Building a revolutionary anarchism speaking tour

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Eviction Free Zone's picture
Eviction Free Zone
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Jul 18 2013 23:08
Building a revolutionary anarchism speaking tour

A look at a speaking tour by Colin O'Malley about the idea of a nationwide revolutionary anarchist movement.

How can we build the popularity and influence of anarchist ideas in movements for social and economic justice in the United States? What’s the point in a specifically anarchist organization? What lessons can we draw from the anarchists of South America? What benefits would be gained by the development of a nationwide anarchist organization? What would that organization do and how can we get involved?

Building a Revolutionary Anarchism will share lessons and perspectives from activity in anarchist organization in the US and Argentina. Informed largely by the project and organizing model of especifismo coming out of South America, the presentation focuses on the necessity and current on-going efforts to build nationwide anarchist organization in the United States.

In 2007, Colin O’Malley traveled from Buffalo, New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina to learn from workers that were taking over their closing-down workplaces to run worker owned and operated cooperatives. Coming from a city devastated by the loss of industry and the decades long rustbelt economic crisis that followed, Colin wanted to know what was so different about workers and their organizations in Argentina that there could be a such a drastically different reaction to workplace closures. There he spent time with some of the members of Red Libertaria, an Argentine anarchist organization.

On his return to Buffalo, he helped to found Buffalo Class Action, and with them built the presence of organized anarchism in Buffalo while advocating the creation of a citywide tenants union. Through BCA, he joined Common Struggle/Lucha Comun regional anarchist organization. In 2011, he moved to Rochester, New York and helped to found Rochester Red & Black, another local anarchist organization. As part of these organizations, he has been involved in the Class Struggle Anarchist Conferences, the In Our Hearts Network, and has recently been advocating and helping to build a nationwide class struggle anarchist organization. He is also an active member of the Industrial Workers of the World and the organizing director of the activist non-profit Metro Justice.

Final Tour Itinerary:
(Some venues are not listed and will be listed shortly, and several have direct links to their Facebook even pages to find out things like directions and accessibility)

Saturday, July 20th: Knoxville, TN 3pm at The Birdhouse (800 North 4th Ave)
Sunday, July 21st: Chattanooga, TN 7pm at a private house – comment with your email for details.
Saturday, July 27th: Austin, TX 7pm at Monkey Wrench Books (110 E. North Loop)
Monday, July 29th: El Paso, TX 7pm at Maternidad La Luz (1314 Magoffin Ave)
Wednesday, August 7th: Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, August 10th: San Jose, CA
Sunday, August 11th: Eureka, CA
Tuesday, August 13th: Portland, OR 7pm at Red & Black Cafe
Wednesday, August 14th: Seattle, WA
Saturday, August 17th: Salt Lake City, UT
Monday, August 19th: Denver, CO
Wednesday, August 21st: St. Louis, MO
Thursday, August 22nd: Iowa City, IA
Friday, August 23rd: Milwaukee, WI
Sunday, August 25th: Chicago, IL
Tuesday, August 27th: Buffalo, NY @ Burning Books

Check out this article by Colin O'Malley to learn more about a nationwide anarchist organization.

aloeveraone
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Jul 19 2013 03:29

No love for NOLA?

syndicalist
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Jul 19 2013 13:16

---------

Black Badger
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Jul 19 2013 15:03

From the same people who brought you this craven celebration of statism!

http://rocredandblack.org/rochester-anarchists-and-supporting-the-womens-equality-agenda/

Harrison
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Jul 19 2013 16:17

um, all class and womens movement concessions won through mass activity and direct action were eventually enacted through legislation, either as a reactive measure by the ruling classes to save their own skins or in combination where worker mass unrest pulls on the heart strings of liberal politicians and their pity. supporting a piece of legislation does not equal support for the state.

should anarchists have opposed the state enacting hard won class victories like the foundation of the social wage? should anarchists have opposed legislative proposals giving women the right to abortion?

