Aims and Principles

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knightrose
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Jul 21 2005 20:16
Aims and Principles

We've discussed at conference writing the Aims and Principles and have also started discussing this on the website thread.

I posted the following set of principles - the ones Subversion used. We actually nicked them from Intercom, which was a project dating from the early 80s trying to bring together various libertarian and anarchist communist groups. I'm not suggesting them for the AF, but think they show these things can be done briefly:

WHAT WE STAND FOR

We meet regularly for political discussion and to organise our activities. The following is a brief description of our basic political principles:

- We are against all forms of capitalism; private, state and self-managed.

- We are for communism, which is a classless society in which all goods are distributed according to needs and desires.

- We are actively opposed to all ideologies which divide the working class, such as religion, sexism and racism.

- We are against all expressions of nationalism, including "national liberation" movements such as the IRA.

- The working class (wage labourers, the unemployed, housewives, etc.) is the revolutionary class; only its struggle can liberate humanity from scarcity, war and economic crisis.

- Trade unions are part of the capitalist system, selling our labour power to the bosses and sabotaging our struggles. We support independent working class struggle, in all areas of life under capitalism, outside the control of the trade unions and all political parties.

- We totally oppose all capitalist parties, including the Labour Party and other organisations of the capitalist left. We are against participation in fronts with these organisations.

- We are against participation in parliamentary elections; we are for the smashing of the capitalist state by the working class and the establishment of organisations of working class power.

- We are against sectarianism, and support principled co-operation among revolutionaries.

- We exist to actively participate in escalating the class war towards communism.

I'd like to intiate a proper discussion on the subject. Actually, I'm away on holiday on Friday, but would love to see this as a detailed thread when I get back smile

nastyned
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Jul 22 2005 10:43

I prefer things written out as a coherent whole not a series of points. Something like the blurb in resistance but maybe a bit sexier:

The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle

anarchists aiming to abolish capitalism and all oppression to

create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism.

We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.

As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it, such as working through parliament and national liberation movements, as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.

Organisation is vital if we’re to beat the bosses, so we work for a united anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations.

knightrose
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Jul 22 2005 13:02

we seem to be discussing this on two threads now ... and I'm doing it as well ...

thaw
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Jul 28 2005 22:31

Problem, I am not against wars of self-determination against imperialism. (seems to be a weakness on the left?)

Mike Harman
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Jul 28 2005 22:37

Are you in favour of self-determination for the bourgeios of countries fighting imperialism. Self-determination is incompatible with bourgeios nationalism.

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oisleep
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Jul 28 2005 22:42
Catch wrote:
Self-determination is incompatible with bourgeios nationalism.

confused

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oisleep
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Jul 28 2005 22:46

i thought the two were one and the same

Mike Harman
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Jul 28 2005 23:18

proper self-determination - the right of people to decide for themselves - means the self-determination of the commune/collective/individual. What it means in common parlance is the self-determination of new ruling class, which is an oxymoron imo.

Dumfries
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Aug 4 2005 11:13

What happened to the rejection of organised religion and beliefs?

meanoldman
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Aug 4 2005 12:15
Quote:
Problem, I am not against wars of self-determination against imperialism. (seems to be a weakness on the left?)

Support for nationalism in the third world may be a weakness of left, but it certainly isn't a weakness of the AF, we have always rejected nationalism in all forms.

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 5 2005 12:44

Concerning the sixth point on armed struggle (http://www.libcom.org/hosted/af/aims.html), I think alterations should (especially) be made (the last point on religion is another question).

I'm very critical of prescribing tactics in general, and especially sth which is probably suicidal under the conditions of modern warfare, and definitely politically suicidal at the present moment, which is why even those who believe in it would benefit if they took a more flexible approach in propaganda.

A particularly good reason to modify (or simply not mention) this at this particular moment is the changing climate towards political "radicalism" of all sorts, which could put (primarily) non-British anarchists into a lot of trouble.

