Platformist Groups vs. Cadre Groups vs. Cadre Lite Groups

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boomerang
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Aug 21 2014 18:57
Platformist Groups vs. Cadre Groups vs. Cadre Lite Groups

Does anyone here know the difference between a platformist group and a cadre group?

Here's how a comrade explained it to me:

With a platformist group, it’s about members having unity around a specific platform

With a cadre group, instead of a specific platform that’s adhered to, the group’s politics are a living, evolving thing that develop out of experience, discussion, reflection, critique, etc. (Although there are certain shared core politics that are much more stable.)

Is there a general consensus on this? How do you define these two types of groups and the differences between them?

As for cadre vs. cadre lite, no idea. Hopefully someone can explain that, too.

boomerang
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Aug 22 2014 17:02

To spice this thread up, we can also talk about which type of anarchist organization we think is the most effective (doesn't have to be limited to platformist or cadre types). I used to say that a lose interpretation of platformism was best (unity on a few core issues, but beyond that diversity of views is ok) ... but now that the definitions are confusing me I don't know what to say.

redsdisease
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Aug 23 2014 03:02
boomerang wrote:
With a cadre group, instead of a specific platform that’s adhered to, the group’s politics are a living, evolving thing that develop out of experience, discussion, reflection, critique, etc. (Although there are certain shared core politics that are much more stable.)

I think that this would characterize the politics of pretty much any political group that was worth a damn. From the outside, it seems to me that most of the platformist groups that I've seen appear to have politics that have evolved based on experience and discussion.

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Is there a general consensus on this? How do you define these two types of groups and the differences between them?

As for cadre vs. cadre lite, no idea. Hopefully someone can explain that, too.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what cadre groups you're talking about. I'm not aware of any extant anarchist groups that use the term cadre, and I've never even seen the term cadre lite. Are you perhaps referring to some of the eclectic marxist groups like Black Orchid Collective or Unity and Struggle? Or perhaps leninist groups?

boomerang
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Aug 23 2014 07:42
redsdisease wrote:
I think that this would characterize the politics of pretty much any political group that was worth a damn.

LOL. Yes I'd agree smile

redsdisease wrote:
To be honest, I'm not really sure what cadre groups you're talking about. I'm not aware of any extant anarchist groups that use the term cadre, and I've never even seen the term cadre lite. Are you perhaps referring to some of the eclectic marxist groups like Black Orchid Collective or Unity and Struggle? Or perhaps leninist groups?

First time I heard it was a few days ago reading this article. There's an anarchist group in Ontario, Canada that used to identify itself as platformist and now defines itself as "cadre lite", as they describe in here:
http://linchpin.ca/?q=content/charted-and-uncharted-territories-common-cause-and-role-anarchist-organization

It had me pretty confused.

As an aside, the article itself is worth reading, I'd been meaning to do a post about it one of these days. It's about the evolution of this organization's strategy, and they engage in some useful self-criticism of their past, useful meaning that others can learn from their mistakes and learn a better way forward. (Many organizations probably have come to similar conclusions, but in many other cases perhaps not.)

vanilla.ice.baby
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Aug 24 2014 14:39

interesting article, but it looks like the writers are trying to hang an ideological cover on what is essentially a strategic and tactical change...

boomerang
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Aug 24 2014 16:34
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
interesting article, but it looks like the writers are trying to hang an ideological cover on what is essentially a strategic and tactical change...

What do you mean by that? I agree it was a strategic change, but I didn't get the sense they were 'hanging an ideological cover' on it, but maybe I'm missing something.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Aug 24 2014 18:41

I don't mean in an underhand or dishonest way, just that they're using the language of ideology to describe what is essentially a change of strategy and tactics. I mean they're using these terms like platformist Vs cadreist Vs cadreist lite when in reality there doesn't appear to be any real difference between the descriptions they have given those terms - not in practice anyway.

I would have to add I've always seen cadre based organisations as being about committed activists who devote the majority of their day to day life (often including social and work) to a political organisation - as opposed to political activists who have a broader intellectual/cultural hinterland. A cadre spends every Saturday selling papers, an activist might do that sometimes, but also goes to the match and doesn't feel guilty.

