An interview with new British organization, Collective Action

On 1 May 2012, a new anarchist communist organization called Collective Action was launched in the UK, together with the release of a statement (Where We Stand: Formation of a new Anarchist Communist project in the UK). In an attempt to clear up some points that were not clear from the statement or from the other documents published by the organization, Anarkismo.net has carried out this interview, in which the answers to our questions represent the jointly-held positions of Collective Action's members.

Submitted by Collective Action on June 14, 2012

Can you elaborate on the circumstances that gave rise to Collective Action?

Over the last few years some Collective Action members had attempted to bring about political and organisational changes to the Anarchist Federation. These changes were not forthcoming and after a period of time they became increasingly frustrated at what was perceived to be a liberal cultural attitude dominating the organisation, as well as, ironically, a reluctance to change. At the same time we – as a group of anarchist communists – felt that it was necessary for the preservation of the anarchist communist tradition in modern Britain, for like-minded people to refocus their activity – primarily on understanding current class composition and how that best informs how we insert our ideas and tactics within our class. We describe this process as “Regroupment” and believed a separate association, independent from other organisations, was the best way to organise that process.

How do you see Collective Action with regard to the other national anarchist organisations in the UK – Solidarity Federation, Anarchist Federation and Liberty & Solidarity?

The Solidarity Federation is an anarcho-syndicalist union and as such has very little to do with our perspective. Collective Action should be looked upon as a current within the anarchist communist movement seeking Regroupment. In that respect, we are fundamentally divergent to the ideas and aims of a group like SolFed. Likewise, the Anarchist Federation is essentially a propaganda outlet that has a lackadaisical attitude towards organisation, which is in contrast to how we believe an anarchist communist group should operate. Also, as far as we can tell, AFed does not agree with our outlook that a process of Regroupment is necessary or even desirable. Liberty & Solidarity is a socialist-syndicalist group affiliated to the Anarkismo Statement. As an organisation of this type we do not perceive many areas of commonality between us. L&S members are active within housing campaigns and the UK section of the Industrial Workers of the World (where we also have militants). Like Collective Action, Liberty & Solidarity emerged as a project from dissatisfied Anarchist Federation members. However, we think both our analyses and proposals for alternatives are ultimately at odds. This is both in terms of our principle focus on Regroupment as well as our political disagreements regarding our analysis of the conservative character of the trade unions and their ideological orientation towards a socialist-syndicalist (as opposed to anarchist communist) position. They have also proposed various cosmetic changes to anarchist activism – such as abandoning the label "anarchist” – which we are strongly opposed to.

In your launch statement you provide a pretty damning analysis of the anti-austerity movement in the UK. Do you believe there are any grounds for hope in this respect?

There is always hope, but we shouldn’t let hope blind us into thinking that something can be successful just because we want it to be. There is a structural problem with the anti-austerity movement; this is obvious in the way that the TUC and Marxist Left have, as always, sought to create and to dominate power structures that have led and will always lead to stagnation. Intervention by anarchists in that respect has been negligible and there have been no meaningful alternatives presented to counter those worn-out Leftist strategies. There is also a more pervasive ideological problem that the anti-austerity movement faces, in that the nature of the struggles do not follow the necessary trend of building a counter-power capable of eventually creating communist reconstruction. What is meant by that is that we are not confident that existing struggles have the ability to be radically transformed into something that can meaningfully forward our objective of taking control of the means of production.

How do we resolve this particular problem? For us, we are not sure whether it is even worth attempting, since the actual struggles that the anti-austerity movement is involved in are struggles for a minority, a privileged section of the working class, whose conditions do not speak to the marginalised majority, who in recent months have actually demonstrated a willingness to build a counter power – look at the August riots. This was the beginning of a genuine expression of rage that, if armed with the right ideas, could have cemented an escalation of class conflict. Collective Action wants to investigate how we insert anarchist communist ideas and methods into these communities and connect the politics to the otherwise disconnected expressions of frustration and anger that exist towards capitalism and the State. As such, we are not sure how these parochial anti-austerity “groups” fit into that long-term objective.

In your launch statement you describe the principle objective of CA as "Regroupment", to revisit and rekindle your politics. Could you elaborate on what this means?

Regroupment essentially means sitting down together and working out what is going on and, in that context, what we want to achieve and how we aim to achieve it. It’s as simple as that. More broadly, we see Regroupment as the reorientation of revolutionaries to re-engage with anarchist communist ideas and history as well as engaging with new ideas and theory that is being published. This is why we are looking at Specifism and the Platformist tradition, as well as taking very seriously the ideas of the new autonomist Regroupment current Plan C, which has emerged in the UK, as well as the theoretical Sic Communisation Collective.

This collective education and engagement with contemporary ideas will help us develop our analysis and better inform our activity. We understand that some will consider this to be “navel gazing”; largely because of an anti-intellectual attitude that seems to exist in the anarchist movement, but also because there is this misconception that what anarchists have to be doing is “action”, irrespective of what it means or how it fits into a general strategy for victory. Ultimately, we say that if people feel the activity they are participating in is genuinely working towards building communist reconstruction, then that’s great. We recognise that in reality the current activity of the movement cannot achieve victory and therefore a refocus on our movement and how we operate is necessary, whether we like it or not. Having said that, we continue to be militants in our localities, involved in struggles that we consider appropriate and therefore our thinking and discussions are informed by our past and ongoing experiences.

As a self-identified "Specifist" group do you perceive any points of distinction in respect to the UK anarchist movement?

"Specifism" (or Especifismo) is a political current principally associated with the theory and organising practices of the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janiero (FARJ) and the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU). In the English-speaking world it is often considered simply a variant of anarchist Platformism, but as the FARJ argue, and we agree, the ideas are much broader and richer than this. Neither are these ideas just that of the FARJ and FAU, as they locate their ideas in the spirit of the organisationalist theories of Malatesta, Bakunin and Kropotkin (this is actually also true of the Platform but is rarely acknowledged). We think this notion of engaging in a more critical reappraisal of these original anarchist thinkers is valuable and allows us to bypass the more cultural articulations of anarchism that have become intermingled with anarchist practice in the latter half of the twentieth century. However, it needs to be clear that this process is not about re-affirming some form of ideological purity; we revisit these thinkers because of their role as organised revolutionaries whose ideas were earned through experience of social struggle. Our task in this sense is to identify the comparable contexts and lessons while also updating and modifying our approaches for the conditions and class composition under advanced capitalism. There has been a recent re-emergence in the English-speaking world of classical anarchist literature, e.g. Van Der Walt and Schmidt's Black Flame and McKay's volume on Proudhon, which has proved very useful in respect to this.

In terms of points of differentiation, specifism – as a form of praxis – has a strategic and programmatic focus that we see as lacking (or at least partially lacking) in other organisations. We see this as related to the prevalence of a spontaneist current in anarchism, quite distinct from the organisational theories of Bakunin and others.

Specifists argue that, foremost, anarchists need to understand their role as a revolutionary minority and how they relate to a wider and much more complex terrain of social struggle. We believe these questions are increasingly pressing in respect to the current economic and social climate and the clarity of the specifist approach is a useful tool to begin answering them.

We reject the, currently quite popular, idea that anarchist activity is simply about broadening and escalating resistance. Undoubtedly this is a component of building class confidence and solidarity, but as a strategy in itself it doesn't do justice to our ideas. The questions that revolutionaries should be putting to themselves now is not just how they can fight cuts and break the consensus on austerity but what part they can play (however small) in escalating social struggles (or playing their part in organising new ones) towards a consolidation of counter-power and process of communisation.

How do you conceive of anarchosyndicalism, given that you (critically) support it in some format, but clearly differ from Solidarity Federation?

Liberty & Solidarity's interest is in "independent" – as opposed to anarchist – syndicalism (which they endorse uncritically). For AFed it would be fair to say that both them and SolFed have a close working relationship and co-operate on many campaigns. There is also joint membership in some instances, although AFed are nothing like an organised faction within SolFed. It's only in recent years that SolFed have begun to operate as an organising union so in terms of both their and AFed's activity as propaganda groups they were often quite close. AFed make it clear in their literature that they do not support the organisation of mass, anarcho-syndicalist unions, seeing them as both impractical and open to co-option. Instead they talk of the need for informal workplace resistance groups. This concept, however, is often applied quite broadly and has been argued to include some aspects of anarcho-syndicalist strategy. We have criticised this on the basis that it lacks a clear and programmatic focus.

For us the issue is more about the context and how certain methodologies relate to both the existing class composition and the resources available to organisers. In this sense we recognise that some elements of anarcho-syndicalist strategy are almost universally applicable – being basic elements of organisational anarchism from the time of Bakunin – while also stressing the need for continual and critical investigation on the part of disciplined and organised anarchist communist militants.

Why do you describe yourself as an "association"? Is there any political significance to this term?

In very practical terms it denotes the scope of our project – a small number of comrades coming together for a specific purpose with shared goals. We felt it was important not to adopt the labels of "federation" or even "organisation" prematurely. These labels should be meaningful where they are applied.

The term "association" does, however, also have a deeper meaning within our tradition. Early Utopian socialists favoured the term "associationism" to characterise the voluntary yet still organised basis of free communism. Malatesta even went so far as to say the term should replace anarchism for anarchists.

How would you describe your orientation in respect to the Anarkismo project?

Anarkismo, and the Anarkismo groups, have been a strong influence on our theoretical development to this point. Our study of Anarkismo texts, alongside recent investigations into communisation theory, and their resonance with our own experiences are key factors in terms of both the initiation and continued development of the CA project. We feel the North American groups in particular are facing similar contexts, and answering similar questions, to ourselves. There are a number of points of principle in which we currently disagree with the Anarkismo Statement. These are issues that we hope can be clarified and debated through the international platform that Anarkismo provides.

What is the current focus/activity of the group?

As we aim to understand more concretely the present situation and how we relate to it as a movement, our focus – as an association – is to collate our investigations, ideas and analysis into a series of articles. We are currently working on two series, one of which is entitled the “Class Composition Series” and the other the “Regroupment Series”. We see this process as very much a practical one. We want to work out what activity is necessary and how best we implement that activity to achieve agreed objectives.

Within the process of Regroupment we are also aiming to participate in movement-wide public discussions with our sister Regroupment organisation Plan C. Our first talk will be at the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday, 23rd June. There we will discuss how we have felt the need to develop these Regroupment currents and how we see ourselves moving forward.

Your membership criteria has been criticised as being “hierarchical”. Why have you chosen to structure things in this way?

The first thing we have to make clear to people is that we are not a membership organisation per se. We do not seek to build membership as other groups do, making their membership criteria extremely simple, to the detriment of political stability. We don’t have the aim of getting as many people as possible to join us, and do not consider ourselves a big tent. We do not accept that people with varying degrees of agreement on core principles and values can become members without there being any concern for the theoretical and tactical integrity of the organisation. This is why we take potential membership seriously and why we have structured the process in the way that we have.

Our aim in terms of membership is to build a base of anarchist communist militants and organisers who share full agreement on theory and tactics and who can equitably contribute in both time and ideas to the association. We recognise that people are at varying and different levels in both knowledge and time and therefore, to safeguard the integrity of the organisation (in terms of theory and function), we have chosen to use a system of membership whereby we can ensure that militants are empowering themselves and the organisation through their activity. This structure allows us to address openly the individual needs of members, especially in terms of their relationship to the organisation and the theory we are trying to build. Having an associate membership period is the most accountable way to achieve this. Some may see this as a hierarchy of membership, but if that’s the case then it is our view that the concept of “hierarchy” is being misused. No-one in Collective Action has any authority over anyone else; no power relationship is being replicated by having full members and associate members – it is a voluntary, equitable and accountable process.

Recent years have seen the emergence of new forms of politics and political protest, such as the mobilizations around the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement; how does what CA is doing relate to that?

These issues are of interest to all revolutionaries at this point. In the past few years, on a global scale, we've seen an explosion in social unrest. In many ways these new forms of protest (although how practically new they are could be open to debate) sets the stage for the Regroupment process. Are our existing models of intervention sufficient? Are we organised along the right lines under the correct terms? Are we using all the opportunities available to us? Etc., etc. In respect to many of these, we felt the anarchist movement in the UK was lacking clear answers. This was a sentiment shared by a project emerging independently but at a very similar time to ours – "Plan C". At present we are both still working on our ideas (although we consider ourselves to be on fraternal terms with the network) so wouldn't want to make many substantive statements on this. However, we think that on a broader level it shows that this process of questioning and self-criticism is both required and emerging.

Anarkismo.net Editorial Group

Comments

Juan Conatz

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 15, 2012

So is 'anarchist communist' a way some platformist-esque groups attempt to avoid using that term? I've noticed this...

I guess some of my questions would be...these platformist/especifismo/Anarkismo groups always talk a lot about organization. Indeed, the reason that most of us even know they exist is because this is the vast majority of their written output. But what to they actually do? At one time, I thought a lot of the South American groups, largely because they were a link to anarchism that wasn't based in Europe or North America, but I actually don't really know what they do. There's exceptions of course, WSM does a decent job of writing about what they're involved in and saying why, but a lot of these other groups just don't. I think it would be worth taking a page out of the IWW's book and writing about the process of learning and organizing (with real life examples). This is something I rarely see with the Anarkismo type groups and I think its fair to call the question because of all the 'its time to actually do something' type statements I see from these groups.

