Questioning AF Aims and Principles

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Felix Frost's picture
Felix Frost
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Apr 7 2009 22:35
madashell wrote:
Perhaps I'm being somewhat dim here, but in what sense is a materialist analysis of human society simply "abstract" or "metaphysical"? Is the question of whether or not human society is shaped by human action simply abstract? Is an understanding of the world around us based on what we can see "metaphysical"?

No, that stuff is mostly just common sense. But I think whether or not religious or spiritual beliefs is necessarily incompatible with a materialist analysis of human society, basically comes down to metaphysics.

madashell wrote:
The 10th point in our As+Ps is not primarily about a comittment to atheism so much as it's about ruling out the possibility of magic or miracles as tactical options for anarchist communists, which seems quite sensible to me.

Ruling out magic or miracles as tactical options for anarchist communists does indeed seem quite sensible. The question is if barring all religious people from membership is necessary to achieve this.

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madashell
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Apr 8 2009 15:10
Felix Frost wrote:
madashell wrote:
Perhaps I'm being somewhat dim here, but in what sense is a materialist analysis of human society simply "abstract" or "metaphysical"? Is the question of whether or not human society is shaped by human action simply abstract? Is an understanding of the world around us based on what we can see "metaphysical"?

No, that stuff is mostly just common sense. But I think whether or not religious or spiritual beliefs is necessarily incompatible with a materialist analysis of human society, basically comes down to metaphysics.

madashell wrote:
The 10th point in our As+Ps is not primarily about a comittment to atheism so much as it's about ruling out the possibility of magic or miracles as tactical options for anarchist communists, which seems quite sensible to me.

Ruling out magic or miracles as tactical options for anarchist communists does indeed seem quite sensible. The question is if barring all religious people from membership is necessary to achieve this.

Religions, by their very nature, posit a supernatural force in human society, external to anything we do or encounter in the physical world, this is inconsistent with a materialist analysis, whatever way you look at it.

shevek63
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Apr 24 2009 15:18

I have been thinking about joining the AF for ages. Maybe some AF members could help me decide whether it is for me. I am a materialist. I believe in science and rationality. I don't really feel comfortable with religion, organised or otherwise. At best I think it can be a comfort to some people and may propel them to personal achievement. At worst I think it can be a stifling influence on society, retrograde and elitist. I understand the aims of the AF in distancing itself from religion. However as social anthropology graduate I would like to add that religion can be interesting from a scientific point of view. There are concepts and practices in religion that can be usefully analysed and understood. I would also add that there are some ideas and practices from religion that can be usefully applied to other settings such as psychology. I have recently been treated for depression by an NHS psychologist. He introduced me to the works of the psychologist Paul Gilbert. I am not sure if Gilbert actually is a Buddhist but he used concepts from Buddhism in his work. All his research is evidence based and peer reviewed and he uses Buddhist terminology to illuminate scientific research. As I said I am not that comfortable with religion but Gilbert convincingly argues that the 3000 year old Buddhist tradition does have 'something' useful to say on psychology even if you don't buy into all the supernatural stuff. All I am saying is 'dont throw the baby out with the bath water'. There may be some aspects to religion which are valuable. The American sci fi writer (who some have termed anarchist) Ursula K Le Guin tries to link anarchist thought with early Taoist thought. She conceives of Taoism as more of a philosophy than a religion although she refers to the supposed author Lao Tzu as a mystic. The anthropologist in me would say that mysticism and religion have long been part of human society and whilst they should rightly be treated with suspicion their role in human society shouldn't be dismissed. That is sort of my position on religion. I am agnostic. I have been practising some elements of meditation since my psychology treatment finished.I know some people might scoff at meditation but I think it can be useful. The poet Benjamin Zephaniah meditates and he is a pretty right on guy. In Mao's China the 3000 year old Taoist tradition was destroyed by Mao Tse Tung. Le Guin calls this an act of cultural vandalism. Am I beyond the pale in AF terms?

