Anarcho-Syndicalism and Platformism -- do they go together?

195 posts / 0 new
Last post
papaspace
Offline
Joined: 14-10-09
Dec 15 2009 23:44
Anarcho-Syndicalism and Platformism -- do they go together?

('m unsure whether this is the appropriate forum, I'm sorry if I should have placed it elsewhere)

I'm a newb to anarchism, and I reckon this might be a very silly question, but I'm here in order to learn, so anyway, my question is:

Can anarcho-syndicalist tactics and Platformism go together? Are there any contradictions between these two notions? Is the CNT-FAI model an example of anarcho-syndicalism and platformism going hand in hand?

thanks,

papaspace

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Dec 16 2009 18:02
wrote:
Anarcho-Syndicalism and Platformism -- do they go together?

No, I see Anarcho-Syndicalism and the Platform as incompatible, see for example http://libcom.org/library/constructive-anarchism-debate-platform-g-p-maksimov

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 16 2009 14:44

Well I think anarcho-syndicalism is an ideology while the platform is more a method of organising a political group.

I think it would be perfectly possible to have an "anarcho-syndicalist" political group IE one that worked towards the formation of anarcho syndicalist unions that was itself organised according to platformist principles.

It would also be perfectly possible to have an anarcho-syndicalist union that had one or more political groups working within it that were organised along platformist lines.

I don't think the FAI were platformist, though I may be wrong.

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Dec 16 2009 16:15

I agree with most anarchists, including G P Maksimov and Rudolf Rocker, that consider that anarcho-syndicalism and the platform to be incompatible, see the link above for 'Constructive Anarchism'. There are no anarcho-syndicalist organisations that formally identify with the platform today nor am I aware of this being the case in the past.

Anarcho-syndicalism is the fusion of anarchism and revolutionary syndicalism - the federalist current of Anarchism which emerged from the IWMA (First International) and Revolutionary Syndicalism which endorsed that workers organisations themselves are to create the social revolution, without intermediaries - opposing the reductionist arguement that workers organisations are limited to a "defensive" economic determinist role and only a leadership of union beauracrats and politicians organised in a political organisation are able to provide an "offensive" capability.

The platform is a document written in 1926 seemingly to draw lessons and draft a program based on the experience of the Maknovchina in the Ukrainian and Russian Revolution and Civil War. It seems to be often misunderstood as being a key inspiration in creating the successes of the Maknovschina, but it was written as a (seriously flawed) reflection after the experience. An attempt to apply it directly as the main program of a mass organisation was in Poland in the late 1920s which failed, after it was adopted and tried in practice, a mass meeting decided to remove the platform as a program and anarcho-syndicalism was adopted to relace it because it is more consistant with anarchism. The FAI have never had anything substantial to do with the platform

As a matter of interest I have added the link for the full text and download of 'Constructive Anarchism' by G P Maksimov to the review on the anarkismo website a couple of times, and the link has not yet been approved.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Dec 16 2009 16:19
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
I don't think the FAI were platformist, though I may be wrong.
AES wrote:
The FAI have never had anything substantial to do with the platform

I think that the FAI was founded on the basis of Voline's theory of Synthesis.

Devrim

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Dec 16 2009 16:27

no it was not

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Dec 16 2009 16:41

Are you sure? Wasn't the original meeting in France in 1926? Voline was there and put forward his theory of synthesis against the ideas of the Platformists. I am not certain of this, but I sort of remember being told it at some point.

Devrim

jesuithitsquad's picture
jesuithitsquad
Offline
Joined: 11-10-08
Dec 16 2009 17:00
AES wrote:
As a matter of interest I have added the link for the full text and download of 'Constructive Anarchism' by G P Maksimov to the review on the anarkismo website a couple of times, and the link has not yet been approved.

And meanwhile they post uncritical releases from the PKK. Glad to see they've got their priorities straight.

