Submitted by Craftwork on December 27, 2017

From what little I know, some longstanding members have left, and there's a meeting in London on its future. What's exactly is going on in there?

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I am a bit out of the loop because of personal stuff, and don't know what is public domain and what isn't. But basically in the wake of the Bookfair and its aftermath there were some internal disagreements several long-standing members have resigned (although it's worth pointing out that all parties oppose transphobia). It included core members of the London group, which is why I imagine the London group is calling a meeting on its future, as if it is to continue new people will have to take on roles within it.

People more involved in both sides of the discussion are in the libcom forums and so can say more if they want.

the button

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The people who have left now have this blog:

https://communistanarchism.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-us.html?m=1

As Steven says, the meeting in London mentioned in the OP is a meeting of the London group, rather than a special meeting of the whole federation.

syndicalist

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Excuse me for asking, as I'm not very up to date with AF or issues at hand.

I read the site of the new group and they seem to be returning to the basis
if the former ACF, which later became AF. Is this a proper first and very superficial
assessment?

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

Excuse me for asking, as I'm not very up to date with AF or issues at hand.

I read the site of the new group and they seem to be returning to the basis
if the former ACF, which later became AF. Is this a proper first and very superficial
assessment?

ACF only changed its name to AF, its official basis didn't really change

syndicalist

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

syndicalist

Excuse me for asking, as I'm not very up to date with AF or issues at hand.

I read the site of the new group and they seem to be returning to the basis
if the former ACF, which later became AF. Is this a proper first and very superficial
assessment?

ACF only changed its name to AF, its official basis didn't really change

Ok, my read of the London blog is that AF is a sorta catch all federation
That the ACF was more specifically ideologically inclined a certain way.
Again, I'm just reading text, am clueless on nuances, personalities, situations and other very determining things that go into splits, disagreements and so forth

syndicalist

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I guess someone thinks my read is wrong, as they down the comments. I'm cool with that. It's just hard to understand what its about then. Shall wait until the respective side issue the usual statements explain their POVs.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It is significant perhaps that these comrades (hardly as yet a formal group) have chosen in their blog to republish as an initial explanation of their politics the previous Organise articles under the heading 'In the Tradition-where our politics come from'.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And in addition to the above these comrades have also published a very useful considered statement prompted by other reactions to events at the last London Anarchist bookfair both from sections of the AF and others, including on this website, which seeks also to clarify their broader approach to organised activity. Whilst I do not generally self-identify as an anarchist this statement gets much closer to my own views than any others I've seen here.

the button

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Meanwhile, from the AF Facebook page (for those who don't Facebook).....

2018.. In with the new.
(An end of 2017 blogpost from a member)

A year ago we blogged the view that “2016 was very demoralising, and 2017 is looking worse. “

It certainly feels that way. We’ve witnessed the (hyper-)reality of the new US president and Brexit deliberations trundle on to some kind of deal with the rest of the EU after the formal exit was announced. Some areas of the world (Yemen, Syria, Myanmar) continue to take a huge toll on working class lives and livelihoods through warfare and forced displacements, where we are still mostly disconnected from the horror abroad if not for the repeated calls for humanitarian aid, although the war has come home to England with terrorist attacks in both London and Manchester. The Trump administration has already attempted to reverse decades of sexual liberation and more social policies (such as healthcare) and action against climate change has been scuppered by a protectionist focus on fossil fuels. Immigration controls have been used to restrict freedom of movement into the US to follow up on the promised hard line against Muslims. Diplomacy has evaporated in relation to Korea and Israel. Regional nationalisms have taken hold in some parts of Europe, notably Spain with the Catalan independence drive, also apparent elsewhere such as in Corsica.

In Britain, the Grenfell fire and its aftermath brought into grim and deadly relief the inequalities in British society with its still unabated increases in rent and house prices whilst the choice of insulating materials for social tower block housing sat in the hands of distant bureaucrats including, it appears, neglectful or incompetent building regulations officers, whilst the organised voice of tenants was ignored - being poor means being powerless.

The economy has flattened and interest rates went up for the first time in years, the Bank of England responding to increasing personal debt due to wage stagnation. In other words, austerity is permanent and normal, and growth just isn't there to fix it. At the same time state services like the NHS hang in the balance having little room left for more efficiency savings whilst social inequality only piles on the pressure.

On the otherhand, promise of advancement from entrepreneurship and philanthropy of the rich, especially those who hold the reins of the legacy of dotcom, has been lifted to dizzying heights and we are even asked to consider this a new Golden Age. Private capital *can* solve climate change and other global problems, especially with the use of the technology that created all this wealth in the first place. We'll end poverty *and* go to Mars. No power to the people though who are now asked to worry about their more lowly jobs being done by robots.

The number and knowledge about celebrity abuse cases has increased and wider discussion by survivors on social media about this and legal action taken has highlighted the continued ability of powerful men and institutions in Western society to do as they please. And the authoritarian Left is not excluded from this.

Overall, the Left in Britain is expressing their own ‘yes we can’ confidence, as the leadership cult of Corbyn has been honed to an almost religious level after Labour's General Election boost, but seems to sweep under the carpet the nastier aspects of British politics fostered by Brexit – xenophobia and fear of the other. Most of the effort is focussed on winning in the electoral process, next time, but it seems hard to get away from the fact that they are behind the curve in trying to raise up a leader by populist means.

Anarchists and libertarians are now having to wake up to the real possibility that some of the more liberatory gains in the West since the 1960s will actually be reversed, in the USA for sure (especially for people of colour who may have expected more from the Obama time in office) and probably coming to Britain soon as Brexit gives the space for some of our establishment right-wing to try and roll back human rights here. On the other hand the politics of gender and colour have been a core feature of anarchist movement politics for at least a decade, with an explosion of gender related texts and zines, and non-English workers’ groups at bookfairs. Anti-colonialism has come to mean not only understanding the well-known structural legacy of the European empires (which has led to calls to remove the statues of Great Men from campuses and public places, for example), but it is also a wider recognition in our movement that class struggle cannot be analysed without a deeper conversation about the sources of internal and external dominance. This is not completely new of course as similar questions around ‘white skin privilege’ were around at the time of the dissolving of the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation in the 1990s USA, the same period as when Black Autonomy challenged a Euro-centric anarchist movement to do better.

The AF has been a large part of recent developments, not least our co-organising of the AFEM 2014 international anarcha-feminist conference. However, the result of development of anti-colonial and even more inclusive thinking around colour and gender has clearly challenged the cohesiveness of the anarchist movement which, apart from small pockets of individualism that still exist, has all but adopted a social anarchist perspective in recent years. At this year’s bookfair the distribution of a leaflet against transgender rights (concerning an amendment to the Gender Recognition Act which would allow trans persons to more easily self-identify) was incendiary, being both pre-meditated by Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists and pre-empted by a large number of bookfair attendees who choose to take direct action.

For the AF (and the ACF before our name change) we are proud of our having made explicit the need for struggle against ‘other’ oppressions and independent organisation by oppressed minorities as a core principle of a class struggle organisation since our inception 31 years ago, and this has become more concrete in recent years by inclusion of caucuses (for Gender-oppressed, LGBTQ and most recently for members who have disabilities or mental health problems), a safer spaces policy and production of a text on Privilege Theory. However, differing responses to the bookfair events, and a few years of tension preceding this within AF, has led to 12 of our membership (including all of our remaining founder members) leaving on the grounds that this has gone too far – it being diversionary from the class struggle, merely identity politics being expressed as inward looking sub-cultural disputes, whilst the majority of us who strongly disagree with that view are having to regroup in 2018 to consider the consequences for the AF and our movement (seeing as the Bookfair won’t happen, with the 2017 collective having resigned). Gender politics will be a big part of this, as no doubt will be a more nuanced anti-colonial thinking.

Whilst the last paragraph may leave you thinking we may, after all, be overly self-obsessed, considering the grimness of the world as outlined in the earlier ones and seeming inability of our movement to have much of an impact on it, we are now in a position to move forward more effectively. In 2017 we published one issue of our paper Resistance focussing on housing after the Grenfell fire and practical work by tenants groups, benefits fightback and anti-fracking protests, also looking at organising within the gig economy, another common feature of working class existence in the UK. Our two issues of Organise! magazine tackled prisons and international solidarity in the first and the meaning of revolution in the second. We have been part of making regional bookfairs happen and have engaged in political campaigns where we live. We are committed to a revolution where liberation benefits all. As a key aspect of this commitment we are seeing that the structural barriers to liberation from history are plainer than ever, having witnessed how the authoritarian right (and left) have been acting with increased confidence over the last year. We would be pleased to work with others in the social anarchist and libertarian anti-capitalist movement, to develop ideas and make a real difference together.

the button

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And on the other hand, the statement that spikymike is talking about (luckily I can link this one because not Facebook)....

https://communistanarchism.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/class-struggle-anarchist-statement-on_1.html?m=1

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It would seem to me as an outsider that those members that appear now to have left the AF also made their contribution to some of the more positive work of the AF (referred to above) particularly in London, despite other political disagreements now being expressed more openly. Some of that work had advanced to include a wider set of contributors that could presumable still include both remaining and leaving AF members.

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hello. You are presumably talking about Rebel City, Spikymike? This had just widened out to include others.

The AF blog article is also on the web: http://www.afed.org.uk/2018/01/01/2018-in-with-the-new/
One important omission on this thread perhaps is our attempt in November to produce a collective statement for publication which was this one: http://www.afed.org.uk/2017/11/20/statements-following-london-anarchist-bookfair-of-october-2017/ which was not perfect but this did aim to represent the most agreed position before the current situation of people leaving. There was most definitely political difference which has not been resolved and the majority view is that a move to a more intersectional class struggle basis for organisation (which our organisation has facilitated though its structure and something we have been discussing for the past few years, as the blog article said) is the right one, and this has been led by members who are living with gender oppression.

This is clearly bigger than AF though as the bookfair collective resigned. Many people are unhappy so there is work to be done. What are you going to be doing yourselves in 2018?

Craftwork

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anti-colonialism has come to mean not only understanding the well-known structural legacy of the European empires (which has led to calls to remove the statues of Great Men from campuses and public places, for example), but it is also a wider recognition in our movement that class struggle cannot be analysed without a deeper conversation about the sources of internal and external dominance.
[...]
the result of development of anti-colonial and even more inclusive thinking around colour and gender has clearly challenged the cohesiveness of the anarchist movement

U wot m8?

Craftwork

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Are they going soft on national liberation?

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AF summed up what they believe with this on twitter [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDHpVfm6nw[/youtube]

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As regards an ''intersectional class struggle politics'' there is presumably still more than one interpretation of what this might mean in theory and practice as numerous articles and discussions on this site illustrate - not convinced that the AF have got any perfectly worked out model - but then neither have I.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In case any of you haven't yet seen it and in response to the original post, here's the exit statement of those of us who recently left the AF.

We are a significant number of Anarchist Federation members, including all surviving founding members, who resigned from that organisation on 17/12/17.

This was due to disagreements over the recent political direction of the AF. These disagreements came to a head over the differences in responses to events at the London Anarchist Bookfair in October.

We disagreed with the statements put out by Edinburgh AF and the ‘Trans Action Faction’. We put forward an alternative statement for discussion which was received with extreme hostility and uncomradely behaviour from a vocal minority. We were no longer able to work in that environment. 

Those of us who have left the AF are re-grouping and re-organising in early 2018. We will focus less on what is essentially a small, vague anarchist sub-culture, but instead, will re-orient towards an outward looking, wider working class politics.

darren p

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This was due to disagreements over the recent political direction of the AF.

Just out of interest how was it that people whose politics are closer to liberal idpol than anarchist-communism came to be the majority in the AF anyhow? Isn't there any kind of screening process for new members? Though guess this an academic question now..

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

New full statement from those that left.
https://communistanarchism.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/class-struggle-anarchist-statement-on_1.html

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

darren p

Just out of interest how was it that people whose politics are closer to liberal idpol than anarchist-communism came to be the majority in the AF anyhow? Isn't there any kind of screening process for new members? Though guess this an academic question now..

I'm still not entirely sure if they are actually in the majority but it's a very good question nevertheless; one that I'm sure those of us who've left will most likely be discussing.

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anti-colonial thinking is a term for thinking about privilege e.g. taking into account different experiences of e.g. racism, prejudices, discrimination or oppressions which minorities (although doesn't have to be a minority in the face of extreme domination by a powerful group) face or have faced historically. Then the organisation tries to makes that explicit and acts accordingly. Working out how is a challenge so Spikey is right to say we don't have a worked out model but the will is there. We can listen and learn from other organisation and there are clearly some challenges for AF. For example, being a political rather than an economic organisation means that experience of migrant workers within our organisation living in UK might not be a core part of our practice, but maybe that could be developed. This is not liberal as we are not going throw out class or get soft on national liberation. Actually it may help to shed light on current situations like Catalonia as migration into the region for work from other parts of Spain or elsewhere is/was an experience for many and so making that more explicit could arguably help with an antidote to cross-class nationalist sentiment. We've been discussing regional nationalisms in some detail in IFA most recently. It will be interesting to think more about the intersectional aspects of those.

Auld-bod

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Little brother, that post is as clear as mud.

Jim

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

little_brother

Anti-colonial thinking is a term for thinking about privilege e.g. taking into account different experiences of e.g. racism, prejudices, discrimination or oppressions which minorities (although doesn't have to be a minority in the face of extreme domination by a powerful group) face or have faced historically.

