Lifestylist politics: babies and bathwater?

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Fall Back's picture
Fall Back
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Sep 19 2011 17:10
Lifestylist politics: babies and bathwater?

Admin: splitting this from the Macho posting on libcom and SolFed thread.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
well no, personally i think that i think its fair to say though that in rejecting some atttitudes seen as at the time prevalent in lifestylism or the more liberal end of anarchism, the forums as a whole on libcom unfortunately ended up getting rid of some good stuff along with the bad.

Third time you've asserted this. Third time you haven't backed it up.

Can you describe these supposed "good stuff" from lifestylism that we've apparently rejected?

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Sep 19 2011 17:12
Fall Back wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
well no, personally i think that i think its fair to say though that in rejecting some atttitudes seen as at the time prevalent in lifestylism or the more liberal end of anarchism, the forums as a whole on libcom unfortunately ended up getting rid of some good stuff along with the bad.

Third time you've asserted this. Third time you haven't backed it up.

Can you describe these supposed "good stuff" from lifestylism that we've apparently rejected?

Well a bit of lack of engagement with prison support stuff (not good in the wake of the riots) and a poor approach to gender politics or womens caucuses/groups would be two good examples. Or the extent to which some people don't make much attempt to engage with some issues ''outside' the workplace, even when said issues often intersect with workplace struggle.
To me its more of an overall attitude problem, various activities/issues are seen as somehow ''tainted'' by activisty subculture, so rather than engaging with said activities properly, some people on here just opt for starting from the point of condemnation or ignoring the issues altogther and pretending thy're not a problem.
This whole thing is made worse by the unwillingness of a few people on here to admit when they got a few things wrong in the past.

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Sep 19 2011 17:13
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Fall Back wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:

Can you describe these supposed "good stuff" from lifestylism that we've apparently rejected?

Well a bit of lack of engagement with prison support stuff (not good in the wake of the riots) .

Derail (and for that I apologise).

Cantdo, I have some real concerns about this post.

SF members were entirely supportive of "engagement with prisoner support stuff". We just didn't think the best way to engage with it was as SF. The majority thought it was an important issue, but that SF should continue to concentrate on workplace issues. However, we specifically said we'd offer moral, financial, and 'legwork' support to PS organisations.

I mean, we not only delegated people specifically to liaise with prisoner support organisations, we wrote a leaflet on the matter for them to use!

As one member pointed out in particular (one of the two women in NL who raised objections), we can't spread ourselves too thin. PS support takes a tonne of work and commitment. If we can't commit ourselves, we'll be stressing ourselves out, doing a half-arsed job and, worse, letting down prisoners.

I'd like to propose a motion that if we continue this conversation, it be moved to a different thread.

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Sep 19 2011 17:16

I would say there is sometimes a tendency to throw the the babes out with the water. To denegrate something as merely 'identity politics' or 'lifestylism' and presume that the very mentioning of these phrases are a self evident critique of somebody elses position. However...I can't pick out any direct example recently embarrassed

Battlescarred
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Sep 19 2011 18:25
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SF members were entirely supportive of "engagement with prisoner support stuff". We just didn't think the best way to engage with it was as SF. The majority thought it was an important issue, but that SF should continue to concentrate on workplace issues. However, we specifically said we'd offer moral, financial, and 'legwork' support to PS organisations.

I mean, we not only delegated people specifically to liaise with prisoner support organisations, we wrote a leaflet on the matter for them to use!

As one member pointed out in particular (one of the two women in NL who raised objections), we can't spread ourselves too thin. PS support takes a tonne of work and commitment. If we can't commit ourselves, we'll be stressing ourselves out, doing a half-arsed job and, worse, letting down prisoners.

So when and where do you do it, as you now seem to be excluding all activity outside the workplace from the Solfed remit? This is a genuine question, not point scoring.

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Sep 19 2011 18:36

Battlescarred - while taking your question in a comradely spirit, I don't think it's entirely accurate.

We've basically decided certain things aren't in our remit - recent examples on here would be EDL in Tower Hamlets, or prison support for people after the riots. This doesn't mean we exclude everything outside the workplace. eg, we've got a community strategy (in ongoing development), which wouldn't make much sense if we only saw our role as in the workplace.

"Where and when do solfed members do activities that we feel are important but beyond our remit?" maybe a more fair formulation?

Just clarifying as I think it's a perfectly fair question, but the problems in phrasing aren't helpful in getting an answer.

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Sep 19 2011 19:03

Well, not all activity that's outside the workplace--we want to do community organising around explicitly class issues like rent and landord struggles.

"When and where" do we do PS stuff, is that what you're asking? The idea was that there are already PS organisations in London which we could offer individual and organisational support.

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Sep 19 2011 18:46

cross posting there FB

Battlescarred
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Sep 19 2011 18:49

So you would do that as individuals within PS organisations or after discussion in your branch and then send delegates? Or what?

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Sep 19 2011 19:02

Different Locals have slightly different systems and focuses because of the whole Federation thing, but speaking as a North London member atm we don't have enough people in London to maintain a collective Local commitment to PS alongside our core remit, so instead have a formal position of encouraging individuals to contribute to existing PS groups.

