Campaigns and priorities?

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Spikymike
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Apr 11 2007 17:02
Campaigns and priorities?

I notice Bob says at the end of his interview for Freedom (on this website) and in answer to the Question 'Can you tell us some of the issues that AF is campaigning on at the moment', after mentioning specifically 'anti-ID' as a headliner and then listing - Social centres, IWW,and Rossport, 'The list just keeps going on'.

Well I'm not sure how many other things AF members are actually involved in. In theory it could be any multiple, times your number of members I suppose, but I believe you rightly aspire to a collective approach: namely collective organisation, collective analysis and collective activity, so you must presumably prioritise your collective activities?

The problem for me is that I cannot see any public explanation of why you have prioritised these particular activities or the reasons for your particular form of involvement in what are referred to as 'campaigns'.

The apparently muddled approach towards the membership of the IWW is a case in point. I appreciate that an anarchist organisation cannot instruct its members in a particular direction but the current rather laissez-faire approach is surely unsatisfactory? A consistent strategic approach to workplace organising is essential whilst preserving members abillity to be creative on the spot, but you don't seem there yet. Still I believe you are hoping to sort that out at your next conference?

The anti-ID thing is another one which bothers me. Obnoxious as the whole State policy is to me, I wonder on what basis we can seriously engender mass opposition to it? Obviously all anarchist and other anti-state communists will be ant-ID but it seems you have to convince people to be thoroughly anti-state first in this case, unless you are going to rely on liberal sympathies, which seems a genuine danger. Some anarchists with localist sympathies are already looking sympathetically at the Liberal Democrats and the liberal 'No to ID' as a result of this.

And there is Rossport which as a local campaign has been quite inspiring but again I am unsure in terms of actual AF activity what the priority is here?

I do understand that some activities will simply follow what is happening where local members are based but would still like a little more clarity on what the AF as a whole has as its priorities and why?

This issue has been discussed elswhere on this Web site in relation to the Irish WSM. I am not suggesting you follow their route in terms of leftist campaigning, but some more consistent connection between analysis and activity would be welcome.

Maybe see this as a primer for further discussion when we perhaps meet up next time?

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madashell
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Apr 11 2007 18:17

A number of AF members are particularly active in Rossport solidarity stuff, I think that's what Bob was referring to in the interview.

raw
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Apr 11 2007 23:26

Are AF as an organisation involved in Social Centres? No. Just some random members who would be involved in Social Centres regardless of the fact that they are involved in AF. I'm not making a dig but there is a distinction here between inviduals who are members of AF and AF as an organisation - this is something which has always confused me. I would welcome AF as an organisation to support and develop social centres and there use BTW.

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Steven.
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Apr 12 2007 09:05

I think as it is now "The AF" isn't involved with anything *as* an organisation, is it? So it would only be stuff its members were

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tokenfreshman
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Apr 12 2007 11:40

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nastyned
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Apr 12 2007 15:55

I'm quite happy with our current approach to the IWW. At the moment I'm dead against a 'one policy fits all' approach to workplace activity. So long as we are encouraging grassroots workplace resistance i think the specifics of if it is inside or outside of TUC unions or the IWW is less important, and indeed trying to make some binding policy could be harmful.

We've got involved with anti-id card stuff to a large extent because we think it's important, and has potential to grow. We have, as a organision, put out pamphets, stickers and posters and groups and individuals have been involved in doing stuff.

Even if we wanted to I don't see how the AF as an orgaisation could be involved in social centers.

And as to the last point, I can't read hieroglyphics!

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madashell
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Apr 12 2007 16:29

"What is with everyone talking bout anarchist?"

Which is barely a sentence even when you translate it from the original fuckwit.

nastyned
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Apr 12 2007 16:38

Inventing new ways of being incomprehensible shows a certain creativity though.

Spikymike
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Apr 14 2007 12:55

Nastyned doesn't really explain anything in the terms I was trying to address. (Reread my original post).

You may be satisfied with the 'approach' of the AF to the IWW but is that a 'policy' or not? Are all the other members happy with this 'approach' No one knows.

Are you saying that you are happy for the AF not to have a policy at all on how its members relate to workplace struggles - short and long term - beyond the vague 'encouraging grass routes resistance' ? or are you saying that it is the AF policy that its members should work inside or outside the existing unions or try to build alternative unions (locally/internationally?) depending on local/specific circumstances? If the latter, this would still need some more explanation by the AF and some examples of how this has/is working in different situations in practice.

