Network X gathering

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Django
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Dec 19 2010 00:01
Network X gathering

This doesn't appear to have been posted here yet. There will be a gathering in Manchester next month to bring together groups and individuals looking to oppose the cuts and seeking to set up a network to organise and co-ordinate nationally.

Going off the communique below, and the groups invited, it looks like an attempt to get anarchists and fellow travellers working in a more organised fashion now that we've started to see some action in resisting the cuts.

Apparantly full details will be being released next week.

Quote:
NETWORK X

Call out for Network X

On 15th and 16th January we are calling a gathering for all networks and individuals that are oppositional, non hierarchical and opposed not only to the cuts, but to capitalism itself.
...
Across the country local groups have sprung up, and networks have worked together to pull off some amazing protests, but we want to go further... From peoples kitchens to action medics, action support to workshops.

If we would like to see anger around The Cuts over the next few years become strong movements then it is not only necessary to establish this infrastructure, but to base them in a wider discussion - we will hopefully be inviting delegates from occupations and actions across the country to this end.

FOR MORE INFO AND TO SUBMIT PROPSALS AND AGENDA POINTS - EMAIL
networkxuk@gmail.com

We know this work is going on and those involved in calling it are already doing some. We hope to provide a space for co-ordination, planning and discussion.

At Network X gathering we hope that we can work out

*A Name!
*An organisational philosophy (to be open to change, but based around the things we already share)
*Guiding principles

and hopefully then can get down to the business of sorting out getting everyone on the work at hand. We'll take proposals, plans, shout outs, and maybe sort out working groups potentially around the following;

Legal Support
Media
Action Support
Peoples Kitchens
Picket Support
Outreach/Publicity
Workshops/Skill shares
Admin/meetings/Proposals groups

None these need exist as working groups, and certainly not to replace existing networks, but can provide co-ordination and a space to not only share ideas but to take collaborative action and share resources and skills.

We invite the following networks especially to attend - though all organisations and people who value autonomy, decentralised organisation, and opposing oppression in all forms are welcome.

Climate Camp
Stop Racism and Fascism Network
UKUNCUT
No Borders
Anti-militarist Network
Defend Welfare (Local coalitions against poverty)
UKunCut
NINJA
AFED
General Assemblies/People's Assemblies
National Shop Stewards Network
Autonomous Students Network
Sol Fed
So We Stand
Seeds for Change
Radical Routes

We don't want to create another talking shop and we reject sectarianism and all party politics. Rather we seek to have an open and inclusive
process, that really facilitates working more closely including the use of working groups and consensus decision making towards practical outcomes.
We think its important that we can link up local groups and take immediate direct action and working towards doing so on a large scale including;
industrial action, blockades, occupations, land grabs, civil disobedience, rent strikes, etc, etc...
We respect autonomy and find unity though diversity and solidarity with other anti-capitalist struggles in the UK and internationally.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=165446950159789

Genetically Modified
- e-mail: networkxuk [AT] gmail.com

T La Palli
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Dec 19 2010 14:30

I am thinking of coming but am not sure whether many people are planning on attending?

raw
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Dec 20 2010 19:02

Some updates here: http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/12/471079.html

I think anyone that can make it, should make it.

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cantdocartwheels
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Dec 20 2010 19:55

It might be good, and i might even go if i have time/money but this does look suspiciously like yet another re-hash of the old anarchist conference idea. I mean theres no evidence of any anti-cuts groups going or many student groups either, and yet again no delegate structure, and it looks supiciously like the usual suspects groupwise. Still hope i'm wrong and it turns out decent.

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Django
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Dec 20 2010 19:55

I'm not quivering with excitement for the simple reason that I don't know a lot about the gathering or who is putting it on, but I don't see any reason to dismiss it out of hand and its the only oppurtunity for networking and national organisation thats really come up so far.

wrote:
While it largely seems harmless but a bit silly (eg people's kitchens), a lot of it seems really problematic: consensus decision making, no mention of class politics etc.

