The AF and Solfed

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knightrose
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Dec 2 2005 06:52

A quick reply to Magnifico. Whatever we have said, I don't believe we have ever said solfed are sectarian.

magnifico
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Dec 2 2005 11:17

I wasn't saying that you had all said that!

Yeah, looking back, the posts I mainly had in mind look like they were probably written by people who aren't in either group, just to confuse me. Sorry!

Hope no-one thinks that we are, anyway!

gangster
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Dec 2 2005 22:02
knightrose wrote:

As to Class War, I think it's more of a brand name than anything else. Buy the paper, get the fag lighter, mug, all wrapped up in a nice plastic, class war, bag.

Hmmm I think a better analysis than this would be one that stressed CW concentrated on the subjective elements of class consciousness during the class struggle in order to help build a (politicised) culture of resistance, but hey, it's only my opinion;)

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JoeMaguire
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Dec 16 2005 16:22

*Bump* because no one as addressed the points made by *magnifico* and this is an erstwhile and honest thread wink

nastyned
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Dec 18 2005 11:43

OK, here’s some of my thoughts on what Magnifico has said. Firstly, there aren’t any anti-organisational types in the AF. We are, after all, an organisation. Secondly, I’m not sure what your problem with Platformism is. In the platform itself it states that anarchists should work inside syndicalist unions. Also I believe that one of the sections of the IWA describes itself as platformist and anarcho-syndicalist. Which leaves ‘outside and against the unions types’. As I’ve said before on this site, this has never been the AF’s position, despite what Dave Douglas and Revol68 might say. There may be people in the AF that hold this position though, having left their unions in disgust at how crap they are, which is suppose makes the ‘outside and against the unions’. This is fine by me. I think those that come up with lines ‘we need to be in the unions because it’s where the workers are’ are talking leftist crap. I think there’s a range of options to take in workplace struggle and those that try to impose ‘on solution fits all’ solutions are basing their ideas on ideology not reality.

Anway, it seems to me that Magnifico is missing the point that those promoting a AF/SF merger are making: i.e. that whatever our differences on paper (which undoubtedly exist) in practices there appears to be no significant difference to what we do.

Finally, talk of an AF/SF merger has been solely in the real of the internet and as far as I can remember we’ve had no serious face to face discussion about it in the AF. If we did I’m sure there would be some with objections.

magnifico
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Jan 3 2006 17:40
nastyned wrote:
Anway, it seems to me that Magnifico is missing the point that those promoting a AF/SF merger are making: i.e. that whatever our differences on paper (which undoubtedly exist) in practices there appears to be no significant difference to what we do.

I don't really know anything about what you do, that was why I was concentrating on the paper differences.

Having just seen this:-

Quote:
Parecon has separate workplace and consumer councils (is anarcho-syndicalist), while LM instead has integrated community assemblies (is anarcho-communist). That is I think a smaller difference than the first.

on another thread the thought occurred to me that our main problem may indeed be mutual misconceptions - some AFers think that the word 'anarcho-syndicalist' means someone who sees a strict separation between workplace and community and is only really interested in the workplace, whilst some SFers (myself included, I suppose) think that anarcho-communists who reject anarcho-syndicalism (we're all anarcho-communists, after all) such as the AF might be doing it because they are either against general working class organisation that isn't spontaneous on the grounds that it will inevitably become reformist, or because they want to set up anarchist groups seperate from the rest of the class for vanguardist or substitutionist reasons.

Maybe there is a grain of truth in both misconceptions, but I suspect from how people have answered me that in most cases there isn't, in which case we could probably both benefit from saying more clearly what we mean. For example, in your A+Ps you reject all forms of unionism, including syndicalism (and I assume you include anarcho-syndicalism in this). Perhaps if you made it clearer exactly what it is about anarcho-syndicalism that you object to, and how your own preferred organs of working class struggle/transformation would differ from anarcho-syndicalist ones then we would be able to see where we have disagreements, indeed whether we have any at all. The replies that I have had suggest to me that it's possible that I would have no disagreements with many AF members and that we are mainly just misunderstanding each other. Though I might be wrong wink

knightrose
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Jan 3 2006 18:14

I've been trying to think of a way of explaining my views on the issue of unions in an intelligible way for some time.