Do you think it's a useful term? As far as I can tell the AF has always been against all forms of oppression, I'm not sure why 'anti-colonial' is needed and I think most people would associate it with opposition to actual colonialism, not opposing oppression in the UK.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That class and various forms of social 'oppression' (that could not exist in a truly human community) interact with each other in capitalism seems just obvious, ...but the modern capitalist world is maintained at a fundamental level by the material production and reproduction of 'value' through the mechanism of capitalist competition and class exploitation that manages different and changing levels of social oppression in different times and places across the globe without that threatening it's continuity. In other words some forms of social oppression may benefit capitalism by dividing and diverting opposition to it which however are not essential to it's continuance. As a result autonomous struggles against those oppressions however necessary and deserving of our solidarity do not have any automatic link to opposition to the fundamentals of capitalism. Class is not just an amalgam of different 'oppressions'. It seems to me that the AF over recent times has rightly sought ( if with borrowed theory) to combine recognition of class exploitation with better recognition of different forms of oppression but mostly at the level of subjective experiences rather than their material underpinning. Certainly some of their published statements around 'intersectionality' and 'privilege' leave much to be desired in this respect. It seems to me as an outsider sympathetic to the AF that the differences as expressed so far between leavers and remainers is one of strategy and tactics rather than principles but we will see.

Ed

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike

That class and various forms of social 'oppression' (that could not exist in a truly human community) interact with each other in capitalism seems just obvious ... In other words some forms of social oppression may benefit capitalism by dividing and diverting opposition to it which however are not essential to it's continuance.

So, I used to subscribe to a similar opinion to this one but ultimately reject it now. I mean, things like racism and patriarchy might not be "essential" to an abstract ideal of capitalism but, at the end of the day, we're not dealing with an abstract ideal of capitalism; we're dealing with our real, everyday experience of capitalism, and it's that capitalism which is inherently bound up with patriarchal and racial oppressions.

Or, to put it another way, can you imagine capitalism ever actually functioning without also structuring our class and society at large along gender and racial hierarchies? I can't, and as such I find little use in saying they are 'inessential' to capitalism as I imagine them existing as long as the capitalism we're fighting against will.

Spikymike

It seems to me as an outsider sympathetic to the AF that the differences as expressed so far between leavers and remainers is one of strategy and tactics rather than principles but we will see.

Like you, Mike, I'm another outsider sympathetic to the AF, but from conversations with current and former AF members, I can't help but feel this is yet another personal dispute made political. Perhaps there are also deeper political divisions at play here, I couldn't say. But, again speaking as an outsider, I really hope there will be some way for the two groups to find some common ground again in the near future.

I also can't help but feel that two people with no stake in the health of the bookfair or wider anarchist movement have managed to wreak havoc in both. I think that context should be borne in mind as we act and judge the actions of others.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ok Ed but 'Patriarchy' and 'racism' are general terms that cover a wide and different variety of specifically experienced forms of oppression by different groups of people in different countries in different periods of history at different levels of intensity and which capitalism is able under pressure to amend at least up to a point in ways to it's benefit as much as those experiencing that oppression. Many of the struggles against specific forms of oppression by those who experience it do not, and may have no immediate reason, to extend beyond a desire for a measure of equality on capitalist terms (not to be dismissed either) - there is no automatic extension towards a revolutionary politics with or without the encouragement of our pro-revolutionary minorities.

Dannny

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ed

Spikymike

That class and various forms of social 'oppression' (that could not exist in a truly human community) interact with each other in capitalism seems just obvious ... In other words some forms of social oppression may benefit capitalism by dividing and diverting opposition to it which however are not essential to it's continuance.

So, I used to subscribe to a similar opinion to this one but ultimately reject it now. I mean, things like racism and patriarchy might not be "essential" to an abstract ideal of capitalism but, at the end of the day, we're not dealing with an abstract ideal of capitalism; we're dealing with our real, everyday experience of capitalism, and it's that capitalism which is inherently bound up with patriarchal and racial oppressions.

Or, to put it another way, can you imagine capitalism ever actually functioning without also structuring our class and society at large along gender and racial hierarchies? I can't, and as such I find little use in saying they are 'inessential' to capitalism as I imagine them existing as long as the capitalism we're fighting against will.

This is my position too. I also think it's likely that if a revolutionary rupture tending towards communism were to take place in any given area, then counterrevolutionary processes seeking to reestablish the basis for capitalism would be reliant on the concomitant re-imposition of patriarchal, racial and nationalist 'norms'.

Juan Conatz

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So for clarification, this split off were the ones parroting current cynical right-wing tropes like "free speech" and saying that a respectful dialogue should be had with people who engage in organized hate speech or defend those who engage in organized anti-trans hate speech?

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan - read what they say before making off hand comments like this.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was a member of the AF for a couple of years but left ten or so years ago.

I agree with Ed's comment, both that I would have argued that patriarchy and racism were inessential to capitalism a decade ago and that I no-longer believe that. This has come from both discussions and from reading people like A Sivanandan on the history of anti-racist struggle in the UK and a lot of other history. There is a whole history of class struggle that was centred on anti-racist and anti-sexist lines which is often ignored or given lip-service by mainstream accounts.

For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike! However convict leasing was a central element in breaking the strikes from the 1870s-1890s, and racial antagonism continued well into and past the race riots against black workers post WWI and wildcats against integration of black workers in the '40s. The second time I read it, after reading 'Slavery by Another Name' (possibly not the best history of convict leasing but it's OK) I noticed the omission.

We can compare these two accounts:
https://libcom.org/history/us-coal-miners-strikes-1894-jeremy-brecher

Brecher mentions both black and Italian groups of strike breakers - some intimidated into fleeing, some who refused to work upon arrival, and differing approaches to them from strikers. However there is no depth on why the strike breakers were there. With black strike breakers they had often been taken, in chains, from prison and forced to work (whether breaking a strike or as bonded labour) under armed guard.

Without knowing the history of the convict leasing system and the areas it was active in, we're just presented with strike breakers who may or may not have been of a different ethnicity to the strikers and may or may not have had the option to quit.

Compare with this on Tennessee https://libcom.org/library/stockade-stood-burning-rebellion-convict-lease-tennessee-s-coalfields-1891-1895 and there's an example of white workers specifically liberating black leased convicts from where they were being held captive to be used as strike breakers.

I don't think Brecher glossed over this intentionally, but understanding exactly why and how there was such a ready supply of labour available as strike breakers - not just un-unionised scabs but pressed/captive labour due to a revived racial caste system helps to understand the strengths and limitations of the early US labour movement. There's also a comparative lack of history on the slave revolts, maroon communities and Reconstruction itself - which again are useful to inform our understanding of how capitalism developed and was resisted in the US and Caribbean.

Much more recently, there's very little written about the strikes of Asian workers in the UK before Grunwick (which unlike Grunwick received very little support from other workers at all), https://libcom.org/history/unity-grunwick-40-years-imperial-typewriters-strike-evan-smith and https://libcom.org/library/women-struggle-mansfield-hosiery-strike cover some of this. That history isn't comfortable reading, but if we look at a lot of the anti-immigration stuff from people like Paul Mason or Len McCluskey, a better understanding of class struggle by immigrant workers in the UK (and union/Labour responses to it) - whether hospital cleaners in London last year or factory workers in the early '70s is one way to debunk the 'immigrants are responsible for lower wages' bollocks.

Spikymike

Many of the struggles against specific forms of oppression by those who experience it do not, and may have no immediate reason, to extend beyond a desire for a measure of equality on capitalist terms (not to be dismissed either) - there is no automatic extension towards a revolutionary politics with or without the encouragement of our pro-revolutionary minorities.

The same argument can be made for strikes for higher wages and etc. - that they can be co-opted into struggle for union recognition with material demands left by the wayside, that higher wages are granted alongside productivity deals or with no-strike contracts, that self-management within the firm can lead to more efficient capitalism rather than a break with it. But apart from some of the post-left/nihilist lot, we don't write off strikes, we just recognise that they often have limitations, and as importantly try to identify the possibilities that might be opened up and support and document them where we can. The multi-week uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore were against police violence (with some people wanting the abolition of the police and by extension capitalism, some just arguing for 'police reform/demilitarisation', a few for more black cops), but even the most liberal aspects weren't arguing for just more evenly racially distributed police violence (I'm sure someone somewhere did if you really looked) - even if they emphasised that it's disproportionate now or had varying ideas on how to reduce it.

Ed

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EDITED TO ADD: Cross-posted with Mike Harman making Borg-like similar comments! The new libcom party line has been learnt well, comrade! :) More importantly though, perhaps see my comment at the bottom of this post to split this into a new thread.

SpikeyMike

Ok Ed but 'Patriarchy' and 'racism' are general terms that cover a wide and different variety of specifically experienced forms of oppression by different groups of people in different countries in different periods of history at different levels of intensity and which capitalism is able under pressure to amend at least up to a point in ways to it's benefit as much as those experiencing that oppression

Mike, I certainly agree with all of the above but I'd also add that the same could said of class "at least up to a point", as you say: the rise of social democracy and the integration of unions into the capitalist state being a case in point. Same with class as experienced differently depending on location, era, intensity etc. Indeed, this latter aspect would seem impossible to discuss without being intersectional: how could you compare, say, the Flint sit-down strikes, the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, and car factory struggles in apartheid South Africa without discussing race? And, more importantly, why would you want to?

This isn't to reduce class to 'one oppression among many'; it's still class exploitation which is the driving force behind capitalism and it's class struggle that leads to our way out. But class struggle can't be separated from struggles against racism or sexism coz you just end up with shit anti-racism, shit anti-sexism and shit communism.

Many of the struggles against specific forms of oppression by those who experience it do not, and may have no immediate reason, to extend beyond a desire for a measure of equality on capitalist terms (not to be dismissed either) - there is no automatic extension towards a revolutionary politics with or without the encouragement of our pro-revolutionary minorities.

See above. I really feel there is no "automatic extension towards a revolutionary politics" in any struggle: the 1930s sit-downers were also happy to keep factories segregated, London dockers who went on wildcat strike in 1967 over casualisation went on strike again in 1968 in support of Enoch Powell. All struggles have the potential to end up as merely sectional struggles or widen out to develop class consciousness. That's no more or less true of, say, Black Lives Matter or workplace organising. Yet the former seems to only begrudgingly be accepted as class struggle while the latter is accepted without question.

By the way Mike, as I write this, I feel we may be straying off topic. Shall we start a new thread to discuss this?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jim

little_brother

Anti-colonial thinking is a term for thinking about privilege e.g. taking into account different experiences of e.g. racism, prejudices, discrimination or oppressions which minorities (although doesn't have to be a minority in the face of extreme domination by a powerful group) face or have faced historically.

Do you think it's a useful term? As far as I can tell the AF has always been against all forms of oppression, I'm not sure why 'anti-colonial' is needed and I think most people would associate it with opposition to actual colonialism, not opposing oppression in the UK.

I've seen people use decolonize more than anti-colonial tbh. Either way whether it's a useful term or not (have seen even people who use it argue that it's not a useful term), we can say that understanding colonialism and the opposition to it is useful for understanding some of the opposition to oppression in the UK. Sivanandan on the 1968 immigration act (made specifically to prevent stateless Kenyan Asians with British passports coming to the UK) vs. race relations act (de jure equality obviously not the end of racial discrimination in the UK) is an example of this. Alongside Mansfield Hosiery and other strikes where immigrants from ex-colonies were organising, within a decade of independence in some cases. Base Publication's first editorial discussed this and how it can inform approaches to Brexit etc. http://www.basepublication.org/?p=114 I've only really noticed people revisiting this history in the past 3-4 years - maybe that's me not noticing it before or a general move towards bringing some of this stuff forwards (the Black Star Asian Youth Movements book and tandana archive resurfaced some of the later '70s early '80s history and that was only 2013, Grunwick 40 year anniversary was last year).

When it comes down to autonomous organising, things like accountabiity within political groups around sexual assault etc. just saying 'we're opposed to all forms of oppression' doesn't really cut it. People arguing that organising around or even talking about racism or sexism is 'divisive', collapsing stuff like the Stonewall riot into 'liberal idpol' or that Trans rights can impinge on the rights of assigned-female-at-birth women will still say they're opposed to all forms of oppression in the abstract.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Surprisingly as it may seem I don't disagree with everything MH and Ed say but then no-one has said that we shouldn't argue against or show solidarity with a whole range of specific anti-racist or anti-sexist etc struggles where they intersect with class needs and the potential for extension of class struggle but that doesn't apply across the board. Not convinced that the current 'Privilege' and 'Intersectional' theories as they stand or are currently applied actually help with that.

dark_ether

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Discussion amongst AFed members "Do you think we should make the organisation more explicitly open to other libertarian communists who agree with our aims and principles, but don't describe themselves or their beleifs as explicitly anarchist? Also btw, do you think it's annoying that if you start a conversation about say, gender, you're expected to spend the first three minutes reminding everyone you're still a communist in case people think you've forgot?"

Discussion outside "Why are they all liberals now?"

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Let's look at a hypothetical (but somewhat concrete) example from the AF-split statement:
https://communistanarchism.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/class-struggle-anarchist-statement-on_1.html

Class Struggle Anarchist Statement

A second important point is that even when we are engaged in important struggles against particular oppressions we must keep in mind that there is a bigger picture. It is not just a question of fighting an individual’s behaviour or attitude. Oppressions have their basis in a whole system, within structures and institutions. Adopting a wider perspective is important within the political movements themselves. Your male comrade may be acting in a sexist way, the white activist may not appreciate the impact of colonialism and racism on struggles and feminists may not understand the issues facing trans people but ultimately they are struggling for the same thing you are. In this way we can perhaps find less aggressive and authoritarian ways of dealing with oppressive behaviour and ideas within the movement itself. Keep in mind how you would handle unacceptable behaviour amongst workmates or in a residents association. An aggressive, ‘call-out’ approach, humiliating a person on Facebook or banning them from spaces, would not be acceptable and could completely destroy any chance of your struggles succeeding. (Obviously, there are times when actions may be so extreme that banning people may be necessary but we have to make sure that this action is carefully considered.)

