An interview with new British organization, Collective Action

On 1 May 2012, a new anarchist communist organization called Collective Action was launched in the UK, together with the release of a statement (Where We Stand: Formation of a new Anarchist Communist project in the UK). In an attempt to clear up some points that were not clear from the statement or from the other documents published by the organization, Anarkismo.net has carried out this interview, in which the answers to our questions represent the jointly-held positions of Collective Action's members.

Can you elaborate on the circumstances that gave rise to Collective Action?

Over the last few years some Collective Action members had attempted to bring about political and organisational changes to the Anarchist Federation. These changes were not forthcoming and after a period of time they became increasingly frustrated at what was perceived to be a liberal cultural attitude dominating the organisation, as well as, ironically, a reluctance to change. At the same time we – as a group of anarchist communists – felt that it was necessary for the preservation of the anarchist communist tradition in modern Britain, for like-minded people to refocus their activity – primarily on understanding current class composition and how that best informs how we insert our ideas and tactics within our class. We describe this process as “Regroupment” and believed a separate association, independent from other organisations, was the best way to organise that process.

How do you see Collective Action with regard to the other national anarchist organisations in the UK – Solidarity Federation, Anarchist Federation and Liberty & Solidarity?

The Solidarity Federation is an anarcho-syndicalist union and as such has very little to do with our perspective. Collective Action should be looked upon as a current within the anarchist communist movement seeking Regroupment. In that respect, we are fundamentally divergent to the ideas and aims of a group like SolFed. Likewise, the Anarchist Federation is essentially a propaganda outlet that has a lackadaisical attitude towards organisation, which is in contrast to how we believe an anarchist communist group should operate. Also, as far as we can tell, AFed does not agree with our outlook that a process of Regroupment is necessary or even desirable. Liberty & Solidarity is a socialist-syndicalist group affiliated to the Anarkismo Statement. As an organisation of this type we do not perceive many areas of commonality between us. L&S members are active within housing campaigns and the UK section of the Industrial Workers of the World (where we also have militants). Like Collective Action, Liberty & Solidarity emerged as a project from dissatisfied Anarchist Federation members. However, we think both our analyses and proposals for alternatives are ultimately at odds. This is both in terms of our principle focus on Regroupment as well as our political disagreements regarding our analysis of the conservative character of the trade unions and their ideological orientation towards a socialist-syndicalist (as opposed to anarchist communist) position. They have also proposed various cosmetic changes to anarchist activism – such as abandoning the label "anarchist” – which we are strongly opposed to.

In your launch statement you provide a pretty damning analysis of the anti-austerity movement in the UK. Do you believe there are any grounds for hope in this respect?

There is always hope, but we shouldn’t let hope blind us into thinking that something can be successful just because we want it to be. There is a structural problem with the anti-austerity movement; this is obvious in the way that the TUC and Marxist Left have, as always, sought to create and to dominate power structures that have led and will always lead to stagnation. Intervention by anarchists in that respect has been negligible and there have been no meaningful alternatives presented to counter those worn-out Leftist strategies. There is also a more pervasive ideological problem that the anti-austerity movement faces, in that the nature of the struggles do not follow the necessary trend of building a counter-power capable of eventually creating communist reconstruction. What is meant by that is that we are not confident that existing struggles have the ability to be radically transformed into something that can meaningfully forward our objective of taking control of the means of production.

How do we resolve this particular problem? For us, we are not sure whether it is even worth attempting, since the actual struggles that the anti-austerity movement is involved in are struggles for a minority, a privileged section of the working class, whose conditions do not speak to the marginalised majority, who in recent months have actually demonstrated a willingness to build a counter power – look at the August riots. This was the beginning of a genuine expression of rage that, if armed with the right ideas, could have cemented an escalation of class conflict. Collective Action wants to investigate how we insert anarchist communist ideas and methods into these communities and connect the politics to the otherwise disconnected expressions of frustration and anger that exist towards capitalism and the State. As such, we are not sure how these parochial anti-austerity “groups” fit into that long-term objective.

In your launch statement you describe the principle objective of CA as "Regroupment", to revisit and rekindle your politics. Could you elaborate on what this means?

Regroupment essentially means sitting down together and working out what is going on and, in that context, what we want to achieve and how we aim to achieve it. It’s as simple as that. More broadly, we see Regroupment as the reorientation of revolutionaries to re-engage with anarchist communist ideas and history as well as engaging with new ideas and theory that is being published. This is why we are looking at Specifism and the Platformist tradition, as well as taking very seriously the ideas of the new autonomist Regroupment current Plan C, which has emerged in the UK, as well as the theoretical Sic Communisation Collective.

This collective education and engagement with contemporary ideas will help us develop our analysis and better inform our activity. We understand that some will consider this to be “navel gazing”; largely because of an anti-intellectual attitude that seems to exist in the anarchist movement, but also because there is this misconception that what anarchists have to be doing is “action”, irrespective of what it means or how it fits into a general strategy for victory. Ultimately, we say that if people feel the activity they are participating in is genuinely working towards building communist reconstruction, then that’s great. We recognise that in reality the current activity of the movement cannot achieve victory and therefore a refocus on our movement and how we operate is necessary, whether we like it or not. Having said that, we continue to be militants in our localities, involved in struggles that we consider appropriate and therefore our thinking and discussions are informed by our past and ongoing experiences.

As a self-identified "Specifist" group do you perceive any points of distinction in respect to the UK anarchist movement?

"Specifism" (or Especifismo) is a political current principally associated with the theory and organising practices of the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janiero (FARJ) and the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU). In the English-speaking world it is often considered simply a variant of anarchist Platformism, but as the FARJ argue, and we agree, the ideas are much broader and richer than this. Neither are these ideas just that of the FARJ and FAU, as they locate their ideas in the spirit of the organisationalist theories of Malatesta, Bakunin and Kropotkin (this is actually also true of the Platform but is rarely acknowledged). We think this notion of engaging in a more critical reappraisal of these original anarchist thinkers is valuable and allows us to bypass the more cultural articulations of anarchism that have become intermingled with anarchist practice in the latter half of the twentieth century. However, it needs to be clear that this process is not about re-affirming some form of ideological purity; we revisit these thinkers because of their role as organised revolutionaries whose ideas were earned through experience of social struggle. Our task in this sense is to identify the comparable contexts and lessons while also updating and modifying our approaches for the conditions and class composition under advanced capitalism. There has been a recent re-emergence in the English-speaking world of classical anarchist literature, e.g. Van Der Walt and Schmidt's Black Flame and McKay's volume on Proudhon, which has proved very useful in respect to this.

In terms of points of differentiation, specifism – as a form of praxis – has a strategic and programmatic focus that we see as lacking (or at least partially lacking) in other organisations. We see this as related to the prevalence of a spontaneist current in anarchism, quite distinct from the organisational theories of Bakunin and others.

Specifists argue that, foremost, anarchists need to understand their role as a revolutionary minority and how they relate to a wider and much more complex terrain of social struggle. We believe these questions are increasingly pressing in respect to the current economic and social climate and the clarity of the specifist approach is a useful tool to begin answering them.

We reject the, currently quite popular, idea that anarchist activity is simply about broadening and escalating resistance. Undoubtedly this is a component of building class confidence and solidarity, but as a strategy in itself it doesn't do justice to our ideas. The questions that revolutionaries should be putting to themselves now is not just how they can fight cuts and break the consensus on austerity but what part they can play (however small) in escalating social struggles (or playing their part in organising new ones) towards a consolidation of counter-power and process of communisation.

How do you conceive of anarchosyndicalism, given that you (critically) support it in some format, but clearly differ from Solidarity Federation?

Liberty & Solidarity's interest is in "independent" – as opposed to anarchist – syndicalism (which they endorse uncritically). For AFed it would be fair to say that both them and SolFed have a close working relationship and co-operate on many campaigns. There is also joint membership in some instances, although AFed are nothing like an organised faction within SolFed. It's only in recent years that SolFed have begun to operate as an organising union so in terms of both their and AFed's activity as propaganda groups they were often quite close. AFed make it clear in their literature that they do not support the organisation of mass, anarcho-syndicalist unions, seeing them as both impractical and open to co-option. Instead they talk of the need for informal workplace resistance groups. This concept, however, is often applied quite broadly and has been argued to include some aspects of anarcho-syndicalist strategy. We have criticised this on the basis that it lacks a clear and programmatic focus.

For us the issue is more about the context and how certain methodologies relate to both the existing class composition and the resources available to organisers. In this sense we recognise that some elements of anarcho-syndicalist strategy are almost universally applicable – being basic elements of organisational anarchism from the time of Bakunin – while also stressing the need for continual and critical investigation on the part of disciplined and organised anarchist communist militants.

Why do you describe yourself as an "association"? Is there any political significance to this term?

In very practical terms it denotes the scope of our project – a small number of comrades coming together for a specific purpose with shared goals. We felt it was important not to adopt the labels of "federation" or even "organisation" prematurely. These labels should be meaningful where they are applied.

