What's going on in AFed?

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Steven.
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Jan 9 2018 05:01
zugzwang wrote:
Don't mean to get involved, but isn't convict leasing mentioned in ragged edge of anarchy chapter? Maybe you have an older version?

You are completely right, I retract my previous comment. Here is that chapter where he does talk about it: https://libcom.org/library/chapter-3-ragged-edge-anarchy

Mike Harman
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Jan 9 2018 08:56

edit - moving this to a new thread since it's interesting and deserves its own one: http://libcom.org/forums/history/race-lack-it-jeremy-brechers-strike-090...

Battlescarred
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Jan 9 2018 10:00
Steven. wrote:
I do feel very disappointed that now some individuals have left the AF, related to what happened at the Bookfair and its aftermath, one or two seem to be attacking the remainder of the AF for things which were equally an issue while they were still members (e.g. positions/propaganda of some groups on Syria), and were entirely unrelated to the resignations.

I really don't think this is very helpful, nor does it seem to be particularly in good faith.

Point of information, Burgers left the AF several years ago and has nothing to do with the present number of people who left the AF recently

Mike Harman
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Jan 9 2018 10:04
Battlescarred wrote:
Steven. wrote:
I do feel very disappointed that now some individuals have left the AF, related to what happened at the Bookfair and its aftermath, one or two seem to be attacking the remainder of the AF for things which were equally an issue while they were still members (e.g. positions/propaganda of some groups on Syria), and were entirely unrelated to the resignations.

I really don't think this is very helpful, nor does it seem to be particularly in good faith.

Point of information, Burgers left the AF several years ago and has nothing to do with the present number of people who left the AF recently

While Burgers brought it up, Serge Forward has been very happy to continue it despite multiple corrections until someone actually linked to the original facebook post.

Battlescarred
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Jan 9 2018 10:23

That was not my point, obviously.

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darren p
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Jan 9 2018 13:12
Serge Forward wrote:
Those of us who criticised these ideas were told we needed to go away and write a proper critique of privilege theory.

Has this been published anywhere?

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Serge Forward
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Jan 9 2018 13:48

No. It might be worth going back to it and editing it for publication, I suppose.

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Steven.
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Jan 9 2018 14:35

Cheers for the clarification, Battlescarred

Burgers
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Jan 9 2018 19:14

I don't think I have ever suggested I was part of this split or a member of it, but I had previously been a member of both ACF and later AF. I have already said elsewhere that I don't agree 100% with the split statement, but I do hope them the best and glad they picked up on religion in the statement.

I wasn't going to come back to this because I realised it was derailing the thread, but a few point's on the Kurdish stuff. The original picture I saw didn't have peoples faces blurred out and it didn't have the same comment above. Why would AF members go to a Kobane solidarity demo, who was left in Kobane? The city was empty, apart from Kurdish nationalist fighters. Why would the cops waste time on such a small placard?
Picture from the Liverpool Echo

Why would you defend someone holding a openly nationalist placard, I'm thinking some double standards here.

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Jan 9 2018 19:25
Burgers wrote:
Why would you defend someone holding a openly nationalist placard, I'm thinking some double standards here.

What were peoples approach to the Lindsay oil refinery workers strike? I remember people on here and in the AF and the left generally (not Workers Power though) being fairly supportive, in spite of the union jacks, etc.

Burgers
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Jan 9 2018 19:33
Uncreative wrote:
Burgers wrote:
Why would you defend someone holding a openly nationalist placard, I'm thinking some double standards here.

What were peoples approach to the Lindsay oil refinery workers strike? I remember people on here and in the AF and the left generally (not Workers Power though) being fairly supportive, in spite of the union jacks, etc.

But then the Lindsay oil refinery workers hadn't been bombing workers for decades either in a nationalist war.

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Jan 9 2018 19:39
Burgers wrote:
Uncreative wrote:
Burgers wrote:
Why would you defend someone holding a openly nationalist placard, I'm thinking some double standards here.

What were peoples approach to the Lindsay oil refinery workers strike? I remember people on here and in the AF and the left generally (not Workers Power though) being fairly supportive, in spite of the union jacks, etc.

But then the Lindsay oil refinery workers hadn't been bombing workers for decades either in a nationalist war.

Neither had this Kurdish lad on the demo, id wager.