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Dec 16 2009 17:15

Devrim, if what you are saying here is that the Synthesis, as a broadly accomodating form of organisation which has at its central responsibilty the task of reflecting on anarchism and its role - then I would agree that it seems to be similar to the what the FAI has been throughout its existence, but again I would like to stress that I am not aware of a formal connection of the FAI with either the synthesis or the platform. All historic accounts of the FAI link it closely to anarcho-syndicalism, as an organisation to reflect specifically on anarchism in relation to its application to the labour movement (ie anarcho-syndicalism)

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Dec 16 2009 18:47

The practice of platformists follows from their theorical foundation - I don't agree that there is such a thing as 'neo-platformism' - I feel that Platformism is seriously flawed and always has been.

Grigori Maksimov, Pierre Besnard, Armando Borghi, Rudolf Rocker, Alexander Berkman, Alexander Shapiro, Emma Goldman - all made the same observation in favour of anarcho-syndicalism... I would argue that anarcho-syndicalism is in good company here

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Dec 16 2009 17:38
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
Well I think anarcho-syndicalism is an ideology while the platform is more a method of organising a political group.

I would have put that more the other way around myself!

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Nov 4 2012 16:50

.

888's picture
888
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Dec 16 2009 22:16
Devrim wrote:
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
I don't think the FAI were platformist, though I may be wrong.
AES wrote:
The FAI have never had anything substantial to do with the platform

I think that the FAI was founded on the basis of Voline's theory of Synthesis.

Devrim

I thought Faure came up with the idea of synthesis, and I don't think the FAI saw that theory as a guiding idea, although in practice it could perhaps be described as synthesist. Also, I wouldn't see either the platform or anarcho-syndicalism as ideologies but rather as organising methods, which aren't necessarily incompatible. Also, once the "executive committee" (or whatever it's called) is removed from platformism, which it was in most cases, it becomes rather less controversial in the eyes of standard class struggle anarchism (not talking about current positions some platformist groups have adopted).

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Dec 17 2009 07:40
888 wrote:
I thought Faure came up with the idea of synthesis,

I think you are wrong here. Voline's text is called "Le problème organisationnel et l'idée de synthèse"

Wiki wrote:
In June 1926, "The Organisational Platform Project for a General Union of Anarchists", best known under the name "Archinov's Platform", was launched. Voline responded by publishing a Synthesis project in his article "Le problème organisationnel et l'idée de synthèse" ("The Organisational Problem and the Idea of a Synthesis").

There is also a text on here 'A synthesist reply to the Platform' by "several Russian anarchists" (Sobol, Schwartz, Steimer, Volin, Lia, Roman, Ervantian, Fleshin):

http://libcom.org/library/reply-to-platform-synthesist-volin

AES wrote:
Devrim, if what you are saying here is that the Synthesis, as a broadly accomodating form of organisation which has at its central responsibilty the task of reflecting on anarchism and its role - then I would agree that it seems to be similar to the what the FAI has been throughout its existence, but again I would like to stress that I am not aware of a formal connection of the FAI with either the synthesis or the platform.

I am not 100% sure I am right. My impression is based on a conversation over twenty years ago in a bar in Paris with some FA members. As I remember they told me that the FAI was constructed on the basis of Voline's synthesis. It does fit in with what I know of the facts. The meeting that led to the founding of the FAI was held in France, where Voline lived, shortly after the publication of the aforementioned article. Then again this doesn't prove anything either.

AES wrote:
All historic accounts of the FAI link it closely to anarcho-syndicalism, as an organisation to reflect specifically on anarchism in relation to its application to the labour movement (ie anarcho-syndicalism)

Yes, I am certainly not denying that, but also there was some of what would be referred to today as 'lifestylist nonsense' in the FAI, such as vegetarianism, and nudism. The fact that it is not what gets stressed, and had only a very minor role doesn't mean it didn't exist.

Maybe somebody with knowledge of Spanish could clear it up.