The term "association" does, however, also have a deeper meaning within our tradition. Early Utopian socialists favoured the term "associationism" to characterise the voluntary yet still organised basis of free communism. Malatesta even went so far as to say the term should replace anarchism for anarchists.

How would you describe your orientation in respect to the Anarkismo project?

Anarkismo, and the Anarkismo groups, have been a strong influence on our theoretical development to this point. Our study of Anarkismo texts, alongside recent investigations into communisation theory, and their resonance with our own experiences are key factors in terms of both the initiation and continued development of the CA project. We feel the North American groups in particular are facing similar contexts, and answering similar questions, to ourselves. There are a number of points of principle in which we currently disagree with the Anarkismo Statement. These are issues that we hope can be clarified and debated through the international platform that Anarkismo provides.

What is the current focus/activity of the group?

As we aim to understand more concretely the present situation and how we relate to it as a movement, our focus – as an association – is to collate our investigations, ideas and analysis into a series of articles. We are currently working on two series, one of which is entitled the “Class Composition Series” and the other the “Regroupment Series”. We see this process as very much a practical one. We want to work out what activity is necessary and how best we implement that activity to achieve agreed objectives.

Within the process of Regroupment we are also aiming to participate in movement-wide public discussions with our sister Regroupment organisation Plan C. Our first talk will be at the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday, 23rd June. There we will discuss how we have felt the need to develop these Regroupment currents and how we see ourselves moving forward.

Your membership criteria has been criticised as being “hierarchical”. Why have you chosen to structure things in this way?

The first thing we have to make clear to people is that we are not a membership organisation per se. We do not seek to build membership as other groups do, making their membership criteria extremely simple, to the detriment of political stability. We don’t have the aim of getting as many people as possible to join us, and do not consider ourselves a big tent. We do not accept that people with varying degrees of agreement on core principles and values can become members without there being any concern for the theoretical and tactical integrity of the organisation. This is why we take potential membership seriously and why we have structured the process in the way that we have.

Our aim in terms of membership is to build a base of anarchist communist militants and organisers who share full agreement on theory and tactics and who can equitably contribute in both time and ideas to the association. We recognise that people are at varying and different levels in both knowledge and time and therefore, to safeguard the integrity of the organisation (in terms of theory and function), we have chosen to use a system of membership whereby we can ensure that militants are empowering themselves and the organisation through their activity. This structure allows us to address openly the individual needs of members, especially in terms of their relationship to the organisation and the theory we are trying to build. Having an associate membership period is the most accountable way to achieve this. Some may see this as a hierarchy of membership, but if that’s the case then it is our view that the concept of “hierarchy” is being misused. No-one in Collective Action has any authority over anyone else; no power relationship is being replicated by having full members and associate members – it is a voluntary, equitable and accountable process.

Recent years have seen the emergence of new forms of politics and political protest, such as the mobilizations around the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement; how does what CA is doing relate to that?

These issues are of interest to all revolutionaries at this point. In the past few years, on a global scale, we've seen an explosion in social unrest. In many ways these new forms of protest (although how practically new they are could be open to debate) sets the stage for the Regroupment process. Are our existing models of intervention sufficient? Are we organised along the right lines under the correct terms? Are we using all the opportunities available to us? Etc., etc. In respect to many of these, we felt the anarchist movement in the UK was lacking clear answers. This was a sentiment shared by a project emerging independently but at a very similar time to ours – "Plan C". At present we are both still working on our ideas (although we consider ourselves to be on fraternal terms with the network) so wouldn't want to make many substantive statements on this. However, we think that on a broader level it shows that this process of questioning and self-criticism is both required and emerging.

Anarkismo.net Editorial Group

Posted By

Collective Action
Jun 14 2012 23:57

Share

Attached files

Comments

Juan Conatz
Jun 15 2012 00:36

So is 'anarchist communist' a way some platformist-esque groups attempt to avoid using that term? I've noticed this...

I guess some of my questions would be...these platformist/especifismo/Anarkismo groups always talk a lot about organization. Indeed, the reason that most of us even know they exist is because this is the vast majority of their written output. But what to they actually do? At one time, I thought a lot of the South American groups, largely because they were a link to anarchism that wasn't based in Europe or North America, but I actually don't really know what they do. There's exceptions of course, WSM does a decent job of writing about what they're involved in and saying why, but a lot of these other groups just don't. I think it would be worth taking a page out of the IWW's book and writing about the process of learning and organizing (with real life examples). This is something I rarely see with the Anarkismo type groups and I think its fair to call the question because of all the 'its time to actually do something' type statements I see from these groups.

Also, with all the talk of being 'more organized', my experience in this milieu is that these groups are more like informal networks at best and rarely live up to their talk about organization. Actually, coming out of the more common anarchisty circles in the US, I was shocked about this. In some cases, the primitivists/insurrectionaries/whatever are vastly more organized than the political organizations. Where they aren't, its pseudo-democratic centralist/Marxist-Leninist stuff like the FARJ's 'concentric circles' or L&S as I understand them (which I'm not always against every aspect of this, but have problems with regardless). In other ways, I don't understand the difference between them and informal readings groups or writing groups.

klas batalo
Jun 15 2012 02:55
Quote:
FARJ: We act in the social movements through our fronts. The Urban Social Movements Front acts principally in the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Desempregados - Pela Base (Unemployed Workers Movement - from the Grassroots), which is a movement composed of the unemployed, under-employed and all those that suffer the consequences of the capitalist mode of organisation in some way. The MTD-RJ Pela Base organises around the needs of the communities and neighbourhoods in which it is inserted. Actually we can count some nuclei, in their majority inserted in favelas (townships/ shanty towns) and periphery communities in Rio de Janeiro. In the nucleus of Monkey’s Complex (Complexo dos Macacos - a favela in Rio de Janeiro) we work, essentially, with popular education; we are involved in the organisation of a pre-vestibular, which is a course made for students who cannot pay the high costs of private courses to enable them to prepare for the entrance exams for state universities. This nucleus, which is located inside the Centre of Social Culture (Centro de Cultura Social), also does the work of reusing clothes and scraps, which is organised by a comrade that used to live in an occupation that was an MTD-RJ nucleus and was evicted about one and a half years ago. The nucleus from the Penha complex works primarily with the cultural question, specifically hip-hop. There are other pre-vestibulars located in the Maré complex, in which members of the MTD-RJ Pela Base are involved working as teachers. And, outside of the city of Rio de Janeiro, we have a nucleus in the city of Petrópolis, a highlands region of the state of Rio de Janeiro; this nucleus is working with the question of transport and with that of informal work. There are many things to be done, the nuclei are being consolidated. The most important is that the MTD-RJ Pela Base manages to group together diverse comrades, whose principal horizon is anti-capitalism and the organisation of movements always from the grassroots, searching for complete autonomy from governments, parties and companies.

To a lessor degree, the Urban Social Movements Front also acts in the Academic Centre of History (Centro Acadêmico de História) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, by means of a student comrade. To create a relationship between the student movement and the popular movements seems indispensable to any project of social transformation, although we know that is is not easy work.

Our Community Front is responsible for the organisation of the Centro de Cultura Social (CCS-RJ), which is located in the neighbourhood of Vila Isabel and primarily takes care of the community of Morro dos Macacos. Inside the CCS there are various groups and projects. Literature and cinema workshops with the children and adolescents from Morro dos Macacos, a pre-vestibular as mentioned above, which is the joint work of three groups (MTD-RJ Pela Base, CCS and Luz do Sol), environmental education and material recycling/reuse workshops, sale of used clothes at popular prices for the community, computer science courses and, at last, the Fabio Luz Social Library (Biblioteca Social Fábio Luz).

Actually we are working as teachers and supporters in the space’s pre-vestibular, which serves primarily the surrounding community, in the organisation of the Fabio Luz Social Library (that has an archive that goes from anarchism to literature, philosophy and scholarly books) and in the literature and cinema workshops with the youth of the community. The Marques da Costa Research Nucleus (Núcleo de Pesquisas Marques da Costa) also works in the CCS, and is responsible for producing articles and research about the history of the labour and anarchist movements in Rio de Janeiro, where we also edit a newsletter called 'Emecé', uniting similar researchers. The primary function of the CCS is not just to become a reference for the social movements of Rio de Janeiro, but to open the doors to autonomous initiatives and contribute to the political and social training of the community around it. The CCS is modestly fulfilling these objectives.

Our last and most recent front, called Anarchism and Nature, or agro-ecology, was created from specific work developed primarily in Seropédica (a rural city of Rio de Janeiro) and in Baixada Fluminense, and from the work of those militants in the Germinal Health and Food Nucleus (Núcleo de Saúde e Alimentação Germinal), which for a few years organised activities in the Social Culture Centre (CCS-RJ), also supporting community activities linked to the homeless and urban farmers movement.

