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About the AF aims & principles...

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jellyfish
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May 8 2009 17:48
About the AF aims & principles...

Hihi. This is my first post on this forum (: It is only in the last few months that I've started properly researching and understanding the anarchist cause, but it's something I agree intensely with. But looking at the aims & principles page on the AF site, I'm confused by the last principle: "we oppose organised religion and religious belief(s)". As I believe in - well, I suppose not strictly a religion, but certainly hold views that are religious, I find it impossible to ignore this. Surely the AF can't be opposed to the freedom to religious practices, provided they are in no way infringing on anyone else's freedom?

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flaneur
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May 8 2009 19:18

This topic was addressed fairly recently. A comrade in the AF explains why we have #10.

"The AF won't make a revolution - the working class will. But we agitate for anarchist communist principles within the working class. That means a materialist understanding of the world, and the way it functions. So its not so much that we oppose religion because its 'oppressive' - class societies can use any form of ideology - but because it is incompatible with a materialist analysis of the world.

Being religious doesn't prevent people struggling in their interests, nor would it prevent us supporting them, as we support working class struggles. If we were an economic organisation, we wouldn't be excluding people on the basis of whatever superstitious beliefs they are attached to. But we're largely a propaganda group, agitating for libertarian communism and involved in appropriate struggles and organising. I'm glad we have a consistent basis as a starting point.

I don't see how its any more 'sectarian' in terms of making people unwelcome than other points in the A&Ps. After all, we are intolerant of a number of other things, which we are explicitly opposed to in the A&Ps - sexism, nationalism etc. We think the point of an anarchist organisation is to have a shared understanding to work around, not to be 'tolerant' of anything people happen to believe in."

I feel, aside from believing in materialism first and foremost, religion is incompatible with anarchism.

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PartyBucket
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May 8 2009 17:59

http://libcom.org/forums/anarchist-federation/questioning-af-aims-principles-02042009
Heres the thread.

Skips
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May 8 2009 18:35

Personally I think its a crap position they have on this. It makes the AF seem like a bunch of atheist fundamentalists who at times strike me as worst as the religious ones. The stance on Unions is also crazy i think. Apart from these two things everything else is spot on.

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flaneur
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May 8 2009 19:35

This is why this topic is utterly frustrating, each time it comes up; people conflate atheism with materialism.

To be frank, I don't believe there is a god but I don't give a toss about proving it. I believe in materialism, that matter is the only thing proven to exist. It is paradoxical to be against hierarchy, yet happy to serve underneath a overseer. It is mental to believe supernatural forces can bring about revolution.

As for unions, historical materialism tells us how successful that's been for workers, as recent as the Visteon dispute.

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Django
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May 8 2009 20:18
sickdog24 wrote:
Personally I think its a crap position they have on this. It makes the AF seem like a bunch of atheist fundamentalists who at times strike me as worst as the religious ones. The stance on Unions is also crazy i think. Apart from these two things everything else is spot on.

I don't see what is 'fundamentalist' about believing in a material world and agitating for a materialist understanding of it.

What is it that you think is crazy about the AF's stance on unions?

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May 8 2009 20:34

I should add as well that that point in the A&Ps was added after a membership enquiry from a priest, to stop similar situations arising.

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May 8 2009 20:36

7 Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. They have to be accepted by capitalism in order to function and so cannot play a part in its overthrow. Trades unions divide the working class (between employed and unemployed, trade and craft, skilled and unskilled, etc). Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order to make deals with management. Their aim, through negotiation, is to achieve a fairer form of exploitation of the workforce. The interests of leaders and representatives will always be different from ours. The boss class is our enemy, and while we must fight for better conditions from it, we have to realise that reforms we may achieve today may be taken away tomorrow. Our ultimate aim must be the complete abolition of wage slavery. Working within the unions can never achieve this. However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

Sickdog, why is this position "crazy" in your estimation?

Skips
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May 8 2009 21:07
playinghob wrote:
7 Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. They have to be accepted by capitalism in order to function and so cannot play a part in its overthrow. Trades unions divide the working class (between employed and unemployed, trade and craft, skilled and unskilled, etc). Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order to make deals with management. Their aim, through negotiation, is to achieve a fairer form of exploitation of the workforce. The interests of leaders and representatives will always be different from ours. The boss class is our enemy, and while we must fight for better conditions from it, we have to realise that reforms we may achieve today may be taken away tomorrow. Our ultimate aim must be the complete abolition of wage slavery. Working within the unions can never achieve this. However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

Sickdog, why is this position "crazy" in your estimation?

