Anarchist federation Public Meeting in London

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Lone Wolf
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Apr 6 2007 02:21
nastyned wrote:
I wouldn't call him a cunt John. as I don't think he was malicious. Though I suppose towards the end he was getting a bit aggy.

No he def. wasn't...i only met him once tho - we had a long convo on AR tbh. tongue ..he was really really amiable..doesn't mean he didn't have a side i didn't get to see tho...but for me to label someone a cunt..wow.. their behaviour would have to be REALLY extreme...

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Apr 6 2007 02:28
the button wrote:
The AF member I was thinking of, who defined as an anarchosyndicalist on his libcom profile, has changed it. The little tinker. Perhaps there are more, though. ;)

McCarthyite!!!

You are just hoping to discredit us so you can recruit more peeps for SolFed.. I see through your cunning plan.. angry wink

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Apr 6 2007 11:05
Demogorgon303 wrote:
treeofjudas, if you read what I said earlier about the ICC, you'd see that they have developed their positions on a number of issues. On the other hand, there are some positions that you cannot abandon without ceasing to be part of the workers' movement. For example, as far as internationalism goes there is no compromise, period.

That's not the point at all. The question is whether the ICC even bothers engaging in conversations as places for developing ideas, as opposed to just making as good a case as possible for their set positions. If it's the latter, then they're not being dialectical, but bourgeois debators, which distances them from the worker's movement, which must constantly reassess and reexamine itself, yes, even when it comes to internationalism (you, yourself supported a kind of nationalism in the American Civil War; different times, different mores, eh?).

knightrose
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Apr 6 2007 11:30

Meetings are usually intended to be an opportunity for people to discuss their ideas. Experience with the ICC for me has always been that their intention is that meetings should be an opportunity for people to discuss their ideas.

I've already explained what they did when we (I was in Subversion then) had a meeting in Manchester on Nestle and breastfeeding. The ICC arrived and promptly told us we were discussing the wrong topic and then told us what we should have been discussing. They even brought a member up from London to attend the meeting. I have memories of their "interventions" that date back to the mid 70s. They all had the same disruptive effect.

My assessment is that their presence at meetings discourages people from coming back.

If we chair meetings in such a way as to make their interventions short and to the point we are made to look like we won't allow discussion. Better that they hold their own meetings and that people go along and see them there. Sadly, I won't be one of the people attending.

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Apr 6 2007 12:37
tojiah wrote:
That's not the point at all. The question is whether the ICC even bothers engaging in conversations as places for developing ideas, as opposed to just making as good a case as possible for their set positions. If it's the latter, then they're not being dialectical, but bourgeois debators, which distances them from the worker's movement, which must constantly reassess and reexamine itself, yes, even when it comes to internationalism (you, yourself supported a kind of nationalism in the American Civil War; different times, different mores, eh?).

On reflection, I agree that the way I expressed myself earlier probably was too mechanical and I agree when you say that the workers movement must constantly reasses and re-examine itself. Nonetheless, in practice, the way this is done is through open confrontation of differing positions. We must never forget that the workers movement seeks to understand reality and that, as a result, some positions will comform better to reality than others. It is therefore possible for some positions to be "wrong" and others to be "right", even if we acknowledge that outside the abstract realms of logic or mathematics there is always an element of doubt. Od course, we also have to remember that reality itself changes - a position that is correct today, may be wrong tomorrow.

To take a rather crude example, if you ever enter into a debate with a racist or a homophobe, are you really ready to be "open-minded" to the idea that black people are inferior or that gay people should be stoned? Are you not, in fact, trying to convince them that they are wrong?

Obviously there are varying degrees of error and convincing someone, say, of the decadence of capitalism is hardly the same as persuading them to abandon racism! The point here is not so much the question being debated, but acknowledging that it's not entirely unacceptable for people to enter a debate being convinced of their own position!

Knightrose, obviously I can't comment on the specifics of that meeting but is it not acceptable to respond to a presentation to say it has posed a question incorrectly? I remember talking to someone about sweatshops and pointing out that the whole campaign against them actually made exploitation in West seem acceptable. I'd have no problem at all in raising that point in public meeting on the topic and pushing the idea that capitalism as a whole has to be destroyed. I've no doubt some would regard that as a "change" in topic, but in my opinion it would be trying to get to the real heart of the question. Perhaps that simply reinforces your view of the ICC and/or its sympathisers, I don't know.

Spikymike
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Apr 6 2007 14:16

AF/ICC and Genuine discussion.

