Thoughts on the movement, or why we still don't even Corbyn - Joseph Kay and Ed Goddard

Registering to vote in the 2016 Labour leadership election raised £4,588,525.

It’s a lonely world these days for an anti-parliamentary socialist with all politics seeming to have taken a back seat to the current Labour Party shenanigans. While the deluge of establishment groupthink currently arrayed on Corbyn is as disgusting as it is cynical, we're still not pinning any hopes on him in the (now quite likely) event he comes out on top in the next leadership election.

Look, it could well happen that the left may, against all odds, take control of the Labour Party NEC and make the party more member-led. That’s something I would have given very long odds on a year or so ago (but then again, the same is true of Leicester City winning the Prem so maybe 2016 is the year for long odds!).

That said, if you think the Labour Right play dirty, wait til you see the CBI, the City of London and the IMF join in while the media dial up the smears to 11. As sneaky and disingenuous as individuals like Tristram Hunt, Angela Eagle and Owen Smith are, they’re all also largely inept and charmless, as their botched coup and embarrassing public appearances demonstrate. They’re like The Orphans in The Warriors, easily rolled over at the start but not nearly as fearsome as the other opponents on the journey back to Coney Island.

The same will not be true as we draw up to General Election time, and even less so if Corbyn were to win; the likelihood he'd be able to pass reforms that harmed the interests of big business, without massive pressure from a disruptive extra-parliamentary social movement, is very slim… all the slimmer for the fact it won’t be Tom Watson playing ‘Good Cop’ to Chuka Umunna’s ‘Bad Cop’; it will be the Murdochs and other ‘captains of industry’ hamstringing even mild social democratic reform through non-cooperation, sabotage and public smears.

Without such a movement, a Corbyn (or any other social democratic) government would not have a leg to stand on. Yet with such a social movement, the role of such a government becomes different: the role will be to mediate and to limit; to separate ‘responsible’ representatives from ‘unruly’ elements and give carrots to the first while doling out sticks to the latter.

Ultimately, extra-parliamentary forces largely determine parliamentary possibilities so even if you want parliamentary reform, it necessitates building grassroots power and a capacity to take disruptive action - strikes, occupations, demonstrations that block transport hubs etc - that such reform will become realisable. And, of course, when such extra-parliamentary forces are forcing reforms, parliamentarism ceases to appear as a ray of hope and becomes an obstacle.

It’s at this point that the usual response is “can’t we do both?”. “Can’t we build an autonomous grassroots working-class direct action movement AND fight to reform the Labour Party into a left-wing electable vote-winning machine?” And the answer to this is: theoretically, yes. But practically there are only 24 hours in a day, two-thirds of which are usually spent either sleeping or working. What has become clear with the recent coup (if it wasn’t already) is that reforming the Labour Party won’t be as easy as paying £3 to vote Corbyn as leader. It means getting involved in your Constituency Labour Party, pressuring your MP, possibly deselecting them, which, as Novara’s recent guide to deselection makes clear, could potentially involve “years of hard work in branches and constituencies across the country”. Which is fine; as the old cliché goes, ‘they wouldn’t call it a struggle if it was easy’. The point is whether the Labour Party is the best place to expend all that energy in struggle.

From our point of view, there can be no ‘UKIP of the left’; pro- and anti-systemic politics just don’t work in the same way like that. But it is worth thinking about how the extra-parliamentary left in Britain could use similar resources to what's currently being chucked into the Labour Party and, in that sense, it's oddly useful looking at the US extra-parliamentary right, with its vast media infrastructure of talk shows, blogs and ecology of organisations. Sure, they’re financed by millionaire/billionaire capitalists and we’re not (nor should we be). But working-class people collectively pay millions into unions, £4.6 million into the Labour Party in 48 hours and donate thousands of hours of voluntary labour into similar organisations. So the resources are there and it’s worth thinking about how an extra-parliamentary social movement could make use of them.

Money isn’t always a limiting factor but it often helps, certainly with media infrastructure, training, equipment and organising events.