r&r's activity in this respect seems little different from an inversion of the current anti-cuts activity of anarchists, where short term activity does in fact tend toward calling for state to retain its role in social provisions, to prevent it going to private and destroying existing workers organisation and driving down wages.

it seems like double standards to accuse support for a reform, as a 'celebration of statism'. maybe this is excusable due to the fact there have been very few reforms won in recent decades, compared to the first half of the twentieth century, and the character of present-day social anarchism has hence been forged in an environment where it has not participated in this.

i don't see them asking for general support for the governor, nor for the election of anarchists. i do see them pointing out flaws in the bill, and calling for the foundation of base level organisation to achieve what the reform can't.

Black Badger
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Jul 19 2013 19:59
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um, all class and womens movement concessions won through mass activity and direct action were eventually enacted through legislation, either as a reactive measure by the ruling classes to save their own skins or in combination where worker mass unrest pulls on the heart strings of liberal politicians and their pity.

And Rochester Red and Black's explanation for their support for the governor's campaign is based explicitly on the absence of mass activity and direct action; indeed they seem to be hooked on the strategy of supporting the campaign and pointing out the few problems within the legislation in a bid to attract possibly sympathetic people for their anarchist organization. This kind of deceptive recruitment drive is best left to Trots and Maoists. This is just manipulative PR bullshit.

Harrison
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Jul 20 2013 09:18

i just don't think that because the reform has its origin amongst social-democratic power-play, it is completely not worth supporting and should be opposed.

There are many examples of social-democratic / state-capitalist political power-play instantiating mass movements that developed horizontal characteristics and broke free of control by politicians. Off the top of my head these are the bigger examples
- ultra left strands developing out of Mao's Red Guards in the Chinese 'cultural revolution'
- allende-supporting workers in Chile expropriating and placing production under workers control without he allende administration's permission, even as the administration fought to wrestle it out of their hands
- Gorbachev's glasnost / perestroika snowballing into demands for the end of the state-capitalist regimes
- the many examples of union leaderships losing control of initially token industrial action

Don't you think there is even a slim possibility that any such grassroots support for a reform could eventually be turned against the governor?

By all means warn them about the reptiles piloting the reform, and its flaws, but I'm not sure telling women to oppose a reform that would directly enhance their conditions and pay, is any way to go about engaging with people outside of anarchist circles.

I mean, even the anti-union stance of left communists still in practice translates to support for union industrial action when it does occur, whilst trying to move it away from union control.

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Eviction Free Zone
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Jul 26 2013 04:28

It should be noted that the position on the Women's Equality Agenda was just one member's opinions. We are not uniform in our perspectives. Some people see this is a good point to agitate in, and others disagree.

Black Badger
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Jul 26 2013 20:30

Then declarations of a single member need to be better and more credibly disclaimed by the organization. As it stands on your website, it appears that your entire outfit stands behind it. Hence the possible confusion. Even with such a disclaimer, however, the nature of your organization leaves little room for outsiders to discern what is the organization's policy versus the articulated/public opinion(s) of a single member who is not speaking in the name of the organization. Good luck with that separation.

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Eviction Free Zone
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Aug 12 2013 07:22

I'm not sure what else is to be done other than have individual names on the articles, which we do. Likewise, I don't really care if there is a misconception about that. This is the first concern I have heard about it and I am not worried that it is going to reflect poorly on the organization. I don't know of any organization where by every single person agrees about absolutely everything and instead this is an individual within the organization making arguments in a direction.

blarg
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Aug 15 2013 20:11

Quote from the Seattle talk: "SEIU has a better chance of overthrowing capitalism than the IWW". Discuss cool

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klas batalo
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Aug 15 2013 21:07
blarg wrote:
Quote from the Seattle talk: "SEIU has a better chance of overthrowing capitalism than the IWW". Discuss cool

I assume this was in personal capacity by the speaker. This doesn't represent the views of the majority of the folks that are on their way to forming the new organization considering at least 50% (including the speaker himself, also that number is really that is conservative) of the members of the various organizations are IWW members.

blarg
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Aug 15 2013 23:48

Basically he made the argument (though not in much depth) that a strategy of social insertion within liberal/leninist/bureaucrat-dominated struggle organizations (such as unions) will be more fruitful than building our own struggle organizations.

