Organise 68 and what we did in 2006

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Mike Harman
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Jul 15 2007 20:24

I think in terms of discussing ideas, following the politics of individuals, having some kind of identifier for an article is handy. It helps situate arguments in a wider context for a start.

nastyned
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Jul 15 2007 20:31

I could be being a bit slow but I don't really get that. Why would you want to follow the politics of individuals in the AF?

Mike Harman
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Jul 15 2007 20:50

The same reason I like discussing with people on here. It's a general point though, not just about the AF. I don't think it's that strange (or at least only as strange as having an interest in anyone's politics along these lines is).

nastyned
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Jul 15 2007 21:01

Bit apples and oranges though isn't it? Internet forums are a tad more interactive than bi-annual magazines.

Mike Harman
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Jul 15 2007 21:06

Bi-annual magazines used to be more interactive before newsgroups and the internet though, I don't think that's something that needs to be done away with.

nastyned
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Jul 15 2007 21:24

confused

If you write to Organise about an article you'll get a reply.

Mike Harman
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Jul 15 2007 22:39
nastyned wrote:
confused

If you write to Organise about an article you'll get a reply.

But if it was signed 'nastyned' or 'madashell', I could just pm you on here. Sorry this is getting silly now, but you know what I mean.

If people don't want to sign their articles that's fine. For pamphlets where it's a collective effort (and opinion), that's fine. It just seems odd to have an actual rule against it, that is all.

knightrose
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Jul 16 2007 08:37

DU wrote:

Quote:
I can exactly see how this reading chimes in with an analysis of the unions as well (viz. unions are always and everywhere reactionary, an arm of capital and the state).

Actually, what we say is:

Quote:
Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. They have to be accepted by capitalism in order to function and so cannot play a part on its overthrow. Trade unions divide the working class (between employed and unemployed, trade and craft, skilled and unskilled, etc). Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order to make deals with management. Their aim, through negotiation, is to achieve a fairer form of exploitation for the workforce. The interests of leaders and representatives will always be different to ours. The boss class is our enemy, and while we must fight for better conditions from it, we have to realise that reforms we may achieve today may be taken away tomorrow. Our ultimate aim must be the complete abolition of wage slavery. Working within the unions can never achieve this. However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist-communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

A bit different, I think. Which probably explains why we organised the education meeting, a few of us are active in the IWW and I spend so much time campaigning with my local NUT branch.

Terry
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Jul 16 2007 10:07

Dundee_United I note above you confess to enjoying the use of illegal drugs. This obviously involves you sometimes in the possession of illegal drugs.

Will you desist from this if a new youth centre is opened in your area?

If not do you object if I go to that Glasgow bookfair thing, and having identified you as a “scumbag” and an “anti-social” , ie a drug user (your words), either (a) shop you to the police or (b) seek to get you evicted or (c) break your legs.

If on the other hand you recognise that your behaviour is not a problem, and as such does not need to be treated either by new amenities to wean you off, or coercion, then you must realise that such a thing as prejudice exists, as despite being a drug user you are not a scumbag or an anti-social.

Having recognised the existence of prejudice, and saw that your behaviour is not a problem, you then can understand what the article is about, eg a rather narrow-minded group co-operating with the police to crack down on pretty harmless behaviour .

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little_brother
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Jul 16 2007 10:21
Mike Harman wrote:
nastyned wrote:
If you write to Organise about an article you'll get a reply.

But if it was signed 'nastyned' or 'madashell', I could just pm you on here. Sorry this is getting silly now, but you know what I mean.
If people don't want to sign their articles that's fine. For pamphlets where it's a collective effort (and opinion), that's fine. It just seems odd to have an actual rule against it, that is all.

In addition to our letters page, and an email address for organise (see http://www.afed.org.uk/contact.html ) the author of the article was informed about this thread and then chose to reply immediately so that's pretty interactive!

Some of the reasons for having a policy about not attributing articles to individuals 1) We have no interest in creating a 'star system' of celebrity writers 2) Related to this, it makes a statement that it is the ideas that are important rather than the writer and it is those ideas that bring people together into the AF, not the individuals that write about them 3) it can be daunting to expose yourself if it's your first article and we want to encourage all members to have a go at writing for Organise! if they want to 4) Concealing members' identities along with their geographical locations prevents intelligence gathering/victimisation by police, fascists, employers. Pseudonyms help with the last one, but not the others.