I disagree with this line-

"Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society."

Ok perhaps not crazy. But I just find anarcho syndicalism an extremely useful tool, I like the idea of creating a new world within the structure of the old one and present one we live in. I think working with anarcho syndicalist and revolutionary unions can help achieve complete abolition of wage slavery I don't think it can be dismissed just like that. I think those type of unions can be vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. I agree that the majority of trade unions are reformist but not all. The fact the AF advise their members not to leave unions until they are made irrelevant seems contradictory.

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May 8 2009 21:14

But the AF doesn't claim staying in the unions will render them revolutionary vehicles; it's probably because there's enough sense to recognise workers are weak without them, especially individually.

And there's Solfed for those who disagree with our stance on unions. Why is it even an issue?

Skips
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May 8 2009 21:21

Just seems abit controversial and might discourage trade unionists/syndicalists from joining who agree with all your other points but don't like the hostility towards what is traditionally a working class sanctuary and breeding ground for dissent and direct action. Anyway your right there is solfed for the ppl who disagree with it, so I will stop going on about it now.

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May 8 2009 21:23
The AF wrote:
Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order to make deals with management. Their aim, through negotiation, is to achieve a fairer form of exploitation of the workforce.

interestingly, in the internal debates over the Brighton pamphlet even our harshest critics have defined anarcho-syndicalist unions as minority workplace groups which agitate for mass meetings and then argue within them for militant action - they don't negotiate, call strikes, control members or sell labour power, so i can't see anything the AF would object to (except such organisations being labelled 'unions').

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May 8 2009 21:25
sickdog24 wrote:
Just seems abit controversial and might discourage trade unionists/syndicalists from joining who agree with all your other points but don't like the hostility towards what is traditionally a working class sanctuary and breeding ground for dissent and direct action. Anyway your right there is solfed for the ppl who disagree with it, so I will stop going on about it now.

Except we don't call on people to leave unions. We actually say the opposite of some of what you are claiming here:

Anarchist Federation wrote:
However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.
Skips
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May 8 2009 21:28
Django wrote:
sickdog24 wrote:
Just seems abit controversial and might discourage trade unionists/syndicalists from joining who agree with all your other points but don't like the hostility towards what is traditionally a working class sanctuary and breeding ground for dissent and direct action. Anyway your right there is solfed for the ppl who disagree with it, so I will stop going on about it now.

Except we don't call on people to leave unions. We actually say the opposite of some of what you are claiming here:

Anarchist Federation wrote:
However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

But you also say this-

"Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society."

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Django
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May 8 2009 21:42
sickdog24 wrote:
Ok perhaps not crazy. But I just find anarcho syndicalism an extremely useful tool, I like the idea of creating a new world within the structure of the old one and present one we live in. I think working with anarcho syndicalist and revolutionary unions can help achieve complete abolition of wage slavery I don't think it can be dismissed just like that. I think those type of unions can be vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. I agree that the majority of trade unions are reformist but not all. The fact the AF advise their members not to leave unions until they are made irrelevant seems contradictory.

Well, the point comes from historical debate more than anything. Anarcho-syndicalist unions (of the classical type) have taken clearly counter-revolutionary positions in the past. This happened in Spain for instance, despite the most clear and admirable class fighters being part of that anarchist movement (the Friends of Durruti). Anarcho-syndicalist unions have a less blackened history that 'bureaucratic' unions mostly because they've been marginal outside of a few situations.

I don't think there's anything contradictory about understanding that whilst unions cannot be a vehicle for the revolutionary transformation of society they do have certain useful functions (not least legal protection) which can help us advance our interests in the here and now. Thats pretty much what we are saying. Classical syndicalist type unions might even have some functional advantages in this regard. But they're not the new world in the shell of the old.

Edit - for instance someone made the point on here recently that were the IWW the established union at the Visteon plants which were in dispute recently they would have had to behave in broadly the same manner because of the reality of the union laws.

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May 8 2009 21:36
sickdog24 wrote:
Django wrote:
sickdog24 wrote:
Just seems abit controversial and might discourage trade unionists/syndicalists from joining who agree with all your other points but don't like the hostility towards what is traditionally a working class sanctuary and breeding ground for dissent and direct action. Anyway your right there is solfed for the ppl who disagree with it, so I will stop going on about it now.