In terms of action, it’s all about finding points of leverage:

  • Sisters Uncut have been doing fantastic work around domestic violence and housing. Their recent occupation of an empty council house in Hackney has highlighted cuts to both and created a base for organisation far more quickly than involvement in the Labour Party ever could.
  • Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have been doing excellent work around housing and building their eviction phone tree. Similar could be said of the recent UCL rent strikers
  • IWW, Solfed and IWGB have all had some decent industrial organising, particularly Solfed amongst hospitality workers in Brighton and the IWGB amongst cleaners and couriers in London (the IWGB have also organised a London Courier Emergency Fund to help ‘self-employed’ couriers when they have accidents and can’t work)
  • There’s also a Black Lives Matter UK group in the works which promises to be very exciting

So what is to be done?

The fact is that outside of a lot of major cities, there isn’t a whole lot of extra-parliamentary direct action organising going on and often it’s the Labour Party/Momentum or nothing. And it’s also obviously a lot easier to get involved or support existing groups than start one from scratch. Given all that, a potential strategy to help isolated groups could look something like this:

1) Build alt-media and social networks; Novara are doing very well at this (despite becoming a bit too Labour-centric for our tastes) as are Media Diversified. The Occupied Times also produce a very high quality print publication. And, er, obviously us at Libcom.org..

2) Utilise contacts built through alt-media networks to organise a loose tour of direct action groups around the country aiming not merely to hold meetings but to seed new direct action groups. Would require organisations to put up a few people willing to travel and talk within a given area, pool resources etc.

3) Focus shouldn’t be on building particular organisations but supporting people to organise in a locally appropriate model: if they want to form an IWW branch/Solfed local/Sisters Uncut chapter, then fine. If they want to organise a non-affiliated Solidarity Network or housing action group, also fine

The same concerted effort over years that would go into the Labour Party could instead be used to grow direct action groups in localities across the country.

Obviously, there aren’t 180,000 people itching to get involved in extra-parliamentary direct action; what’s being sketched out here is how a few million quid and thousands of activist hours could help develop a movement separate from the Labour Party, and lamenting all that’s gone into that party (and scepticism over Corbyn more generally) does not mean passively accepting Tory rule. It just means we prefer barking up the right (tall and difficult to climb) tree than the wrong (accessible, appealing) one.

For more tips on how to get involved/start different kinds of organisation, check out:

But more importantly, check out some of the great groups mentioned in this blog post!

This blog post is a padded out version of a thread on Joseph Kay's twitter.

Posted By

libcom
Jul 22 2016 21:18

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Noah Fence
Jul 24 2016 21:21
Quote:
So while i was initially inclined to say labour is a the far right of the left, its probably more accurate to say it consists of various centre to right wing leftists with liberals/neo-liberals.

Well, you don't really get much more neo liberal than the McDonnell quotes I posted earlier. That's the reality and that's what I'm interested in not the fact that Labour has amongst its members a bunch of deluded twats with a red star pin badge calling themselves communists. The very same people that call anarchism juvenile and idealistic. Well, there's a small chance anarchist communism will make the world a better place but there's absolutely no fucking chance that their caring capitalism or revolution through the ballot box will. Now who's idealistic. So once again, fuck em!

radicalgraffiti
Jul 24 2016 21:21
Noah Fence wrote:
Quote:
So while i was initially inclined to say labour is a the far right of the left, its probably more accurate to say it consists of various centre to right wing leftists with liberals/neo-liberals.

Well, you don't really get much more neo liberal than the McDonnell quotes I posted earlier. That's the reality and that's what I'm interested in not the fact that Labour has amongst its members a bunch of deluded twats with a red star pin badge calling themselves communists.

i cant find a source for your quotes. I the closest i found this which, although not vary communist, and it says "entrepreneurial" a lot is not exactly neo-liberal

http://labourlist.org/2016/04/mcdonnell-aims-to-unlock-40bn-economic-boo...

Noah Fence wrote:
The very same people that call anarchism juvenile and idealistic. Well, there's a small chance anarchist communism will make the world a better place but there's absolutely no fucking chance that their caring capitalism or revolution through the ballot box will. So once again, fuck em!

this is something you can say about the entire left though.

Chilli Sauce
Jul 24 2016 21:45
Quote:
so there's good guys in the Labour Party, even radical good guys, well big fucking deal, they're wrong, plain and simple.

