What's going on in AFed?

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Burgers
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Jan 5 2018 13:07

When Bristol AF shared Kurdish nationalist propaganda on twitter, was that also an attempt to divert police attention as well? Or just a question of awful politics?

And to be honest I would find it difficult to defend someone calling for the British state to bomb anywhere.

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little_brother
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Jan 5 2018 13:33

This is quite tiring point scoring. There will be a reason for Bristol too or for anything else you may wish drag up from your short list of apparent slips that you seem to both be keeping a personal tally of. Merseyside told me they've explained their context of that photo before. Pick a couple of things to smear a whole organisation with if you wish but AF record on national liberation has been very clear when you were in and also now you are not. We sometimes have had to discuss things especially as we are in an international. For example we all agreed to support DAF and this included some if not all who have left after a full weekend of discussion of the whole Rojava situation which we had to educate ourselves about, which also led to the publication if our statement which is here on libcom for all to see. Bristol were one of the groups that helped us the most in understanding the politics during that meeting. This is a really unproductive exchange and if it is your intention to damage the reputation of those of us who are left, the majority of members of AF, then I think you will not succeed and just adds to a picture of why it has been so hard to work with you inside the organisation for the past 5-6 years especially..

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the button
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Jan 5 2018 13:37
little_brother wrote:
This is quite tiring point scoring. There will be a reason for Bristol too or for anything else you may wish drag up from your short list of apparent slips that you seem to both be keeping a personal tally of. Merseyside told me they've explained their context of that photo before. Pick a couple of things to smear a whole organisation with if you wish but AF record on national liberation has been very clear when you were in and also now you are not. We sometimes have had to discuss things especially as we are in an international. For example we all agreed to support DAF and this included some if not all who have left after a full weekend of discussion of the whole Rojava situation which we had to educate ourselves about, which also led to the publication if our statement which is here on libcom for all to see. Bristol were one of the groups that helped us the most in understanding the politics during that meeting. This is a really unproductive exchange and if it is your intention to damage the reputation of those of us who are left, the majority of members of AF, then I think you will not succeed and just adds to a picture of why it has been so hard to work with you inside the organisation for the past 5-6 years especially..

You're nationalist scum now, chief. Twitter says so.

https://twitter.com/LeftCommunist/status/949222172807061504

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Jan 5 2018 13:51
little_brother wrote:
This is quite tiring point scoring. There will be a reason for Bristol too or for anything else you may wish drag up from your short list of apparent slips that you seem to both be keeping a personal tally of. Merseyside told me they've explained their context of that photo before. Pick a couple of things to smear a whole organisation with if you wish but AF record on national liberation has been very clear when you were in and also now you are not. We sometimes have had to discuss things especially as we are in an international. For example we all agreed to support DAF and this included some if not all who have left after a full weekend of discussion of the whole Rojava situation which we had to educate ourselves about, which also led to the publication if our statement which is here on libcom for all to see. Bristol were one of the groups that helped us the most in understanding the politics during that meeting. This is a really unproductive exchange and if it is your intention to damage the reputation of those of us who are left, the majority of members of AF, then I think you will not succeed and just adds to a picture of why it has been so hard to work with you inside the organisation for the past 5-6 years especially..

You need to stop personalising this and you need to stop rewriting history. The issue is the political trajectory the AF has been on in the last 5-6 years which has culminated in the recent collective resignation. That's it. I am aware that there are good comrades who have remained within the AF and I wish them well, but if the AF continues on its present course, I can't imagine them staying in for much longer.

Burgers
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Jan 5 2018 15:27

I share Serge's sentiments, personalising political disagreement isn't really on, naming people on twitter isn't on, threatening people on Facebook isn't on. I may have political disagreements with the AF now, but that has never stopped me from defending what, for many years I have seen as the best anarchist group around, with many people I have had a huge respect for and which included you little_brother. Often I have been critical or raised issues hoping they would be addressed, but instead AF closes ranks, treats those that disagree as the enemy and people call us the authoritarians?