On people's kitchens, yeah, its unlikely that anarchists could do them more effectively that charities at the moment and seems a misuse of resources, but I don't object to it beyond that.

Consensus decition making is problematic, and I'm generally opposed to it, but I don't see that as a reason not to get involved in this. I mean, the AF uses consensus more than I'm happy about (as you know) but I don't see that a reason not to participate.

The absence of class politics is legitimate criticism, and the reason that I'd encourage class struggle anarchists to attend would be to make the case for an understanding of the crisis and response to it based on class. I don't think the audience would necessarily be opposed to those kinds of arguments - I haven't heard the term 'working class' bandied around so much for a long time before the student protests, by activist types and newly politicised peole alike. On top of that the nature of the cuts makes it much easier to make class arguments when we're talking about attacks on quality of life than when talking about Gaza, or the environment. And ultimately anarchists with class politics participating could have an effect on where the priorities for organising in this network end up.

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Django
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Dec 20 2010 19:56

Also if libcommers want somewhere to stay PM me.

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Django
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Dec 20 2010 22:11
wrote:
You could say the same thing about any of the Trot fronts?

I think there's a difference between a Front being pushed by a Trot party which has its own sectarian angle and usually a pretty obvious social democratic agenda and something like this, where the criticism seems to be that there's a fair bit of confusion and activisty politics. They're two very different problems IMO.

wrote:
Django - I think consensus in an organisation with fairly tight A&P is completely different to something like this. Given the mix of people likely to attend, I don't see how anything of value could emerge using consensus, and surely having consensus (plus PGA guidelines!) is likely to be fairly instructive in terms of who this is aimed at?

Well to be honest the majority of anarchist gatherings operate on the basis of consensus with qualification, so the fact this does too just made me think it was aimed at this constituency. Also if they've said that they're prepared to use voting if needs be that's an advance on the majority of activist get-togethers.

I mean there's some stuff in there which is obviously associated with the activist scene, there's no disputing that, but the fact that they're talking about supporting strikes means there's ground to build on, even if they also seem to be talking about activists 'doing actions' and so on. These obvious contradictions are the reason class struggle anarchists should be attending in my view, to argue for collective action, class politics, etc, instead of a vanguardist activist approach.

posi
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Dec 20 2010 22:35
Quote:
You could say the same thing about any of the Trot fronts?

So never go to anything unless it's got "class struggle" stamped on it? Your ideas can never have any influence, except perhaps amongst those with no pre-existing analysis at all (whatever that would mean)?

posi
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Dec 20 2010 22:54

ha. ok. shouldn't post just after coming in from the pub.

raw
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Dec 20 2010 23:47

The link to the update clearly states:
-----------------

**Proposals

If you are interested in making proposals in one of the three key discussion areas then email ninjaction@riseup.net with one of the three titles below

PROPOSAL ORGANISATIONAL - how we should organise ourselves, what methods and structures should we use.
PROPOSAL POLITICAL - political philosophy - what do we believe and want to say to the wider world.
PROPOSAL STRATEGY - Strategy for action and creation. What actions do we want to take to fight the cuts and the system in general. Why? How?
------------

Which means that people and groups can make proposals. So if you think "class struggle" should be stamped all over it then write a proposal why and come to manchester. Simple no.

Consensus decision making done well is the most effective libertarian mode of organising. Voting is ridiculous in these sorts of network and reduces to decisions to a simple yes/no binary - decision making is and should be a process.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 21 2010 23:31
Quote:
Voting is ridiculous in these sorts of network and reduces to decisions to a simple yes/no binary - decision making is and should be a process.

This has been hashed out a million times before, but since when does voting not imply a process? I've been in a lot of groups that use majoritarian voting and it's always a process. Motions are proposed, circulated and discussed. They can then be amended or alternative motions can be proposed.

It's more transparent, doesn't pretend differences don't exist, and everyone's opinions are established (even if the group decides otherwise). Plus, it's far less likely to get dominated by professional activists experienced in hand signals and the politics of consensus. And, a group is far more likely to establish a stronger course or action as you don't have to deal with the 'lowest common denominator' syndrome endemic to consensus.

