The direction of the AF

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Devrim's picture
Devrim
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Mar 9 2009 12:59
knightrose wrote:
Dev - paying subs isn't optional. But as you say there are exceptions. Many of our comrades work for the organisation over the summer months - pulling pints at music festivals and donating the money to the AF. That is also how we keep our subs low.

Of course, I was sure that it wasn't, Knightrose. I am sure that you would agree with me that if there was somebody who decided to stop paying subs*, they should be kicked out.

Finance of a revolutionary organisation is an important issue, and it is also a political issue.

Devrim

*And I do mean that there are exceptions. People can have financial hardships, but you have to discuss this with the treasurer. You can't just decide to stop paying on your own.

Dumfries
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Mar 9 2009 13:12
jonathan cottam wrote:
when you say we were uncontactable, it plainly isn't true, there were AF members in Preston you could of used to contact us, when you say, you could not contact us through email, clearly you could, since we all realised straight away we had been taken off AF membership.

First of all you were not a member of the AF when the others were deemed not to be, so stop referring to this "us". You are not included among them, you had left. Secondly, I am telling you that not only did I leave messages on voicemails and send texts I also contacted various email addresses which I am happy to list if there is any confusion. If they received my emails then they ignored them.

If you want to call me a liar that's fine, but it doesn't alter the reality of it. In fact, I can post up the emails on this forum that I sent...

Quote:
And when some one says "we contacted Preston AF and had reasonalble discussions about them leaving" then the whole thing is aparent to me, this person is lieing to do two things, portray me as a lone voice, disgruntled

Jon, you weren't in the AF. When D and J and S told AF members they did not want to be in the AF anymore, you weren't a member. And as far as I'm concerned when people send texts and emails saying they don't want to be in the organisation that's pretty clear.

Quote:
"they were given every oportunity" the AF covers its back. Some else says, "I'm glad you're making a clown of yourself because it discredits what you were saying" not offensive words those are they? They are also the admission of a tactic that has been used. The whole thing smells of public school bullying.

What are you talking about? You're making no sense. It's simple:

D, J, K and S from Blackpool, had made no effort to send delegates to any meetings, they had not remained in contact with the organisation, they had not responded to emails, text messages and voicemails and they had not paid any subs. Then D sent S from Preston a text message saying that he and J did not want to be in the AF anymore. S from Blackpool emailed a Scottish comrade also saying he no longer wished to be in the AF

What are you confused about? Or are you claiming none of that is true? Well, I think you should speak to D and J and ask them and I can post the email S from Blackpool sent. There's nothing to dispute.

Then only issue is whether K still regarded himself as a member but considering he's not made any effort to stay in touch I wouldn't know.

But if all four of them wish to rejoin they are fully welcome to and we would all be incredibly pleased if that were to happen. I have nothing against any of those comrades, I liked D, J and K very much (haven't met S from Blackpool) and it would be a wonderful if they wished to rejoin.

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 9 2009 13:11
Devrim wrote:
I am not really sure what that would buy in the UK, but I imagine that it would be less that the price of a Mars bar for example.

It's about the price of a first class stamp, but i think the AF are right to search for alternative and more constructive fashions for members to make them money. Incidentally, right now in SF we have a bit of a finance problem re: our propaganda...

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Django
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Mar 9 2009 13:19
Jonathan Cottam wrote:
You say I should of been expelled because "Clearly he has very different politics from the AF, such as supporting the Angry Brigade" All I have to say about that is that about twenty AFers on that thread came out in support of the Angry Brigade, fot which you would have them expelled"

Thats inflated by a factor of 10. There were some people who didn't support AB type stuff for obvious reasons, but didn't see much point in condemning such actions either, given the bigger picture. Everyone else, especially those who were around at the time, was very clear. There was you and another comrade, a good bloke whose views on the matter changed anyway, supporting those kinds of things. You were the the only one happily advocating "elitist" actions.

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Devrim
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Mar 9 2009 14:13
Quote:
It seems for a lot of people on here, it doesn't matter what is said if it is said to me because of course I'm the "loonie" to use some ones very offensive word. i don't suppose what you said is offensive then because you used nice middle class words.

So first you complain about people calling you a "loonie", and then you complain about people not calling you a "loonie".

Please do tell me though, which particularly words that I used were 'middle class'.

Devrim

posi
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Mar 9 2009 14:29

Devrim, there really are better uses of energy than this debate...

breakout
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Mar 9 2009 15:28

Ok.

Quote:
The personal flaws of Marx and Engels (whose ideas were not identical, incidentally) are irrelevant here. Bakunin was a luantic, Mahkno was antisemitic and Proudhon was a misogynist, but there are things to be learned from their contributions to both anarchist theory and practice.

The fact that Engels was a factory owner is not irrelevant, nor is the murderous history of Marxism irrelevant when viewed in the context of it being formulated by a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Quote:
Those indigenous people were not proletarian though, being as they didn't live under capitalism. The point is that the proletariat, those must sell their labour power to live, is not limited to factory work, even though the class first appeared with the development of heavy industry and the factories. There are, IMO, problems with viewing the proletariat as the sole revolutionary subject, but insurrectionist strawmen about the "industrial working class" obscure more than they reveal.