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little_brother
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Jul 16 2007 11:14

Hearing all these points but we only recently discussed all the pros and cons of this as an organisation and that's our policy (for now). In the forthcoming issue of Organise! we will have a nice spread of contributions from new and old members from across the organisation which is exactly as it should be.

It's clearly stated on the inside front page of Organise! what the mag is for and how you should attribute the writing. My view is an anarchist communist organisation shouldn't be encouraging followers of individuals.

Some of the most interesting articles are by new members who are writing for the first time. In any case writing ability changes with time and practice - they main thing is that members start somewhere in a environment of collective encouragement with the editors having a role in making that happen (that's how I started anyway!). If that's forced libertarianism then I am happy with it.

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Tacks
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Jul 17 2007 17:35
Jack wrote:
DA doesn't have named articles either, which personally, I think is a bad thing. So not having a pop at the AF - I think we do this wrong as well.

This is largely because I don't think most of the articles represent proper 'organisational positions' - we (unfortunately) don't have a Platformist level of collective responsibility, and the writing of articles reflects this. However, to me not having named articles seems to contradict this - if they're just down as being articles by the organisation, then it's fair enough to assume this represents the position of the organisation.

On the 'star system' thing, I totally disagree, and I think this is just forced libertarianism at odds with reality.

Not all authors are created equally - some people are betters writers than others, have more experience, a specific breadth of knowledge, and individuals have differing politics - especially if an organisation doesn't have collective responsibility for articles. If you like a piece by one author, there's a decent chance you'll like something else they write, and like to follow the stuff they do - however, this isn't necessarily the case with an organisation - for example, I really like NH's history stuff, and would try make sure to read any history stuff he writes - this isn't necessarily the case with anything written by the AF.

I completely agree with all points made by jack (i'm in the AF).

I for one would name the articles for the reasons given above and by others in the thread.

Resistance, which comes out every month, can have unattributed articles for the reasons given, other than that O![b] plays a different function and might as well have named articles some of the time.

nastyned
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Jul 17 2007 17:50
Tacks wrote:
I completely agree with all points made by jack (i'm in the AF).

This has been noted and the nutting squad informed.

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Tacks
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Jul 17 2007 19:07

sorry just to clear that up - i'm in agreement with the points jack made IN THAT POST ONLY.

This alone warrants a severe beating, but perhaps my life will be spared.

Spikymike
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Jul 17 2007 19:44

Going back to the original contraversy. As someone who has worked over 25 years in the public sector housing area, I have long experience of the mostly conservative role of many (though not all) residents and community groups, and have written and spoken about this in some detail previously as a member of Subversion and more recently. So I can well understand where the author of the Organise article is comming from and his defenders in this thread. However, I have also come accross a good few anarchists who seemed to think each and every act of 'criminal' rebellion or 'anti-authoritarian' behavior was worth supporting and were too quick to condemn fellow workers, who in the absense of any alternative collective means of sorting out genuinely antisocial activity turned to the local state or its agents to try and help. So I probably share some of Dundees scepticism when reading this article. Of course without any detailed knowledge of the area in Preston the article refers to I am in no position to doubt its validity.

The problem with this article, is the absence of any more general background or balance which explores the real contradictions of life in these situations. I know Organise genuinely try to engender debate but the infrequency of publication makes this lack of background or balance difficult. A Special issue for instance on housing struggles/residents groups/ the local state etc with several articles would have been more useful - but hey it's easy to criticise I know. Perhaps Dundees response if more clearly articulated could provide the basis for a really informed discussion?

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jul 25 2007 15:32
revol68 wrote:
i think a magazine should use peoples names 9or assumed ones even) atleast on articles that are going to court controversy, provoe a debate, it's also good because it allows people to relate to individuals and not just a group and fosters an atmsophere where debate isn't reduced to picking between different organisations.

Yeah, funny thing about that...

Our publications (Northeastern Anarchist, Ruptures) have disclaimers and every article is individually signed by the author... and it doesn't make any difference at all. Busy bodies like you still lump everything as a group position. Hell, even individually signed online essays by our members that we don't even print in our publications get attributed as accepted group positions (or, even better, internet banter by people who are not even formal members but just have some vague ties with us!).

Basically, people are gonna think what they want no matter what...

alan35
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Jul 25 2007 22:45

When the WSM was set up we decided that articles in our paper would be signed. I don't think we have formally discussed it since then, certainly nobody ever brought a motion to conference seeking to change our practice.