First an apology, because I think it was me who referred to ICC recruiting, not any member of the AF. It was just sloppy use of language. I really just meant that ICC 'interventions' (part of a political language the ICC helped invent) were aimed primarily at enhancing their own importance and self image. Treofjudas, I think has got closest to the heart of the problem in this thread. None-the-less it is still possible for our own ideas to be sharpened in discussion with the likes of the ICC, though others may be right in thinking thats best left to the Lib Com forum?

Some (only) of my own views on the contradictions of the ICC were expressed in a slightly off beat discussion with Robbo on the Thought Forum 'reformism' thread, which any of you interested can check out.

Certainly the ICC cannot be too critical of others when it comes to generating open discussion, given their own shutting down of this within their own organisation. The best products of the ICC, though some sadly short lived, have been those that escaped. One, 'Internationist Perspectives' have certainly blossomed outside the ICC's confines and are worth checking out., though they would still accept the ICC as part of the same political camp. Given the abuse heaped at them by the ICC in the past this is surely generous, but a spirit worth emulating in my opinion.

The ICC may have degenerated from its hopeful beginnings ( longevity being no guarantee of progress) but it still holds on to some clear pro-revolutionary politics.

It is a struggle for any pro-revolutionary minority in current circumstances to maintain the right balance between maintaining clear 'class lines' and consistent politics on the one hand and engaging with our fellow workers in a creative way on the other, at the risk of being compromised and 'swamped' by the 'ruling ideas'. Few, if any groups manage this consistently. The AF tries and can be excused some failings. Members of the ICC have in the past also tried but the ICC has been unable to accomodate them.

'Wildcat' and 'Subversion' in the past were, in my opinion, quite good at maintaining this balance but the effort, frankly wore us out. At least we had the good sense to know when to quit.

Some 'class lines' (to borrow fron the ICC), are worth defending, but however much 'organisation' as such is necessary, we shouldn't spend so much energy defending 'our' particular organisations.

Genuine, useful discussion, needs to be along the lines that Treeofjudas suggests.

knightrose
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Apr 6 2007 18:57
revol68 wrote:
i still can't believe Subversion had a meeting on Nestle and breastfeeding.

Well, is it inappropriate to hold a meeting on one of the effects of capitalism's exploitation that leads to the premature death of millions a year?
The ICC's intervention was to say that we should have held the meeting on another topic, not to suggest we were approaching it the wrong way.

knightrose
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Apr 6 2007 21:07

Revol - the meeting was years ago. I think it was in 1994 or 1995. It analysed what went on. Don't you ever have meetings that have an educational value - to explain some of the shit that happens? It helps to remind ourselves sometimes. And sometimes we call meetings on topics to try and attract others to come along. And no, we didn't call for a boycott.

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Apr 7 2007 22:34

They’re just a bunch of nasty bloody Bolsheviks.

They’d shoot anarchist militants then call it a debate — or maybe ideological education.

Keep them out.

Dan.

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Apr 8 2007 07:16

yearzero - have you taken the trouble to read what we say about the Russian revolution: we come from a marxist tradition which was opposed to the suppression of the anarchists and made this very clear, from Miasnikov to the Italian communist left.

Battlescarred thinks he's found a trump card:

"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.
"

We are not opposed on principle to banning people from meetings. We are not 'democrats'. But we do think it's a serious step to take because for us the ecouragement of debate and political confrontation is always the priority . We made it quite clear why we were banning the IFICC and said so publicly. We said that they had openly compromised the security of our organisation and made physical threats against our miitants. That's what we call disrupting meetings, not speaking too long or having views you disagree with. We are still waiting for any public explanation from the AF about why we are banned.

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Apr 8 2007 12:42

Alf, you've had an explanation, you just didn't like it. Go cry about it somewhere else, eh?

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Apr 9 2007 10:12

We've asked for a precise explanation detailing "disruptive" behaviour, and I don't think we've had it.

tigersiskillers
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Apr 9 2007 13:07

To be fair Alf, the AF responses have been clear that the ICC has been a disruptive presence in the past, hogging time and attempting to disrail discussions.

Anyone who makes interventions at meetings rather than contributions is acting like an arrogant arse in any case.

nastyned
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Apr 9 2007 17:17
Spikymike wrote:
'Wildcat' and 'Subversion' in the past were, in my opinion, quite good at maintaining this balance but the effort, frankly wore us out. At least we had the good sense to know when to quit.