I am not claiming indigenous people are 'proletarian'. The insurrectionist critique is about recognising that there is no sole revolutionary subject, other than the exploited, the excluded, themselves. Indigenous people who came into contact with European Empires and were turned into commodities, they lived under capitalism direct, no doubt about it.

Often it seems that left-anarchists lack much in the way of economic theory. What little serious economic theory is developed in left-anarchist circles seems to take the form of half-digested Marxism in which it is difficult to see any anarchist aspects, leading to conceptions of revolutionary change that seem to be largely schemes for a change in the form of social management rather than a total transformation of existence.

What is missing from the confusion of the left-anarchists is that of an economic analysis of the profound changes that have taken place in the past three or four decades and have affected the way exploitation functions throughout the whole world and the struggle against it. The 'new technologies' that many young comrades experience as normality today, actually changed the way the world is run. The whole productive set-up, including that of food, extraction of fuel etc, moved from Europe to Asia and the East, following a massive project of restructuring that was met with rebellion that almost reached the point of generalised insurrection in many countries.

I believe that these insurrectionalist ideas which came from the development of a movement of decentralised attack against post-industrial capitalism across Europe and Asia, are an important contribution towards anarchist theory and practice.

Quote:
Wow way to miss the point. I don't have a particular problem with small numbers of people doing actions, whatever floats the old boat. But I think it's a waste of time when you're talking about tiny cliques with no connection to a wider struggle. The flying pickets DID have links to a wider struggle, which was what made their activity worthwhile.

I didn't miss a beat, I was engaging you to respond in the way I anticipated. Class struggle exists in all of the individual and collective acts of revolt in which small portions of life are taken back or small portions of the apparatus of domination and exploitation are obstructed, damaged or destroyed. In a significant sense, there are no isolated acts of revolt. All such acts are responses to the social situation, and many involve some level of implict complicity, indicating some level of collective struggle. Even apparently lone acts of revolt have their social aspects and are part of the general struggle of the exploited and alienated. Both for this reason and because of the personal sense of joy and satisfaction that the individual finds in such acts, it needs to be recognised that no act is futile.

Quote:
Again, you're talking about activity based in a wider context, not just actions for the sake of it. People have the tacit backing of a mass of the population - that's what gives them the impetus and reason for what they do.

But the point is, when the Revolutionary Struggle attacks happened, RS did not have the 'popular mandate' to do such a thing, especially from the grounds of the university, but did it anyway. Everyone in the social movement took a big look around, to see who could have done such an action, what was occuring, if it was the para-fascist state, etc. Some people cried 'provocateur', 'the time is not right', etc. Within weeks it had been accepted by the social movement and the attacks continue, but it took the group themselves, Revolutionary Struggle, to carry the action through, make the attack, and expose themselves to the will of the people.

Quote:
Yes I know all about him thanks I just wrote an article on the guy for Freedom, he gives most of the money to poor communities and more power to him. He also exists within a milieu which is large enough to hide his ass when he gets in trouble, which seems to be often, and which has the goodwill of enough people to (sometimes) hold up against concerted state interference.

Good on you comrade, thanks for spreading our insurrectionalist ideals in your revolutionary paper 'Freedom' which is read by such a breadth of readers.

Quote:
As I said, I don't really give a shit what you do on your own time. I just don't think it has any particular relevance without a wider class struggle movement around it and the backing of at least some of the class you're claiming to be working for.

See above.

Quote:
I think most people would agree that pro-revolutionaries are always going to be a minority of the class outside of near-revolutionary situations. If there were 2 million anarchists in Britain we'd still be a small minority of the wider class. But that isn't to say we shouldn't see ourselves as part of a broader working class movement, and look to exercise democratic means to advance the class struggle. We want to bring the wider working class over, not make ourselves feel good "as revolutionaries", surely? So that means looking at our activity in the context of "numbers", to put it crudely.

Anarchists have usually avoided the formation of political parties or similar organisational forms to prevent vanguardism, but probably the most widespread form of vanguardism in anarchist circles is that which proposes a kind of evangelistic educational practice intended to spread anarchist ideas among the exploited classes.

In the struggle against dominion, attack is essential. While it is true that in order to move towards social insurrection and revolution, such attacks must expand and become generalised, it is absurd to use this necessity as an excuse for doing nothing now. Where widespread social insurrection does not exist, it is of great importance not to create a role or image of "specialists in revolution".

Since acts of vandalism, sabotage and destructive attack are, in fact, relatively common responses to alienation, frustration with the realities of social existence and boredom with a life where most relationships are commodified and most adventures outlawed, it is clearly not the fact that revolutionaries and anarchists carry out such acts that lead to this specialisation. Rather the problem lies in the way in which social, political or moral agenda behind the attacks are dealt with.