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Apr 24 2009 15:40
shevek63 wrote:
I have been thinking about joining the AF for ages. Maybe some AF members could help me decide whether it is for me. I am a materialist... Am I beyond the pale in AF terms?

I think as long as you agree with what we actually do, and are willing to help contribute to our activity, you'd definitely be considered a comrade. I definitely don't think that not liking Mao disqualifies you. Supporting nationalism, the state, or sexism is the kind of issue we draw lines in the sand about; I don't really care one way or another whether you meditate as long as you don't think that focussing our mind-energies on the bourgeoisie is an effective tactic to use.

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spitzenprodukte
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Apr 24 2009 18:44
Jack wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
especially when you look at types like Dawkins who've dedicated their entire lives to it.

I know, apparently if he hadn't dedicated his life to it he could have been a world famous evolutionary biologist. :(

Perfect.

Also, re: Quakers- I think is pretty shaky anyway, as possibly the majority of Quakers I know (or if not, an incredible sizable minority) are strongly atheist. A thread of contemporary Quaker thought, which I subscribe to, is a rejection of this notion of 'being a spiritual kinda guy'. For Quakers all humans possess a quality as individuals, originally verbalised as 'that of God in everyone', now more commonly expressed today as 'that of the light'- a basic belief that all humans have an intrinsic worth that must be respected under all conditions. Even coppers.

To claim that you are a 'spiritual kind of guy' denigrates the humanity of people for whom metaphysical navel-gazing isn't a daily hobby. What does 'spiritual' mean in this context? Unless it takes an actual metaphysical structure of thought or belief, then it's implying that others don't have those parts of their brain which recognise shared human needs, or are somehow lacking empathy with others. But, as an anarchist, you've kinda got to trust that everyone has that part of the brain. I'm not sure if I've made that clear, but I'm not great with jargon (not being a spiritual dude).

In this form atheistic quakerism looks more like a political philosophy which is heavy on the individualism whilst recognising that social change can only come through co-operation. It's a strange case of a strongly-social religious sect turning atheistic and using that as the motor to drive it's social ideas, maybe like atheistic kibbutzism (kibbutzimism?).

So maybe you should let quakers into AF, because I can't really see any contradiction. Also their decision-making processes are extremely interesting, a sort of bureaucracy-by-unanimity. The internal bureaucracy of BYM (British Yearly Meeting, the main organisation for british quakers) is both labyrinthine yet totally transparent.

Yeah so.... if you want me I'll be in my meeting for worship.

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madashell
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Apr 24 2009 20:11
huw wrote:
So maybe you should let quakers into AF, because I can't really see any contradiction.

The Quakers are pacifist, the AF argues for the necessity of violence during reovlutionary periods, I fail to see how the two could be considered even remotely compatible.

Quakerism is actively hostile to the AF's politics, anyway.

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spitzenprodukte
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Apr 24 2009 20:33
madashell wrote:
huw wrote:
So maybe you should let quakers into AF, because I can't really see any contradiction.

The Quakers are pacifist, the AF argues for the necessity of violence during reovlutionary periods, I fail to see how the two could be considered even remotely compatible.

Ahh, this is true. I stand corrected. Although I don't about not being remotely compatible.

madashell wrote:
Quakerism is actively hostile to the AF's politics, anyway.

I'll take your word for this.

blackdwarf
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Apr 25 2009 00:09
Quote:
So maybe you should let quakers into AF, because I can't really see any contradiction.

You do realise that the AF is a COMMUNIST organisation?

Redaction
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Mar 16 2010 03:27

How does AF feel about white working Class Patriotism that exists in British society And how would AF deal with it.