Also, if you've got lots of groups and individuals involved over a large geographic space, how are you going to effectively establish a system of consensus? You're going to need motions that can be discussed and voted upon to ensure that the views of respective groups are made clear and heard. Consensus just isn't a possibility if Network X takes off.

john
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Dec 22 2010 12:41
Quote:
I don't see what wasting our time on a dead end like this is going to gain us?

sharing experiences; building strategies for the future; making/strengthening connections with others around the country

one of the most impressive aspects of current anti-fees and anti-cuts movement is that actions have been coordinated on a national basis - which means better impact on the target, and also more impressive impact in media

if this meeting can achieve more of this then it would be a good thing, no?

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 22 2010 14:16

So FB, if you do agree that there's a necessity for a

Quote:
a national network kind of along the lines of NCAFC but with a direct action focus

(and personally I do, right now the momentum is coming outta some folk willing to fight whenever and wherever, yet we've established the shortcomings of NCAFC) but this gathering is too flawed to be it, then what do you propose? An alternative gathering?

I don't think we should have any illusions about many of the inherent problems within anarcho activist culture, and anyone who goes should be prepared for a lot of strong discussions and probable frustration for much of the weekend, but I see a definite possibility for organising with a minority.

Also, unlike yourself, I don't think I've ever been on an anarcho junket... wink

Matt_efc
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Dec 22 2010 14:31

Is it not a chance to organise something along our own political lines though? I mean the only difference seems to be that you would prefer the call out to not come from a group of "activists", which I can sympathise with. Are you basically saying that the movement that Libcom seems to cater to should look at starting from scratch in terms of national co-ordination?

I'd be interested in that, and I think its not a bad idea to be honest, but equally I dont see any issue with going to stuff like this and proposing and arguing a class struggle agenda. It might not be perfect, but I can tell you from being in Manchester theres plenty of radicalised students around at the moment, who dont really have that much experience with activism (thankfully) or with politics in general. They will be attracted to these kind of things, and we cant just ignore that. If it was at a time of nothing happening and it looked to be another talking shop I'd agree with you fully, but I personally think we should be looking to be as visiable as possible at the moment.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 22 2010 15:21
wrote:
I think if we think some kind of national coordination is appropriate, then we should be doing it because we ("we" as in those of us who share our rough class struggle, anti-capitalist, anti-state, anti-leftist politics not SF) should organise something along our own political lines. However, we should do this on the basis we think it's worthwhile in it's own right, not just because various leftists and activists are doing this.

Are leftists involved in this initiative? Is that intended to be a criticism of the British anarchist morass?

And I'm not entirely sure of the worth of libcomistas organising an alternative gathering as opposed to going en masse to the already existent one and making the same arguments. People are poring over the principles as if they're of any relevance at all, compared to the discussions that will happen once there. It's some weird anorak shit IMO. I'd consider it worthwhile going even if we only found the folk with a similar approach to our own and networked in the fucking pub next door.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 22 2010 15:49
wrote:
However, the difference would be we would waste our time coming to a bastardised consensus agreement that no one was happy with, with people whose politics are, to be blunt, incompatible with our own.

Folk closer to the event than us are claiming that voting is gonna be used as an option? And even though I pretty much agree with your view on consensus, voting will just be as problematic if there are serious political disagreements. You're being very formalistic here, I almost wonder if you're starting to regret being so dismissive at the start of the thread?

Quote:
JC - obviously, if this really is likely to draw in whole new layer of people who we can get doing something compatible with our principles, then great. Sure, go grab them to do useful stuff, Altho I suspect this will be in opposition to the momentum of the gathering.

You could largely say the same about the Anarchist Bookfair? In fact, I'd say that's a much stronger example...hopefully this gathering won't be doorstepped by the cider and dog brigade.

Quote:
But tbh really to me it just feels the same old "this time will be different! It won't just be the same old faces!", and I really don't feel any reason why that won't be the case this time.

Er...do you read the news?

