Anarchist federation Public Meeting in London

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Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2007 18:14
Anarchist federation Public Meeting in London

Following the last successful public meeting, Anarchist Federation (London) are holding a another meeting on March 2nd on Work- A four Letter Word. The nature of work- can it be abolished? Thursday 7pm March 22nd at Marchmont Community Centre, Marchmont Street, London WC1 . Nearest tube Russell Square

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little_brother
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Feb 28 2007 12:04

Two dates above! But assume 22nd (since 2nd is a Friday).

Battlescarred
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Feb 28 2007 14:09

OOps left the 2 out. It's the 22nd!!

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Mar 10 2007 21:46

As I indicated on the thread on events in the south, I would be interested in coming to this meeting, along with another comrade from the ICC. What would be the AF’s attitude to our taking part in the meeting?

Below is a short text which we offer as a contribution to the discussion. It’s a summary of a longer article from our series on communism. “The transformation of work according to the revolutionaries of the late 19th century” (International Review n°86) looks in particular at the ideas of William Morris about the nature of work under capitalism and its transformation in communism.

As an artist who wholeheartedly joined the socialist movement, William Morris was well placed to write about the transformation of work in a communist society, since he understood very well both the soul-destroying nature of work under capitalism, and the radical possibilities of replacing alienated labour with truly creative activity. In his visionary novel, News from Nowhere, it is stated plainly that “happiness without happy daily work is impossible”. This accords perfectly with the marxist conception of the centrality of labour in human life: man has made himself through labour, but he has made himself in conditions which generate his self-alienation. By the same token, the overcoming of alienation cannot be achieved without a fundamental transformation of labour.
Communism, contrary to some who speak in its name, is not “anti-work”. Even under capitalism the ideology of “refusal of work” expresses the purely individual revolt of marginal classes or strata. And one of the first measures of the proletarian power will be to install the universal obligation to work. In the early phases of the revolutionary process, this inevitably contains an element of restraint, since it is impossible to abolish scarcity without a more or less long transition period which will certainly involve considerable material sacrifices, especially in the initial phase of civil war against the old ruling class. But progress towards communism will be measured by the degree to which work has ceased to be a form of sacrifice and has become a positive pleasure. In his essay on “Useful work versus useless toil” Morris identifies the three principal aspects of the former:
• that work is informed by “hope of rest”: the reduction of the working day will have to be an immediate measure of the victorious revolution, otherwise it will be impossible for the majority of the working class to play an active part in the revolutionary process. Capitalism has already created the conditions for this measure by developing the technology which could – once freed from the drive for profit – be used to greatly reduce the quantity of repetitive and unpleasant tasks involved in the labour process. At the same time, the vast amounts of human labour power that go to waste under capitalist production – in the form of massive unemployment or work that serves no useful purpose (bureaucracy, military production, etc) – could be re-directed towards useful production and services, and this would also help to reduce the working day for all. These observations were already made by the likes of Engels, Bebel and Morris, and they are even more applicable in the decadent period of capitalism;
• that there should be “hope of product”: in other words, the worker should have an interest in what is being produced, either because it is essential for the satisfaction of human needs, or because it is intrinsically beautiful. Even in Morris’s day capitalism had an enormous capacity to turn out shabby and useless products, but the mass production of junk and ugliness in decadent capitalism would probably have exceeded his worst nightmares;
• that there is “hope of pleasure in the work itself”. Morris and Bebel insist that work should be carried out in agreeable surroundings. Under capitalism the factory is a model for hell on earth; communist production will retain the associated character of factory work but in a very different physical environment. At the same time the capitalist division of labour – which condemns so many proletarians to carry out mind-numbingly repetitive chores day after day – must be overcome so that every producer enjoys a balance between intellectual and physical labour, is able to devote himself to a variety of tasks, and develops a variety of skills in carrying them out. Moreover, the work of the future will be freed from the frenzied pace demanded by the hunt for profit, and will be adapted to human need and human desire;
• Fourier, with his characteristic imaginative power, had talked about work in his “Phalansteries” being based on “passionate attraction” and looked forward to daily work becoming more like play. Marx, who greatly admired Fourier, argued that really creative work was also a “damned serious affair”, or as he puts it in The Grundrisse, “A man cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish”. However, he continues: “But does he not find joy in the child’s naivete, and must he himself not strive to reproduce its truth at a higher stage?”. Communist activity will have overcome the old antimony between work and play.
These sketches of the communist future were not utopian, since marxism had already demonstrated that capitalism had created the material conditions for daily work to be utterly transformed in this way, and had identified the social force which would be compelled to undertake the transformation precisely because it was the last victim of the alienation of labour.