Not everyone in Wildcat knew when to quit!

Spikymike
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Apr 10 2007 18:11

Yes, I forgot a couple reformed Widcat briefly and did indeed produce some useful stuff but appear to have gone all primitivist in the end - perhaps you can go too far in looking for the root of things.

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Apr 10 2007 21:44
Spikymike wrote:
Yes, I forgot a couple reformed Widcat briefly and did indeed produce some useful stuff but appear to have gone all primitivist in the end - perhaps you can go too far in looking for the root of things.

the primmos are just multicellular fetishists. the division of labour begins at a cellular level - all power to the amoeba! wink

Dave Smith
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Apr 10 2007 22:46

Well fuck me libcom does that bit from the life of Brian, let us goose step into oblivion

nastyned
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Apr 11 2007 07:39

I don't remember the amoeba scene from the life of brian wink

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Apr 12 2007 18:37
Spikymike wrote:
Yes, I forgot a couple reformed Widcat briefly and did indeed produce some useful stuff but appear to have gone all primitivist in the end - perhaps you can go too far in looking for the root of things.

Comment on Wildcat here;
http://libcom.org/forums/history/wildcat

Devrim

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Apr 14 2007 09:48
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If it is about the ICC recruiting, all you have to do is get one person to say that the ICC asked him/her to join to prove me wrong.

Alternately you could be denying that the AF recruit people who have no idea about class politics on the basis of 'anarchism'. I would think that you are even more dubious ground there.

ICC may not recruit but they don't add to a debate, they say what they have to say and then repeat it in my experience. I don't really see what positive effect their interventions coud possibly have.

Quote:
I can't but help thinking your evident frustration with the ICC springs from the fact you don't feel able to convince them of the correctness of your own positions.

I can't convince a christian God doesn't exist, that doesn't mean that he does.

Demogorgon, have you ever wondered why after 10 years they still haven't asked you to join? Mabe they're too polite to tell you to go away smile

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Apr 14 2007 10:12
jef costello wrote:
Demogorgon, have you ever wondered why after 10 years they still haven't asked you to join? Mabe they're too polite to tell you to go away

If true, their noble desire to protect my feelings would kinda destroy the argument that they're so shockingly rude and offensive wouldn't it laugh out loud

jef costello wrote:
I can't convince a christian God doesn't exist, that doesn't mean that he does.

Of course you can, there are millions of ex-Christians out there, and some ex-ICC people too for that matter.

If we stop debating with people because they appear intransigent in their views in the face of reality, then the libcom project is an utter waste of time because that characterises 95% of all the posters on this BBS.

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Apr 14 2007 10:55

This is my final say on the matter as I see little point in continuing this. For me, the main issue is the effect of visitors to meetings on others who are there. If someone comes along and makes lengthy, detailed interventions using a language that is not readily understood by others and refers to theories that are assumed but not explained, then I ask what effect it has on others who have come along perhaps for the first time. I am not happy to put in considerable effort to organise meetings, often attracting quite a few people new to anarchism, to have them put off by others. Neither do I want meetings to have to be chaired in such a way as to have to control visitors - we'll do it if necessary, but prefer not doing so. It's about creating an appropriate atmosphere.

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Apr 14 2007 15:24
the button wrote:
The AF member I was thinking of, who defined as an anarchosyndicalist on his libcom profile, has changed it. The little tinker. Perhaps there are more, though. ;)

oh definitely there are strong anarchosyndicalist sympathisers/anarchosyndicalists in the AF. There aren't many people who are totally opposed to it IME either.

Personally i'd happily have anarchosyndicalist material on an AF stall as is don't see it as contradictory, and i'm one of many AF wobs.*

*bad standing sad

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Apr 14 2007 15:41
madashell wrote:
Jack wrote:
Someone in AF once told me that no one had ever been formally kicked out, altho I dunno if that's true?

AFAIK, the procedures to formally kick somebody out have only been used once, and the vote came down in that person's favour.

In Gentle Revolutionary's case, there was a bit of a disagreement over his support for the SSP and he resigned in a huff, nobody was "made to feel uncomfortable".

nah, the SSP was a previous argument. He seemed to be deliberately argumentative on it too.

