New network for working class community organising

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Lazlo_Woodbine
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Nov 29 2004 11:43
New network for working class community organising

Here's the thext of a leaflet given out at the Anarchist Bookfair after the 'organising locally' meeting.

***************************

Want to get stuck into doing some community politics?

Ex members of Hackney IWCA (Independent Working Class Association) have formed a new groups called hackney Independent.

We are interested in establishing a contact network with other autonomous groups who are already doing, or are planning to start doing, serious work in working-class communities.

To that end we are planning to hold a launch meeting some time at the end of january/beginning of Febriary at a location in London.

Interested?

If you would like to know more or would like to go on the invite list, please get in touch with your group's contact detalis via any of the ways mentioned below.

We look forward to working with you.

Hackney Independent:

PO Box 47000, London E8 4WW

Telephone: 020 7684 1743

Email: info@hackneyindependent.org

Website address: www.hackneyindependent.org

nastyned
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Nov 30 2004 22:35

What did people think of the meeting? I was there for about an hour and I was inspired by some of the things people said but there seemed to be too many people and not enough time for real discussion. Certainly there was a lot of difference between all the local groups in how overtly political they were and where they focussed their energies that I would have liked to have heard more about.

Some of the residents association stuff seemed to be getting a bit too far away from the struggle for the revolutionary destruction of capitalism to me.

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Jacques Roux
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Nov 30 2004 23:44

Any reason this aint in the london forum?

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gav
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Dec 1 2004 01:28

coz it is a call for a national network, and a very important inititive.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2004 11:42

Liked it a lot, I agree it could have done with more time.

And got to sit next to one of my heroes from when I was 14 as well! (didn't know until I was in the pub afterwards though which is probably a good thing)

I think the point of the Residents' Association stuff is that if you're going to work with your neighbours, they aren't only going to be interested in revolutionary anarchist communism (or at all), so lots of things will come up that aren't all that interesting. But, if you can encourage people to address problems using self-organisation rather than just complaining to the local council, then when something more serious crops up, they're more likely to retain those methods of working instead of relying on representative political structures. The short discussion about anti-social behaviour/crime was sort of that - how do you stop local politics from turning into neighbourhood watch. It should be possible to solve any local issue using directly democratic federative political structures in order to make decisions, and within those bodies, anarchists should be arguing for decisions to be taken which are libertarian and based in direct action. If an RA was to end up as some kind of police lobby body, or co-opted by the council, then the anarchist has done a bad job in keeping it working along those lines.

Even stuff like the Southend wine club, which was laughed at, isn't that silly. Buying stuff at wholesale and distributing it cheaply within a community to enable people to afford things they couldn't if they bought it themselves encourages solidarity, mutual aid etc. etc.. Maybe wine isn't the best example, but food co-ops and stuff are positive, even if they're a bit mutualist, and they can be used as examples to show how contemporary capitalism constantly adds cost to goods without increasing their value.

VICTORSERGE
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Dec 1 2004 22:02

Yes - good initiative - The Bristolian will certainly be up for it.

Wendal
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Dec 1 2004 23:21
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:

We are interested in establishing a contact network with other autonomous groups who are already doing, or are planning to start doing, serious work in working-class communities.

It might be good to also have a point in the article about how you define working class since there is loads of diferent definitions of that floating around today. What is the most comom definition might also shift from country to country.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 2 2004 01:04

Really inspiring meeting...undoubtedly my highlight of the day.

nastyned
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Dec 2 2004 15:18

I wasn't too worried that class wasn't mentioned more explicitly, it seemed to me that everyone was talking about working class organisation, even the wine drinkers!

I was more concerened that some of it, particularly the stuff in the residents association newsletter, wasn't linking local issues to wider struggles. The WAG and HSG newletters were doing this though which is great.

Also electorialism raised its ugly head briefly and that should be sorted out.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Dec 29 2004 12:51

bump

Anyone got any details on a set date?