Mike Harman
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Jan 9 2018 19:51

There's articles on it here, haven't found the forum thread yet https://libcom.org/tags/lindsey-strikes-2009

Iirc the genral view was supportive of the strike, critical of the nationalism (both the actual nationalism on the picket lines but also the way the media/BNP tried to whip it up far beyond what was there), also massive relief that the nationalist tendencies lost out to a deal that guaranteed rights for foreign workers rather than trying to force them out. It should be remembered that this was one of the major shifts away from 'asylum seekers' to EU workers in terms of scapegoating immigrants both for the media and the main parties.

@Burgers the British state had been bombing Iraq and Afghanistan for years by 2009, so unless you're claiming people on the march were flying planes themselves you'll need to explain again why a Union or English Flag is less nationally chauvinistic than a Kurdish one.

Burgers
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Jan 9 2018 20:06

Two flags not one and the comment on the placard "we must fight against terror together" I'm taking the placard as a whole and not part of it.

Sadie
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Jan 9 2018 21:19
Burgers wrote:
I wasn't going to come back to this because I realised it was derailing the thread, but a few point's on the Kurdish stuff. The original picture I saw didn't have peoples faces blurred out and it didn't have the same comment above. Why would AF members go to a Kobane solidarity demo, who was left in Kobane? The city was empty, apart from Kurdish nationalist fighters.

I think we both know that’s not how the real world works. War isn’t a Call Of Duty map where every battlefield is conveniently empty of civillians. Though in any case the focus of the demos was as much about Turkish state persecution of Kurdish people as it was about Rojava itself.

Quote:
Why would the cops waste time on such a small placard?

The police being known for rational allocation of resources and absolutely never inventing reasons to target Asian people at protests and all...

Like what’s the claim here? That Merseyside AF members took the picture because we agreed with the placard and then made up a story at the time in case some anarcho-crank got the hump about it years later? Why would we do that?

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Why would you defend someone holding a openly nationalist placard, I'm thinking some double standards here.

I think this has been amply answered by Mike Harman and Steven’s comments upthread.

And I know exactly where you got the picture from. The same explanation was given there, I know this because I went and looked at the relevant Fb post myself yesterday to check. Stop lying and stop emailing pictures of women you have beef with to your mates, you creeper.

Sadie
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Jan 9 2018 21:38

Anyway, I hope this whole discussion has cast some light on the reliability of the accounts of events given by some people.

Mike Harman
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Jan 9 2018 21:52
Burgers wrote:
Two flags not one and the comment on the placard "we must fight against terror together" I'm taking the placard as a whole and not part of it.

I see, so two different flags from two different countries are twice as nationalist as one national flag, a sort of cumulative nationalism.

I think you've either forgotten how bad some of the imagery of the Lindsey dispute was, or you're just wrapping yourself up in knots trying to justify letting a teenager get arrested at this point.

Here's what it looked like:

Also so far the longest forum thread: https://libcom.org/forums/news/unite-alstom-local-workers-dispute-190120...

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Jan 9 2018 22:43

It's a straw man. No one from the AF is holding up the 'British jobs for British workers' banner or the union jack at Lindsey... or arguing they were a good thing. Would it be acceptable to hold either in similar circumstances to what happened in Liverpool? I'd say no.

Anyway, that's my last comment in this thread.

Mike Harman
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Jan 9 2018 23:20
Serge Forward wrote:
No one from the AF is holding up the 'British jobs for British workers' banner or the union jack at Lindsey... or arguing they were a good thing.

Literally no-one is arguing that at all? The question was this:

Uncreative wrote:
What were peoples approach to the Lindsay oil refinery workers strike? I remember people on here and in the AF and the left generally (not Workers Power though) being fairly supportive, in spite of the union jacks, etc.

This is pretty much true of both libcom's coverage and the AF's, I found an Organise article here for example: http://www.afed.org.uk/org/org74.pdf

i.e. that the demands of the strike (which were eventually won) were for full contractual parity between local and EU workers. Not nationalist or xenophobic demands.

On the other hand, some people on the pickets, and the vast majority of the media framing, was 'British Jobs for British Workers' quoting Gordon Brown and waving union flags.