What started with the involvement of our militants in agro-ecological groups from the region (Ecological Agriculture Group - GAE and Association of Autonomous Producers from the City and the Fields - APAC), resulted in the involvement of the front in encampments of the MST (Landless Peoples Movement - Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) and with small farmers from the region. The front also integrates, by means of the movements in which it is inserted, the Articulation of Rio de Janeiro Agroecology (Articulação de Agroecologia do Rio de janeiro - AARJ), which is a network of diverse rural social groups and movements from the state of Rio de Janeiro that struggle primarily against the expansion of agribusiness, of transgenetics and for the strengthening of agro-ecological initiatives. We understand that agro-ecology can only become an alternative to break with capitalism, when connected to movements that struggle for land and for the control of production in the fields from the perspective of direct action.

and...

Quote:
- T.L.: In what projects is the Occupations Front involved and what are its activities?

FARJ: This front is involved in working with urban occupations, which in Brazil have a character a little different from other places in the world. Here the occupations are made by poor people, who are suffering from police violence and/or drug trafficking in the slums or are even living under bridges and on the street, a situation very common in the major Brazilian centers. Families that do not have a place to live end up occupying spaces that are not being used, giving them a social purpose. Today, this front works with five urban occupations, the result of work that has existed since 2003 - in a more organised way and as front of the organisation - since we already had experience working in urban occupations by the end of the 1990s. We were organising within the Internationalist Front of the Homeless (Frente Internacionalista dos Sem Teto - FIST), which we create with other companions and which came to have 11 occupations. However, we recently left FIST and we are now working directly (FARJ-occupation) with those occupations that were more receptive to libertarian ideas and practices. We gained a lot of recognition in this work, both as occupations and as social movements in Rio de Janeiro. For this work, we have a daily involvement in the occupations (some of them have/ had militants of the organisation who are residents); we work with assistance on the part of organisation; and, in assemblies, we encourage self-organisation, direct action, direct democracy, etc. We also seek to connect the occupations with the other social movements in Rio de Janeiro. We have relations with the Popular Council (co-ordination of social movements); participated in the 2007 occupation of the National Petroleum Agency (Agência Nacional do Petróleo - ANP) with other social movements and we have militants in contact with the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST), including one of them giving training courses in the Florestan Fernandes school (in São Paulo state) and also here in Rio de Janeiro. To meet an important demand, we headed a "transversal" project, in which all fronts operated, called the Popular University. This proposal is deployed, in fact, as an initiative of anti-capitalist popular education focused on the transformation of society, having as a tactic political training within the popular movements.

- T.L.: And the Community Front?

FARJ: It is responsible for the management of our Fabio Luz Social Library (BSFL), which has existed since 2001 and has more than 1000 books on anarchism and many others of varied themes. There is a very large archive of contemporary anarchist publications from around the world. This front is also responsible for the management of the Centre of Social Culture of Rio de Janeiro (RJ-CCS), an open social space that we maintain in the area north of the city and that hosts a number of activities: recycling work that is done by a companion that produces chairs, sofas, objects of art, etc. with objects collected from the garbage; strengthening education and preparation for entry into university, done for needy youngsters in the community of the Morro dos Mocacos, theatre workshops, cultural events, celebrations and meetings of various kinds. Under the BSFL functions the Marques da Costa Research Nucleus (Núcleo de Pesquisa Marques da Costa - NPMC) that, founded in 2004, aims to produce theory for the organisation in addition to researching the history of anarchism in Rio de Janeiro. We also have a "public body" that is CELIP, which is not very active at the moment, but that is intended to hold lectures and discussions to bring new interest to anarchism.

- T.L.: I know that the Agro-ecological Front is new, but could you talk a little bit about your activities?

FARJ: Our latest front was formed from the Germinal Center for Food and Health, established in 2005. Germinal is a self-run group, concerned with issues of food and ecology, which aims to support existing experiences of agriculture and stimulate the emergence of new ones, always from a libertarian perspective. To do so, it structures itself around the area Ay Carmela! and the Pedagogical Workshops, acting in the consolidation and rescue of agriculture, agro-ecology, social ecology, eco-literacy and economic solidarity, focusing these on workers, militants of the social movements and students. It also organises vegetarian lunches (Almoços Dançantes Vegetarianos), which occur periodically at the CCS-RJ. Constituting itself as our third front, it now seeks to define its activities of priority, areas of insertion etc. We hope to have new and good results with the creation of this new front.

- T.L.: Are there any projects of FARJ itself which do not relate specifically to any front?

FARJ: There are issues that concern the whole organisation, such as publications. We edit the journal Libera; the magazine Protesta! (together with our companions of Terra Livre Anarchist Collective from Sao Paulo) and books like Social Anarchism by Frank Mintz, Anarchism Today by the Rhone-Alps Regional Union and Ricardo Flores Magón by Diego Abad de Santillán. We are doing the internal work of theoretical leveling and preparation of militants with regard to training. We are also reworking our external relations. Finally, there are many things.

klas batalo
Jun 15 2012 03:11

machine Translation

Quote:
Community Front

Our oldest front of struggle began with the insertion of contact and several companions worked in a space where the old Bahia Charitable Association in Vila Isabel, north of Rio de Janeiro. Even before the founding of the FARJ, we began our work in this space with the realization of a longtime dream of anarchists Rio. The Fabio Luz Social Library, founded in November 18, 2001, was the first libertarian space of the city from closing the dictatorship of the Center for Studies Professor. José Oiticica (CEPJO) in 1968. His name is a tribute to former anarchist militant Fabio Luz, who in the early twentieth century was a member of this ancient association. Quickly, our library has become a place of assemblage of libertarians and a pole of study and reading of classic anarchist.
In 2003, with the expansion of our work and space management, the former gave rise to the Bahia Association of Social Culture Centre (CCS-RJ). He settled definitely a self-management project under the Community bases housing a variety of other projects and groups (not necessarily libertarian, as the Sunshine Group that develops educational activities in space today), with activities such as a pre-university community, computer course, literacy and school children and recycling activities.
During this period, the approach with the community was intensified to the point of effectively participating in a project manufacturing cookies that had space. This project had the participation of some adolescents, residents of Morro dos Macacos, the next space. Our work on the project was to encourage self-management by the participants. They were made debriefings and evaluation, where young people discuss problems and issues related to the dynamics of work, something that had not before, because all decisions were taken by the former administrator of the space. In this new phase were the young men who coordinated their schedules and administration of money and supplies. All proceeds were divided equally among its participants and cookies became famous both in and around the neighborhood in unions and activities where we we took.
The Fabio Luz Social Library has expanded to the point of using more than one room, and increase the collection for books on literature, philosophy, history and other titles that are of general interest. It also provided the framework that was lacking for the emergence of the Research Marques da Costa (NPMC), as well as the overhaul of the CIRA-Brazil, an international research center on anarchism that had no representative in the country since 1968, when the CIRA-Brazil was first closed by the military government.
The NPMC, part of our community front, is responsible for search and rescue in the history of the labor movement and the anarchist movement in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and organize events and seminars related to this subject. Publishes a bimonthly newsletter with articles Emecé recover our history, being sent to groups and individuals from all over Brazil and around the world.
Another important project in CCS-RJ is the recycling, developed by Birimbau partner, who maintain their active workshop for several years, offering courses for children and adults who attend our space, and holding annual exhibitions to exhibit the work produced.
It was also in the soil of CCS-RJ that the installation of a book distributor in 2008 had its libertarian environment for "germination." The Cooperative Spark distribution of books is a group seated under cooperative manner. Besides the distribution of books from various publishers libertarian, generates income for unemployed workers who compose it, is of fundamental importance in the dissemination of our ideas, distributing books throughout the Brazilian territory and having a significant collection libertarian.
Our Community Front is responsible for managing the space of CCS-RJ, creating, promoting and encouraging community projects. In this excerpt from the folder of CCS-RJ can understand your objectives and functions:
"The Center for Cultural Social (CCS-RJ) works in Vila Isabel, Rio de Janeiro and mainly serves the community surrounding the Hill of the Monkeys, in the same neighborhood, providing an important community work that aims to develop projects based on the values ​​and mutual support in self-management, social autonomy, sowing solidarity among its participants.
Comprised of volunteers and employees, CCS-RJ has no link with political parties or companies, and operates autonomously and independently, relying on the will and resources of workers who attend and the income generated by the projects compose it. "
Currently the CCS-RJ has a number of projects and activities that serve the children of workers and community workers and the neighborhood where it is located. These are mostly totally free or have minimal maintenance fees.
Community beyond this horizon, the CCS-RJ is an open space for social movements. In our activities, we add various groups and work. Participate to a greater or lesser degree of space, groups of unemployed, homeless, students, environmentalists, small farmers and working men and women in general.
It is during the social gatherings and collective effort for maintenance and development of space, as in state fairs, lunches in agroecological dancing, joint efforts in cleaning and in daily contact, which strengthened our class identity and social autonomy that we seek to cultivate.
In local operation, we hope to contribute to the global revolution. Following faithfully epípeto "Revolutionize everyday cotidianizar revolution", playing on our activities we soaked the libertarian spirit and the horizon, that both nurtures and gives form to our dreams as fair.
* Center of Social Culture of Rio de Janeiro
* Fabio Luz Social Library
* Research Center of Costa Marques (visit site )

...