This is what I wrote the other day on that bloody Facebook in response to someone talking shit about AF on disabilities.

Quote:
I'm sure disabilities is covered in the "safe space" and privilege nonsense, but yeah they have never produced a 200 page pamphlet detailing the history of disabilities and a action plan. But then they haven't got one for mental health or people with learning disabilities either, they don't even have a position on cute fluffy bunnies, the bastards!!! Seriously though they happen to be a small organisation, you can't beat them with a stick because nobody got around to writing something.

I often suggest "In the Tradition" to people when they ask me about AF's politics.

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Jan 5 2018 15:43

(I know you've all moved on to the placard but it takes me a while to write and this is related to the original subject wink )

Spikymike wrote:
It would be interesting to know how many of those AF members and supporters who were previously involved from say 2008 with the activities of the LGBTQ group have remained in the AF rather than drift back into other more specific reformist campaigning?

You seem to be implying that we originally drifted over from reformist campaigning, as if that was our natural home. I was at the inaugural meeting of the afed's lgbt caucus, and we'd come to anarchist communism via the same routes as other af members (having previously been authoritarian communist trots, or anarcho lifestylist punks, etc). A considerable percentage of the caucus were long term members who'd not made much of a thing of their queerness before. A considerable percentage were Leeds AF.

Leeds AF was founded entirely by queers, including myself. We didn't join the AF to push lgbt issues within it, but because we were anarchist communists. Individually we were involved in antifascism, the iww, squatting, animal rights, etc, but we'd found each other at the queeruption/queer mutiny parties (though we complained to each other at the time that the scene wasn't class struggle enough, sadly it seems to have been replaced by a scene which isn't even explicitly anticapitalist), and by typing terms like "anarchist" into the search bar on gaydar. We were all in agreement that Leeds needed an anarchist communist group, but we were acquainted because we were all either sleeping together or trying to. If you want to explain the influx of gays to the AF around a decade ago, you'd be better off looking to our stereotyped shared love of casual hook ups than our imagined shared love of identity politics.

"What's wrong with angry?" was intended for handing out at pride to convince other lgbt people that class struggle was an effective way of trying to solve their problems, it wasn't aimed at people who were already revolutionaries and were straight.

Before I started politicising my queerness, and criticising mainstream lgbt rights campaigns, I thought of identity politics as a nice thing that was happening, that I wasn't personally involved with because you can't do everything, but which it was good that all these liberals were doing while I was busy with anti capitalist politics. Some amount of engagement with how something functions is necessary to critique it.

Though RABL have always practically applied our politics in what people would generally consider more typically class struggle organisations (IWW etc) we've inevitably engaged with the question of what to make of "identity politics", (our disaffiliation from Afed was unrelated - that was about how to implement federalism). In the broad sense that people use the term, it covers all struggles against oppression (including, say, a union sticking up for a member experiencing discrimination at work, and so on). In it's narrower definition (which I've come to find increasingly useful when I'm sure it's what we're referring to) "identity politics" describes an ideology which essentialises and reinforces the categories used to divide, oppress, and exploit us, the working class.

At this point I'd say about half of RABL's membership are trans and are critical of the tendencies towards identity politics (in the latter sense) within trans politics. Views within Afed seem to vary more, but I know some members feel similarly. After RABL and AF collaborated successfully on the AF's "Work" pamphlet, we've been saying for a while we'd like to write one together on gender (I think a lot of parallels could be drawn between gender and work tbh).

The focus on identity rather than on fighting oppression (within political milieus supposedly focused on fighting oppression) seems to cause, amongst other problems, an obsession with who is in and who is out of a particular category. Arguments on who is or isn't an identity are a proxy for arguments about who is or isn't likely to experience the associated oppression and is therefore deserving of solidarity. This is a constant source of disagreement in lgbt circles ("queer" didn't really fulfil it's radical promise of being an anti-label label, a contradiction some people saw coming a mile off). A similar problem has characterised a lot of the recent fallings out around trans issues. This has been our offering on that so far: https://wearetherabl.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/falling-star-countering-gender-essentialism-with-sex-essentialism/

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dark_ether
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Jan 5 2018 16:30

I'm in Bristol AFed. We mostly get criticised for being too hard on and critical of national liberation struggles, especially that of the PKK/PYD.