We also have a general policy of saying if individuals feel strongly enough to be consistently active in a given field where we're not expert/collectively focused (eg. anti-fascism) then they can bring it up in meetings and provisionally take on "liason" roles - so keep an eye on things, go to meetings as an SF Local member and keep the Local as a whole in the loop/solicit support where needed.

That's not to say this is set in stone btw, it's what we're concluding atm given our resources - if we had a hundred active people in a Local I daresay there'd be an anti-fascist unit wink.

Battlescarred
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Sep 19 2011 19:16

Yes, I'm certainly aware myself of the "don't have enough people in London etc" within London AF group and am certainly aware of the need to prioritise because of that. But does Solfed have a person nationally responsible for Prison Support as AF does, is there info in Solfed propaganda ( Direct Action, Catalyst) relating to the plight of particular political prisoners?

martinh
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Sep 19 2011 19:19

No we don't have anyone nationally delegated to do it.

martinh
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Sep 19 2011 19:22

Also, our propaganda is probably not as regular as yours, but certainly it's not what we would prioritise puttnig into Catalyst at present. That could easily change and may do so depending on how things pan out. DA would have been a more suitable vehicle (and has covered PS stuff in the past) but as you're probably aware it hasn't been out for a few years.

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Sep 19 2011 19:23

Battle, I don't doubt your sincerity, but this does feel a bit like point-scoring.

Personally, if someone contacted SF wanting to join an anarchist organisation active in PS, I'd send them to AF as my understanding is that y'all have a bit wider remit in your activities (and, as you allude, a structure to allow for it).

Battlescarred
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Sep 19 2011 19:32

No, as I said earlier, it's not point scoring, so don't get touchy.
So does that mean you see a particular role for Solfed and another particular role for AF? Isn't that a bit like the FAI and CNT?

martinh
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Sep 19 2011 19:44

I think we generally do see a different role for the AF and SF, but certainly not the one of the FAI and CNT. wink

Prisoner support is a good example - for us we would see it as an extension of class struggle and would prioritise folks sent down for organising. I'd expect the AF to have a much more detailed analysis of the role of prisons than we would, and to give more of a lead in supporting the struggles of prisoners and fighting against injustice than we would.
It's not that I think SF and AF would have major disgreements, more a difference in emphasis.

Regards,

Martin

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Sep 19 2011 19:52

imho it's not really anything directly to do with the AF, insofar as the AF hasn't really been mentioned in internal discussions. i think it's more about us working out what is and is not in our remit as a revolutionary union initiative. the AF's role is whatever the AF wants it to be afaic. nobody's really mentioned a CNT-FAI relationship either fwiw, and personally i don't think that's a model to follow - but i suspect you know that and wink duly noted wink

Battlescarred
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Sep 19 2011 20:11

You suspect correctly. Anyway have other things to do now, so that's me for the evening. Tara.

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Sep 19 2011 20:29

This turned into SolFed defense fest. Thought the babies were flushed out of the libcom tub.

It clear that the anti lifestylist stance has costed some people time, effort and possibly more. The group of people that formed on this basis seem to use lifestyle bashing as a group and ego enhancer. (See the gender discussion). These sort of cliqy mannerisms develop in groups but they are really offputting for everyone on the outside.

Saying that I'm very much against the lifestyle element which has kept me out of anarchist organisations. I just really have no time for hippies even if we both have Soundtrack to a brawl as the most played song on our mp3 players.

A good example is Chilli's response to the insurrecters Longshore workers text. He was called up on it and the text had some truly cringeworthy bits. But still... if you disregard the presentation and self image they were doing a good thing. Would have made sense to acknowledge the good stuff before proceeding to make mild fun out of their rebel self image. Thats just a recent example not a very appaling one.

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Sep 19 2011 20:55

Oh and just to add. Proposals, interests and politics that are only slightly ineffective are not seldom attacked as they were actively destructive and *must be opposed*.

The issue with this is that it fails to take into account other peoples capacity, capability, interests and what they consider fun enough to actually do. Other people doing or proposing stuff is treated as if they were forcing us to join their possibly time wasting activity. See the Anonymous callout

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Sep 19 2011 20:56
martinh wrote:
I think we generally do see a different role for the AF and SF, but certainly not the one of the FAI and CNT. wink

Prisoner support is a good example - for us we would see it as an extension of class struggle and would prioritise folks sent down for organising. I'd expect the AF to have a much more detailed analysis of the role of prisons than we would, and to give more of a lead in supporting the struggles of prisoners and fighting against injustice than we would.
It's not that I think SF and AF would have major disgreements, more a difference in emphasis.

Regards,

Martin

This.

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Sep 19 2011 23:46

Just to say my original post was more aimed at libcom forum culture in general than solfed. Apologies for not making that clear. I certainly think as fallback says solfed faces pressing issues of capacity and time.

