Social anarchism and organisation - FARJ

social anarchism and organization by farj

English translation of “Anarquismo Social e Organização”, by the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro – FARJ), Brazil, approved at the 1st FARJ Congress, held on 30th and 31st of August 2008.

The first Congress of the FARJ was held with the principal objective of deepening our reflections on the question of organisation and formalising them into a programme. This debate has been happening within our organisation since 2003. We have produced theoretical materials, established our thinking, learned from the successes and mistakes of our political practice it was becoming increasingly necessary to further the debate and to formalise it, spreading this knowledge both internally and externally. The document “Social Anarchism and Organisation” formalises our positions after all these reflections. More than a purely theoretical document, it reflects the conclusions realised after five years of practical application of anarchism in the social struggles of our people. The document is divided into 16 parts. It has already been published in Portuguese in a book co-published between Faísca and the FARJ.

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ocelot
May 14 2014 14:09

This is a section from the Introduction to the French edition of 2013, penned by Felipe Corrêa (OASL, São Paulo) and Rafael Viana da Silva (FARJ, Rio de Janeiro)

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Elements in the process of being updated

First of all it is very important to take into account the fact that "Social Anarchism and Organisation" is not a finished type of document, but is part of a bigger context. In the course of the 2008 Congress, when it was produced and discussed, the FARJ was not yet a participating member of the Forum of Organised Anarchism (FAO), which would become, in 2012, the Brazilian Anarchist Coordination (CAB). It should also be noted that this document was not an intellectual elaboration detached from political practice. This programme of the FARJ was formalised out of experiences, modest but concrete, of activism in the movements of the homeless, landless, community groups, and engaged the whole of the organisation in its discussion. During the process of discovery, several especifista groups were constituting themselves in the different regions of the country, some stimulated directly by the FAO, others that emerged from local processes by themselves, influenced by specifism. Most of these groups are now involved with or are in the process of joining the CAB.

It should be noted at this stage some developments relative to this [2008] document that were happened within the FARJ and also during the process of interaction with other organisations that currently comprise the CAB. If in the first instance this FARJ program was important for the debates of pro-organisational anarchists in some states of Brazil, the experiences of other places have also directly influenced the political culture and the internal debates of the FARJ in a collective learning process that is now quite prioritised. We will endeavor to briefly discuss three of these aspects: the conception of social classes, the notion of popular power [poder popular] and the process of building nuclei of the specific organisation.

Before that, however, it is important to emphasise that the very concept of anarchism and its currents was discussed not only in the FARJ, but also in the other organizations of the CAB. A thorough discussion on these issues took place in 2012, with a discussion of the concepts of theory and ideology, which will be formalized in a text in the next issue of "Libertarian Socialism". Thanks to this discussion, it has become more clear the role of anarchism as an ideology and the difference between this notion of ideology / doctrine and the question of theory, which is linked to science. If the first says what should be, the second says what necessarily is or possibly is. At the same time, the term "social anarchism " was used less frequently because of the essentially social nature of anarchism (implying a class perspective in popular movements and social struggles ), however, we emphasise the continued need to highlight this issue, especially in contexts where there is a strong presence of the "individualistic" / anti-organisationalist imaginary on anarchism and where ideological debate proceeds on more rudimentary lines, whenever required.

By employing the theory of center-periphery relations of Rudolf de Jong, we can say that the definition of social classes used by FARJ did not allow for an adequate distinction between domination in general and class domination. If, through it, it was possible to identify a diverse set of potential revolutionary subjects - employed workers both urban and rural, peasants, precarious workers, the marginalized and the poor in general - we included also, gender, race and nationality, which go beyond the concept of social classes, even if these problems are interconnected. In short, to connect domination and social classes requires distinguishing class domination of other types of domination.

These elements have been examined and should be formalized in a more precise position at the FARJ's 10th anniversary Congress to be held in 2013. Recognising in different social theories, such as those produced by Alfredo Errandonea in his book "The Sociology of Domination "[64] that social classes can only be defined by starting from the concept of exploitation, we must base ourselves on a notion of domination that includes, in addition to exploitation, other types of domination. Using this notion to define classes and distinguish between domination in general and class domination requires a theoretical model to conceive two large sets of classes, such as the dominating classes and the dominated classes, or classes of oppressors and oppressed classes.

If the ownership of the means of production and therefore exploitation is certainly a criteria for the elaboration of the concept of social classes, other economic criteria, such as the ownership of capital, of wealth, are also essential, as well as political criteria, which include political-bureaucratic domination and physical coercion and therefore ownership of means of administration, control and coercion; cultural elements such as the possession and sale of the means of production of knowledge and information are also relevant. These positions require some adjustments in relation to this text which are related to the complexity of modern capitalist society, the term chosen to denote this set of relations of domination / oppression in class relations , "exploited classes" will probably have to be revised for something more comprehensive in scope, taking into account the potential revolutionary subjects mentioned above. Similarly, the term "ruling/dominant class" used to describe the wide range of dominant oppressors must also be revised to cover a wider range of categories, especially the rich, the bourgeois (the owners), the managers of large enterprises, but also managers of the state, such as governors, top military and judges, as well as an important part of the owners of mass media (media), religious leaders and those who strategically monopolize knowledge. Other types of domination, as the dominance of gender, ethnic / racial and national domination ( imperialism ) relate to class domination, but cannot be reduced to it, and at the same time, the end of social classes does not result in the automatic resolution of these other types of domination.