Devrim

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 09:21
888 wrote:
I thought Faure came up with the idea of synthesis, and I don't think the FAI saw that theory as a guiding idea, although in practice it could perhaps be described as synthesist. Also, I wouldn't see either the platform or anarcho-syndicalism as ideologies but rather as organising methods, which aren't necessarily incompatible. Also, once the "executive committee" (or whatever it's called) is removed from platformism, which it was in most cases, it becomes rather less controversial in the eyes of standard class struggle anarchism (not talking about current positions some platformist groups have adopted).

Actually although it's always in my view been stupid and embarrassing to call it "the executive committee" (not that many do as far as I know) as opposed to "delegate committee" or something, it is not that different to how most class struggle anarchist groups organised in more than one locality operate anyway.

I think anarcho-syndicalism has become an ideology, and it is telling that the IWA (judging by the comments of their members on other threads) seem to think of themselves as the standard bearers of that ideology, where any group outside it is not fit to even be "in contact" with them - you wouldn't in my view get a organising method being evangelised for in the same way.

Separately an ideology has sprung up or is coalescing around certain Anarkismo groups which chooses adherence to the platform or especifismo as it's defining feature whereas it is actually another set of beliefs that mark it out as different to other tendencies - although these are themselves diverse and I would argue there are big differences between the Spanish and French language groups and arguably L&S in Britain on one side and the rest of the Anglophone and possibly the emerging "Nordic" groups on the other.

I would be interested in how AES sees "neo-platformism" as a natural progression of the platform...

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 09:25
Quote:
Yes, I am certainly not denying that, but also there was some of what would be referred to today as 'lifestylist nonsense' in the FAI, such as vegetarianism, and nudism. The fact that it is not what gets stressed, and had only a very minor role doesn't mean it didn't exist

Well to be fair although we now associate nudism and vegetarianism with a thing called lifestylism both have always been in many countries a recognised if somewhat minority interest within the workers movement, and not just within the libertarian wing of it either.

The presence of those two elements within the FAI do not make it synthesist.

MT
Offline
Joined: 29-03-07
Dec 17 2009 09:27

Why do you think it is wrong to say that IWA is an organ of international anarchosyndicalism or whatever anyone wants to call in that context?

Also, could you explain more the point with AS as an ideology? Why, why wrong/right...?

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Dec 17 2009 09:49
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
The presence of those two elements within the FAI do not make it synthesist.

No, but that is not what I am saying. I think it was synthesist because I believe it was founded on that basis.

Devrim

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 09:53
Devrim wrote:
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
The presence of those two elements within the FAI do not make it synthesist.

No, but that is not what I am saying. I think it was synthesist because I believe it was founded on that basis.

Devrim

Why use them to as evidence for the FAI's synthesism then?

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Dec 17 2009 09:56

Regardless of whether the FAI was or is a synthesis group, they came into being based on the reality that the mass organization (CNT) was not enough. That anarchists had to be involved in them in a somewhat coherent manner to combat the reformists and advocate for revolutionary tactics and principles as rank and file.

I see in this as having a lot to do with platformism, dual organizational and especifismo. Granted, it doesn't have everything in common (theoritical/tactical unity, blah blah, you know the deal), but whatever.

I think the two are very compatible, in fact, I don't think they can be exclusive. I see the need, usefulness and desire for both.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Dec 17 2009 09:56
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
Why use them to as evidence for the FAI's synthesism then?

I didn't. Try reading it again.

Devrim

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 10:00
MT wrote:
Why do you think it is wrong to say that IWA is an organ of international anarchosyndicalism or whatever anyone wants to call in that context?

What?

Quote:
Also, could you explain more the point with AS as an ideology?

What? If you're asking "why is anarcho-syndicalism an ideology?" Well because it is a full set of ideas about how society should be run, and how we should get to that society. The platform is merely a proposal for how a political group that adheres to the ideology of class struggle anarchism should be organised. AS is both part of the broader class struggle anarchist ideology and an ideology in it's own right - while the platform is simply a summing up of some basic organising lessons.

Quote:
Why, why wrong/right...?

What?