No doubt they're wrong. But I know some old Labour types I'd much rather organize alongside than a lot of anarchos. And, besides, the point wasn't whether they're wrong, but to what extent Labour could be considered part of the left.

Quote:
there are also good guys in the Tory party, some with way more progressive views on homophobia and misogyny that is often displayed on Libcom.

Noah, come'on, there has been some shit on libcom, but "often" and "way more progressive"? Hyperbole doesn't do a legitimate argument favors.

Noah Fence
Jul 24 2016 22:36

Ok, I'll withdraw the often and replace it with a sometimes.

I'll stick with the 'way more progressive', though. Some of the manarchist shit on here has been disgraceful knuckle dragging horse manure.

Maybe we're at cross purposes here anyway. I couldn't give 2 shits if Labour are part of the left or not, though thinking about it, it was me that challenged the point, oops! All I'm concerned with is the seduction techniques Corbym is using and the effect that has on the possibility of more people taking a truly (not faux)radical approach to politics. I say the effect is significant.
Another thing, don't confiscate my hyperbole, leave me something in my toolbox, God knows I've got little else!!!

2 W
Jul 24 2016 23:40

Some illogical idealitsic thoughts based on community organising experiences.

"Before I care what you know, I need to know that you care"

There's some big time organising that needs to be done and I think this article touches on that but I think also we have to create some real examples of projects that are collectively made and that put real benefits or useful tools in peoples hands.

Time has taught me amongst the small anount of peoples that make up my world that there are people who ask: 'Why is life so shit' and people that ask: 'what do I have to do to get myself through or out of this shit'. The latter are more hands on and practical the former more theoretical, you need both, but I feel a lot of Western anarchists at least (in my experience) fall into the theoretical camp.I have been guilty of trying to get people to shift from the 'what've I got to do to survive' camp to 'why is this life so shit' camp, thinking that this would work. Teaching someone to know inside and out why their house is falling down around them, who's fault it was and what could be done if we all knocked our houses down and built something new out of the rubble collectively.

Whilst I still think personally it's the most logical decision to take, this is where people get nasty and aggressive or look at me as though I've fallen out of the nonsense tree and hit every ugly stick on the way down.

I feel like the loneliness of anarchism isn't that nobody agrees with us, it's that people are saying give me the tools and I'll do this. As much as we need to organise I think we need to produce or make as well. If wherever we are we can work with people around us non radical and radical and create something of use: Free childcare, people to talk to, growing food, an hour a day when people can get some peace, a community kitchen, toolshares, housing repairs, lifts to and from town, a gym without gym fees, a place to gather where there aren't community centre rules, caretakers and curfews, popular education, western and non western health clinics or drop ins, sexual health clinics, community patrols instead of the cops, conflict resolution, temporary accommodation, rape crisis centre's etc. then we have say. If these mini backhands to the man, can be produced via mutual aid, collectively made by the people without begging for money from the state or permission from the police, and offered for free or at a minimal cost, we're good out here. People will get it. We're communicating our method visually - look we created this useful shit together, without any government interference or corporate dollars and we're sharing it for free, cos that's the way life should be.

This is slow to begin with but if we start where we're at and think of something useful that gives people a visual of living outside of the marketplace, I think we have more say, we're not just reliant on theory.

Sharing breeds sharing and I think once you've created a few examples of this wherever you find yourself based, no matter how small, you have more solid ground to work from. Here's the theory and here it is in action.

This brings me onto the last point, as well as setting up affinity groups, I think if resources could be put into these affinity groups networking better with each other, challenging each other and learning from eadh other, that would be dope too, I still feel like in the UK and North America social divisions have become so entrenched the more we can increase social mobility between social groupings the more we can challenge the capitalist battlelines that the system is reproducing and redeveloping consistently.

We've all been absorbed into capitalism's authoritarian supernova and in this theatre of fools, the voices of resistance and liberation can never be heard, people are looking not listening which is why instead of trying to shout we should look at sign language, I think small scale examples of a world beyond the supernova are worthy of some tlc too.

