An introductory booklet to the concept of "Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams" (TACT), which was attempted by a group of activists in London in 2002, at the height of the anti-capitalist movement of the early 2000s.
Ever felt frustrated that there are so many different groups out there working away in isolation?
Why can’t activists find a way to work together, to pool resources and support each other?
Why isn’t there a network that respects different ways of working, diverse political cultures and different priorities?
Why can’t we connect the local with the global, why can’t we work autonomously, why can’t we get anywhere?
You don't have to be frustrated. There is a way we can work together.
Introduction - what is TACT?
The anti-Capitalist movement is spread across the world, it is as global as Capital. The public face of that movement is the spectacular actions and protests that sometimes occur - Genoa, Seattle, J18, May Day. But in the background are small acts of resistance which occur every day, carried out by groups and individuals who (consciously or not) are acting as part of a bigger whole. People acting in their own way, with their own concerns and struggles. Sometimes those struggles coincide with others and a more effective challenge can be made - individual refusal broadening out into a genuine and fundamental challenge.
These shifting connections and allegiances are a vital part of the anti-Capitalist movement. Part of the task of that movement is to generate awareness that these everyday struggles are part of that greater whole, to give practical support and resources and articulate that sense of solidarity. One of the ways that this can be done is to celebrate that resistance, lending it a name that draws it into the sphere of our activity. The anti-Capitalist movement is not without its problems - Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams are one way that we can try and overcome some of these difficulties and make a more effective challenge to Capital.
The idea of the Temporary Anti-Capitalist Team is a response to the need for greater coherence and inclusivity. There are Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams working all over the world all the time - every time a group of workers comes together in self-defence for industrial action or even collective bargaining, that is a Temporary Anti-Capitalist Team in action. Whenever people come together in forms of activity that step outside of the domination of Capitalism, that is a Temporary Anti-Capitalist Team in action. When a community works together for its own purpose in defiance of the bureaucracy of the State that is a Temporary Anti-Capitalist Team in action. And when the groups and collectives that make up the movement are doing what they do best, that too is an Temporary Anti-Capitalist Team in action. Sometimes the "Teams" overlap and coalesce, sometimes they are more "Temporary" than at others, sometimes the link to "Anti-Capitalism" is not so clear. But a TACT is not a form of organisation, it’s an idea - about society and struggle, about interaction and collective response, an expression of resistance.
what's it for?
The idea of TACT is to give a name to our activity and to be able to make links with others who are already active. To articulate opposition in a useful way and draw others, already carrying out similar work under a different name, into a wider movement of overlapping action and commonality, explicitly locating them within a wider struggle. A network of Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams can bridge the gaps between local action and global issues, overcoming the fragmented nature of our struggles. TACT can draw people together across geographical divides in both practical and political ways. Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams are designed for one reason only: to make our resistance to Capital more effective. We want to help bring a better world a step closer.
No-one has to leave their existing group to join a TACT - it is an idea, not an organisation - it is enough to understand that this is the nature of what you are doing and that you are part of a larger whole which needs your support and which will in turn lend support to you. It’s not a question of asking people to join, it’s a process of recognition of being a part of a greater whole, recognising commonality in the struggles of others - there is no membership drive, no monolith to be built - it cannot be a process of uniformity. No-one is being asked to organise their own struggle in a different way (or being told how to struggle), but to be part of a network providing practical and political support where it’s wanted, to work together with others where things coincide, where it’s useful. Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams are a powerful way to make dynamic networks of support and communication within the anti-Capitalist movement and to connect the local with the global.
how does it work?
It can be a group of people who come together for a specific project which gnaws away at some aspect of Capitalist social relations: perhaps for a few hours, maybe for a few days or weeks. When the project has served it’s purpose they move on to something else.
It could be a long-term organisation, or a coming-together of several existing groups to work with each other using TACT to facilitate that connection and overcome the chauvinism and sectarianism which can sometimes plague our attempts to build bridges. It could be workers within industry reaching out to supporters in other sectors, or completely outside of that industry (or outside of all industry) using TACTs to create a useful network. People acting locally in one country in solidarity with people in another: explicitly linking their struggles by using a Temporary anti-Capitalist Team.
People confronting Capital directly, or people building alternatives. A collective response to our political and economic situation, a response that exists as a dynamic, a process of struggle that is recognised as a part of working class activity - not outside or 'other' - but within it and of it.
Here are just some of the examples of how Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams could work:
- A one-off event organised by a group of people from a variety of organisations. TACT could break the ice, showing the participants what they have in common, and provide a framework where people can work together and stay in touch after the event.
- A campaign which touches on the work of groups which have different agendas and priorities (for example, between a workplace and its local community). Using the idea of Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams can allow those groups to make connections whilst respecting each others different approach to the campaign itself.
- An issue which affects people worldwide could be communicated directly to people as a local issue by using networks of TACTs around the world. By communicating through the TACT network, that local issue can be shown to have a global effect and allow people to make that connection.
- Local groups in regional towns working together are frequently beset by sectarianism and poor communication. By declaring themselves to be Temporary Anti-Capitalist Teams, barriers can be broken down and a comprehensive network of communication relied on, making use of the limited resources that small groups have and building something bigger and more effective.
- Individuals dispersed across a wide geographical area can use the TACT website to find other people interested in the same issues or in working together in the same area.
- Building direct links between anti-Capitalists in different countries. Using the understanding of TACTs as a reference, groups can reach out around the world
- Sharing skills. The TACT website can be used as a skills bank, to enable contacts between groups and individuals for mutual support and assistance and practical solidarity.
We put this booklet together to try and make real some of the ideas that are going on in TACT1 at the moment. You don't have to agree with our suggestions for how TACT can work. You don't have to share our analysis of recent history, of organisation or of Capitalism. The ideas are there for you to take away or throw away, it’s up to you. There cannot be an agreed "line" to take, TACT is purely an idea, not an organisation. Interpretations are open to all. The idea is inclusive, not exclusive: we value difference, not conformity.
Following this introduction, this booklet explores some of the ideas that are behind the name TACT:
Temporary - looking at examples of past and present struggles
anti-Capitalist - an analysis of Capital, class and the anti-Capitalist movement
Teams - the importance of finding ways to organise ourselves
This booklet was put together in 2002 by people involved in TACT1, which was based in London.