Whenever we've fund raised we've sent money to Anarchist Communists in the region fighting against state repression in Turkey and the Syria/Turkish border (DAF). We figure Anarchist Communists on the ground will have a better idea about how best to express solidarity with a complicated struggle, that has both anarchist and nationalist elements and both revolutionary and reformist ones.

We've also had a fraught relationship with supporters of the PKK/PYD due to our hosting of Leila Shrooms and our outspoken support for those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella until about the time of the final siege in Aleppo.

It's a complex and nuanced situation, one that could easily be lost if we're judging stuff on tweets. The content we posted in organise was heavily critical of the PKK cheerleaders in the UK who saw no fault with their politic.

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rat
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Jan 6 2018 20:01

OP:

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What's going on in AFed?

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little_brother
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Jan 6 2018 10:24

Good to hear from RABL and Bristol on this thread. Also good to raise ability as this is not often highlighted. We did in last few year add a caucus for members living with disabilities or mental health problems. There's an article in latest Organise! too. This is also an aspect of intersectionality that could be developed further. Obviously there is already a strong voice in DPAC, who were at bookfair, and Black Triangle (in UK).

Burgers
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Jan 7 2018 13:13

So are you denying sharing Kurdish nationalist content of Twitter? From what I remember I commented on it and you took it down, maybe I have a screenshot somewhere to jog your memory.
However I am more worried about this popular frontism that you talk about below. FSA was run by dissident generals from the Syrian army, openly capitalist and nation statist. It's really isn't a "complex and nuanced situation" it's a ethnic nationalist war, with wider regional and international backers on different sides. No side in this very dirty war could ever be supported and the loses are the working class of the region, which as been devastated.
It's really depressing to see anarchists looking for a side to support.

dark_ether wrote:
I'm in Bristol AFed. We mostly get criticised for being too hard on and critical of national liberation struggles, especially that of the PKK/PYD.

Whenever we've fund raised we've sent money to Anarchist Communists in the region fighting against state repression in Turkey and the Syria/Turkish border (DAF). We figure Anarchist Communists on the ground will have a better idea about how best to express solidarity with a complicated struggle, that has both anarchist and nationalist elements and both revolutionary and reformist ones.

We've also had a fraught relationship with supporters of the PKK/PYD due to our hosting of Leila Shrooms and our outspoken support for those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella until about the time of the final siege in Aleppo.

It's a complex and nuanced situation, one that could easily be lost if we're judging stuff on tweets. The content we posted in organise was heavily critical of the PKK cheerleaders in the UK who saw no fault with their politic.

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Jan 8 2018 03:14

Yes a geo political conflict involving a US 'coalition', Russia, The Gulf States, Iran, Hizbullah and Turkey, an armed civil uprising against the regime with no centralised authority or single motive, competing Jihadist groups, several self declared Kurdish autonomous regions, shifting alliances and multiple sectarian conflicts. Very simple. Must make this a pretty short book https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745337821/burning-country-new-edition/

'those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella'
https://leilashami.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/interview-with-leila-shrooms-by-apatris-on-the-syrian-revolution/

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Jan 8 2018 07:53

The AF has clearly got a lot more nuanced in its attitude towards inter-imperialist war since its "no war but the class war" days.

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jondwhite
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Jan 8 2018 09:54

Can anyone summarise which (splinter) group believes what?

Mike Harman
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Jan 8 2018 11:36

There's issues with both dark_ether's summary of 'under the FSA umbrella', and burger's characterisation of everything that happened in Syria since 2011 as

Quote:
It's really isn't a 'complex and nuanced situation' it's a ethnic nationalist war, with wider regional and international backers on different sides.

.

