The direction of the AF

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madashell
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Mar 3 2009 00:32
The direction of the AF

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jonathan cottam wrote:
In the last two years the Anarchist Federation has doubled in size, already comparable to the biggest groups in the 80's at the same time they have upped the workrate so much they have gone from a four page monthly a4 bulletin to a eight page one .utterly astounding! In one sense or another.

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Django wrote:
I'd actually like for us to have a larger paper, but not at the expense of being free and not to step on Freedom's toes. Our press does need to improve, and it is doing, but we need to consolidate changes before we make more ambitious moves. We're not interested in duplicating what Freedom are doing, or putting together a party paper we won't sell. We've got some big stuff on the horizon so we can't spread ourselves too thin. But claiming our work just goes into putting out a freesheet is plain trolling. We're hardly a mass movement, and we can be much better (the amount of work the Commune manage to do with so few people should be setting the benchmark), but we're up to a lot more than that.

For anyone interested in the AFs press, we should be releasing three new, original pamphlets shortly after April too.

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jonathan cottam wrote:
I'm glad your doing the community pamphlet, since it was my idea. But what is purpose of these pamphlets? You can't set in stone strategies that are decided upon by events and the people whose struggles your'e involved in. Its like the 2/3 rule, you want AF theory to be static and set in stone, you don't want to develope and relate your theoretical growth in relation to real people and their experience, you want a doctrine, it's pure leftism honestly, and I'm not trolling, this is what I think, it's one of the reasons I left, ofcourse some people didn't have that option did they? But I'm not going into that on libcom, we show solidarity in struggle, i am interseted in debating where your'e going with the AF and why so we can learn and improve through discussion.
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madashell
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Mar 3 2009 00:49
jonathan cottam wrote:
I'm glad your doing the community pamphlet, since it was my idea. But what is purpose of these pamphlets? You can't set in stone strategies that are decided upon by events and the people whose struggles your'e involved in.

Jon, I think you've got the wrong idea altogether about what we're trying to achieve with the community pamphlet. The idea isn't to have a one size fits all strategy for all situations in perpetuity, but to examine how we relate to community struggles, what has worked in the past, what hasn't and what we can learn from this.

We followed a similar process with the workplace strategy pamphlet (I can't remember whether or not you were a member when we began work on it), we started by looking at what we were already doing, why we were doing it and what lessons we can draw from past experience and then developed a text around this.

Nobody in the AF is expected to agree with everything in our pamphlets, even the ones that are written as the "position" of the whole fed (Beyond Resistance, the workplace pamphlet, the proposed community pamphlets, etc.). The real value of these strategic pamphlets (IMO) is in providing us with a means to seriously examine our activity in one particular area and explaining to people outside the AF why we do things in a particular way and why we argue for the forms of organisation and action that we do (to the extent that those forms fit the situation).

jonathan cottam
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Mar 3 2009 18:14

Good answer comrade. My point is not that you should not try to develope strategies and theories to explain your position but that these take the form of instruments that are free of ideology, to be aplied or not aplied in real situations. i feel that your pamphlets and postion papers actually set up structures and ideas to be served that cause alienation between members developing and improving their own struggle and between the workers/excluded the theory is aimed at. When we should be aiming to learn from them not set up a prior tactic that could either be dated or not prefered, since a lot of these pamphlets, including one on the industrial strategy are mainly the result of abstract thinking rather than experience of intervention I think this makes the situation even worse. The theories of the AF were set up twenty years ago and those leading the AF have done everything in their power including position papers and a rule that you can not change AF policy without a 2/3 vote, to keep it static,granted, I know these thing were implemented democratically by conference where every one had a say who was bothered, but I think the fact that so few people bothered to have a say is because they already feel alienated from decission making, in the sense that they feel they can have nothing of value to offer but just get on with it. The more you do this the more mistakes you will make, and it is suffocating for people trying to elaborate their own struggle.

jonathan cottam
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Mar 3 2009 18:58

To take this out of abstraction, so you understand better what I think you should be doing in your publications. The best example I can think of in the english speaking world was the American anarchist magazine 'a murder of crows'. This magazine was perfectly coherent with out the chaos AF seem to think would result from an informal format, as is always the case. In this magazine, stategies for struggle and the lessons of, were put forward acording to the experience of peoples intervention, with out any organisational line. They were direct results of peoples explorarations and were useful, what was applied in one situation may be applied in another or not, they were put forward to help struggle and growth. The AF on the other hand has a doctrine. There has never been a need for formal organisation and I think you could learn lessons from the way thing were done recently in Greece.