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Farce
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Mar 16 2010 13:50

We're against all forms of nationalism and anything that promotes the idea that workers and bosses have common interests, white or not. Saying we'd "deal with it" is a little too grand - like all other revolutionary groups at the moment, we're very small, and in no position to deal with such a massive problem - but in those specific areas where we can have some influence, we encourage working-class people (again, white or not), to struggle for their own material interests. Where these interests clash with "the national interest", which they often do, we encourage them to do what'll benefit them instead of doing the patriotic thing. For instance, there's a lot of talk about how we all need to make sacrifices to help the national economy recover - we'd encourage workers to reject this kind of patriotic thinking, protect their own wages and conditions, and let the nation's economy take care of itself

Redaction
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Mar 16 2010 23:12

So if an anarchist system ever came to power you would try to remove patriotism. What if an anarchist system failed to removed patriotism what would happen then. Would you remove patriotism with force, For example removing flags ETC.

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Mar 17 2010 15:08

If an anarchist society came into being, which clearly isn't going to happen tomorrow, then it would only be as the result of a massive change in consciousness among the vast majority of the population. It's hard to see how this would happen if everyone's patriotic ideas remained intact, since it could only happen after there'd been a mass uprising against the institutions that're currently protected by the ideology of patriotism. We're not interested in setting up an enlightened anarchist dictatorship over the proles.

Redaction
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Mar 17 2010 17:25

Then why do anarchists not campaign against patriotism today, Or do they but call it something else?

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Between Your Teeth
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Mar 17 2010 17:58
Redaction wrote:
Then why do anarchists not campaign against patriotism today, Or do they but call it something else?

http://libcom.org/library/against-nationalism

Yorkie Bar
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Mar 17 2010 19:37
Farce wrote:
We're against all forms of nationalism ... where we can have some influence, we encourage working-class people (again, white or not), to struggle for their own material interests. Where these interests clash with "the national interest", which they often do, we encourage them to do what'll benefit them instead of doing the patriotic thing.

...

Redaction wrote:
Then why do anarchists not campaign against patriotism today, Or do they but call it something else?

confused

yourmum
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Mar 17 2010 20:15

"I have been thinking about joining the AF for ages. Maybe some AF members could help me decide whether it is for me. I am a materialist"

my understanding of the materialist question would be: what do i get out of joining the AF? surprised

Redaction
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Mar 18 2010 01:58

But even if a large scale working class movement did come about, There will always be that large part in the working class and middle class that supports patriotism and anarchist would have to deal with that, When the EDL and groups like that realise what we are against and trying to stop they will come after the left, It was only this week UAF were attacked by the swindon EDL.

gypsy
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Mar 18 2010 08:06
Redaction wrote:
But even if a large scale working class movement did come about, There will always be that large part in the working class and middle class that supports patriotism and anarchist would have to deal with that, When the EDL and groups like that realise what we are against and trying to stop they will come after the left, It was only this week UAF were attacked by the swindon EDL.

The UAF ain't anarchists.

Yorkie Bar
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Mar 18 2010 13:30
Quote:
But even if a large scale working class movement did come about, There will always be that large part in the working class and middle class that supports patriotism and anarchist would have to deal with that,

"Deal with that" how? We can't make other workers agree with us. So we argue against nationalism, and agitate for an internationalist approach to struggles.

Redaction
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Mar 18 2010 16:46

The UAF are not an anarchist group, But they do have anarchist sympathy Anarchist do attend UAF events.

Boris Badenov
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Mar 18 2010 17:10

AF and Solfed are so exclusive, I agree; I got rejected for "not living in the U.K." which is apparently "essential" for participating in their "activities." Fascists.

Farce wrote:
If an anarchist society came into being, which clearly isn't going to happen tomorrow, then it would only be as the result of a massive change in consciousness among the vast majority of the population.