Let's look at what the second link dark_ether posted actually says:

First of all it doesn't contain the phrase 'those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella' at all, but it does have paragraphs like this:

Leila Al Shami wrote:
Workers (despite the difficulties in organizing because of Baath domination of Unions) have played an important role in the movement. Successful general strikes and civil disobedience campaigns throughout December 2011 paralyzed large sections of the economy. The response of the Assad regime was to lay off more than 85,000 workers and close more than 187 factories between January and February 2012 (according to official figures).[1] The regime also increased wages to public sector staff in its attempt to crush the uprising.
Leila Al Shami wrote:
The main form of revolutionary organization in Syria has been through the development of local committees. Hundreds have been established in neighborhoods and towns across the country. This form of organization was inspired by Syrian anarchist Omar Aziz. He believed that it didn’t make sense for revolutionaries to participate in protests by day and then return to their lives within the authoritarian structures of the state. Aziz advocated for radical changes to social relationships and organization in order to challenge the foundations of a system built on exploitation and oppression. His ideas have had a huge impact on revolutionary organization in Syria. In the local committees revolutionary activists engage in multiple activities, from documenting and reporting on violations carried out by the regime (and increasingly elements of the opposition) to organizing protests and civil disobedience campaigns (such as strikes and refusing to pay utility bills). They collect and provide aid and humanitarian supplies to areas under bombardment or siege. The committees operate as horizontally organized, autonomous, leaderless groups, made up of all segments of the society (including minorities such as Christians, Alawites, Druze and Kurds). They have been the foundation of the revolutionary movement based on principles of cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid.

So she's very carefully and precisely noting that there was class struggle going on in 2011/12 with general strikes and neighbourhood committees, while also admitting that the 'civilian resistance' in those areas ended up aligned to some extent with the FSA (if trying to keep distance from the generals and exiled leadership).

Now we could look at the AF's analysis of the CNT in 1936, from twenty years ago:

Organise 48, 1997/98 wrote:
In many important centres and in the countryside where the attempted coup had been defeated or the military had remained loyal to the Republic, the libertarian workers movement, which almost everywhere had taken the most important initiatives, was the master of the situation. The rank and file of the CNT and others, inspired by the potential for liberation, began to put a form of collectivisation of the factories and land into practice, which, given the circumstances, could only fall short of libertarian communism, but showed the creative and organisational potential of the working class.

However, by the end of the year representatives of the CNT had taken positions in the Republican Government and had effectively called off the class war in favour of 'anti-fascist unity' for the sake of victory in the war. The formerly minuscule Spanish Communist Party had become a major governmental player, the collectives and the workers militia organisations began to come under attack and the revolution looked like being strangled at birth. The response of those who wished to carry on with the revolution was the 'May Days' insurrection in Barcelona in 1937, itself the product of another provocation, this time by Stalinists, against CNT workers at the Telephone Exchange. Workers once again fought for control of the streets only this time they found themselves undermined by the leadership of the CNT.

The Failure of the Anarchists

The actions of the CNT in joining the Government, of betraying the revolution, are often flung in the face of anarchists by Leninists (who themselves wouldn't hesitate to join any government given half a chance). Usually this is given as evidence of the 'End of Anarchism' as a revolutionary theory/movement. Certainly, the Spanish experience does signify the end of a certain type of anarchism. But the blame for the class collaboration and betrayal really does not simply lie at the door of the CNT.

Al Shami is talking about the period 2011-2012 in that interview, it's now 2018.

When people dismiss Spain out of hand as 'all the anarchists joined the government and engaged in inter-imperialist/anti-fascist conflict' people are right to point out the class conflict that was also happening, the counter-tendencies from the Friends of Durruti, the 1937 May Days etc. while also being clear that the popular frontism led to demobilisation and explicit repression of those tendencies.

What happened in Syria 2011-2012 has now been entirely crushed (obviously some individuals involved are still either trapped in Syria or refugees where they haven't been killed), but dismissing it out of hand as 'inter-imperialist war' is fucked, in the same way that declaring support for the FSA would be. Note I have not read Al Shami's book, just shorter pieces like this, but there's also small reports like https://libcom.org/history/syrian-protestors-defy-attempts-intimidation around.