But even considering that, I think its worth reconsidering these issues a bit. I mean its not black and white, but say things like environmental politics of all stripes are i feel somewhat neglected. even when they very directly intersect with class. And i dont just mean this in terms of the issue of climate change, we do have members involved in campaigning against issues related to asbestos, and contacts for whom part of their job is to do so. And this at a time when the schools budget (originally £250m earmarked) for cleaning up the asbestos in its walls has been slashed and a bit of the money sidled off to toby young and co.
Its not always easy to see how to deal with these issues, and certainly solfed has limited capacity and couldn;t get involved in campaigning against every negative impact of capitalism, but its always worth reflecting o how we engage with a range of issues and struggles.
What for example is solfed or libcoms approach to the increasingly grim way in whch the elderly are treated in our society? I dot think we are alone in this silence. Anarchism in britain, for better or worse, feels very youth orientated, and i've seen very little in the way of engagement with pensioners groups and issues? We haven;t done hardly anything over the southern cross stuff for instance. Fuel poverty being another key issue on which we could be accused of being a bit quietist...oh and look we're back to climate change, its almost like its all intertwined or some shit.

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Sep 20 2011 00:57

Cantdo we need to have a bit of self-perspective on this, we're only just getting to the point of regular double figures in meetings in some Locals, dealing with a massive task which on its own is going to be nigh-on impossible (organising a new trade unionism and spreading it nationwide), dealing with internal issues and trying to build a working system of administration/activity all at the same time.

We can't reasonably expect to get all of this up and running and simultaneously involve ourselves in all the other stuff as an organisation, it's just not realistic to load that on so few shoulders until we've got our core activities working smoothly and more people involved generally.

Say we got everyone down the Dale Farm this week, or mobilise at full throttle for November 9th. That means we're neglecting existing campaigns around our core remit, for what ends? We'll provide a boost of maximum 16 people for a demo on a subject we're not familiar with, at the cost of a month of not doing what is actually in our constitution, aims and principles and worse, letting problems which are affecting our own members right now and which we can actually do something useful for slip past.

We need to be patient and not run before we can walk - this stuff will come.

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Sep 20 2011 01:33

oh yeah for sure, i mean ithink its just all stuff worth thinking about and being aware of, as i said my original post was more aimed at libcom forums than anything else

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Sep 20 2011 15:55
chilli sauce wrote:
Battle, I don't doubt your sincerity, but this does feel a bit like point-scoring.
Battlescarred wrote:
No, as I said earlier, it's not point scoring, so don't get touchy.

I understand you Chilli, but just learning from the 'macho posting' thread, if Battlescarred says hes not point scoring, then just roll with it innit. Unless things became ridiculous and he (or anyone else) so obviously was and needed to be pulled up about it!

cooked wrote:
This turned into SolFed defense fest. Thought the babies were flushed out of the libcom tub.

It clear that the anti lifestylist stance has costed some people time, effort and possibly more. The group of people that formed on this basis seem to use lifestyle bashing as a group and ego enhancer. (See the gender discussion). These sort of cliqy mannerisms develop in groups but they are really offputting for everyone on the outside.

Saying that I'm very much against the lifestyle element which has kept me out of anarchist organisations. I just really have no time for hippies even if we both have Soundtrack to a brawl as the most played song on our mp3 players.

I agree with you cooked (apart from the 'solfed defense test' comment). Fwiw i like to add that i believe that many lifestylists/activisty types also like to bash libcom.org and associated peeps as an ego enhancer too. I think with good will gestures and comradely relationships this can change though (but we shouldnt strive to make everyone get along as there will always be people who dont want to).

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Sep 20 2011 16:02

Bluedog, point taken.

Cantdo wrote:
Just to say my original post was more aimed at libcom forum culture in general than solfed.

Cantdo, I was hoping you direct me to the thread you had in mind here (i.e. libcommers dismissing PS after the riots).

action_now
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Sep 20 2011 16:08

i don't see why my previous comment was deleted...
what do people mean by lifestylist? i mean, that term has been pretty much been debunked by now. you don't really get many people, if any, that believe that squatting and bin driving is revolutionary, let alone enough to make such a massive impact on anarchism. yeah, unsurprisingly people who do these things do other stuff.
example brought up is prisoner support. how is that 'lifestylist'? and before anyone moans, this is relevant, since this discussion really needs a base. so, what is actually being spoken about here!?

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Sep 20 2011 16:10
action_now wrote:
why is prison support stuff lifestylist?

cantdocartwheels brought it up with reference to SolFed and gender, then 'clarified' he was talking about libcom in general and prisoner support, so you'll have to ask him.

confused

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Sep 21 2011 03:05
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Bluedog, point taken.
Cantdo wrote:
Just to say my original post was more aimed at libcom forum culture in general than solfed.

Cantdo, I was hoping you direct me to the thread you had in mind here (i.e. libcommers dismissing PS after the riots).

its more that afaik theres an absence of even a discussion about it on here really imho

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Sep 21 2011 07:02

No offense Cantdo, but why didn't you bring it up?

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Sep 21 2011 11:41

So Solfed is sexist because we threw out good bits of lifestylism. An example of this is no one on libcom started a thread on prison support after the riots.

And you wonder why this pisses your comrades off.