Also, with all the talk of being 'more organized', my experience in this milieu is that these groups are more like informal networks at best and rarely live up to their talk about organization. Actually, coming out of the more common anarchisty circles in the US, I was shocked about this. In some cases, the primitivists/insurrectionaries/whatever are vastly more organized than the political organizations. Where they aren't, its pseudo-democratic centralist/Marxist-Leninist stuff like the FARJ's 'concentric circles' or L&S as I understand them (which I'm not always against every aspect of this, but have problems with regardless). In other ways, I don't understand the difference between them and informal readings groups or writing groups.

klas batalo

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on June 15, 2012

FARJ: We act in the social movements through our fronts. The Urban Social Movements Front acts principally in the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Desempregados - Pela Base (Unemployed Workers Movement - from the Grassroots), which is a movement composed of the unemployed, under-employed and all those that suffer the consequences of the capitalist mode of organisation in some way. The MTD-RJ Pela Base organises around the needs of the communities and neighbourhoods in which it is inserted. Actually we can count some nuclei, in their majority inserted in favelas (townships/ shanty towns) and periphery communities in Rio de Janeiro. In the nucleus of Monkey’s Complex (Complexo dos Macacos - a favela in Rio de Janeiro) we work, essentially, with popular education; we are involved in the organisation of a pre-vestibular, which is a course made for students who cannot pay the high costs of private courses to enable them to prepare for the entrance exams for state universities. This nucleus, which is located inside the Centre of Social Culture (Centro de Cultura Social), also does the work of reusing clothes and scraps, which is organised by a comrade that used to live in an occupation that was an MTD-RJ nucleus and was evicted about one and a half years ago. The nucleus from the Penha complex works primarily with the cultural question, specifically hip-hop. There are other pre-vestibulars located in the Maré complex, in which members of the MTD-RJ Pela Base are involved working as teachers. And, outside of the city of Rio de Janeiro, we have a nucleus in the city of Petrópolis, a highlands region of the state of Rio de Janeiro; this nucleus is working with the question of transport and with that of informal work. There are many things to be done, the nuclei are being consolidated. The most important is that the MTD-RJ Pela Base manages to group together diverse comrades, whose principal horizon is anti-capitalism and the organisation of movements always from the grassroots, searching for complete autonomy from governments, parties and companies.

To a lessor degree, the Urban Social Movements Front also acts in the Academic Centre of History (Centro Acadêmico de História) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, by means of a student comrade. To create a relationship between the student movement and the popular movements seems indispensable to any project of social transformation, although we know that is is not easy work.

Our Community Front is responsible for the organisation of the Centro de Cultura Social (CCS-RJ), which is located in the neighbourhood of Vila Isabel and primarily takes care of the community of Morro dos Macacos. Inside the CCS there are various groups and projects. Literature and cinema workshops with the children and adolescents from Morro dos Macacos, a pre-vestibular as mentioned above, which is the joint work of three groups (MTD-RJ Pela Base, CCS and Luz do Sol), environmental education and material recycling/reuse workshops, sale of used clothes at popular prices for the community, computer science courses and, at last, the Fabio Luz Social Library (Biblioteca Social Fábio Luz).

Actually we are working as teachers and supporters in the space’s pre-vestibular, which serves primarily the surrounding community, in the organisation of the Fabio Luz Social Library (that has an archive that goes from anarchism to literature, philosophy and scholarly books) and in the literature and cinema workshops with the youth of the community. The Marques da Costa Research Nucleus (Núcleo de Pesquisas Marques da Costa) also works in the CCS, and is responsible for producing articles and research about the history of the labour and anarchist movements in Rio de Janeiro, where we also edit a newsletter called 'Emecé', uniting similar researchers. The primary function of the CCS is not just to become a reference for the social movements of Rio de Janeiro, but to open the doors to autonomous initiatives and contribute to the political and social training of the community around it. The CCS is modestly fulfilling these objectives.

Our last and most recent front, called Anarchism and Nature, or agro-ecology, was created from specific work developed primarily in Seropédica (a rural city of Rio de Janeiro) and in Baixada Fluminense, and from the work of those militants in the Germinal Health and Food Nucleus (Núcleo de Saúde e Alimentação Germinal), which for a few years organised activities in the Social Culture Centre (CCS-RJ), also supporting community activities linked to the homeless and urban farmers movement.

What started with the involvement of our militants in agro-ecological groups from the region (Ecological Agriculture Group - GAE and Association of Autonomous Producers from the City and the Fields - APAC), resulted in the involvement of the front in encampments of the MST (Landless Peoples Movement - Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) and with small farmers from the region. The front also integrates, by means of the movements in which it is inserted, the Articulation of Rio de Janeiro Agroecology (Articulação de Agroecologia do Rio de janeiro - AARJ), which is a network of diverse rural social groups and movements from the state of Rio de Janeiro that struggle primarily against the expansion of agribusiness, of transgenetics and for the strengthening of agro-ecological initiatives. We understand that agro-ecology can only become an alternative to break with capitalism, when connected to movements that struggle for land and for the control of production in the fields from the perspective of direct action.

and...

- T.L.: In what projects is the Occupations Front involved and what are its activities?

FARJ: This front is involved in working with urban occupations, which in Brazil have a character a little different from other places in the world. Here the occupations are made by poor people, who are suffering from police violence and/or drug trafficking in the slums or are even living under bridges and on the street, a situation very common in the major Brazilian centers. Families that do not have a place to live end up occupying spaces that are not being used, giving them a social purpose. Today, this front works with five urban occupations, the result of work that has existed since 2003 - in a more organised way and as front of the organisation - since we already had experience working in urban occupations by the end of the 1990s. We were organising within the Internationalist Front of the Homeless (Frente Internacionalista dos Sem Teto - FIST), which we create with other companions and which came to have 11 occupations. However, we recently left FIST and we are now working directly (FARJ-occupation) with those occupations that were more receptive to libertarian ideas and practices. We gained a lot of recognition in this work, both as occupations and as social movements in Rio de Janeiro. For this work, we have a daily involvement in the occupations (some of them have/ had militants of the organisation who are residents); we work with assistance on the part of organisation; and, in assemblies, we encourage self-organisation, direct action, direct democracy, etc. We also seek to connect the occupations with the other social movements in Rio de Janeiro. We have relations with the Popular Council (co-ordination of social movements); participated in the 2007 occupation of the National Petroleum Agency (Agência Nacional do Petróleo - ANP) with other social movements and we have militants in contact with the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST), including one of them giving training courses in the Florestan Fernandes school (in São Paulo state) and also here in Rio de Janeiro. To meet an important demand, we headed a "transversal" project, in which all fronts operated, called the Popular University. This proposal is deployed, in fact, as an initiative of anti-capitalist popular education focused on the transformation of society, having as a tactic political training within the popular movements.

- T.L.: And the Community Front?

FARJ: It is responsible for the management of our Fabio Luz Social Library (BSFL), which has existed since 2001 and has more than 1000 books on anarchism and many others of varied themes. There is a very large archive of contemporary anarchist publications from around the world. This front is also responsible for the management of the Centre of Social Culture of Rio de Janeiro (RJ-CCS), an open social space that we maintain in the area north of the city and that hosts a number of activities: recycling work that is done by a companion that produces chairs, sofas, objects of art, etc. with objects collected from the garbage; strengthening education and preparation for entry into university, done for needy youngsters in the community of the Morro dos Mocacos, theatre workshops, cultural events, celebrations and meetings of various kinds. Under the BSFL functions the Marques da Costa Research Nucleus (Núcleo de Pesquisa Marques da Costa - NPMC) that, founded in 2004, aims to produce theory for the organisation in addition to researching the history of anarchism in Rio de Janeiro. We also have a "public body" that is CELIP, which is not very active at the moment, but that is intended to hold lectures and discussions to bring new interest to anarchism.

- T.L.: I know that the Agro-ecological Front is new, but could you talk a little bit about your activities?

FARJ: Our latest front was formed from the Germinal Center for Food and Health, established in 2005. Germinal is a self-run group, concerned with issues of food and ecology, which aims to support existing experiences of agriculture and stimulate the emergence of new ones, always from a libertarian perspective. To do so, it structures itself around the area Ay Carmela! and the Pedagogical Workshops, acting in the consolidation and rescue of agriculture, agro-ecology, social ecology, eco-literacy and economic solidarity, focusing these on workers, militants of the social movements and students. It also organises vegetarian lunches (Almoços Dançantes Vegetarianos), which occur periodically at the CCS-RJ. Constituting itself as our third front, it now seeks to define its activities of priority, areas of insertion etc. We hope to have new and good results with the creation of this new front.

- T.L.: Are there any projects of FARJ itself which do not relate specifically to any front?

FARJ: There are issues that concern the whole organisation, such as publications. We edit the journal Libera; the magazine Protesta! (together with our companions of Terra Livre Anarchist Collective from Sao Paulo) and books like Social Anarchism by Frank Mintz, Anarchism Today by the Rhone-Alps Regional Union and Ricardo Flores Magón by Diego Abad de Santillán. We are doing the internal work of theoretical leveling and preparation of militants with regard to training. We are also reworking our external relations. Finally, there are many things.

klas batalo

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on June 15, 2012

machine Translation

Community Front

Our oldest front of struggle began with the insertion of contact and several companions worked in a space where the old Bahia Charitable Association in Vila Isabel, north of Rio de Janeiro. Even before the founding of the FARJ, we began our work in this space with the realization of a longtime dream of anarchists Rio. The Fabio Luz Social Library, founded in November 18, 2001, was the first libertarian space of the city from closing the dictatorship of the Center for Studies Professor. José Oiticica (CEPJO) in 1968. His name is a tribute to former anarchist militant Fabio Luz, who in the early twentieth century was a member of this ancient association. Quickly, our library has become a place of assemblage of libertarians and a pole of study and reading of classic anarchist.
In 2003, with the expansion of our work and space management, the former gave rise to the Bahia Association of Social Culture Centre (CCS-RJ). He settled definitely a self-management project under the Community bases housing a variety of other projects and groups (not necessarily libertarian, as the Sunshine Group that develops educational activities in space today), with activities such as a pre-university community, computer course, literacy and school children and recycling activities.
During this period, the approach with the community was intensified to the point of effectively participating in a project manufacturing cookies that had space. This project had the participation of some adolescents, residents of Morro dos Macacos, the next space. Our work on the project was to encourage self-management by the participants. They were made debriefings and evaluation, where young people discuss problems and issues related to the dynamics of work, something that had not before, because all decisions were taken by the former administrator of the space. In this new phase were the young men who coordinated their schedules and administration of money and supplies. All proceeds were divided equally among its participants and cookies became famous both in and around the neighborhood in unions and activities where we we took.
The Fabio Luz Social Library has expanded to the point of using more than one room, and increase the collection for books on literature, philosophy, history and other titles that are of general interest. It also provided the framework that was lacking for the emergence of the Research Marques da Costa (NPMC), as well as the overhaul of the CIRA-Brazil, an international research center on anarchism that had no representative in the country since 1968, when the CIRA-Brazil was first closed by the military government.
The NPMC, part of our community front, is responsible for search and rescue in the history of the labor movement and the anarchist movement in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and organize events and seminars related to this subject. Publishes a bimonthly newsletter with articles Emecé recover our history, being sent to groups and individuals from all over Brazil and around the world.
Another important project in CCS-RJ is the recycling, developed by Birimbau partner, who maintain their active workshop for several years, offering courses for children and adults who attend our space, and holding annual exhibitions to exhibit the work produced.
It was also in the soil of CCS-RJ that the installation of a book distributor in 2008 had its libertarian environment for "germination." The Cooperative Spark distribution of books is a group seated under cooperative manner. Besides the distribution of books from various publishers libertarian, generates income for unemployed workers who compose it, is of fundamental importance in the dissemination of our ideas, distributing books throughout the Brazilian territory and having a significant collection libertarian.
Our Community Front is responsible for managing the space of CCS-RJ, creating, promoting and encouraging community projects. In this excerpt from the folder of CCS-RJ can understand your objectives and functions:
"The Center for Cultural Social (CCS-RJ) works in Vila Isabel, Rio de Janeiro and mainly serves the community surrounding the Hill of the Monkeys, in the same neighborhood, providing an important community work that aims to develop projects based on the values ​​and mutual support in self-management, social autonomy, sowing solidarity among its participants.
Comprised of volunteers and employees, CCS-RJ has no link with political parties or companies, and operates autonomously and independently, relying on the will and resources of workers who attend and the income generated by the projects compose it. "
Currently the CCS-RJ has a number of projects and activities that serve the children of workers and community workers and the neighborhood where it is located. These are mostly totally free or have minimal maintenance fees.
Community beyond this horizon, the CCS-RJ is an open space for social movements. In our activities, we add various groups and work. Participate to a greater or lesser degree of space, groups of unemployed, homeless, students, environmentalists, small farmers and working men and women in general.
It is during the social gatherings and collective effort for maintenance and development of space, as in state fairs, lunches in agroecological dancing, joint efforts in cleaning and in daily contact, which strengthened our class identity and social autonomy that we seek to cultivate.
In local operation, we hope to contribute to the global revolution. Following faithfully epípeto "Revolutionize everyday cotidianizar revolution", playing on our activities we soaked the libertarian spirit and the horizon, that both nurtures and gives form to our dreams as fair.
* Center of Social Culture of Rio de Janeiro
* Fabio Luz Social Library
* Research Center of Costa Marques (visit site )

...