Quote:
Front of Urban Social Movements

With that same goal of seeking social integration in places where the contradictions of capitalism are stronger and also trying to restore the social vector lost by anarchists, we still in 2003, we contacted some urban occupations by motion made homeless in Rio . The first of these occupations that had contact Vila was the occupation of the Conquest. Sometimes visited the site and identified the possibility of developing an interesting work there, mainly out of frustration of residents in relation to party politics, the result of previous experiences without much success. The occupation of the Conquest Village is located in the neighborhood of Curicica, west of Rio de Janeiro, and has 80 families. Just next to the Town of Conquest is the occupation Nelson Faria Marine, who joined the first, merged, going to organize together. As the occupation Nelson Faria Marine has 80 other families, the "complex" of the two occupations has around 160 families who have won in court the ground in a lawsuit against the City Hall, still in 2005.
From the junction between the work which had begun with the occupation Vila da Conquista and the work that was happening, the activities with the occupations began to evolve.
At this point, the contacts with a former lawyer who worked for years with the social movement and had already had experience with militant anarchists - enable a more articulated, with a legal, point to what the future foundation of the Internationalist Front Homeless (FIST).
Started working with the occupation Benário Olga, also in the west of the city in the neighborhood of Campo Grande, 100 households, and also with the occupation Alves, located in São Gonçalo, with 10 families.
Then we started working with the occupation (since evicted), Poet Xynayba in Tijuca. Upon discharge, the occupation was about 40 families, with the vast majority of the occupants had arrived in the last three years, including two militants FARJ, a future militant and also for some time one of our support that performs work with recycling, known as Birimbau. The process responsible for the eviction was aware of the eviction of only five houses, and the village has 40. One resident reported "The village comprises 40 houses, one of the community center, with over 40 families, full of children and the elderly. The choke was great, but resisted. "In a coordinated action between the power" public ", police and family Pareto, on April 3, 2007, in the early morning, the police arrived and the family owners for the vacancy, even against court ruling that had granted an injunction against the eviction of all households in the village. There was resistance from residents and also according to the report of residents: "The police tried to shut the gate, but barramos. Now began the rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper gas. A hook of a tractor overturn the gate, but we were able to handle. Police tried to enter from the sides, but we push. "After that there was a negotiation of the police who set out to accomplish what he said the warrant and enter only to vacate the five open houses ... When the police entered and vacated, in addition to five homes, all other threatening all residents with firearms, "began the section of the foot in the door in his face and arms." Although lawyers have obtained a preliminary injunction FIST 12.30, did not stop the eviction, and the judge, who had given the injunction, an hour later suspended. The eviction took place and the residents had to seek asylum in other occupations, among them the Confederation Tamoios. It is the sad story of a resident who lived there for over two years, when he wrote: "Henceforward, the crying and the tears in contaminated quite. I, who lived nearly two years ago, has felt the weight of irreparable violence and impending loss. " Lamented for what happened, "the memories of our parties, the effort to build the community center, the friendship of neighbors and especially the love that I had children there, very hurt."
Let's go back to 2005. This year, two other anarchist groups have shown interest in social work in occupations, and is now the Libertarian Activist Collective of Volunteer Studies (CLAVE) and Libertarian Action Group (LAG) form, together with us to coordinate anarchist social work occupations. This "front insert" call would Coordination of Anarchist Groups (CGA), an outline of what the future would be ahead of the FARJ occupations, because, with the future dissolution of the groups mentioned, some of its members would integrate our organization .
In the same year of 2005 we founded FIST, who graduated from a tripod consisting of FARJ, without the League of Communists Party (LCSP) and the occupations already held a joint work: Town of Conquest / Nelson Faria Marine, Olga Benário , Alves and Poet Xynayba. At that time, FIST was defined "as a social-political movement, dedicated to the mutual support between the occupations of homeless in Rio de Janeiro, denounced the bourgeois estate holding and organizing resistance against any kind of exploitation and oppression, arising the capitalist system. "
Chosen also based on horizontal, direct action, social and political autonomy, collective responsibility, classism, mutual support, internationalism with a view to the defense of a society and federated self-governing. These basic principles have been established so that it could be the battle front, and from it, mobilizations, aimed primarily solidarity and mutual support, all with the goal of enhancing organizational outcomes from the front.
During the time we were in the FIST, defended the view that its main function should be to articulate the occupations to strengthen the bonds of solidarity, spreading the concept of social freedom Bakuninist. The fight is thought to be a collective manner, seeking this freedom conference.
We also encourage the association, aiming to increase social force in the fight, as we believe, linked by ties of brotherhood and mutual support occupations have much more strength to fight against their oppressors.
The legal advice given by the LCSP to occupations, has always had a fundamental place. Without legal support, any work with the occupation would be much more difficult, however, our position, while we were inside the FIST has always been that the legal support, as well as short-term gains should not overlap the political work, returned to long-term goals. Since the founding of FIST, we always care to sustain a political discussion, releasing the short-term objectives, which are naturally brought the movement to demand, which means defending the view that the social movement is not just for yourself and is necessary to defend a long-term political project that goes beyond the immediate achievements.
Our contact with the occupations always occurs in both directions. The first, when their own occupations are aware of our work and call us to know them, as with a previous interest in establishing a working relationship. The second, when the very FARJ demand occupations, offering sympathy and support in the fight. So at the time worked FIST and works well today. Whether the demand or occupancy is sought at first contact with presents and discusses the principles and collective form of work, coming to terms with the occupants. With that, the fight together can be initiated. From this first moment, the occupations are encouraged to establish regular meetings horizontal.
Our work in occupations occurs primarily in the articulation work to fight, help in time to get the unions resources, monitoring the activities of the occupations, participation in general meetings, and often taking part in their day-to-day and as appearing at times of celebrations, parties. Moreover, we develop educational activities and / or play with the locals. There have been various projects as the work of gardens, quoted above, recycling, walking with children, films, among others.
Another important experience, even in 2005, happened when we decided that participaríamos actively in the creation of an urban occupation. This experiment, reported in some detail in the article "A Short Reading Occupation 'Quilombo of Warriors." Always with major presence of members of FARJ of LAG CLAVE and, together with LCSP.
The occupation took place at dawn on 13 to November 14, 2005, between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. in the morning, and survived, despite heavy police repression, until the next evening, when he was forcibly evicted. The arrest of lawyer FIST contribute to the failure of the occupation, plus the great repression that followed. We conclude the article with a reflection on what happened:
"In the tactical and the FARJ FIST were aimed, by participating in this occupation, not only establish, by a violent action against the property, an enclave of social justice, albeit within the broader context of inequality we are experiencing. The activists of these organizations believed that it was an important step toward a more consistent policy of support groups, not excepting where the establishment of family ties and trust, with a view to unity in the fight. "
In 2006, begins the work with the residents of four houses the Benjamin Constant Institute situated in Urca, south of the Rio In the same year, the activities begin with the occupation Domingos Passos, who has a name that pays homage to this great militant Brazilian anarchist - called "The Brazilian Bakunin" by our peers. The occupation is located in the neighborhood of Sampaio, in the north of the city and has 24 families. The next occupation to have contact with us was the Confederation of Tamoios (recently dumped), located in Largo's Apothecary, a prime area of ​​the southern area of ​​the city, in Cosme Velho district, and 22 families who had lived in an old mansion of the owner of Mail Morning. All of these occupations were integrated into the FIST, as in mid-2007, Alipio de Freitas occupation, which is next to the old DOPS, in the city center, with approximately 40 families, Lima Barreto occupation, better known as House of Artists (Art Reference Center Street) - which have also recently been dumped - located at Rua Marrecas in Lapa, which had about 15 people, the occupation José Oiticica, also honoring this great anarchistic Rio, which is in the center and has 20 families. Honoring the former Poet Xynayba occupation comes the Poet Xynayba II, Flag Square and six families, with only three participating FIST. It is also a member of FIST, even today, the occupation Flavio Bertoluzzi of Teresopolis, which has won maintaining possession of the site.
However, not all flowers. Like any social work, there are a number of problems that complicate the activities and goals of FARJ, but we struggle day to day against all of them, such as drug trafficking and militias.
Likewise Work involvement with the churches, which diminish the will and try to harness the social movement to charismatic leaders or politicians, putting people in a position of subservience. Also the parties 'left', which at all times close to equip social movements. Not to mention the repression itself and the constant threats suffered by the occupants. For one of our members
"It is essential that residents are aware of their role as social fighters and not mere citizens on the margins of capitalism and seeking to integrate, and therefore must reject everything that weakens the fight, drug trafficking, and authoritarian parties church are in it. Another factor that hinders the activities is the authoritarian logic that most people carries within itself, reproducing attitudes in their daily living. The role of the anarchist organization is precisely these outbreaks of fighting authoritarianism and show another form of social organization is possible. It is natural that in social work this will happen and you should not use this argument to escape the fighting. "
The FIST published five issues of the journal Space Occupations, aiming to "enlighten and inform individuals interested in the struggle of the homeless." How often these people do not have information on the squatting movement in Rio, the space of Occupations has established itself as a vehicle of such a movement, also with the "goal of making it a vehicle for internal communication of all occupations make up the FIST. "
As already mentioned, there has always been a struggle within the fraternal FIST so it does not become simply a body of legal support and assistance of short-term social movements. For this reason, recently, FARJ separated from FIST, so he could continue the activities with the occupations, however, focus more political work, which is believed to be limited by how things were going in FIST . In an article entitled "Our Work and Occupations with the FIST" justify so our output:
"There has always been a struggle within the fraternal FIST so it does not become simply a body of legal support and assistance of short-term social movements. For us, it became increasingly clear that the role played by the LCSP within the FIST, attributing too much emphasis on its legal aspects, complicating our goals was to politicize the occupation, bring long-term vision, encourage solidarity and association to fight. For us, this emphasis on law supported the idea, constantly latent in social movements, only the value of short-term gains, rather than naturally respects revolutionary, anti-capitalist, seeing the movement as a means and not an end. The emphasis was on depoliticizing legal occupations, creating leaders "messianic" - since it was no longer a lawyer, but it was the only one capable of bringing the occupation to "redemption". Instead of providing educational experiences, showing that power is explored in the people, and not outside it, these conditions encouraged the opposite. Instead of we can exert our influence by example and fight shoulder to shoulder with the exploited, the strengthening of the legal position was being used to consolidate a controlling relationship, in which the "expert", was placed on the occupations , enjoying its privilege of knowing, and stimulating the subservience of the occupants. "
Today, the work somehow changed, relations with the occupations are given directly to the FARJ itself and not through the FIST. Moreover, the Front has expanded some of his work and joined the Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD For the current Base), whose central struggle takes place in the labor issue. The space formerly larger insert that was configured only in urban occupations, extends for some slums, whose political vacuum created by the absence of left-wing groups and opportunism have eroded political parties, allows the libertarian proposals can gain more strength in these spaces.
The oppression experienced before the dictatorship of capital, slaying workers generally poor and black in these realities, creates opportunities for self-organization of the inhabitants of these spaces and make anarchism a fighting tool that can give concrete answers to the capitalist barbarism.