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AndrewF
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Aug 25 2014 11:41

I've posted this as a comment below the article

---

I'll return to read this properly but in reference to the WSM / Platformist period (which I was involved in) I think somewhere along the line there has been a confusion with the concept I advanced of needing to organise 1 in a 1000 and your current translation of this into a mass organisation. I'm not being nit picky about who said what 7 years ago, rather pointing out what is potential a serious future problem confirmed by our recent experiences.

Our goal (and what I advocated back then) could be captured by what you say CC is now shifting to, in your own words a "politically coherent organization working within larger intermediate networks of militants to influence the direction of mass struggles. "

The important question here is, in order to be effective at a time of crisis in having such an influence, how big does such an organisation need to be. The error is to imagine that 20 or so people with a deeply developed politics can somehow communicate with and hence influence an emerging mass movement at a moment of crisis. To an extent this was both an error made by WSM before the 2000's and an impossibility we discovered in precisely such circumstances in Ireland in 2009 onwards.

At that point in time with about 50 active members (in a county of 5 million) we could win arguments locally in our own union branches but winning an argument in 10 or so branches out of 1,000 had no impact on the direction the struggle developed in. Or in community work we could develop democratic structures of struggle in the 4 or 5 areas where we had a few active members but in the context of a campaign involving hundreds of areas we couldn't carry arguments through at mass decision meeting meetings.

That was where that 1 in 1000 figure came in originally, not because that number represented a mass organisation but because it was the number at which an organisation would start to approach the point where it had members in every neighbourhood and most union branches. You could argue if that number was 'really' 1 in 500 or 1 in 2,000, it was always a crude measure rather than a specific target. As a concept its doesn't come from 'platformism' in any direct sense, indeed most if not all platformist groups have shared the problem that its enough to have a small group with the right ideas without having given proper consideration about how these ideas will be effectively transmitted into emerging mass movements at moments of crisis. BTW our attempt to do so via intermediately organisations also proved insufficient although there at least there were also significant flaws with how that was structured / attempted.

With standard Leninist versions of cadre organising this transmission isn't important as the point is for the cadre to take control of the top leadership positions of mass organisations and thus direct them. That is what a cadre means in military terms as well, an officer core that can rapidly command a quickly recruit conscript army. But as anarchists can't do the same the cadre analogy is really not very explanatory either in the standard or lite form so I wouldn't use it myself.

All that said the issue you see this shift as solving is real enough, where we are at the moment we are trying to tackle it via a complex understanding of how people engage with a revolutionary organisation and through a greater focus on member development and training both before and after they join.

boomerang
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Aug 25 2014 15:24

vanilla.ice.baby: Ah, I see what you mean now... and I think your point is correct. There's nothing inherently "cadreist" or "unplatformist" about their new strategy.

AndrewF: Wow. That's a really impressive critique there (also constructive and comradely).

AndrewF wrote:
The important question here is, in order to be effective at a time of crisis in having such an influence, how big does such an organisation need to be. The error is to imagine that 20 or so people with a deeply developed politics can somehow communicate with and hence influence an emerging mass movement at a moment of crisis.

I fully agree. But it leads to a couple very puzzling questions:
1. How do we grow an organization to the size where it can be effective in a mass movement?
2. And how do we do this without encountering the problems that Common Cause described? (i.e. members whose politics were seriously flawed) And from what I hear, when this was happening, it's not as if they were experiencing huge growth, either, but remained quite small, just relatively less small.

Based on your post, it sounds as if your group (WSM) is having some success in both growing in size and in ensuring the quality of the members' politics. So I hope you'll be able to share with the rest of us how you've been achieving this.

I'm also wondering how your success in this been advancing so far. If 1 in 1000 is your tentative target for membership size, where is it at now in relation to that? But maybe the more important question isn't the current size, but rather the speed of growth. How has that been? And as you balance the goals of quantity and quality, do you think you've been doing a pretty good job of keeping up the quality of members politics?

Sorry for so many questions... it's just such a hugely important thing we're talking about here, the success of any future revolution will depend on it, and you have some key insights to offer.