Front of Urban Social Movements

With that same goal of seeking social integration in places where the contradictions of capitalism are stronger and also trying to restore the social vector lost by anarchists, we still in 2003, we contacted some urban occupations by motion made homeless in Rio . The first of these occupations that had contact Vila was the occupation of the Conquest. Sometimes visited the site and identified the possibility of developing an interesting work there, mainly out of frustration of residents in relation to party politics, the result of previous experiences without much success. The occupation of the Conquest Village is located in the neighborhood of Curicica, west of Rio de Janeiro, and has 80 families. Just next to the Town of Conquest is the occupation Nelson Faria Marine, who joined the first, merged, going to organize together. As the occupation Nelson Faria Marine has 80 other families, the "complex" of the two occupations has around 160 families who have won in court the ground in a lawsuit against the City Hall, still in 2005.
From the junction between the work which had begun with the occupation Vila da Conquista and the work that was happening, the activities with the occupations began to evolve.
At this point, the contacts with a former lawyer who worked for years with the social movement and had already had experience with militant anarchists - enable a more articulated, with a legal, point to what the future foundation of the Internationalist Front Homeless (FIST).
Started working with the occupation Benário Olga, also in the west of the city in the neighborhood of Campo Grande, 100 households, and also with the occupation Alves, located in São Gonçalo, with 10 families.
Then we started working with the occupation (since evicted), Poet Xynayba in Tijuca. Upon discharge, the occupation was about 40 families, with the vast majority of the occupants had arrived in the last three years, including two militants FARJ, a future militant and also for some time one of our support that performs work with recycling, known as Birimbau. The process responsible for the eviction was aware of the eviction of only five houses, and the village has 40. One resident reported "The village comprises 40 houses, one of the community center, with over 40 families, full of children and the elderly. The choke was great, but resisted. "In a coordinated action between the power" public ", police and family Pareto, on April 3, 2007, in the early morning, the police arrived and the family owners for the vacancy, even against court ruling that had granted an injunction against the eviction of all households in the village. There was resistance from residents and also according to the report of residents: "The police tried to shut the gate, but barramos. Now began the rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper gas. A hook of a tractor overturn the gate, but we were able to handle. Police tried to enter from the sides, but we push. "After that there was a negotiation of the police who set out to accomplish what he said the warrant and enter only to vacate the five open houses ... When the police entered and vacated, in addition to five homes, all other threatening all residents with firearms, "began the section of the foot in the door in his face and arms." Although lawyers have obtained a preliminary injunction FIST 12.30, did not stop the eviction, and the judge, who had given the injunction, an hour later suspended. The eviction took place and the residents had to seek asylum in other occupations, among them the Confederation Tamoios. It is the sad story of a resident who lived there for over two years, when he wrote: "Henceforward, the crying and the tears in contaminated quite. I, who lived nearly two years ago, has felt the weight of irreparable violence and impending loss. " Lamented for what happened, "the memories of our parties, the effort to build the community center, the friendship of neighbors and especially the love that I had children there, very hurt."
Let's go back to 2005. This year, two other anarchist groups have shown interest in social work in occupations, and is now the Libertarian Activist Collective of Volunteer Studies (CLAVE) and Libertarian Action Group (LAG) form, together with us to coordinate anarchist social work occupations. This "front insert" call would Coordination of Anarchist Groups (CGA), an outline of what the future would be ahead of the FARJ occupations, because, with the future dissolution of the groups mentioned, some of its members would integrate our organization .
In the same year of 2005 we founded FIST, who graduated from a tripod consisting of FARJ, without the League of Communists Party (LCSP) and the occupations already held a joint work: Town of Conquest / Nelson Faria Marine, Olga Benário , Alves and Poet Xynayba. At that time, FIST was defined "as a social-political movement, dedicated to the mutual support between the occupations of homeless in Rio de Janeiro, denounced the bourgeois estate holding and organizing resistance against any kind of exploitation and oppression, arising the capitalist system. "
Chosen also based on horizontal, direct action, social and political autonomy, collective responsibility, classism, mutual support, internationalism with a view to the defense of a society and federated self-governing. These basic principles have been established so that it could be the battle front, and from it, mobilizations, aimed primarily solidarity and mutual support, all with the goal of enhancing organizational outcomes from the front.
During the time we were in the FIST, defended the view that its main function should be to articulate the occupations to strengthen the bonds of solidarity, spreading the concept of social freedom Bakuninist. The fight is thought to be a collective manner, seeking this freedom conference.
We also encourage the association, aiming to increase social force in the fight, as we believe, linked by ties of brotherhood and mutual support occupations have much more strength to fight against their oppressors.
The legal advice given by the LCSP to occupations, has always had a fundamental place. Without legal support, any work with the occupation would be much more difficult, however, our position, while we were inside the FIST has always been that the legal support, as well as short-term gains should not overlap the political work, returned to long-term goals. Since the founding of FIST, we always care to sustain a political discussion, releasing the short-term objectives, which are naturally brought the movement to demand, which means defending the view that the social movement is not just for yourself and is necessary to defend a long-term political project that goes beyond the immediate achievements.
Our contact with the occupations always occurs in both directions. The first, when their own occupations are aware of our work and call us to know them, as with a previous interest in establishing a working relationship. The second, when the very FARJ demand occupations, offering sympathy and support in the fight. So at the time worked FIST and works well today. Whether the demand or occupancy is sought at first contact with presents and discusses the principles and collective form of work, coming to terms with the occupants. With that, the fight together can be initiated. From this first moment, the occupations are encouraged to establish regular meetings horizontal.
Our work in occupations occurs primarily in the articulation work to fight, help in time to get the unions resources, monitoring the activities of the occupations, participation in general meetings, and often taking part in their day-to-day and as appearing at times of celebrations, parties. Moreover, we develop educational activities and / or play with the locals. There have been various projects as the work of gardens, quoted above, recycling, walking with children, films, among others.
Another important experience, even in 2005, happened when we decided that participaríamos actively in the creation of an urban occupation. This experiment, reported in some detail in the article "A Short Reading Occupation 'Quilombo of Warriors." Always with major presence of members of FARJ of LAG CLAVE and, together with LCSP.
The occupation took place at dawn on 13 to November 14, 2005, between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. in the morning, and survived, despite heavy police repression, until the next evening, when he was forcibly evicted. The arrest of lawyer FIST contribute to the failure of the occupation, plus the great repression that followed. We conclude the article with a reflection on what happened:
"In the tactical and the FARJ FIST were aimed, by participating in this occupation, not only establish, by a violent action against the property, an enclave of social justice, albeit within the broader context of inequality we are experiencing. The activists of these organizations believed that it was an important step toward a more consistent policy of support groups, not excepting where the establishment of family ties and trust, with a view to unity in the fight. "
In 2006, begins the work with the residents of four houses the Benjamin Constant Institute situated in Urca, south of the Rio In the same year, the activities begin with the occupation Domingos Passos, who has a name that pays homage to this great militant Brazilian anarchist - called "The Brazilian Bakunin" by our peers. The occupation is located in the neighborhood of Sampaio, in the north of the city and has 24 families. The next occupation to have contact with us was the Confederation of Tamoios (recently dumped), located in Largo's Apothecary, a prime area of ​​the southern area of ​​the city, in Cosme Velho district, and 22 families who had lived in an old mansion of the owner of Mail Morning. All of these occupations were integrated into the FIST, as in mid-2007, Alipio de Freitas occupation, which is next to the old DOPS, in the city center, with approximately 40 families, Lima Barreto occupation, better known as House of Artists (Art Reference Center Street) - which have also recently been dumped - located at Rua Marrecas in Lapa, which had about 15 people, the occupation José Oiticica, also honoring this great anarchistic Rio, which is in the center and has 20 families. Honoring the former Poet Xynayba occupation comes the Poet Xynayba II, Flag Square and six families, with only three participating FIST. It is also a member of FIST, even today, the occupation Flavio Bertoluzzi of Teresopolis, which has won maintaining possession of the site.
However, not all flowers. Like any social work, there are a number of problems that complicate the activities and goals of FARJ, but we struggle day to day against all of them, such as drug trafficking and militias.
Likewise Work involvement with the churches, which diminish the will and try to harness the social movement to charismatic leaders or politicians, putting people in a position of subservience. Also the parties 'left', which at all times close to equip social movements. Not to mention the repression itself and the constant threats suffered by the occupants. For one of our members
"It is essential that residents are aware of their role as social fighters and not mere citizens on the margins of capitalism and seeking to integrate, and therefore must reject everything that weakens the fight, drug trafficking, and authoritarian parties church are in it. Another factor that hinders the activities is the authoritarian logic that most people carries within itself, reproducing attitudes in their daily living. The role of the anarchist organization is precisely these outbreaks of fighting authoritarianism and show another form of social organization is possible. It is natural that in social work this will happen and you should not use this argument to escape the fighting. "
The FIST published five issues of the journal Space Occupations, aiming to "enlighten and inform individuals interested in the struggle of the homeless." How often these people do not have information on the squatting movement in Rio, the space of Occupations has established itself as a vehicle of such a movement, also with the "goal of making it a vehicle for internal communication of all occupations make up the FIST. "
As already mentioned, there has always been a struggle within the fraternal FIST so it does not become simply a body of legal support and assistance of short-term social movements. For this reason, recently, FARJ separated from FIST, so he could continue the activities with the occupations, however, focus more political work, which is believed to be limited by how things were going in FIST . In an article entitled "Our Work and Occupations with the FIST" justify so our output:
"There has always been a struggle within the fraternal FIST so it does not become simply a body of legal support and assistance of short-term social movements. For us, it became increasingly clear that the role played by the LCSP within the FIST, attributing too much emphasis on its legal aspects, complicating our goals was to politicize the occupation, bring long-term vision, encourage solidarity and association to fight. For us, this emphasis on law supported the idea, constantly latent in social movements, only the value of short-term gains, rather than naturally respects revolutionary, anti-capitalist, seeing the movement as a means and not an end. The emphasis was on depoliticizing legal occupations, creating leaders "messianic" - since it was no longer a lawyer, but it was the only one capable of bringing the occupation to "redemption". Instead of providing educational experiences, showing that power is explored in the people, and not outside it, these conditions encouraged the opposite. Instead of we can exert our influence by example and fight shoulder to shoulder with the exploited, the strengthening of the legal position was being used to consolidate a controlling relationship, in which the "expert", was placed on the occupations , enjoying its privilege of knowing, and stimulating the subservience of the occupants. "
Today, the work somehow changed, relations with the occupations are given directly to the FARJ itself and not through the FIST. Moreover, the Front has expanded some of his work and joined the Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD For the current Base), whose central struggle takes place in the labor issue. The space formerly larger insert that was configured only in urban occupations, extends for some slums, whose political vacuum created by the absence of left-wing groups and opportunism have eroded political parties, allows the libertarian proposals can gain more strength in these spaces.
The oppression experienced before the dictatorship of capital, slaying workers generally poor and black in these realities, creates opportunities for self-organization of the inhabitants of these spaces and make anarchism a fighting tool that can give concrete answers to the capitalist barbarism.

...

Front Anarchism and Nature

Front Anarchism and Nature
The Front Anarchism and Nature was formed in late 2007 with the aim of strengthening, supporting and developing social movements with political work that seeks to intensify the class struggle around the agro-ecology, health, nutrition, ecology, labor, herbal medicine and libertarian education. This political action is the result of cumulative experiences of our members in the social struggles fought in the middle of the organization / the exploited / as, effectively, through participation in groups such as the GAE-UFRRJ Group (Ecological Agriculture), the GECA (Group Eco-Literacy) and CELIP (Circle of Ideal Peres Libertarian Studies), support for social movements linked the struggle for agrarian and urban reform, land and an agroecological food production, especially in the proposed Social Anarchism advocated by FARJ.
Our goal is to work these issues so that social movements will be self-sufficient in producing healthy foods, medicines and production inputs, and the social relations of production are established based on the principles of mutual support him, the Ecology , the classism, the self-management and federalism. We want to contribute to the formation of workers / those who opt for self-management as a model of social organization and production, together with the combative social movements, so they have a social revolution as the horizon and become an obstacle to any attempt to reform capitalism operated from their own / them. This is only possible in its fullness, destroying the capitalist society and planting libertarian socialism.
As militants Front Anarchism and Nature, we integrate the Center for Food and Health Germinal, created in 2005, and Workers Cooperative in Agroecology Floreal, organized since 2008. Through the Germinal and Floreal is performed to support social movements, specifically the Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD), the Occupations Movement and Urban Landless Movement (MST), seeking to strengthen the articulation of farmers / green known as the Joint Agroecology of Rio de Janeiro (AARJ). These are the spaces of social inclusion where we take the anarchist proposal to be discussed, considering them a fertile ground for the strengthening of relations between the mutual-support / the workers / as. We participate in public activities contrary to the development of agribusiness as the Alert Against the Green Desert and the Campaign for a Transgenic-Free Brazil and maintain relationships with Via Campesina, Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB ) and the Movement of Rural Women (MMC).
Our work is done in coordination with the other fronts of the organization through the implementation of educational policies and activities, along with rural and urban communities and rural social movements and the city. As examples, we cite the teaching of herbal medicine workshops, film shows and agroecological management of the kitchen made by CCS in Germinal Center (Centro de Cultura Social), and the conduct of training courses in agroecology and agroforestry involving the People's University Germinal Center and Cooperative Floreal, and also work to stimulate the urban gardens Occupations with the Homeless (Occupations Vila da Conquista, Poet Xynayba, April 16, among others).
Therefore, we sought to establish a counterpoint to conventional agriculture and bourgeois society. These same, that favor the exploitation of workers and the nature, concentration of land in the hands of the landowners, the dependence of the financial market and the market for natural resources, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides and the appropriation of popular historical knowledge and wealth natural. Seeking to strengthen social movements and their initiatives and raising the flag of Agroecology, followed in order to intensify the class struggle, strengthen grassroots organization and reap a society emancipated from exploitation of man and nature. Thus, we believe that we are accumulating practical, social power and knowledge not only for the FARJ and Social Anarchism, but especially to the emancipatory struggles of the exploited classes.
HEALTH AND ANARCHY AGROECOLOGY!

klas batalo

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on June 15, 2012

At least as practiced by the South American especifista groups, these are organizations of anarchist militants who are active on the mass and tendency level.