He left over the AWL, which he later joined. I can't remember why it was being discussed, but he leapt to their defence/or possibly was the origin of the discussion and after we nattered on about the AWL (rather than the matter at hand - as we are wont to do grin) i think he said he was writing for them. I said if he didn't think there was anything wrong with the AWL and that they were a good group, then perhaps he should leave the AF cos we did. It was in the nicest way possible, but yeah he did leave after that comment.

secretly tho i wasn't really asking!!!!111 I was TELLING!!!111

He is now a luxembourgist and is a happily paid up AWfuL member. Having known the awl and him quite well - and liked them both - they are very suited. Over-read, hyperactive and very opposed to violence. Real lefties, with badges and that. People who start conversations with 'i saw your paper the otherday and i disagree with your policy on...' rather than 'alright you cunt, haven't seen you in ages'. Drink pints to start with, but after a couple they get the confidence to order a white wine like they wanted to in the first place.

heh i could go on grin

The ICC: even tho i am a youngster, i have actually had a ICC meeting experience! They came to an anti-war direct action meeting - the one which sackparliament and charging the US embassy came out of (it was never going to be a great meeting...) and immiediately told us we were discussing the wrong thing and we should be discussing why we opposed the war, not how. We actually opened with 'we all oppose the war for different reasons, this is about what we think we can do' to stop deviations, but they didn't care. They were also all fat and flustery about being told to keep on tack and generally annoying lefty at another lefty group's meeting about things.

Fuck that.

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Apr 14 2007 22:15

Jef: Once again, you disappoint me.

Tacks: are you talking about the '"assembly for direct action against Israeli attacks" held before the big pro-Hizbollah demonstration in August?

Here is my account of this meeting on this thread:

http://libcom.org/node/8600?page=1

If you look at the thread, you will see that my criticisms of the way this meeting was conducted struck chords with a fair number of people.

We didn't disrupt the meeting in any way. But the organisation of the meeting was from the beginning set up to suppress any poitical debate about whether we supported Hizbollah and similar questions. I think we were perfectly right to criticise this.

"I went with a couple of other ICC comrades to the "Assembly for direct action against Israeli attacks” at the LSE. There were around 80 people with some comings and goings. We gave out our statement on the current war.
The tone of the meeting was set right away. The “facilitators” who had called the meeting and chaired it, without having been elected to do so, said that this was a meeting to discuss “action” and that it wasn’t the place to discuss “ideology” or “philosophy”, and “we just want what’s happening in Lebanon and Iraq to stop” We (ICC comrades) made one of several attempts to question this: how can you carry out any kind of action without having some discussion about what you are actually for, who you support and don’t support? Some people for example tell you that the way to stop what’s happening is to support the Resistance in Iraq or Hizbollah.. The initial response of the “facilitators” and others was that there wasn’t time for this and people who wanted to discuss the politics of it should call another meeting. But in fact quite a few people had reservations about this refusal to discuss “philosophy”. There was a show of hands and around fifteen people said that there should be some time given over to a more general discussion, and the facilitators seemed at this point to accept that this would be necessary.
However this idea immediately got buried when someone who gave the impression of being an experienced ‘non-violent activist’ type said that he agreed that there had to be some guiding idea and that it was obviously the slogan “immediate ceasefire now”. This produced a forest of wavy hand signals implying agreement and almost immediately we were down to the serious questions of the day: shall we do direct actions at the Saturday demo, or on another day; should we throw eggs at the US embassy or try to storm it? Should we “hit” the British embassy or the Israeli embassy or British army bases; can we get hold of the big yellow mock-up bulldozer from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign; should be bang saucepans or pop balloons to make noise, or shall we leave it to the Samba band….etc. Meanwhile everyone agreed that there would be at least one policeman present at the meeting but kept on talking anyway.
It struck me that the people at this meeting were intelligent and articulate. But it was like being in a nightmare where it is impossible to have any conscious direction of what you are doing. Each and every attempt to ask for a moment’s reflection was ruled out of order. I felt at one point like proposing that we also “hit” the Iranian or Syrian embassy as the only way to challenge the overwhelmingly anti-US, anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian nationalist ideology which rules without question over both the Stop the War Coalition and its “direct action” critics, but didn’t because that would have only added more confusion to what was already confused enough.
I noticed quite a few people there from the last No War But The Class War group, but with one or two exceptions (one of them also protested that any real discussion was being stamped on), they seem to have gone wholeheartedly over to this kind of unthinking “activistoidism”. I would argue that it was precisely this kind of activism which destroyed that effort to construct any kind of coherent internationalist opposition to the war in Iraq. Today it seems that the activistoids are not being challenged at all. In that sense I don’t regret going because at least it helps to know what you’re up against.
We perhaps should have stayed to the bitter end but we (like some of the others who had wanted a minimal level of discussion) just couldn’t take any more and left them to the debate about whether to throw eggs or something more vegan. In any case, with the chaotic procedure of the meeting, it was looking increasingly unlikely that any agreement about “action” would be achieved anyway. Not surprising given that the “assembly” had no defining aim and certainly didn’t represent a real movement of struggle.
I could say a lot more about the profound substitutionism of this “anti-authoritarian” direct action approach, and the way the “open”, “let’s all sit in a circle and have facilitators and do wavy hand signals” way of discussing functions in an extremely repressive way that is antipathetic to a proletarian culture of debate, but I will leave it there for now".