What kind of "change in consciousness" would this be? Class consciousness? An explicitly "anarchist consciousness"?
I'd say the former is definitely a necessary condition, but I'm not so sure about the latter; regionalist identity and religion were not invented by capitalism and will not disappear with it.
That said, I agree with this:

Quote:
we encourage working-class people (again, white or not), to struggle for their own material interests. Where these interests clash with "the national interest", which they often do, we encourage them to do what'll benefit them instead of doing the patriotic thing.

and I think it's the most that any anarchist can do regarding the "national question," or the "religious question" for that matter.

Felix Frost wrote:
Ruling out magic or miracles as tactical options for anarchist communists does indeed seem quite sensible. The question is if barring all religious people from membership is necessary to achieve this.

I'd say this is one instance where "don't ask don't tell" actually makes perfect sense.

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Mar 18 2010 17:55
Redaction wrote:
The UAF are not an anarchist group, But they do have anarchist sympathy Anarchist do attend UAF events.

If by "have anarchist sympathy", you mean "hand anarchists over to the police" then you're bang on.

Redaction
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Mar 19 2010 12:53

There are constantly communist and anarchist flags and other communist and anarchist material at UAF.
Hell I got approached at a UAF demo by someone in the AF.
Dont no why so many guys here disslike UAF.

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Mar 19 2010 15:30
Redaction wrote:
Dont no why so many guys here disslike UAF.

Well, as i say, they handed my comrade over to the cops on a demo, on the basis that "i dont like anarchists". That would be enough for me to bear a grudge, trying to have my mate arrested.

Also, they got a leeds city councillor who was at that moment involved in trying to break the binworkers strike to go on the platform and give a speech. Smart.

Then there was our old pal Wayman Bennet, urging the people resisting the police attempts to put them in the "designated protest area" to join them in the pen for a good ol' several hour lecture about how "fascism is bad, its very bad, theyre not like the other parties (who are all totally fine and legitimate, of course, and are also totally fine with immigrants). Yes, its bad folks, fascists are bad, you see them over there? Well theyre fascists, and that means theyre bad. Some of them have even broken the law, thats how bad those bad, bad, fascists are!".

This was later followed by a 'symbolic' march... from one side of the police pen to the other, resulting in the 'symbolic', but alas not actual, defeat of the EDL who were busy actually marching around Leeds relatively unimpeded. Lucky we got the 'symbolic' upper hand, eh?

Then, when some of us got tired to listening to him announce how we have to use "all possible means" to stop fascism and decided to actually try and use a means other than standing a fair distance away from the fascists, out of sight, holding a SWP placard and listening to a prick talk shit, they tried to stop people marching, assisted by their comrades in the struggle, the West Yorkshire Police.

And thats just some of the events of one demo in leeds, never mind the general criticisms of UAFs way of acting or the things theyve done elsewhere.

[/rant]

petey
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Mar 19 2010 16:08

UAF would be these?
http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=1307

Mike Harman
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Mar 19 2010 16:27

@petey, yes that's them.

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Mar 19 2010 19:17
Vlad336 wrote:
AF and Solfed are so exclusive, I agree; I got rejected for "not living in the U.K." which is apparently "essential" for participating in their "activities." Fascists.

British internationalism for British workers! wink

Quote:
What kind of "change in consciousness" would this be? Class consciousness? An explicitly "anarchist consciousness"?
I'd say the former is definitely a necessary condition, but I'm not so sure about the latter; regionalist identity and religion were not invented by capitalism and will not disappear with it.

I think that to be consistently class conscious you need to be an internationalist to some degree. Obv, you can't be mechanistic about this, almost everyone has a combination of both (see No2EU for a recent example of national socialism), but when they come into conflict you need to prioritise one or the other, and I don't think you could have a successful revolution without a massive portion of the population coming to the point where they prioritise their class position over their national identity. If they still support England at the football after that, I'm not massively fussed.

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@ndy
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Mar 19 2010 21:42

LOL.

Anarchism hatesss the nasssty patriotsss.

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JoeMaguire
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Mar 19 2010 22:44
Redaction wrote:
Anarchist do attend UAF events.

hand