....Or maybe an Anarchist Go app where people wander around picking up characters, slogans and tales of struggle and resistance from liberatory history. Just caught Kropotkin found Emma Goldman but she was to quick for me, nearly got run over by a TESCO's lorry in the process too.

Noah Fence
Jul 24 2016 23:53

RG, the quotes are from an interview I saw with him on BBC Breakfast a few Sunday's back

S. Artesian
Jul 25 2016 00:46
JK/EG wrote:
It’s at this point that the usual response is “can’t we do both?”. “Can’t we build an autonomous grassroots working-class direct action movement AND fight to reform the Labour Party into a left-wing electable vote-winning machine?” And the answer to this is: theoretically, yes. But practically there are only 24 hours in a day, two-thirds of which are usually spent either sleeping or working. What has become clear with the recent coup (if it wasn’t already) is that reforming the Labour Party won’t be as easy as paying £3 to vote Corbyn as leader. It means getting involved in your Constituency Labour Party, pressuring your MP, possibly deselecting them, which, as Novara’s recent guide to deselection makes clear, could potentially involve “years of hard work in branches and constituencies across the country”. Which is fine; as the old cliché goes, ‘they wouldn’t call it a struggle if it was easy’. The point is whether the Labour Party is the best place to expend all that energy in struggle.

So the limit is....the same theoretical limit to the appropriation of surplus value? So many hours in a day? Theoretically, yes? Practically? Only if you forego sleep? Well how about a bit of the old division of labor? Half the comrades enter the Labour Party "to reform it into a left-wing electable vote-winning machine." The other half work outside the party, as a pressure group.

To me, this piece reads like attempt to guide people away from the Labour Party based not on what the party has been, is now, and will fundamentally remain (until it disintegrates); on its function in, of, and for capitalism regardless of its leadership, but rather on the basis of expediency.

This will sound familiar to those of us on this side of the Atlantic. That's been the mantra and the approach of those urging "dual approaches" to the Democrats; and/or building "local solidarity networks." And on the other side of the Atlantic? Doesn't that sound a whole lot like those advocating working with the "left-wing" of Syriza and/or the less radical iterations of autonomie "politics" --- without the programmatic areas for either/or/both collaboration and opposition?

Quote:
What has become clear with the recent coup (if it wasn’t already) is that reforming the Labour Party won’t be as easy

Wait, if there wasn't the attempt to unseat Corbyn in the Labour Party, that wouldn't be clear? And worse or better yet, is that, reforming the Labor Party, the goal? Coups or no coups?

The article as I read it fails to make the critical points-- that the Labor Party is an institution of capital; that the task is not to build "extra-parliamentary networks" to "pressure," or "reform" the Labor; nor to build such networks simply to build them. There has to be some kind of strategy, no? So method for building a critical mass that has shared goals; the fundamental shared goal being the overthrow of capital.

jesuithitsquad
Jul 25 2016 03:11
fingers malone wrote:
Back to this fundraising thing, the cleaners campaign raised thousands for strike pay, and I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that Sussex Uni were successful with online fundraising for their strike fund. So fundraising for direct action isn't impossible.

Possible problems:
Ok I do know that part of the reason my branch have trouble fundraising is because we're not actually very good at it, but if us and loads of other workforces massively raised our game and did effective online fundraising with a paypal account and stuff, wouldn't people quickly get compassion fatigue and ignore us? Isn't there limits on the 'buzz factor' and also isn't there a practical limit on how much spare cash people actually have available that they are prepared to donate to a strike fund?

Just using strike fund for an easy example, the same could be said of HASL or Sisters Uncut or any other DA group that could use the cash.

So, since reading your post about fundraising issues yesterday, I've kind of been obsessively thinking about this. As it's been noted--there are several things more important than money, but having it certainly makes doing those more important things significantly easier. I think it's a really important question. I'm not sure I have any answers per se, but maybe a few suggestions and more questions for discussion.

Firstly, I assume you're mostly referring to fundraising outside of regular dues--paying. So most of my response is framed around that assumption ( though i imagine some of it might apply as well). In my experience in order to have a successful fundraising campaign, broad, general appeals for funds are much less successful than an individual request. In another thread I think it was Serge who explained that getting people to write materials for a publication requires a little bit of person to person arm-twisting, and I think it's absolutely the case for money as well.