Anarchists and revolutionaries -though hopefully also acting for themselves- carry out their actions in the context of an ongoing project of rebellion, and so they often have their reasons for wanting to communicate why they took a particular action. Exploited individuals without a conscious revolutionary perspective who attack something that diminishes their existence and who are acting only for themselves in the immediate present and so feel no need to communicate their actions also create their own pleasurable revenge and sense of autonomy. Whilst it is simple to reject this sort of action, if such communications create and/or reinforce a seperation between anarchists and the exploited, then they become an obstacle in the path of generalised revolt and self-organisation.

The 'insurrectional method' of struggle talked about involves attempts to draw in mass participation along with anarchists against a given objective, based on a certain organisational hypothesis. This requires a constant engagement in the struggle over a period of time. It's not a question of a small group of anarchists deciding to attack a particular expression of power, but an attempt to involve large numbers of people self-organised in a proliferation of base organisms - nuclei, leagues or whatever they decide to call themselves - and attack the objective all together, continually. The point of this way of organising is that it can't become hierarchical, but can extend and multiply horizontally, and once the objective is in view and all the individuals involved are experiencing a qualitative change in their relationship to power (absence of delegating, deciding in first person, creativity, sexuality etc), the struggle might even go beyond the objective.

The insurrectionist critique of the syndicalists, the fixed anarchist organisations, the federations, is based on their limitations and anachronisms in terms of attack. The theories we are talking about valorise the formation of small groups not weighed down by ideological preconceptions, acting directly on reality without any sense of sacrifice but for their own immediate pleasure and freedom, in the context of freedom for all.

Attack, and the theory of attack -which is the same thing for anarchists- are the essential element of the anarchist movement, and without which it would exist in name alone.

Quote:
In Greece in occupied union buildings and universities people called mass assemblies, in order to take the struggle forward by co-ordinating mass action. This was clearly an attempt to make decisions democratically on a mass basis, and was the right thing to do, IMO, if we're going to avoid rioting ourselves into a corner in such situations.
Quote:
Struggle on the streets is important, but its not all that matters. The only Greek anarchist I've spoken to about events there, who was involved with stuff in Thessaloníki, was of the opinion that the most important thing to come out of it was a move towards industrial strategy, through the union occupations and the solidarity work with K. Kouneva. In his view events showed how limited street conflict with the state can become, and he claimed that this was leading to more "strategic" outlook amongst the Greek anarchist movement. He was giving a partial and subjective view, obviously, but what he was saying sounded pretty convincing to me.

I consider that you have some serious misperceptions about what insurrectionist theory and practice actually is if you think that 'we' do not roughly agree with this outlook on the events in Greece, it is a widespread accepted view! Quite a few of my (insurrectionist) comrades were in those assemblies, involved with the solidarity work with Konstantina, being with the various workers struggles, on the demos, making actions etc.

Quote:
Thats different from advocating setting up small, closed armed groups as a revolutionary strategy. You can't blow up a social relationship, etc, etc.

Ok, you know nothing about what you are debating. This is absolutely nothing to do with 'insurrectionary anarchism', we have a total critique of this Marxist-Leninist model. Please, read this for more information : Fullness of struggle without adjectives

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Django
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Mar 9 2009 18:53
Breakout wrote:
The fact that Engels was a factory owner is not irrelevant, nor is the murderous history of Marxism irrelevant when viewed in the context of it being formulated by a perpetrator of domestic violence.

Of course it is. Its about as sensible as saying that anarchism is redundant because Proudhon opposed strikes, or hated women and Jews, or was a nationalist, or because Bakunin was an anti-semite, or because Kropotkin supported one side in an imperialist war.

Breakout wrote:
Often it seems that left-anarchists lack much in the way of economic theory. What little serious economic theory is developed in left-anarchist circles seems to take the form of half-digested Marxism in which it is difficult to see any anarchist aspects, leading to conceptions of revolutionary change that seem to be largely schemes for a change in the form of social management rather than a total transformation of existence

Who are you talking about? The AF stands for the abolition of work, the self-abolition of the working class, and the communisation of human activity. This is strawmanocide, and bears no relation to anything said on here.

Breakout wrote:
What is missing from the confusion of the left-anarchists is that of an economic analysis of the profound changes that have taken place in the past three or four decades and have affected the way exploitation functions throughout the whole world and the struggle against it. The 'new technologies' that many young comrades experience as normality today, actually changed the way the world is run. The whole productive set-up, including that of food, extraction of fuel etc, moved from Europe to Asia and the East, following a massive project of restructuring that was met with rebellion that almost reached the point of generalised insurrection in many countries.

Well the dynamics of capitalism remain exactly the same. There is only a profound change if you think that factories are an essential part of class struggle. We don't see it this way - there is still a dispossessed class of wage workers, their interests are still in opposition to capital, and the best way to advance their aims (class struggle through mass assemblies, expanding beyond boundries of trade, grade etc) remain the same.