As I remember it, some of the points made were

AGAINST SIGNING
We are promoting anarchism, not individual anarchists.
As some members would write more articles it would look like those people were some sort of 'leadership'.

FOR SIGNING
It shows that we are happy to be known as anarchists, that we are proud of our politics.
(while being aware of situations where this is not practical: where you might be on a probationary period at work, writing about your own job unless you are in a strongly unionised workplace, where there could be problems with family/landlord/etc.)
It’s quite legitimate to use a pen name, but folk should stick to the same one all the time.
Having everything unsigned would make us look 'conspiratorial' and ‘secretive’, especially in a culture where most political writing is signed.
If someone will have more than one article in the paper they should be asked to use a pen name on one of them, to reduce the chances of “ego-tripping”.
When you have signed something you may be asked to stand over it by a friend or someone at work, this should help concentrate the mind on making your article understandable and sensible to the reader. (though whether this always works is another story!).

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Devrim
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Jul 26 2007 07:50
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Our publications (Northeastern Anarchist, Ruptures) have disclaimers and every article is individually signed by the author... and it doesn't make any difference at all. Busy bodies like you still lump everything as a group position. Hell, even individually signed online essays by our members that we don't even print in our publications get attributed as accepted group positions (or, even better, internet banter by people who are not even formal members but just have some vague ties with us!).

Basically, people are gonna think what they want no matter what...

Do you realise that to anyone outside of anarchism, this idea that something in an organistions publication represents the view of the individual writer, and not the organisation looks very strange? I am not saying that there aren't occasional articles like that in other type of organisations press, but not everyone.

When I buy a nationalist magazine, I want to hear the views of the nationalist organisation. When I buy a Maoist magazine, I want to hear the views of the nationalist organisation.

Yet when I buy an anarchist magazine, I hear the views of variuos individuals.

I don't think that you should be surprised that people interpret the articles in your organisation as represenative of your positions.

Devrim

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AndrewF
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Jul 26 2007 14:14
Devrim wrote:
When I buy a nationalist magazine, I want to hear the views of the nationalist organisation. When I buy a Maoist magazine, I want to hear the views of the nationalist organisation.

So Devrim you now think we should model our organisational practises on nationalists and maoists?

More seriously I think with the sort of content of North Eastern Anarchist or Red & Black Revolution publish which is often quite specialised and detailed it would only be possible for the articles to be agreed by the organisation if they were not only edited by the entire membership but also came out of a process of eduction and discussion of the entire membership.

Now for maoists and most if not all nationalists this isn't the same sort of problem as they tend to operate of a democratic centralist practise where a small leadership is elected to make political decisions for the membership. That small leadership would either produce or review prior to publication a magazine and so it would represent their views and hence under democratic centralism that of the membership.

For a tiny anarchist group it may make sense for the entire membership to be involved in the production of the publication - certainly my experience of groups of 5 or so people is that we did just this and it made sense. But this is one example among many where what works for a very small group does not work for even a somewhat larger one (I think we moved from everybody editing the paper at around 8 members, we certainly couldn't do it with 50 members over 3+cities).

I think a reasonable expectation is that articles written by members should broadly not contradict organisational policy except where they are clearly part of a debate. But the articles in themselves cannot be taken as policy. Articles from non-members should have no such requirement - I'd presume they are published because they were considered to cover areas or views useful to building the general anarchist movement.

I would say that I would assume an unsigned article is a reflection of the politics of at very least the editorial group of the magazine if not the organisation as a whole. I'd also say except in occasional circumstances the readership should be able to hold somebody responsible for an article. This is an important check on the factual content of an article and also discourages the publication of nasty articles.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jul 26 2007 15:33
Devrim wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Our publications (Northeastern Anarchist, Ruptures) have disclaimers and every article is individually signed by the author... and it doesn't make any difference at all. Busy bodies like you still lump everything as a group position. Hell, even individually signed online essays by our members that we don't even print in our publications get attributed as accepted group positions (or, even better, internet banter by people who are not even formal members but just have some vague ties with us!).

Basically, people are gonna think what they want no matter what...

Do you realise that to anyone outside of anarchism, this idea that something in an organistions publication represents the view of the individual writer, and not the organisation looks very strange? I am not saying that there aren't occasional articles like that in other type of organisations press, but not everyone.

When I buy a nationalist magazine, I want to hear the views of the nationalist organisation. When I buy a Maoist magazine, I want to hear the views of the nationalist organisation.