Battlescarred
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Mar 12 2007 10:59

As was noted on another thread, the ICC will not be welcome at this event. We base this on the past behaviour of the ICC at our meetings.

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Mar 20 2007 18:01

ICC generally quite easy to spot due to being very well dressed (imho)

sovietpop
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Mar 20 2007 23:08

more well dressed than you? is that possible?

Battlescarred
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Mar 21 2007 09:15

It is, oh yes it is!!

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Mar 21 2007 21:48
sovietpop wrote:
more well dressed than you? is that possible?

well i've only rocked the polo-neck and suitjacket look once or twice - the ICC hit that shit up all the time!!111

Battlescarred
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Mar 22 2007 17:11

bump

Black Flag
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Mar 22 2007 19:48

Changing the subject completley , I would just like to point out that I am very interested in joining the AF.I e-mailed the AF about 2 weeks ago atleast and have not had a response.I would just like to know if I would have to pay any subs or whatever,incidently I am unemployed and live in south east Kent.

knightrose
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Mar 26 2007 16:29

Has anyone been in touch with you yet?
Subs are £1.50 a month - less than the price of a pint smile More for people earning more.

Spikymike
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Mar 29 2007 11:53

This is interesting - the ICC seem to be using their more modest participation in the Lib Com discussion forum to branch out and start attending (again) some anarchist forums (two of their members recently attended a Sol Fed meeting in Manchester and were reasonably restrained, though I wasn't very restrained in my comments to them afterwards!). People are particularly wary about this given some of their past participation involving long, standardised and rather arrogant 'interventions'. And yet it has to be admitted that they have assisted much debate and clarification on this (Lib Com) forum, so perhaps they should be given another chance? I know they are primarily interested in recruiting but they are not so different to some others in that respect.

On the subject of this meeting their posting would assist a discussion. It would be useful for instance to contest their understanding of the 'Refusal of Work' , which to my thinking is/has been a genuine collective, rather than just individual expression, of working class revolt by those genuinely reduced to undifferentiated labour under modern capitalism, whilst some of their other points we could surely agree with.

Whilst the AF expresses a good deal more honesty, humanity and general good humour in its organisation and activity than does the ICC, it could still benefit from a bit more rigour in its analysis which this kind of confrontation of ideas might assist.

I say this as someone who elswhere on Lib Com has been rather rude about the ICC as an organisation, but frankly none of us are are perfect in this sphere.

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Mar 29 2007 21:05
Quote:
Whilst the AF expresses a good deal more honesty, humanity and general good humour in its organisation and activity than does the ICC, it could still benefit from a bit more rigour in its analysis which this kind of confrontation of ideas might assist.

i think you may well be right on this one, but you have to understand the AF rarely does these kind of meetings compared to a trot group - the introductory stuff, 'what is sociaslism?', reform or revolution?, 'which way is up?' etc.
so whilst a bit of debate might be beneficial to the hammering out of our positions, having ICC style groups turn up to meetings like these would just end in a fucked up shambles (like most of the socialist meetings i've attended).

If the ICC wanna have a meeting, the ICC can have a meeting imho.

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Mar 30 2007 14:25

Spikey: your comments sit quite well with the point I made in the discussion about this on the London events thread, ie. that the ICC should be 'judged' on the basis of our participation in this forum, which much more clearly expresses our view of how we should relate to the libertarian milieu than any errors that may have been made in the past.

knightrose
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Mar 30 2007 17:35

Does this mean we are now part of the "proletarian camp" and you are going to be nice to us? Or are we "parasites" who demand condemnation?

nastyned
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Mar 31 2007 15:21
knightrose wrote:
Does this mean we are now part of the "proletarian camp" and you are going to be nice to us? Or are we "parasites" who demand condemnation?