To expand those hypotheticals:
- A residents association meeting where several residents are trans. One resident of the block is a TERF and shows up at the meeting handing out leaflets against the GRA, maybe arguing that shared gender neutral toilets in the lobby of the block be gender segregated, while people are trying to talk about rent increases.

- A mass meeting at a workplace organising against redundancies, someone is arguing that if redundancies do happen it should be based on 'last in first out' which happens to mean most of the immigrant and women staff would be made redundant whereas older white British men would retain their jobs.

For an actual example from last year, the Christiansburg Target strike where central demands of the strike were against transphobia, racial discrimination, and sexual harassment from the store manager https://libcom.org/news/christiansburg-va-target-workers-strike-against-sexual-harrassment-racial-discrimination-23

Class Struggle Anarchist Statement

An aggressive, ‘call-out’ approach, humiliating a person on Facebook or banning them from spaces, would not be acceptable and could completely destroy any chance of your struggles succeeding.

Or it might be the only way the struggle succeeds - by shutting down the introduction of racism, sexism or transphobia into the organising space, derailing everything else happening and potentially alienating many participants when the 'rights' of the people introducing these arguments are defended against those affected by them.

If all the white male staff at a workplace make it clear they're OK with the idea the immigrant and women staff losing their jobs first so they can keep theirs whether the struggle is successful or not, whose fault the disunity arising from that? (And this goes for whether they suggest it or just refuse to challenge it when it's brought up, and whether it's stated explicitly or via 'last in first out', and whether people realise that 'last in first out' means a structurally racist and sexist outcome when it comes up or not).

Additionally, that paragraph blurs the line between the residents association/workplace mass meeting and the anarchist communist group - presumably none of the people at the residents association would be eligible to join the AF unless they were 'anarchist communists' - but does this mean someone who thinks 'voting is OK sometimes' should be excluded while a transphobe shouldn't? If you're organising a strike would you include someone in strike meetings who thinks strikes are bad and we should all co-operate with management? If not why is that a red line and some other things not? I think most of the people on this thread are in favour of minority unionism, informal workplace groups, dual carding and similar variations because it's not always possible to get everyone at a workplace on board with militant (or even not very militant) action, and this implies excluding people from those groups whose aims either aren't aligned or are contrary to the goals.

This doesn't mean that you'd instantly exclude anyone who makes the slightest sexist comment or is ignorant about trans issues or colonialism from mass meetings, but that's a straw man that afaik no-one is arguing for at all - and some of the objection here seems to be against getting challenged on these things in any way at all that's not softly softly.

SpikeyMike

Not convinced that the current 'Privilege' and 'Intersectional' theories as they stand or are currently applied actually help with that.

I'm sure you'd apply that to plenty that goes under the name of 'communism', 'anarchism' and 'Marxism' too - whether it's the party form, crude workerism, Keynesianism and so many others.

If people really want to engage with 'Privilege theory' critically they should ignore the 'invisible knapsack' stuff and just jump into Chris Wright on Race Traitor or similar. In the same way people who want to engage critically with anarchism should deal with the CNT or Kropotkin instead of Hakim Bey or crimethinc.

https://libcom.org/library/marxism-white-skin-privilege-chris-wright

darren p

Just out of interest how was it that people whose politics are closer to liberal idpol than anarchist-communism came to be the majority in the AF anyhow? Isn't there any kind of screening process for new members? Though guess this an academic question now..

When tankies and similar have a go at anarchists for being 'liberals' or 'anti-Semites' or whatever other smears than can come up with, they show themselves up as either very ignorant or deliberately smearing or both and get very quickly held up as such. Whereas this comment from darren p describing the majority of AF members as liberal just went past without barely a comment except one partially agreeing with it from Serge Forward.

jef costello

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some good responses, I had forgotten about convict leasing.

I think that although any one form of oppression could be abandoned capitalism requires some form of oppression to divide the working class.

Oppression divides the working class, communism is about, and requires, the working class being united. So we can't accept it and we must challenge it. This is not the same as demanding more female CEOs or black business owners or whatever.

I dislike callout culture to the extent that it can be about asserting power rather than challenging behaviour, but we do need to challenge behaviour. If someone was having a drink with the AF split group and said "gay marriage is fine and they should have equal rights, but obviously they can't work with kids" then I don't doubt that they would be immediately challenged. I admit I didn't get trans issues at first, so I had to work on them. I had to work on class, race sex etc too. I can remember actually saying, and believing, that I sufffered from more discrimination as a white male. I still don't feel like I fully understand all these issues, but I think I know them enough to respect the people that experience them directly. And there will be more stuff in a few years.

Speaking from the outside it does seem like trans issues have shown up a generational divide, with newer members seen as arrogant and trying to tell established members what to do and the older members seen as not being up with modern issues. In which case people need to get over themselves. Older members are not your parents, so no need to butt heads with them. If you have contributed a lot over the years then it can be annoying to have someone who has just arrived tell you how to suck eggs (this is where my laziness pays off) but you are going to have to deal with it, in the same way as older comrades dealt with you in the past. There's something faintly ridiculous about comrades who would have fought against the idea that homosexuality was a bourgeois degeneracy are calling people liberals for supporting trans rights.

Sorry that this post is repetitive, but this split seems to be a waste of time and energy when the few people that actually care about anarchism do not have enough of either.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There's something faintly ridiculous about comrades who would have fought against the idea that homosexuality was a bourgeois degeneracy are calling people liberals for supporting trans rights.

Jef, I hope you're not suggesting those who have left the AF "are calling people liberals for supporting trans rights." Such a suggestion would be massively ridiculous.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Jef, I hope you're not suggesting those who have left the AF "are calling people liberals for supporting trans rights." Such a suggestion would be massively ridiculous.

Serge Forward

darren p

Just out of interest how was it that people whose politics are closer to liberal idpol than anarchist-communism came to be the majority in the AF anyhow? Isn't there any kind of screening process for new members? Though guess this an academic question now..

I'm still not entirely sure if they are actually in the majority but it's a very good question nevertheless; one that I'm sure those of us who've left will most likely be discussing.

So do you think that either a majority or significant minority of AF members have politics that are closer to liberal idpol than anarchist-communism or not? Either you don't actually think they're 'closer to liberal idpol than anarchist communism', or you do think that, but for different or additional reasons than supporting trans rights. Jef's one sentence summary isn't exactly contradicted by this exchange.

gamerunknown

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ed

I can't help but feel this is yet another personal dispute made political.

This doesn't seem to be the case actually - there's been little face to face disagreement from what I can tell (I haven't attended meetings in some time though). Good friends have ended up on separate sides of this. In fact, I hope there isn't any personal animosity generated.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jef Costello

I think that although any one form of oppression could be abandoned capitalism requires some form of oppression to divide the working class.

Race has been the primary way that work has been stratified/organised globally. Gender has been the primary way that social reproduction has been organised domestically. That goes for chattel slavery 150 years ago, to migrant workforces in agriculture now, to a major contributor to the rise of the far right in the US being a reaction to the gender binary being questioned ('soy boys', 'cucks', movements to keep women out of technical jobs, widespread sexual harassment etc.). Or for example arguments around automation where seasonal migrant agricultural labour and care work are almost always ignored.

Other things tend to hang off race and gender rather than being completely separate (race and disability have been closely linked, like 1950s studies claiming that black africans were like lobotomized Europeans or Toby Young arguing for 'progressive eugenics for the working class due to hereditary IQ' while simultaneously decrying wheelchair ramps). Both sexuality and gender expression are inextricable from the gender binary. Mental health cuts across both. An awful lot comes in the end comes down to chromosones and phenotype, and justifying people's social position based on those via pseudo-scientific shit - whether it's eugenicists, race science, TERFs all of which making a come back at the moment.

Communism seems considerably more likely than either racism or gender binaries breaking down completely within capitalism, and I don't think other forms of oppression could really stand by themselves without those two on some level. This doesn't mean that the way things are enforced or appear can't change significantly, or that something quite specific like the British social class or Indian caste system couldn't eventually be overturned, but even those two are surprisingly persistent despite generally being an impediment to capitalist development in the abstract.

On call-out culture, why is it callout culture to call someone racist or a transphobe, but not when you call the majority of the membership of an anarchist communist organisation liberals or 'soft on national liberation'? Is one moral and one political or is just people not taking shit very well?

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Craftwork

Are they going soft on national liberation?

When asked about AF groups sharing Kurdish nationalist propaganda AF twitter said "Individual members of the AF yes...but not the entire AF as a whole." I guess the A&P's don't mean much these days, which is a shame.

But be warned asking questions will get you blocked and publicly named.

darren p

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

So do you think that either a majority or significant minority of AF members have politics that are closer to liberal idpol than anarchist-communism or not? Either you don't actually think they're 'closer to liberal idpol than anarchist communism', or you do think that, but for different or additional reasons than supporting trans rights. Jef's one sentence summary isn't exactly contradicted by this exchange.

FWIW I said “liberal” not because they are concerned with trans, race issues etc (everyone should be concerned with those) but because of the way that concern is being framed I.e through the language of “rights”, “privelage” and other things taken straight out of the liberal academy.

darren p

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

On call-out culture, why is it callout culture to call someone racist or a transphobe, but not when you call the majority of the membership of an anarchist communist organisation liberals or 'soft on national liberation'? Is one moral and one political or is just people not taking shit very well?

I would have thought “call out culture” refers to the naming and group shaming of an individual. Saying “the AF is going soft on national liberation” isn’t the same thing..

Uncreative

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

When asked about AF groups sharing Kurdish nationalist propaganda

What AF group has shared Kurdish nationalist propaganda?

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

darrens post 43 does highlight a point that 'intersects' with some of those I made earlier. If you read the long first part of the AF statement as in the earlier post no 10 it is a familiar and depressing list, but that only looks at the most recent period in the now fairly long history of capitalism that has moved through both significant structural shifts and shorter swings back and forth in terms of the cycles of economic crisis and collective class struggle. Looked at over the longer term it is possible to discern both advances and declines in the advance of social struggles in which class struggle and capitalist competition have worked in conjunction to provide at least temporary benefits to our class whilst modernising and stabilising capitalism. Differing perspectives in our understanding of the significance, for instance of the Syrian Kurdish movement in the balance between apparent social advances in women's liberation and consolidation of capitalist and nationalist interests would seem to reflect this. There is a risk that this depression moves us to abandon some of the more critical communist perspectives on defensive struggles both social and economic gathered over the longer term. That may of course reflect my own concerns and personal experiences of the more extreme political mood swings in the various groups and movements over my lifetime that I have perceived taking place more recently within the AF and our wider milieu. A better balance may emerge from all this in time I suppose.

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Uncreative

Burgers

When asked about AF groups sharing Kurdish nationalist propaganda

What AF group has shared Kurdish nationalist propaganda?

Bristol AF Twitter account did, that silly Spanish civil war "tank" comparison picture amongst other stuff.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

darren p

FWIW I said “liberal” not because they are concerned with trans, race issues etc (everyone should be concerned with those) but because of the way that concern is being framed I.e through the language of “rights”, “privelage” and other things taken straight out of the liberal academy.

It's like you didn't read my comment before replying:

Mike Harman

If people really want to engage with 'Privilege theory' critically they should ignore the 'invisible knapsack' stuff and just jump into Chris Wright on Race Traitor or similar. In the same way people who want to engage critically with anarchism should deal with the CNT or Kropotkin instead of Hakim Bey or crimethinc.

https://libcom.org/library/marxism-white-skin-privilege-chris-wright

The theory/history of white privilege/white skin privilege has been developed by W E Du Bois, Theodore W Allen, David Roediger, Race Traitor (which had Loren Goldner as a contributor) among others. Have you read all of these? Are you sure they're all liberals? I haven't read all of them, but in general they're not more liberal (generally less) than 'Marxists' like David Harvey and similar.

Are there a lot of liberals who throw around words like 'privilege' without understanding class, yes there are. But then David Harvey's built an entire career around Capital while he advocates alternative currencies and voting for Bernie Sanders.

If you just see a couple of words you don't like and ignore the actual politics behind them or dismiss things because other people you don't like use similar words, it's your fault not theirs.