Jason Cortez
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Mar 3 2009 19:07
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There has never been a need for formal organisation and I think you could learn lessons from the way thing were done recently in Greece.

Are you really claiming that formal organisations were not part and parcel of what happened in Greece or that they were not in the vanguard smile or just unnecessary.

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Mar 3 2009 19:54

The only Greek anarchist I've talked to about what happened in there mentioned the need for more industrial organisation amongst anarchists in order to build more links with the working class and their struggles, due to the risk of things burning out as the anarchist movement riots itself into a corner. He said the solidarity work with K.K. was moving things in that direction, and leading to positive introspection within the Greek anarchist scene.

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Mar 3 2009 19:56
jonathan cottam wrote:
To take this out of abstraction, so you understand better what I think you should be doing in your publications. The best example I can think of in the english speaking world was the American anarchist magazine 'a murder of crows'. This magazine was perfectly coherent with out the chaos AF seem to think would result from an informal format, as is always the case. In this magazine, stategies for struggle and the lessons of, were put forward acording to the experience of peoples intervention, with out any organisational line. They were direct results of peoples explorarations and were useful, what was applied in one situation may be applied in another or not, they were put forward to help struggle and growth. The AF on the other hand has a doctrine. There has never been a need for formal organisation and I think you could learn lessons from the way thing were done recently in Greece.

That magazine is actually terrible though. Its also put together by a couple of American insurrectionists mostly analysing other people's struggles in line with their insurectionist ideology.

jonathan cottam
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Mar 3 2009 22:06

Yeh well there will always be anarcho syndicalists with theories on mass and workpace organisation. What came out of Greece was the effectivness of informal organisation, adhoc meetings, actions etc, in spreading the troubles. That such theories are incomplette is accepted, that work place organisation is a good thing is accepted, but either the insurrectional anarchists were ineffective or they rioted in to a corner, you can't have the perspective both ways, if they are effective in Greece then they are effective proving informal organisation, if the insurrection was unsuccesful because of tactical errors that will no doubt be looked at too.Informal organisation was a massive success in my opinion. Anarchist affinity groups were largely responsible for what hapened in Greece, people like you have always been saying it could never be done, instead of revising your perspective you look for things to latch on to that help to keep your damaged perspective, even the Observer got events in Greece right. Things have changed since the 1930's and how many revolutions can be judged on the first battle, how many general strikes succeeded first time? From my point of view the major thing it proved was these modern perspectives, it hapened in a classic Alfredo m Bonnano case book theory, anarchist reactions to an event set off rioting set off a near insurrection and affinity groups stoked it up to that level.

However I was not discussing Greece.Back to the AF. Not only is formal organisation not nessasary, never has been, but it stifles reaction to events down familiar uncreative avenues, alienates and degrades members and people in struggle, it is a remnant of a hundred years of working in the shadow of the left, it is authoritarian, unproductive and frequently wrong, there is more than one way, there are anarchist ways.

jonathan cottam
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Mar 3 2009 22:27

I have no idea what your getting at Jack. Preston did not find AF much fun, and were frankly glad to be exiled and concentrate on disobey. Personally I loved it till the end.

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little_brother
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Mar 3 2009 22:44

Two things:
1) Beyond Resistance, our main collective work, was published a while back now, but not 20 years (hence pamphlet no.11 chronologically ...). http://www.afed.org.uk/ace/index.html

2) AF recognises the tension between organisation and authoritarianism pretty well. That is why we think the article Tyranny of Structureless is so important, but most vital, that it is read alongside the Tyranny of Tyranny that we have consistently promoted and published:
http://www.afed.org.uk/online/tyranny.html

We also stress we are not the 'only' organisation, nor 'the organisation' that will lead the masses to revolution. In fact we recognise that revolutionary forms will arise from many arenas during times of struggle. However we have good reasons for organisation...
http://www.afed.org.uk/ace/manifest.html (Part C, ten points summing up The role of the revolutionary organisation).