AndrewF wrote:
With standard Leninist versions of cadre organising this transmission isn't important as the point is for the cadre to take control of the top leadership positions of mass organisations and thus direct them. That is what a cadre means in military terms as well, an officer core that can rapidly command a quickly recruit conscript army.

It's rather inappropriate for an anarchist group to call themselves 'cadre' or even 'cadre lite', then. In good faith, I assume they just weren't aware of this when they wrote the article.

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Aug 25 2014 16:15

Ha no we weren't successful when it mattered and are currently trying to rebuild and learn from that failure. The 50 active members was a peak that we have fallen from.

In fact our failure was of a magnitude that a good proportion of our (now ex) membership gave up on revolutionary politics, the difficult in answering your two questions in a convincing way being the major reason for that.

I've written a bit around this over at http://anarchism.pageabode.com/cat/networked-revolution

This piece deals with some of the same questions is depth although the fact that its a reply to one of those ex-members (who went neo-Kaustkyist / Euro communist ) means its a bit 'Inside Baseball'
http://anarchism.pageabode.com/andrewnflood/wsm-history-reply-james-obri...

boomerang
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Aug 25 2014 17:33

Thanks Andrew, I'll have a read of those, well at least the first one... wow, that second one is really massive, but it's a good resource to bookmark.

I wonder how you feel about the role of propaganda as a method for spreading anarchist ideas to a larger number of people? Most anarchists believe that radicalization (becoming convinced of revolutionary, anarchist views) is something that must happen in the context of class struggle. Sure, it's ideal for radicalization to happen in this context because it produces two goods at once (both radicalization and the inherent benefit of organizing/struggle). But I think the potential of propaganda is often downplayed. My view is that especially during times like now when our organizations tend to be so small, and when there's very little class struggle going on, propaganda can help us have a farther reach than our tiny numbers.

Would like to hear your view on this, and the views of others here.

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Aug 25 2014 17:32
boomerang wrote:
As an aside, the article itself is worth reading, I'd been meaning to do a post about it one of these days. It's about the evolution of this organization's strategy, and they engage in some useful self-criticism of their past, useful meaning that others can learn from their mistakes and learn a better way forward. (Many organizations probably have come to similar conclusions, but in many other cases perhaps not.)

I wouldn't trust Common Cause at all. They have a serious problem with sexism, rape culture and tend to treat other organizations as competitors, as if the class war is some gang war fighting over turf. Going cadre is only going to make them more insular they they already are; in many ways they refuse to actually engage normal people, but are always looking for people that are exactly like them. They may sound good on paper, but in practice they are an extremely problematic organization.

Ex-member.

boomerang
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Aug 26 2014 19:17

Were you in the branch that de-federated from Common Cause?
(This was briefly mentioned in their article)

boomerang
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Aug 26 2014 02:12

Andrew, looks like I'm going to have to read that second article, after all, big as it is, because the first one raised questions more than provided answers (though it wasn't meant to provide answers, as it was just an explanation for the new tag).

From what I can tell, it seems you're saying the irrelevancy of anarchists today (and of revolutionary anti-capitalists more generally) can largely be blamed on our collective failure to engage in 'micropolitics' and intersectional, anti-oppression politics... am I getting that right?
(edit: I'm basing this on the first article, still haven't read the second)

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Aug 26 2014 11:07

Now I don't think thats why they are irrelevant (and I wouldn't go so far as irrelevant). It's more that its part of the story for unhealthy internal movement dynamics that result is a very low retention rate (most people are only briefly active in even an informal way and then move on) and also a very strong bias in terms of who gets retained and who gives up which reproduces that dynamic over and over.

Externally it has a significant impact but its part of a story that is as much to do with being happy to being in small insular groups arguing about pet theories in great details but with little or no effort put into mass outreach.

'Propagada' is a problematic term both because of what people think it means but also because its not clear what you might mean. In terms of outreach publication (i.e. that directed at people who are not already anarchists) I'd say yes its essential bit its also essential to examine who the particular forms you chose to use read, what you choose to talk about, and who will be attracted as a consequence of that. I cover some of that in more details in the links above.

boomerang
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Aug 26 2014 18:56

Unhealthy internal dynamics... is this a problem that repeats itself in city after city, country after country? How depressing. It's nicer to imagine it's just where you're at.