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for the input on decolonization, essentialism and other points & various people saying - I used to think that but now I think this. What's happened in AF is very much a symptom of the way some members have responded to real attempts coming from within AF over the decade to think about privilege, intersectionality etc. and apply it to the way our organisation works. I don't think it is necessarily generational as some older members have changed their thinking along the way as people have described on this thread. A relatively large proportion of members identifying with gender oppression has also been a most important factor which goes back quite a long way too (evidenced in our various activities and outputs - 'What's Wrong with Angry' is 10 years old this year for example - see https://libcom.org/library/what-s-wrong-angry-lgbtq-bulletin-anarchist-federation-2011 - that's issue 2, issue 1 was in 2008). It could possibly have continued without a split but the problem highlighted above - about every attempt to think differently getting reduced to a label of just identity politics - was becoming too wearing. The thing that set this off was the bookfair incident and how AF would/should respond to it, so not a personal thing and not even a AF only thing, but there were obviously strong individual views and currents in AF that either wanted change (or didn't). The majority are on the side of change - what this may look like and what it are the next steps are being discussed right now. This will surely affect things outside of AF too, not least we've been involved in co-organising, or at least participating in, many of the regional bookfairs outside of London and some thinking about those will need to happen for the coming year.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It would be interesting to know how many of those AF members and supporters who were previously involved from say 2008 with the activities of the LGBTQ group have remained in the AF rather than drift back into other more specific reformist campaigning? It wouldn't surprise me if there isn't a divide along broadly generational lines (I'm an oldie myself) but then each new influx of younger people whilst it often brings some fresh thinking also remains short lived and only partly positive on reflection later. Not all change is for the better - it can often be 3 steps forward and at least 2 back.
And lazy use of 'labels' is to be avoided even if there might be something relevant behind that usage in some cases. I mean darren I bet your reading list isn't as big as Mike Harman's - so take your finger off the button!

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It was first published 10 years ago and at the start of the period of austerity and cuts (I think we managed a fourth issue of the Nottingham Sparrow around the same time) and I can't remember all of whom was involved in the writing as I wasn't - I was waist deep in Notts Save Our Services. I do think it's a big presumption and really quite insulting to talk about people 'drifting back' or to say that ideas that are not going to be ultimately sustained or influential are the ones coming from younger comrades. In fact they could be considered as the ones who have started us off on our current path. Firstly look at the issue 2 and the class politics are clear but also take the point on this thread - in whose eyes it is that LGBTQ activity is somehow to be considered apart from the core activity of a class struggle organisation? I hope they won't mind me saying that some of the AF members I do know were involved with writing WWWA are no longer in AF but are involved in RABL (Red and Black Leeds) who are very much active and also produced the well regarded pamphlet on Sex Work which AF has being selling on its stall at bookfairs. 3 steps forward and 2 back is still 1 forward :)

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So here then: https://wearetherabl.wordpress.com including some ex-AF people maybe. Not sure why they are not part of the AF they seem similar.

Tarquin

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike

So here then: https://wearetherabl.wordpress.com including some ex-AF people maybe. Not sure why they are not part of the AF they seem similar.

Red and Black Leeds were Leeds AF. They disaffiliated a few years back.

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I note that the Abbey Volcano and J.Rogue text has been included in the ex-AF Communist Anarchism blog possibly the first of others that they liked which perhaps points to a measure of clarity as to both differences and similarities over this issue. The libcom version of this in the library has some other comments and useful links as well.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

Uncreative

Burgers

When asked about AF groups sharing Kurdish nationalist propaganda

What AF group has shared Kurdish nationalist propaganda?

Bristol AF Twitter account did, that silly Spanish civil war "tank" comparison picture amongst other stuff.

Not to mention Merseyside AF with a Kurdish flag.

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Burgers

Uncreative

Burgers

When asked about AF groups sharing Kurdish nationalist propaganda

What AF group has shared Kurdish nationalist propaganda?

Bristol AF Twitter account did, that silly Spanish civil war "tank" comparison picture amongst other stuff.

Not to mention Merseyside AF with a Kurdish flag.

But "we must fight against terror together" Serge

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That's the one. You've reminded me it wasn't exactly a flag - it was a placard with that slogan, a union jack and YPG flag on it.

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This. When nationalism isn't enough, so you go full scale imperialist. Placard being held up by members of Merseyside AF at a solidarity with Rojavo demo/vigil in Liverpool a few years ago (I've cut the picture down so as not to show faces).

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I understand the context of this photo was someone from Merseyside AF took the placard to help divert the police from arresting a Kurdish person on the demo who had been holding it. If you think this is a useful tactic in the circumstances to make out the AF is soft on national liberation as part of a continued attack, after your leaving, on we are doing to develop more intersectional thinking, that is very sad.

Merseyside had attended some of the Kurdish community demonstrations in Liverpool from the point of view of supporting a minority ethnic group against persecution by the Turkish state, despite reservations about the politics of some of the people involved (in pretty much the same spirit that we’d attend Palestine solidarity stuff). The AF member took the placard and invited the cops to arrest them at a point when the Kurdish man was being threatened with arrest. Regardless of the politics of national liberation, it was an act of practical solidarity against police repression, not an endorsement of the PKK.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Interesting that's never been mentioned before now.

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When Bristol AF shared Kurdish nationalist propaganda on twitter, was that also an attempt to divert police attention as well? Or just a question of awful politics?

And to be honest I would find it difficult to defend someone calling for the British state to bomb anywhere.

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is quite tiring point scoring. There will be a reason for Bristol too or for anything else you may wish drag up from your short list of apparent slips that you seem to both be keeping a personal tally of. Merseyside told me they've explained their context of that photo before. Pick a couple of things to smear a whole organisation with if you wish but AF record on national liberation has been very clear when you were in and also now you are not. We sometimes have had to discuss things especially as we are in an international. For example we all agreed to support DAF and this included some if not all who have left after a full weekend of discussion of the whole Rojava situation which we had to educate ourselves about, which also led to the publication if our statement which is here on libcom for all to see. Bristol were one of the groups that helped us the most in understanding the politics during that meeting. This is a really unproductive exchange and if it is your intention to damage the reputation of those of us who are left, the majority of members of AF, then I think you will not succeed and just adds to a picture of why it has been so hard to work with you inside the organisation for the past 5-6 years especially..

the button

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

little_brother

This is quite tiring point scoring. There will be a reason for Bristol too or for anything else you may wish drag up from your short list of apparent slips that you seem to both be keeping a personal tally of. Merseyside told me they've explained their context of that photo before. Pick a couple of things to smear a whole organisation with if you wish but AF record on national liberation has been very clear when you were in and also now you are not. We sometimes have had to discuss things especially as we are in an international. For example we all agreed to support DAF and this included some if not all who have left after a full weekend of discussion of the whole Rojava situation which we had to educate ourselves about, which also led to the publication if our statement which is here on libcom for all to see. Bristol were one of the groups that helped us the most in understanding the politics during that meeting. This is a really unproductive exchange and if it is your intention to damage the reputation of those of us who are left, the majority of members of AF, then I think you will not succeed and just adds to a picture of why it has been so hard to work with you inside the organisation for the past 5-6 years especially..

You're nationalist scum now, chief. Twitter says so.

https://twitter.com/LeftCommunist/status/949222172807061504

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

little_brother

This is quite tiring point scoring. There will be a reason for Bristol too or for anything else you may wish drag up from your short list of apparent slips that you seem to both be keeping a personal tally of. Merseyside told me they've explained their context of that photo before. Pick a couple of things to smear a whole organisation with if you wish but AF record on national liberation has been very clear when you were in and also now you are not. We sometimes have had to discuss things especially as we are in an international. For example we all agreed to support DAF and this included some if not all who have left after a full weekend of discussion of the whole Rojava situation which we had to educate ourselves about, which also led to the publication if our statement which is here on libcom for all to see. Bristol were one of the groups that helped us the most in understanding the politics during that meeting. This is a really unproductive exchange and if it is your intention to damage the reputation of those of us who are left, the majority of members of AF, then I think you will not succeed and just adds to a picture of why it has been so hard to work with you inside the organisation for the past 5-6 years especially..

You need to stop personalising this and you need to stop rewriting history. The issue is the political trajectory the AF has been on in the last 5-6 years which has culminated in the recent collective resignation. That's it. I am aware that there are good comrades who have remained within the AF and I wish them well, but if the AF continues on its present course, I can't imagine them staying in for much longer.

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I share Serge's sentiments, personalising political disagreement isn't really on, naming people on twitter isn't on, threatening people on Facebook isn't on. I may have political disagreements with the AF now, but that has never stopped me from defending what, for many years I have seen as the best anarchist group around, with many people I have had a huge respect for and which included you little_brother. Often I have been critical or raised issues hoping they would be addressed, but instead AF closes ranks, treats those that disagree as the enemy and people call us the authoritarians?

This is what I wrote the other day on that bloody Facebook in response to someone talking shit about AF on disabilities.

I'm sure disabilities is covered in the "safe space" and privilege nonsense, but yeah they have never produced a 200 page pamphlet detailing the history of disabilities and a action plan. But then they haven't got one for mental health or people with learning disabilities either, they don't even have a position on cute fluffy bunnies, the bastards!!! Seriously though they happen to be a small organisation, you can't beat them with a stick because nobody got around to writing something.

I often suggest "In the Tradition" to people when they ask me about AF's politics.

Konsequent

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

(I know you've all moved on to the placard but it takes me a while to write and this is related to the original subject ;) )

Spikymike

It would be interesting to know how many of those AF members and supporters who were previously involved from say 2008 with the activities of the LGBTQ group have remained in the AF rather than drift back into other more specific reformist campaigning?

You seem to be implying that we originally drifted over from reformist campaigning, as if that was our natural home. I was at the inaugural meeting of the afed's lgbt caucus, and we'd come to anarchist communism via the same routes as other af members (having previously been authoritarian communist trots, or anarcho lifestylist punks, etc). A considerable percentage of the caucus were long term members who'd not made much of a thing of their queerness before. A considerable percentage were Leeds AF.

Leeds AF was founded entirely by queers, including myself. We didn't join the AF to push lgbt issues within it, but because we were anarchist communists. Individually we were involved in antifascism, the iww, squatting, animal rights, etc, but we'd found each other at the queeruption/queer mutiny parties (though we complained to each other at the time that the scene wasn't class struggle enough, sadly it seems to have been replaced by a scene which isn't even explicitly anticapitalist), and by typing terms like "anarchist" into the search bar on gaydar. We were all in agreement that Leeds needed an anarchist communist group, but we were acquainted because we were all either sleeping together or trying to. If you want to explain the influx of gays to the AF around a decade ago, you'd be better off looking to our stereotyped shared love of casual hook ups than our imagined shared love of identity politics.

"What's wrong with angry?" was intended for handing out at pride to convince other lgbt people that class struggle was an effective way of trying to solve their problems, it wasn't aimed at people who were already revolutionaries and were straight.

Before I started politicising my queerness, and criticising mainstream lgbt rights campaigns, I thought of identity politics as a nice thing that was happening, that I wasn't personally involved with because you can't do everything, but which it was good that all these liberals were doing while I was busy with anti capitalist politics. Some amount of engagement with how something functions is necessary to critique it.

Though RABL have always practically applied our politics in what people would generally consider more typically class struggle organisations (IWW etc) we've inevitably engaged with the question of what to make of "identity politics", (our disaffiliation from Afed was unrelated - that was about how to implement federalism). In the broad sense that people use the term, it covers all struggles against oppression (including, say, a union sticking up for a member experiencing discrimination at work, and so on). In it's narrower definition (which I've come to find increasingly useful when I'm sure it's what we're referring to) "identity politics" describes an ideology which essentialises and reinforces the categories used to divide, oppress, and exploit us, the working class.

At this point I'd say about half of RABL's membership are trans and are critical of the tendencies towards identity politics (in the latter sense) within trans politics. Views within Afed seem to vary more, but I know some members feel similarly. After RABL and AF collaborated successfully on the AF's "Work" pamphlet, we've been saying for a while we'd like to write one together on gender (I think a lot of parallels could be drawn between gender and work tbh).

The focus on identity rather than on fighting oppression (within political milieus supposedly focused on fighting oppression) seems to cause, amongst other problems, an obsession with who is in and who is out of a particular category. Arguments on who is or isn't an identity are a proxy for arguments about who is or isn't likely to experience the associated oppression and is therefore deserving of solidarity. This is a constant source of disagreement in lgbt circles ("queer" didn't really fulfil it's radical promise of being an anti-label label, a contradiction some people saw coming a mile off). A similar problem has characterised a lot of the recent fallings out around trans issues. This has been our offering on that so far: https://wearetherabl.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/falling-star-countering-gender-essentialism-with-sex-essentialism/

dark_ether

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm in Bristol AFed. We mostly get criticised for being too hard on and critical of national liberation struggles, especially that of the PKK/PYD.

Whenever we've fund raised we've sent money to Anarchist Communists in the region fighting against state repression in Turkey and the Syria/Turkish border (DAF). We figure Anarchist Communists on the ground will have a better idea about how best to express solidarity with a complicated struggle, that has both anarchist and nationalist elements and both revolutionary and reformist ones.

We've also had a fraught relationship with supporters of the PKK/PYD due to our hosting of Leila Shrooms and our outspoken support for those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella until about the time of the final siege in Aleppo.

It's a complex and nuanced situation, one that could easily be lost if we're judging stuff on tweets. The content we posted in organise was heavily critical of the PKK cheerleaders in the UK who saw no fault with their politic.

rat

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OP:

What's going on in AFed?

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good to hear from RABL and Bristol on this thread. Also good to raise ability as this is not often highlighted. We did in last few year add a caucus for members living with disabilities or mental health problems. There's an article in latest Organise! too. This is also an aspect of intersectionality that could be developed further. Obviously there is already a strong voice in DPAC, who were at bookfair, and Black Triangle (in UK).

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So are you denying sharing Kurdish nationalist content of Twitter? From what I remember I commented on it and you took it down, maybe I have a screenshot somewhere to jog your memory.
However I am more worried about this popular frontism that you talk about below. FSA was run by dissident generals from the Syrian army, openly capitalist and nation statist. It's really isn't a "complex and nuanced situation" it's a ethnic nationalist war, with wider regional and international backers on different sides. No side in this very dirty war could ever be supported and the loses are the working class of the region, which as been devastated.
It's really depressing to see anarchists looking for a side to support.

dark_ether

I'm in Bristol AFed. We mostly get criticised for being too hard on and critical of national liberation struggles, especially that of the PKK/PYD.