When "Social Anarchism and Organization" was drawn up, the discussion on popular power was also not significantly developed and the FARJ was in doubt as to the use of this term. Over time, discussions have taken place making us realize that the transformation strategy proposed by the FARJ constituted an extensive process of construction of popular power, after constructive discussions on what other organizations FAO considered important, there was a significant attempt to take a position with regard to our conception of power, differentiation between power and domination, and the adoption of the notion of popular power as a process of transformation of the capacities of realization and social force seeking a permanent increase in the base class resistance to consolidate itself against the enemy forces of the ruling/dominant classes, in short, this amounted to the conceptualisation of this process as the building of popular power. Therefore, the chapters dealing with organization and social force, and social movements and popular organisation are directly linked to the concept of building popular power that the FARJ today shares with other organizations. Ultimately, we can say that the concept of "popular organisation" used in this document has been replaced by "popular power", enriched by the ideas formulated about power. Positions established ​​at national level in the text of the CAB "Our conception of popular power" include the current conceptions of the FARJ.

Another important aspect that is now beginning to lead a more meaningful discussion within the FARJ is the question of knowing how to organize and articulate the specific anarchist organization. Much of what has been formalized in the FARJ document involves practices that have been undertaken by the organisation since its founding. When we theorized on the concentric circles, fronts, fundamental activities, much had already been practiced. There was no theorisation on the question of the formation of activist nuclei in the organisation and its federalist functioning, since the FARJ had no nuclei. The practice of consolidating and structuring, for more self-management and federalism, a number of nuclei - a practice associated with various other organizations of the CAB - were the subject of discussion, and in the not too distant future, will be also be formalized in order to deepen the elements of "Social Anarchism and Organization".

Finally, we point out other aspects that have been updated: the historical reading of anarchism in Brazil, highlighting relevant experiences of 1940 and 1960, little known by activists at the time, as well as the discussion on the class, there is a whole problem of method of analysis, social theory and the theory of history that have also guided discussions on the structural and conunctural analyses, the concept of "social movement" itself was in some cases, replaced by terms such as "popular movements" or "mass movements", as it also covers unions - although "Social Anarchism and Organization" tried to make sense of this term, this may not have been well understood by readers, we have also deepened our discussions on political culture mostly linked to practices of cultural / political construction conducted in other regions of the country; the very notions of "especifismo" were deepened and better formalized: of course, the work of the FARJ itself has changed since 2008, as well as the organization of its fronts. If the FARJ programme does not represent all the debates and achievements of especifismo it has undoubtedly had a great influence on the theoretical and practical contributions of this current.

jonthom
May 16 2014 16:24
ocelot wrote:
Before that, however, it is important to emphasise that the very concept of anarchism and its currents was discussed not only in the FARJ, but also in the other organizations of the CAB. A thorough discussion on these issues took place in 2012, with a discussion of the concepts of theory and ideology, which will be formalized in a text in the next issue of "Libertarian Socialism".

[...]

These elements have been examined and should be formalized in a more precise position at the FARJ's 10th anniversary Congress to be held in 2013.

[...]

Positions established ​​at national level in the text of the CAB "Our conception of popular power" include the current conceptions of the FARJ.

are these texts available in english anywhere?

also. the dude standing atop a pile of skulls. um...

klas batalo
May 18 2014 15:08
Quote:
Another important aspect that is now beginning to lead a more meaningful discussion within the FARJ is the question of knowing how to organize and articulate the specific anarchist organization. Much of what has been formalized in the FARJ document involves practices that have been undertaken by the organisation since its founding. When we theorized on the concentric circles, fronts, fundamental activities, much had already been practiced. There was no theorisation on the question of the formation of activist nuclei in the organisation and its federalist functioning, since the FARJ had no nuclei. The practice of consolidating and structuring, for more self-management and federalism, a number of nuclei - a practice associated with various other organizations of the CAB - were the subject of discussion, and in the not too distant future, will be also be formalized in order to deepen the elements of "Social Anarchism and Organization".

anyone know more about this? are these like core groups/working groups/activist cells to carry out "front" work??? that is what i assume they are, but maybe they are not... just wondering because if so i've thought of the same thing.

ocelot
May 19 2014 11:13
jonthom wrote:
are these texts available in english anywhere?

Unfortunately not so far.

The CAB's "Nossa Concepção de Poder Popular" (Our conception of popular power) was included in their first issue of "Socialismo Libertário" (Libertarian Socialism) from 2012. AFAICS that has not even been translated into Spanish yet. JP from ZACF says that it is on his list to translate (Portuguese -> English), but it could be a while yet.

The "Theory and Ideology" article is recently out in this January's Socialismo Libertário #2. But again so far no translation, either Spanish or English.

jonthom wrote:
also. the dude standing atop a pile of skulls. um...

Yeah. Also not a fan, personally. Not all historic artwork is good.