...

Quote:
Front Anarchism and Nature

Front Anarchism and Nature
The Front Anarchism and Nature was formed in late 2007 with the aim of strengthening, supporting and developing social movements with political work that seeks to intensify the class struggle around the agro-ecology, health, nutrition, ecology, labor, herbal medicine and libertarian education. This political action is the result of cumulative experiences of our members in the social struggles fought in the middle of the organization / the exploited / as, effectively, through participation in groups such as the GAE-UFRRJ Group (Ecological Agriculture), the GECA (Group Eco-Literacy) and CELIP (Circle of Ideal Peres Libertarian Studies), support for social movements linked the struggle for agrarian and urban reform, land and an agroecological food production, especially in the proposed Social Anarchism advocated by FARJ.
Our goal is to work these issues so that social movements will be self-sufficient in producing healthy foods, medicines and production inputs, and the social relations of production are established based on the principles of mutual support him, the Ecology , the classism, the self-management and federalism. We want to contribute to the formation of workers / those who opt for self-management as a model of social organization and production, together with the combative social movements, so they have a social revolution as the horizon and become an obstacle to any attempt to reform capitalism operated from their own / them. This is only possible in its fullness, destroying the capitalist society and planting libertarian socialism.
As militants Front Anarchism and Nature, we integrate the Center for Food and Health Germinal, created in 2005, and Workers Cooperative in Agroecology Floreal, organized since 2008. Through the Germinal and Floreal is performed to support social movements, specifically the Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD), the Occupations Movement and Urban Landless Movement (MST), seeking to strengthen the articulation of farmers / green known as the Joint Agroecology of Rio de Janeiro (AARJ). These are the spaces of social inclusion where we take the anarchist proposal to be discussed, considering them a fertile ground for the strengthening of relations between the mutual-support / the workers / as. We participate in public activities contrary to the development of agribusiness as the Alert Against the Green Desert and the Campaign for a Transgenic-Free Brazil and maintain relationships with Via Campesina, Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB ) and the Movement of Rural Women (MMC).
Our work is done in coordination with the other fronts of the organization through the implementation of educational policies and activities, along with rural and urban communities and rural social movements and the city. As examples, we cite the teaching of herbal medicine workshops, film shows and agroecological management of the kitchen made by CCS in Germinal Center (Centro de Cultura Social), and the conduct of training courses in agroecology and agroforestry involving the People's University Germinal Center and Cooperative Floreal, and also work to stimulate the urban gardens Occupations with the Homeless (Occupations Vila da Conquista, Poet Xynayba, April 16, among others).
Therefore, we sought to establish a counterpoint to conventional agriculture and bourgeois society. These same, that favor the exploitation of workers and the nature, concentration of land in the hands of the landowners, the dependence of the financial market and the market for natural resources, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides and the appropriation of popular historical knowledge and wealth natural. Seeking to strengthen social movements and their initiatives and raising the flag of Agroecology, followed in order to intensify the class struggle, strengthen grassroots organization and reap a society emancipated from exploitation of man and nature. Thus, we believe that we are accumulating practical, social power and knowledge not only for the FARJ and Social Anarchism, but especially to the emancipatory struggles of the exploited classes.
HEALTH AND ANARCHY AGROECOLOGY!

klas batalo
Jun 15 2012 03:25

At least as practiced by the South American especifista groups, these are organizations of anarchist militants who are active on the mass and tendency level.

But you should already know that.

If revolutionary minority organizations in our time are political-economic and the social struggle is also political-economic, what does it matter that some organizations might be duping themselves that they are strictly political? Are they even? I know the MAS theory distinguishes between the revolutionary, intermediate, and popular level. Are not all levels engaged in political-economic/social struggle?

My organization says this about your question:

Quote:
Common Struggle - Libertarian Communist Federation is an organization of revolutionaries coming from different movements of resistance who identify with the communist tradition within anarchism. The federation's activities are organized around theoretical development, anarchist propaganda, and intervention in the struggle of our class, be it autonomously or by direct involvement in social movements.

If a tree falls and there isn't a communique written about it on AnarchistNews.org or a workers' inquiry on Libcom.org, did it still fall?

Steven.
Jun 15 2012 09:32

Thanks for posting this interview here.

As I said before, I wish Collective Action best of luck with their endeavours. However, the tone of some of the comments about looking at various theories and trying to come up with the right organising model seems to be similar to what L&S people were saying when they started. And to me it seems a bit based on a quite naive idea that if you just think about it hard enough and come up with the right ideas then somehow everything will fall into place and your organisation will be amazing.

However, I think the crux of the problem is that we are all groups of handfuls of people, who ultimately have almost zero influence in the wider class as a whole. So no matter how good our ideas are, ultimately we are just treading water much of the time…

Anyway, onto a more specific point, I meant to comment on this in the previous Collective Action post on here, but didn't get round to it:

Quote:
for us, we are not sure whether it is even worth attempting, since the actual struggles that the anti-austerity movement is involved in are struggles for a minority, a privileged section of the working class, whose conditions do not speak to the marginalised majority, who in recent months have actually demonstrated a willingness to build a counter power – look at the August riots.

Now, this and the similar comment in the previous article quite angered me. Not only because whenever anarchists mention the word "privilege" an idiotic argument usually follows, but in this case in particular that is more something worthy of the Daily Mail than supposedly revolutionary anarchist communists! (At least with respect to its comment on public sector workers, not the riots)

I shouldn't need to, but I will explain why:
- the biggest element of the anti-austerity struggles so far has been the public sector strikes over pensions
- 7 million people are in receipt of public sector pensions
- 20 million people are dependents on public sector pensions (i.e. in households which benefit from them)
- one key element of the strikes was against the change in uprating of pensions from RPI to the lower CPI
- this change affects all pensions, in the public sector, in the private sector and the state pension - i.e. it affects everyone
- even looking at just public sector workers, we are disproportionately female and part-time
- the average pension fund local government workers is just £4800 per year (around £3000 or less for women)
- calling people "privileged" who mostly earn well under an average wage is nonsensical
- comparing a struggle of a few million predominantly female workers of all ages and a few thousand mostly young male, unemployed workers isn't worthwhile
- and if you do make this comparison, it is ridiculous to call the latter more representative of the "marginalised majority".

From the type of comments Collective Action have made about the recent strikes it seems to me unlikely that any of them have actually been involved in them. I mean they can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but the type of talk here seems similar again to the L&S-style talk of class struggle as something you can try and organise like a game of Risk, where we can focus strategically on certain areas and try to win points or something. As opposed to the reality which is much more gritty and uncertain - that class struggle is everywhere and it is our role is to engage in it where it involves our daily lives.

the button
Jun 15 2012 10:01
Steven. wrote:
class struggle as something you can try and organise like a game of Risk, where we can focus strategically on certain areas and try to win points or something.

