AF Industrial discussion

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Joined: 8-11-03
Mar 9 2006 17:01
AF Industrial discussion

We've made a few refernces to an AF Industrial strategy discussion recently and some posters have asked what went on. I started it all off and thought it might be worth sharing some of the discussion here. yIt was a lengthy discussion with hundreds of comments and was carried out in a decent spirit. For what it's worth, here's the post I put up originally. It's a bit stream of consciousness stuff. Plus, it'd be fair to say the disucssion made me think things through quite a lot. Anyway, if anyone's interested, make of it what you will. Don't hold me to anything I've written, though! My mind is in the process of making itself up.

The discussion started because we have it on the agenda for our conference in London at the start of April.

I've been trying to giving this a bit more than my usual level of thought and want to try to mull over a couple of ideas. These are not necessarily in any order.

1. Our views on what an industrial strategy should be should reflect something about what we think communism would look like. This means the abolition of commodity production and the market.

2. the syndicalist model is unsuitable because it divides workers into industries and assumes workers self management of them. I can't help wondering what the call centre workers do once they've taken over the telephones - phone their aunt in Australia? Or the insurance workers? Or the bank workers? (Maybe they could play monopoly with real fivers?) For vast sectors of the working class, there would be nothing for them to do once the revolution starts!

3. The IWW model has some advantages because it unites workers into one big union. I think that the council communists advocated something similar.

4. Didn't we say in our Work pamphlet what awful shit most work is? Isn't our objective then to get rid of alienated capitalist working practices? Self-management does not equal this - it's about keeping the same relationships in the workplace and often between them. That's why I reject the WSM/NEFAC approach (as I understand it) which seeks to democratise the workplace.

Another problem with self-management and syndicalism equally is the reality of global production. We hardly have any workplaces left that produce everything under one roof. Nowadays we know that what we make may just be part of a world wide production process. Although an anarchist society would seek to retreat from this, in early stages it would surely have to deal with the realities left over by capitalism?

5. When workers get into the practice of regularly negotiating with employers that is the first step on the road of bureaucratisation. This is where most Rank and File initiatives have fallen down in the past.

6. I'm not certain that the council communist model is applicable any more either. Certainly there have been no attempts to create councils in an advanced economy for many years. I kind of think they fall inot the same trap as syndicalists. I just can't imagine a workers council in a call centre. (I only mention call centres because they epitomise the whole service sector).

Finally, insustry/work is important because capitalism is primarily a society based on the commodity and which seeks to reduce every aspect of our lives down to the process of buying and selling. If we don't get rid of that, then we will certainly see the growth of a new capitalist class.

Anyway, enough for now.

happychaos's picture
Joined: 14-04-06
May 5 2006 06:17

There has been reference about an actual document relating to the AF industrial strategy. I am very interested in reading it. I can not find it anywhere on the website. Can you please make it available. Even better, if you could email to me at [url]simon [a]t] enzyme [d[o]t][/url]

Cheers. Very interested.

Devrim's picture
Joined: 15-07-06
May 5 2006 06:52

Yes, do you have minutes, or a paper you can post?

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Joined: 14-01-04
May 5 2006 08:03

It's part of a general Tactics & Strategy document done a few years back and which is in the Members' Handbook. Unfortunately, I've lost my copy of the handbook embarrassed and I know it definitely isn't online anywhere. However, as the handbook is being reprinted - complete with any conference ammendments on industrial strategy, I'm sure it'll be available soon.

happychaos's picture
Joined: 14-04-06
May 6 2006 22:47

Does anyone know where a link to an online copy is? I'm writing up an article for a paper in Aotearoa on my experience in and a look at anarchist workplace strategies.