Whenever we've fund raised we've sent money to Anarchist Communists in the region fighting against state repression in Turkey and the Syria/Turkish border (DAF). We figure Anarchist Communists on the ground will have a better idea about how best to express solidarity with a complicated struggle, that has both anarchist and nationalist elements and both revolutionary and reformist ones.

We've also had a fraught relationship with supporters of the PKK/PYD due to our hosting of Leila Shrooms and our outspoken support for those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella until about the time of the final siege in Aleppo.

It's a complex and nuanced situation, one that could easily be lost if we're judging stuff on tweets. The content we posted in organise was heavily critical of the PKK cheerleaders in the UK who saw no fault with their politic.

dark_ether

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes a geo political conflict involving a US 'coalition', Russia, The Gulf States, Iran, Hizbullah and Turkey, an armed civil uprising against the regime with no centralised authority or single motive, competing Jihadist groups, several self declared Kurdish autonomous regions, shifting alliances and multiple sectarian conflicts. Very simple. Must make this a pretty short book https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745337821/burning-country-new-edition/

'those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella'
https://leilashami.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/interview-with-leila-shrooms-by-apatris-on-the-syrian-revolution/

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The AF has clearly got a lot more nuanced in its attitude towards inter-imperialist war since its "no war but the class war" days.

jondwhite

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Can anyone summarise which (splinter) group believes what?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There's issues with both dark_ether's summary of 'under the FSA umbrella', and burger's characterisation of everything that happened in Syria since 2011 as

It's really isn't a 'complex and nuanced situation' it's a ethnic nationalist war, with wider regional and international backers on different sides.

.

Let's look at what the second link dark_ether posted actually says:

First of all it doesn't contain the phrase 'those with libertarian and class struggle ideals who operated under the FSA umbrella' at all, but it does have paragraphs like this:

Leila Al Shami

Workers (despite the difficulties in organizing because of Baath domination of Unions) have played an important role in the movement. Successful general strikes and civil disobedience campaigns throughout December 2011 paralyzed large sections of the economy. The response of the Assad regime was to lay off more than 85,000 workers and close more than 187 factories between January and February 2012 (according to official figures).[1] The regime also increased wages to public sector staff in its attempt to crush the uprising.

Leila Al Shami

The main form of revolutionary organization in Syria has been through the development of local committees. Hundreds have been established in neighborhoods and towns across the country. This form of organization was inspired by Syrian anarchist Omar Aziz. He believed that it didn’t make sense for revolutionaries to participate in protests by day and then return to their lives within the authoritarian structures of the state. Aziz advocated for radical changes to social relationships and organization in order to challenge the foundations of a system built on exploitation and oppression. His ideas have had a huge impact on revolutionary organization in Syria. In the local committees revolutionary activists engage in multiple activities, from documenting and reporting on violations carried out by the regime (and increasingly elements of the opposition) to organizing protests and civil disobedience campaigns (such as strikes and refusing to pay utility bills). They collect and provide aid and humanitarian supplies to areas under bombardment or siege. The committees operate as horizontally organized, autonomous, leaderless groups, made up of all segments of the society (including minorities such as Christians, Alawites, Druze and Kurds). They have been the foundation of the revolutionary movement based on principles of cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid.

So she's very carefully and precisely noting that there was class struggle going on in 2011/12 with general strikes and neighbourhood committees, while also admitting that the 'civilian resistance' in those areas ended up aligned to some extent with the FSA (if trying to keep distance from the generals and exiled leadership).

Now we could look at the AF's analysis of the CNT in 1936, from twenty years ago:

Organise 48, 1997/98

In many important centres and in the countryside where the attempted coup had been defeated or the military had remained loyal to the Republic, the libertarian workers movement, which almost everywhere had taken the most important initiatives, was the master of the situation. The rank and file of the CNT and others, inspired by the potential for liberation, began to put a form of collectivisation of the factories and land into practice, which, given the circumstances, could only fall short of libertarian communism, but showed the creative and organisational potential of the working class.

However, by the end of the year representatives of the CNT had taken positions in the Republican Government and had effectively called off the class war in favour of 'anti-fascist unity' for the sake of victory in the war. The formerly minuscule Spanish Communist Party had become a major governmental player, the collectives and the workers militia organisations began to come under attack and the revolution looked like being strangled at birth. The response of those who wished to carry on with the revolution was the 'May Days' insurrection in Barcelona in 1937, itself the product of another provocation, this time by Stalinists, against CNT workers at the Telephone Exchange. Workers once again fought for control of the streets only this time they found themselves undermined by the leadership of the CNT.

The Failure of the Anarchists

The actions of the CNT in joining the Government, of betraying the revolution, are often flung in the face of anarchists by Leninists (who themselves wouldn't hesitate to join any government given half a chance). Usually this is given as evidence of the 'End of Anarchism' as a revolutionary theory/movement. Certainly, the Spanish experience does signify the end of a certain type of anarchism. But the blame for the class collaboration and betrayal really does not simply lie at the door of the CNT.

Al Shami is talking about the period 2011-2012 in that interview, it's now 2018.

When people dismiss Spain out of hand as 'all the anarchists joined the government and engaged in inter-imperialist/anti-fascist conflict' people are right to point out the class conflict that was also happening, the counter-tendencies from the Friends of Durruti, the 1937 May Days etc. while also being clear that the popular frontism led to demobilisation and explicit repression of those tendencies.

What happened in Syria 2011-2012 has now been entirely crushed (obviously some individuals involved are still either trapped in Syria or refugees where they haven't been killed), but dismissing it out of hand as 'inter-imperialist war' is fucked, in the same way that declaring support for the FSA would be. Note I have not read Al Shami's book, just shorter pieces like this, but there's also small reports like https://libcom.org/history/syrian-protestors-defy-attempts-intimidation around.

Now we could look at an article from the AF-split https://libcom.org/news/iran-working-class-raises-its-head-07012018 which appears to borrow a bit from https://libcom.org/news/iran-bread-jobs-freedom-05012018 which libcom published last week directly from someone in Iran.

Large segments of the 'anti-imperialist' left are working very hard to characterise the protests either as a CIA plot or even if they hedge that bit, playing directly into the hands of US 'regime change' enthusiasts, and neocons/liberals are 'supporting' the protests in order to push actually push for regime change. Both the article we published and the 'Communist Anarchism' article emphasise that there is some class content to the protests and strikes in Iran that should absolutely be supported, despite it being an extremely complex situation with multiple opposing factions both within and outside the country.

Looking for the class content in 1936 Spain, 2011 Syria and 2018 Iran is not capitulating to national liberation/popular-frontism/support for inter-imperialist war but precisely the opposite. When the majority of narratives are trying to deny any working class agency at all, and put everything down to inter-imperialist rivalry, it does not help to just dismiss/ignore what class content is there - this erases that agency as much as supporting particular factions against each other (including Rojava or the FSA as proto-state entities).

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I planned to respond to this thread a while ago, but I've been away from a computer for a few days and the discussion has moved on quite a lot. So not sure it's worth it now. However 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.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Steven, you're right in saying that these were issues when we were still members. However, they were issues that were raised but never resolved. Also, for me, and possibly others who resigned, the Bookfair fiasco and aftermath was the straw that broke the camel's back and I'm sure you can accept that some of us have been banging on about this stuff for several years now.

On the subject of the war in Syria, there was criticism of the attitude to this war by some members/groups, which, at times, manifested as support for the PYD or even likened Rojava to Catalonia in 1936. At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

The AF's steady degeneration into identity politics and its public 'acceptance' of concepts such as privilege and intersectional theory was also never resolved. It should be clear that at no point was any formal decision made by the Anarchist Federation to endorse ideas such as intersectionality, privilege theory or to move to a more identity-based politics. However, official AF website and facebook posts have since been written as if the AF is indeed such an organisation. Those of us who criticised these ideas were told we needed to go away and write a proper critique of privilege theory. However, when we did this, we were met with open hostility, immediately attacked and denounced - it was also implied by some that we were borderline racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Meanwhile, a number of the pro-privilege/intersectionality people threatened 'mass' resignations if the critique was ever published on the website.

So, we stepped back for fear this would lead to a split in the organisation. This was a serious error on our part because it basically meant giving free reign to people who had little conception of anarchist communism as it had always been understood in the ACF/AF. Now, a couple of years down the line, this increasing orientation towards identity based politics has pretty much shat all over what was once a fine revolutionary class struggle anarchist communist organisation.

That said, there are people still in the AF that I've a lot of time for and I certainly wouldn't want to be attacking all remaining AF members - who I expect to either leave when the smell gets too bad, or just suck it up and get with the programme. I am, however, more than happy to attack a minority of those members remaining. Steven, rest assured this doesn't include you. You're someone I've always had a lot of respect for, and would count you as one of the good comrades still in the AF.

radicalgraffiti

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

thats weird cause thats how the thing with the placard was originally presented, seems like some people only retain information thats useful to attack their enemies with

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

SF, thanks for the informative comment, I wasn't aware of that background so I appreciate you filling me in.

On this point:

radicalgraffiti

Serge Forward

At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

thats weird cause thats how the thing with the placard was originally presented, seems like some people only retain information thats useful to attack their enemies with

it seems most likely that this is a misunderstanding/mis-remembering rather than anything more sinister. I would have thought it should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other as there would be relevant emails/posts on the AF forum.

Sadie

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

radicalgraffiti

Serge Forward

At the time Merseyside members were spotted carrying that dodgy placard, I personally raised the matter on our internal communication forum and asked Merseyside to explain themselves. The request was met with silence. The explanation from Littlebrother, earlier in this thread, that suggests Merseyside were protecting some Kurdish lad from arrest, was never given in response at the time or at any time since. I am at a loss to understand how that explanation has only now materialised several years after the event.

thats weird cause thats how the thing with the placard was originally presented, seems like some people only retain information thats useful to attack their enemies with

From our Facebook page in 2014:

Police started harassing the man with this poster at a previous Kobane solidarity demo in Liverpool, claiming the tiny YPG flag in the corner was promoting a terrorist organisation. Strangely, when three others joined him in holding the poster, the YPG wasn't a proscribed terrorist organization anymore. Lets see some more of this solidarity tomorrow.

https://www.facebook.com/MerseysideAnarchists/photos/a.378162755608041.90605.268509486573369/807890569301922/?type=3

Honestly I’m not sure what our motivation to outright lie about our own politics in such an obvious fashion would be, especially if the claim is that this support for Kurdish nationalism is widely accepted within the AF.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

it seems most likely that this is a misunderstanding/mis-remembering rather than anything more sinister. I would have thought it should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other as there would be relevant emails/posts on the AF forum.

I'm willing to accept this, Steven. I don't have access to the AF forum any more, nor would I want to. I can say with a fair degree of certainty, however, that my request for an explanation went unanswered there.

Now it seems there was an explanation at the time on Merseyside's Facebook page - one which I accept (much as I couldn't give a fuck about rescuing a nationalist from the dibble). For the record, I have never had an account with Facebook and I'm sure I can't be the only communist anarchist who isn't in the habit of looking at Facebook pages. It's a shame Merseyside couldn't actually respond within the organisation's own communication channel at the time.

dark_ether

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah I wouldn't suggest there is anything left of these class struggle movements in Syria these days, whilst they did last past 2011, they didn't survive the siege of Aleppo.
However the time when Bristol AFed was posting about it was quite a while ago. It was 2013 we Hosted Leila in Bristol, and two years ago that I last remember us posting much about Syria (a reblog from Leila which we introduced by accusing the YPG of being complicit in the final death blow of any syrian revolutionary movements). So hardly would say our output has been favouring the nationalism of the YPG.

No war but the class war, is ofc the slogan to go with. The real world gets more complex though, fully formed revolutionary class struggles don't tend to appear as is. We've just tried to support the more class struggle and revolutionary elements of conflicts at home and abroad whenever we've seen them, generally pointing out their flaws and vulnerabilites when it comes to inter-ethnic conflict and nationalism.

From a revolutionary perspective everything since then has been very depressing. (The collapse of the ISIS caliphate after combined Assadist/Iranian/Russian/American/Kurdish assault is ofc no bad thing, but it's certainly not a revolutionary thing if that makes sense...)

Maybe under the umbrella was poor phrasing? I meant in zones militarily controlled/protected by the FSA. The FSA was such a loose term anyway, often applying to different militia or groups of one week and not the next, sometimes parts of it were allied with fighters that other parts of it were engaged in hostilities with. The only constant within was an opposition to the Assad regime.

Sadie

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Steven.

it seems most likely that this is a misunderstanding/mis-remembering rather than anything more sinister. I would have thought it should be relatively easy to prove one way or the other as there would be relevant emails/posts on the AF forum.

I'm willing to accept this, Steven. I don't have access to the AF forum any more, nor would I want to. I can say with a fair degree of certainty, however, that my request for an explanation went unanswered there.

Now it seems there was an explanation at the time on Merseyside's Facebook page - one which I accept (much as I couldn't give a fuck about rescuing a nationalist from the dibble). For the record, I have never had an account with Facebook and I'm sure I can't be the only communist anarchist who isn't in the habit of looking at Facebook pages. It's a shame Merseyside couldn't actually respond within the organisation's own communication channel at the time.

First of all, the only place that the picture was posted was Facebook. Once on the AF member concerned’s personal account and once in the post I linked to above. Both times the explanation of the context was given. Where did you see this picture exactly if you never look at anything on Facebook?