More mainstream NGO's/social justice groups use a canvassing model for fundraising, whether over the phone or in the field. The personal contact serves a dual purpose of informing supporters on campaign details as well fundraising. Now, this typically involves paid staff, something most of us aren't interested in having in radical groups, but I'm not sure paid staff are a necessary component for doing this style of fundraising. I'm sure I'm not the only one on libcom with experience doing this sort of work, so I'd be interested in hearing whether others think this model would be useful for more radical organizing.

One thing that happens with paid staff in this situation is the organizing part of the job often ends up taking a back seat to fundraising because one's job requires making a quota. Obviously, this aspect would be eliminated inherently, but I wonder--do people think our folks would do this kind of task as a volunteer? Anyone who has done this kind of fundraising will tell you it's not easy, but it can be rewarding.

But another barrier to using our contacts to fundraise on this model is the radical community's obsession with security culture. I don't want to derail too far with this observation, and I absolutely understand the necessity for being careful, especially in anti-fash work, the type of organizing at work that could get us fired, or more 'assertive' tactics on demos, but I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that security culture is often more of a hindrance to growth than it is helpful. All that to say, I do think there would likely be some resistance from some to getting phone calls or visits.

Another possibility would be for on-going, sustaining auto-deductions for subs or other contributions. I remember reading some criticisms of this model, but I don't recall what they are. Specifically, I seem to remember it being brought up in the IWA thread with regards to CNT. I am fully open to the possibility that there is a valid reason for opposing this model of which I'm unaware...

I'm really interested in what others think. Does anyone know of any groups in the milieu currently operating in a similar way?

jesuithitsquad
Jul 25 2016 04:45

SA--

I don't want to speak for ed or jk, but I read this language as an attempt at meeting people where they are, and not as an argument of 'if only there were more people we could do that too.'

Like, while smash the state, kill the bosses and their politicians might be our goal, it doesn't make a great introductory slogan to people dipping their toes into radical politics, who might not share all of our critiques of the state and its politics as of yet. I read this section as an attempt to make a practical, here and now explanation as to why electoral politics are a waste of time, even if you're not with us theoretically yet.

Are you saying you don't think that approach is good practice?

Noah Fence
Jul 25 2016 07:03
Quote:
this is something you can say about the entire left though.

This is and always has been true. I'm probably being a bit of a jerk on this thread and am pulling any old shit out of the hat. I guess I'm doing it to make my frustration obvious but the basics of what I say are right at the heart of my beliefs. This cutting extra slack for liberals when it suits an agenda seems so disenengenuous to me. I really think that Tory bashing feeds into people's notions of there being some value in liberal democracy, that it's worth voting for the 'nicer' party. It plays right into the hands of capitalism. I've witnessed it all my life with friends and family. It sickens me. Rob Ray smashed it in his Dear Messers Webb and Lustig piece. Phil has written really well around this too.

Spikymike
Jul 25 2016 10:31

jesui... may be right about the intention of the text that started this discussion, before Noah and friends diverted the discussion along familiar and well worn lines, but ultimately as I suggested in my earlier post here it might only add to the political confusion of those it was aimed at as in the post from Bk, so SA has a point.

And just briefly on what '2W' says above - I'm sure many of those anarchists and others who post here do engage in various of the kind of everyday practical projects listed and certainly they are of value, but all our efforts together cannot build these up into any kind of alternative that could compete with and replace the current state protected capitalism that monopolises the earths resources.

fingers malone
Jul 25 2016 11:24

"The fact is that outside of a lot of major cities, there isn’t a whole lot of extra-parliamentary direct action organising going on"

Ok this is true, why is it true? What are the problems in direct actions grassroots organising in smaller towns? There's a lot of poverty there.

The areas which do have solnets or IWGB branches and so on, what do they have in common? What are the demographic or structural factors that make these easier to set up?

S. Artesian
Jul 25 2016 12:09
jesuithitsquad wrote:
SA--

I don't want to speak for ed or jk, but I read this language as an attempt at meeting people where they are, and not as an argument of 'if only there were more people we could do that too.'