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Mar 3 2009 22:50
manifesto wrote:
When the Revolution starts the state will waste no time in attempting to crush it with all the forces at its disposal; police, military (especially the use of the military of one state against the workers of another); the arming of fascists and other reactionary elements etc. The revolutionary organisation must be prepared to make this class war winnable. A strong anarchist communist organisation can help facilitate the working class itself producing coordinated armed self-defence forces, to counter the police and armies of states world-wide

lol

jonathan cottam
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Mar 3 2009 23:49

Yer strong anarchist communist organisation will be either arrested or busy running, since they will not have done anything revolutionary for the previous ten years. Affinity groups and base nuclie will be organising all this very well thank you.

Little brother, I take the point the AF is not a vanguard so why act like one? The reason for formal structure is so that an intellectual elite can take control of the masses, in the AF it serves the maintenance of thoughts and tactics that were not designed by its current membership except five people, it represents nobodys own revolutionary struggle. The idea that structure is there to prevent dictatorshi is wrong, since in recent years the AF has gone way beyond that in its structure, recentl some even put forward effectivly that structure should coerce action and restrict local autonomy, Sheffs idea at the last conference, so if that is of value to the Af you should make your own members understand that, that is what its about.The idea that structure prevents tyranny is wrong, it allows both a formal as well as informal dictatorship, my group organises on a face to face basis, and maintains that democracy is only possible on a face to face basis with people you know, we there for give all power to the groups and have no structure.

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Mar 4 2009 00:33
Jack wrote:
Was he this much fun when he was in the AF?

Just to be clear, Jon was sound when he was in the AF, and despite any criticisms he has made of us since leaving, or how he has expressed them, he remains so as far as I'm concerned.

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888
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Mar 4 2009 00:37
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In the last two years the Anarchist Federation has doubled in size, already comparable to the biggest groups in the 80's at the same time they have upped the workrate so much they have gone from a four page monthly a4 bulletin to a eight page one .

This is potentially a valid criticism. It's also true that political positions, e.g. workplace strategy, should be developed by participation in struggles. Unfortunately everything else you've said is incoherent insurrectionist nonsense, your last post in particular.

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Mar 4 2009 09:08
888 wrote:
Quote:
In the last two years the Anarchist Federation has doubled in size, already comparable to the biggest groups in the 80's at the same time they have upped the workrate so much they have gone from a four page monthly a4 bulletin to a eight page one .

This is potentially a valid criticism. It's also true that political positions, e.g. workplace strategy, should be developed by participation in struggles. Unfortunately everything else you've said is incoherent insurrectionist nonsense, your last post in particular.

Yeah I think its fair. An eight page paper once a month and a thirty page magazine twice a year isn't particularly impressive for an organisation of our size. This has come up before here actually, by comparison to what (the late) EKS and the Commune were doing. I think the Commune, though I have political differences with them, should be setting the benchmark for activity given how much they do with a fraction of the that membership we have.

I'm pleased we'll have a range of new pamphlets out shortly, but we need to keep that up.

john
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Mar 4 2009 09:25
Django wrote:
I think the Commune, though I have political differences with them, should be setting the benchmark for activity given how much they do with a fraction of the that membership we have.

who are the commune? are they a new group?

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Mar 4 2009 09:46

Yeah, they're a London based group who split from the AWL and are influenced by Solidarity amongst others. I've got problems with some of their politics, but they're up for 'communism from below' and workers self-management, which means that they are developing in the right direction. Some of them post here.

Info here.

nastyned
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Mar 4 2009 10:16

In reply to jonathan cottam:

Despite reading some of Bonano’s stuff I’ve never really got insurrectionism so you’ll have to bear with me. I know we need to destroy capitalism and the state but we also need to replace it with libertarian communism or the capitalist state will just re-emerge. Events in Greece did look very exciting, and well done to all concerned, but as far as I could see it lacked the positive ‘building a new society thing’ so was always going to be severely limited.

