A brief history of the rapprochement process of US class struggle anarchist organizations

A brief history of the rapprochement process of US class struggle anarchist organizations

A short history of the rapprochement process between US anarchist groups the last few years.

1) Beginnings

During the late 2000s, individual and collective consciousness began developing around the fact that not only were U.S. based anarchist and syndicalist organizations of previous generations persisting and growing in size, but, simultaneously, new groups identifying with these tendencies were emerging all over the country. The membership of these nascent organizations was comprised of veterans of previous groupings and struggles as well as energized newcomers, all representing diverse experiences of politicization. Most importantly, these groups seemed to benefit from an understanding of the failures and successes of past formations as well as the opportunities provided by a particularly ripe political moment. Instead of burning bright and fading away over a short period of time, these groups persevered and began to put down roots. In the shadow of a looming economic crisis, comrades around the country were preparing to take up with renewed vision and heart the old struggle against capitalism and the State.

The founding and proliferation of these new organizations coincided with the rapid, massive expansion of communications technologies. The new communications paradigm very soon became fertile ground for the seeds of international collaboration in struggle, best represented by the collaboration of international anarchist organizations that produced the websites Anarkismo and Anarchist Black Cat. In fact, it was within and by means of the new communications paradigm that a discussion, begun on the (international) Anarchist Black Cat in 2008, soon developed into a project, mutually supported by old and new class-struggle anarchist groups in the US, to start on a process of regroupment aimed at achieving a coast to coast anarchist federation.

2) Early Period

The first Class Struggle Anarchist Conference was called in June 2008 in New York City. Following New York, there were three more CSACs: Detroit (2009), Seattle (2010), and Buffalo (2012). These conferences were organized by members of the participating organizations and attended by their memberships and sponsored observers. They featured speakers, workshops, trainings, open discussions, and activities designed to excavate political similarities and bring to light situations for possible collaboration and mutual aid.

By the end of the Seattle CSAC, there was a collective will to take things to the next level -- that is, to create a formal network of participating organizations. A shared listserv and website were created and groups elected delegates to participate in monthly conference calls.

By the end of the Buffalo CSAC, a delegate track was begun, where political documents and positions were hashed out, furthering progress towards the idea of building a unitary coast-to-coast anarchist organization.

Over the course of time, many groups participated in the CSAC process. Some groups disbanded, others emerged, and new members continued to join the ranks of participating organizations. Some groups also exited the process - which by then had come to be called Rapprochement - citing a variety of reasons for why this was not a good match for them politically or strategically. Those who remained continued to work on weaving the network work together and testing again and again for similarities and controversies.

3) Middle Period

In the fall of 2012, the question was called: has the process of rapprochement finally brought us to a point where we can form a new organization that reflects the best of what all the participating organizations and individual members have to offer?

4) The Rochester Conference

The first weekend of February 2013, delegates representing Common Struggle (Boston, Providence, Western Mass., Buffalo, and at large) Four Star Anarchist Organization (Chicago), Miami Autonomy and Solidarity, Rochester Red and Black, Wild Rose Collective (Iowa City), and Workers Solidarity Alliance (Bay Area, St. Louis, Northeast, at large) convened in Rochester, NY for our first delegate convention. Discussion centered around drafting points of unity and a constitution for our proposed new organization, as well as establishing a time line for our continuing regroupment towards this goal.

5) Looking Forward

Following the Rochester convention, our groups have continued working on our founding documents, through a process of committee edits, organizational amendments and membership referendum. Our membership recently approved a constitution, and we are aiming for a hard launch of our new organization in late 2013.