But you should already know that.

If revolutionary minority organizations in our time are political-economic and the social struggle is also political-economic, what does it matter that some organizations might be duping themselves that they are strictly political? Are they even? I know the MAS theory distinguishes between the revolutionary, intermediate, and popular level. Are not all levels engaged in political-economic/social struggle?

My organization says this about your question:

Common Struggle - Libertarian Communist Federation is an organization of revolutionaries coming from different movements of resistance who identify with the communist tradition within anarchism. The federation's activities are organized around theoretical development, anarchist propaganda, and intervention in the struggle of our class, be it autonomously or by direct involvement in social movements.

If a tree falls and there isn't a communique written about it on AnarchistNews.org or a workers' inquiry on Libcom.org, did it still fall?

Steven.

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 15, 2012

Thanks for posting this interview here.

As I said before, I wish Collective Action best of luck with their endeavours. However, the tone of some of the comments about looking at various theories and trying to come up with the right organising model seems to be similar to what L&S people were saying when they started. And to me it seems a bit based on a quite naive idea that if you just think about it hard enough and come up with the right ideas then somehow everything will fall into place and your organisation will be amazing.

However, I think the crux of the problem is that we are all groups of handfuls of people, who ultimately have almost zero influence in the wider class as a whole. So no matter how good our ideas are, ultimately we are just treading water much of the time…

Anyway, onto a more specific point, I meant to comment on this in the previous Collective Action post on here, but didn't get round to it:

for us, we are not sure whether it is even worth attempting, since the actual struggles that the anti-austerity movement is involved in are struggles for a minority, a privileged section of the working class, whose conditions do not speak to the marginalised majority, who in recent months have actually demonstrated a willingness to build a counter power – look at the August riots.

Now, this and the similar comment in the previous article quite angered me. In this case in particular that is more something worthy of the Daily Mail than supposedly revolutionary anarchist communists! (At least with respect to its comment on public sector workers, not the riots)

I shouldn't need to, but I will explain why:
- the biggest element of the anti-austerity struggles so far has been the public sector strikes over pensions
- 7 million people are in receipt of public sector pensions
- 20 million people are dependents on public sector pensions (i.e. in households which benefit from them)
- one key element of the strikes was against the change in uprating of pensions from RPI to the lower CPI
- this change affects all pensions, in the public sector, in the private sector and the state pension - i.e. it affects everyone
- even looking at just public sector workers, we are disproportionately female and part-time
- the average pension fund local government workers is just £4800 per year (around £3000 or less for women)
- calling people "privileged" who mostly earn well under an average wage is nonsensical
- comparing a struggle of a few million predominantly female workers of all ages and a few thousand mostly young male, unemployed workers isn't worthwhile
- and if you do make this comparison, it is ridiculous to call the latter more representative of the "marginalised majority".

From the type of comments Collective Action have made about the recent strikes it seems to me unlikely that any of them have actually been involved in them. I mean they can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but the type of talk here seems similar again to the L&S-style talk of class struggle as something you can try and organise like a game of Risk, where we can focus strategically on certain areas and try to win points or something. As opposed to the reality which is much more gritty and uncertain - that class struggle is everywhere and it is our role is to engage in it where it involves our daily lives.

the button

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by the button on June 15, 2012

Steven.

class struggle as something you can try and organise like a game of Risk, where we can focus strategically on certain areas and try to win points or something.

Quoted so I remember to nick it. :D

Serge Forward

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on June 15, 2012

Well put Steven. Meanwhile, CA have just lost Kamchatka and Yakutsk ;)

Collective Action

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Collective Action on June 15, 2012

Quoted from our response to Adam Ford.

"Our emphasis on the stratification of working life in this country comes exactly from this aim. It is an attempt to recognise the current nature of class composition and how to organise effectively around it. It’s necessary to actually define what it means to be losing and winning. What are these workers losing and what do they aim to win? In respect to public sector workers this particular section of the working class who, admittedly, have accelerated resistance against austerity, have done so in the context of defending their positions as non-precarious, contracted and pensioned workers, who simply wish to maintain those positions. They aim to win secure pensions, keep their jobs and their salaries. These defensive demands have seen the formation of traditional left and trade unionist campaigns to “win” or defend themselves, not against austerity per se, but simply against austerity within the public sector most affected. These campaigns have failed to generalise resistance or make it aggressive, because they have taken on a dynamic of focusing solely on public sector cuts rather than on austerity generally as a social problem for all workers. They have refused to take a more militant stance against these measures, relying on conciliatory models of protest despite the rhetoric of the Trade Unions Congress.

In our May Day statement we assert that, "ultimately the objective of an autonomous and self-organising workers’ movement is to build unity” (our later emphasis). However we also declare that, “such an aspiration ... should not lead us to ignore both the conservative and privileged nature of certain sections of the workers’ movement as significant barriers to this goal”. Our meaning is that building a genuinely inclusive struggle against austerity is about acknowledging difference and building unity through it.

The point is that unorganised, private-sector workers are a majority of the working class and represent the dominant experience of working life. This is while anti-cuts groups and especially trade unions are tailoring their activity to the defensive struggles of workers in the public sector. This isn't arguing for an exclusive approach to organising, but an acknowledgement of how sectoral and defensive struggles say very little to the majority of workers in this country. What is lacking is a theoretical investigation on how the anti-authoritarian/left libertarian movement fits within the framework established by anti-cuts group. At present the common practice appears merely to be handing out propaganda and attempting well intended but negligible interventions."

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 15, 2012

The point is that unorganised, private-sector workers are a majority of the working class and represent the dominant experience of working life. This is while anti-cuts groups and especially trade unions are tailoring their activity to the defensive struggles of workers in the public sector.

Couple of things to say here:

1) Protection of public services doesn't only affect the workers in those industries. Sure privatization will be shit for NHS workers, but you don't think it's also going to be shit for the 10s of millions of private sector workers who rely on it for their healthcare?

I don't want to be dramatic, but this privileged public sector trade unions v. no-unionized private sector workers really is sounding Daily Mail-ish. Not to mention that the two bounce off each other. Public sector workers are told their pensions have to switch to career average because that's what the private sector has. Then, the private sector turns around and says, 'well if the public sector can't afford final payment pension schemes, how can you expect us to'?

The divide between public and private and worker and user is much less stark than this analysis seems to suggest.

2) As anarchists who want to be practically involved with the class, we either organize struggles outside the trade unions/in the private sector (SF tries to do this on a small, winnable scale) or we support struggles as they come. (Probably worth noting here that, at least in London, SF was very active in supporting the private sector Sparks dispute.)

I think it would be fucking awesome if CA finds a way to catalyze mass struggles in the retail and service sector, for example. But in the absence of that, it makes sense that we're going to support struggles as they come up. That shouldn't be the end-all be-all of our activity (in fact, in SF we've had discussions about not letting ourselves get sucked up into trade union/leftist cycle of marches and one-day strikes), but in the absence of initiating our own struggles it seems a bit like sideline sniping to offer such a shallow criticism of anarchists being involved in supporting, ya know, the biggest strike in the past 70 years (albeit with all the trade union shortcomings that came with it).

3) I still think you're viewing anarchists as outsiders. I work in the public sector and I organized (with some success and the support of SF) outside of the trade union in my workplace. Really, regardless of our sector, anarchists shouldn't be focusing on 'interventions' but on our own, practical workplace activity.

plasmatelly

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on June 15, 2012

£20 says xmas.

MT

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MT on June 15, 2012

Really, regardless of our sector, anarchists shouldn't be focusing on 'interventions' but on our own, practical workplace activity.

perfectly said;) although i guess many anarchists would say you are wrong and should rather say "anarchosyndicalists" not "anarchists".

as for CA, i am curious what they will produce let's say a year from today. meaning an evaluation of their practical activities or something like that which would make a practical sense and allow me to really understand what they are about. because now i see words on internet and something like a debate circle. which can be a great start, but time will tell.

klas batalo

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on June 15, 2012

Can someone answer this for me:

What does a political-economic organization actually do, if in a struggle it is the worker committee or mass assembly or 'workmates council" open to all workers that is the organizing body and has political discussions?

And isn't the political-economic organization encouraging and participating within such bodies, an intervention? Or does all the organizing and discussion happen within the political-economic organization more like revolutionary syndicalism a la more traditional IWW?

we don't want SolFed to be an organ of struggle but an organ of agitation rooted in workplaces and communities

So it is more like unionen, fighting organization of consciously communist workers, who agitate for more open organs of struggle...but again that just sounds fairly agitational/interventionist...even if SolFed is doing good things like training their members and other militant workers, doing solnet like work, etc.

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 15, 2012

Sab, that might be a discussion for another thread and, I think, there's been a few other threads that have really hashed out the idea of what political-economic means, although I'm too lazy to look them up right now.

I guess the idea of political-economic comes from a rejection of the 'non' or apolitical syndicalism of, say, the IWW. The IWW claims to be a union for all workers to come together and use syndicalist method to fight for their economic interests. Political organisations, on the other hand, focus on agitation, education, and propaganda. In short, they organise politically.

Political-economic organisations (at least as SF envisions them) are workplace-based organisations with explicit anarchist politics. We hope to eventually build up SF workplace branches where all who join share SF's politics. This almost inevitably means it will not include the entire workforce. However, the revolutionary union will always attempt to build struggles that will be under the control of the entire workforce (excluding managers, snitches, etc) and SFers will always argue for the most militant line and push the struggle as far forward as possible.

There's also the SF model of workplace committees but, again, that's probably a whole 'nother thread.

klas batalo

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on June 16, 2012

SFers will always argue for the most militant line and push the struggle as far forward as possible.

Yeah I guess I just don't see how that is not intervention in either existing workplace committees, or towards ones initiated by SolFed.

It comes off more like a workplace focused political organization that does training, and that the actual economic struggle is carried out by the workplace committees (that include SolFed members).

Anyway yes, any further on this would be totally derailing.

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 16, 2012

Sab, I'm not totally sure I understand that post. Perhaps start a new thread if you want to discuss it further, comrade?

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 16, 2012

I'm snatching some time during work here so unfortunately can't give detailed responses to many of the comments. I would say I am a bit disappointed in the level of discourse. Steven and a few others makes some valid contributions, although ultimately I think not fair to our position, to the debate. We encourage this. The point-scoring and political sniping is not as welcome and I suggest the people doing this take some time to re-evaluate how they use their energies in respect to engaging with other revolutionaries.

Few points:

- the far-reaching nature of the attacks on public sector working conditions is a completely valid point. The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement. I disagree with Steven in this sense (as far as I understand his position). Yes our roles as militants is to intervene in class struggle where it affects us, but we are not really looking at this question in terms of a "where" but a "how". What methods and content of struggle is appropriate both to the existing class composition AND to develop a uniquely communist means of moving forward. The notion of simply taking a more militant approach to fights led by the TUC appears lacking in this respect (these are also struggles in which the TUC has already accepted it has lost). We may be small but I do think we can make a difference in this respect.

- It is in this sense that our thinking is strategic and programmatic. Admittedly our meaning could be misunderstood as our analysis is still under collective development. In the simplest sense we mean having a clear conception of why you are doing something, what resources you are able to expend on it and what you aim to get out of it. This is, of course, largely common sense and I only think it's a misplaced ideological hostility to what are considered "Marxist" methods but have in fact been central to anarchist praxis since the St. Imier International.

- finally I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce. In terms of the orientation and methods of anti-cuts groups it seems anarchists could have an impact in this respect. Organisation of these sectors would be a leap forward, and groups like the IWW have taken tentative steps in this direction, but speaking the right language would also be an important first step.

- we are an anti-capitalist movement. more than ever capitalism is being thrown into ideological crisis. This is alongside a complete deficit of alternatives. Neither Occupy nor the parliamentary alternatives emerging in Europe deliver credible responses. The anarchist tradition needs to make itself felt and known in this respect.

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 16, 2012

apols for the typos.

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 16, 2012

I'm sorry, but that post felt a lot like a strawman.

The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement...

I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce.

Who has made the argument in favor of "sectoral" struggles? Likewise, what anarchist believes the fight against austerity shouldn't "speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce"?

The impression I get is that because many anarchists are involved in public sector trade union disputes as both participants and supporters, that CA seems to believe that we share the priorities and analysis of the left and the trade unions. Even a cursory glance at the SF or the AFed website should put the belief to bed in about 30 seconds.

Give that critique to the trade unions or the Trots, fine. But AF propaganda on the uselessness of the trade unions, and, I'd hope, burgeoning SF practice should support your arguments, not be who you're directing them at.

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 16, 2012

Chilli Sauce

I'm sorry, but that post felt a lot like a strawman.

The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement...

I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce.

Who has made the argument in favor of "sectoral" struggles? Likewise, what anarchist believes the fight against austerity shouldn't "speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce"?

The impression I get is that because many anarchists are involved in public sector trade union disputes as both participants and supporters, that CA seems to believe that we share the priorities and analysis of the left and the trade unions. Even a cursory glance at the SF or the AFed website should put the belief to bed in about 30 seconds.

