Do you agree that the following provides a useful guideline for how anarchists should organise

Yes
67% (8 votes)
No
33% (4 votes)
Total votes: 12

Posted By

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 10:40

Tags

Share

Attached files

Comments

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 10:40

Do you agree that the following provides a useful guideline for how anarchists should organise. The 'General Union' referred to is an anarchist organisations, not necessarly a workplace one.

-----

1. Unity of theory

Theory is the force which guides the activity of individual people and individual organizations along a specific route towards a specific goal. Naturally, it must be shared by all persons and all organizations who join the General Union. The activity of the general anarchist Union, both in general and in detail, must be perfectly consistent with the theoretical principles professed by the Union.

2. Unity of tactics or the collective method of action

The tactical methods employed by the individual members or groups within the Union must likewise be united, strictly consistent with one another as well as with the overall theory and tactics of the Union.

Sharing a general (common) tactical line within the movement is of crucial importance for the existence of the organization and of the entire movement: it rids the movement of the confusion arising from the existence of multiple mutually antagonistic tactics and focuses all the movement’s forces on a common direction leading to a specific objective.

3. Collective responsibility

The practice of operating on one’s individual responsibility must be strictly condemned and rejected within the ranks of the anarchist movement.

The areas of revolutionary, social and political life are profoundly collective in nature. Revolutionary public activity in those areas cannot be based upon the individual responsibility of single militants.

The general anarchist movement's executive body - the Anarchist Union - takes a decisive stand against the tactic of unaccountable individualism and introduces the principle of collective responsibility into its ranks: the union as a whole is answerable for the revolutionary and political activity of each member of the union; likewise, each of its members is answerable for the revolutionary and political activity of the union as a whole.

4. Federalism

Anarchism has always rejected centralist organization both where the social life of the masses is concerned as well as in the area of its political activity. The system of centralization relies upon the stifling of the spirit of criticism, initiative and independence of every individual and upon the masses' blind obedience to the "centre". The natural and inevitable upshot of this system is slavishness and mechanization, both in public life and in the life of parties.

Contrary to centralism, anarchism has always advocated and defended the principle of federalism, which combines the independence of the individual or organization with their initiative and service to the common cause.

By combining the idea of the independence and fullness of each individual's rights with service of social requirements and instincts, federalism paves the way to every wholesome manifestation of the faculties of each individual.

But very often the federalist principle has been warped in anarchist ranks; too often has it been taken to mean primarily the right to display one's ego and neglect one’s duties towards the organization.

This distortion has caused a great deal of disorganization within our movement in the past and it is time to put an end to it once and for all.

Federalism means the free agreement of individuals and entire organizations upon collective endeavour, in order to achieve a common objective.

Now, any such agreement and any federative union based thereon can only become a reality (rather than exist only on paper) if the essential condition is fulfilled that all parties to the agreement and to the union fully honour the obligations they take on and abide by the decisions reached jointly.

In any social project, however great the federalist basis on which it is built, there can be no rights without responsibilities, just as there cannot be decisions without these being implemented. That is all the more unacceptable in an anarchist organization which takes only obligations upon itself with regard to the workers and their social revolution.

As a result, the federalist type of anarchist organization, while acknowledging the right of every member of the organization to independence, freedom of opinion, personal initiative and individual liberty, entrusts each member with specific organizational duties, requiring that these be duly performed and that decisions jointly made also be put into effect.

Only in this way will the federalist principle come to life and the anarchist organization function properly and move towards the goal it has set.

Steven.
Jul 12 2006 10:52
Jack wrote:
Questions of whether you should organise as anarchists aside, surely points 1-3 are just common sense for any serious political organisation, of whatever colour?

I mean if you don't accept theoretical and tactical unity + collective responsibility, then why the fuck would you be in a political organisation?

Jack I think that's JoeBlack's point. He's taking the main points from the Platform, and so trying to say that the ideas of the Platform are just common sense, and so people shouldn't slag it off as some are doing on the Platform thread.

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 10:53
Jack wrote:

I mean if you don't accept theoretical and tactical unity + collective responsibility, then why the fuck would you be in a political organisation?

Well you might think so but others disagree

Malatesta wrote:
Certainly anarchists recognise that where life is lived in common it is often necessary for the minority to come to accept the opinion of the majority. When there is an obvious need or usefulness in doing something and, to do it requires the agreement of all, the few should feel the need to adapt to the wishes of the many. And usually, in the interests of living peacefully together and under conditions of equality, it is necessary for everyone to be motivated by a spirit of concord, tolerance and compromise. But such adaptation on the one hand by one group must on the other be reciprocal, voluntary and must stem from an awareness of need and of goodwill to prevent the running of social affairs from being paralysed by obstinacy. It cannot be imposed as a principle and statutory norm. This is an ideal which, perhaps, in daily life in general, is difficult to attain in entirety, but it is a fact that in every human grouping anarchy is that much nearer where agreement between majority and minority is free and spontaneous and exempt from any imposition that does not derive from the natural order of things.

http://struggle.ws/platform/malatesta_project.html

Also my experience is that many anarchists are not only opposed to such unity but also opposed to the system (majority voting) that can be used to reach it. Indeed even at this early stage I see someone has said No to the question "Do you agree that the following provides a useful guideline for how anarchists should organise'

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 10:56
John. wrote:

Jack I think that's JoeBlack's point. He's taking the main points from the Platform, and so trying to say that the ideas of the Platform are just common sense, and so people shouldn't slag it off as some are doing on the Platform thread.