I don’t really get your objection to having pamphlets either. Writing and publishing pamphlets helps us clarify our ideas so we can work together better and lets other people know where we stand on certain issues. This process will influence how we act but I don’t see how it’s supposed to somehow fossilise our ideas.

I don’t see this in the structures of the AF either, particularly not in ideas we’ve never adopted, such as the proposals of the Sheffield group. The AF does have national meetings where we decide on issues that will affect the federation as a whole but groups and individuals in the AF have autonomy to act on things as they see fit, provided it doesn’t contradict the aims and principles. And even then there’s no mechanism to force you to do something else, our only option would be disassociation.

As far as affinity groups go I can’t remember the AF ever being against these, and as an AF member I’ve been involved in a few in my time where such a thing is called for wink. And to bang on about the 1930s and actual revolutionary situations for a moment the term ‘affinity group’ actual comes from the Spanish anarchists who were highly organised formally and informally. The thing is, for me informal organisation is not enough. On a few occasions I tried working with ‘eco-anarchist’ types but I can’t be bothered nowadays. I’ve been to at least three meetings where activity has been discussed and I’ve left my details only to never hear anything again as I wasn’t part of the clique. And in my experience of RTS they certainly had the ‘tyranny of structurelessness’ big time. At least if they’d had a formal central committee who really made the decisions would have been out in the open! With groups with a clear structure you can easily see how they operate and how to contact them. What's wrong with that?

posi
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Mar 4 2009 11:33
Django wrote:
Yeah, they're a London based group who split from the AWL and are influenced by Solidarity amongst others. I've got problems with some of their politics, but they're up for 'communism from below' and workers self-management, which means that they are developing in the right direction. Some of them post here.

Info here.

At a January meeting of The Commune the phrase "we are opposed to all forms of oppression of nationalities" was substituted for "unconditional support for the right of national self-determination" in the platform - the latter was criticised at length on this site a few months ago, including by Django. (Though tbh I think the biggest difference probably relates to electoral activity - in that most people associated with the group at present aren't totally against it. But that's not something that's part of the platform, that's a disagreement that's possible within the basis of unity.)

It's not only London based, there are members in Manchester, Coventry and South Wales.

In general, I would say that people interested in libertarian communism, not beholden to this or that holy tradition, are very welcome to contribute to the site, the paper, and generally to get in touch. The next issue should be out in a couple of days... [/plug]

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Mar 4 2009 11:38

Cheers for the info Posi. We weren't aware of any membership in Manchester - could you PM me contact details?

jonathan cottam
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Mar 4 2009 20:57

Yeh thanks Madashell, I'm not sure from the psudonym which comrade you are but it's nice to know comradeship with AF still exists. The tone of some of the comments I made could of been better but I hope you understand that I do not regret my time in the AF and I am pleased that it is doing so well. As for the others I don't think my comments were incoherrent and I don't see any need to add or clarify what I have already said. The people I am involved with now such as Earth First and Disobey would find your comments as equally imcomprehensible, frustrating and wrong as you find mine. Disobey is doing quite well, we have about 15 'members' in 3 towns but remains mainly parochial in Preston. We are involved in actions around the arms industry(for which I was arrested recently) and academies, as well as Earth First. I don't know if I will post on libcom again because there is such a chasm between me and the anarchists who use it. If any one in AF wishes to use it we have a Preston Anarchists My Space just set up which I am starting to post on.

blackdwarf
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Mar 5 2009 01:51

This is an interesting topic and I feel the need to contribute a few thoughts towards it. Essentially this is about how 'revolutionaries' what ever tendency they follow, should be organised amongst themselves and ultimately within the class. Should we organise separately with like minded workers in parties, federations, networks, local groups and various others loose associations or should revolutionaries never organise away from the class?