Give that critique to the trade unions or the Trots, fine. But AF propaganda on the uselessness of the trade unions, and, I'd hope, burgeoning SF practice should support your arguments, not be who you're directing them at.

It may be reflective of their perspective but not really their practice (I can't really make a complete judgement about Solfed here). This is one of the issues we highlight in terms of anarchists acting simply as propaganda outlets instead of taking steps towards substantive interventions/organisations within the class. How are these ideas made meaningful in the context of workers struggles? Where do they build and generalise? More importantly, how is this analysis meaningful in the context of anarchist activity?

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 16, 2012

You'll also notice that I said "accepting the logic" rather than "arguing for" sectoral struggles.

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 16, 2012

I'm gonna be honest, I don't think your response had a ton of substance. I know y'all's experience was with AF and, or course, you're not privy to the internal discussions within SF (of which I'm a member), but as I said earlier:

in SF we've had discussions about not letting ourselves get sucked up into trade union/leftist cycle of marches and one-day strikes

I think this is evidenced by the fact that all of our prop stresses:

(a) a structural critique of trade unionism and the need to move beyond it if we're going to succeed in beating the cuts

(b) argues for things like spreading the struggle as widely as possible by organising cross-union and with non-union workers and not crossing picket lines.

I'd also hope that our practice--things like Office Angels, the Hartley Dispute, the anti-workfare campaign, and our workplace organiser training program--shows that where we can, we are are consciously rejecting the trade union model of organisation in favour of supporting precarious workers using direct action and anarcho-syndicalist methods.

Sure, we have a long way to go. After all, it was only recently the organisation made the decision to consciously to move from a propaganda group to a workplace based organisation. We're still making that change and we're certainly not where we want to be yet.

We are, however, as far as I know, the largest anarchist organisation in the UK. If you're going to release a statement critiquing the existing UK anarchist movement (which in itself is fair enough) you ought to make sure you're totally aware of both the strategy and practice of one of the most prominent groups in the scene.

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 16, 2012

The other thing is that our prop doesn't only stress those ideas but that, where practicable, SFers implement them.

Now, obviously, we often can't shout about our activities in the workplace, but I can tell you that the workplace committee model advocated in the organiser training (a model that specifically rejects trade unionism, regardless of a recognised union or not) has been implemented in various degrees in various workplaces. This isn't just a theoretical thing.

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 16, 2012

This is all fair enough but we are an anarchist communist current, with specific criticisms of anarcho-syndicalism, speaking to other anarchist communist militants.

Your practice of syndicalism may be programmatic under the conditions we outline (again, as I say I'm in no position to judge) but I think the fundamental methodology we are applying is different. Solfed is applying its "programme" to the end of building an anarcho-syndicalist union. CA doesn't share that as a central goal.

jonthom

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jonthom on June 17, 2012

Juan Conatz

I guess some of my questions would be...these platformist/especifismo/Anarkismo groups always talk a lot about organization. Indeed, the reason that most of us even know they exist is because this is the vast majority of their written output. But what to they actually do? At one time, I thought a lot of the South American groups, largely because they were a link to anarchism that wasn't based in Europe or North America, but I actually don't really know what they do. There's exceptions of course, WSM does a decent job of writing about what they're involved in and saying why, but a lot of these other groups just don't. I think it would be worth taking a page out of the IWW's book and writing about the process of learning and organizing (with real life examples). This is something I rarely see with the Anarkismo type groups and I think its fair to call the question because of all the 'its time to actually do something' type statements I see from these groups.

I don't have a great deal to add but just to say, this really sums up a lot of my frustration with the platformist/especifismo/etc. strand of things. There seems to be a lot of material available on the necessity of organisation, the failings of disorganisation, and the ways in which we should organise - but comparatively little on what these groups actually do in practice and how they apply these models of organising in particular struggles. Which makes it very difficult - personally, anyway - to engage with.

Which is unfortunate, because some of the things I'm finding interesting at present - such as the recent formation of CAB in Brazil - seem to come from this tendency and at least on the surface I think there's a lot to be learned from them. But it's kinda tricky to do so without knowing what they actually do...

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 17, 2012

Solfed is applying its "programme" to the end of building an anarcho-syndicalist union. CA doesn't share that as a central goal.

What is your central goal? Is it workplace activity? And if it is, what do you hope to build in the workplace if not an anarchist union? Or is it just "interventions"? And if that's the case aren't you far more at the mercy of the trade unions/left for setting the agenda?

plasmatelly

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on June 17, 2012

CA wrote -

AFed make it clear in their literature that they do not support the organisation of mass, anarcho-syndicalist unions, seeing them as both impractical and open to co-option.

Actually they don't

Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism.

taken from point 7 of the aims and principals of the Afed http://www.afed.org.uk/aims.html
I've always found this as odd; a preference from some comrades for revolutionary/reformist syndicalism over anarcho-syndicalism. And yet, it says in the A's and P's syndicalist- potentially a world away from the anarchist militants inside an anarcho-syndicalsit union.

Steven.

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 17, 2012

Thanks to Collective Action people for responding to some of my points. I will attempt to address them here:
Collective Action

"Our emphasis on the stratification of working life in this country comes exactly from this aim. It is an attempt to recognise the current nature of class composition and how to organise effectively around it. It’s necessary to actually define what it means to be losing and winning. What are these workers losing and what do they aim to win? In respect to public sector workers this particular section of the working class who, admittedly, have accelerated resistance against austerity, have done so in the context of defending their positions as non-precarious, contracted and pensioned workers, who simply wish to maintain those positions.

on this point, I would say in some ways this is true, in some ways this could only be true, and in some ways it is inaccurate.

What I mean by this is that it is partly true. However, the working class globally is in a period of retreat. Therefore almost all working class struggles at the moment are defensive, and aimed at either protecting current terms and conditions, or more realistically slowing the rate of erosion of these conditions.

This cannot be a critique of a particular group of workers in this scenario, as of course people "make our own history but not in conditions of our choosing".

In terms of part of it being inaccurate, it's because it implies that the reason most public sector workers have been striking recently is in defence of their pensions. And I don't think this is true as a general point. I think for a large number of us, probably the majority, it was our way of fighting the government on austerity as a whole.

They aim to win secure pensions, keep their jobs and their salaries.

a minor quibble: we are not aiming to "win" secure pensions, but slow the rate at which our already-crap pensions are being eroded. With jobs, there have not been many successful struggles to defend jobs. And with salaries, across most of the public sector these have been heavily eroded in real terms by the pay freeze (by 13% over three years in local government) with no resistance from the unions at all for the most part.

Also, what you seem to be forgetting is that what most public sector workers do is provide free or heavily subsidised services to other working class people, particularly the most vulnerable. So when we defend ourselves by default we are also defending our service users.

These defensive demands have seen the formation of traditional left and trade unionist campaigns to “win” or defend themselves, not against austerity per se, but simply against austerity within the public sector most affected. These campaigns have failed to generalise resistance or make it aggressive, because they have taken on a dynamic of focusing solely on public sector cuts rather than on austerity generally as a social problem for all workers. They have refused to take a more militant stance against these measures, relying on conciliatory models of protest despite the rhetoric of the Trade Unions Congress.

with this point, I think I am becoming able to see where the hole in your understanding is.

You are talking about resistance to austerity, specifically in the public sector, as a homogenous phenomenon. Of course it is not. Where what is going on becomes clear is if you take a class approach. So there is a proletarian element to the resistance - for us workers it is in our interest to defeat austerity. However we are not in control of the struggle. The struggle is being led by our "representatives" in unions. Who do not have the same interests as us. Their interest is in maintaining their role in the negotiation of the sale of our labour power to capital.

So when you say the resistance has "failed" to "generalise" or be "aggressive" -which element of the "resistance" are you referring to here? Of course the unions do not want the struggle to be generalised or aggressive - because then it may get beyond their control, which would be a significant problem for them if their political arm, the Labour Party, gets elected in a couple of years and will then have to contend with us.

And as for us workers, yes we have been unable to generalise our struggle - but what this means is that the struggle has not been taken up elsewhere by other workers. And how can you criticise us for that? In terms of not being "aggressive", well I think many of us have been as "aggressive" as we can, however the large unions in particular have pretty much stitched up the pensions dispute and have derailed the possibility of serious further action, in local government and the NHS at least.

In our May Day statement we assert that, "ultimately the objective of an autonomous and self-organising workers’ movement is to build unity” (our later emphasis). However we also declare that, “such an aspiration ... should not lead us to ignore both the conservative and privileged nature of certain sections of the workers’ movement as significant barriers to this goal”. Our meaning is that building a genuinely inclusive struggle against austerity is about acknowledging difference and building unity through it.

yes, I remember that assertion, and disagreed with it then as well. Could you please explain what you mean by "conservative" and "privileged", which "sections of the workers' movement" you are referring to and how this is a "significant barrier" to workers' unity?

You seem to be firstly implying that you believe the Daily Mail bullshit about overpaid public sector workers, who are actually mostly low-paid women workers. And also you seem to be implying that if the few decent elements of public sector working conditions were eroded, and so this "privilege" was gone that this would help workers' unity. So that the "race to the bottom" would actually be a positive thing for workers. Is that what you are saying?

Your last sentence has some good buzzwords in it, but what does it actually mean, practically?

The point is that unorganised, private-sector workers are a majority of the working class and represent the dominant experience of working life. This is while anti-cuts groups and especially trade unions are tailoring their activity to the defensive struggles of workers in the public sector.

It seems almost tautological to criticise unions for focusing their activities on where their members are. Because what else are they going to do?

This isn't arguing for an exclusive approach to organising, but an acknowledgement of how sectoral and defensive struggles say very little to the majority of workers in this country.

again, calling public sector struggles "sectoral" seems a bit silly to me as the entire workforce are users of public services. Especially things like education, the NHS, etc. And like I said before, even the pensions dispute was about all workers especially in terms of the RPI/CPI uprating switch. Which the media completely ignored and which was used to divide public and private sector workers - a divide which you seem to be forwarding with your rhetoric.

But yes of course it's not an ideal situation for struggles to be divided and defensive. Of course it would be much better if we were all together going on the offensive for things like bigger pensions, higher wages, shorter working hours, etc etc. But we're not.

We can't say that we won't get involved with struggles which are actually ongoing, involving real workers, because they are not good enough. We have to get involved with struggles when they arise, and try to build links across different groups of workers, and try to evidence our common, collective interest.

You can't pass off unhappiness with the situation of the working class as meaningful critique. Especially when you get to talking about what practical solutions you actually propose:

What is lacking is a theoretical investigation on how the anti-authoritarian/left libertarian movement fits within the framework established by anti-cuts group. At present the common practice appears merely to be handing out propaganda and attempting well intended but negligible interventions."

I mean is looking inwards at your micro group and trying to run it better a better use of effort than actually trying to engage in working class struggles and make them more effective?

No matter how many Latin American anarchist groups strategies you follow, you will not change the fact that we are a tiny handful of people, and so any intervention we have into a struggle of hundreds of thousands or millions of workers will be almost negligible. I can understand you not being happy with this situation, but "reorganising" yourself and your three mates will not change it.

RedAndBlack

- the far-reaching nature of the attacks on public sector working conditions is a completely valid point. The question we want to raise, however, is if accepting the logic of sectoral struggles (it may be far-reaching but struggles here ultimately are this) is fitting to the development of an anarchist communist movement. I disagree with Steven in this sense (as far as I understand his position). Yes our roles as militants is to intervene in class struggle where it affects us, but we are not really looking at this question in terms of a "where" but a "how". What methods and content of struggle is appropriate both to the existing class composition AND to develop a uniquely communist means of moving forward. The notion of simply taking a more militant approach to fights led by the TUC appears lacking in this respect (these are also struggles in which the TUC has already accepted it has lost). We may be small but I do think we can make a difference in this respect.

again, I think here you are betraying your lack of class understanding. The TUC has not "lost" any struggles. The outcome of any of the struggles does not matter to the TUC. What matters to the TUC is it preserving its role as the official "representative" of the working class to capital.

And so the biggest TUC unions are recommending workers accept the cuts to our pensions, even though they are a huge erosion of our pay and conditions, and even though on November 30 we showed a willingness and a practical ability to fight. So here the employers are winning, the TUC can say that they won, and the only people who lose out are us, the workers.

As for "simply taking a more militant approach to fights led by the TUC": who is advocating that position? Certainly no one on libcom, or the AF or Solfed. We advocate anarchist communism, for starters!

It is in this sense that our thinking is strategic and programmatic. Admittedly our meaning here could be misunderstood as our analysis here is still under collective development. In the simplest sense here we mean having a clear conception of why you are doing something, what resources you are able to expend on it and what you aim to get out of it. This is, of course, largely common sense and I only think it's a misplaced ideological hostility to what are considered "Marxist" methods but have in fact been central to anarchist praxis since the St. Imier International.

if you do have practical strategic thinking I would be very happy to hear what you propose.

However, I do not think that banging on about the supposed "privileges" of mostly low-paid public sector workers constitutes this sort of strategic thinking…

- finally I think some people are misreading our analysis of salaried workers as hostile. This is not the case. The point we are making is that a generalised fightback against austerity cannot take these conditions for granted. It needs to speak to these workers as much as the increasingly precarious, non-salaried and non-unionised individuals who make up a bulk of the workforce. In terms of the orientation and methods of anti-cuts groups it seems anarchists could have an impact in this respect. Organisation of these sectors would be a leap forward, and groups like the IWW have taken tentative steps in this direction, but speaking the right language would also be an important first step.