Now we could look at an article from the AF-split https://libcom.org/news/iran-working-class-raises-its-head-07012018 which appears to borrow a bit from https://libcom.org/news/iran-bread-jobs-freedom-05012018 which libcom published last week directly from someone in Iran.

Large segments of the 'anti-imperialist' left are working very hard to characterise the protests either as a CIA plot or even if they hedge that bit, playing directly into the hands of US 'regime change' enthusiasts, and neocons/liberals are 'supporting' the protests in order to push actually push for regime change. Both the article we published and the 'Communist Anarchism' article emphasise that there is some class content to the protests and strikes in Iran that should absolutely be supported, despite it being an extremely complex situation with multiple opposing factions both within and outside the country.

Looking for the class content in 1936 Spain, 2011 Syria and 2018 Iran is not capitulating to national liberation/popular-frontism/support for inter-imperialist war but precisely the opposite. When the majority of narratives are trying to deny any working class agency at all, and put everything down to inter-imperialist rivalry, it does not help to just dismiss/ignore what class content is there - this erases that agency as much as supporting particular factions against each other (including Rojava or the FSA as proto-state entities).

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Jan 8 2018 15:56

I planned to respond to this thread a while ago, but I've been away from a computer for a few days and the discussion has moved on quite a lot. So not sure it's worth it now. However I do feel very disappointed that now some individuals have left the AF, related to what happened at the Bookfair and its aftermath, one or two seem to be attacking the remainder of the AF for things which were equally an issue while they were still members (e.g. positions/propaganda of some groups on Syria), and were entirely unrelated to the resignations.

I really don't think this is very helpful, nor does it seem to be particularly in good faith.

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Jan 8 2018 18:59
Quote:
one or two seem to be attacking the remainder of the AF for things which were equally an issue while they were still members (e.g. positions/propaganda of some groups on Syria), and were entirely unrelated to the resignations.

Steven, you're right in saying that these were issues when we were still members. However, they were issues that were raised but never resolved. Also, for me, and possibly others who resigned, the Bookfair fiasco and aftermath was the straw that broke the camel's back and I'm sure you can accept that some of us have been banging on about this stuff for several years now.

On the subject of the war in Syria, there was criticism of the attitude to this war by some members/groups, which, at times, manifested as support for the PYD or even likened Rojava to Catalonia in 1936. At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

The AF's steady degeneration into identity politics and its public 'acceptance' of concepts such as privilege and intersectional theory was also never resolved. It should be clear that at no point was any formal decision made by the Anarchist Federation to endorse ideas such as intersectionality, privilege theory or to move to a more identity-based politics. However, official AF website and facebook posts have since been written as if the AF is indeed such an organisation. Those of us who criticised these ideas were told we needed to go away and write a proper critique of privilege theory. However, when we did this, we were met with open hostility, immediately attacked and denounced - it was also implied by some that we were borderline racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Meanwhile, a number of the pro-privilege/intersectionality people threatened 'mass' resignations if the critique was ever published on the website.

So, we stepped back for fear this would lead to a split in the organisation. This was a serious error on our part because it basically meant giving free reign to people who had little conception of anarchist communism as it had always been understood in the ACF/AF. Now, a couple of years down the line, this increasing orientation towards identity based politics has pretty much shat all over what was once a fine revolutionary class struggle anarchist communist organisation.

That said, there are people still in the AF that I've a lot of time for and I certainly wouldn't want to be attacking all remaining AF members - who I expect to either leave when the smell gets too bad, or just suck it up and get with the programme. I am, however, more than happy to attack a minority of those members remaining. Steven, rest assured this doesn't include you. You're someone I've always had a lot of respect for, and would count you as one of the good comrades still in the AF.

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Jan 8 2018 19:13
Serge Forward wrote:
At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

thats weird cause thats how the thing with the placard was originally presented, seems like some people only retain information thats useful to attack their enemies with

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Jan 8 2018 19:26

SF, thanks for the informative comment, I wasn't aware of that background so I appreciate you filling me in.