Quoted so I remember to nick it. grin

Serge Forward
Jun 15 2012 10:46

Well put Steven. Meanwhile, CA have just lost Kamchatka and Yakutsk wink

Collective Action
Jun 15 2012 11:57

Quoted from our response to Adam Ford.

"Our emphasis on the stratification of working life in this country comes exactly from this aim. It is an attempt to recognise the current nature of class composition and how to organise effectively around it. It’s necessary to actually define what it means to be losing and winning. What are these workers losing and what do they aim to win? In respect to public sector workers this particular section of the working class who, admittedly, have accelerated resistance against austerity, have done so in the context of defending their positions as non-precarious, contracted and pensioned workers, who simply wish to maintain those positions. They aim to win secure pensions, keep their jobs and their salaries. These defensive demands have seen the formation of traditional left and trade unionist campaigns to “win” or defend themselves, not against austerity per se, but simply against austerity within the public sector most affected. These campaigns have failed to generalise resistance or make it aggressive, because they have taken on a dynamic of focusing solely on public sector cuts rather than on austerity generally as a social problem for all workers. They have refused to take a more militant stance against these measures, relying on conciliatory models of protest despite the rhetoric of the Trade Unions Congress.

In our May Day statement we assert that, "ultimately the objective of an autonomous and self-organising workers’ movement is to build unity” (our later emphasis). However we also declare that, “such an aspiration ... should not lead us to ignore both the conservative and privileged nature of certain sections of the workers’ movement as significant barriers to this goal”. Our meaning is that building a genuinely inclusive struggle against austerity is about acknowledging difference and building unity through it.

The point is that unorganised, private-sector workers are a majority of the working class and represent the dominant experience of working life. This is while anti-cuts groups and especially trade unions are tailoring their activity to the defensive struggles of workers in the public sector. This isn't arguing for an exclusive approach to organising, but an acknowledgement of how sectoral and defensive struggles say very little to the majority of workers in this country. What is lacking is a theoretical investigation on how the anti-authoritarian/left libertarian movement fits within the framework established by anti-cuts group. At present the common practice appears merely to be handing out propaganda and attempting well intended but negligible interventions."

Chilli Sauce
Jun 15 2012 16:28
Quote:
The point is that unorganised, private-sector workers are a majority of the working class and represent the dominant experience of working life. This is while anti-cuts groups and especially trade unions are tailoring their activity to the defensive struggles of workers in the public sector.

Couple of things to say here:

1) Protection of public services doesn't only affect the workers in those industries. Sure privatization will be shit for NHS workers, but you don't think it's also going to be shit for the 10s of millions of private sector workers who rely on it for their healthcare?

I don't want to be dramatic, but this privileged public sector trade unions v. no-unionized private sector workers really is sounding Daily Mail-ish. Not to mention that the two bounce off each other. Public sector workers are told their pensions have to switch to career average because that's what the private sector has. Then, the private sector turns around and says, 'well if the public sector can't afford final payment pension schemes, how can you expect us to'?

The divide between public and private and worker and user is much less stark than this analysis seems to suggest.

2) As anarchists who want to be practically involved with the class, we either organize struggles outside the trade unions/in the private sector (SF tries to do this on a small, winnable scale) or we support struggles as they come. (Probably worth noting here that, at least in London, SF was very active in supporting the private sector Sparks dispute.)

I think it would be fucking awesome if CA finds a way to catalyze mass struggles in the retail and service sector, for example. But in the absence of that, it makes sense that we're going to support struggles as they come up. That shouldn't be the end-all be-all of our activity (in fact, in SF we've had discussions about not letting ourselves get sucked up into trade union/leftist cycle of marches and one-day strikes), but in the absence of initiating our own struggles it seems a bit like sideline sniping to offer such a shallow criticism of anarchists being involved in supporting, ya know, the biggest strike in the past 70 years (albeit with all the trade union shortcomings that came with it).

3) I still think you're viewing anarchists as outsiders. I work in the public sector and I organized (with some success and the support of SF) outside of the trade union in my workplace. Really, regardless of our sector, anarchists shouldn't be focusing on 'interventions' but on our own, practical workplace activity.

plasmatelly
Jun 15 2012 18:40

£20 says xmas.

MT
Jun 15 2012 19:38
Quote:
Really, regardless of our sector, anarchists shouldn't be focusing on 'interventions' but on our own, practical workplace activity.

perfectly said;) although i guess many anarchists would say you are wrong and should rather say "anarchosyndicalists" not "anarchists".

as for CA, i am curious what they will produce let's say a year from today. meaning an evaluation of their practical activities or something like that which would make a practical sense and allow me to really understand what they are about. because now i see words on internet and something like a debate circle. which can be a great start, but time will tell.

klas batalo
Jun 15 2012 20:02

Can someone answer this for me:

What does a political-economic organization actually do, if in a struggle it is the worker committee or mass assembly or 'workmates council" open to all workers that is the organizing body and has political discussions?

And isn't the political-economic organization encouraging and participating within such bodies, an intervention? Or does all the organizing and discussion happen within the political-economic organization more like revolutionary syndicalism a la more traditional IWW?

Quote:
we don't want SolFed to be an organ of struggle but an organ of agitation rooted in workplaces and communities

So it is more like unionen, fighting organization of consciously communist workers, who agitate for more open organs of struggle...but again that just sounds fairly agitational/interventionist...even if SolFed is doing good things like training their members and other militant workers, doing solnet like work, etc.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 15 2012 20:57

Sab, that might be a discussion for another thread and, I think, there's been a few other threads that have really hashed out the idea of what political-economic means, although I'm too lazy to look them up right now.

I guess the idea of political-economic comes from a rejection of the 'non' or apolitical syndicalism of, say, the IWW. The IWW claims to be a union for all workers to come together and use syndicalist method to fight for their economic interests. Political organisations, on the other hand, focus on agitation, education, and propaganda. In short, they organise politically.

Political-economic organisations (at least as SF envisions them) are workplace-based organisations with explicit anarchist politics. We hope to eventually build up SF workplace branches where all who join share SF's politics. This almost inevitably means it will not include the entire workforce. However, the revolutionary union will always attempt to build struggles that will be under the control of the entire workforce (excluding managers, snitches, etc) and SFers will always argue for the most militant line and push the struggle as far forward as possible.

There's also the SF model of workplace committees but, again, that's probably a whole 'nother thread.

klas batalo
Jun 16 2012 05:19
Quote:
SFers will always argue for the most militant line and push the struggle as far forward as possible.

Yeah I guess I just don't see how that is not intervention in either existing workplace committees, or towards ones initiated by SolFed.

It comes off more like a workplace focused political organization that does training, and that the actual economic struggle is carried out by the workplace committees (that include SolFed members).

Anyway yes, any further on this would be totally derailing.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 16 2012 05:23

Sab, I'm not totally sure I understand that post. Perhaps start a new thread if you want to discuss it further, comrade?

RedAndBlack
Jun 16 2012 16:48

I'm snatching some time during work here so unfortunately can't give detailed responses to many of the comments. I would say I am a bit disappointed in the level of discourse. Steven and a few others makes some valid contributions, although ultimately I think not fair to our position, to the debate. We encourage this. The point-scoring and political sniping is not as welcome and I suggest the people doing this take some time to re-evaluate how they use their energies in respect to engaging with other revolutionaries.

Few points:

- the far-reaching nature of the attacks on public sector working conditions is a completely valid point. The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement. I disagree with Steven in this sense (as far as I understand his position). Yes our roles as militants is to intervene in class struggle where it affects us, but we are not really looking at this question in terms of a "where" but a "how". What methods and content of struggle is appropriate both to the existing class composition AND to develop a uniquely communist means of moving forward. The notion of simply taking a more militant approach to fights led by the TUC appears lacking in this respect (these are also struggles in which the TUC has already accepted it has lost). We may be small but I do think we can make a difference in this respect.

- It is in this sense that our thinking is strategic and programmatic. Admittedly our meaning could be misunderstood as our analysis is still under collective development. In the simplest sense we mean having a clear conception of why you are doing something, what resources you are able to expend on it and what you aim to get out of it. This is, of course, largely common sense and I only think it's a misplaced ideological hostility to what are considered "Marxist" methods but have in fact been central to anarchist praxis since the St. Imier International.

- finally I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce. In terms of the orientation and methods of anti-cuts groups it seems anarchists could have an impact in this respect. Organisation of these sectors would be a leap forward, and groups like the IWW have taken tentative steps in this direction, but speaking the right language would also be an important first step.

- we are an anti-capitalist movement. more than ever capitalism is being thrown into ideological crisis. This is alongside a complete deficit of alternatives. Neither Occupy nor the parliamentary alternatives emerging in Europe deliver credible responses. The anarchist tradition needs to make itself felt and known in this respect.