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 29 2004 16:06
nastyned wrote:
I wasn't too worried that class wasn't mentioned more explicitly, it seemed to me that everyone was talking about working class organisation, even the wine drinkers!

Yeah...when people sit around in expensive clothes and make the obtuse "assumption" (undoubtedly to try and make middle class people feel awkward and out of place) that everyone in there is working class, it's pretty disgusting.

Only furiously considering quitting the movement for 30 seconds out of an hour long meeting is pretty good for me though. smile

Divisive Cottonwood
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Dec 30 2004 12:36
Wendal wrote:
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:

We are interested in establishing a contact network with other autonomous groups who are already doing, or are planning to start doing, serious work in working-class communities.

It might be good to also have a point in the article about how you define working class since there is loads of diferent definitions of that floating around today. What is the most comom definition might also shift from country to country.

The term is used very loosely - not in a scientific type of way.

The key here is community, not workplace.

So if you feel you are doing work on the ground that is of interest to others come along and contribute.

Divisive Cottonwood
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Dec 30 2004 13:28
Catch wrote:

And got to sit next to one of my heroes from when I was 14 as well! (didn't know until I was in the pub afterwards though which is probably a good thing)

Who's that then?!

Mike Harman
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Dec 30 2004 13:36

The one on the right.[/url]

Divisive Cottonwood
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Dec 30 2004 13:42

I've been told that the conference is now planned for March / Aril time. I think the plan is to provide entertainment in the evening and so make it an all day thing.

Mike Harman
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Dec 30 2004 13:46

Just in case anyone thinks I'm odd, one of my other heroes when I was 14 wasthis guy.

Shame it's been delayed but good that it's happening.

kalabine
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Dec 30 2004 21:35
Catch wrote:
Just in case anyone thinks I'm odd, one of my other heroes when I was 14 wasthis guy.

Shame it's been delayed but good that it's happening.

sorry mate, too late - i definately think you're wierd for having dave as a hero! tongue wink

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Dec 30 2004 21:43

Dave is your Tony Cliff -- don't try to deny it.

kalabine
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Dec 30 2004 21:57
Alan_is_Fucking_Dead wrote:
nastyned wrote:
I wasn't too worried that class wasn't mentioned more explicitly, it seemed to me that everyone was talking about working class organisation, even the wine drinkers!

Yeah...when people sit around in expensive clothes and make the obtuse "assumption" (undoubtedly to try and make middle class people feel awkward and out of place) that everyone in there is working class, it's pretty disgusting.

first of all, i certainly think the wine club is a good idea (and one i may pinch in the new year)

now only two people in the meeting mentioned the lack of the word working class (and one was me, and i wasnt wearing expensive clothes embarrassed ) however i don't see the harm in explicitly mentioning it, i also don't care if middle class people feel uncomfortable with it's mention - surely if they are genuinely interested in helping to encourage progressive working class self organisation they wouldnt feel uncormfortable with it being spelled out

the idea of this network is to encourage cooperation between existing autonomous libertarian non hierarchical pro working class groups and to help with setting up new ones

for me and others including most of HI to be involved it has to be explicitly pro working class or i'm not interested tbh

kalabine
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Dec 30 2004 22:04
nastyned wrote:

I was more concerened that some of it, particularly the stuff in the residents association newsletter, wasn't linking local issues to wider struggles. The WAG and HSG newletters were doing this though which is great.

as the editor of the resident's newsletter you are referring to, as well as a co editor of the HSG newsletter - i would say it is deliberate that haringey community action concentrates only on RA stuff as all it's stories come from RA's affiliated to haringey federation of resident's associations (HFRA) who's members have all sorts of different politics from tory to anarcho and mostly unaligned (officially anyway)

two of the three people who put HCA together are class struggle anarchists but it would surely be wrong for us to push our line especially when we have the totally indypendent

kalabine
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Dec 30 2004 22:11
nastyned wrote:

Also electorialism raised its ugly head briefly and that should be sorted out.

why?