Theres actually a good argument that the relationship between the changes that marked the end of the postwar settlement and technological change aren't one way. A shift to finance-led economies in the west spurred on the development of real-time information technology, developed countries focused on industries higher up the 'production chain' (high-tech goods etc) whilst other manufacture moved to the third world, debt-fuelled levels of consumption were engineered and required a stream of new technology to be sustained, etc...

Breakout wrote:
Anarchists have usually avoided the formation of political parties or similar organisational forms to prevent vanguardism, but probably the most widespread form of vanguardism in anarchist circles is that which proposes a kind of evangelistic educational practice intended to spread anarchist ideas among the exploited classes

It depends what you mean by "party". If you mean organisation, your statement is false. Malatesta called for the "anarchist party" to organise, there has obviously been a long history of anarchist organisations. If you mean it in the sense it is commonly understood, as an electoral party, then the rejection comes with the rejection of paliament. If we are talking about a party seizing the state apparatus we are discussing the rejection of state-led revolutionary models.

But it seems here that you are saying having an opinion and attempting to spread it is "vanguardism"! This is new to me.

FWIW, I don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with "vanguardism", if we take a different interpretation of the term. Anarchists usually mean it in the sense of a party seizing power for itself and acting "in the interests" of the working class, as the Bolsheviks did. But of itself it only means a section of the class which is more conscious of what its interests are. Nowt wrong with that. Thats not saying that this section should act autocratically in the interests of the wider class.

Breakout wrote:
In the struggle against dominion, attack is essential. While it is true that in order to move towards social insurrection and revolution, such attacks must expand and become generalised, it is absurd to use this necessity as an excuse for doing nothing now. Where widespread social insurrection does not exist, it is of great importance not to create a role or image of "specialists in revolution".

This is far more "Vanguardist" than organisations attempting to spread consciousness through their class through propaganda and other means. I mean, the "specialist in revolution" is "vanguardist" in the crudest possible way, as it represents a group substituting itself for the wider class, and is much closer to "Marxist-Leninism" than anything anyone else has suggested, being basically the professional revolutionary.

You are hacking at a strawman in arguing that people are advocating "doing nothing now". All people have said is that the action taken needs to be relevant to our aims and the wider struggle, not about anarchists in the ghetto making themselves feel good.

Quote:
The 'insurrectional method' of struggle talked about involves attempts to draw in mass participation along with anarchists against a given objective, based on a certain organisational hypothesis. This requires a constant engagement in the struggle over a period of time. It's not a question of a small group of anarchists deciding to attack a particular expression of power, but an attempt to involve large numbers of people self-organised in a proliferation of base organisms - nuclei, leagues or whatever they decide to call themselves - and attack the objective all together, continually. The point of this way of organising is that it can't become hierarchical, but can extend and multiply horizontally, and once the objective is in view and all the individuals involved are experiencing a qualitative change in their relationship to power (absence of delegating, deciding in first person, creativity, sexuality etc), the struggle might even go beyond the objective.

The insurrectionist critique of the syndicalists, the fixed anarchist organisations, the federations, is based on their limitations and anachronisms in terms of attack. The theories we are talking about valorise the formation of small groups not weighed down by ideological preconceptions, acting directly on reality without any sense of sacrifice but for their own immediate pleasure and freedom, in the context of freedom for all.

Are they organising without preconceptions or following a pre-existing "hypothesis"? Are we talking avoiding setting up small groups or valorising small groups?

You are using a lot of words to say very little. When it comes down to it, it seems that you are saying

"Insurrectionists have an organisational model to bring together anarchists and workers in a struggle against a certain goal. This is long-term. Its not a question of small groups, but larger networks of informal organisation working together. This can't become heirarchical [for unspecified reasons]. They don't use delegates.

Insurrectionists criticise formal organisations because they are anachronistic [for unspecified reasons]. They set up small groups without preconceptions (other than insurrectionist ones). They are not accountable to anyone but themselves"

Well if thats the case what is the point of struggling towards a certain goal? You are trying to have it both ways - its both about struggling together towards a certain end, and having no "accountability" outside of what feels liberating. Its about having an organisational model, but not having an organisational model.

Breakout wrote:
I consider that you have some serious misperceptions about what insurrectionist theory and practice actually is if you think that 'we' do not roughly agree with this outlook on the events in Greece, it is a widespread accepted view! Quite a few of my (insurrectionist) comrades were in those assemblies, involved with the solidarity work with Konstantina, being with the various workers struggles, on the demos, making actions etc.

My post had nothing to do with "insurrectionist theory and practice". I was responding to you saying this:

Breakout wrote:
So when thousands of people do it, it is fine for you. Who will these thousands of people be accountable to and how do they all know what the popular mandate is?

So it seems that your insurrectionist comrades have a different view of the question of "popular mandates" than you do, given that they were trying to draw the wider class into the process through open, mass decision-making, as opposed to leaving it up to small groups of "revolutionary specialists".

Breakout wrote:
Ok, you know nothing about what you are debating. This is absolutely nothing to do with 'insurrectionary anarchism'

Again, I am not 'debating' some text you like, but what you said. It seemed that you were defending a small, closed armed group shooting up riot police. I don't care particuarly about what happens to riot police, but the urban guerilla strategy is a dead end. You supported the actions of Revolutionary struggle in the same post.