I don't know anyone in the AF who thinks industrial work is unimportant. There are quite a few who are not involved in workplaces where it is easy, and quite a few are not at work at all. This possibly leads to an impression being given that we are not interested. Neither do we think we can substitute ourselves for the working class.

In my opinion, Marx had a point when he talked about the working class existing as either in itself or for itself. Meaning the class is either an economic category of capital (now) or is a self conscious class, fighting for it's own interests (revolutionary).

Existing unions are creations of the class in itself, and as such are an integral part of capitalism. I can equally see little role for them in a revolutionary change in society.

Neither do I see a revolution as being the result of a slow acretion of members of revolutionary organisations. I see it as being the product of actions of workers, responding to actions of capital, changing in the process the consciousness of masses of workers and creating the class for itself. THis would be a more or less rapid process and would preclude taking over existing capitalist organisations like the unions. I don't see this as a spontaneous process as part of the process is the activity of the class itself - I think that's what we mean when we talk about a community of resistance. It certainly doesn't come out of nowhere. The revolutionary groups have important roles to play in helping develop this community.

My problems with syndicalism are that they do suggest that revolution comes as a result of a slow 1+1 process of building alternative unions. As far as I can see, all the examples of working class revolt, with the possible exception of Spain, prove that revoltuions simply don't happen that way. Indeed, Spain probably wouldn't have kicked off without the fascist coup, so maybe that example supports me rather than syndicalists anyway.

I think there's scope for joint action because I think that in reality both Solfed and the AF exists as anarchist communist propaganda groups and what both are really aiming for is the culture of resistance I referred to. Plus we are both opposed to the ideology of activism which seeks to replace the class with the will of a defiant minority.

As a final thought, my problem with CW is that I think they glorify the class in itself, which is something we actually want to get rid of.

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Steven.
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Jan 3 2006 18:19
knightrose wrote:
it's own interests (revolutionary).

Tut tut teach.

Hmmm I'm not sure you've really addressed this key bit of magnifico's post:

Quote:
Perhaps if you made it clearer exactly what it is about anarcho-syndicalism that you object to, and how your own preferred organs of working class struggle/transformation would differ from anarcho-syndicalist ones
magnifico
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Jan 3 2006 19:12

I think he/she has.

knightrose wrote:

Neither do I see a revolution as being the result of a slow acretion of members of revolutionary organisations. I see it as being the product of actions of workers, responding to actions of capital, changing in the process the consciousness of masses of workers and creating the class for itself. THis would be a more or less rapid process and would preclude taking over existing capitalist organisations like the unions. I don't see this as a spontaneous process as part of the process is the activity of the class itself - I think that's what we mean when we talk about a community of resistance. It certainly doesn't come out of nowhere. The revolutionary groups have important roles to play in helping develop this community.

My problems with syndicalism are that they do suggest that revolution comes as a result of a slow 1+1 process of building alternative unions. As far as I can see, all the examples of working class revolt, with the possible exception of Spain, prove that revoltuions simply don't happen that way. Indeed, Spain probably wouldn't have kicked off without the fascist coup, so maybe that example supports me rather than syndicalists anyway.

The objection to anarcho-syndicalism seems to be that we want to set up revolutionary organisations long in advance of a revolutionary situation, and believe that these organisations can contribute to turning a non-revolutionary situation into a revolutionary one, which we do. Knightrose believes that "revolutions simply don't happen that way", presumably because such an organisation would become ossified and reformist, and would prefer to see class struggle advanced through the creation of a more abstract "community of resistance" which would be a "more or less rapid process". I hope I haven't misrepresented what you said.