There's no straw man there, it's an example where there was nationalism involved, and yet several different tendencies gave attention to the strike, wrote it up, supported aspects like the demand to put all workers on equal contracts regardless of nationality, and the fact that it spread outside the confines of the union and also geographically to several other workplaces, while severely criticising the nationalism that also got expressed - which with hindsight seems about right, but just happens not to be a case where the presence of a flag means that everything happening should be written off.

Spikymike
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Jan 10 2018 15:45

There may be much to criticise in the particular organising route that the AF has taken in recent years around it's less than distinct version of 'identity' politics but from an outsiders point of view at least I hadn't detected any significant shift towards support for national liberation. It's true that some of the statements by different AF groups were more robust than others over time and there were maybe problems with the AF's association with the IAF and different views expressed by others in the IAF, but in many respects the AF seemed to hold it's ground against the otherwise general drift towards compromise with (if not outright capitulation) to nationalism within the wider international anarchist milieu.
Having said that the understandable human desire to show solidarity towards people under direct state repression and military attack can create problems for pro-revolutionary minorities trying to distinguish their politics from other overtly nationalist and capitalist organisations. They may not be typical of all, but some of the Kurdish organised solidarity demonstrations that I have witnessed were public demonstrations of outright support for the PKK, and Ocalan hero worship, by straightforward anti-Turkish, Kurdish nationalists mixed in with the worst Stalinist type of politics and otherwise aligned with one or other of the imperialist powers. In that situation a handful of minority communist internationalists would have had little chance of combining human solidarity with a critique of the dominant politics on display and would be best advised to openly oppose the organisers, at risk to their own safety, or otherwise simply steer clear!

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Jan 10 2018 16:03

From the sound of it the AF has been going through similar discussions as many anarchist groups internationally and unfortunately seems to have the all too familiar split between an old guard and younger members. To an extent we (WSM) has something a little similar although with a different dynamic due to the different timeframe imposed by the crisis and resistance to the crisis in Ireland. Our collective conclusions though are represented in the (not yet completed) redrafting of the position papers to be found at https://www.wsm.ie/content/position-papers-wsm

The redrafted ones are the ones near the top of the list that starts half way down the page.

Burgers
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Jan 10 2018 17:10
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And I know exactly where you got the picture from. The same explanation was given there, I know this because I went and looked at the relevant Fb post myself yesterday to check. Stop lying and stop emailing pictures of women you have beef with to your mates, you creeper.

Here we go again, resort to name calling and abuse if I don't get my way, this seems to be a common theme amongst AF members, but then total silence when you publicly name someone on twitter.

I really don't have beef with you, sure I always considered you to be on the more identity politics wing of AF and I'm sure we had some disagreements, but beef, me no. The only person I had "beef" with, left a long time ago and because they were abusive to me and privately disrespected many members of AF, while at the same time as people were helping the person out. Interesting that you bring gender up, when I didn't mention gender of any of the persons, because it didn't matter what gender or non-gender for that matter anyone was, also why I didn't simply pixel out the faces, but deliberately only showed the placard. But of course this is typical idpol, from sharing a photo of people holding a nationalist placard to then you suggesting I'm "emailing pictures of women you have beef with to your mates,". in order to discredit me. But lets put it in some context for you.
At time you was giving solidarity to the nationalist Liverpool Rise for Kurdistan, many anarchists (not all) and leftist seemed to be wetting their pants at the sight of women in khaki green and guns, under the flags of the PKK/YPG's and their new found love for Murray Bookchin and communalism. At the same time there was much debate going on all over the net and political circles, as to what the nature of the PKK was and the character of the Syrian war. I had had some discussion and it was clear me and Serge disagreed on some finer points, but as adults we can disagree and we have done so before (when I was in AF on the unions and my view of the IWW), yet we didn't feel the need to throw personal insults at each other because we disagreed, shocking I know. So I sent him that picture would I have sent it, if it had been a bloke? yes, if it was someone with every social oppression under the sun would I have sent it, yes. because I don't agree with going to openly nationalist demos or supporting openly nationalist groups which the organisers Liverpool Rise for Kurdistan clearly are.

I could go on, but really, I have better things to do and so I will bow out.

Mike Harman a different view from someone who has visited Syria many times and lived in the region The bloodbath in Syria: class war or ethnic war?

doug
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Jan 10 2018 19:37

None of this had (or has) anything to do with the split in the AF.

Carry on.