TBH I think expecting tiny groups of a handful of people to be able to communicate to the whole working class, or present anti-austerity struggles at least to the mass of other workers is unrealistic. And I do not think that you guys will be able to do this any differently from anyone else. If in six months’ time you perceive that struggles against austerity are still "sectoral", and that many private sector workers still do not think they relate to them, does that mean that you will consider your organisation a failure in the same way that you consider AF and Solfed today?

(Again I would take some issues with your language here. For starters, public sector workers are also "increasingly precarious". And I don't think that non-salaried workers make up the bulk of the workforce at all - quite the opposite in fact.)

Sumthing

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Sumthing on June 17, 2012

I'll just like to make a few points as to how you're coming across to someone like me who may be interested in joining a group.

You sound like you want to begin some form vanguard. This may appeal to some who may seek a small group to converse with but I'm not completely sure why because...

You also sound like a thinktank. Or a government quango that's started up a consultation on "innovative advance strategies" and similar wooly concept which leads me on to...

'Regroupment.' I had trouble understanding what this exactly entailed by reading the interview but the discussion underneath the line has made it slightly clearer. I must say if your main point of difference from existing anarchist groups is to differentiate 'privileged' working class and precarious workers you are on weak ground.

In a time of increasing economic attacks on all members of the working class it is surely wrongheaded to sit thinking about which ones need to most help most or which is most underprivileged. This would be to ignore the number of Privileged workers who will soon be in the Precariat.

Also, it is surely a misrepresentation of many anti-austerity activist's position to say their focus on a particular workplace struggle precludes a recognition of Austerity's wider societal implications. It is those that involve themselves in these struggles who are surely more likely to understand the need for class wide action rather than those who would sit back forensically and try to gauge who is too privileged for support.

Moreover, how does one join a group that demands "tactical and theoretical integrity" when the group hasn't developed any discernibly original tactics and theory with which to agree on?

Like others on this thread I can only wish you the greatest success.

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 17, 2012

That was a post and half. Well put Steven.

Harrison

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Harrison on June 18, 2012

(this post is predominantly aimed at platformism in general - this interview is not as bad as some things i've read)

I respect the attempt by a group to really try and develop a powerful strategy that is drawn from experience and experimentation (even if i disagree with the eventual strategy developed), but i do think that at points the platformist lingo used is on the same sort of difficulty level as marxian lingo.

Except, from what i've read, platformist language is often used to say something quite simple in quite an obtuse way - at least marxian terminology is conveying something a bit more complicated.

I wonder if platformist language is rooted in poor translations (to english) of texts written in other languages? I remember someone mentioning that the obtuse language spoken by situationists was rooted in poor translations of intellectual French, so perhaps platformist obtusity has a similar origin?

As i said, i respect the attempt platformists make to strategise, its just i think the unnecessary language and phrasing gives a feel that there is a fetishisation of the strategisation process, which ends up making it more difficult to critically engage with the actual strategy itself...

(but then again, maybe i do the same with other forms of terminology but am blind to it)

steve y

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by steve y on June 18, 2012

I agree with Chilli Sauce, Steven's contributions above expose the total silliness of CA, even if he is far more polite with them than me. I will waste precious little of my time on people that seem to have little experience in class struggle, but are comfortable with abstract theorising - which probably says something the character about CA's few members.

One thing from the top of this thread is similarly exposing:

Our [CA] aim in terms of membership is to build a base of anarchist communist militants and organisers who share full agreement on theory and tactics and who can equitably contribute in both time and ideas to the association.

This was in response to criticism that you are a 'hierarchical organisation', which obviously you are.

Members need, "full agreement on theory and tactics", be able to "equitably contribute"!?! These concepts of 'associate' pre-membership are totally utopian and nothing to do with reality. If you think your few members are already that: then you are dreaming.

Earlier this year I joined both Solfed and Afed simultaneously - and I'm well impressed with both. And I know for certain there are far broader differences within both the London branches, than between the publications of the two groups. This is to be expected and quite fine. We grow together through experience.

Will CA ever show something practical they have done as CA, or will they achieve perfect theoretical unity first. And then lead the revolution!

for practical unity - stevey

Steven.

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 18, 2012

Just to clarify that I didn't say anything about the two tier membership, which I have no issue with (in fact, it is something which I had previously thought would be a good idea). However, it does seem a little strange to see you have very strict criteria regarding theory and practice, when from what you are saying it seems like you are trying to figure out the theory and practice at the moment, and haven't yet decided on it.

Steven.

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 18, 2012

Regarding criticising Collective Action on the basis of them being people who have little experience of struggle, but a lot to say about it, that is not something I have said myself, because I don't know if that is accurate or not. However, as I mentioned above in terms of their misunderstanding of the fight against austerity (i.e. that it is a cross class movement containing differing interests), I am curious as to what their positions are. Are any of them people who have been on strike recently, for example?

Collective Action

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Collective Action on June 18, 2012

Thank you to those who have raised some very interesting and legitimate points. Steve and Chili Sauce in particular. We would like to encourage others to do the same.

We are aiming to address, in more detail, the issues that have been raised. We will be writing a specific article critiquing the public sector struggles in the wider context of current class composition as part of our Class Composition Series. This will address, amongst other things, what we perceive to be misunderstandings of our analysis. We also aim to publish the first article in our Regroupment series soon, which takes the idea of the anarchist programme. It will deal more concretely with how we see our practice forming in the future.

Unfortunately, we have to also note our disappointment at some of the less engaged comments and posts, especially those that aim to belittle or undermine our members. Please remember that all of those members currently in CA have and continue to be militants in class struggle, nationally and in their locales, and some have been so for decades. We encourage lively debate and embrace legitimate and engaged criticism and as a Regroupment current we actively seek engagement from other anarchist communist militants, in what we consider to be a very practical process.

Thanks again to those who have taken the time to offer their considered thoughts and hopefully we can re-vist these discussions in the future. We would also like to invite any of you to our first public meeting, hosted by the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair this Saturday (More details: http://www.sheffieldbookfair.org.uk/). Here, one of our members, who is also a public sector worker, will be giving an introduction to Collective Action, as well as addressing some of our key points to date.

Solidarity,
Collective Action

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 18, 2012

CA (the poster), those comments are collective position of the group?

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 19, 2012

where posts are made as CA they represent the collective position of the group (i.e. texts have been circulated, discussed and approved).

Chilli Sauce

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 19, 2012

Thanks!

steve y

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by steve y on June 19, 2012

Theory & Practice

in response to me:

Steven.

Just to clarify that I didn't say anything about the two tier membership, which I have no issue with (in fact, it is something which I had previously thought would be a good idea). However, it does seem a little strange to see you have very strict criteria regarding theory and practice, when from what you are saying it seems like you are trying to figure out the theory and practice at the moment, and haven't yet decided on it.

I thought it was clear I support the things you wrote Steven, and then added my further separate comments of my own beyond that. Whatever, not important and I'm sorry about any confusion.

I wrote, quoting CA, "Members need, 'full agreement on theory and tactics', be able to 'equitably contribute'!?! These concepts of 'associate' pre-membership are totally utopian and nothing to do with reality."

I was not criticising 'associate' or two-tier membership, but the ideas of 'full agreement on theory and tactics' so CA members can 'equitably contribute'.

It seems CA is looking for programmatic and theoretical perfection first? Didn't someone once write, "From each according to their ability; to each according to their need"? There's nothing here about full agreement or equal contributions.

And then sarcastically (and I should not do this - slap wrist!) I finished off, "Will CA ever show something practical they have done as CA, or will they achieve perfect theoretical unity first. And then lead the revolution!"

The reason is that I have recently done a lot of research on 'theory and practice' and came to the conclusion that it is a hierarchical term to put theory before practice in that shorthand manner. It is a phrase that began with Marxists, not Marx, but then spread to some anarchists and then bourgeois society. Not that I used the term theory and practice in my first comment above.

What intrigues me is how you picked-up on that? Maybe too slow, too old, too few brain cells in me?

Perhaps shortly, after I put up a document 'Dynamics of chaos and order', I should set up a forum discussion precisely on 'Hierarchy of theory & practice', I would enjoy that. But this is not the place.

solid - stevey

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 19, 2012

Steven.

However, it does seem a little strange to see you have very strict criteria regarding theory and practice, when from what you are saying it seems like you are trying to figure out the theory and practice at the moment, and haven't yet decided on it.

The criteria for membership is the following:

1. Membership in Collective Action requires agreement to the principles and aims of the association and a level of commitment to its development.

Members are expected to:

i. Study, understand and agree to the principles and position papers of the association. Study and understand the reference texts of the association.

ii. Make a financial contribution to the association in the form of a monthly subscription (or give reasonable excuse why this is not possible).

iii. Participate in the national decision‐making forums of the association as far as
reasonably possible.

iv. Form and co‐ordinate circles where three or more Members and Supporters
are based in a locality.

v. Contribute in some form to the propaganda output of the association, whether this is administration of the blog, the production of articles, creation
of images or multimedia, maintenance of the website, etc.

vi. Distribute or research channels of distribution for the literature of the asssociation.

vii. Participate in the strategic orientation of the association both through activity on a local level and in the development of common approaches across the association (expressed through the decision‐making forums).

viii. Participate in the collective education and theoretical development of Members and Supporters.

the principles, position papers and reference texts form the basis of our political platform, they do not necessarily include all the theoretical output of the association (although these are produced with the aim of collective agreement) which follow from this. This is clear on our website.

steve y

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by steve y on June 20, 2012

RedAndBlack: those 8 points of CA criteria for membership are to 'Study, understand and agree to the principles and position papers of the association. Study and understand the reference texts of the association'(i).

They are about 'collective education and theoretical development' (viii); spreading the propaganda; writing articles, etc. This concept of theoretical agreement and spreading propaganda of the organisation is totally dominant in your criteria for membership.

You here change your concept in the article just above from requiring equitable contribution to requiring a 'level of commitment', which is much better.

Only in point vii does activity partially come into the question. This is woefully inadequate.

Come on: own up if you make a mistake; for it is only when you take chances, experiment in practice, embrace mistakes and chaos, when members are allowed the richness of experimental activities to do this - this is the key to the effective deep-learning process. A broad agreement and tolerance should be our watch-words.

CA reminds me too much of my too-long Trot experience of theoretical and programmatic fetishism - allowing no room for spontaneity and branch or individual freedom. "Stand by the line comrades!"

solid - stevey

ps - and I'm sure CA has quotes about freedom, autonomy, tolerance and spontaneity, that this is your position too. The hard task is to be able to simplify your whole position without having so many contradictory 'official' statements.

Dumfries

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dumfries on June 20, 2012

As communists, we practice the principle "from each according to ability, to each according to need." If you're familiar with this principle then you will understand that we mean each member gives what time they can (writing, debating, local/national activity etc), taking from the organisation what they need (support, political development, resources etc). This makes each member's "level of commitment" an "equitable contribution." In other words, the terms mean the same thing. A more than superficial reading of our politics would explain that.

On the point about theory and programme, as we have repeatedly explained, it is our opinion that there are systemic problems within the anarchist movement and therefore a process of Regroupment is necessary. The reductive view that we are re-engaging with theory and developing our understanding of a programmatic approach to class struggle because of some deep-seated hard-on for it (or fetishising), completely ignores the genuine criticisms that we are making, which is a very disappointing way to engage with what we're trying to do.

Ultimately, we believe that this process is not only healthy but vital for the development of a genuine counter-power. Now you can think that we don't need to do this - that it's not healthy or necessary - but then what would be useful is if you could explain why you think that...

Bluedog

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bluedog on June 20, 2012

CA (or CA members, whoever gets in first), this is from your website:

We do not hold to the anarcho-syndicalist model that it is necessary to dissolve anarchist ideas and practices entirely into the social arena. We argue that a specifist anarchist organisation is an essential point of continuity for the anarchist tradition as social struggles ebb and flow, and popular initiatives gain and lose influence.

What do you mean by 'dissol[ving] anarchist ideas and practices into the social arena'? And what do you mean by 'specifist' too? Im sure I could look it up but I'd like to hear it from your perspective.

steve y

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by steve y on June 20, 2012

Joe Roe

You remind of a politician interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight who repeatedly asks a simple question, and never gets a direct answer.

CA wrote at the beginning of this blog,
"Our aim in terms of membership is to build a base of anarchist communist militants and organisers who share full agreement on theory and tactics and who can equitably contribute in both time and ideas to the association."

I don't know what the term "who share full agreement" means now? And what does 'equitable contribution in both time and ideas' mean? These concepts completely contradict what you have just wrote.

You just wrote, "we mean each member gives what time they can" - which should be the case - which is completely at odds with your earlier statement.

Please CA, stop playing with words! I'm getting sick of shallow communication with CA unwillingness to give and take in discussion. You are always right!

stevey

Spikymike

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 20, 2012

I am skeptical about the chances of CA's approach adding anything particularly new or valuable to the efforts of other groups and individuals in the libcom milieu ( though I recognise that all such 'ideologically based' groups tend to have a limited useful life before they degenerate), but those of us outside of, but sympathetic to SolFed, and more particularly the AF from whence CA have emmerged, might get a better handle on the frustrations and concerns of CA if they were able (at some stage) to put some 'flesh on the bones'of their description of the ''liberal cultural attitude'' and ''lachadaisical attitude to organisation'' of AF as they claim to have experienced it, (especially as they place so much emphasis on organisational as opposed to other theoretical differences with their former host).
I could take a guess at what these descriptions refer to from my own knowledge but would prefer not to guess at this stage.

It is perhaps understandable that CA may be reluctant to do this in a desire to retain comradely relations but some honesty and transparency in such matters (whilst avoiding exageration and sectarian point scoring) is usually best in the long run.