Like, while smash the state, kill the bosses and their politicians might be our goal, it doesn't make a great introductory slogan to people dipping their toes into radical politics, who might not share all of our critiques of the state and its politics as of yet. I read this section as an attempt to make a practical, here and now explanation as to why electoral politics are a waste of time, even if you're not with us theoretically yet.

Are you saying you don't think that approach is good practice?

I'm saying exactly what I said. The article is a bit fuzzy, don't you think, on exactly what the Labour Party is, why it is that way, and what the "goal" of a movement outside the Labour Party is: "pressure" the party? "capture" the party? get a good night's sleep?

The "practical here and now explanation as to why electoral politics are a waste of time" is not an explanation at all, and does not explain why electoral politics are a waste of time. That's the problem with the article, not that it doesn't demand "smash the state" etc etc etc. The article, in essence, advocates working outside electoral politics to make electoral politics, and the Labour Party, more effective.

fingers malone
Jul 25 2016 12:14

I don't think they mean that, I think they are trying to say that we need to work outside electoral politics, whether or not you think electoral politics are worthwhile or not.

S. Artesian
Jul 25 2016 14:45

Fingers,

I don't think they mean that either, but it's the lack of clarity, the ambiguity, that leaves the issue unresolved. I think the attempt is an attempt to use language that doesn't "alienate" "offend" or whatever, and in that process however, the authors lose sight of the need to challenge the institutional legitimacy of the Labour Party; the legitimacy of the organs of ruling class domination, and then wind up with a sort non-ngo service organization type appeal, as if somehow some sort of Geist suffices to build the movement that is able to(and required for) overthrow capital.

the button
Jul 25 2016 15:18
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Another possibility would be for on-going, sustaining auto-deductions for subs or other contributions. I remember reading some criticisms of this model, but I don't recall what they are. Specifically, I seem to remember it being brought up in the IWA thread with regards to CNT. I am fully open to the possibility that there is a valid reason for opposing this model of which I'm unaware...

I'm really interested in what others think. Does anyone know of any groups in the milieu currently operating in a similar way?

Both SolFed and the Anarchist Federation encourage members to pay their subs by Standing Order (a form of auto-deduction).

The IWW in the UK uses an automated payment system. The difference between the IWW and the two groups named above is that you can *join* the IWW by setting up an online regular payment -- i.e. without ever going to a meeting or having a 1-2-1 meet-up with a member about what's involved. People are often wary of this kind of set-up because (and I'm summarising) it makes joining too easy. On the other hand, it's pretty certain that it's a big factor in the growth of the IWW in the UK in recent years -- but it places responsibility on active members to encourage participation and engage what could otherwise be a large, passive 'paper' membership.

Chilli Sauce
Jul 25 2016 15:43
Quote:
Another possibility would be for on-going, sustaining auto-deductions for subs or other contributions. I remember reading some criticisms of this model, but I don't recall what they are

So, just on this, at least in the US IWW, this is inherited from the old IWW's concerns about business unionism where worker paid dues without ever interacting with the larger union. The idea was that by seeing a delegate it keeps the union in check and more actively involves the workers in the union itself.

It was a totally reasonable response to workings of the craft unions and, later, the maintenance of membership clauses in the mass industrial unions coming out of the CIO.

That said, I'm with you, I'm not sure it's totally relevant to 2016....

OliverTwister
Jul 25 2016 15:47
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
Another possibility would be for on-going, sustaining auto-deductions for subs or other contributions. I remember reading some criticisms of this model, but I don't recall what they are

So, just on this, at least in the US IWW, this is inherited from the old IWW's concerns about business unionism where worker paid dues without ever interacting with the larger union. The idea was that by seeing a delegate it keeps the union in check and more actively involves the workers in the union itself.

It was a totally reasonable response to workings of the craft unions and, later, the maintenance of membership clauses in the mass industrial unions coming out of the CIO.

That said, I'm with you, I'm not sure it's totally relevant to 2016....

There's also a proposal to implement this in North America, to be discussed at the upcoming Convention.

fingers malone
Jul 25 2016 21:25
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Firstly, I assume you're mostly referring to fundraising outside of regular dues--paying.