Yes, irrelevant was too harsh, but you know what I mean... much less relevant than we need to be.

My guess is that unhealthy internal dynamics is only a small part of what's causing low membership. Otherwise, we'd see tons of new members signing up then dropping out. But few people even come around in the first place to even get a chance to discover what the internal dynamics are, for better or worse. I look forward to reading the rest of the second article (read a bit yesterday) and learning more about your assessment of what other problems are plaguing us.

Yeah, the term propaganda is problematic... but I keep using it, probably more out of habit and because any alternative terms require more words, so it's more of a mouthful. What I mean by propaganda is 'persuasive outreach material.'

AndrewF wrote:
its also essential to examine who the particular forms you chose to use read, what you choose to talk about, and who will be attracted as a consequence of that.

Can you explain that first part? "who the particular forms you chose to use read" ... seems to me there must have been a typo in there, can't quite make sense of it.

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Aug 27 2014 02:07

The following is a new U.S. group that uses the term "cadre" and claims to learn & borrow from Marxist, anarchist, anti-authoritarian tendencies. Their primary focus is on working class communities of color.

http://leftroots.net/towards-strategy/

They have a double emphasis here: 1. long-term base building, and 2. development of the capacities of cadre, presumably their abilities as organizers, militants. I think base building means being present in an area (workplace, organizing project, neighborhood etc) over a longer period, that is, a longer term commitment to developing the personal relationships there.

Thus I think for them "cadre" means the more developed, knowledgeable, committed militants.

This group argues that the emphasis needs to be on "the social movement left" (mass movements in other words) but that there is still a place for cadre organization.

Some of their terminology & references to "21st Century Socialism" suggest they've been influenced by Marta Harnecker & Michael Lebowitz

ajjohnstone
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Aug 27 2014 11:51

The thread reminded me i had an exchange about Common Cause when they set up
http://www.anarkismo.net/article/6553

boomerang
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Aug 27 2014 14:49
syndicalistcat wrote:
Thus I think for them "cadre" means the more developed, knowledgeable, committed militants.

The article gives me the impression this is what Common Cause meant by 'cadre', and I think calling themselves 'cadre lite' was perhaps an attempt to dissociate themselves from the historic definition of cadre as 'elite commanders of the rank and file.' But given the baggage this term has, they probably should have explained this all.

As for Left Roots, they sound cool, I'll be checking out their website later.

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Aug 27 2014 19:19

Left Roots uses a lot of Gramscian language, such as "historic social bloc" and envision a revolutionary process as involving some sort of cross-class alliance. On the other hand, they do not call for a "party" and seem to envision the process of transformation as led by the "social movement left" -- the mass organizations, rather than the "party left". This seems to be a shift in a libertarian direction (some of the people involved I think come out of a more Marxist background).

boomerang
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Aug 27 2014 20:49

Too bad about the cross-class alliance. Ah well, thanks for the info.

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Aug 29 2014 09:19

All political groups with an open purpose share common politics.
So platforms can be big or small, but platforms are what unites any group.
Groups organising as cadre is a different issue, since they can have big, small, changing ('living'), unchanging or no open platforms.
Cadre groups are characterised by members being expected to act against their own decisions and adopting the group decisions as their own.
Most if not all mass movements are not cadre-based or cadre-lite whatever that is.

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Aug 29 2014 12:48
syndicalistcat wrote:
Left Roots uses a lot of Gramscian language, such as "historic social bloc" and envision a revolutionary process as involving some sort of cross-class alliance. On the other hand, they do not call for a "party" and seem to envision the process of transformation as led by the "social movement left" -- the mass organizations, rather than the "party left". This seems to be a shift in a libertarian direction (some of the people involved I think come out of a more Marxist background).

So basically neo-liberal leftism then?

How come every time a group goes in a "libertarian direction" people go gaga for them, ignoring the fact that they propose things like cross-class alliances?