Comments

syndicalist
Jul 29 2013 05:30

The origins of CSAC falls short. The concept actually originated with NY WSA, with very early support for the first conference and concept from NEFAC (CS), with May First (Michigan-Minnesota Group) in close order. others comments, but its too late at the moment

NPC
Jul 31 2013 16:40

What is different between this project and previous failed incarnations of the same thing, such as NEFAC or Love and Rage? Or is it basically an attempt to try again and hope the composition doesn't split this time?

klas batalo
Jul 31 2013 17:02

Well CS is sorta the left over organization from NEFAC but there are so many new people that it is sorta a different organization. I mean this as this article says has been in the works for a while now. I'd say it is a lot different from Love & Rage. There have definitely been lessons learned from both experiences. I am on my way to work but I'll chime in later by editing this post.

syndicalist
Aug 1 2013 02:13

Personally speaking, the project, while different in some ways, is basically an extension of those groups that consider themselves platformist and especificsmo. That would ultimately be the core.
I suppose we can debate and discuss some of the other stuff, but, from my point of view, that's my take and observation. While some syndicalists will be participating in the new organization, the core and majority would not be and would see anarcho-syndicalism, at best, as being secondary to that of being an "anarchist" and "communist" organization. I respect that, just not my thing at this point. Said from an independent anarcho-syndicalist perspective, we are a minority and, hence, minority status is where we would find ourselves at this time within both the anarchist and wobbly movements.

All comments are strictly from a personal point of view. And are said without malice or ill will towards many folks I respect and like on a personal level.

syndicalist
Aug 1 2013 02:26
syndicalist wrote:
The origins of CSAC falls short. The concept actually originated with NY WSA, with very early support for the first conference and concept from NEFAC (CS), with May First (Michigan-Minnesota Group) in close order. others comments, but its too late at the moment

A thousand folks can "down" this comment and that's fine. Having been one of two people in the room when the idea for CSAC was first thought of (prior to even being suggested to others), I stand by my view.

klas batalo
Aug 1 2013 03:08

Back now after work. What I find weird is folks on west coast etc who apparently have this thing for studying Love and Rage bringing it all up again. There has been other examples of coast to coast anarchist organization over the years, including GASP WSA. This new organization is also taking a lot from that experience, structurally and in quite a few sections politically. We pretty much wrote the section on the union question, post-revolutionary vision, etc. But some of those lessons are things like having it be a membership organization not a confederation of collectives, and some other things. I'd also say the political focus is different.

klas batalo
Aug 1 2013 03:08

Back now after work. What I find weird is folks on west coast etc who apparently have this thing for studying Love and Rage bringing it all up again. There has been other examples of coast to coast anarchist organization over the years, including GASP WSA. This new organization is also taking a lot from that experience, structurally and in quite a few sections politically. We pretty much wrote the section on the union question, post-revolutionary vision, etc. But some of those lessons are things like having it be a membership organization not a confederation of collectives, and some other things. I'd also say the political focus is different.

NPC
Aug 1 2013 19:14

That's probably just because Love and Rage has more of an internet lineage, with better recorded history of its collapse available online. On the West Coast, there was never a NEFAC or anything that came after, so the oral and organizational histories get superseded by what is online or in zines that circulate -- younger radicals can read about Love and Rage, but not many of the other groups that may influence the new formation. There's also just way less Platformist/especifimo saturation here, compared to run-of-the-mill wobbly-esque syndicalism and insurrectionary stuff.

So what would you say are the experiential gains, politically?

I think the organizational changes are most interesting (membership, not collectives, etc.), but I'm always wary of this being simply paired with more-specificity in the Platform itself, which just seems to seek a bad kind of New Left purity-of-line in order to compensate for an inability to organizationally deal with internal disagreement.

klas batalo
Aug 2 2013 03:08

Well not everyone is a platformist. I'd say it's the span of class struggle anarchism. Also WSA have been a membership organization since the start pretty much in the 80s, and we're a social anarchist organization within the syndicalist tradition. Also it isn't really all about line, though I mean yeah there may be some interesting things to talk about politically at some later point, a lot of it is getting our tendency to work at scale nationally.

syndicalist
Aug 3 2013 14:13

Perhaps WSA should of retained more of the anarcho-syndicalism and less of the social anarchism. That, of course, is said as a sort of "Monday quarterbacking" viewpoint.Few, if any, long term organization gains were made by becoming a failed petre dish experiment for regroupment. I say this strictly from a political perspective, not a personal. 'Cause a few folks who joined on the social anarchist basis are good comrades. But no cohesion of ideas ultimately occurred. And bunches of folks ultimately going their own way over a period of a year and a half.