Hello, thanks for thoughtful response.

Yes, we do pay union dues but are not able to keep any of the subs money at branch level. We get strike pay from the union, but only for strikes that go on for more than three days continuously. We have had a lot of discontinuous strikes so I have calculated that I think not getting strike pay has cost me about 550 quid.

jesuithitsquad wrote:
More mainstream NGO's/social justice groups use a canvassing model for fundraising, whether over the phone or in the field.

My first reaction to this was that I would feel really uncomfortable doing this, I have no experience of this kind of fundraising but it's interesting.

jesuithitsquad
Jul 25 2016 22:07
fingers malone wrote:
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Firstly, I assume you're mostly referring to fundraising outside of regular dues--paying.

Hello, thanks for thoughtful response.

Yes, we do pay union dues but are not able to keep any of the subs money at branch level. We get strike pay from the union, but only for strikes that go on for more than three days continuously. We have had a lot of discontinuous strikes so I have calculated that I think not getting strike pay has cost me about 550 quid.

jesuithitsquad wrote:
More mainstream NGO's/social justice groups use a canvassing model for fundraising, whether over the phone or in the field.

My first reaction to this was that I would feel really uncomfortable doing this, I have no experience of this kind of fundraising but it's interesting.

For sure, it really sucks to directly ask people for money. I was really uncomfortable with it for a long time until I realized that if it's a cause people believe in, they expect the ask and they are actually happy about the opportunity to get involved financially..

factvalue
Jul 26 2016 10:38
radicalgraffiti wrote:
This is kind of why i don't think morals/ethics are all that useful for understanding politics, especially not when it focuses on the morals of individual people. The private motivations of the members of the tory or labour party, are impossible to determine and tell us vary little about what they do

Among other things the current ethical climate is characterised by a strong resistance to all forms of moralising, which is often seen as, and often is, elitist. But do you really believe that we'd be discussing extra-parliamentary organising if people's minds weren't poisoned by the enveloping climate of ideas within capitalism, like the idea that coercive authority creates a rational society, which like so many other currently popular notions may not even be fully conscious?

Ethics is unsettling. It's not very soothing to contemplate the possibility that, as ethical creatures, humans might have a disposition to acquiesce in emotional and cognitive pathways that we may not recognize in ourselves, or even be able to articulate, but which might be governing our social and political actions. But for example, one of the problems of creating a mass movement might be that in the prevailing ethical atmosphere in the wake of so much defeat people are more interested in their 'rights' than their virtues or (dare I even mention it?) their social responsibilities, so getting them to put the time in to organising rather than merely purchasing a vote is going to be harder.

In this era, in which there is widespread contempt for all but the most superficial thinking about how to live well, where 'rights' are given precedence over the capacities of the people possessing these rights, many people like yourself think it possible to create a just and rational society without just and rational people. I think that's probably just out to lunch. How long would it last, millions of people protecting themselves and their private vices against any suggestion of any form of claims against the other? The idea that people constantly make comparisons and judgements and condemn and admire and relentlessly form allegiances based on all this but that none of it has anything to do with politics is just plain weird. It IS politics. Just think of the servility involved in the ambition for respect in even the loosest social settings, even in web based three and four times removed anonymous Chinese parliaments like libcom.

Admiring capitalism (the right) or tolerating it (the left) are moral stances, and insulating yourself from the contemporary ethical environment in which this is taking place is a bafflingly apolitical ethical choice to make if you want to change anything.

If you wanted to really entrench 'business' and war and wage slavery and 'parliamentary democracy' deeply into a culture you'd need a story to sustain the conviction that this is all perfectly rational or civilised or scientific or free or at least as good as possible and certainly better than all the alternatives in some (as yet unspecified) way. Ethics is essential to maintaining sweat shops and concentration camps. Ignoring it is suicidal.

Steven.
Jul 26 2016 10:53
S. Artesian wrote:
Fingers,

I don't think they mean that either, but it's the lack of clarity, the ambiguity, that leaves the issue unresolved. I think the attempt is an attempt to use language that doesn't "alienate" "offend" or whatever, and in that process however, the authors lose sight of the need to challenge the institutional legitimacy of the Labour Party; the legitimacy of the organs of ruling class domination, and then wind up with a sort non-ngo service organization type appeal, as if somehow some sort of Geist suffices to build the movement that is able to(and required for) overthrow capital.