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Aug 30 2014 02:14

"neo-liberal"? where did that come from? Have you actually bothered to read their material? And who is "going gaga for" left roots? I think they're interesting because it comes from a process of discussion of people embedded as activists in various social movement organizations. It's "interesting" in the sense it's a reflection of where certain sections of activists are moving.

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klas batalo
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Sep 2 2014 20:17

idk syndicalistcat you acted just about the same way about that pamphlet i shared the other day on organization and spontaneity just cause they were going from leninism into a more libertarian direction...

i think there is truth to both here... it is interesting right, but it isn't a reason to drop one's anarchism.

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Sep 2 2014 21:08

but I never suggested "it is a reason to drop one's anarchism." Left Roots seems to have gotten farther along in the development away from MLism than "Spontaneity & Organization" -- at least in their language & who they refer to for inspiration. But I've also pointed out at least two ways that I don't agree with them. My reaction to "Spontaneity & Organization" is to the author's attitude of uncritical use of Lenin as the benchmark of revolutionary politics. Admittedly he was probably cherry picking quotes (in the style of American evangelicals quoting scripture) that would help him critique the more authoritarian & vanguardist tendencies in the black radical milieu of the '60s/70s era. But I remember very well how that tendency of uncritical adoption of Lenin played out in radical politics back in the '70s....not to our advantage.

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Sep 2 2014 22:02
boomerang wrote:
To spice this thread up, we can also talk about which type of anarchist organization we think is the most effective (doesn't have to be limited to platformist or cadre types). I used to say that a lose interpretation of platformism was best (unity on a few core issues, but beyond that diversity of views is ok) ... but now that the definitions are confusing me I don't know what to say.

Cadre groups aren't anarchist. At best they think they are anarchists. Cadre means elite, separate political officer class...

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Sep 3 2014 00:49
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Cadre groups aren't anarchist. At best they think they are anarchists. Cadre means elite, separate political officer class...

yes exactly. LeftRoots may say they have been influenced by anarchists & anti-authoritarians, but their language implies a separate grouping, informal or formal, who have a kind of directing role. It's one thing to talk about the need for developing militants, their abilities, becoming better organizers, thinking strategically, and so on. but from a libertarian point of view, we should want to generalize that development...as in the '30s practice of the Ateneos in Spain for example, where these were projects of popular self-education & study & skill building.

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Sep 3 2014 00:53

duplicate somehow

vanilla.ice.baby
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Sep 6 2014 10:55
Quote:
To spice this thread up, we can also talk about which type of anarchist organization we think is the most effective (doesn't have to be limited to platformist or cadre types).

The type of anarchist organisation that could be most effective depends on how you measure effectiveness.

I'm going to go with ability to influence mass movements of working class people to build collective power, self education, and self confidence, while making wins around immediate self identified needs and desires; probably within two main theatres of antagonism - Workplace and Community.

I think that for a small group of people to be able to intervene and influence effectively they needed to be tightly unified around tactics and strategy - they need to work together within pre-agreed campaigns and movements and if those campaigns and movements don't exist where they are, then maybe they need to take a lead in helping to create them. IE: just because your area doesn't have a broad based campaign to challenge shit landlords and letting agents doesn't mean there isn't a big issue around them that people would be up for organising about.

I think theoretical unity is a lot less important, especially in a world in which any ideology outside neoliberal capitalism is pretty much meaningless - I would be pretty happy with unity around my first paragraph being the key theoretical point of common agreement, with a basic organisational constitution that sets out norms of behaviour towards each other and the rest of the world.

Tactical and strategic unity should empower the group to work in a coordinated way within the wider movement - members need to vote together and put a common line forward, on issues that matter, while being free to disagree on anything not directly relevant to the groups strategic goals. However they should be open about it.

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Sep 9 2014 16:30
888 wrote:
boomerang wrote:
To spice this thread up, we can also talk about which type of anarchist organization we think is the most effective (doesn't have to be limited to platformist or cadre types). I used to say that a lose interpretation of platformism was best (unity on a few core issues, but beyond that diversity of views is ok) ... but now that the definitions are confusing me I don't know what to say.

Cadre groups aren't anarchist. At best they think they are anarchists. Cadre means elite, separate political officer class...

And according to a dictionary, anarchy means chaos!