Two examples:

LONDON - Prime Minister

Tony Blair on Friday announced new deportation measures against those who foster hatred and advocate violence, as his government tries to counter Islamic extremists in Britain.

Blair said the government would draw up a list of extremist Web sites, book shops and organizations and said that involvement with them could be a trigger to deport foreign nationals.

Times article comparing Al-Qaeda and anarchists - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1072-1721466,00.html

Comradely,

Dan

Mike Harman
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Aug 5 2005 13:59

Regardless of the pros and cons of that particular aim. Do you really think the AF should be changing its A&P's because Blair's flexing his muscles?

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 5 2005 15:25
Catch wrote:
Regardless of the pros and cons of that particular aim. Do you really think the AF should be changing its A&P's because Blair's flexing his muscles?

Firstly, I think there are enough reasons to change it regardless of the recent developments.

It's hard for me to get the "real picture" as I'm currently out of Britain, but it's definitely not just "Blair flexing his muscles". Blasphemous as it may sound to some, it's perfectly revolutionary to adopt to changing circumstances/circumstances in general (current levels of class consciousness which is very hostile and unreceptive to traditional anarchist iconography and rhetorics...).

knightrose
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Aug 8 2005 07:33

It's not actually about armed struggle, is it? It says that revolution will in all likelihood involve violence. I'm essentially non-violent myself, but never equate the violence of the oippressed defending themselves with that of the rulers. It seems a simple equation to me. We don't need to change the aims immediately to react to the state's statements. We don't need to pretend we think other than we do. You know my views on rewriting the whole thing though.

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 8 2005 17:12
knightrose wrote:
It's not actually about armed struggle, is it? It says that revolution will in all likelihood involve violence. I'm essentially non-violent myself, but never equate the violence of the oippressed defending themselves with that of the rulers.

No one here equates them (I clearly differentiate between the two in an article that will probably be published in the next Black Flag for instance). I did mean armed struggle, because if you stretch the definition of violence too far you end up with meaningless/Gandhian concepts, which fail in satisfying my extremism:)

darren red star
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Aug 8 2005 19:00

There are two linked dangers here, one is to take blair too seriously and hide our real political ends and beliefs for fear of being shunted off to 'new' labour camps the other is to dismiss his governments statements as strictly being about 'islamic ' terror and nothing to do withus.

It is clear that blairs govt. is attempting to use the atmosphere of fear created by the terror attacks in london to promote a far more authoritarian agenda; the velvet glove slips to reveal the iron gauntlet.

As libertarian communists we should see this as confirmation of our arguments about the nature of the state as a weapon of repressive force- but that blair and his cronys need the excuse ofreacting to horrendous acts of terrorist violence in order to introduce such measures shows their weakness- their dependency upon the aquiesance of the bulk of the population , and thus their fear of what might happen if we refused to go along with their plans.

To suggest that the afeds laudable statement of aims and principles should be altered to prevent it falling foul of the new mood is to miss the point of having a revolutionary group, ever so often you run the possibility of breaking some capitalist law

gawkrodger
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Aug 8 2005 21:42
darren redparty wrote:

To suggest that the afeds laudable statement of aims and principles should be altered to prevent it falling foul of the new mood is to miss the point of having a revolutionary group, ever so often you run the possibility of breaking some capitalist law

bang on the money shot!

The Porkadian
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Aug 9 2005 00:09

with the new proposed laws concerning people preaching hate and violence will this not cover everyone that the government considers a threat, say the womens institute were to slow hand clap tony blair again will they all be ejected from the country, just a case of big brother getting bigger aint it, or am I just saying whats been said already.

just in case.... free cheese for everyone, hopefully no ones said that.

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 9 2005 03:54
darren redparty wrote:
To suggest that the afeds laudable statement of aims and principles should be altered to prevent it falling foul of the new mood is to miss the point of having a revolutionary group, ever so often you run the possibility of breaking some capitalist law.