Secondly, I honestly have no recollection of this ever being raised within the AF. Perhaps I didn’t see an email or a forum post, it does happen and it’s not like you weren’t in the same room as Merseyside group members on several occasions in the interim. You could have asked directly if you were so concerned about it instead of accusing us of lying four years later.

Finally, I think it shows a fundamentally skewed set of priorities that you suggest you’d not intervene to prevent somebody from being nicked because they might have naff politics on national liberation. As far as I’m concerned, solidarity with fellow working class people against the cops comes before peformative ideological purity.

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike!

I know this is derailing a little bit so I don't intend to go into this in detail, however in response to this comment I think it is worth defending Brecher somewhat. His book, Strike! is a study of a few mass strikes in American history. Convict leasing wasn't really connected with any of the mass strikes he talks about and so I don't really think needs mentioning.

however at least one of the strikes he does talk about, the Flint sitdown strike, was in a segregated workplace under Jim Crow, and he does not really talk about the race segregation of the plant, and how this was unchallenged by the union. And this is not really justifiable.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

First of all, the only place that the picture was posted was Facebook. Once on the AF member concerned’s personal account and once in the post I linked to above. Both times the explanation of the context was given. Where did you see this picture exactly if you never look at anything on Facebook?

Secondly, I honestly have no recollection of this ever being raised within the AF. Perhaps I didn’t see an email or a forum post, it does happen and it’s not like you weren’t in the same room as Merseyside group members on several occasions in the interim. You could have asked directly if you were so concerned about it instead of accusing us of lying four years later.

Finally, I think it shows a fundamentally skewed set of priorities that you suggest you’d not intervene to prevent somebody from being nicked because they might have naff politics on national liberation. As far as I’m concerned, solidarity with fellow working class people against the cops comes before peformative ideological purity.

Like I say, I don't use Facebook. I was told about the image at the time, and as I'm not on Facebook, it was emailed to me. No mystery there. What is a mystery is that no one in Merseyside saw my question on the AF forum. Never mind. As I said, I accept your story. Beats me why you'd waste time saving a nationalist from the plod. Would you save a working class Tory? A working class fascist? A working class TERF? I'm willing to bet the answer would be no to all three. A working class nationalist however gets your sympathy. Why is that? Apologies for the "ideological purity" in advance.

Sadie

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Would you save a working class Tory? A working class fascist? A working class TERF?

In order - It depends. No. It depends, but I’ve never seen one.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fair enough. So what makes a nationalist worth saving?

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Mike Harman

For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike!

I know this is derailing a little bit so I don't intend to go into this in detail, however in response to this comment I think it is worth defending Brecher somewhat. His book, Strike! is a study of a few mass strikes in American history. Convict leasing wasn't really connected with any of the mass strikes he talks about and so I don't really think needs mentioning.

Well he literally talks about black strike breakers under armed guard. That could be scabs taking advantage of a scarce work opportunity (under armed guard for their own protection), or prisoners in chains (with the guns pointed inwards in case they try to escape, whippings if they don't work etc.). Given we know that employers would try to pit different white nationalities against each other, and also that convict leasing was widespread, it's missing context.

It's the difference between employers relying on interpersonal racism and exclusion of black workers from the labour market (race as 'divisive'), or a strikebreaking labour force conscripted on an industrial scale by vagrancy laws and convict leasing by the state, with the full enthusiastic collusion of the police and justice system who in turn were often family members of industrialists themselves. Those are two very, very different things. Given the focus on the Pinkertons, police, National Guard etc. the prison system would not be much to add.

Steven.

however at least one of the strikes he does talk about, the Flint sitdown strike, was in a segregated workplace under Jim Crow, and he does not really talk about the race segregation of the plant, and how this was unchallenged by the union. And this is not really justifiable.

I don't think he mentions it at all, even though there was one black worker (literally one) who participated in the strike at one of the plants, which shocked the white workers (they told him he didn't have anything to gain from the strike the first day, and he began eating meals separately until they started to include a bit) - some other black workers stayed off work but didn't picket/occupy, the union promised equal recognition for them but didn't follow through.

Where it's relevant to this thread is that active exclusion, and later indifference, is what has led to autonomous organising (whether it's the League of Revolutionary Black Workers or Sisters Uncut), whereas a lot of people dismiss autonomous organising as separatist.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Fair enough. So what makes a nationalist worth saving?

Breaking a general rule and quoting Orwell:

I have no particular love for the idealized “worker” as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.”

Of course Orwell later reported a tonne of people including the blacklisted singer Paul Robeson (with the comment 'anti-white') to the IRD so still fuck Orwell.

A random person on a protest with no flag is quite likely to be (soft) nationalist though - whether it's left-liberal support for democratic institutions or some variety of Trot, but you're not going to interview them before you intervene or not, so it's really the presence of the flag that's the issue here rather than the individual person's actual politics.

A lot of photos out of Ferguson and Baltimore had US flags in them, here's a famous one. https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/stltoday.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/34/e344b637-baa5-576b-aac6-f572b3145d35/580002c1904f2.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C626 Edward Crawford got charged by the police, then died while still facing that charge http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/ferguson-protester-dead-edward-crawford-found-gunshot-wound-death-iconic-photo-a7720576.html

Here's Josh Williams, also with a US flag bandana: http://www.msnbc.com/sites/msnbc/files/styles/embedded_image/public/good.jpg?itok=RPSbfbtB

He's serving an eight year sentence for setting a trash can fire outside a Quik Trip during the Ferguson uprising: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbv9wj/three-years-after-ferguson-one-protester-still-faces-the-aftermath

Would you withdraw court/prisoner support from these two because they were pictured wearing US flags?

This is not about requirements for joining an anarchist-communist organisation, but mutual self-defense against the police.

I'm still hoping by the way to get a response to this comment responding to the class struggle bookfair statement. There's been an incredible amount of discussion about 4 year old facebook posts on this thread but not much on the statements from a week or so ago.

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

Fair enough. So what makes a nationalist worth saving?

Serge, probably 95% or more of everyone you have ever been on a demonstration with at some point is a nationalist of some description or other. If someone near you on a demo is being arrested or beaten by the police, do you have a run through of questions to test their ideological purity before you deem them worthy of your solidarity?

If them having illusions in nationalism is enough to justify them being arrested by police (a strange position for an anarchist to take), what about having illusions in the unions? Are they worthy of being defended from police?

adri

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Mike Harman

For an example, I re-read Jeremy Brecher's strike not that long ago. The first time I read it in my early '20s, I wasn't very familiar with the history of post-reconstruction convict leasing in the US. As far as I can remember, Brecher doesn't mention convict leasing once in Strike!

I know this is derailing a little bit so I don't intend to go into this in detail, however in response to this comment I think it is worth defending Brecher somewhat. His book, Strike! is a study of a few mass strikes in American history. Convict leasing wasn't really connected with any of the mass strikes he talks about and so I don't really think needs mentioning.

however at least one of the strikes he does talk about, the Flint sitdown strike, was in a segregated workplace under Jim Crow, and he does not really talk about the race segregation of the plant, and how this was unchallenged by the union. And this is not really justifiable.

Don't mean to get involved, but isn't convict leasing mentioned in ragged edge of anarchy chapter? Maybe you have an older version?

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

zugzwang

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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-09012018

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

Steven.

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That was not my point, obviously.

darren p

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

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?

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Cheers for the clarification, Battlescarred

Burgers

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Uncreative

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Uncreative

Burgers

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.

Uncreative

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

Uncreative

Burgers

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

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.

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?

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

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-19012009

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

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

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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!

AndrewF

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

Carry on.

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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-trotskyists/

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Burgers

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.

AndrewF

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

little_brother

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

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

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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!

ajjohnstone

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have been reluctant to enter this discussion from fear of being accused of some sort of schadenfreude or being seen as simply interfering with something that is not my concern. However, i was struck by your remark.

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.

I think this was partly what i was trying to convey less eruditely in my own organisation's reflection on its structure and priorities

To solve a problem we have to detect it and describe it before we can determine what the problem is to fix we require group-think. Not one person is i think capable of performing miracles and i am not sure one group of socialists are able to either.
It has been said and i don't think it has been refuted but the decline in membership, participation, and activity is not unique to the SPGB but is reflected elsewhere in what use to be called the Impossiblist tradition or the non-market socialist thin red line movement to use John Crump's description of the broader movement.

https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/world-socialist-movement/organisation-update?page=6#comment-44337

I have said to my comrades a few times that we must tap into our collective knowledge to address the malaise we face and that needs to go beyond our own Party to consult, debate an argue until we reach some sort of common consensus, and it means give and take, and not fighting over the political high ground in battles from the past.

I'm not optimistic that such a project is achievable but, as i view it, surely it should be more feasible and viable a project than establishing world socialism and all the complications and complex relationships that will entail.

jondwhite

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe not what is being suggested but we shouldn't dispense with inter-group adversarial debates or what some mislabel "sectarianism". Lets not all come together. Beware calls for unity.

dark_ether

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Generally I've found anarchist and libertarian communist folks able to get on and organise without being overly sectarian.
In Bristol, for example, the IWW, SolFed and AFed regularly support each others demos and events, advertise each others stuff, even pass on propaganda produced by the others. Which may not seem like a huge deal, but I've never seen a socialist or state-communist party handing out something with a 'competing' groups name on it!

Craftwork

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

richard3222

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Is this another AFed split?

the button

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pretty sure AFed would side with the JAMMs and other Discordian elements against the Illuminati.

no1

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

How typical of admins to censor the pro-Illuminati argument and ban its proponents.

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

3 new news items at London Anarchist Communists blog
https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/

the button

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

no1

How typical of admins to censor the pro-Illuminati argument and ban its proponents.

This is exactly what the admins *want* you to think.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

3 new news items at London Anarchist Communists blog
https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/

Good to see the new London Anarchist Communists are already getting up to stuff.

Leicester Anarchist Communists are also keeping busy with an open discussion meeting on Nation or Class coming up soon on Tuesday 23rd January. See our website here: http://leicesteraf.blogspot.co.uk/

Also, at the national level, new articles are being posted on the Communist Anarchism blog.

jef costello

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

3 new news items at London Anarchist Communists blog
https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/

Is rebel city available online? I don't use facebook for 'radical' stuff.

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Article on the Monarchy and the Royal Wedding at the blog of the London Anarchist Communists:
https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes most Rebel City PDFs here for now (temp URL): http://afed.noflag.org.uk/publications/

jef costello

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

little_brother

Yes most Rebel City PDFs here for now (temp URL): http://afed.noflag.org.uk/publications/

Very temp, unfortunately. None of the links work.
I found the first three issues on libcom but they are quite old.
https://libcom.org/library/rebel-city

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It should be pointed out that Rebel City has not been an AF publication since issue No.6 and includes other anarchists/libertarians in its editorial collective, including now London Anarchist Communists.

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Two members of London Anarchist Communists spoke on anarchism to 2 classes at a N. London school today:
https://www.blogger.com

rat

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The link above goes to the Communist Anarchism site.

So here's the link to the London Anarchist Communists blog with the info about the talk at the school:

Anarchy in school!

Battlescarred

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oops!

little_brother

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jef costello

little_brother

Yes most Rebel City PDFs here for now (temp URL): http://afed.noflag.org.uk/publications/

Very temp, unfortunately. None of the links work.
I found the first three issues on libcom but they are quite old.
https://libcom.org/library/rebel-city

OK. Go here and replace afed.org.uk in all pdf links with afed.noflag.org.uk
http://afed.noflag.org.uk/rebel-city-7-london-afs-regular-paper-is-available-for-free-download/

Spikymike

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not unsurprisingly this split in the AF has attracted some unwanted interest from other of the tiny groups claiming their place in the anarchist and communist milieu - from some confused sympathy for the 'Communist Anarchism' element by members of the SPGB to outright hostility towards both sides of the split and plain nastiness from the sectarians of the 'Northern Voices' outcasts, well known for their regular misinformation and lies directed at other anarchists. Not much sign here of cooperatively tapping in to any 'collective knowledge'.

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Much as I have my disagreements with the SPGB, at least their comments haven't been mean spirited. On the other hand, Northern Voices should really be renamed Poisonous Voices. But I suppose it is the UK anarchist scene's very own pantomime villain... only with extra added batshittery.

Tom Henry

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

From the ACF/AF/LAC/Communist Anarchist Project aims and principles:

We are opposed to the ideology of national liberation movements which claims that there is some common interest between native bosses and the working class in face of foreign domination. We do support working class struggles against racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism. We oppose the creation of any new ruling class. We reject all forms of nationalism, as this only serves to redefine divisions in the international working class. The working class has no country and national boundaries must be eliminated. We seek to build an anarchist international to work with other libertarian revolutionaries throughout the world.

When we wrote this section of the ACF aims and principles in the eighties I objected to the line:

We do support working class struggles against racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism.

Specifically, the support against “political and economic colonialism.”

I objected to this on grounds that it effectively constituted support for national liberation struggles, even though we also wrote that we opposed “all forms of nationalism.”

Thus, for me, there was a significant contradiction within this paragraph. One that left it wide open as to how we should approach national liberation movements – that is, movements that strove for “political and economic” independence from colonialism (decolonization).

I think that the majority view amongst those who composed the wordings of the original aims and principles (of which I was one, the minority in this instance) was that ‘the support’ we would ‘give’ would be not to the leaders of any national liberation movements, but to the ‘workers’ who made up that movement.