On this point:

radicalgraffiti wrote:
Serge Forward wrote:
At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

thats weird cause thats how the thing with the placard was originally presented, seems like some people only retain information thats useful to attack their enemies with

it seems most likely that this is a misunderstanding/mis-remembering rather than anything more sinister. I would have thought it should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other as there would be relevant emails/posts on the AF forum.

Sadie
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Jan 8 2018 19:49
radicalgraffiti wrote:
Serge Forward wrote:
At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

thats weird cause thats how the thing with the placard was originally presented, seems like some people only retain information thats useful to attack their enemies with

From our Facebook page in 2014:

Quote:
Police started harassing the man with this poster at a previous Kobane solidarity demo in Liverpool, claiming the tiny YPG flag in the corner was promoting a terrorist organisation. Strangely, when three others joined him in holding the poster, the YPG wasn't a proscribed terrorist organization anymore. Lets see some more of this solidarity tomorrow.

https://www.facebook.com/MerseysideAnarchists/photos/a.378162755608041.90605.268509486573369/807890569301922/?type=3

Honestly I’m not sure what our motivation to outright lie about our own politics in such an obvious fashion would be, especially if the claim is that this support for Kurdish nationalism is widely accepted within the AF.

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Jan 8 2018 20:23
Steven. wrote:
it seems most likely that this is a misunderstanding/mis-remembering rather than anything more sinister. I would have thought it should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other as there would be relevant emails/posts on the AF forum.

I'm willing to accept this, Steven. I don't have access to the AF forum any more, nor would I want to. I can say with a fair degree of certainty, however, that my request for an explanation went unanswered there.

Now it seems there was an explanation at the time on Merseyside's Facebook page - one which I accept (much as I couldn't give a fuck about rescuing a nationalist from the dibble). For the record, I have never had an account with Facebook and I'm sure I can't be the only communist anarchist who isn't in the habit of looking at Facebook pages. It's a shame Merseyside couldn't actually respond within the organisation's own communication channel at the time.

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Jan 8 2018 20:49

Yeah I wouldn't suggest there is anything left of these class struggle movements in Syria these days, whilst they did last past 2011, they didn't survive the siege of Aleppo.
However the time when Bristol AFed was posting about it was quite a while ago. It was 2013 we Hosted Leila in Bristol, and two years ago that I last remember us posting much about Syria (a reblog from Leila which we introduced by accusing the YPG of being complicit in the final death blow of any syrian revolutionary movements). So hardly would say our output has been favouring the nationalism of the YPG.

No war but the class war, is ofc the slogan to go with. The real world gets more complex though, fully formed revolutionary class struggles don't tend to appear as is. We've just tried to support the more class struggle and revolutionary elements of conflicts at home and abroad whenever we've seen them, generally pointing out their flaws and vulnerabilites when it comes to inter-ethnic conflict and nationalism.

From a revolutionary perspective everything since then has been very depressing. (The collapse of the ISIS caliphate after combined Assadist/Iranian/Russian/American/Kurdish assault is ofc no bad thing, but it's certainly not a revolutionary thing if that makes sense...)

Maybe under the umbrella was poor phrasing? I meant in zones militarily controlled/protected by the FSA. The FSA was such a loose term anyway, often applying to different militia or groups of one week and not the next, sometimes parts of it were allied with fighters that other parts of it were engaged in hostilities with. The only constant within was an opposition to the Assad regime.

Sadie
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Jan 8 2018 22:00
Serge Forward wrote:
Steven. wrote:
it seems most likely that this is a misunderstanding/mis-remembering rather than anything more sinister. I would have thought it should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other as there would be relevant emails/posts on the AF forum.

I'm willing to accept this, Steven. I don't have access to the AF forum any more, nor would I want to. I can say with a fair degree of certainty, however, that my request for an explanation went unanswered there.