Like I already said a few times, the new stance is just one of the reasons why the A&Ps should be modified. A truly revolutionary approach with regards to the 6th point (and the point on religion basically revolves around the same problem - lack of flexibility & an almost religious adherence to absolutist concepts) means:

a) being open to the possibility of an (at least predominantly) unarmed revolution (happened in the past), rather than legislating how we'll fight come the glorious day - therefore (at least) leaving this issue aside (or implicit) like most antiauthoritarian groups do

b) understanding where the masses of people (in contemporary Britain) come from, their daily life experience, ideology etc. and how AFs imagery (from the black fetish on the website to its rhetorics) is light years away from them - playing into the hands of liberals, reactionaries and Trots (maybe I'm repeating myself), thus remaining utterly impotent as it is today

c) having practical solidarity with your comrades who may be risking more than you are, like being deported

darren red star
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Aug 9 2005 08:47

I'll try to address each point that gentle revolutionary raises,

Firstly I am a newcomer to the Afed, what attracts me to it is firstly, it intellectual background, especially on the af north site, and its willingness to investigate different approaches to the transformation of the world.

My approach to revolution is on the 'right to violence' thread on the introductionary forum, unfortunatly for anyone who has been a witness to REAL violence, the overthrowing of the capitalist class will involve a unknown amount of violence, determined,not by us, but by the dtermination of the bourgeouis to cling onto their power.It is not for any programme or 'sermon on the mount' to determine the future course of human liberation, the important , in my view, purpose of A+P is to tell the TRUTH about where we are and what we want. Gentle is worried that we may isolate ourselves from the rest of the population if we include Revolutionary phrases, may then I suggest that we drop that rather revolutionary 'Anarchist' from the name of the group?

The real important thing is not to lie about what we are about!

This is how Manny Neira put it in red star 2:

'You recieve an invitation to dinner from friends. ON arriving, you find dimmed lights and candles, but you were expecting those. No, what really catches your attention is the live goat strapped to the dinner table. YOur friend welcomes you, resplendant in a black cloak and carrying a dagger, and offers you a glass of red wine witha somewhat heavy consistency.

" Um, yes, yes, the cars running fine.... look you seem to be holding some kind of black mass."

"Oh yes, we didn't mention that, it tends to put people off a bit."

Now for all I know, dear reader, under such circumstances you might leap injoyfully screaming the names of the dark angels, I'm guessing, though, that you'd leave.

To put it simply, revolutionaries should not be dressing in reformist clothes because they believe workers 'might be put off' by revolutionary politics. First and foremost, it is a deceit. Fail to convince someone for the case for revolution today, and you may still be able to tomorrow. Convince them that you cannot be trusted to argue your politics openly and honestly today, and you may find that you can never convince them of any thing again.'

Gentle Revolutionarys final point is that we may be making a bold statement, whilst not taking the risk that face foreign comrades in being faced with deportation. Revolutionary posturing is sadly a common malady across our movement,and if this is what this is all about then I would be in full agreement with him/her. But I am afraid that ther are two problems with the argument that GR puts forward: the first, is purely one of fact, Blair and his cronys are now talking of trying those who advocate violence for treason if they are british citizens, and deporting them if not, the risk for 'home grown' revolutionaries is there, but the real risk is not the application of the law, but the fear of the law

IF we hide our true political beliefs in order to avoid the eyes of the state, we do not protect our foreign comrades, but in fact, we make it easier to pick them off one by one as we hide and do not speak out.

Secondly, Gentle Revolutionary is seriously mistaken in believing that the state considers a pacifist, non violent revolution, as anything but the 'ultimate' violence, in the eyes of the capitalist class, to take away its property, its wealth, is THE act of violence, therfore gentle revolutionary will find themslves sharing the same cells as the rest of us.

In addition to this I think there is a mistake in thinking that what is written carries more weight than what is done.