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little_brother
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Jan 10 2018 19:00

SpikyMike - "There may be much to criticise in the particular organising route that the AF has taken in recent years around it's less than distinct version of 'identity' politics but from an outsiders point of view at least I hadn't detected any significant shift towards support for national liberation." So, yes, thanks, & back to the point. I don't know if we've been indistinct on 'identity' though. Someone asked if the privilege theory piece was 'published'. This was originally a text for discussion from the then 'Women's Caucus' of AF, now 'Gender Oppressed Caucus'. It was not so easily available briefly during these discussions due to website issues, but at least you will find it here after the main article in this blog. http://www.afed.org.uk/2017/10/13/misogyny-in-politics-its-not-trump-its...

AndrewF, thanks for sharing the WSM texts - are you in a position to highlight the changes? Although there is some indication of generational aspect, AFEM 2014 was also very significant, and the (majority) male membership of AF were not involved as that was the point of AFEM. So while it's probably OK to summise that most of those who have left AF are older than average (some were also long standing members as we said in the blog) and I'd go as far to say that the percentage of women who left are approximately the same percentage as in the AF as a whole, a good number of those who are still in AF are either 40+ or have been in AF a long time and more importantly there are plenty of those amongst our membership facing the oppressions we are focussing on in the intersectional approach that we have been talking about over the last 5-6 years. We do have a chance now to consider the concepts of privilege, intersectionality of struggle and safer spaces etc. without having to have it continually dismissed. We can even include ageism! This is not to say that we won't also critique our previous work on it.

Sadie
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Jan 11 2018 07:48
Burgers wrote:
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And I know exactly where you got the picture from. The same explanation was given there, I know this because I went and looked at the relevant Fb post myself yesterday to check. Stop lying and stop emailing pictures of women you have beef with to your mates, you creeper.

Here we go again, resort to name calling and abuse if I don't get my way

So glad you’re above resorting to personal abuse. #NationalistScum.

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Jan 11 2018 12:15
little_brother wrote:
AndrewF, thanks for sharing the WSM texts - are you in a position to highlight the changes? Although there is some indication of generational aspect, AFEM 2014 was also very significant, and the (majority) male membership of AF were not involved as that was the point of AFEM. So while it's probably OK to summise that most of those who have left AF are older than average (some were also long standing members as we said in the blog) and I'd go as far to say that the percentage of women who left are approximately the same percentage as in the AF as a whole, a good number of those who are still in AF are either 40+ or have been in AF a long time and more importantly there are plenty of those amongst our membership facing the oppressions we are focussing on in the intersectional approach that we have been talking about over the last 5-6 years. We do have a chance now to consider the concepts of privilege, intersectionality of struggle and safer spaces etc. without having to have it continually dismissed. We can even include ageism! This is not to say that we won't also critique our previous work on it.

We more or less did complete rewrites as in most cases the number of changes was such that it didn't make sense to do 'replace x with y'. You'll see the original versions of most of the papers at the bottom of https://www.wsm.ie/content/position-papers-wsm under the 'No Longer Relevant' heading (looking at I see some aren't there, I'll see if copies can be found and added/linked as thats an oversight).

The age thing isn't a strict dividing line but a general pattern, I carelessly overstated it above I think. In our case the particular nature of the crash, initially weak resistance and the internal crisis meant we have now lost all but a few of our pre-2007 members and of course many that joined post 2012 were in their 20s rather than 50s. 2012-2014 or so saw those members who remained taking on an organised collective process over a period of about a year of readings and discussions around what might be called 'intersectionality' then leading to a still in process updating and rewriting of position papers from those discussions. A fair few of those who had departed would be fairly hostile to this but with few if any exceptions their departure was before it had got underway so its a different situation that what seems to have happened with the AF. I suspect if we hadn't had a load of resignations around 2011 and 2012 we'd probably have ended up in a similar situation though.

The actual reasons people resigned were individual and complex but broadly the largest camp were people giving up on revolutionary politics because of the failure of large-scale resistance to appear prior to 2012 as we would have predicted while there was a much smaller group who thought we had drifted too far from 'platformism'. Of those who 'gave up' most did so in the sense that they no longer saw it worth their time to put energy in to a political organisation (many remaining active in other spheres, some in fact more active) . A few did so in the sense of becoming reformists, a subset of these ending up in the Workers Party which today is sort of the Irish expression of euro-communism but which has a very very more complex history being descended from the Official IRA/Sinn Fein of the early 1970s.