But, in practice, ‘giving’ this kind of support, when one is purportedly ‘anti-national liberation,’ is mired in problems. Many of us, due to the times we lived in, had experienced these problems in our approaches to the liberation [sic] struggle in South Africa, led by the ANC.

(By the way, I have put the word ‘giving’ in scare quote marks to stress that such solidarity may not in effect be real when offered by a tiny number of people in a journal read by a tiny number of people, who cannot generate any practical or financial leverage – apart from if they actively participate in bigger, mainstream organisations such as unions, political parties, lobby groups, or charities.)

If we look at the paragraph again, having acknowledged this difficulty, it then becomes obvious that the sentence I objected to all those years ago is fraught with problems in itself. The main one being the question of just what is a “working class struggle”? If “racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism” are being opposed by non-working class elements of society, and/or led by non-working class elements - even if working class people are part of ‘the movement’ – how exactly is ACF/AF/LAC support, or not, to be shown?

Can, in one sense, a part of the reason for the recent split in the AF be discovered in this one deeply confused sentence, a sentence that, of course, reflects our (post) modern times?

And is this confusion to be perpetuated by the LAC group? Thereby simply maintaining the footings for future ‘internal’ cracks in the walls and other ructions?

Serge Forward

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's not the reason but, all the same, I think your point is interesting and worth thinking about.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

If we look at the paragraph again, having acknowledged this difficulty, it then becomes obvious that the sentence I objected to all those years ago is fraught with problems in itself. The main one being the question of just what is a “working class struggle”? If “racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism” are being opposed by non-working class elements of society, and/or led by non-working class elements - even if working class people are part of ‘the movement’ – how exactly is ACF/AF/LAC support, or not, to be shown?

(By the way, I have put the word ‘giving’ in scare quote marks to stress that such solidarity may not in effect be real when offered by a tiny number of people in a journal read by a tiny number of people, who cannot generate any practical or financial leverage – apart from if they actively participate in bigger, mainstream organisations such as unions, political parties, lobby groups, or charities.)

Well, I think this is a serious problem with bringing questions like this down to the issue of whether to 'support' or 'not support'. Let's look at two concrete examples:

Prior to the state of emergency in Kenya and the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau uprising), there was a constant cycle of struggles against land enclosures, livestock culls, the imposition of various forms of bonded labour etc., by the majority Kikuyu population, known as 'squatters' in the white highlands. These were imposed both by the colonial state and the settler farmers/landowners directly. This was an active attempt to proletarianise the Kikuyu population, land rights abrogated, then livestock culls were a central measure to complete the process from subsistence farmer-> squatter -> full agricultural proletarian.

Tabitha Kanogo's 'Squatters and the roots of Mau Mau' is very good on this (covers roughly 1905-1960). When large elements of that same population took up armed struggle, they were repressed (torture, concentration camps, all the rest) not only by the colonial state, but the post-colonial state in waiting ('0000s of Kikuyu volunteers for the colonial forces and condemnation from nationalist figures like Kenyatta regardless of some early support/ambiguity when it suited for leverage against the British), and that repression continued after independence.

Kanogo is also extremely clear that this was a movement of what was mostly farm labourers (she specifically calls out Frank Furedi's (now Spiked) book as incorrectly stating the movement had a 'petit bourgeois' leadership - foreman were often inducted into the movement last on a farm as a security measure because they were most likely to snitch, sometimes on a farm several miles away under threat of death so they couldn't name any of their subordinates, as opposed to being 'leaders' and there was not a strong relationship (if any at all) with the urban middle class.

In Algeria 1961/2 there was a mass movement of land and to a lesser extent factory occupations. There was some element of incorporation of this into the programme of the FLN - but as a way to co-opt and demobilise (in a similar way to the Bolshevik integration of the unions into the state and the neutralisation of the factory committees) - the embryonic self-management was squeezed out between the private sector and nationalisations. Rachid Tlemcani's "State and Revolution in Algeria" is good on this, and is referenced by https://libcom.org/history/ours-master-own-workers-control-commune-present. The UGTA in Algeria had a revolutionary syndicalist faction that tried to set up networks of councils in opposition to, or at least to maintain some autonomy from, the state.

I would expect all of the Kikuyu squatters and Algerian factory/farm occupiers were anti-colonialism - in the sense they were opposed to both the political and economic regime imposed by the colonial state and bourgeois. However their actions brought them into conflict not only with the colonial state and bourgeois but with the post-colonial state as well - and it's really not clear if the goal of the KLFA was to construct a post-colonial nation state (I'm not claiming they were anarchists, just that it wasn't a pro-state project either - there is a really terrible article on Kenya by someone who is now a lawyer the NRA that was republished by Zabalaza that does try to do this though and completely fucks up the history, which is what happens when you try to 'give support'/adopt: https://zabalazabooks.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/anarchism_and_revolution_in_black_africa_by_sph.pdf).

In the same decade, we had Hungary '56 - where there was a working class movement in the sense of workers councils across the country, but where at least some of the fighting in Budapest was conducted by nationalist (in some cases ultra-nationalist) groups (there are CIA files on the ex-WWII officers involved for example). Both Hungarian nationalists and tankies have spent a great deal of effort painting Hungary '56 as a nationalist rather than working class struggle for obvious though differing reasons.

The question here is not whether to 'support' or 'not support' Algerian farm and factory occupations, the Kikuyu squatters prior to or during the operation of KLFA (especially 60 years after the fact), but to try to ascertain to what extent they were class movements. And not based on whether "working class people are part of ‘the movement’" but based on their actions - the question of class conflict - against wage labour, capital, and the state in its various formations (colonial or post-colonial etc.) and looking at class composition - divisions within the working class not just the neat categories of working and middle. To what extent was there working class self-organisation? To what extent were general strikes 'political strikes' organised by nationalist/opposition parties to force state concessions towards independence vs. mass strikes' representing class interests?

Glaberman on wartime strikes in the US talks about the ideology vs. actions of worker in car factories durig WWII:

Glaberman

In the nineteen forties, during World War II most of the labor movement gave a no-strike pledge. Labor leaders agreed to put patriotism before class interest and said that during the course of World War II workers would not strike. There was much resistance and opposition to this. If corporations did not agree to give up profits, why should workers agree to give up the right to strike? In one union, the UAW, this struggle' over the no-strike pledge had a very open and formal character. In the 1944 convention of the UAW the dispute came to a heading a very strange way. There were various resolutions presented, against and for the no-strike pledge. All of them were defeated, leaving the union without a no-strike pledge. The bureaucrats on the platform were thus humiliated in the presence of government dignitaries because they could not deliver their membership anymore. They did what has become traditional in the UAW, the cure for democracy being more democracy. If workers vote the~ wrong way, they are made to vote again, and to keep on voting until they learn to vote the right way. The bureaucrats said that the convention was not really representative enough (which it would have been, obviously, if it had reaffirmed the no-strike pledge). And since this is a very important question, what is needed is a membership referendum.

They had a membership referendum, which was the perfect sociological survey. Every member got a secret ballot which was filled out in the privacy of a, kitchen or living room and which was mailed back in. The secrecy was protected because both sides were represented on the committee that ran the referendum. It was a pretty fair count as these things go. When the ballots were counted, the membership of the UAW had voted two to one to reaffirm the no-strike pledge. It was rather reasonable to draw the conclusion that the cons9iousness of auto workers was that they placed patriotism before class interest; that in a major war workers should not strike; no matter what the provocation, war production had to continue.

There was, however, a slight problem. Before the vote, during the vote, and after the vote, the majority of auto workers wildcatted. What then, was the consciousness of the auto workers? Were they for or against the no-strike pledge? There is a further problem. As in most votes, most people did not vote. The majority which voted for the pledge was not a majority of the members of the UAW. But the strikers did include a majority of the UAW. Experience in a factory can give you insight into how these things work. Some guy sitting in his own living room listening to the casualties and the war reports, votes to reaffirm the no-strike pledge. The next day, going in to work, the foreman cusses him out, and he says, "To hell with you," and out he goes. And you say, "I thought you were for the no-strike pledge." And he says, "Yeah, sure, but look at that son of a bitch." To workers, workers do not cause strikes. Capitalists cause, strikes. So if strikes are to be prevented, the thing to do is to get rid of all these grievances. It's these foremen who 'do net want to get rid of all these grievances who cause all these strikes.

What then was the consciousness of auto workers? Were they patriotic or class conscious? It seems necessary to say, as a start, that what workers do is at least as important as what workers say. But much more than that is involved. The whole idea of consciousness is more complex and is a much larger totality than simply formal statements of belief, which would be sufficiently dealt with by having a survey, or that postcard ballot, or whatever.

https://libcom.org/library/working-class-social-change-martin-glaberman

Another essay I've found useful was Matthew Quest's critical review of CLR James https://libcom.org/library/silences-suppression-workers-self-emancipation-historical-problems-clr-jamess-interpreta - very short version is that James never applied the lessons of Hungary '56 and Facing Reality consistently to colonies and former-colonies.

Obviously all of this cannot be put into aims and principles, but how many words are written discussing aims and principles in the abstract (and I include myself in this, it's intense frustration with it that's led me to trying to explore the historical literature more) vs. collective self-education about historical and current movements as they actually exist - which are always filled with contradictions.

What I think we should be 'supporting' is our own self-education and the education of others, about workers self-organisation both in the present and historically against the state and capital. Bringing international and historical examples to broader attention will do a lot more to undermine 'pro-national liberation' politics than just saying it's bad/limited - the question is not if it is limited, Cabral, Fanon and others talked against the creation of new national bourgeois (but without arriving at a libertarian communist position, although Fanon did die at 36 so maybe he would have got there eventually), but why and how it's limited.

rat

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And the anti-colonial wars in Ireland got a bit too close to home for many Leftists to support. Although some actually did.

Steven.

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah great post Mike.

Tom Henry, are you trying to say then in your comment that it would have been wrong for British workers, say, to oppose British colonialism?

Tom Henry

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To Steven,
I am not trying to say anything of the sort of course. It would be nice if we opposed all injustice and inequality at all levels. And within that 'ideal' (for want of a better word) lies the problem that should, in my opinion, be discussed.

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Perhaps one useful way of looking at the split in the Afed and the positions of Libcom Admins (Mike Harman, Ed, Steven, at least?) is to view recent developments as being indicative of a ‘new side of history’ emerging (or rather one that has already emerged and to which the libertarian left is just cottoning-on to).

So, to use Trotsky’s famous idea: the remainers in the AF have chosen the right side of history, and the splitters have consigned themselves to the dustbin of history – according to the remainers? My question is whether the splitters have embraced the dustbin of history or whether they persist under a delusion – and the delusion is made manifest by their continued adherence to vacillating pro-national liberation rhetoric. But, like for example, Miguel Amorós (and Frank Furedi – or any defender of the rational Enlightenment), should the splitters consider that ‘the right side of history’ is not at all where they want to be?

This is the debate, as I said, that I would be mildly interested in seeing here – even though it has already happened in many political places elsewhere.

On ‘support’

Mike Harman is not clear in his rejection or not of the category of ‘support’. Is he saying that one should support or not support struggles elsewhere in the world from where one lives but should only report on them, with analysis, for the edification of the local working class and political milieu?

But how does this relate to any involvement of his political milieu with any struggle anywhere, even at his doorstep?

It feels to me like Mike Harman is fudging the issue here. Particularly when he endorses to a certain degree national liberation figures (such as Cabral and Fanon). Where is the line drawn?

Marxist superiority

Mike Harman uses two examples to make his case for greater ‘nuance’ (this appears to be a Libcom word used to obfuscate and conceal, and I use it with irony) in the analysis of working class involvement in struggles. Both express the patronising attitudes we are encouraged to have of anyone of a lower class, or consciousness, or of a different country, that we have inherited from Marxist sociology.

In Marxism we are encouraged to think that if we have the right theoretical tool box (the materialist conception of history, or Historical Materialism) then we can understand any other society and all human motivation across time and place.

Martin Glaberman uses this in his judgement of workers in the USA quoted above by Mike Harman:

Glaberman writes:

What then was the consciousness of auto workers? Were they patriotic or class conscious? It seems necessary to say, as a start, that what workers do is at least as important as what workers say. But much more than that is involved. The whole idea of consciousness is more complex [posters to Libcom would now use the word ‘nuanced’ to push their agenda in equally subliminal terms to Glaberman - my note] and is a much larger totality than simply formal statements of belief, which would be sufficiently dealt with by having a survey, or that postcard ballot, or whatever.

Ah, these auto workers don’t actually know what they think. But luckily Glaberman can work it out for them.

Mike Harman then uses the same Marxist (now broadly sociological) methodology to patronise Amílcar Cabral and Franz Fanon:

Mike Harman writes:

Bringing international and historical examples to broader attention will do a lot more to undermine 'pro-national liberation' politics than just saying it's bad/limited - the question is not if it is limited, Cabral, Fanon and others talked against the creation of new national bourgeois (but without arriving at a libertarian communist position, although Fanon did die at 36 so maybe he would have got there eventually), but why and how it's limited.

Poor Fanon, struggling on the road to libertarian communism! He died too young to work it out! I am sure that Fanon would appreciate your kindly pat on his shoulder hahaha,

Also, I am having trouble distinguishing between your notion that ‘pro-national liberation politics’ is certainly limited and your suggestion that since that question is settled, then we should investigate why and how it is limited. This appears as a ‘forked-tongue’ defence of national liberation. On another level, why do the libertarian left have to say anything about national liberation? What compels them?