Now it seems there was an explanation at the time on Merseyside's Facebook page - one which I accept (much as I couldn't give a fuck about rescuing a nationalist from the dibble). For the record, I have never had an account with Facebook and I'm sure I can't be the only communist anarchist who isn't in the habit of looking at Facebook pages. It's a shame Merseyside couldn't actually respond within the organisation's own communication channel at the time.

First of all, the only place that the picture was posted was Facebook. Once on the AF member concerned’s personal account and once in the post I linked to above. Both times the explanation of the context was given. Where did you see this picture exactly if you never look at anything on Facebook?

Secondly, I honestly have no recollection of this ever being raised within the AF. Perhaps I didn’t see an email or a forum post, it does happen and it’s not like you weren’t in the same room as Merseyside group members on several occasions in the interim. You could have asked directly if you were so concerned about it instead of accusing us of lying four years later.

Finally, I think it shows a fundamentally skewed set of priorities that you suggest you’d not intervene to prevent somebody from being nicked because they might have naff politics on national liberation. As far as I’m concerned, solidarity with fellow working class people against the cops comes before peformative ideological purity.

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Jan 8 2018 22:41
Mike Harman wrote:
For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike!

I know this is derailing a little bit so I don't intend to go into this in detail, however in response to this comment I think it is worth defending Brecher somewhat. His book, Strike! is a study of a few mass strikes in American history. Convict leasing wasn't really connected with any of the mass strikes he talks about and so I don't really think needs mentioning.

however at least one of the strikes he does talk about, the Flint sitdown strike, was in a segregated workplace under Jim Crow, and he does not really talk about the race segregation of the plant, and how this was unchallenged by the union. And this is not really justifiable.

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Serge Forward
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Jan 8 2018 23:02
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First of all, the only place that the picture was posted was Facebook. Once on the AF member concerned’s personal account and once in the post I linked to above. Both times the explanation of the context was given. Where did you see this picture exactly if you never look at anything on Facebook?

Secondly, I honestly have no recollection of this ever being raised within the AF. Perhaps I didn’t see an email or a forum post, it does happen and it’s not like you weren’t in the same room as Merseyside group members on several occasions in the interim. You could have asked directly if you were so concerned about it instead of accusing us of lying four years later.

Finally, I think it shows a fundamentally skewed set of priorities that you suggest you’d not intervene to prevent somebody from being nicked because they might have naff politics on national liberation. As far as I’m concerned, solidarity with fellow working class people against the cops comes before peformative ideological purity.

Like I say, I don't use Facebook. I was told about the image at the time, and as I'm not on Facebook, it was emailed to me. No mystery there. What is a mystery is that no one in Merseyside saw my question on the AF forum. Never mind. As I said, I accept your story. Beats me why you'd waste time saving a nationalist from the plod. Would you save a working class Tory? A working class fascist? A working class TERF? I'm willing to bet the answer would be no to all three. A working class nationalist however gets your sympathy. Why is that? Apologies for the "ideological purity" in advance.

Sadie
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Jan 8 2018 23:07
Serge Forward wrote:
Would you save a working class Tory? A working class fascist? A working class TERF?

In order - It depends. No. It depends, but I’ve never seen one.

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Serge Forward
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Jan 8 2018 23:11

Fair enough. So what makes a nationalist worth saving?

Mike Harman
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Jan 8 2018 23:14
Steven. wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike!

I know this is derailing a little bit so I don't intend to go into this in detail, however in response to this comment I think it is worth defending Brecher somewhat. His book, Strike! is a study of a few mass strikes in American history. Convict leasing wasn't really connected with any of the mass strikes he talks about and so I don't really think needs mentioning.

Well he literally talks about black strike breakers under armed guard. That could be scabs taking advantage of a scarce work opportunity (under armed guard for their own protection), or prisoners in chains (with the guns pointed inwards in case they try to escape, whippings if they don't work etc.). Given we know that employers would try to pit different white nationalities against each other, and also that convict leasing was widespread, it's missing context.

