Tips for organizing as anarchists in broader platforms (with political parties etc)

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WithDefiance's picture
Joined: 6-03-13
Mar 14 2016 20:47
Tips for organizing as anarchists in broader platforms (with political parties etc)

Dear comrades,

I am struggling with the question of how to organize as an anarchist group withing a broader platform where also hiërarchical organizations (EG. political parties) are part of.

This also has to do with the goals. There are two cases recently that are part of this which I will try to explain.

First is the 1st of may. In our small city (180.000 people) we are trying to set up a new first of may tradition. The 1st of may in our country its not even a holiday. Last year we have organized our first succesfull demonstration with 350 people or so - explicitly anticapitalist, clearly also initiated by our anarchist group. We have had people from some turkish organizations involved which was our first bridge towards other elements in society, elements not clearly defined in terms of fervor for their organization type but with a clear head. The experience of the first of may last year was very good and we gained a lot of respect. Trotskists from the International Socialists (SWP-league) have asked us why they were not involved in the event last year and said they would have loved to participate. We know at least one comrade well. He has been dubbing which organization to join, but eventually joined the IS.

This year we plan to organize a new 1st of may. Our dilemma is what to do. Do we involve this IS group in the platform? I've talked to the comrade and posed our dilemma. But I also wanted to ask you folks here with maybe also relevant experience and ideas.

Second problem is a similar dilemma about an anti-TTIP platform we have started to get involved in. We will participate in it because we don't want to be sectarian and isolate ourselves. For us its a chance to push for anti-capitalist demands. Our aim is to reach the general public with this message and get them engaged in struggle against capital and state. The issue is that the initiative also involves political parties (Socialist Party, the International Socialists again) and has the aim to make the local municipality declare our city a TTIP-freezone. How do would you relate your goals, as an anarchist, to this aim and are able to cooperate with people, and where do you do your own thing, go your own way or draw a line?

I look forward for your response,

WithDefiance's picture
Joined: 6-03-13
Mar 14 2016 20:44

No-one with experience in this?

Joined: 29-09-06
Mar 15 2016 08:13

Yes, and l suppose a lot of people have their experience. l did not answer this is to avoid getting into discussion with the various anonymous people here who are from the authoritarian left and will be pissed off.

A lot depends on the details, so in general these questions are hard to answer. ln the first situation, it sounds like you did a very decent job of organizing May Day on your own. Now, if people have some real relations working with some other groups, l see no problems with inviting them. However, if you are talking about the Cliffite socialists, l would suggest that you decline all overtures from those people.

Yes, you may know some of them personally and they may seem OK, but in general they function in the same manner internationally which is to get into or form broad coalitions, try to take control and to marginalize other elements. You are currently in a better positions than they are now but that will not last long. l think that many anarchists can tell stories about this and l know such things going back decades.

Of course, it could be that some of them, as l said, might seem like nice people or might seem reasonable, but their modus operandi is as l said. Nota bene, l actually like some of the folks from our local SWP, (except the one that doesn't pay child support) but we've seen how they can act and we've seen which elements they in turn can drag into stuff, so we don't go into coalitions - although we might both attend each other's demos.

To sum up, you will most probably wind up being used and getting a lot less out of it than they get out of you.

ln the other case, the situation is a little different because you are in an initiative somebody else started. Well, again, there can be different factors and there is not a lot of info here, but the question is whether you agree with the goals of the initiative and whether you agree with the way the group is working. Another question really is whether or not the whole idea of the TTlP free zones make any difference, other than a symbolic show. And whether your participation would make a difference. Personally, am not against stuff like this, but usually there are plenty of lefties to deal with these types of issues, so l leave them to it. lt is a choice of priorities, if you have other movement-building things to do which don't involve the reformist, party left. lf you can't figure out stuff to do as anarchists with the broader population, these types of movements obviously will seem more important and central to participate in.

Joined: 23-06-05
Mar 15 2016 18:46

When it comes to an event like a May Day march, at root your tactical choice boils down to whether you want to create a "libertarian" or anarchoid event on the one hand or a "labour movement" event or the other. To answer that you need to think about what it is you are trying to achieve.

To be cynical about it, a "libertarian" event will probably be more use if you are trying to pull various local unaffiliated radical elements around you and recruit them to your group free of competition. A broader more "labour movement" style event will probably be bigger and more stable as an ongoing event.

On particular single issue campaigns, again the issues at stake are what you are actually planning to do as a group on that issue and what you hope to achieve as a group. What resources would you put into the campaign? How much more effective and generally more visible will the campaign be than whatever independent efforts you can mount? What political weaknesses will the campaigns arguments have that your own material would avoid?

Such issues are best approached in this kind of nuts and bolts way rather than in a way that starts from a fear of contamination. The rest of the left is, almost everywhere, going to be much larger than a local anarchist group and they will be involved in just about everything you want to get involved in. If you are going to take the view that you will catch authoritarian disease from them, you will exclude yourselves from just about every campaign not just one particular one.

whirlwind's picture
Joined: 23-05-15
Mar 15 2016 22:38

I would suggest attempting to organise on a classist base, ie on the basis of the working class, not on the basis of 'anarchism'. An example of a successful form of this type of march occurred in the German city of Hanover (I believe) in the late 1990's. The workers of the city organised a one day city wide 'warning strike' and marched behind a banner which read, LEBEN LIEBEN LACHAN ('LOVE LIVE LAUGH').