The state does not pour over our A+P, scrutinising our published work before deciding whevther we contitute a risk to the safety of the state. It is our actions that count.

many years ago when I was living in Leeds some young asian lads were arrested by the cops for defending their community from an attack by nazis, I approached a member of a trot sect who worked at the same place as me and asked him if his comrades would be coming to the picket of the police station that afternoon.

" No, we won't as we don't want our photographs taken by special branch" was the reply of this brave member of the vanguard.

My reply was to suggest that anyone making a claim to be a political activist would be outraged NOT to have thier own dossier at special branch.( but in rather pithier language)

Remember the state has bugged, harrassed, imprisoned and even killed pacifists that threaten their interests in the past, it has no qualms about using violence in its own defence and does not hold its blows because we eschew violence ourselves.

My apologies for such a long post, I feel that Gentle Revolutionarys points deserve a proper and full reply

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 9 2005 18:55
Quote:
It is not for any programme or 'sermon on the mount' to determine the future course of human liberation, the important , in my view, purpose of A+P is to tell the TRUTH about where we are and what we want.

Precisely, which I'm NOT opposing - AF wants a revolution and I want it also. However, I don't necessarily advocate violence and armed struggle (being from Croatia I have a clearer perception of what it entails) which AF obviously has a need to legislate, and in a "sermon on the mount" style as well I'm sorry to say.

Quote:
Gentle is worried that we may isolate ourselves from the rest of the population if we include Revolutionary phrases, may then I suggest that we drop that rather revolutionary 'Anarchist' from the name of the group?

The real important thing is not to lie about what we are about!

Darren, there's nothing revolutionary in not being able to communicate with people. We must be an ideological "vanguard" of the working class, but in order to be successful we must also fight against our own complacency. Now that you mention it - yes, people know I'm against the name "Anarchist Federation" - Anarcho-communist/Anarcho-socialist/Libertarian communist are much better when it comes to approaching the general population.

Quote:
To put it simply, revolutionaries should not be dressing in reformist clothes

Why are you imputing me this? That's really not an honest thing to say.

Quote:
IF we hide our true political beliefs in order to avoid the eyes of the state, we do not protect our foreign comrades, but in fact, we make it easier to pick them off one by one as we hide and do not speak out.

Again, this has nothing to do with what I was talking about.

Quote:
The state does not pour over our A+P, scrutinising our published work before deciding whether we contitute a risk to the safety of the state. It is our actions that count.

That's only partly true (as the article in "Studies in Conflict & Terrorism" shows - http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=65645#65645), but it would be completely fatalistic and simply false to claim we have no input when it comes to the amount of repression the authorities are capable of instituting. Such a callous approach has nothing to do with being revolutionary.

Quote:
I approached a member of a trot sect who worked at the same place as me and asked him if his comrades would be coming to the picket of the police station that afternoon.

" No, we won't as we don't want our photographs taken by special branch" was the reply of this brave member of the vanguard.

My reply was to suggest that anyone making a claim to be a political activist would be outraged NOT to have thier own dossier at special branch.( but in rather pithier language)

Again, only partly true. It's true in this particular case that you mentioned and in the sense wanna-be-revolutionaries mustn't be cowards, but an intelligent approach would mean we try to avoid it where possible. Wombles' delusion that they must be dangerous to the system merely because they face repression is remarkably childish, and it would be foolishness to decimate the movement with irresponsible "militancy".

Quote:
Remember the state has bugged, harrassed, imprisoned and even killed pacifists that threaten their interests in the past, it has no qualms about using violence in its own defence and does not hold its blows because we eschew violence ourselves.

Fair enough. But, as answered above - "it would be completely fatalistic and simply false to claim we have no input when it comes to the amount of repression the authorities are capable of instituting." It's a Gandhian notion that nonviolence can strongly diminish the direct hostility of the authorities. What the Salt march, for instance, has actually shown, is that the main benefit of using nonviolent direct action is the "boomerang" effect (also called political jiu-jitsu) it has on the perpetrators of violence due to the withdrawal of support of third parties (the "public opinion" etc.), and often parts of the elite itself (I'm primarily talking about a pre-revolutionary period here, and wouldn't want to enter into another long debate about nonviolent vs. violent revolutions, which is besides the point here).