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 10:04
Devrim wrote:
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
Why use them to as evidence for the FAI's synthesism then?

I didn't. Try reading it again.

Devrim

I've read it, and read it again - you used it to lend weight to your argument that the FAI was synthesist, stop bluffing.

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Dec 17 2009 10:14
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
I've read it, and read it again - you used it to lend weight to your argument that the FAI was synthesist, stop bluffing.

It isn't an argument. It is something that I stated I wasn't sure about, but was told, and had always thought to be the case. I asked for clarification from Spanish speakers, and I used the point not to back up any argument, but to say that it wasn't impossible.

Devrim

888's picture
888
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Dec 17 2009 10:34

Well, in any case, the FAI did seem to have quite a range of different views in it. I should re-read that Christie book as I've forgotten all the details...

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Dec 17 2009 12:48
Dead End wrote:
Regardless of whether the FAI was or is a synthesis group, they came into being based on the reality that the mass organization (CNT) was not enough. That anarchists had to be involved in them in a somewhat coherent manner to combat the reformists and advocate for revolutionary tactics and principles as rank and file.

I see in this as having a lot to do with platformism, dual organizational and especifismo. Granted, it doesn't have everything in common (theoritical/tactical unity, blah blah, you know the deal), but whatever.

I think the two are very compatible, in fact, I don't think they can be exclusive. I see the need, usefulness and desire for both.

but when the FAI entered the CNT it wasn't anarcho-syndicalist, it was revolutionary syndicalist, much like the French CGT. they entered it to promote anarchism, and were successful to the extent that the CNT adopted libertarian communism as its goal and in many respects became anarchist itself (in other important respects it retained an revolutionary syndicalist organising model, and contradictions abounded). so i i think that kind of 'libertarian entryism' makes some sense for politically neutral organisations to try and win them to a specific political position (i.e. anarchism), but i don't think it makes sense for actual anarcho-syndicalist organisations (i.e. ones which already have an anarchist ideology alongside syndicalist methods). i do see a role for political groups in such a-s organisations, but it's not the contemporary platformist 'enter and lead' one, which would (rightly) be treated as a attempt to takeover.

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 13:01
Joseph Kay wrote:
i do see a role for political groups in such a-s organisations, but it's not the contemporary platformist 'enter and lead' one, which would (rightly) be treated as a attempt to takeover.

That is not the contemporary "platformist" position - the position is to enter and argue in a coherent way for libertarian socialist ideas.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Dec 17 2009 13:18
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
That is not the contemporary "platformist" position - the position is to enter and argue in a coherent way for libertarian socialist ideas.

i'm basing this on the WSM as the most prominent contemporary platformist group:

WSM wrote:
7.3 No WSM member will accept any unelected position that entails having power over the membership.

7.4 Members elected as shop stewards consider their position as that of a delegate rather than that of a 'representative' who can act over the heads of the members.

7.5 When going forward for elective positions we make it clear that we are not accepting the structure as it now exists. We will fight for more accountability, mandation, information for members, etc.

so take elected positions, but act as a delegate whilst fighting for, as Anarkismo put it "the democratic structures typical of anarcho-syndicalist unions like the 1930's CNT."

that's a disciplined, tight political group entering a mass organisation with a specific program to transform it. i.e. libertarian entryism.

tbh the same documents make my argument for me - the WSM say the need for specific political organisation is because of "the a-politicism of syndicalism" - but anarcho-syndicalism is not a-political. so even in their own terms, platformism has nothing to bring to anarcho-syndicalism.

that said, i do see a role for political organisations within anarcho-syndicalist ones, acting as think tanks, publishers etc on particular issues or developing a more specific perspective (think anything from Aufheben-type collectives to Mujeres Libres), and in principle these could be organised according to the platform. but with regard to an anarcho-syndicalist organisation their practice would not be that of contemporary platformism, since within a libertarian communist organisation arguing for libertarian communism is moot.