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Eviction Free Zone
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Aug 16 2013 00:20

I listened to the audio of the talk, that's not what he said. Even remotely. He was bated into an argument about working with SEIU and he made a reference to the size and capacity of SEIU compared to the IWW. Then someone yelled "can I quote you on that" and now they are doing exactly that to try and bate a fight. It's sheepish and embarrassing.

There was a goal to paint Rochester Red & Black as some kind of liberal organization because of Colin's opinions on unions and some NYS bills, and its fucking ridiculous. The argument he made, which was incredibly clear, was working in larger organizations to agitate. This is not unique in any way, and does not deter from working with the IWW as well.

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Aug 16 2013 00:20

I listened to the audio of the talk, that's not what he said. Even remotely. He was bated into an argument about working with SEIU and he made a reference to the size and capacity of SEIU compared to the IWW. Then someone yelled "can I quote you on that" and now they are doing exactly that to try and bate a fight. It's sheepish and embarrassing.

There was a goal to paint Rochester Red & Black as some kind of liberal organization because of Colin's opinions on unions and some NYS bills, and its fucking ridiculous. The argument he made, which was incredibly clear, was working in larger organizations to agitate. This is not unique in any way, and does not deter from working with the IWW as well.

TakePossession
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Aug 16 2013 00:31

I couldn't wait to see how quickly that blatant effort to troll the conversation would hit the online world. I'd be much more open to an honest conversation about what our vision is for building mass revolutionary workers movements, which I don't think everyone at the Seattle stop was interested in. Although clearly there were some great people there ready for real conversation where *shock* we may disagree on strategy.

Do I think that the SEIU is a revolutionary? Nope.
Do I think that the IWW is capable of revolution at it's current size? Nope.
Do I think we need to talk about any and all strategies to build much more massive worker movements that also include a revolutionary vision and a militant rank and file? Yep.

If people want to have honest and thoughtful conversation about how to get there, I'm here any time to participate.

If people want to troll me with some worries that I give a shit about anarchist street-cred, you're gonna be shocked how little I care about your opinion.

syndicalist
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Aug 16 2013 01:40
blarg wrote:
Basically he made the argument (though not in much depth) that a strategy of social insertion within liberal/leninist/bureaucrat-dominated struggle organizations (such as unions) will be more fruitful than building our own struggle organizations.

Sometimes that might be true. Sometimes not. It's a tactic that can be based on a number of factors. I think if the tactic is to gain positions of paid leadership, well, then it's not a very good strategy. If it's to be in mass organizations to agitate our ideas and try and guide struggles and so forth, I basically don't have an issue with that. I've long believed in a strategy which is multifaceted is better then a singular one. One anarchist shoe does not always fit all sizes.

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klas batalo
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Aug 16 2013 01:42

I think how I would take things is it all depends on if you are rank and file or not, should we have a strategy of taking staff or salting jobs in business unions such as SEIU, I really do not think so. I think the members of any new organization really need to focus where they are at in their every day lives, after that taking jobs as staff, etc is just in some cases an not so bad job. It's not a strategy for revolution, other than the abstract ideal that we would not abstain from various organizations or movements that members of our class are a part of. This is just my personal opinion.