I recently left the London Anarchist Federation to try and gain some insight and clarity to this question and came up with some rather contradictory conclusions. My work with local campaign and 'defence' groups has allowed me to work with 'ordinary' workers who have very little interest in bourgeois politics, trade unions let alone revolutionary politics. Many of these organisation are very good at collectively fighting and winning workers demands through their own self activity and most importantly raise class consciousness of the participants and those directly effected. Why do proletarians need revolutionary organisations when they actually complete necessary tasks without revolutionaries? I now believe the vast majority revolutionaries would spoil the 'organic' process workers experience through direct confrontation with the ruling class coming to the conscious realisation of the need to have complete self determination within their lives. However left to their own devices many of these local groups would be an easy lunch for well financed and organised political groups with a separate well honed agenda. The Militant Tendency's intervention in the Poll Tax comes to mind...well all 'democratic' centralism in the 20th century comes to mind.There is also the strategic question of ruling class machinations during times of 'duel' power in revolution; how should workers see off the ruling class whilst retaining their self organised independent power?

As a result of my experiences I have decided concentrate on work with local organisations in which ordinary working class folk interact 'freely' with 'revolutionaries' without the need to bar them at the front door with aims and principals. There are two main reasons for this:

1) Communists will never overcome their sectarian currents and unite in one movement due to the need for various dogmatic 'leadership' tendencies to dominate all others finding its zenith within the Marxist-Leninist movements of the 20th century. This causes massive confusion amongst workers and leaves them unsure about who to trust in a fast changing situation. This has in the past forced them to make unholy alliances with counter-revolutionary forces.

2) But the working class as a whole must be unified to uproot capital with revolutionaries playing a vital role in assisting the class to avoid dead ends. How are the working class suppose to choose which of the 67 varieties of 'revolutionary' tendencies to 'trust' in the blast furnace of revolution?

Due to its nature, libertarian forms of organising can never out 'perform' efficient 'democractic' centralism in amassing critical resources and thus the extent to which libertarian communist propaganda and actions can effect the consciousness of workers.To avoid a relapse into capitalist productive and social relations the balance of forces have to remain in the favour of workers 'soviets' during revolution. How do we stop authoritarian counter-revolutionary tendencies from derailing workers self organisation? We are forced to look at a different organising strategy where we can out compete centralism: local organisation.

This form of organising has lots of problems such as unselective 'free' association with potentially disruptive politicised elements with a foreign agenda, poor internal organisation (due to a lack of established ground rules) potentially leading to structureless tyrannies, poor resource infrastructure leading to ineffective distribution of propaganda and the education of new revolutionaries and ,most importantly, an inability to overcome a tendency leading to localised isolation (which many stipulate federalism as a solution which partially I agree with). Despite these serious short comings, I feel it is local organising where we should critically focus our time and resources because we are strategically and by our prefigurative methodology ,means being consistent with ends, blocked off from effectively pursuing other more conventional methods which by their nature would lead us back to the social relations we presently suffer under: wage slavery.

From this local organising I would largely exclude many scene based collectives, Affinity groups and actions typically associated with them. Most have a 'vanguardist' quality and frequently alienate new participates and even worse exclude existing participants based on their social acceptability within influential cliques in the milieu. Its almost akin to a school playground with the cool kids running the show.

Just a quick comment on the AF. I think the AF has got it right with regards to resistance coming out once a month. Why spend most of the organisations collective productive capacity solely on churning out propaganda for the sake of it. The AFs local group members are involved in producing some noteworthy local propaganda like the Hereford Heckler, which also has a good distribution strategy:

http://herefordheckler.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/hereford-heckler-w07.pdf

The AFs main collective role IMO is to attract new people to libertarian communism, give them a decent appreciation of organised anarchist practice and theory without boring them with endless 'Capital Vol 3' reading classes or burning them out with hyper 'left' activism and above all not leaving them to mercy of the cool kids. It's main problems are internal; how to balance the 'power' of the officer 'class' with that of the numerous new membership.

Finally I've been to a couple of the communes London based events and think that it is too early to judge them as a bench mark of any sort. The group rightly focuses on propaganda and theory because that's where it's 'membership' is strongest. I'm still waiting to see how they would intervene 'actively' in a struggle like the recent oil refinery strikes. What would differentiate their intervention from that of the Militant Tendency and also by what criteria would they judge their efforts a success or failure?

nastyned
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Mar 5 2009 10:09

Funnily enough I find this pamphlet very useful.