I know AF members have participated in some of the useful Lib Com discussion threads on the 'Union' question, expressing their individual views, but the AFcollectively still seems to be ambivalent on this issue?

On ID you say involvement results from your assessment that 'it is important and has potential to grow'. We may agree that it is important (though how important relative to other struggles was really my question) but what potential to grow does it have and why - this is where my doubts lie. Presumably the AF doesn't opportunisticly involve itself an any particular 'campaign' just because it has the potential to grow?

This questioning is not intended to point score off the AF which I am sympathetic to. I am just trying to encourage some deeper consideration of the issues and some clarification of my own thoughts.

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madashell
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Apr 14 2007 15:11
Spikymike wrote:
Are you saying that you are happy for the AF not to have a policy at all on how its members relate to workplace struggles - short and long term - beyond the vague 'encouraging grass routes resistance' ? or are you saying that it is the AF policy that its members should work inside or outside the existing unions or try to build alternative unions (locally/internationally?) depending on local/specific circumstances? If the latter, this would still need some more explanation by the AF and some examples of how this has/is working in different situations in practice.

We do need to be a little clearer on this, IMO. It's a bit up in the air at the moment as we haven't decided exactly where we stand on tactical unity, involvement in campaings as an organisation, etc., though we will work something out very soon.

nastyned
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Apr 14 2007 17:03
Spikymike wrote:

You may be satisfied with the 'approach' of the AF to the IWW but is that a 'policy' or not? Are all the other members happy with this 'approach' No one knows.

Acutally I do.

At the last conference there was a discussion on the IWW and after discusion the sentence from our 'strategy and tactics' document saying we shouldn't waste our time with the IWW was deleted, but nothing calling for us to support IWW was put in its place either.

And I'm quite happy with that.

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Tacks
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Apr 15 2007 12:37
John. wrote:
I think as it is now "The AF" isn't involved with anything *as* an organisation, is it? So it would only be stuff its members were

yeah.

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Tacks
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Apr 15 2007 12:59

Right.

well the AF does not have any hard and fast campaigns that all groups must be involved with but because we have a lot of internal communiation, when we adopt a campign - be it rossport or defy-ID - it does become pretty universal.

There are indeed countless campaigns we are involved with and initiatives we have started - and if i slack off again in a bit i'll go into them - but the distinction is between the AF as a whole doing it, and AF members doing it because they are anarcho-communists. The main little nugget to get from bobs interview is that the AF was and primarily is an anarchist propaganda group. This is changing in practice because of its growth, but at an organisational level it has not changed yet. There is a drive to formalise this and get an idea of how and what local activity should be, but it hasn't happened yet.

knightrose
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Apr 16 2007 11:40

we decided as a group to involve ourselves with defy id at the last Manchester conference. that is because we see it as a major attack on working class people. we left the iww in limbo at the last conference and are continuing the discussion at this one. things take time.

knightrose
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Apr 16 2007 11:40

we decided as a group to involve ourselves with defy id at the last Manchester conference. that is because we see it as a major attack on working class people. we left the iww in limbo at the last conference and are continuing the discussion at this one. things take time.

Spikymike
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May 8 2007 17:16

From earlier postings I gather a number of the issues I raised in my two earlier postings were probably discussed at the last AF conference so is it possible to open up some of the debate I tried to initiate before?

I noted for example that AF members in Nottingham through their activity in Defy-ID, their local Social Centre and a local AF freesheet the 'Nottingham Sparrow' , had made some clear attempt to demonstrate the connections between various of the states attacks (including on asylum seekers and migrants) and to encourage on the back of that some practical joining of forces of the currently small minorities resisting these attacks. I think this was the working out of a conscious 'strategy' of some kind, and can be tested in practice as to its worth, (in the absense of more generalised struggle). However it is a 'strategy' that is not so apparent in the work of other AF members, which may in turn reflect the fact that some still do not fully understand the connection I tried to draw intially between collective analysis, collective strategy and collective organisation in a pro revolutionary group?

By the way, I note that some contributors here made a distinction between AF members doing things and the AF as an organisation doing things, especially in relation to 'social centres'. Of course the AF is not organising social centres as such but, as discussion of this at its conference shows, there is some kind of AF strategy guiding its members activity here (even if that strategy may not be unique to the AF).

So it is with the strategy in relation to workplace struggles and the role of the Unions. The AFappears to have a strategy on this which is carefully explained in a number of documents (if not clearly in its principles). For instance in the three part document published on its web site under the tilte 'The Union Makes Us Strong?' This strategy does not however sit happily with its members diverse practice in relation to the IWW, though that may be explained in part by the IWW's own confused understanding of what it is or can be in practice.