That was how Subversion were characterised by the ICC at various times. The AF are 'the bourgeoisie masquerading as proletarians' and 'anarchist defenders of capitalism' so I don't think we've ever been in the 'proletarian camp' (or been 'parasites' for that matter). But then I would characterise the ICC as a 'loony cult' so I can't say I'm bothered. smile

On a more serious note, I really don't think there would be any benefit in having contact with the ICC. In fact the whole ultra-left thing of holding the purest position possible on paper, and engaging in points scoring competitions with other groups about it, is of very little real use. In the unlikely event of me deciding to re-engage with a milieu I've tried to distance myself from I'd be more interested in the activist milieu. Their politics may be worse on paper but I'm sure I'd have a more interesting time.

knightrose
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Mar 31 2007 16:50

Actually Subversion were characterised as differnt thigns at different times by the ICC. It seemed to depend on which way the wind was blowing. Their attitude to us changed accordingly.

I agre with you. I've not got the inclination to engage in long debates with them.

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Alf
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Apr 2 2007 14:41

The issue here isn't our characterisation of Subversion or the AF. This is an issue we will come back to in a different context, and on the basis of the general criteria we use for defining the class nature of political organisations.

The point is that these are public meetings which we have been barred from without any serious justification. The fact that we may or may not have made overlong interventions, or raised them at a good or a bad moment, is hardly the issue. Did we actually disrupt the meeting by shouting people down, refusing to go through the chair, etc? Did we use threats or physical intimidation? We haven't even been accused of this. In the absence of any attempt to prove that we have disrupted its meetings, we can only assume that the real reason we are barred is because the AF (or a part of it ) doesn't want its meetings to be a place where political differences can be confronted and doesn't want us there because it knows that we will not shy away from raising them.

Battlescarred
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Apr 3 2007 10:13

I rest my case (see above)

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Alf
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Apr 3 2007 16:28

A case without a charge sheet - the bourgeois courts are certainly fairer

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Apr 3 2007 17:36
Alf wrote:
A case without a charge sheet - the bourgeois courts are certainly fairer

almost certainly smile

Battlescarred
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Apr 4 2007 08:20

Hmmm, coming from admirerers of the Bolsheviks and talking about fair courts? I think not!

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Apr 4 2007 09:06

So does that mean that they're banned because they're admirers of the Bolsheviks?

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Demogorgon303
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Apr 4 2007 10:12

Well, revol, it seems to be the only concrete charge levelled at them. If people are banned simply because of personal reactions to individuals, where does it all end?

If they speak for too long, ask them to shut up. I'd have no qualms about doing this to one of them (or anyone else for that matter) in our local discussion meetings if I thought they were hogging the floor or butting in. The point is that a well-run meeting should have mechanisms to deal with that kind of thing. Perhaps the people in question don't have enough confidence in their abilities to do this?

Free discussion between workers of all political persuasions is vital to the development of class consciousness. The banning of an individual or a group from a public meeting is a very serious matter because it throws that principle into question. This doesn't mean that bans should never happen, but it needs to be approached in a rigorous and serious manner.

Who made to decision to ban the ICC? Was there a vote taken? Did the AF produce a resolution or public communique on the question? What were the specific charges made against them? Haven't seen anything myself.

Battlescarred
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Apr 4 2007 10:34

Well who cares?

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Tojiah
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Apr 4 2007 10:35
Demogorgon303 wrote:
Free discussion between workers of all political persuasions is vital to the development of class consciousness.

No, being all fly and rad is what's vital to the development of class consciousness. Letting high-brow intellectuals like the ICC into their awesome-cool meetings would cramp AFed's style, make them look square, and there's no better way to alienate the working class than being a square, man!