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madashell
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Mar 9 2009 16:55
breakout wrote:
The fact that Engels was a factory owner is not irrelevant

It is to a discussion of Marxism.

Quote:
nor is the murderous history of Marxism irrelevant when viewed in the context of it being formulated by a perpetrator of domestic violence.

I can't even begin to imagine the sort of reasoning that would lead to you to say that. What is the connection between Marx's alleged (I say alleged because this is the first time I've heard anybody make any such claim) domestic violence and the "murderous" nature of the purportedly Marxist ruling elites that you allude to?

Quote:
I am not claiming indigenous people are 'proletarian'. The insurrectionist critique is about recognising that there is no sole revolutionary subject, other than the exploited, the excluded, themselves. Indigenous people who came into contact with European Empires and were turned into commodities, they lived under capitalism direct, no doubt about it.

Often it seems that left-anarchists lack much in the way of economic theory. What little serious economic theory is developed in left-anarchist circles seems to take the form of half-digested Marxism in which it is difficult to see any anarchist aspects, leading to conceptions of revolutionary change that seem to be largely schemes for a change in the form of social management rather than a total transformation of existence.

What is missing from the confusion of the left-anarchists is that of an economic analysis of the profound changes that have taken place in the past three or four decades and have affected the way exploitation functions throughout the whole world and the struggle against it. The 'new technologies' that many young comrades experience as normality today, actually changed the way the world is run. The whole productive set-up, including that of food, extraction of fuel etc, moved from Europe to Asia and the East, following a massive project of restructuring that was met with rebellion that almost reached the point of generalised insurrection in many countries.

I believe that these insurrectionalist ideas which came from the development of a movement of decentralised attack against post-industrial capitalism across Europe and Asia, are an important contribution towards anarchist theory and practice.

Nothing that you have said here is specfically insurrectionist, all you've done here is take a few ideas that are either self-evidently true or obvious to anybody with a halfway decent understanding of class and capitalism and claim that they originate with "insurrectionism".

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ginger
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Mar 9 2009 17:39

Jon - as an example the involvement of Anarchists (inc AF) in Glasgow in grass roots (parent led) struggles to keep primary schools open will probably involve direct action, alongside the rest of those involved in the campaign.

The tactic - direct action - is part of a wider, longer term strategy which is to support and advocate within struggles for militant tactics, democratic organising and against electoralism and lobbying. This strategy is in order to raise class
* confidence : direct action tactics more likely to succeed and winning thing raises your confidence
* consciousness : struggle and experience in how the state/capitalism works and our part within that as well as experiential learning in how we can smash it.
* competence : such as in directly democratic decision making processes, as well as basic things such as making publicity, communication, the mechanics of occupations - direct action toolkit stuff that it is easy to take for granted once you've been an activist a while.

It is not the tactic of direct action that anyone (I think!) is critiquing. I interpret that folks are talking about the need to use Anarchist tactics such as direct action to concretely change the world. That means, as in any smaller scale struggle that I think we're all familiar with, analysing where we are now, where we want to move to, what we have in our favour, what is holding us back, etc. For me that has meant really thinking about why the present system continues despite the misery and discontent present amongst the majority of people. What makes this system stable and what can we, as revolutionaries do to break that wall, one brick at a time if necessary.

I think a large part of the stability of the system in UK (its def different in diff places) is due to "sort power" psychological oppression by the state disempowering and atomising the working class. There's also the "hard power" prisons, cops etc but its not that hard power which I think maintains state control, unlike eg in Greece, Mexico etc.

So that leads me to working to increase feelings of community, solidarity as well as the class consciousness, confidence and competence I mentioned before.

I think taking direct action without thinking what you're trying to achieve with that is probably not going to make revolution more likely/possible. I've been there and done that. I have the stories, the physical and psychological scars, trauma and memories to show for it. The things I am doing now, in the AF, is more revolutionary, more Anarchist then anything I ever did as an Insurrectionist.

FYI - I am a university graduate - I went to uni aged 29 to do a degree in nursing. I really don't find it surprising that so many revolutionaries go to uni - it is a hard but rewarding experience with access to amazing resources that everyone should be able to have. I've gained so much confidence and courage and real skills since I've been an active Anarchist and that has in huge part led to going to university. I imagine this has happened for others too. University gives skills such as research, critical thinking as well as contact with huge numbers of people often radical and so for many it is where they first learn of Anarchism. I think these are just two of the reason why in every Anarchist/activist scene I have been in (including Earth First!, insurrectionist scenes and Euro/London squatting and social centres) there has always been a higher proportion of graduates than in the community I live in.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Mar 9 2009 19:45
posi wrote:
Devrim, there really are better uses of energy than this debate...