As an aside I was curious to see CA's link up with Plan C in terms of a common interest in 'regroupment' as I suspect (especially given The Free Association's involvement with Plan C) that in terms of their respective approaches to organisation they might be at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Still it will be interesting to see where this goes.

Dumfries

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dumfries on June 20, 2012

Stevey, I think the first thing you need to do is calm down and stop taking a combative attitude. It's unnecessary and not helpful and it makes engaging with you unpleasant.

I apologise, but I don't understand the point you're trying to make. Your post seems very confusing. I'm not sure why you think those two terms contradict each other - before you said that the terms "equitable contribution" and "level of commitment" contradicted each other, so I'm at a loss to understand the point you're making. But if you think I am trying to be nefarious in my responses then I'm not really sure what else I can say...

I will try though: The term "share full agreement on theory and tactics" is self-explanatory, no? I'm not sure how much clearer we can be on that...

The term "equitably contribute in both time and ideas to the association" means to give a level of commitment that is based on the principle "from each according to ability." I.e. gives a level of commitment that they are able to in the pursuit of their role as a member. If the meaning of this is unclear, I'm not sure what else I can say...

As for these two terms contradicting each other, until you have explained in more detail what you mean by that, I can't really respond.

radicalgraffiti

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on June 20, 2012

Spikymike

I am skeptical about the chances of CA's approach adding anything particularly new or valuable to the efforts of other groups and individuals in the libcom milieu ( though I recognise that all such 'ideologically based' groups tend to have a limited useful life before they degenerate), but those of us outside of, but sympathetic to SolFed, and more particularly the AF from whence CA have emmerged, might get a better handle on the frustrations and concerns of CA if they were able (at some stage) to put some 'flesh on the bones'of their description of the ''liberal cultural attitude'' and ''lachadaisical attitude to organisation'' of AF as they claim to have experienced it, (especially as they place so much emphasis on organisational as opposed to other theoretical differences with their former host).

they refused to explain this when they where in afed, and claimed that what they said about liberalism had nothing to do with he formation of there faction.

radicalgraffiti

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on June 20, 2012

Joe Roe

The term "equitably contribute in both time and ideas to the association" means to give a level of commitment that is based on the principle "from each according to ability." I.e. gives a level of commitment that they are able to in the pursuit of their role as a member. If the meaning of this is unclear, I'm not sure what else I can say...

normally i'd expect "equitably contribute" to mean the people should contrabute equally not as they are able to, you seem to be using words differatnly to how everyoen else uses them and then complaining when they dont understand whet you are trying to say.

Dumfries

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dumfries on June 21, 2012

I see the misunderstanding.

What then is "equality"? Is it equitable for a single person who has three children and a full time job to give exactly the same level of commitment as a student without children or a job?

The principle "from each according to ability, to each according to need" means that people give what they can and take what they need - this is the principle of communist equality. In a society it's not "equitable" for everyone to do exactly the same and receive exactly the same, since each person has different abilities and different needs and therefore give different things and take different amounts. This is precisely what the principle "from each accordingly to ability, to each according to need" means.

I apologise if that wasn't clear, I made the assumption that people understood this principle. Perhaps we need to be more clear on this point?

Awesome Dude

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Awesome Dude on June 20, 2012

Can we please keep this comradely. I know some some of the CA comrades and have to say they are solid militants who have engaged in important diputes in their local areas. The question of communist regroupment is an important one at this unique generational moment of crisis. So can we please give these comrades the space to articulate their position.

Steven.

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 20, 2012

Yes Joe that principle sounds sensible enough - but as it has caused confusion it might be worth trying to make it a bit clearer.

Just a minor point about your use of the term "programmatic" especially if you are trying to get friendly with communisation types I would suggest picking a different term as this means something very different to them!

Battlescarred

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Battlescarred on June 20, 2012

On this thread we hear the shibboleth of a buzzword of "regroupment" quite a lot(sometimes with a capital R Regroupment) to make it sound more important. Can someone explain to me and everyone else what they mean by it?

Dumfries

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dumfries on June 20, 2012

Battlescarred

On this thread we hear the shibboleth of a buzzword of "regroupment" quite a lot(sometimes with a capital R Regroupment) to make it sound more important. Can someone explain to me and everyone else what they mean by it?

Well, I'd direct you to the interview, as well as our initial statement and our response to Adam Ford. If you don't think that we have explained what we mean by Regroupment enough in those documents, then perhaps you could be more specific on what you're unsure about?

ocelot

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on June 20, 2012

Well I'm glad we cleared up that equitable is neither a synonym nor a mispelling of equal/equality.

Perhaps next time people feel the urge to revive the Spanish Inquisition based on a particular sentence or form of words, taken in isolation, they might think to check they understand the meaning of those words properly first.

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 21, 2012

Bluedog

What do you mean by 'dissol[ving] anarchist ideas and practices into the social arena'? And what do you mean by 'specifist' too? Im sure I could look it up but I'd like to hear it from your perspective.

This is a question of historical and theoretical analysis that is best explained by the FARJ I think - http://anarkismo.net/article/21909

summarised as:

For us it is normal that the social level, represented at that time by unionism, has ebbs and flows, moments of ascent and descent; and the specific anarchist organisation serves precisely to accumulate the results of struggles and, sometimes, to seek out other spaces for work, other spaces for insertion. The problem is that, without anarchist organisations, when the social level – or a sector of it – enters into crisis, the anarchists are not able to find another space for social insertion.

Once the social vector was lost, and without specific organisations capable of sustaining an ideological struggle of longer duration, it was not possible for the anarchists to immediately find another space for insertion. [...] The prestige achieved through the entrance into trade unions very probably led them to believe that the potential of the class associations was inexhaustible, even superior to the changing circumstances.

Thus, the crisis in revolutionary syndicalism also took the social vector of the anarchists, who then started to “organise themselves into cultural groups and for the preservation of memory".

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 21, 2012

Steven.

Just a minor point about your use of the term "programmatic" especially if you are trying to get friendly with communisation types I would suggest picking a different term as this means something very different to them!

An article dealing with this topic is currently in production. We believe the term is still useful while rejecting the content associated with traditional Marxism/leftism.

Juan Conatz

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 21, 2012

It basically means that there's a time and a place for mass anarchist organizations and that it isn't now, and even if it was now, there's still a need for political organization. That's how I interpreted that.

The 'specifist' terminology comes from especifismo. I'm not trying to speak for CA at all, but something I helped write a while ago, I think gets into this in a decent way: http://libcom.org/library/specific-anarchist-group-wild-rose-collective

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 21, 2012

Tommy Ascaso

Juan Conatz

It basically means that there's a time and a place for mass anarchist organizations and that it isn't now, and even if it was now, there's still a need for political organization. That's how I interpreted that.

That would make sense but it isn't particularly clear, it isn't a fair criticism of contemporary anarcho-syndicalism either. While CA members were heavily involved in the discussions between AF and SF in the past, they don't seem to have touched on those in anything written as a new group which is a shame. Hopefully when we put out our new pamphlet they'll write a review.

The nuances of "minority unionism" is perhaps a topic for another discussion (maybe another article). Even so I don't think it negates our criticism of the revolutionary minority/social vector distinction outlined (in many ways it supports it). Either way it is clear from both our principles and our other pieces that we don't intend to write off anarcho-syndicalism, or syndicalism, as useful organising tools for revolutionaries. Am personally very interested in Solfed's prospective strategy document and would welcome the opportunity to review.

Harrison

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Harrison on June 22, 2012

good post, as an SF member i'd also be interested in reading a response from CA as well who've been real comradely and willing to engage in discussion. To be fair, i think from the outside of SF, it will be much easier to engage with SF on a theoretical level once the new pamphlet is out.

Spikymike

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 22, 2012

JC,

Might I suggest that the ability of revolutionary minorities ''to organise struggles'' is dependent on their size, location, practical organisational experience and political influence and the 'objective' conditions in which they find themselves.

Even if such minorities (not of course limited to just the current particular groups) were to grow far beyond current experience they would still be minorities in relation to a growing class movement of social dimensions.

It is not a question of ''waiting'' for things to happen or collective struggles being dependent on such
'ideologically' based minorities as are the contestants in debates on this site.

Don't set up false polarities.

I too look forward to the long awaited new SolFed pamphlet.

steve y

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by steve y on June 22, 2012

Apology
Cdes: I've just read through this thread again. I still retain that CA need to get their wording of things clearer and reject nothing of the content of what I wrote. Such certainty, bullishness and resistance to accepting even simple mistakes of ideas/wording cannot lead to a process of regroupment of libertarian revolutionaries - or of learning together.

However, I believe my style above, or the sarcastic comments at the end of each of my contributions were not contributing to the learning process either, rather a reaction to CA's own certainty, bullishness, etc.

Now the discussion is becoming clearer; that it is about the relation between total union/class struggle approaches belonging to the past, and the newer rapidly growing diversity of social struggles.

Recognising the growth of the service sector, feminist, ecological, anti-racist/fascist, anti-imperialist, social justice, information technology, etc; yet trying to grasp all this in the context of old language, practices, ideas; this is not easy, and we should all be perhaps less certain, more amiable to belonging to a joint learning process. Maybe even use a modern dictionary?

This general machoism does nothing to encourage women comrades to join in the process of libertarian revolutionary development - and I apologise for my role in this. And I do applaud libcom.org for tackling this in recent years, apparently it used to be really bad - though much work still has to be done in developing this new culture.

Due to other time-pressing writing I cannot contribute fruitfully on this thread at the moment.

solid - stevey

RedAndBlack

12 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 22, 2012

Tommy Ascaso

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by the revolutionary minority/social vector distinction (as I'm sure you're aware I can struggle with this kind of theory at times). Going off the social insertion wikipedia page does social vector mean anarchisms connection with social movements?

So are you arguing that a revolutionary minority should be active in social movements advocating anarchist ideas and tactics while trying to apply them yourselves? The main problem I have with this approach is that I see the role of the revolutionary minority as being to organise struggles rather than waiting for movements to appear, organised by other people.

Spikymike covers some of this in the above, but for me it's less an issue of the tasks of revolutionary minorities, it's more about the basis for unity and the conditions that give rise to each organisation (anarchist groups can be both tools for intervention as well as means of formenting specifically anti-authoritarian organisation within the parameters of the Bakuninist concept of organisational dualism).

The specifically (specifist) anarchist communist organisation is based on an ideational unity between the most advanced elements of the class. In this sense it aims to act as a point of continuity and resource for the development of either economic or political-economic struggles that will be subject to the mediations, ebbs and flows of class struggle. Mass revolutionary consciousness is generally "won" or "lost" through social struggle. The revolutionary minority aims to bypass this as a historical process through immediately representing the best lessons from the class and developing its strategies accordingly.

Now the FARJ talk about a relationship to "social movements", that has a specific contextual meaning that doesn't quite carry through for us in the UK. If you study their analysis, however, their meaning becomes a little clearer in the sense that a) they use this to denote the fact that it is organs of popular struggle - neighborhood assemblies, indigenous groups, workplace councils - which are the critical motor of social revolution to which revolutionary minorities are ultimately subordinate and b) that what they describe as "social movements" are generally forms of organisation that develop within the terms set by Capital, i.e. based on material interest or issues arising from the social contradictions produced by capitalism and the state. In respect to b) then the task of the specifist anarchist communist organisation is to move these struggles from their logic within Capital to a point where they aim to supercede it. Both in an immediate sense, e.g. promoting methods that pre-figure communisation - seizure of property, illegality, non-representation - and as a longer process. This could either be in thr form of intervention or more pro-active means of organisation, e.g. a union. If unsuccessful, e.g. the struggle becomes co-opted or simply smashed by the state apparatus, militants are drawn back to the specifist organisation to re-group, re-focus and theorise alternative strategies.

This is a simplified picture but I'm trying to provide the broadest outlines of the model.

plasmatelly

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on June 22, 2012

Discussing the finer points is all very well and good; but really! - 5 blokes and a dog forming a study group is not the storming of the Bastille. Let's have some sense of proportion here. This appears to me as a genuine attempt to form a national organisation of thinkers with not even enough members to call a small local group. I'm no longer amused.

RedAndBlack

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 22, 2012

plasmatelly

Discussing the finer points is all very well and good; but really! - 5 blokes and a dog forming a study group is not the storming of the Bastille. Let's have some sense of proportion here. This appears to me as a genuine attempt to form a national organisation of thinkers with not even enough members to call a small local group. I'm no longer amused.

why not actually engage with the ideas?

plasmatelly

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on June 22, 2012

why not actually engage with the ideas?

Essentially, I feel you's have shot your bolt. Electing yourself as house think-tank and is not what engages me.

RedAndBlack

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on June 22, 2012

plasmatelly

Essentially, I feel you's have shot your bolt. Electing yourself as house think-tank and is not what engages me.

so that's a no then...

Android

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Android on June 22, 2012

plasmatelly

Discussing the finer points is all very well and good; but really! - 5 blokes and a dog forming a study group is not the storming of the Bastille. Let's have some sense of proportion here. This appears to me as a genuine attempt to form a national organisation of thinkers with not even enough members to call a small local group. I'm no longer amused.

I find this a bit dismissive. When you consider all anarchist / communist organisations are tiny, even when taken in aggregate, so some sense of proportion is definitely required.

I am not sure what the issue is with them forming a study group either.