It's the difference between employers relying on interpersonal racism and exclusion of black workers from the labour market (race as 'divisive'), or a strikebreaking labour force conscripted on an industrial scale by vagrancy laws and convict leasing by the state, with the full enthusiastic collusion of the police and justice system who in turn were often family members of industrialists themselves. Those are two very, very different things. Given the focus on the Pinkertons, police, National Guard etc. the prison system would not be much to add.

Steven. wrote:
however at least one of the strikes he does talk about, the Flint sitdown strike, was in a segregated workplace under Jim Crow, and he does not really talk about the race segregation of the plant, and how this was unchallenged by the union. And this is not really justifiable.

I don't think he mentions it at all, even though there was one black worker (literally one) who participated in the strike at one of the plants, which shocked the white workers (they told him he didn't have anything to gain from the strike the first day, and he began eating meals separately until they started to include a bit) - some other black workers stayed off work but didn't picket/occupy, the union promised equal recognition for them but didn't follow through.

Where it's relevant to this thread is that active exclusion, and later indifference, is what has led to autonomous organising (whether it's the League of Revolutionary Black Workers or Sisters Uncut), whereas a lot of people dismiss autonomous organising as separatist.

Mike Harman
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Jan 8 2018 23:43
Serge Forward wrote:
Fair enough. So what makes a nationalist worth saving?

Breaking a general rule and quoting Orwell:

I have no particular love for the idealized “worker” as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.”

Of course Orwell later reported a tonne of people including the blacklisted singer Paul Robeson (with the comment 'anti-white') to the IRD so still fuck Orwell.

A random person on a protest with no flag is quite likely to be (soft) nationalist though - whether it's left-liberal support for democratic institutions or some variety of Trot, but you're not going to interview them before you intervene or not, so it's really the presence of the flag that's the issue here rather than the individual person's actual politics.

A lot of photos out of Ferguson and Baltimore had US flags in them, here's a famous one. https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/stltoday.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/34/e344b637-baa5-576b-aac6-f572b3145d35/580002c1904f2.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C626 Edward Crawford got charged by the police, then died while still facing that charge http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/ferguson-protester-dead-edward-crawford-found-gunshot-wound-death-iconic-photo-a7720576.html

Here's Josh Williams, also with a US flag bandana: http://www.msnbc.com/sites/msnbc/files/styles/embedded_image/public/good.jpg?itok=RPSbfbtB

He's serving an eight year sentence for setting a trash can fire outside a Quik Trip during the Ferguson uprising: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbv9wj/three-years-after-ferguson-one-protester-still-faces-the-aftermath

Would you withdraw court/prisoner support from these two because they were pictured wearing US flags?

This is not about requirements for joining an anarchist-communist organisation, but mutual self-defense against the police.

I'm still hoping by the way to get a response to this comment responding to the class struggle bookfair statement. There's been an incredible amount of discussion about 4 year old facebook posts on this thread but not much on the statements from a week or so ago.

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Jan 9 2018 00:02
Serge Forward wrote:
Fair enough. So what makes a nationalist worth saving?

Serge, probably 95% or more of everyone you have ever been on a demonstration with at some point is a nationalist of some description or other. If someone near you on a demo is being arrested or beaten by the police, do you have a run through of questions to test their ideological purity before you deem them worthy of your solidarity?

If them having illusions in nationalism is enough to justify them being arrested by police (a strange position for an anarchist to take), what about having illusions in the unions? Are they worthy of being defended from police?

zugzwang
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Jan 9 2018 03:46
Steven. wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike!

I know this is derailing a little bit so I don't intend to go into this in detail, however in response to this comment I think it is worth defending Brecher somewhat. His book, Strike! is a study of a few mass strikes in American history. Convict leasing wasn't really connected with any of the mass strikes he talks about and so I don't really think needs mentioning.

however at least one of the strikes he does talk about, the Flint sitdown strike, was in a segregated workplace under Jim Crow, and he does not really talk about the race segregation of the plant, and how this was unchallenged by the union. And this is not really justifiable.

Don't mean to get involved, but isn't convict leasing mentioned in ragged edge of anarchy chapter? Maybe you have an older version?