I remain on the position that to leave the As&Ps as they are would be immature ("pounding on our chests")...future will tell if past can't (Hegel was largely right).

Comradely,

Dan

circle A red n black star red star

knightrose
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Aug 13 2005 11:40

Dan, I don't think any of us actually want a violent revolution. I certainly don't. The rest of us in Manchester don't either. The issue, though, is about how we defend ourselves. Too often I've seen the state attack workers - often quite violently, and I've heard "self-styled anarchists" complain that the workers response has not been pacifist. People will defend themselves if attacked. It is not up to us to tell them whether to do so or not.

One point is that if workers are prepared to defend themselves then the state is less willing to attack. I think that's what most of us think.We certainly don't look forward to celebrating more masasacres of workers as glorious defeats.

I do think that the British state is well aware of how little threat we pose them. I doubt we'll be labled as a serious danger at the moment. If only it were otherwise ...

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 14 2005 09:07
knightrose wrote:
People will defend themselves if attacked. It is not up to us to tell them whether to do so or not.

Exactly, which is the reason why I think such an explicit statement isn't necessary (while being detrimental for various reasons I've already mentioned).

knightrose
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Aug 14 2005 09:15

maybe, but the reason it is there has an awful lot to do for the crap that passes for anarchism in many circles. You must have come across them. Liberal do-gooder pacifists. We have to distinguish ourselves from them.

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 14 2005 13:36
knightrose wrote:
maybe, but the reason it is there has an awful lot to do for the crap that passes for anarchism in many circles. You must have come across them. Liberal do-gooder pacifists. We have to distinguish ourselves from them.

I can't say I came across many of them. And I don't think we have to fear their infiltration. I would actually be in favour of making the website look a little bit less "militant", as it has that "black fetish - prophetic style".

In any case, we can distinguish ourselves from them by stressing our commitment to class struggle as the only correct way towards the liberation of humanity, without predetermining the form in which that class struggle will take place.

Mike Harman
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Aug 14 2005 14:42
knightrose wrote:
Liberal do-gooder pacifists. We have to distinguish ourselves from them.

There's a lot of liberals (individualists anyway) who aren't pacifists. Accepting the need for (largely defensive) violence during a revolution, especially where the position can be explained in detail, is a bit different to having it as a "principle".

nastyned
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Aug 14 2005 15:49

I always thought thought that principle was pretty well worded. Doesn't it just say 'revolution will be a time of violence as well as liberation'? Which is true isn't it?

Mike Harman
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Aug 14 2005 16:26

Isn't it a prediction rather than a principle?

nastyned
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Aug 14 2005 20:00

I think it's a principle. Violence is inevitable in a revolutionary situation and it shows we recognise and accept this.

gentle revolutionary
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Aug 15 2005 05:47
nastyned wrote:
I think it's a principle. Violence is inevitable in a revolutionary situation and it shows we recognise and accept this.

It is clear to everyone what the 6th point means - an armed revolution is inevitable and necessary. I could give you about 20 examples (in the past, the future is naturally even more dubious!) where this "absolute law" failed to materialise.

(And this has nothing to do with the fact that it's counterrevolutionary to use such rhetorics in this day and age (radicalism and extremism are two very different things, and by this we're doing libertarian socialism a big disservice), regardless of whether armed struggle might be necessary, which no one can know.)

nastyned
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Aug 15 2005 09:36
gentle revolutionary wrote:
It is clear to everyone what the 6th point means - an armed revolution is inevitable and necessary.

Is that a fact? Again, the principle is simply: "revolution will be a time of violence as well as liberation". No mention of armed struggle, though it leaves the question open, which I think is the right position to take.

As even medium sized demonstrations in Britain often end in violence I have no doubt at all that there will be violence associated with world revolution.