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 13:29
Joseph Kay wrote:

i'm basing this on the WSM as the most prominent contemporary platformist group:

WSM wrote:
7.3 No WSM member will accept any unelected position that entails having power over the membership.

7.4 Members elected as shop stewards consider their position as that of a delegate rather than that of a 'representative' who can act over the heads of the members.

7.5 When going forward for elective positions we make it clear that we are not accepting the structure as it now exists. We will fight for more accountability, mandation, information for members, etc.

so take elected positions, but act as a delegate whilst fighting for, as Anarkismo put it "the democratic structures typical of anarcho-syndicalist unions like the 1930's CNT."

that's a disciplined, tight political group entering a mass organisation with a specific program to transform it. i.e. libertarian entryism.

tbh the same documents make my argument for me - the WSM say the need for specific political organisation is because of "the a-politicism of syndicalism" - but anarcho-syndicalism is not a-political. so even in their own terms, platformism has nothing to bring to anarcho-syndicalism.

that said, i do see a role for political organisations within anarcho-syndicalist ones, acting as think tanks, publishers etc on particular issues or developing a more specific perspective (think anything from Aufheben-type collectives to Mujeres Libres), and in principle these could be organised according to the platform. but with regard to an anarcho-syndicalist organisation their practice would not be that of contemporary platformism, since within a libertarian communist organisation arguing for libertarian communism is moot.

No you're wrong. The WSM position is clearly not part of a concerted effort to capture and lead a union - it is about placing a minimum of basic anarchist principles on any member who gets a position within a union - it is the bare minimum any anarchist group should impose on a member who participates with a mainstream union.

I also think it's not a question of the WSM having nothing to bring an AS union, but the lack of an AS union in Ireland for them to get involved with - that's why they don't mention it, I would hope that were a substantial AS union to arise within Ireland they would engage with it, and adopt a specific programme for their involvement.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Dec 17 2009 13:53
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
No you're wrong. The WSM position is clearly not part of a concerted effort to capture and lead a union - it is about placing a minimum of basic anarchist principles on any member who gets a position within a union

but they "encourage 100% union membership and all WSM members are members of their appropriate trade union. When members take up employment in non-union jobs, they are expected to join an appropriate trade union." - that sounds about as concerted as it's possible to be. now obviously they're not going to take over the ICTU, becuase there's like 50 of them and they (rightly) insist on behaving as delegates, not taking unelected positions of power over the memership etc so they're more restricted than the trots who have been trying and mostly failing to take over unions for years. but together with the anarkismo statement it does seem pretty obvious that they both require union membership and have a strategy of transforming the unions into the 1930s CNT. when i say 'enter and lead' i don't mean run candidates for general secretary, but enter and attempt to implement a program by democratic means.

vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
I also think it's not a question of the WSM having nothing to bring an AS union, but the lack of an AS union in Ireland for them to get involved with - that's why they don't mention it

well to an extent yeah, although they mention historic anarcho-syndicalism and wrongly declare it 'a-political', justifying the need for specific political organisation. since anarcho-syndicalism is political, the relationship of platformism to anarcho-syndicalism is unclear. it seems to only make sense in relation to a-political unionism (IWW, Charter of Amiens). i don't know how representative Nick Durie is of L&S thinking, but there's an article on their front page arguing against "anarchist-ideological syndicalism" and for a separation of economic syndicalism and specifically political organisation. that is a mutually exclusive position to anarcho-syndicalism, but is an internally consistent position.

vanilla.ice.baby
Offline
Joined: 9-08-07
Dec 17 2009 14:09

You're actually arguing in that post that the WSM aren't trying to lead a union, and I would agree.They instruct their members to act as delegates for the members they represent, that would make it pretty difficult to take a union over as the WSM. The other idea is simply about putting forward an anarchist position within a union, that is not the same thing as attempting to lead it.

Nick Durie is one individual, his article on the L&S site is also irrelevant to this debate - it would not preclude a hypothetical organisation that adopted his pov in the current climate working within a hypothetically existing AS union, they would naturally change their pov to take note of changed conditions.