Well yes and no.

Yes I do think they are just common sense.

No in that quite large sections of the anarchist movement today and historically have rejected such common sense as akin to leninism.

No also as the issue is a little more complex then it first appears as I think the Malatesta quote demonstrates.

I was isolating the quote to see if that could get away from knee jerk responses to the origin of the quote. Given the standard of debate here that is probably a bit hopeful but it would be interesting if people voted on the text not on the source of the text.

Steven.
Jul 12 2006 10:59
JoeBlack2 wrote:
I was isolating the quote to see if that could get away from knee jerk responses to the origin of the quote. Given the standard of debate here that is probably a bit hopeful but it would be interesting if people voted on the text not on the source of the text.

Yeah that's what I figured. But as Jack didn't I thought it would be best to explain...

Lazy Riser
Jul 12 2006 11:12

Hi

Quote:
1. Unity of theory

This means minimal theory. I’m not convinced there’s the critical mass behind communism required to make an essentially Marxist union viable.

Love

LR

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 11:16
Jack wrote:
tbh, I think you're both kneejerking here, and assuming I have the same disagreements with the Platform as revol does.

I'm not - I do however think you were reacting to the source of the text rather than the text.

And on the common sense - part of the problem with the anarchist movement is that this isn't seen as common sense. And I don't mean the rejection of the particular document, I mean the rejection of the ideas above.

davethemagicweasel
Jul 12 2006 11:34

This is precisely the problem with the Platform tho - if you distil it down to a few common sense points then most people would agree with them, but I think a lot of the problems arise in the details:

1. How are the union's theoretical principles to be arrived at?

2. What mechanism determines which tactics are in accord with the principls of the union? Can a minority continue within the organisation while dissenting from the majority opinion (like the Friends of Durruti)?

3. How will this collective responsibility be determined and enforced?

4. How does "the independence of the individual" match up with "Revolutionary public activity in those areas cannot be based upon the individual responsibility of single militants."? In fact, how does federalism co-exist with unity of theory, tactics and collective action more generally?

So in theory I'm in favour of unity amongst anarchists and the basic points. But its the details of how that organisation works that matter.

Rob Ray
Jul 12 2006 11:35

Jack - Doesn't that go back to the disagreement you and Joe have over whether individualists etc should be actively exposed to common sense or just be ignored?

Lazy Riser
Jul 12 2006 11:39

Hi

I agree with Jack. The issue is not "to solve the problem with the anarchist movement" but the problem of disabling the bourgeoisie and implementing the working class project. How do the anarchists intend to contribute to that? Form their Union? Thanks a lot, we can’t wait, honestly.

Love

LR

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 11:44
Jack wrote:
I don't give a fuck what a few individualist morons in the anarchist movement think. I mean plenty of anarchists reject civilisation, hygene, etc. etc. etc. It's hardly news that some "anarchists" reject organisation and common sense, is it?

Well its easy to pick on the handful of extreme loonies but my impression is that opposition to these ideas is more widespread than this. For instance I'm not sure which if any of the 3 national federation in Britian would go for a yes rather than a no here. AFAIK all 3 stop at a basic aims and priciples although I could be wrong.

I think typically what people do is they fudge this question precisely through the 'common sense' mechanism. That is they refuse the need to formally agree these points because they are 'common sense' but as soon as an issue of controversy arises they are ignored. I've actually more respect for a position which argues against from the word go.

DMW I'm trying to avoid a discussion of the source on this thread (there is another one running on it also in thought, maybe raise this there). I agree that the question of how these ideas are implemented is next on the agenda but obviously there is only a point discussing this amongst those who think implementation is a good thing in itself so we can treat is as a serperate issue here.

One example of implementation is to be found at http://www.wsm.ie/story/32

JDMF
Jul 12 2006 11:51

I agree with weasel here.

Joe, platformists do not have monopoly on such a basic characteristics of any organisational anarchists such as agreement (or unity) on theory and tactics, or some kind of federalism.

AF and SolFed both have tactical and theoretical unity. Platformists would dismiss that as a very low level of unity, but i think thats a wrong assesment. Just the fact that there is two fairly identical class struggle anarchist groups highlights the fact that there is quite a deep level tactical and theoretical unity required which makes one to choose which one, if any, of the feds they would join.