Jason Cortez
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Mar 5 2009 10:30

I am interested in how Jonathan Cottam defines affinity groups. I don't know enough about Disobey to comment but I think that whilst some Earth First groups could be seen as affinity groups, the fact that many are contact points for folks to get involved locally and therefore are open to new people, who will not have the level of trust, experience etc as the rest of the group and therefore for those groups are clearly not affinity groups IMO (although people involved may be part of one). No form is of itself a solution.

Battlescarred
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Mar 5 2009 11:38

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the Commune have an ambivalent attitude to whether or not to work within the Labour Party?

posi
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Mar 5 2009 12:21

blackdwarf - a few points.

I think 'local organising' can be good but is also limited because:
- it is not industrial organising
- it avoids the necessity to develop an integrated, national political perspective; many of the things that effect us are determined by national (as well as international) political trends. Many need national or industrial responses.
- it is good to be involved in struggle, but good ideas do not follow mechanically or naturally from struggle. Millions of working class people were involved in militant struggle during the last century behind the ideology of the CPs. This implies the need to actively spread certain ideas. You don't have to be in an organisation to do that, but it might help.

I agree with you on (1), at least in the medium term. (2) - the working class isn't supposed to 'trust' anyone. It should develop a critical approach to everyone and everything. I don't see a perspective for building a group that will become the organic leadership of the class, in ideas or in person. I do see a perspective for developing my own ideas with others, and having a forum for people I come into contact with to do the same. I do think that organising round a political centre (a paper, or website such as libcom) has positive aspects, in terms of requiring us to keep analysing developments and spreading perspectives.

The Commune doesn't exist to be a benchmark of work, though it's nice to hear people say it - and I would emphasise we don't have any trot style work quotas. Most of each issue so far is written by people who aren't us, and occasionaly we even disagree with something, but think it worth publishing for sake of interest or factual content. I think the next issue of our paper - check site this evening - is pretty good, and I'd encourage people to do stuff for future issues. This includes people in other organisations, for example if their group doesn't have space to publish stuff of the length/type they write. Or if like libcom, there is no paper publication.

Since I don't really know what the SP did on a day to day level in the strike (do you?) I can't really comment on it. I do think they could have done a better job of spreading an alternative perspective on the strikes more widely, perhaps, given their size. I guess some of their demands weren't that exciting, but then obviously they had to reflect what workers would support. What do you think that activists involved in the dispute shoul have done that the SP didn't do?

While it'd be great to have an implantation in heavy industry, this isn't the reality of the group, and there's no sense pretending otherwise. We are ourselves. The organisation exists - in my view - to coordinate the activity of those in it in a certain sphere. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than that.

Also, Django - I've found out that the member is actually in Sheffield. I saw a report from them about a meeting in Manchester, so assumed that's where they were based.

EDIT: Battlescarred. Two people in the group are involved in the LRC. I think, though I can't speak for them, that their perspective is that Labour is beyond reform, but that the LRC is a good place to argue certain ideas, due to who is involved with it. Perhaps I am wrong about that - personally, I don't really know about the LRC.

jonathan cottam
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Mar 6 2009 12:32

Jason, disobey does not just organise as an affinity group or groups, there are groups within disobey which forms a pond for them to swim in. We have a wide net that has attracted a lot of diverse people not strictly those interested in direct action, but propaganda and media also. Due to this we were able to make the front page of the local paper and got an interview about anarchism in the next eddition.When three of us, including one person who is still AF, got arrested for an action on UCLAN roof about its connnection with the arms industry. A seies of further actions is planned with the aim of blackmailing UCLAN into adopting an ethical policy, some of these actions will be more serious, and we are also planning actions around a different issue that may well be covert and mean the reforming of the affinity group. I am in an affinity group within the pool of disobey. I think you may be confusing cells with afinity groups, the affinity group is not a secret organisation, it is an organisation of trusted friends who work together, it provides privacy but can work publically, it joins with a wider network of affinity groups to form base nuclie that become a mass organisation. I have not done an action as part of my affinity group for about a year since lack of state and corporate interest and public actions mean we have been able to operate with only the usual security measures, as used by Earth First. I would still describe the whole of disobey as affinity group based not because recent actions have been covert but because the structure is informal and it is action based. Strict adherence to affinity groups has not been nessassary.