Except we don't call on people to leave unions. We actually say the opposite of some of what you are claiming here:

Anarchist Federation wrote:
However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

But you also say this-

"Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society."

Thats a different issue to the point being made in the quotation.

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Django
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May 8 2009 21:40

Our views on these issues have been published at length here, by the way.

Skips
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May 8 2009 21:43
Django wrote:
sickdog24 wrote:
Ok perhaps not crazy. But I just find anarcho syndicalism an extremely useful tool, I like the idea of creating a new world within the structure of the old one and present one we live in. I think working with anarcho syndicalist and revolutionary unions can help achieve complete abolition of wage slavery I don't think it can be dismissed just like that. I think those type of unions can be vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. I agree that the majority of trade unions are reformist but not all. The fact the AF advise their members not to leave unions until they are made irrelevant seems contradictory.

Well, the point comes from historical debate more than anything. Anarcho-syndicalist unions (of the classical type) have taken clearly counter-revolutionary positions in the past. This happened in Spain for instance, despite the most clear and admirable class fighters being part of that anarchist movement (the Friends of Durruti). Anarcho-syndicalist unions have a less blackened history that 'bureaucratic' unions mostly because they've been marginal outside of a few situations.

I don't think there's anything contradictory about understanding that whilst unions cannot be a vehicle for the revolutionary transformation of society they do have certain useful functions (not least legal protection) which can help us advance our interests in the here and now. Thats pretty much what we are saying. Classical syndicalist type unions might even have some functional advantages in this regard. But they're not the new world in the shell of the old.

Yeah but im sure the anarcho syndicalists-cnt have learnt from their mistakes for collaborating in that instance in Spain. We learn from our mistakes.Cheers for the link.

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flaneur
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May 8 2009 21:45

That's real lucky after the mother of all cock ups.

Skips
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May 8 2009 21:47
jolly roger wrote:
That's real lucky after the mother of all cock ups.

Why the fuck you think im inventing a time machine for?

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May 8 2009 21:50
sickdog24 wrote:
Django wrote:
sickdog24 wrote:
Ok perhaps not crazy. But I just find anarcho syndicalism an extremely useful tool, I like the idea of creating a new world within the structure of the old one and present one we live in. I think working with anarcho syndicalist and revolutionary unions can help achieve complete abolition of wage slavery I don't think it can be dismissed just like that. I think those type of unions can be vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. I agree that the majority of trade unions are reformist but not all. The fact the AF advise their members not to leave unions until they are made irrelevant seems contradictory.

Well, the point comes from historical debate more than anything. Anarcho-syndicalist unions (of the classical type) have taken clearly counter-revolutionary positions in the past. This happened in Spain for instance, despite the most clear and admirable class fighters being part of that anarchist movement (the Friends of Durruti). Anarcho-syndicalist unions have a less blackened history that 'bureaucratic' unions mostly because they've been marginal outside of a few situations.

I don't think there's anything contradictory about understanding that whilst unions cannot be a vehicle for the revolutionary transformation of society they do have certain useful functions (not least legal protection) which can help us advance our interests in the here and now. Thats pretty much what we are saying. Classical syndicalist type unions might even have some functional advantages in this regard. But they're not the new world in the shell of the old.

Yeah but im sure the anarcho syndicalists-cnt have learnt from their mistakes for collaborating in that instance in Spain. We learn from our mistakes.Cheers for the link.

Well the point I was making in the edit above was that its not really the case of bad decisions or bad leadership but the way unions function and why they have a place in capitalism. So say if the IWW was the union at Enfield, it would be bowed by union and property laws into behaving in broadly speaking the same manner as Unite. You might have delegates under these pressures rather than officials, but they'd still be there.

Skips
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May 8 2009 21:53
Django wrote:
sickdog24 wrote:
Django wrote:
sickdog24 wrote:
Ok perhaps not crazy. But I just find anarcho syndicalism an extremely useful tool, I like the idea of creating a new world within the structure of the old one and present one we live in. I think working with anarcho syndicalist and revolutionary unions can help achieve complete abolition of wage slavery I don't think it can be dismissed just like that. I think those type of unions can be vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. I agree that the majority of trade unions are reformist but not all. The fact the AF advise their members not to leave unions until they are made irrelevant seems contradictory.