Battlescarred
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Apr 4 2007 10:43

There was a vote, it was unanimous and a letter was sent to the ICC.
Frankly, we were sick of the ICC parasiting off of our meetings, making constant interventions and refusing to cut these interventions short.
Our public meetings are to introduce anarchist ideas to people new to them, not as a venue for an attempt at recruiting by the ICC. This decision was made several years ago now. The ICC is now attempting to make political capital out of this and no doubt will make some big deal in their newsheet, as they are now doing here.
As I said, these meetings were/are meant as an introduction to our ideas. If the ICC sincerely wanted to debate with us, why have they not asked for such a debate ?( not that we'd take it up)
End of discussion, as far as I am concerned.

Battlescarred
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Apr 4 2007 11:09

Actually, there is one further thing I want to say.
It really is rich the ICC adopting this pious tone.
Look here in September 2003 in their monthly publication:
"The ICC has taken the decision to bar from its public forums and contact meetings members of the so-called ‘Internal Fraction’ of the ICC (note 1). This is the first time that our organisation has taken such a decision and it is necessary to explain publicly the reasons for it to the groups and elements of the proletarian political milieu and the working class in general. "

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Apr 4 2007 11:44
Jack wrote:
Then organise some. The AF clearly don't want to. It's their meeting, their choice.

No, it's quite clear they don't. And yes, it is their choice, but I find this suggests that groups aren't responsible to anyone other than themselves. I think they're responsible to the working class.

And, as a matter of fact, I am involved in a discussion group locally and the question how to manage meetings is of interest to me.

Battlescarred wrote:
There was a vote, it was unanimous and a letter was sent to the ICC.

Was this an "open" letter?

Battlescarred wrote:
Frankly, we were sick of the ICC parasiting off of our meetings, making constant interventions and refusing to cut these interventions short.

If a meeting is chaired how can they make "constant interventions" unless you allow them to. Did they refuse to accept the discipline of the chair? Long interventions can be a problem and this can be a subjective matter. I find interventions I disagree with far longer than those I agree with. Perhaps if this is considered a problem interventions should be timed - as long as its one rule for everyone, this would be fair enough.

Battlescarred wrote:
Our public meetings are to introduce anarchist ideas to people new to them, not as a venue for an attempt at recruiting by the ICC.

This may not be your intention, but the way you phrase this sounds like they are not intended to be meetings for discussion of those ideas, let alone challenging them. As for the ICC recruiting, this has been discussed before but I've been in contact with them for over 10 years and they have never once asked me if I want to join or even raised the issue. In my experience, they see this as a decision that needs to come from the contact concerned not from them. Of course, that is just my experience but I haven't seen them thrusting membership applications into the hands of random people at public meetings, even their own.

Battlescarred wrote:
This decision was made several years ago now. The ICC is now attempting to make political capital out of this and no doubt will make some big deal in their newsheet, as they are now doing here

I'm not sure it's just the ICC that have a critical response to this issue. My view is that this is not simply a question of the AF and the ICC. It is more a question about how political organisations manage their interventions and how the proletariat organises its discussions. I think saying they're trying to make capital out of it is a bit cynical, but I have to say there's an easy way to neutralise it: let them come to the meeting, establish ground rules and then if they're are terrible as you say, they'll quickly hang themselves in public for everyone to see.

Battlescarred wrote:
As I said, these meetings were/are meant as an introduction to our ideas. If the ICC sincerely wanted to debate with us, why have they not asked for such a debate ?( not that we'd take it up)

They probably think that's what public meetings are for. After all that is the purpose of their own meetings, so they undoubtedly assume it's the same for everyone. The type of meetings that you're describing seem to be more along educational lines than a presentation followed by discussion. Again, I could be misinterpreting you but that is my impression.

Unfortunately, though, the fact that you seem to be saying that you would not want to debate with the ICC in any circumstances seems to reinforce the impression that this is not simply a question of the ICC (or individual members) being a pain in the ass but that the reason for their exclusion is definitively political after all.

Battlescarred wrote:
End of discussion, as far as I am concerned.

Up to you, of course.

nastyned
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Apr 4 2007 13:30
Demogorgon303 wrote:
... I think they're responsible to the working class.
...

It's OK Demogorgon, we checked with the working class before banning the ICC and they were totally fine with it. smile