Lack of a clear strategy may also explain some other inadequacies in AF publications, which seem to want to 'popularise' the AF in the eyes of various 'activists' and 'campaigners' but without a distinctive anarchist-communist perspective? For instance the latest 'Northern Resistance' starts off with a rousing front page 'Reclaim May Day' message, but then proceeds to publish material on Academies and Council housing which, whilst not 'wrong', fail to go beyond a general leftist political analysis. Add to this, an IWW article urging people to write to the Chief Exec of the NBS and a confused interview with a very confused anarchist M & S picketeer, with a photo of other pro Palestinian nationalist supporters and you begin to wonder what the point of the exercise is?

I understand that the AF want to encourage a 'community of resistance' and its efforts, including those I have criticised above, surely do help encourage some sort of resistance, but the 'community' element seems missing, since connections are often not made either in anaysis or practice. May be people think the underlying analysis will somehow emmerge from regular reading of these freesheets or that once 'hooked' on the popular stuff, reading more in depth material will correct any previous misunderstandings? But isn't this precisely the leftist approach that the AF rejects?

We probably all engage in some activities as individuals which don't distinguish us as 'anarchist or libertarian communists' particularly, but which seem worthwhile at the time, but pro revolutionary minorities in their collective activity and in their publications must surely put forward a distinctive voice, even if that sometimes makes them unpopular.

These criticisms may seem harsh, given all the effort and commitment of AF members, but I'm sure the AF could be even more effective as an anarchist communist group with a little more strategic thinking.

I'm not looking for quick responses here but some wider debate on this site could benefit both the AF and others?

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madashell
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May 8 2007 19:19

I can see where you're coming from, but personally, I don't think groups like the AF can instil (for lack of a better word) this wider analysis in the class, rather, it's something that develops out of "creating" practical links between existing struggles. It's not enough for the AF to just publish an article explaining how, for instance, the struggle against ID cards and the struggle against the oppression of migrant workers are connected, what I'd like to see the AF doing is actively trying to make those links concrete, using the connections we have as workers in struggle to encourage the local Defy-ID group to work more closely with local immigrant groups, local anti-war groups to work closely with MFAW, etc.

Saying that, I'm deeply skeptical of the idea that communists are the most important ingrediant in a communist revolution, iyswim, the AF are still only a minority tendancy trying to influence things in the right direction.

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little_brother
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May 9 2007 15:18

The federal structure of the AF allows us to share ideas and tactics that arise (and are tried out) mostly at the local group level. As far as I see it, the AF recognised the importance of being involved with anti-ID campaigning as an organisation once it was clear that members were already getting stuck into local campaigns in several towns and that there was a need for a specifically anarchist intervention against the reactionary 'ID won't stop...' messages coming out of No2ID and Liberty. After that you could say that AF's strategy was to encourage more members to get involved, and to support production of a pamphlet (which greatly helped develop our politics as well as contributed to getting the anti-ID message out), stickers, and most recently a CD.

Later on, the importance of connecting anti-ID to immigration more concretely became apparent, initiated through Nottingham Defy-ID. In Nottingham this recognition has also helped revitialise No Borders Nottingham which is now making situation of immigrants much more visible locally and is getting a lot more people involved. So our strategy has really been 'emergent' rather than platformist which I think worked fine in this case. Local circumstances play a big part in what members do in practice which is fair enough for a small organisation so if not all members get involved that's OK.

Battlescarred
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May 9 2007 16:43

What Little Brother says is spot on. This is what real, living, anarchist organisation is about. Practice at the roots- the local groups and individuals- translated into a collective practice in the organisation as a whole and a constant dialectic between the two.
This is one of the reasons it IS worth joining one of the national organisations. It makes us more effective. And I'd urge anyone who isn't in a national organisation already to do so so soon (preferably AF! smile )

Spikymike
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May 9 2007 20:04

The point about strategies emmerging from some intial (local) forays/experimenting in activities followed by discussion at national (and international?) level is well made and as long as this actually happens justifies the approach. It does mean, if done consciously (which it really should), that some activities of local groups and individuals would sometimes have to either radically change or even cease alltogether though.

On the point about the articles on Academies and Council Housing I note that the main threads discussion on the NHS (including an aside on Council Housing) has reemerged and makes some good points, though a more detailed discussion on the current Council House 'privatisation' issue would still be worthwhile.