Well, the point comes from historical debate more than anything. Anarcho-syndicalist unions (of the classical type) have taken clearly counter-revolutionary positions in the past. This happened in Spain for instance, despite the most clear and admirable class fighters being part of that anarchist movement (the Friends of Durruti). Anarcho-syndicalist unions have a less blackened history that 'bureaucratic' unions mostly because they've been marginal outside of a few situations.

I don't think there's anything contradictory about understanding that whilst unions cannot be a vehicle for the revolutionary transformation of society they do have certain useful functions (not least legal protection) which can help us advance our interests in the here and now. Thats pretty much what we are saying. Classical syndicalist type unions might even have some functional advantages in this regard. But they're not the new world in the shell of the old.

Yeah but im sure the anarcho syndicalists-cnt have learnt from their mistakes for collaborating in that instance in Spain. We learn from our mistakes.Cheers for the link.

Well the point I was making in the edit above was that its not really the case of bad decisions or bad leadership but the way unions function and why they have a place in capitalism. So say if the IWW was the union at Enfield, it would be bowed by union and property laws into behaving in broadly speaking the same manner as Unite. You might have delegates under these pressures rather than officials, but they'd still be there.

Thats true the anti union laws are fucking horrible in the UK. However the Tolpuddle Martyrs were illegal in their time. Laws have to be broken and ignored for progress I reckon.

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May 9 2009 00:54
Django wrote:
Well the point I was making in the edit above was that its not really the case of bad decisions or bad leadership but the way unions function and why they have a place in capitalism. So say if the IWW was the union at Enfield, it would be bowed by union and property laws into behaving in broadly speaking the same manner as Unite. You might have delegates under these pressures rather than officials, but they'd still be there.

But this is kind of a truism though - what if the union was irrelevant at Enfield but there was a strong worker's resistance group? It would have been bowed by property laws to behave in the same way as the hypothetical IWW would have. In fact, a strong IWW might have been ready to risk breaking all the relevant union laws and behave effectively as a workplace resistance group. A crucial factor is the amount and level of militancy of outside support.

Quote:
Anarcho-syndicalist unions have a less blackened history that 'bureaucratic' unions mostly because they've been marginal outside of a few situations.

No. Regardless of whether they were marginal, they consistently proved themselves better than bureaucratic unions facing the same conditions.

The left communist explanation of the function of unions in modern society (which has influenced the AF's position) is too facile, mechanical, and only explains a part of what unions are. It's true that unions have become integrated into the functioning of modern capitalism, but this is not enough. Marxism is blind to the nature of power within organisations, to start with.

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May 9 2009 06:44
Quote:
It's true that unions have become integrated into the functioning of modern capitalism, but this is not enough.

But that's the contradiction that A&P 7 tries to negotiate in the last few sentences. We restate it in the workplace document this way:

Quote:
This contradiction between the union’s role in disciplining and controlling workers and the material advantages and opportunities to organise that it brings cannot be wished away. Any militant in the workplace must find ways of working around these problems and find ways of using the opportunities and protections unions offer without being co-opted and controlled by union structures.

We're not arguing that militancy and self organisation do not emerge within union structures, we're arguing that they're in contradiction to the negotiating and disciplining roles that unions take up in the workplace.

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May 9 2009 08:29
888 wrote:
But this is kind of a truism though - what if the union was irrelevant at Enfield but there was a strong worker's resistance group? It would have been bowed by property laws to behave in the same way as the hypothetical IWW would have. In fact, a strong IWW might have been ready to risk breaking all the relevant union laws and behave effectively as a workplace resistance group. A crucial factor is the amount and level of militancy of outside support

.

Well we don't think that workplace resistance groups are formal organisations so much as a tendency to self-organisation within the workforce, so in the case of Enfield (not that I know a huge amount about the situation) the 'workplace resistance group' would be the workers pushing the idea of occupation. The union was forced into whatever action it was to avoid irrelevance. Whilst there are always legal risks for individuals involved, whatever the situation we're talking about, anonymous and informal groups can do things which union branches would get prosecuted out of existence for - agitating for illegal action, sabotage, flying pickets, etc.

888 wrote:
No. Regardless of whether they were marginal, they consistently proved themselves better than bureaucratic unions facing the same conditions.

I didn't say that they're exactly the same, in fact I said that there are probably "functional advantages" to the way syndicalist-type unions work on a local level, probably making them preferable to 'bureaucratic' unions.