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 22 2010 19:50
wrote:
Wind your neck in and drop the weird attempts at personalising things.
Quote:
Er...have you had any involvement in this movement? (beyond the flashpoints)

?

Quote:
You could largely say the same about the Anarchist Bookfair? In fact, I'd say that's a much stronger example...hopefully this gathering won't be doorstepped by the cider and dog brigade.

Way to make my point. If people here were suddenly all "Oh wow, the anarchy bookfair is a vital and important opportunity to launch a new network" then I'd be equally sceptical.

Well it has been and is used for exactly those purposes, and ourselves - as an org and on personal levels - have made much use of the Bookfair for networking purposes, even if unofficially or somewhat on the fringe. I'm not entirely sure what your point is, other than you dislike consensus and you think the gathering has a lot of potential to go wrong, both of which you've now repeatedly stated.

Quote:
Numbers are up on similar things a couple years ago, but that's almost universally old hands being reinvigorated. The expected multitudes of angry youngsters we saw on the streets just haven't shown up.

If that's been your experience, then you need to ask why this is. In my involvement, we've had a little bit of success working alongside radical teachers to get 6th formers and schoolkids to communicate with university students, start organising, etc, but obviously they're less accessible and it's gonna take a long, concerted effort to do so. We're working on it, basically.

Of course, there are "angry youngsters" who are organising, many of them are in the organising group of this gathering (I think?)!

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Bluedog
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Dec 22 2010 21:46

blimey that went and got all a bit unnecessary.

Im optimistic about the outcome if enough class struggle elements turn up, and i think that they will (just that gut feeling thing).

Heres their blog:
http://networkxuk.wordpress.com/

check out the 'about' and 'gathering info', as i dont think thats been posted here yet?

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Dec 22 2010 22:37

Some of the language used on the blog is baffling, it's all very vague.

I don't see any reason for people who can go not to go though. Is anyone here involved or know more about this? What is the meetings goal?

Spikymike
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Dec 23 2010 14:53

Is this proposal also the same as/connected to NINJA (National Information Network for Justice and Action) which is seeking to provide a service to and help co-ordinate anti-cuts actions from a vaguely libertarian perspective?

Also I note that in Manchester the following weekend on the 22nd Jan there is a TUC 'Unions and Communities Together' conference at the friends Meeting House.

I'm not promoting their strategy but the event may be worth attending to:

a) keep tabs on their 'social democratic' strategy and
b) possibly make contact with individuals actualy involved in g fighting cuts who have real information of use.

Mike Harman
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Dec 23 2010 16:58

No relation to Network X but this blog post was interesting - from one of the UCL occupiers - http://blog.ucloccupation.com/2010/12/23/what-next-for-the-student-movement/

vanilla.ice.baby
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Jan 2 2011 12:10

I think this gathering could be interesting, and I'm going to try and make it. If the proposed DA network is going to be any use (and I'm not saying it will) then sensible class struggle types will need to be involved and will need to coordinate their contributions on some level to push it in the right direction.

From what I have seen in the North East, the new wave of activity has both reinvigorated old timers and brought a whole new generation of activists often with open minds to the fore, and it is a bit daft to avoid events where they will be present just because the Dissent Network tossers will be involved.

I would appreciate it if a Solfed branch did submit some proposals that I could back if I'm there. I think a bare minimum will be a commitment to class struggle, and a delegate based structure, the consenus/voting divide can be a red herring sometimes and I wouldn't get hung up on it - it's informalism that is far more destructive and that allows professional activists and academic types with time and money to dominate "networks".

no1
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Jan 2 2011 14:44
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
I would appreciate it if a Solfed branch did submit some proposals that I could back if I'm there. I think a bare minimum will be a commitment to class struggle, and a delegate based structure, the consenus/voting divide can be a red herring sometimes and I wouldn't get hung up on it - it's informalism that is far more destructive and that allows professional activists and academic types with time and money to dominate "networks".

Sounds good, but -- how is it possible to have a delegate structure without being a membership organisation?