I just wrote a lot on this issue here (some of it needs revisions, and I've gotten some good critiques from comrades I might adjust it for, or write a follow up):

http://klasbatalo.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/review-of-prairie-struggle-organizations-combative-unionism-position-paper-draft/

syndicalist
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Aug 16 2013 02:00
Quote:
taking jobs as staff, etc is just in some cases an not so bad job. It's not a strategy for revolution, other than the abstract ideal that we would not abstain from various organizations or movements that members of our class are a part of

I don't disagree. Look, it's also not just a case of it being a job. It can make ya feel good to win grievances, engage in struggles, win campaigns. But it's very different from a revolutionary strategy or raising revolutionary consciousness... And I'm not pure as snow and I speak from experiences as both a rank-and-filier and former paid staffer. But all roads to engaging on the level that we need to engage starts from, stays with and ends with the shopfloor and keeping oneself on the shopfloor as long as possible (recognizing the lack of permanence of jjobs these days).

blarg
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Aug 16 2013 03:07

Ok TakePossession, "can I quote you on that" was initially facetious, but you said "yes", and stuck by it, so that means you believe it to be true, no? If not, and it was all a big misunderstanding, then great, forget about it, and apologies for contributing to the misunderstanding. But if you really believe what you said, then don't back away from it, but explain and defend it. I don't know about others, but I have zero interest in bashing your organization or in anarchist street cred. This is absolutely and entirely about movement-building strategy. Clearly you didn't say SEIU is currently revolutionary, but you implied that it could potentially become revolutionary at some point in the future, did you not? So do you believe that? If so, how could that possibly happen? Are not the locals irrevocably staff-dominated, and are not the staff subject to replacement at the whim of the International leadership?

I do think there's sometimes value in working within large organizations to agitate, but I got the impression that you were arguing that this was _more_ worth our time than building our own struggle organizations. Maybe that was a mistaken impression. Do you think that, or not? You're doing a speaking tour to advocate certain ideas, so I don't think it's unreasonable to ask you to clearly spell out what those ideas are, though you aren't obligated to do so.

Eviction Free Zone, could you give a link to the Seattle audio you listened to? Then people can listen for themselves and no one needs to argue about what was said. All around it was a good, engaging talk and the discussion was almost entirely good-natured, and there is no need for drama.

Ablokeimet
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Aug 16 2013 03:43
blarg wrote:
... Clearly you didn't say SEIU is currently revolutionary, but you implied that it could potentially become revolutionary at some point in the future, did you not? So do you believe that? If so, how could that possibly happen? Are not the locals irrevocably staff-dominated, and are not the staff subject to replacement at the whim of the International leadership?

I do think there's sometimes value in working within large organizations to agitate, but I got the impression that you were arguing that this was _more_ worth our time than building our own struggle organizations. Maybe that was a mistaken impression. Do you think that, or not? You're doing a speaking tour to advocate certain ideas, so I don't think it's unreasonable to ask you to clearly spell out what those ideas are, though you aren't obligated to do so.

The problem I have with this approach to the question is that it tends to lead to the position of writing off the bulk of the working class as reactionary and/or impossible to reach because of the union bureaucrats. I've spent over 30 years being active in my union and fighting the officials all the way. When they've done the right thing (which they do occasionally), I point out that I agree with the action more than they do and explain why.

We can't just go off and invent a new working class because we're not happy with the current one, or the unions in which workers are organised. We struggle where we are and, if the workers are unionised, we join the union and take the fight up to the officials. The perspective is not to reform the existing union structures (though, in the unlikely event that an opportunity for it arises, we shouldn't knock it back), but to develop a rank and file movement at the base that can eventually declare its independence from the officials en bloc.

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klas batalo
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Aug 16 2013 14:16

there is a big difference between being in the union and working in the interests of your class and fellow workers AND working for the union as a salt or staff for the bureaucrats and then the workers.

this is what most of my considerations on this issue come down to...

after that i t is an issue of strategy, do folks think you can bore from within and capture leadership (i.e. reform the bureacracy), do folks think a break away is possible (reform the rank and file), or agitate and self-organize for combative direct action (transform the rank and file).

those first two are political strategies of maneuver, the later is anti-political struggle.

iexist
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Aug 18 2013 16:17

Is there a vid of the talks on the web? I'd love to watch.