However in the few revolutionary situations where anarcho-syndicalist unions have been powerful they have ended up being counter revolutionary or at least had little to do with working class interests. CNT-FAI in Spain is the clearest case of this, but there are others. They may have been faced with 'Exceptional situations', but thats exactly what revolutions are.

(I'm not going to get into heretical anarcho-syndicalism of the Brighton Solfed type wink )

888 wrote:
The left communist explanation of the function of unions in modern society (which has influenced the AF's position) is too facile, mechanical, and only explains a part of what unions are. It's true that unions have become integrated into the functioning of modern capitalism, but this is not enough. Marxism is blind to the nature of power within organisations, to start with

Our opposition to unions is different to the left communists', and it certainly doesn't come from them. I suspect they'd slam our views on unions as naive and facile too.

The argument about unions has been linked to at length above. But basically we think that when unions act in the interests of their members its usually as a result of being forced into doing so by their membership.

So what is the full picture of unions that we're missing?

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May 9 2009 09:19
Django wrote:
Our opposition to unions is different to the left communists', and it certainly doesn't come from them. I suspect they'd slam our views on unions as naive and facile too.

I don't want to comment on your positions before I have read your new document, but on the bit I have put in bold, actually I think it did. When the discussions which led to the AF adopting the section of the aims and principles regarding the unions were going on, the people in the ACF who were arguing most firmly against the unions were the ones most influenced by left communism/council communism.

Devrim

knightrose
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May 9 2009 09:32

Actually it'd be more to the point to say that both the A(C)F and left communist positions had the same starting point. They have diverged somewhat along the way.

I must say it's somewhat frustrating having produced a lengthy document on the workplace, unions and industrial struggle and then having posted it on Libcom that people keep quoting the facile view that we hold some kind of "outside and against" viewpoint. That has never been the case and anyone who bothers to read allof our principle 7 will see that it isn't the case.

However, I also find it incredible that anyone can look at the unions that exist in the real world and not see them as being incapable of being transformed into vehicles of revolutionary change. They are clearly middle men in the labour market who aim to help manage capital (though they aren't doing very well at that at the moment). The problem for us as revolutionaries is how we relate to them in the workplace because it is there that they provide what we refer to in principle 7 as a 'common point of departure for many workers' (not a direct quote, I'm afraid).

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May 9 2009 10:33
knightrose wrote:
They are clearly middle men in the labour market who aim to help manage capital (though they aren't doing very well at that at the moment).

I'd dispute that they weren't doing very well at this at the moment. The efficiency with which the unions pissed on the bonfire of the recent public sector pay disputes shows me that the unions are doing very well in helping capital manage the labour market. I'd also say that the 'anti-union' laws were also very helpful to the unions helping manage the labour market as they make any effective action outside of their official structures illegal.

Re anarcho-syndicalist unions and 'workplace resistance groups': I think that the AF's position bears a lot of similarity to the anarcho-syndicalist union in that both are non/anti-legalistic groups of workers taking direct action (of varying intensities) to defend workers' interests. I think that maybe the syndicalists see more of a scope for formalising and federating of some of these groups and such a formalised federation would constitute an anarcho-syndicalist 'union' (though obviously a very different form of union to any which we know at the moment).

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May 13 2009 06:01
Django wrote:
Well we don't think that workplace resistance groups are formal organisations so much as a tendency to self-organisation within the workforce, so in the case of Enfield (not that I know a huge amount about the situation) the 'workplace resistance group' would be the workers pushing the idea of occupation.

Really? Is that all you are advocating by workplace resistance groups? That's not very substantial, and rather disappointing. I think advocating formal, and federated groups would be preferable (and more consistent with AF policy). I understand the need for anonymity of course.

Quote:
Our opposition to unions is different to the left communists', and it certainly doesn't come from them.

Yes it does. I was in the AF for 6 years, by the way.

Quote:
However in the few revolutionary situations where anarcho-syndicalist unions have been powerful they have ended up being counter revolutionary or at least had little to do with working class interests. CNT-FAI in Spain is the clearest case of this, but there are others. They may have been faced with 'Exceptional situations', but thats exactly what revolutions are.

The problem is that in 1936 the decisions that were made (illegally) by Oliver, Santillan, et al to join the government were then ratified by the plenum. I don't see how a different form of revolutionary organisation would have done better. I don't see that it was the "union-nature" of the CNT that made it take the wrong decisions.

Quote:
But basically we think that when unions act in the interests of their members its usually as a result of being forced into doing so by their membership.