RedAndBlack
Jun 16 2012 09:57

apols for the typos.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 16 2012 17:13

I'm sorry, but that post felt a lot like a strawman.

Quote:
The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement...

I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce.

Who has made the argument in favor of "sectoral" struggles? Likewise, what anarchist believes the fight against austerity shouldn't "speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce"?

The impression I get is that because many anarchists are involved in public sector trade union disputes as both participants and supporters, that CA seems to believe that we share the priorities and analysis of the left and the trade unions. Even a cursory glance at the SF or the AFed website should put the belief to bed in about 30 seconds.

Give that critique to the trade unions or the Trots, fine. But AF propaganda on the uselessness of the trade unions, and, I'd hope, burgeoning SF practice should support your arguments, not be who you're directing them at.

RedAndBlack
Jun 16 2012 17:33
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I'm sorry, but that post felt a lot like a strawman.
Quote:
The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement...

I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce.

Who has made the argument in favor of "sectoral" struggles? Likewise, what anarchist believes the fight against austerity shouldn't "speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce"?

The impression I get is that because many anarchists are involved in public sector trade union disputes as both participants and supporters, that CA seems to believe that we share the priorities and analysis of the left and the trade unions. Even a cursory glance at the SF or the AFed website should put the belief to bed in about 30 seconds.

Give that critique to the trade unions or the Trots, fine. But AF propaganda on the uselessness of the trade unions, and, I'd hope, burgeoning SF practice should support your arguments, not be who you're directing them at.

It may be reflective of their perspective but not really their practice (I can't really make a complete judgement about Solfed here). This is one of the issues we highlight in terms of anarchists acting simply as propaganda outlets instead of taking steps towards substantive interventions/organisations within the class. How are these ideas made meaningful in the context of workers struggles? Where do they build and generalise? More importantly, how is this analysis meaningful in the context of anarchist activity?

RedAndBlack
Jun 16 2012 17:34

You'll also notice that I said "accepting the logic" rather than "arguing for" sectoral struggles.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 16 2012 19:12

I'm gonna be honest, I don't think your response had a ton of substance. I know y'all's experience was with AF and, or course, you're not privy to the internal discussions within SF (of which I'm a member), but as I said earlier:

Quote:
in SF we've had discussions about not letting ourselves get sucked up into trade union/leftist cycle of marches and one-day strikes

I think this is evidenced by the fact that all of our prop stresses:

(a) a structural critique of trade unionism and the need to move beyond it if we're going to succeed in beating the cuts

(b) argues for things like spreading the struggle as widely as possible by organising cross-union and with non-union workers and not crossing picket lines.

I'd also hope that our practice--things like Office Angels, the Hartley Dispute, the anti-workfare campaign, and our workplace organiser training program--shows that where we can, we are are consciously rejecting the trade union model of organisation in favour of supporting precarious workers using direct action and anarcho-syndicalist methods.

Sure, we have a long way to go. After all, it was only recently the organisation made the decision to consciously to move from a propaganda group to a workplace based organisation. We're still making that change and we're certainly not where we want to be yet.

We are, however, as far as I know, the largest anarchist organisation in the UK. If you're going to release a statement critiquing the existing UK anarchist movement (which in itself is fair enough) you ought to make sure you're totally aware of both the strategy and practice of one of the most prominent groups in the scene.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 16 2012 19:18

The other thing is that our prop doesn't only stress those ideas but that, where practicable, SFers implement them.

Now, obviously, we often can't shout about our activities in the workplace, but I can tell you that the workplace committee model advocated in the organiser training (a model that specifically rejects trade unionism, regardless of a recognised union or not) has been implemented in various degrees in various workplaces. This isn't just a theoretical thing.

RedAndBlack
Jun 16 2012 20:00

This is all fair enough but we are an anarchist communist current, with specific criticisms of anarcho-syndicalism, speaking to other anarchist communist militants.

Your practice of syndicalism may be programmatic under the conditions we outline (again, as I say I'm in no position to judge) but I think the fundamental methodology we are applying is different. Solfed is applying its "programme" to the end of building an anarcho-syndicalist union. CA doesn't share that as a central goal.

jonthom
Jun 17 2012 14:10
Juan Conatz wrote:
I guess some of my questions would be...these platformist/especifismo/Anarkismo groups always talk a lot about organization. Indeed, the reason that most of us even know they exist is because this is the vast majority of their written output. But what to they actually do? At one time, I thought a lot of the South American groups, largely because they were a link to anarchism that wasn't based in Europe or North America, but I actually don't really know what they do. There's exceptions of course, WSM does a decent job of writing about what they're involved in and saying why, but a lot of these other groups just don't. I think it would be worth taking a page out of the IWW's book and writing about the process of learning and organizing (with real life examples). This is something I rarely see with the Anarkismo type groups and I think its fair to call the question because of all the 'its time to actually do something' type statements I see from these groups.

I don't have a great deal to add but just to say, this really sums up a lot of my frustration with the platformist/especifismo/etc. strand of things. There seems to be a lot of material available on the necessity of organisation, the failings of disorganisation, and the ways in which we should organise - but comparatively little on what these groups actually do in practice and how they apply these models of organising in particular struggles. Which makes it very difficult - personally, anyway - to engage with.

Which is unfortunate, because some of the things I'm finding interesting at present - such as the recent formation of CAB in Brazil - seem to come from this tendency and at least on the surface I think there's a lot to be learned from them. But it's kinda tricky to do so without knowing what they actually do...

Chilli Sauce
Jun 17 2012 17:05
Quote:
Solfed is applying its "programme" to the end of building an anarcho-syndicalist union. CA doesn't share that as a central goal.

What is your central goal? Is it workplace activity? And if it is, what do you hope to build in the workplace if not an anarchist union? Or is it just "interventions"? And if that's the case aren't you far more at the mercy of the trade unions/left for setting the agenda?

plasmatelly
Jun 17 2012 17:31

CA wrote -

Quote:
AFed make it clear in their literature that they do not support the organisation of mass, anarcho-syndicalist unions, seeing them as both impractical and open to co-option.

Actually they don't

Quote:
Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism.

taken from point 7 of the aims and principals of the Afed http://www.afed.org.uk/aims.html
I've always found this as odd; a preference from some comrades for revolutionary/reformist syndicalism over anarcho-syndicalism. And yet, it says in the A's and P's syndicalist- potentially a world away from the anarchist militants inside an anarcho-syndicalsit union.

Steven.
Jun 17 2012 19:41

Thanks to Collective Action people for responding to some of my points. I will attempt to address them here:

Collective Action wrote:
"Our emphasis on the stratification of working life in this country comes exactly from this aim. It is an attempt to recognise the current nature of class composition and how to organise effectively around it. It’s necessary to actually define what it means to be losing and winning. What are these workers losing and what do they aim to win? In respect to public sector workers this particular section of the working class who, admittedly, have accelerated resistance against austerity, have done so in the context of defending their positions as non-precarious, contracted and pensioned workers, who simply wish to maintain those positions.

on this point, I would say in some ways this is true, in some ways this could only be true, and in some ways it is inaccurate.

What I mean by this is that it is partly true. However, the working class globally is in a period of retreat. Therefore almost all working class struggles at the moment are defensive, and aimed at either protecting current terms and conditions, or more realistically slowing the rate of erosion of these conditions.

This cannot be a critique of a particular group of workers in this scenario, as of course people "make our own history but not in conditions of our choosing".

In terms of part of it being inaccurate, it's because it implies that the reason most public sector workers have been striking recently is in defence of their pensions. And I don't think this is true as a general point. I think for a large number of us, probably the majority, it was our way of fighting the government on austerity as a whole.

Quote:

They aim to win secure pensions, keep their jobs and their salaries.

a minor quibble: we are not aiming to "win" secure pensions, but slow the rate at which our already-crap pensions are being eroded. With jobs, there have not been many successful struggles to defend jobs. And with salaries, across most of the public sector these have been heavily eroded in real terms by the pay freeze (by 13% over three years in local government) with no resistance from the unions at all for the most part.

Also, what you seem to be forgetting is that what most public sector workers do is provide free or heavily subsidised services to other working class people, particularly the most vulnerable. So when we defend ourselves by default we are also defending our service users.

Quote:
These defensive demands have seen the formation of traditional left and trade unionist campaigns to “win” or defend themselves, not against austerity per se, but simply against austerity within the public sector most affected. These campaigns have failed to generalise resistance or make it aggressive, because they have taken on a dynamic of focusing solely on public sector cuts rather than on austerity generally as a social problem for all workers. They have refused to take a more militant stance against these measures, relying on conciliatory models of protest despite the rhetoric of the Trade Unions Congress.

with this point, I think I am becoming able to see where the hole in your understanding is.