I votes yes because like jack i think the points made are just common sense and i am a wee bit annoyed how platformist groups act like they are the only ones around with tactical and theoretical unity and federalism in the core of their group. wink

davethemagicweasel
Jul 12 2006 12:19
JoeBlack2 wrote:
DMW I'm trying to avoid a discussion of the source on this thread (there is another one running on it also in thought, maybe raise this there). I agree that the question of how these ideas are implemented is next on the agenda but obviously there is only a point discussing this amongst those who think implementation is a good thing in itself so we can treat is as a serperate issue here.

I wasn't aware I was discussing the source - I mean, the word 'platform' is inevitably going to be used on a thread like this.

Obviously there's no point debating this with someone whois opposed to organisation per se, so as far as I'm concerned the only really interesting point is in debating the details of how an anarchist organisation should be run. And I think that would have to include a debate about how federalism and collective responsibility co-exist. They're both fine in theory, but the process of adjudicating between them is the important issue to my mind.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
One example of implementation is to be found at http://www.wsm.ie/story/32

I've only skimmed it, but as an organisational model that looks fine to me.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Well its easy to pick on the handful of extreme loonies but my impression is that opposition to these ideas is more widespread than this. For instance I'm not sure which if any of the 3 national federation in Britian would go for a yes rather than a no here. AFAIK all 3 stop at a basic aims and priciples although I could be wrong.

I don't know much about the AFs internal organisation, but the Solfed constitution strikes me as matching up pretty well with the 4 points in the OP. The disagreements between pro-organisation anarchists are over different things.

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 12:31
davethemagicweasel wrote:
I wasn't aware I was discussing the source - I mean, the word 'platform' is inevitably going to be used on a thread like this.

It doesn't have to be - we can just discuss the text as a piece of text. This is often pretty useful when, as here, there tend to be strong opinions on the source which if discussed led the discussion on a tangent

davethemagicweasel wrote:
I don't know much about the AFs internal organisation, but the Solfed constitution strikes me as matching up pretty well with the 4 points in the OP.

Actually I would have thought SolFed was the closest of the 3 to the approach the text outlines (a good reason for seperating the text from the source as SF members are also most likely to be hostile to the source).

Steven.
Jul 12 2006 12:37
Saii wrote:
Jack - Doesn't that go back to the disagreement you and Joe have over whether individualists etc should be actively exposed to common sense or just be ignored?

Actually no I don't think this is what this is. I think Joe is basically responding to revol68'sand some others) quite vicious attacks on the Platform, denouncing it as Leninist or neo-Leninist. Joe is responding by pointing out what he believes to be the key bits of the Platform – things which all the Platform-haterz on the other thread would most likely agree with.

As far as I can tell though revol68's problem with the Platform is over the concept of the "ladership of ideas". I haven't been able to understand where he is coming from on this issue for what a year with quite a few arguments, so I'm waiting to discuss it with him in person…

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 12:42
John. wrote:
. I think Joe is basically responding to revol68'sand some others)

That was the trigger but its also from my experience with Anarkismo.net and indeed here in Ireland where we have been trying to implement the equivalent of the Executive committee in the shape of our delegate council. I became curious about just how 'common sense' such ideas were and the poll seemed one way to measure this at least in relation to Britain.

AndrewF
Jul 12 2006 12:46

BTW I'm happy enought to discuss the source rather than the text over at http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10487 so if people want responses to stuff post it there

davethemagicweasel
Jul 12 2006 12:48
JoeBlack2 wrote:
davethemagicweasel wrote:
I don't know much about the AFs internal organisation, but the Solfed constitution strikes me as matching up pretty well with the 4 points in the OP.

Actually I would have thought SolFed was the closest of the 3 to the approach the text outlines (a good reason for seperating the text from the source as SF members are also most likely to be hostile to the source).

Exactly - the biggest difference between say the AF and Solfed has always struck me as over workplace strategy and unions. Disagreements about the details of internal organisation don't strike me as being necessarily ones of principle, and hence they could be resolved if so desired.

So I'm voting yes after all.

john
Jul 12 2006 22:07

I actually thought JoeBlack2 was joking at first. Do you really want unity of theory, action, the denouncing of dissent, and a federalism that is only permissible providing it keeps in line with the centre?

Most people seem to agree this is "common sense" - but I fail to see how it is any different to democratic centralism? and what is anarchist about it?

JDMF
Jul 13 2006 08:25
john wrote:
Do you really want unity of theory, action, the denouncing of dissent, and a federalism that is only permissible providing it keeps in line with the centre?

i think you are misunderstanding either what this means or what anarchism is. if you take a (deliberately silly example) line that under anarchist organisation everything goes, that is already some level of theoretical and tactical unity which would prevent those who do not believe that everything goes from joining the group.

think of the tactical and theoretical unity as a framework which makes meaningful discussion and dissent even possible. If you disagree about the fundamental positions of your politics then you can't really have meaningful dissent either.