Well that wouldn't be a problem with an anarchist union obviously.

Quote:
So what is the full picture of unions that we're missing?

A union isn't only its bureaucracy so it can sometimes do things that can contradict its principal function.

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May 13 2009 07:39
Quote:
Really? Is that all you are advocating by workplace resistance groups? That's not very substantial, and rather disappointing. I think advocating formal, and federated groups would be preferable (and more consistent with AF policy). I understand the need for anonymity of course.

This is AF policy:

AF workplace strategy wrote:
What we are describing is not a discrete thing, but a tendency. It is the tendency for militant and politicised workers to seek to advance their interests, and the state of the struggle...

This was agreed nationally.

888 wrote:
The problem is that in 1936 the decisions that were made (illegally) by Oliver, Santillan, et al to join the government were then ratified by the plenum. I don't see how a different form of revolutionary organisation would have done better. I don't see that it was the "union-nature" of the CNT that made it take the wrong decisions.

The problem was that the CNT acted to preserve itself, and came to sacrifice pretty much everything along the way. The CNT leadership made a collaboratory decision that was ratified by the democratic process of the union (the plenum of 500 regional delegates) plus plenums on a regional and local level according to some sources. This wasn't isolated, as the CNT was involved in regularising the militias, sending the workers back to work in '37 and transforming collectivised workplaces in line with the war economy, which was at odds with fighting a revolution.

That that the clearest groups at the time were part of the Spanish anarchist tradition (Friends of Durutti, libertarian youth, etc) doesn't change the fact that the CNT came to have a role in the counter-revolution, and that for revolution to be successful we have to move beyond unions, whatever uses they might have before that point.

The CNT acted like a mediating organ, which is exactly what it was, when put to the test. In pretty much every other historical test I can think of anarcho-syndicalist unions have behaved poorly. I'm not that inclined to explain it away, but learn from it.

Quote:
Well that wouldn't be a problem with an anarchist union obviously.

That sounds like an article of faith to me.

888 wrote:
A union isn't only its bureaucracy so it can sometimes do things that can contradict its principal function.

Which sounds like what I was saying about union members acting in their own interests and forcing the organisation to tag along. In the big disputes here recently such as the refinery strikes and Visteon the action has been taken by the rank and file (and I'm including militant shop stewards in this) with the union forced to adapt to avoid irrelevance. The unions also wound up trying to sabotage both, with a degree of success.

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May 19 2009 05:30

Saying that you view workplace resistance groups as a tendency does not count as strategy. It's frustratingly vague. I will read the AF workplace strategy article.

Anyway...

Quote:
The problem was that the CNT acted to preserve itself,

I think this is getting closer to why the CNT failed as a revolutionary organisation.

Quote:
Quote:
Well that wouldn't be a problem with an anarchist union obviously.

That sounds like an article of faith to me.

That sounds like a thoughtless retort to me. I said that in response to: "basically we think that when unions act in the interests of their members its usually as a result of being forced into doing so by their membership." Are anarchosyndicalist unions not directly controlled by their membership through direct democracy? So it's very easy for the membership to force the union to act in their interest, no? If it's an article of faith, it's just as much an article of faith for any directly democratic organisation.

Was the problem in the CNT that the members had come to rely on an unofficial leadership to make their decisions for them? Perhaps. Perhaps it was not clear to the majority of the membership what the best course of action was. I don't know. Is there a book that covers the development of the CNT-FAI leadership in detail?

Later on I believe the anarchist ministers ended up having formal decision making power that they didn't have before, due to their government posts. Particularly with the militarisation of the militias and in May 37 when they called the workers back to work. This power was still largely based on the acquiescence and grudging obedience of the workers "for the sake of the organisation". They placed the organisation above their immediate needs. (See Blood of Spain.) But I see no reason to believe this was due to its union nature! I don't see how any other form of organisation could have performed better... and I do definitely see the need for a strong, permanent organisation in workplaces and elsewhere before a revolution.

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The CNT acted like a mediating organ, which is exactly what it was, when put to the test.

Again, I don't think that its role in negotiating wages was the key to its failure. It wasn't only a mediating organ, after all. It had launched various insurrections in its recent past.

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In pretty much every other historical test I can think of anarcho-syndicalist unions have behaved poorly.

What tests? Unfortunately I do not know of any other organisational form that has performed better, otherwise I would support that form.