You are talking about resistance to austerity, specifically in the public sector, as a homogenous phenomenon. Of course it is not. Where what is going on becomes clear is if you take a class approach. So there is a proletarian element to the resistance - for us workers it is in our interest to defeat austerity. However we are not in control of the struggle. The struggle is being led by our "representatives" in unions. Who do not have the same interests as us. Their interest is in maintaining their role in the negotiation of the sale of our labour power to capital.

So when you say the resistance has "failed" to "generalise" or be "aggressive" -which element of the "resistance" are you referring to here? Of course the unions do not want the struggle to be generalised or aggressive - because then it may get beyond their control, which would be a significant problem for them if their political arm, the Labour Party, gets elected in a couple of years and will then have to contend with us.

And as for us workers, yes we have been unable to generalise our struggle - but what this means is that the struggle has not been taken up elsewhere by other workers. And how can you criticise us for that? In terms of not being "aggressive", well I think many of us have been as "aggressive" as we can, however the large unions in particular have pretty much stitched up the pensions dispute and have derailed the possibility of serious further action, in local government and the NHS at least.

Quote:
In our May Day statement we assert that, "ultimately the objective of an autonomous and self-organising workers’ movement is to build unity” (our later emphasis). However we also declare that, “such an aspiration ... should not lead us to ignore both the conservative and privileged nature of certain sections of the workers’ movement as significant barriers to this goal”. Our meaning is that building a genuinely inclusive struggle against austerity is about acknowledging difference and building unity through it.

yes, I remember that assertion, and disagreed with it then as well. Could you please explain what you mean by "conservative" and "privileged", which "sections of the workers' movement" you are referring to and how this is a "significant barrier" to workers' unity?

You seem to be firstly implying that you believe the Daily Mail bullshit about overpaid public sector workers, who are actually mostly low-paid women workers. And also you seem to be implying that if the few decent elements of public sector working conditions were eroded, and so this "privilege" was gone that this would help workers' unity. So that the "race to the bottom" would actually be a positive thing for workers. Is that what you are saying?

Your last sentence has some good buzzwords in it, but what does it actually mean, practically?

Quote:
The point is that unorganised, private-sector workers are a majority of the working class and represent the dominant experience of working life. This is while anti-cuts groups and especially trade unions are tailoring their activity to the defensive struggles of workers in the public sector.

It seems almost tautological to criticise unions for focusing their activities on where their members are. Because what else are they going to do?

Quote:
This isn't arguing for an exclusive approach to organising, but an acknowledgement of how sectoral and defensive struggles say very little to the majority of workers in this country.

again, calling public sector struggles "sectoral" seems a bit silly to me as the entire workforce are users of public services. Especially things like education, the NHS, etc. And like I said before, even the pensions dispute was about all workers especially in terms of the RPI/CPI uprating switch. Which the media completely ignored and which was used to divide public and private sector workers - a divide which you seem to be forwarding with your rhetoric.

But yes of course it's not an ideal situation for struggles to be divided and defensive. Of course it would be much better if we were all together going on the offensive for things like bigger pensions, higher wages, shorter working hours, etc etc. But we're not.

We can't say that we won't get involved with struggles which are actually ongoing, involving real workers, because they are not good enough. We have to get involved with struggles when they arise, and try to build links across different groups of workers, and try to evidence our common, collective interest.

You can't pass off unhappiness with the situation of the working class as meaningful critique. Especially when you get to talking about what practical solutions you actually propose:

Quote:
What is lacking is a theoretical investigation on how the anti-authoritarian/left libertarian movement fits within the framework established by anti-cuts group. At present the common practice appears merely to be handing out propaganda and attempting well intended but negligible interventions."

I mean is looking inwards at your micro group and trying to run it better a better use of effort than actually trying to engage in working class struggles and make them more effective?

No matter how many Latin American anarchist groups strategies you follow, you will not change the fact that we are a tiny handful of people, and so any intervention we have into a struggle of hundreds of thousands or millions of workers will be almost negligible. I can understand you not being happy with this situation, but "reorganising" yourself and your three mates will not change it.

RedAndBlack wrote:
- the far-reaching nature of the attacks on public sector working conditions is a completely valid point. The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement. I disagree with Steven in this sense (as far as I understand his position). Yes our roles as militants is to intervene in class struggle where it affects us, but we are not really looking at this question in terms of a "where" but a "how". What methods and content of struggle is appropriate both to the existing class composition AND to develop a uniquely communist means of moving forward. The notion of simply taking a more militant approach to fights led by the TUC appears lacking in this respect (these are also struggles in which the TUC has already accepted it has lost). We may be small but I do think we can make a difference in this respect.

again, I think here you are betraying your lack of class understanding. The TUC has not "lost" any struggles. The outcome of any of the struggles does not matter to the TUC. What matters to the TUC is it preserving its role as the official "representative" of the working class to capital.

And so the biggest TUC unions are recommending workers accept the cuts to our pensions, even though they are a huge erosion of our pay and conditions, and even though on November 30 we showed a willingness and a practical ability to fight. So here the employers are winning, the TUC can say that they won, and the only people who lose out are us, the workers.

As for "simply taking a more militant approach to fights led by the TUC": who is advocating that position? Certainly no one on libcom, or the AF or Solfed. We advocate anarchist communism, for starters!

Quote:
It is in this sense that our thinking is strategic and programmatic. Admittedly our meaning here could be misunderstood as our analysis here is still under collective development. In the simplest sense here we mean having a clear conception of why you are doing something, what resources you are able to expend on it and what you aim to get out of it. This is, of course, largely common sense and I only think it's a misplaced ideological hostility to what are considered "Marxist" methods but have in fact been central to anarchist praxis since the St. Imier International.

if you do have practical strategic thinking I would be very happy to hear what you propose.

However, I do not think that banging on about the supposed "privileges" of mostly low-paid public sector workers constitutes this sort of strategic thinking…

Quote:
- finally I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce. In terms of the orientation and methods of anti-cuts groups it seems anarchists could have an impact in this respect. Organisation of these sectors would be a leap forward, and groups like the IWW have taken tentative steps in this direction, but speaking the right language would also be an important first step.

TBH I think expecting tiny groups of a handful of people to be able to communicate to the whole working class, or present anti-austerity struggles at least to the mass of other workers is unrealistic. And I do not think that you guys will be able to do this any differently from anyone else. If in six months’ time you perceive that struggles against austerity are still "sectoral", and that many private sector workers still do not think they relate to them, does that mean that you will consider your organisation a failure in the same way that you consider AF and Solfed today?

(Again I would take some issues with your language here. For starters, public sector workers are also "increasingly precarious". And I don't think that non-salaried workers make up the bulk of the workforce at all - quite the opposite in fact.)

Sumthing
Jun 17 2012 22:58

I'll just like to make a few points as to how you're coming across to someone like me who may be interested in joining a group.

You sound like you want to begin some form vanguard. This may appeal to some who may seek a small group to converse with but I'm not completely sure why because...

You also sound like a thinktank. Or a government quango that's started up a consultation on "innovative advance strategies" and similar wooly concept which leads me on to...

'Regroupment.' I had trouble understanding what this exactly entailed by reading the interview but the discussion underneath the line has made it slightly clearer. I must say if your main point of difference from existing anarchist groups is to differentiate 'privileged' working class and precarious workers you are on weak ground.

In a time of increasing economic attacks on all members of the working class it is surely wrongheaded to sit thinking about which ones need to most help most or which is most underprivileged. This would be to ignore the number of Privileged workers who will soon be in the Precariat.

Also, it is surely a misrepresentation of many anti-austerity activist's position to say their focus on a particular workplace struggle precludes a recognition of Austerity's wider societal implications. It is those that involve themselves in these struggles who are surely more likely to understand the need for class wide action rather than those who would sit back forensically and try to gauge who is too privileged for support.

Moreover, how does one join a group that demands "tactical and theoretical integrity" when the group hasn't developed any discernibly original tactics and theory with which to agree on?

Like others on this thread I can only wish you the greatest success.

Chilli Sauce
Jun 17 2012 23:38

That was a post and half. Well put Steven.

Harrison
Jun 18 2012 12:20

(this post is predominantly aimed at platformism in general - this interview is not as bad as some things i've read)

I respect the attempt by a group to really try and develop a powerful strategy that is drawn from experience and experimentation (even if i disagree with the eventual strategy developed), but i do think that at points the platformist lingo used is on the same sort of difficulty level as marxian lingo.

Except, from what i've read, platformist language is often used to say something quite simple in quite an obtuse way - at least marxian terminology is conveying something a bit more complicated.

I wonder if platformist language is rooted in poor translations (to english) of texts written in other languages? I remember someone mentioning that the obtuse language spoken by situationists was rooted in poor translations of intellectual French, so perhaps platformist obtusity has a similar origin?

As i said, i respect the attempt platformists make to strategise, its just i think the unnecessary language and phrasing gives a feel that there is a fetishisation of the strategisation process, which ends up making it more difficult to critically engage with the actual strategy itself...

(but then again, maybe i do the same with other forms of terminology but am blind to it)