surely a network of independent working class community groups should allow local groups to pursue their own tactics as long as they don't contradict certain minimum requirements?

if you are suggesting that the network should refuse to accept local groups that stand candidates in local elections - then i can tell you now hackney independent would walk away (despite the fact that one of the reasons they left the iwca was because they were worrried it was becoming too electoralist) - as would i

HSG and as far as i can see WAG are happy to work with HI in a loose network, and by the same token HI are willing to work with explicitly anarchist groups despite the fact that only a minority of them are anarchists

Mike Harman
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Dec 30 2004 22:41

Well, I used to follow the McLibel trial a lot but didn't have any posters of him or anything. embarrassed And Archie Shepp was to confirm my weirdness in a sly comedic way, I admit I was a fucking weird 14 year old, used to have 10 minute discussions with my history teacher in class about the Cold War curriculum reducing the political spectrum to Capitalist vs. (Soviet style) Communist and ignoring anarchism as an alternative to both.

Back on topic.

If you're going to have community based groups, ideally covering lots of localities over a region with a degree of federation, they aren't going to be made up exclusively of anarchists. Therefore, it's likely that one response to issues that's likely to be advocated within communities is electoral politics, since it's the dominant way that some decisions get made and one of the ways of getting power in society. You can't ignore that the state exists, and the local state runs lots of essential services that directly affect people's lives.

Strong arguments exist against electoral politics and they should be made, but refusing to work with people because they don't rule it out seems nonsensical if you're talking about trying to build self-organised structures in the community. I'd rather work with people on a local basis and argue with them on points of disagreement than not work with them at all. I have serious problems with electoralism, including local, on a number of levels although I'm not entirely against it as a limited tactic, however that for me is a much less important point of disagreement than I have with some anarchists - like eating roadkill or doing majick tricks and calling it politics.

Nightjar
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Dec 31 2004 14:37

Bang on, Catch.

One of the reasons I no longer consider myself part of the anarchist scene in GB is that it remains so bloody dogmatic about issues like this. Electoral politics isn't the be all and end all, but by partaking the working class take you more seriously.

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pingtiao
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Dec 31 2004 15:47

Totally agree Catch, good post.

and happy new year

nastyned
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Jan 1 2005 11:31

I've worked with all sorts of people with shit politics on specific issues but I've never pretended there aren't political differences.

I'm immediately suspicious of people who stand in elections, as are a lot of people who aren't even anarchists .

The old excuse of it only being for limited tactical reasons or only for propaganda purposes doesn't wash with me - i've heard it all before.

Nightjar
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Jan 1 2005 20:30

Alternatives? More of the same isolation?

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 1 2005 22:07
kalabine wrote:
now only two people in the meeting mentioned the lack of the word working class (and one was me, and i wasnt wearing expensive clothes embarrassed ) however i don't see the harm in explicitly mentioning it, i also don't care if middle class people feel uncomfortable with it's mention - surely if they are genuinely interested in helping to encourage progressive working class self organisation they wouldnt feel uncormfortable with it being spelled out

the idea of this network is to encourage cooperation between existing autonomous libertarian non hierarchical pro working class groups and to help with setting up new ones

for me and others including most of HI to be involved it has to be explicitly pro working class or i'm not interested tbh

Well done for missing my point. Obviously any sort of left wing group should be explicitly pro working class, what I was criticising was the deliberately obtuse assumption that everyone in the room was indeed working class. That's no more progressive than completely ignoring class, if you ask me. I'm not gonna be ashamed of my middle class roots and that tone is continually taken, you will isolate people.

That's just a minor criticism though. This is probably the one thing about British anarchism in 2004 that made me feel quite positive.

nastyned
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Jan 2 2005 21:35
Nightjar wrote:
Alternatives? More of the same isolation?

That's right, unless you're standing in elections you're not doing anything at all worthwhile and are totally isolated. roll eyes

Both the groups that hosted the meeting at the bookfair don't stand in elections and i for one think they do good stuff.