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oisleep
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Mar 6 2009 13:02

and which part of this pool to swim within will be involved in:-

producing coordinated armed self-defence forces, to counter the police and armies of states world-wide

that you claim they will be so effective at doing (or at least more effective than the anarchist federation at doing)

seriously no wonder why people don't take anarchists seriously when not only the fantasy about them 'producing coordinated armed self-defence forces, to counter the police and armies of states world-wide' is rolled out as one of their reasons for existence, but they then indulge in debate about who would be best at it

irrelevance squared

jonathan cottam
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Mar 6 2009 18:48

Your putting somebody elses words in my mouth mate. I don't actually see it unfolding that way, it was a glib reply. Co-ordinating an armed defence force rather than arming the workers would firstly be elitist, rather than helping arm the workers should it come to that. But also I personally found it bizarre that a public organisation would take this on within structures formed to maintain ideology not co-ordinate struggle. We would be better at it should this pink elephant materialise, because we are set up for organisational intervention in struggle and have perhaps some related experience and some privacy. This response seems to be the fantassy of some kind of Platformism in the AF and LibSol generally, that come out with this kind of thing. I don't need some wonderful revolution in future where I can live a fantassy of fireing a gun, I live my revolution now and I get frustrated with people prosponing the revolution to some point in the future whilst they sell magazines because most, definitely not all, I would stress this, there are a lot of people in AF who do actions, most do not have a clue about the tension, even fear, that has to be countered every time a confrontational action is carried out like a g8 or climate camp, where it feels like you are throwing yourself onto an express train that is going to crash, or after spending time in a police cell on your own under a glaring light, knowing also that at some stage you are going to prison for an indeterminate time, these things are hard, and because a lot of people don't know that its hard, that there are moments you think your insane and want to throw in towel, they can be repected as anarchists but they can't be taken seriously as revolutionarys, because they don't know what it means.

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 6 2009 19:49
jonathon cottam wrote:
most do not have a clue about the tension, even fear, that has to be countered every time a confrontational action is carried out like a g8 or climate camp, where it feels like you are throwing yourself onto an express train that is going to crash, or after spending time in a police cell on your own under a glaring light, knowing also that at some stage you are going to prison for an indeterminate time, these things are hard, and because a lot of people don't know that its hard, that there are moments you think your insane and want to throw in towel, they can be repected as anarchists but they can't be taken seriously as revolutionarys, because they don't know what it means.

fwiw, without waving my activist credentials all over the place i came to organised, class struggle anarchism after plenty of experience of the above - and realising its limits. the same is true of most of the libcom collective and quite a few of the posters here of that generation (genoa, anti-war direct action etc). the reason i don't fetishise this stuff is not because it's hard, or because i've thrown in the towel, but because i've been there, done that and realised you can't change a social relationship by martyrdom and sheer force of will. masking up, fighting the cops and smashing up arms factories is several orders of magnitude easier than working towards collective, direct action from a class basis. however the latter at least has the potential to affect social change, the former merely satisfies the moral imperative to 'do something.' of course this isn't to say there aren't problems with the existing formal organisations, or that informal organisation is a bad thing, only that fetishising it to the exclusion of all else is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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Mar 6 2009 20:17
jonathan cottam wrote:
I would stress this, there are a lot of people in AF who do actions, most do not have a clue about the tension, even fear, that has to be countered every time a confrontational action is carried out like a g8 or climate camp, where it feels like you are throwing yourself onto an express train that is going to crash, or after spending time in a police cell on your own under a glaring light,

This sounds like macho boasting (and it's not even that hard). I know of lots of people in the AF who have done these things. What is actually needed more is the long and slow work of organising in communities and workplaces.