In terms of the new positions papers 'Anarchism, Oppression & Exploitation' is probably the most important single one to get a grasp on where we are are relative to this thread http://www.wsm.ie/c/anarchism-oppression-exploitation-policy

Spikymike
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Jan 11 2018 13:48

As an aside point 4 in the last linked WSM post has potential as a starting point. If the AF are going to look to the WSM for some ideas around class and 'intersectionality', (if not presumably anarchist organising models), they could then give more thought to exploring the way that personal 'identities' are shaped and then expressed collectively in the evolution of modern capitalism, not only as a system of class exploitation and oppression, but also as a system of extensive and intensive commodity production. This might throw some more light on the influence of liberal versions of identity politics and liberalism more generally as well as the continuing influence of that within much anarchist thinking.

Battlescarred
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Jan 11 2018 13:59

Unlike those who left WSM none of those who have let AF recently intend moving in a reformist direction or indeed give up on political activity altogether. We are buoyant and optimistic and are moving to the creation of a new anarchist communist organisation, with a founding conference very soon with publications and social media outlets. Watch this space.

Mike Harman
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Jan 11 2018 14:03

AndrewF thanks for those links, the couple of sections of that which address some of my own trajectory on this stuff. Emphasis added by me:

WSM wrote:
5. Historically there has been a tension in the left (including much of our own previous work) between recognising what is outlined above and still strategically going on to see unity as being a question of identifying the main contradiction in society and lining up behind a single unifying identity, most often that of a white, male industrial worker. A ‘Unity is Strength’ approach has then all too often meant the silencing or minimising of voices that do not easily fit into this identity.

...

10. While we believe our movements must be based on our experiences this means movements including WSM are shaped by who composes them. This composition will determine what struggle they see as priorities, what they overlook and even the methodology they bring to struggles. We aim to be conscious of and develop ways of counteracting such tendencies in our own organisations and others we work in.

This is something that's been brought up by recent discussions around intersectionality (and much more concretely, the multiple revelations of sexual assault in various political groups and elsewhere), but it was posed by groups like the Combahee River Collective and many others before in the early '70s, not as a retreat from the class movements of the '60s (as is often posed) but in analysing their failures, collapse, the basis on which they were repressed etc.

Both Martin Glaberman and Selma James take on 'Black and White Unite and Fight' explicitly in 1968 and 1975 respectively as an empty slogan that ignores class composition and barriers to unity.

It's questions like:

- what is the basis upon which unity can be built (see the quote from Olive Morris on https://libcom.org/history/morris-olive-elaine-1952-1979)
- how are priorities, focus, and attention impacted by the composition of a group
- what are reactions like when those priorities are questioned
- how does this impact the things that the group does focus on.

Spikymike
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Jan 12 2018 13:51

When it comes to the way in which the social composition of our pro-revolutionary groups impacts on the analysis, priorities and then strategy and tactics of the group, some awareness of the potential (though not inevitable) distortion and imbalance that might result is important to take account of... and it's not just the gender or 'colour' differences in the mix that are relevant. Others such as: age, differences in types of employment, levels of job security and income, 'management/supervisory' roles in work, educational experience, geographical background, cultural background, levels of experience in organising and everyday class struggle, are probably relevant in different ways - the list could be extended. It helps of course if the group is founded on a sound theoretical and analytical basis that at least takes these differences in the wider material world into account and all the members are encouraged to educate themselves on that basis but.................. these differences might work themselves out in larger organisations and in social movements but the problem is that all of today's dispersed pro-revolutionary groups are tiny and largely unrepresentative of the social mix in wider society. Each of these tiny groups seems to want to be the leader in ideas and/ or organisation of struggle but on their own possess neither the collective experience nor material resources to achieve that role. It doesn't help if each tiny group tries to overcome this problem by an intensive inward-looking concentration on trying to organisationally achieve some artificial proportional social balance or make up for such imbalance by an energetic and time consuming programme of self-awareness to make up for it. It might help however if all our tiny groups recognised there limited significance in the real world to start with and then engage in honest and open dialogue and co-operation with each other and together in the class movements that do emerge often without their particular role as leaders. Sorry if that's a bit of a rant - I know some people on libcom are aware of these problems - just wanted to get it off my chest!