This is what I meant when I said I thought you might be in favour of spontaneous rather than organised mass opposition to capital, though I understand that you don't consider spontaneous to be an appropriate word. I agree that AF and SF are both trying to foster a community of resistance, but SF are also trying to encourage the creation of long-term mass revolutionary organisations in a non-revolutionary period, something (I think) knightrose doesn't agree with, or at least doesn't think will lead to a revolution. This is a disagreement I could see a merged AF/SF falling out over fairly quickly were we to have any success in building such organisations.

knightrose
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Jan 3 2006 19:37

I am in favour of organised mass opposition to capital. As far as I can see, every upheaval in the past 100 years has been based on that. I just don't see that they've come as a result of building mass permanent organisations.

What I'm saying, I think, is that as long as the class exists solely as an economic category, as a creation of capital, then the only form of permanent organisation that is possible exists as part of the management structure of capital. It's not that I think Solfed would create something that fits that mould. I just don't believe that the project of building mass anarchist syndicalist unions is possible outside of a period of revolutionary upheaval. During that period, then mass organisations are possible and frankly I don't know the form they will take - they could well be syndicalist, they may be councillist, who knows?

The only long term organisations I want to build are revolutionary organisations.

magnifico
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Jan 4 2006 00:01

Thanks, that's interesting, I think I understand now. You seem to agree with what we're trying to do, but don't think all of it will work under present conditions. Don't know where that leaves us with regard to merging, but obviously we can co-operate on a lot of things smile

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JoeMaguire
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Jan 4 2006 17:56
knightrose wrote:
I just don't believe that the project of building mass anarchist syndicalist unions is possible outside of a period of revolutionary upheaval.

I dont want to sound pedantic, but how can you go from the current situation, to helping develop a revolutionary situation without at least stimulating the creation of anarcho-syndicalist unions? I hope Im not the only one who thinks this sounds a little ultra-left.

knightrose
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Jan 5 2006 20:35

My problewm is that I can't think of any situation in recent years where anarchist syndicalist unions have been created as part of the process of revolutionary change. There have been enough examples since the 40s, for example. Most have taken some kind of council form, most have been independent of unions or parties.

I'm not bothered whether what I say is ultra-left or whatever, only whether it fits reality.

Also I'm really speaking for myself here, not the AF as a whole as I don't think we've discussed it all properly in ages.

Finally, for today, I'm not sure that the syndicalist groups are trying to create classical syndicalist unions either.

knightrose
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Jan 6 2006 21:30
Quote:
What bothers me is that people attempt to create this historical break between old pure syndicalism and newer more pragmatic forms, as far as i'm aware the CNT even in 1936 never sought to reduce workers control to control by unions, and where they had most influence workers committee were elected directly via workers assemblies.

I'm not really able to comment much on this as I have little direct knowledge. I come at this from a councillist perspective - every revolutionary upsurge I've made any effort to learn about in the 20th century was organised along the lines of workers councils. The types of direct democracy involved seem quite basic to revolutionary struggle. It would be logical that the Spanish Revolution fitted the same pattern, with the CNT reflecting that.

My main argument against traditional unions is that they can never be organisations workers can use to overthrow capitalism. I also think that mass organisations can only exist as genuine workers organisations in times of intense class struggle. They take such a lot of effort to maintain that once a struggle dies down, they inevitably fall under the sway of smaller groups, often of those who become bureaucrats with interests in maintaining their own positions. That is, for example, what happened in Poland in the early 80s with Solidarnosc. It's what happens time and time again with rank and file movements in unions too.

A problem I face, though, is that I firmly believe that industrial struggle is far more important than any amount of campaigning against this and that, is more important than stunts against G8, the militant liberalism that passes for activism and so on. But I don't think either Solfed or the AF deal with it satisfactorily. (And I speak as a total AF hack grin )