Yet when I buy an anarchist magazine, I hear the views of variuos individuals.

I don't think that you should be surprised that people interpret the articles in your organisation as represenative of your positions.

Devrim

So... you're agreeing with me that whether or not an article is signed by an individual or left anonymous people are gonna attribute it to wherever they want? Okay.

Personally, when I buy an political magazine that acts as a stagnant propaganda mouthpeice for an organization I get very bored and quickly put it down. I prefer publications that use their basic political line as a framework to explore ideas, assess strategy/tactics, develop praxis, etc. I think publications like NEA, Organise, R&BR, etc. do pretty well in this area.

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Devrim
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Jul 27 2007 14:27
JoeBlack2 wrote:
So Devrim you now think we should model our organisational practises on nationalists and maoists?

You know this is nonsense, Joe. Are you saying that we shouldn't publish because Maoists, and nationalists do?

SRB wrote:
So... you're agreeing with me that whether or not an article is signed by an individual or left anonymous people are gonna attribute it to wherever they want? Okay.

I am saying that when you publish things it is not unreasonable for people to assume that it is the opinion of your organisation if it is signed, or not.

Devrim

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jul 27 2007 17:29
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I am saying that when you publish things it is not unreasonable for people to assume that it is the opinion of your organisation if it is signed, or not.

Devrim

So it probably not worth including the plain as day disclaimer that says **every article, unless otherwise noted, is the opinion of the individual author and not necessarily that of our organization** at the beginning of every issue?

Whatever. Certain people are always going to make these types of assupmtions, particularly when they have some bone to pick. You're never gonna please the politico busy-body sideline critics, no matter what you do.

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Jul 27 2007 17:36
SRB wrote:
So it probably not worth including the plain as day disclaimer that says **every article, unless otherwise noted, is the opinion of the individual author and not necessarily that of our organization** at the beginning of every issue?

Maybe you should consider the fact that many people who post on here have never even seen a 'hard' copy of your publication, let alone a disclaimer.
Devrim

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jul 27 2007 17:37

Okay, that's fair.

I dunno, I personally can't remember if Organise has a similar disclaimer (haven't read an issue in awhile) but instead of automatically assuming they don't and tearing into the entire group over supporting (supposedly) questionable politics based on one article they ran in their magazine I find it to be more comradely to just give them the benefit of doubt.

...or else, I just accept the fact that groups like AF (NEFAC, WSM, et al) are very explicit when something carries the full endorsement of their membership.

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little_brother
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Jul 31 2007 11:43

Thanks for helping explain things, SRB! Although disclaimer would be the wrong word since the Organise! inside front page is merely aimed at telling the reader what the editorial policy is - it's not about abdicating reponsibility. Just to be clear, the editors are formally accountable to the AF, not the author(s) of an article, but it's not a free for all because if you are reading an article in Organise! then you should assume that the editorial group was happy with it. Any tearing into articles should therefore be directed at the editors. Letters to Organise! are welcomed. Editors will normally pass letters to the author if they are about a member's article, but the editors are still responsible for the publication of that reply. The editors can choose to edit any article, letter or reply although mostly this doesn't happen since AF members are very well disciplined and generally write articles that conform to the As&Ps, and excitingly push forward anarchist communist ideas.

From the inside front page of Organise! (again):
A version of this is also online: http://www.afed.org.uk/org/index.html#write

"Organise is the magazine of the Anarchist Federation (AF). It is published in order to develop anarchist communist ideas. It aims is provide a clear anarchist viewpoint on contemporary issues and to initiate debate on ideas not normally covered in agitational papers. We aim to produce Organise! twice a year. To meet this target, we positively solicit contributions from our readers. We aim to print any article that furthers the objectives of anarchist communism. If you'd like to write something for us, but are unsure whether to do so, why not get in touch first? Even articles that are 100% inagreement with our aims and principles can leave much open to debate. As always, the articles in this issue do not necessarily represent the collective viewpoint of the AF. We hope that their publication will produce responses from readers and spur the debate on."

"Organise! hopes to open up debate in many areas of life. As we have stated before, unless signed by the Anarchist Federation as a whole or by a local AF group, articles in Organise! reflect the views of the person who has written the articles and nobody else.
If the contents of one of the articles in this issue provokes thought, makes you angry, compels a response then let us know. Revolutionary ideas develop from debate, they do not merely drop out of the air!"