Er, he's a member of the ICC groucho

vanilla.ice.baby
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Mar 9 2009 19:47
Quote:
What is the connection between Marx's alleged (I say alleged because this is the first time I've heard anybody make any such claim) domestic violence

It's quite well known actually... to be fair. The rest is nutty rubbish, but this bit is true afaik.

jonathan cottam
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Mar 9 2009 20:05

Something unexpected. I just found out I will have to work with an AF group soon, around a matter I discussed with some mutual friends today. I there for think it useful that any remaining hostilities are put aside and if any one feels a need to discuss it further, they can contact me at my private email, which is the same as on Afed list.

Dumfries
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Mar 9 2009 20:22
jonathan cottam wrote:

Something unexpected. I just found out I will have to work with an AF group soon, around a matter I discussed with some mutual friends today. I there for think it useful that any remaining hostilities are put aside and if any one feels a need to discuss it further, they can contact me at my private email, which is the same as on Afed list.

Does this mean you retract the unfounded accusation that we expelled members?

jonathan cottam
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Mar 9 2009 20:42

Joe, why don't you talk to the other disobey members, since they believe they were expelled.

Dev, the militant was a working class organisation, I knew a hundred members in the west lancs area intimately, Leyland, Chorley, Blackpool, Preston, South Ribble, and I knew Manchester quite well, it was the time the capitalism was being reorganised around the service sector, 80% of them were there for blue collar workers, many of whom had been made unempoyed for some time, and most of the rest were blue collar background being displaced into the white collar sector, 5% were students and, and I'm not condoning this, they were utterly hated for being middle class, I don't know why they stayed. I don't know where your getting these teachers from I never met one. Also you say they were taking over the CPSA, granted but what about the workforce of Liverpool city council ? Thats where they had the biggest following, Liverpool voted narrowly against an all out general strike. Don't try and teach me about Militant, I was there.

Dumfries
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Mar 9 2009 21:06
jonathan cottam wrote:
Joe, why don't you talk to the other disobey members, since they believe they were expelled.

How can they believe they were expelled if they sent text messages and emails telling people they had resigned? D sent a text message to S in Preston saying that himself and J no longer wanted to be in the AF and I can post the email S in Blackpool sent the Scottish comrade explaining why he no longer considered himself a member of the AF.

Expelled people don't resign from organisations.

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Devrim
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Mar 9 2009 21:35
jonathan cottam wrote:
I don't know why they stayed. I don't know where your getting these teachers from I never met one.

From the horse's mouth:

CWI wrote:
When the split took place, it was like a breath of fresh air in the Liverpool organisation. Let us be clear: Although on paper a majority of members left, in reality a majority of the active membership, particularly those active in the Trade Union movement, stayed. Every comrade who had been removed as a councillor and who was still involved in politics stayed with the Socialist Party - not a single surcharged councillor comrade went with those who left. At the time of the split, we retained comrades on the National Executives of UNISON and the NUT; within a few months of the split, we had another comrade elected as the Black workers’ representative on the UNISON National Executive. The branch secretaries of Liverpool and Knowsley NUT are both members;

http://socialistworld.net/pubs/mrh/militantapp.html

Devrim

jonathan cottam
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Mar 10 2009 03:37

Ginger, The recent actions in Preston have been to spread the word of anarchism, which we did, and to demonstrate the possibiltiy of change through action, which will become evident to the university people, and given the level of publicity, to the wider people of Preston, when we win.

A previous direct action, that of opening up a community centre that had been closed, was a lesson to the community of the uncaring nature of capitalism and part of a situationist action to reform community from its atomisation, which I think is a more essential anarchist strategy that the destroyed paradigm of the work place, in fact I think there is nothing to do with what is left of the work place but destroy it, because a struggle to consume more or have the means of production, what evers left, is a struggle to be trapped into the capitalist ethos of slavery.

Preston does know what it is doing and on the level of organisation, D is the most brilliant I have ever come across, but theoretically I believe we are floundering, not because we don't understand AFs perspective, but because we don't know how to realise our own. Disobey had three insurrectionalists amongst its original members, but apart from doing a few covert things and planning more, we don't know how to realise the aim of an inssurectionalist project, so we have become a direct action group, possibly with a bit of monkey wrenching, I am aware here that I am posting under my own name, which I could not get removed from the site, any way, we are hardly hard to find, I would be interested to hear from breakdown, how he thinks one should proceed in a British environment, because at present I don't see how anything we did would be anything but a wasted expression of violent discontent.

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Django
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Mar 10 2009 08:06
Jonathan Cottam wrote:
A previous direct action, that of opening up a community centre that had been closed, was a lesson to the community of the uncaring nature of capitalism and part of a situationist action to reform community from its atomisation, which I think is a more essential anarchist strategy that the destroyed paradigm of the work place, in fact I think there is nothing to do with what is left of the work place but destroy it, because a struggle to consume more or have the means of production, what evers left, is a struggle to be trapped into the capitalist ethos of slavery.

You are aware the Situationists were council communists and called explicitly for workers councils in their texts?