Serge Forward

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on June 22, 2012

Aye, steady on fella. I've a lot of respect for a couple of the CA folk. Let's not be mean spirited.

plasmatelly

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on June 23, 2012

Certainly not meant as an attack on a personal level with the comrades within CA. I feel they need to make up there collective minds whether they're a new anarchist-communist organisation or a think tank.
If they're a new an-com org then why on earth go to ground to regroup?
If they're a think-tank - why cede from Afed?
It's frustrating to find that both SF and Afed have toiled for years to get where they are now - still small, but growing well - and then we're served with a bowlful of where we're going wrong. Yum yum.

Serge Forward

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on June 23, 2012

That's life our kid. It's not the first and it won't be the last time this sort of thing happens. I prefer to leave the door open for the sound members of CA, just in case they one day see the error of their ways :D and decide to come back to the AF.

Dumfries

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dumfries on June 23, 2012

The label of "think-tank" is one attributed to us. We do not consider this to be the case. We are an anarchist communist group - that is what we are. The idea that an anarchist communist group cannot exist and "think" at the same time is just completely baffling to us. We are an anarchist communist group...Thinking. This might seem completely inexplicable, but that's what is happening.

The reason we ceded from the AF is because we didn't see a way for us to exist within it. The reason we are "regrouping" is not to "go to ground", it is to reconnect with anarchist communist ideas and work out how we move forward, since the anarchist communist movement has failed and continues to fail in the fight against capitalism.

If you read our documents this is repeatedly explained.

steve y

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by steve y on June 24, 2012

Jim just wrote'

We can't rely on other people to start collective struggles, the trade unions have made it pretty clear over the years it isn't something that they're interested in doing and such struggles rarely ever start spontaneously.

To gain practical organisational experience we are generally going to have to start collective struggles ourselves, of course we'll be a minority in such struggles and their success and limitations will be practically decided by the objective conditions.

I can't resist intervening on this important question.

For revolutionaries, 'objective conditions' are only grasped by a realistic appraisal of what is potential and/or possible out of present circumstances.

Present circumstances require as objective as possible an appraisal of what character the present period is that we are going through; of its past, present and future trajectory - as all three belong as one arrow or time line in developing current perspectives.

As such, the 2008 banking/financial crisis brought on a first wave of global rebellion that began in the winter of 2010-11 and continued throughout 2011; with the students here, Tunisia in Dec 2010, then Egypt, the whole Arab Spring, southern Europe's protests and strikes, the English August riots and of course the global Occupy movement. Paul Mason responded with a book on, 'Why its kicking off everywhere', where he wrote, 'It's as if physics has been replaced by quantum physics, but in every discipline.'

For the new non-linear sciences challenging mechanical, reductionist, Newtonian science which still dominates bourgeois politics, economics, social and practical actions - have been steadily mounting up since the early 1800's. It began with Marx's dialectic, then deepened further with Darwin's Origin of Species, further with Einstein's relativity; then quantum physics, complexity and chaos theories, systems dynamics, etc, etc.

The dynamics of quantum science particularly proved not a world of iron laws, but one of potentials and probabilities. This along with relativity deepened the real dialectic method. But the Marxist 'followers' of Marx took the mechanical iron-laws interpretation of the dialectic, almost instantly becoming its opposite. Marxism became the new hierarchical science.

Quantum dynamics is brilliant for grasping the role of organised spontaneity and self-organisation in revolutionary libertarian activities, which should be guided by quantum patterns of potential, possibility and probability. When Jim states 'struggles rarely ever start spontaneously', he is right. This is especially important in us developing accurate perspectives of what this volatile period we are in is really about.

When Holloway states 'We are the crisis of capital', that is spot on, as it is only when we revolutionaries learn the patterns, tendencies and rhythms of the various forces at work as capital goes from crisis to crisis, all in a downward spiral - and how to intervene scientifically, spreading this knowledge and experience into the radicalising working class and the plethora of the forces of humanity - that we become the crisis of capital.

So Jim, and others, we should seek in this period to be optimistic, trying to weave this web and encourage potentials to become possibilities then probabilities - it's the new science you know.

Jim writes, "we are generally going to have to start collective struggles ourselves".

So, how do we do this? Solfed or AF cannot do this alone. One way is to use the basic method I've briefly outlined above. But what are the forces at work today that can do this 'starting'?

I would suggest that generally here in Britain the combined forces of Solfed and AF cooperate closer, and draw in the ever-wider layers of young potential libertarian revolutionaries into practical cooperation in such work. This experience would maximise limited resources, and would prise them away from lifestyle 'anarchism' and mindless violence towards the serious practice of both AF and Solfed, both of whom would gain.

I've now gone on too long, and this should really be part of another discussion, but what the hell, I needed a break and to spleen.

solid - stevey

no1

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on June 24, 2012

The question that emerges from this thread IMO is, how do libertarian communist organisations assess their success? Is anything short of communism a failure? Obviously not, but by what measure are we failing/succeeding or at least on the right track?

Joe Roe

The reason we are "regrouping" is not to "go to ground", it is to reconnect with anarchist communist ideas and work out how we move forward, since the anarchist communist movement has failed and continues to fail in the fight against capitalism.

Tommy Ascaso

Students here have been defeated and have shown little interest in continuing the struggle, Egypt saw a military coup that crushed the revolution, the August riots are over and the police are prepared for a rematch, and the Occupy movement is a joke. I'm not sure what's happening with Tunisia at the moment but I'm pretty sure they don't have communism yet. There are some interesting things happening in Greece and Spain at the moment, but the working class in both countries are still losing.

Spikymike

the ability of revolutionary minorities ''to organise struggles'' is dependent on their size, location, practical organisational experience and political influence and the 'objective' conditions in which they find themselves.

Even if such minorities (not of course limited to just the current particular groups) were to grow far beyond current experience they would still be minorities in relation to a growing class movement of social dimensions.

Chilli Sauce

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 27, 2012

Collective Action would generally agree with as if I remember correctly they're also nearly all involved with the IWW

That true?

Dumfries

11 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dumfries on June 27, 2012

Some CA members are involved in IWW in their locale.

syndicalist

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on June 27, 2012

As a strictly personalopinion, I hate to break the bubble, but the dual political organizational membership (as opposed to dual union membership or membership in both a political organization and union) really doesn't work very well. Perhaps alliances of organizations, but dual membership, not so good IMHO.

Harrison

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Harrison on June 27, 2012

syndicalist

As a strictly personalopinion, I hate to break the bubble, but the dual political organizational membership (as opposed to dual union membership or membership in both a political organization and union) really doesn't work very well. Perhaps alliances of organizations, but dual membership, not so good IMHO.

agree, but i don't think Collective Action are pursuing an organised intervention within the IWW (which got l&s into a lot of hot water)

jolasmo

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jolasmo on June 27, 2012

syndicalist

As a strictly personalopinion, I hate to break the bubble, but the dual political organizational membership (as opposed to dual union membership or membership in both a political organization and union) really doesn't work very well. Perhaps alliances of organizations, but dual membership, not so good IMHO.

I have to say I agree. I just can't see it working realistically for most people. I think formal cooperation between organisations is a much more appealing option than overlapping memberships.

~J.

syndicalist

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on June 27, 2012

Harrison

syndicalist

As a strictly personalopinion, I hate to break the bubble, but the dual political organizational membership (as opposed to dual union membership or membership in both a political organization and union) really doesn't work very well. Perhaps alliances of organizations, but dual membership, not so good IMHO.

agree, but i don't think Collective Action are pursuing an organised intervention within the IWW (which got l&s into a lot of hot water)

Oh, maybe I misread something.... I thought in one of the latter posts there was a suggestion for tri-org. membership (CA-AF-SF). My bad if I quickley read and misunderstood.

Melancholy of …

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Melancholy of … on July 11, 2012

http://insipidities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/combination-of-loose-and-strict_23.html

jonthom

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jonthom on July 11, 2012

Melancholy of Resistance

http://insipidities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/combination-of-loose-and-strict_23.html

:confused:

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 11, 2012

jonthom

Melancholy of Resistance

http://insipidities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/combination-of-loose-and-strict_23.html

:confused:

translation: "I'm so alone..."

Harrison

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Harrison on July 12, 2012

Melancholy of Resistance

http://insipidities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/combination-of-loose-and-strict_23.html

please tell me you didn't write that.

Harrison

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Harrison on July 12, 2012

score to me for getting denounced in that blog post

Jason Cortez

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jason Cortez on July 12, 2012

Melancholy of Resistance

http://insipidities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/combination-of-loose-and-strict_23.html

oh oh dear

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 12, 2012

Anarcho-syndicalism’s objectified function is to realise the capitalist version of communism as the dominance of society by repressive productivist codes. It extends the logic of capital into the worker’s opposition to work and substitutes the ideology of self-management for a full critique of the conditions of existence. Anarcho-syndicalism’s opposition to capitalism is equivalent to the truncated critique of finance-capital (minus the structural anti-semitism) but located within the industrial domain. It manifests its bullying in support of its brands at precisely the points where it falls into line with the left wing of capital’s ambitions for the proletariat as happily integrated into production. The self-deceiving anarcho-syndicalist fanatic is therefore indistinguishable from any other ideologically motivated bully, his inculcated motivation is to sell the brand, and thus extend market share.

tr: They were mean to me. Bullies... (*sniffle*) :D

Battlescarred

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Battlescarred on July 12, 2012

What the....Great Caesar's ghost!!!

the button

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by the button on July 12, 2012

I sweat blood trying to be structurally anti-semitic, and this is the thanks I get. :cry:

Edit: That looks a bit odd as the first post on a page, but fuck it. :)

Khawaga

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on July 12, 2012

Fucking hell, that piece is so verbose that it is almost unreadable. Grad student twaddle (I should know I am one). .

The disappearance of the apparatus is the event which communists seek to contest. Therefore, the opposite of training, anti-training, therefore implies interventions which are aimed at making distinct the images from the orders, the orders from the apparatus and the integrated responses of the subject within the totalising process. Necessarily, anti-training supposes initial inarticulacy and incoherency of affect as the subjects de-subjectify.

Like c'mon. What is with everyone wanting to sound like the Comic Insurrection?

Serge Forward

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on July 12, 2012

Private Eye has a special column for that sort of thing.

syndicalist

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on July 12, 2012

The self-deceiving anarcho-syndicalist fanatic is therefore indistinguishable from any other ideologically motivated bully, his inculcated motivation is to sell the brand, and thus extend market share.

RIGHT ON!!! Extend the market share! red & Black bandanas here, buy your red & black bandanas here!
Baukunin, get your Bakunin here!

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 12, 2012

You big bully, you ;)

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 12, 2012

Khawaga

The disappearance of the apparatus is the event which communists seek to contest. Therefore, the opposite of training, anti-training, therefore implies interventions which are aimed at making distinct the images from the orders, the orders from the apparatus and the integrated responses of the subject within the totalising process. Necessarily, anti-training supposes initial inarticulacy and incoherency of affect as the subjects de-subjectify.

Like c'mon. What is with everyone wanting to sound like the Comic Insurrection?

I dunno about you, but I can definitely feel myself de-subjectifying already.

Khawaga

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on July 12, 2012

Well, I didn't get hold of any anti-training. I think CA ran out pretty quickly.

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 12, 2012

There's an anti-matter and running out of course materials joke in there somewhere...

Also, could any of our German speakers give us the best German word/term for "specious/pretentious/gratuitous foreign vocabulary"?

I'm talking about this kinda stuff:

That which is in error, that which provokes the the vorstellungsart formation of the small group, always lies outside, and before itself. The small group, speaking from within its umwelt, is thereby structurally unable to perceive all the inherited stuff that is wrapped up in the self-separating act by which it establishes a boundary between it and that which precedes it.

the button

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by the button on July 12, 2012

Gibts voll im Arsch.

georgestapleton

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by georgestapleton on July 12, 2012

EP Thompson responded to this OMG-the-word-is-untranslatable stuff before with his own use of a Marxist concept taken straight from the Marx's writing when he said "...all of them are Geschichtenscheissenschlopff, unhistorical shit."

cornered beef

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by cornered beef on July 13, 2012

Umwelt, from von Uexkuell and his idea of the senses of a tick in the bushes. No more obscure in some circles - maybe biological, ethological, phenomenological ones - than many tidy marxist loan concepts. Since the mini general intellect of an organisation will tend to a set of cues or 'senses' way more restricted than those of the constituents, inter group activity is a good use for the idea. I don't know what a vorstellungsart is, but Umwelt is a nice neat one.

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 13, 2012

cornered beef

Umwelt, from von Uexkuell and his idea of the senses of a tick in the bushes. No more obscure in some circles[...]

And there's me thinking I moved in obscure circles...

"the senses of a tick in the bushes"

OK, you got me. I have no idea what this could possibly mean. Answers on a postcard, please.

doam

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by doam on July 13, 2012

In reference only to the last two posts:

The main von Uexkuell text available in English is online here. He is figure in both philosophy (Heidegger, Agamben, D+G, etc.) and in the more narrowed biological sciences (he is the founder of "biosemiotics").

If you don't want to read the full text his wikipedia page discusses the tick that cornered beef brought up.

Using small enough type you could fit anything on a postcard.

ocelot

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on July 13, 2012

Fair play. For some reason Umgebung triggered memory recall more than Umwelt. But that's probably for the totally juvenile reason that it sounds funny (to an anglophone me, anyway, like Berlusconi's bunga bunga).

plasmatelly

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by plasmatelly on July 14, 2012

This is becoming absolutely impenetrable! It's hard enough following what's going on in English without people slipping seamlessly into German.

Melancholy of …

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Melancholy of … on July 15, 2012

I wish I was that smart. I'm smart enough to understand it, though.
EDIT: was replying to being asked if I wrote the insipidities blog.