I think this might be a valid argument if the authors didn't also have a website with over 20,000 articles advocating the complete overthrow of capital and establishment of international libertarian communism…

Auld-bod
Jul 26 2016 11:03

I'd like to suggest that Factvalue puts his last post into the 'Anarchist Ethics' thread.

Spikymike
Jul 26 2016 18:20

Steven,
Too sensitive. Individual texts have to stand on their own terms in their content and clarity. I don't think criticism by SA (in his more combative style) or earlier by me involves any moral judgement on either the individual authors or the libcom collective presentation of it here aimed at encouraging discussion.

S. Artesian
Jul 26 2016 11:38
Steven. wrote:
S. Artesian wrote:
Fingers,

I don't think they mean that either, but it's the lack of clarity, the ambiguity, that leaves the issue unresolved. I think the attempt is an attempt to use language that doesn't "alienate" "offend" or whatever, and in that process however, the authors lose sight of the need to challenge the institutional legitimacy of the Labour Party; the legitimacy of the organs of ruling class domination, and then wind up with a sort non-ngo service organization type appeal, as if somehow some sort of Geist suffices to build the movement that is able to(and required for) overthrow capital.

I think this might be a valid argument if the authors didn't also have a website with over 20,000 articles advocating the complete overthrow of capital and establishment of international libertarian communism…

Except this isn't about the authors, and their website. It''s about what they produced right here.

Do they even reference their website, or any of their 20,000 articles advocating blahblahblah?

Good to have you back Steven. Missed your usual irrelevant commentary.

factvalue
Jul 26 2016 13:13
Auld-bod wrote:
I'd like to suggest that Factvalue puts his last post into the 'Anarchist Ethics' thread.

Will do but it was in response to a comment about the irrelevance of ethics to politics by RG on here earlier and in the context of the article currently being discussed, in which the view had been advanced that motivations are not connected with actions. That view seems rather odd to me, to say the least, so I just thought I'd relate my own viewpoint on how the contemporary ethical environment in the UK is having a deleterious effect on direct action and organising.

fingers malone
Jul 26 2016 13:26

I'm gonna have a go at answering my own questions a bit about why the solnets and radical unions are where they are and are not where they are not.

Are people who are disaffected and have left wing ideas more likely to move to the big cities? It feels that way from the perspective of someone who lives in the big city, what does it look like from the small towns?

People in smaller towns may feel more vulnerable. I have family in small towns, when they have tried to organise stuff, against racism directed at a black person who moved on to the estate for example, they were upset that lots of people were responding 'oh no I don't want any trouble'. Same for a campaign against a land grab. People didn't want conflict. This can be a factor in a big city too, where you have tight knit communities, but it's worse in a small town.

Class composition varies a lot from one place to another, different industries have a different culture. Mining, fishing, these are industries which produce a tight knit working class community, towns where most people travel to a variety of other places to work will have a different culture. In prosperous southern towns people hope to make a lot of money from rising house prices, how does this affect local political culture?

fingers malone
Jul 26 2016 13:29

I'm trying to discuss the actual points raised in the actual OP, should I do this or just not bother and repeat some arguments about the Labour Party I've had on other threads with people I don't like?

the button
Jul 26 2016 15:30
fingers malone wrote:
I'm trying to discuss the actual points raised in the actual OP, should I do this or just not bother and repeat some arguments about the Labour Party I've had on other threads with people I don't like?

Actually, the Labour Party is bad.

Chilli Sauce
Jul 26 2016 15:41

That's a good post, Fingers.

In my experience, the reason more radical groups get off the ground in cities is just that there's a much larger pool of people. Instead of trying to pull 10 radicals out of groups of 100,000, in a city you're pulling from a group of 1 million.

I also think - in terms of radical political groups which, at least from my impression, have a higher percentage of university graduates than the wider population - the concentration of universities in cities fuels the existence of radical groups in urban areas.