I actually think that "community" is a much more problematic idea than workplace struggle is. I don't think "community" is possible in any meaningful sense in capitalism, and I don't think that people who live in the same area necessarily have the same interests. I mean, where I live is densely populated with a mix of unemployed, workers, students and elderly people, with many coming and going as their contracts expire. Theres a cop on my road and business owners, whose interests are opposed to mine. But according to the council, we are all part of the same "community".

"Community" politics is mostly a form of nationalism - creating an imagined community of shared interests to hide the conflicts within it. Thats why local authorities, New Labour and the Tories love the term, and multi-cultural "community" politics are, I think, just a replacement for traditional nationalism in managing the working class (its been picked up on by others that they seem modelled on British imperial practices in India).

That doesn't mean that there haven't been instances where the "local community" has a clear, shared class character to it. The miners' pit villages are a clear example. But these kinds of places are rarer and rarer in the UK. I suppose estates with high and concentrated unemployment are another example.

Also, I don't think being able to produce things is "slavery". The means of production is the means to make the things we need. If we're going to create a communist society they need to be radically transformed to reflect our needs not capitalist commodity production, but theres nothing inherently capitalist about the ability to make things. I think everyone would agree that the capitalist workplace needs to go, but thats only going to come about through a revolutionary change in society - and this is only going to come out of class struggle, which means (not exclusively) workplace struggle. Besides this, workplace struggle is worthwhile because most of us need to work and whilst doing that we need to improve our conditions and defend ourselves against bosses' attacks.

posi
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Mar 10 2009 10:25
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
Quote:
What is the connection between Marx's alleged (I say alleged because this is the first time I've heard anybody make any such claim) domestic violence

It's quite well known actually... to be fair. The rest is nutty rubbish, but this bit is true afaik.

I've never heard this either. Quick google of "karl marx" "domestic violence" brings up nothing but Marx-influenced gender theory. Link or other reference anyone?

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Devrim
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Mar 10 2009 10:51
posi wrote:
Devrim, there really are better uses of energy than this debate...

Actually Posi I think it is quite interesting. I think that a lot of important topics have come up in it, such as what class means, and the nature of community. As ever, it is always a pleasure to read Django's posts, he is one of the best writer's on here at the moment, and those alone would make reading it worthwhile to me.

Devrim

blackdwarf
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Mar 10 2009 12:38

Last night after the communes public meeting I had quite an extensive discussion with a fellow Wobblie who's had quite a long engagement with industrial organising. Several interesting points came out of this. We both felt that an effective rank and file workplace movement was vital to the success of any insurrection. Without one trade union bureaucracy would move kill off any attempts to challenge it's 'mediating' role between workers and the bosses. This is probably what we saw in Greece. But it's important for workers to understand that the unions will never let them challenge the bosses on their own terms. Can they only do this by taking part in union struggles?

Another comrades pointed to the fact that there have been periods of decline for the union movement, with sharp rises in participation during times of economic crises. So the presently the union movement is characterised by workers radicalised during the 70s and 80s, before then it was the 20s and 30s. The unions probably used the anger of rank and file movement to swell it's ranks with fresh layers of militant workers enthusiastic to do it's bidding.

How do we avoid this repetition of history? A recent notable effort to create an independent rank and file movement in unions is the National Shop Stewards Network. However it is plagued with the curse of being assisted by the socialist party who are clearly trying to use it to create a new mass 'workers' party.

The past 10 years have been wasted. We should have made serious attempts to create alternative rank and file movements independent of the main unions. The only notable effort I can think of is the IWW, comrades can correct me otherwise. I'm hoping this will be the first phase of the credit crisis which might see many workers join the main unions in droves in a vain effort to save jobs and conditions. But as the crisis continues there will be futile attempts to 'reform' unions and a realisation that they offer no way out of the crisis. But surely we have to have an easy to understand independent rank and file alternative?

syndicalist
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Mar 10 2009 14:06

Just curious, is this still a main AF document?

The role of the revolutionary organisation

http://www.afed.org.uk/ace/roro.html

knightrose
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Mar 10 2009 14:12
syndicalist wrote:
Just curious, is this still a main AF document?

The role of the revolutionary organisation

http://www.afed.org.uk/ace/roro.html

Yes - along with Beyond Resistance.

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oisleep
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Mar 10 2009 14:30
The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation wrote:
It follows from this that in the revolutionary period the anarchist organisation must call for and assist in arming all working people for defence and for the formation of workers militias

is there really any point in having fantasist stuff like this in it?

i'm assuming no one in the anarchist federation has the necessary skills & experience to help in the arming of working people (assuming said workers want to have arms thrust upon them by eager beavers from the AF) at present and this is perfectly understandable given the situation talked about in the phrase is never going to happen so there is no point in preparing for it, but just say if this situation did come around, will everyone in the AF suddenly becomes firearm experts overnight? or will they be, like how they are in the here & now, sidelined and marginalised as events & people move on in ways in which no amount of pre prepared statements about what an organisation will do in a 'revolutionary period' could ever hope to even anticpate, let alone prepare for?