NPC
Aug 3 2013 21:43

What is the difference between "line" and "tendency" other than one being more formal (platform) and the other informal?

The issue is precisely the idea that the best organizational goal is to regroup around the "correct" line or tendency. The opposite error would be the left unity fantasy, that we just need to regroup "all things left," to form one big organization.

Maybe this tendency (social/class-struggle anarchism) regrouping itself is part of a longer-term strategy to then bring it into vital contact and discussion, both with other tendencies and with peoples' own motion in the real world -- organizationally, though, it still seems much better to have cross-tendency groups right now (though not "left unity") organized for specific tasks or general exchange/collaboration. Part of that is certainly having tendencies (old and young), gain some coherence and update themselves for the present moment. I just question organizational structures ("Leninist" or "anarchist") that seem to perceive this as sufficient and desirable in and of itself.

klas batalo
Aug 4 2013 03:07

a simple answer here about cross tendency stuff is that the few of us who are sympathetic the last few years tried to make way with exchanging and informing folks of our efforts towards networking and getting more coordinating at scale, even with critical leninists, autonomist marxists, anti-state communists, etc but most of them haven't been interested, were engaged in their own regroupment projects, etc. so we've been left pretty much thinking instead we should ally with such organizations where it makes sense...but they clearly don't seem similarly interested.

syndicalist
Aug 4 2013 22:40

I'd be interested in hearing more about this. And why it didn't work out, as well as any positives which came from interaction.

klas batalo wrote:
a simple answer here about cross tendency stuff is that the few of us who are sympathetic the last few years tried to make way with exchanging and informing folks of our efforts towards networking and getting more coordinating at scale, even with critical leninists, autonomist marxists, anti-state communists, etc but most of them haven't been interested, were engaged in their own regroupment projects, etc. so we've been left pretty much thinking instead we should ally with such organizations where it makes sense...but they clearly don't seem similarly interested.
klas batalo
Aug 4 2013 22:48

i mean mostly our organizations don't have much formal relationships with these groups tbh...but i'd say some folks did let them know what is up via various listservs, forums, internet groups, etc in common struggle i know our decision was that we'd like to see where we can develop more relationships that are useful/of solidarity with such groups but for now it didn't seem that likely or feasible for any anarchist-marxist libertarian socialist synthesis.

syndicalist
Aug 4 2013 23:00
Quote:
anarchist-marxist libertarian socialist synthesis.

You mean organizational fusion?

I can see cooperation with some on specific campaigns, projects, etc, but fusion:
organizational suicide.

Adelita
Nov 4 2013 21:58

Hey NPC, could you elaborate here:

Maybe this tendency (social/class-struggle anarchism) regrouping itself is part of a longer-term strategy to then bring it into vital contact and discussion, both with other tendencies and with peoples' own motion in the real world -- organizationally, though, it still seems much better to have cross-tendency groups right now (though not "left unity") organized for specific tasks or general exchange/collaboration. Part of that is certainly having tendencies (old and young), gain some coherence and update themselves for the present moment. I just question organizational structures ("Leninist" or "anarchist") that seem to perceive this as sufficient and desirable in and of itself.

It is not clear to me why you are coming to these conclusions, not that I agree or disagree. Do you believe it is in this moment that regroupment projects should be based on strategy and tactics instead of based on tendency specific projects, or is this something you feel in general the left should do? Either way, could you explain why. And if only for this particular moment, when do you feel it would be sufficient to begin building tendency wide regroupment projects?