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Apr 14 2007 22:56

yes alf, and i'm sure they way you've put that would get you a lot of support from libcommers, but you know very fucking well what kind of meeting it was before you even turned up. Acting all surprised like you didn't know there is a way thse things are done is just bollocks.

the facilitators weren't elected? No mate. They called the fucking meeting. If people wanted to do a NVDA on the march and didin't need a meeting to organise that would have been peachy, generally things like that don't happen without some kind of planning.

Now i'm not leaping to the defence of the meeting: it was bollocks, you need to have a proper structure and at least sokme ideas before just going 'right what does everyone think, lets pretend we are all telepaths anf can come up with something from scratch ina group of fifty'. It also had shit politics.

But i knew that, and still didn't feel the need to do what you did which was wait to read out your views, suggest a totally different program, encourage people to vote to split the meeting etc.

Technically what you did is all well and good, but any...

oh wait i'll point this out i think it explains a lot:

Quote:
whether to throw eggs or something more vegan.

No, there was a crack aimed at vegans by the person suggesting the eggs - not genuine discussion. It was a joke, a wind up aimed at vegans. Thats why everyone laughed. You wouldn't have got that tho, cos you're a robot.

Even the way you are overanalysing such a silly meeting in the first place is funny. It was a rag tag meeting of student trots and activistoids and your talking about

Quote:
an extremely repressive way that is antipathetic to a proletarian culture of debate

- blimey.

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Apr 15 2007 09:53

To be honest Tacks, I'm not entirely clear exactly what you disagree with in Alf's account. There are the usual attacks on the ICC's perceived 'lack of humour' and 'overanalysing', but you state that "technically what you did is all well and good". There seems to be a reluctant acknowledgement that the ICC's intervention on that occasion might have had a point.

The ICC might not have 'got the joke' about eggs and vegans but what's far more worrying is the fact that people don't seem to have got the serious points that they were making about that kind of movement.

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Apr 15 2007 11:35
Alf wrote:
Jef: Once again, you disappoint me.

makes a change to have a bloke say that smile

Not quite sure how I did though. I am quite happy to talk with ICC members (I've even come to one of your meetings) but the ICC have a decided, unchangeable position and it often seems that the analysis is shaped to fit the arguments that exist already. I'll not get into a debate on the ICC, this is the AF forum after all.

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Apr 15 2007 12:14
Demogorgon303 wrote:
To be honest Tacks, I'm not entirely clear exactly what you disagree with in Alf's account. There are the usual attacks on the ICC's perceived 'lack of humour' and 'overanalysing', but you state that "technically what you did is all well and good". There seems to be a reluctant acknowledgement that the ICC's intervention on that occasion might have had a point.

The ICC might not have 'got the joke' about eggs and vegans but what's far more worrying is the fact that people don't seem to have got the serious points that they were making about that kind of movement.

i started the sentence with "technically what you did is all well and good" and was going to end it with ''but the slightest smidgen of social nuance would have shown it to be pointless and disruptive''. There is a massive gap between what seems like a sensible thing to do on paper and how it actually pans out in a group of people. i felt the fact they were the only ppl to not get the joke about eggs illustrated this just as well.

I refuse to accept that the ICC might have had a good point here: 'why do we oppose the war in lebanon' really is different question and would have drawn a different audience and had a totally different proccess. They were and are welcome to call that meeting. Disrupting someone else's got them nowhere.

A far better tactic is to involve yourself in what is being planned, get an idea of where the other ppl i with their politics, be a positive member and then crack on with what you think is the main point. Thats what i was doing.

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Apr 15 2007 12:44
Tacks wrote:
A far better tactic is to involve yourself in what is being planned, get an idea of where the other ppl i with their politics, be a positive member and then crack on with what you think is the main point. Thats what i was doing.

Entryism in other words?