(i don't mean this as a dig in particular at the AF, just this kind of fantasist posturing from anarchist & revolutionary organisations in general)

syndicalist
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Mar 10 2009 14:40
knightrose wrote:
syndicalist wrote:
Just curious, is this still a main AF document?

The role of the revolutionary organisation

http://www.afed.org.uk/ace/roro.html

Yes - along with Beyond Resistance.

Thanks. What year was "R.O." written? Seems a bit dated, but I'm not one to complain.
It only took WSA 20 years to rewrite our statement and it's still a work in progress.

knightrose
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Mar 10 2009 16:02

Syndicalist - it is quite old. Certainly it was written well before I joined and that was about 10 years ago. That's one of the reasons we're currently working on the workplace document.

Oisleep - it does sound a bit daft, doesn't it? I doubt we'd write it that way today. We've discussed the issue of violence in a revolution recently - well a couple of years ago. the view was that the ruling class will always resort to violence in any revolutionary situation and in those circumstances the "forces of good" will need to defend themselves. From my own point any serious revolutionary movement will need to subvert the armed forces.

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oisleep
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Mar 10 2009 17:00

i don't doubt the massive scale of violence that would be unleashed if anyone even got near a whiff of a revolutionary situation. my point was more along the lines that

a) let's face it, we're not going to get near a progressive revolution (has there ever been one in history?), and

b) even putting aside (a) - what is the point in having prescriptive statements about what members of an organisation will do in an (imaginary) situation in the future that none of them are even remotely equipped to even think about carrying out?

if anarchist/revolutionary organisations are to make themselves relevant in the here and now they should not look to fantasies about arming the workers and creating militias etc.. but to try and use what little resources they have to spread progressive ideas in the here & now, i'm not saying they don't try and do that at the moment, but when you add to it all this stuff about arming the workers and how anarchist organisations will be involved in "producing coordinated armed self-defence forces, to counter the police and armies of states world-wide", then any decent stuff that you do do is contaminated by this kind of fantasist nonsense - what role individuals or organisations end up playing in any future dislocation will be dictated by events at the time and generally we'll all be overtaken by those events regardless of how well various position statements are crafted on them. trying to pre-empt what organisations will or will not do from the hazy comfort of the present seems a completely irrelevant thing to focus on in the here and now and gives even more ammo (scuse the pun!) to those who already believe organisations like this are completely, utterly and always will be irrelevant to those they are supposedly meant to carry an appeal to

jonathan cottam
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Mar 10 2009 17:30

I am aware the situationists were council communists, I'm also aware of the vital contribution they made to an analysis of modern capitalism and to anarchism.

I am talking about the fragmentary lives that people need and the nessesity of solidarity both too fight and as a key part of the revolutionary proccess and consciousness. The proccess of revolution builds a unity around a common idea, but this unity is also real. it is not another artificial construct like the media or nation in fascism, that seeks, in the case of fascism, to unite people through the state in an identity in the unification of national interests, so to support the state is to supposedly have ones identity enforced.

Communiy is not fascistic anymore than the slogan 'unite and fight' or the idea of solidarity, community is possible as a counter force to capitalist fragmentarianism, and exists as a counter force to this, people do not have to have a lot in common, the only thing most of us have in common is solidarity around a common idea.

Community is nessassary as building ground for anarchist commmnuism, lack of community is something that has to be battled in order to achieve it and builds consciousness in order to bring it about.

Thats what I think. The work place is not the focal point of struggle for me, the community is one other option for politicisation. Can,t remember what you said about the work place, so I will just repeat, in the absense of a ground for industrial battle, with the selling out of the unions, and the destruction of productive areas in the advanced capitalist systems, so there is nothing to take over and run, the growing realisation that production is questionable in itself as force for world wide ecological destruction and as a buying in to the capitalist idea of consumption which is only a source of alienation and force of capitalism that is far from value neutral but would reproduce some of the worst relationships of capitalism, work should be destroyed and the workplace is an arena not the arema.

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prec@riat
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Mar 10 2009 17:43

I agree oisleep.
I can't speak to the UK situation, however in the US I know that during the entertainment complex black power resurgence (back when mainstream hip-hop was more political, spike lee's heyday, BET and the WB network started) there was more openness to this type of dialog (probably due to the LA riots and such). Such language would probably find a certain cache amongst certain strata of the lumpen (or amongst "semi anarchist youth" who felt it necessary/sexy to appeal to certain strata of the lumpen). The 90's ABCF videos produced in Florida on assault rifle and shotgun techniques are still classic and awesome (however fantastical and ridiculous they may be). I'm guessing that section of the AF 'roro' doc may have been influenced by that timeframe.
The reality of the US situation is that many workers are already armed and even if one doesn't have one in the home currently it would not be difficult to acquire such if need be. Strategically in the US it is probably best if pro-revolutionaries do not keep such weapons (doing militant and visible anti-fascist work being the one possible exception), as stockpiling a cache of arms will most likely call down the attention of the State moreso than the obviously more efficacious activity of relevant community and workplace organizing (and history show that if you're doing both, the State will use your "armed" aspect as an excuse to quickly move in and liquidate you).