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jef costello
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Jan 2 2011 15:43

I think it's worth witholding judgement until after we've heard how it went. I don't think the idea of setting up a network to try to get involved with emerging social movements is a particularly good idea.
I'll wait to hear reports back from it but I won't be holding my breath.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Jan 3 2011 07:52
no1 wrote:
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
I would appreciate it if a Solfed branch did submit some proposals that I could back if I'm there. I think a bare minimum will be a commitment to class struggle, and a delegate based structure, the consenus/voting divide can be a red herring sometimes and I wouldn't get hung up on it - it's informalism that is far more destructive and that allows professional activists and academic types with time and money to dominate "networks".

Sounds good, but -- how is it possible to have a delegate structure without being a membership organisation?

It's not ideal but you restrict affiliation to local and national groups and orgs and give each one a single delegate. If there are individuals in areas without existing groups then you help them set a group up.

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jef costello
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Jan 3 2011 12:40
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
It's not ideal but you restrict affiliation to local and national groups and orgs and give each one a single delegate. If there are individuals in areas without existing groups then you help them set a group up.

Assuming that you draw their interest isn't that going to guarantee that you end up swamped by front groups?

raw
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Jan 3 2011 23:24
jef costello wrote:
I think it's worth witholding judgement until after we've heard how it went. I don't think the idea of setting up a network to try to get involved with emerging social movements is a particularly good idea.
I'll wait to hear reports back from it but I won't be holding my breath.

I can't wait for your judgement.....at the end of the day thats what its all about init?

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Tojiah
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Jan 4 2011 00:21
raw wrote:
jef costello wrote:
I think it's worth witholding judgement until after we've heard how it went. I don't think the idea of setting up a network to try to get involved with emerging social movements is a particularly good idea.
I'll wait to hear reports back from it but I won't be holding my breath.

I can't wait for your judgement.....at the end of the day thats what its all about init?

You expect Jef to express someone else's judgment, instead?

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jef costello
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Jan 4 2011 14:49
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
jef costello wrote:
I don't think the idea of setting up a network to try to get involved with emerging social movements is a particularly good idea.

Why not?

I don't think that I expressed that well and I'm not sure this thread is the place for it really, so I've written in white so no-one needs to derail the thread arguing about it.
I think the whole tone of this is far more about what the people calling for the meeting want than what anyone involved in the social movements wants. It looks like people who have been involved in radical politics have seen protests etc and want to be involved in it but instead of getting involved with what is there, they want to set up a network that is outside of those movements.
It seems that it is largely advertised within their existing audience which doesn't suggest any adaptation to the circumstances, neither does the format or even the concept. To me, that suggests that it will be another radical talking shop but simply with different subject matter.

Spikymike
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Jan 4 2011 15:02

I can't answer for Jef on the question put to him by Jim, but thinking about the apparent activist politics expressed by NINJA/Network X it struck me that there is an important distinction to be made between:

1. ideologically based groups (or networks of groups) seeking to get involved ( often referred to as 'intervening') in various social/economic 'movements' (or is that just campaigns?) on the basis of their ideology and with the usual assumption that the group/network is somehow priveleged to assist by this in 'raising the consciousness' of the other participants, and

2. groups or networks which bring together participants in, and with a direct material interest in, social/economic movements, to co-ordinate their practical activity and/or analyse/reflect on their activity with a view to learning from experience, (and passing that experience on to others presumably), and

3. groups engaged in straightforward educational/propaganda activity.

In the real world these approaches tend to get muddled up but the second seems more fruitful in practice and worth bearing in mind when the Network X Conference discusses what it wants to do/prioritise.

mons
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Jan 4 2011 15:29

Spikymike:
I find this really interesting, and your distinction potentially very helpful. But could you or anyone spell out how these different approaches concretely differ? Practically, with caucusing for example, I can see how it is a problem when groups experienced in making arguments, etc. decide their line and manufacture the debate. But it seems ridiculous to not meet with people who you share politics with to discuss what approach to take to a meeting or whatever. But I want a more concrete wedge to put between those two approaches.

To keep on topic, I'm going to Network X, though not massively optimistic for the reasons jef costello and others have said already.