It would also be useful for you to provide a proper analysis and references as to why you make significant your assertion that Cabral and Fanon “talked against the creation of a new national bourgeois.” Did not Lenin, for example, talk against such a thing too?

Etc:

The recent events in Catalonia as have been reported on and discussed here are also enlightening in regard to the split in the AF and related events etc.

In this thread, the Libcom member nization is given the brush off by the admin Ed for his “resentment at his own lack of relevance” (a psychological slur befitting Trotsky?) – right under some photos posted in support of presumed (?) relevancy:

This one is also worth taking a look at:

https://libcom.org/forums/general/workers-solidarity-alliance-wsa-statement-catalonia-18102017

What is the new significance or mobilising opportunity of the current conceptualisation of ‘state repression’ for the remainers and the splitters, etc, from the AF?

But I will bow out now, since this is a discussion I have hoped to re-ignite here, but have no interest in participating in. I hope to see some good debate, of course.

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Article on Marx and Engels and the communist movement:
https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just quickly, since you're not planning to reply and there's not really much to respond to.

Tom Henry

Mike Harman uses two examples to make his case for greater ‘nuance’ (this appears to be a Libcom word used to obfuscate and conceal, and I use it with irony) in the analysis of working class involvement in struggles. Both express the patronising attitudes we are encouraged to have of anyone of a lower class, or consciousness, or of a different country, that we have inherited from Marxist sociology.

In Marxism we are encouraged to think that if we have the right theoretical tool box (the materialist conception of history, or Historical Materialism) then we can understand any other society and all human motivation across time and place.

Martin Glaberman uses this in his judgement of workers in the USA quoted above by Mike Harman:
..
Ah, these auto workers don’t actually know what they think. But luckily Glaberman can work it out for them.

Glaberman was an auto-worker from the '40s until some time in the late '50s or '60s, he wrote from his own experience of car factory struggles. This is the exact opposite of 'understand any other society and all human motivation across time and space'.

He's not telling us what people really think, but questioning the validity of an approach based on 'what people think', because collective action produces results which can be the opposite to individual surveys - he also wrote about what happened to Leftist militants when they were elected into union positions.

Tom Henry

Mike Harman then uses the same Marxist (now broadly sociological) methodology to patronise Amílcar Cabral and Franz Fanon:..\
Poor Fanon, struggling on the road to libertarian communism! He died too young to work it out! I am sure that Fanon would appreciate your kindly pat on his shoulder hahaha,

He died in 1961, a year before independence. It's not a case of 'working it out' but seeing what happened next. I mean he could also have ended up in the administration with Ben Bella too.

It's somewhat amazing to me that you characterise the idea that people's views can change as a result of experience as 'patronising'. Same as a lot of people revised their views after seeing Hungary '56.

Tom Henry

Also, I am having trouble distinguishing between your notion that ‘pro-national liberation politics’ is certainly limited and your suggestion that since that question is settled, then we should investigate why and how it is limited. This appears as a ‘forked-tongue’ defence of national liberation.

The problem for me is that people talk about 'national liberation movements' without a clear definition then make proclamations about them. Is it only the official independence movement in colonized countries? Is it every strike and riot that happens in any colonized country? Is it also Scottish and Catalan independence politics, neither of which are colonies? Is it the fucking Assad government in Syria as the anti-imperialist left would have it? This is why I introduced two concrete examples here, both of which you ignored except to portray it as some kind of trick. It's exactly this refusal to engage with the concrete that I'm arguing against.

Tom Henry

On another level, why do the libertarian left have to say anything about national liberation?

A large percentage of the world's population was living in colonised countries until the '40s/'50s. Large sections of 'the left' still cling to Leninist ideas about national self determination a century after they were written (to support transitional development of the productive forces on the way towards communism, very important in Scotland...).

Possibly a more useful discussion here would be Django's reflections on Against Nationalism: https://libcom.org/blog/some-more-thoughts-national-question-17012012 / http://libcom.org/library/against-nationalism -

For me one of the weaknesses of 'against nationalism' is that for its main examples of national liberation movements it uses Tamil separatists and Ho Chi Minh. A lot of it is arguing against the anti-imperialist Western left (which it should), but is not really addressing how nationalism and the nation state operated internally to sabotage class struggles internally in those places but rather the question of western support for factions. With Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam there's not only late '60s American Marxist support for him against the US, but the 1945 Saigon Commune and the massacre of Vietnamese Trotskyists at the time of independence from the French. The pamphlet doesn't mention South America, the Caribbean or Africa at all. It feels incomplete. I haven't read around the other responses to it though but might take a look.

Cooked

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike are you responding to Tom Henrys opposition to the

"We do support working class struggles against ... political and economic colonialism."

line and arguing for supporting struggles against colonialism?

Your examples and argumentation around them seems to imply that you don't support struggles against colonialism but class struggle in (post) colonial regions? This is despite claiming the opposite position? Could you clarify why and when the colonial aspect would change your analysis and flip it from non-support to support. That is compared to a similar situation in the UK.

I'm a bit tired but all I'm reading from your arguments is that you shouldn't make poor analysis lacking nuance based on limited information and that movements tend to be complex.

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

crooked

Mike are you responding to Tom Henrys opposition to the

"We do support working class struggles against ... political and economic colonialism."

line and arguing for supporting struggles against colonialism?

Your examples and argumentation around them seems to imply that you don't support struggles against colonialism but class struggle in (post) colonial regions?

This is despite claiming the opposite position? Could you clarify why and when the colonial aspect would change your analysis and flip it from non-support to support. That is compared to a similar situation in the UK.

I'm not entirely sure I get the question but trying to answer anyway:

I would say "you don't support struggles against colonialism but class struggle in (post) colonial regions? " is my position, except that I think many of us are guilty of ignoring 'class struggle in (post) colonial regions' precisely because it occurred in the context of a wider movement against colonialism.

We have some writing on Algeria 1960-64 on libcom, but the vast majority is from the Situationist International published at the time (for example https://libcom.org/library/internationale-situationiste-10-article-1). There is almost zero anarchist or communist literature on Kenya that I've seen - it's a history that's been neglected. Some of us have been slowly trying to correct some of this, but it's also hard to find in general.

Let's take a non-national liberation example, the Russian Revolution.

There are a couple of approaches to the Russian Revolution, one is to see it as a 'Bolshevik coup d'etat' (for example here: https://libcom.org/library/role-soviets-russias-bourgeois-revolution-point-view-julius-martov) - where it was simply a bourgeois revolution with no class content.

The other is to look at the factory committees, mass strikes etc. as containing actual class content, but then getting sidelined by the Bolsheviks once they had control of the state apparatus: Brinton being the obvious example: https://www.marxists.org/archive/brinton/1970/workers-control/

The second approach requires a lot more engagement with the history than the former, and we have to recognise that a lot of workers in the factory committees, out on strike in 1918/1919 etc. were also Bolshevik members/supporters (and of other non-anarchist/left communist factions) or had been in 1917 (in the same way CWU members who voted labour can go on wildcat against both in 2007).

Then if we talk about 'political and economic colonialism' is it just the formal status of people not having democratic rights and transfer of resources from one country to another? Or is it the concrete result of that situation - forced displacement, bonded labour, colonial police and military forces, plantations etc. If we don't define what we're talking about, how the fuck are people supposed to know what is and isn't supported?

crooked

all I'm reading from your arguments is that you shouldn't make poor analysis lacking nuance based on limited information and that movements tend to be complex.

Yes, pretty much, except I think we're talking about cumulative decades of this relative to say the critique of trade unions or electoralism whatever else that have been highly developed based on countless examples. So for me personally I've been refocusing the past couple years or so to try to fill in a lot of gaps. Critiqueing the crudest anti-imperialism is easy (and there's a lot of it about, not saying it's useless to do that), understanding why mass strikes and self-management in the '30s-'70s failed in colonial, colonised and post-colonial countries is a lot harder.

rat

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ireland?

dark_ether

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To my knowledge there is no real disagreement on nationalism or national liberation on either side of the AFed 'split'. The last discussion that we had at a federal meet up on the issues around nationalism had similar things being said by folks who have ended up in and out of the group.

It's one of those things that always requires constant discussion and debate, as our theory messily collides with reality.

AndrewF

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

rat

Ireland?

Well yes, we've put rather a lot of effort into researching the intersection of colonialism, nationalism and the workers movement as far back as 1798. Quite often informed by direct experience and a huge amount of collective discussion.

I'd say the 125 articles at https://www.wsm.ie/republicanism would suggest this isn't as under researched by anarchists as imagined - at least in relation to Britains oldest colony. I'd love to see a lot more work on the intersections in Africa and Asia but I suspect we will see those come from emerging anarchist movements there rather than those in Britain. There is remarkable little written by anarchists in Britain on British colonialism as opposed to why various oppositions to that colonialism don't offer real liberation.

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AndrewF

I'd love to see a lot more work on the intersections in Africa and Asia but I suspect we will see those come from emerging anarchist movements there rather than those in Britain.

There's already a fair bit of literature on class struggles in (post-) colonised countries, but it's mostly been written by academic historians who don't necessarily identify as anarchists. I mentioned Rachid Tlemcani's book on Algeria, Tabitha Kanogo's book on Kikuyu squatters earilier in the thread. Most of this work has been done since the early '80s (at least coinciding if not influenced directly by the emergence of subaltern studies in India). Then there are earlier examples like CLR James on Haiti (when he was a Trotskyist in the '30s).

However most of this, because it's by academic historians, is either in full length book form, or behind academic paywalls, which makes it relatively inaccessible to a lot of people. As foundational work for surfacing some of the history that's otherwise buried in government and newspaper archives (and people's heads where they are/were still alive) it's useful though. I don't know what the non-anglophone/untranslated situation is like.

Waiting for 'anarchist' accounts of things is a bit self-perpetuating for me - you're not necessarily suggesting that, but certainly there is a tendency for people to look for 'anarchist' tendencies in struggles, and either write them off because they can't find one, or inject them where they don't exist.

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A nudge.

dark_ether wrote:

To my knowledge there is no real disagreement on nationalism or national liberation on either side of the AFed 'split'.

Yes, this is the truth of it and probably part of the underlying reason why the actual grounds of the ‘split’ have so far been incommunicable beyond personal acrimony.

(See this very weakly written statement on 'the split' by the LAC/CommunistAnarchists:
https://communistanarchism.blogspot.com.au/2018/01/class-struggle-anarchist-statement-on_1.html?m=1)

The level of analysis is very low. Perhaps both sides of the split became ‘history’ long ago? One went unwittingly to the dustbin, after being drowned in its own confusion, and the other became joyously submerged in the wide sea of neo-liberalism.

Did it all go wrong (or go right) when the revolutionaries let themselves think that the working class was an identity, expressed in headscarves and cloth caps? Did no one bother to read Otto Ruhle? Or preference their own observations of their own complex lives and tastes - their evening reading, drinking, or television watching habits - over their ideological commitment to their identity as working class?

All those professors of literature etc in the universities, or celebrities, who fiercely held onto their identity as working class…

The working class as a sociological (identity) category, not an economic one…

The hastily gathered texts below may help clarify what constitutes Identity Politics, and why it has inevitably developed within leftist/anarchist praxis:

https://libcom.org/blog/identity-crisis-leftist-anti-wokeness-bullshit-22082017

https://libcom.org/library/identity-politics-class-struggle

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2015/may/09/oprah-winfrey-neoliberal-capitalist-thinkers

dark_ether

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

Did it all go wrong (or go right) when the revolutionaries let themselves think that the working class was an identity, expressed in headscarves and cloth caps?

I literally don't know anyone who thinks this. Especially since most of us who most feel the brunt of economic issues are a million miles away from the 70's stereotype... working in call centres, care work or hospitality, and rarely stepping inside a football ground, downing cheap lager or watching soap operas.

rat

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This Novara Media podcast from 2016 may offer a snapshot of contemporary anarchism:

Novara Media: What even is anarchafeminism?

Genuine or parody? Either way Aaron Bastani and his mates must have listened with a wry smile.

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

dark_ether

Tom Henry

Did it all go wrong (or go right) when the revolutionaries let themselves think that the working class was an identity, expressed in headscarves and cloth caps?

I literally don't know anyone who thinks this. Especially since most of us who most feel the brunt of economic issues are a million miles away from the 70's stereotype... working in call centres, care work or hospitality, and rarely stepping inside a football ground, downing cheap lager or watching soap operas.

So, though you indicate that the working class may have 'changed', do you consider 'the working class' to be an identity?

Your answer to this is crucial (in this discussion and in a far broader sense) because it will explain (to yourself and others) your approach to the economic system that subjugates us, and the role you see for the working class in revolutionary struggles/politics (in relation to the role of the revolutionaries).

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

rat

This Novara Media podcast from 2016 may offer a snapshot of contemporary anarchism:

Novara Media: What even is anarchafeminism?

Genuine or parody? Either way Aaron Bastani and his mates must have listened with a wry smile.

Like, like, like, like, feminism, like, like, anarchism, like., like. Nothing truly said.

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

dark_ether

Tom Henry

Did it all go wrong (or go right) when the revolutionaries let themselves think that the working class was an identity, expressed in headscarves and cloth caps?

I literally don't know anyone who thinks this. Especially since most of us who most feel the brunt of economic issues are a million miles away from the 70's stereotype... working in call centres, care work or hospitality, and rarely stepping inside a football ground, downing cheap lager or watching soap operas.

So, though you indicate that the working class may have 'changed', do you consider 'the working class' to be an identity?

Your answer to this is crucial (in this discussion and in a far broader sense) because it will explain (to yourself and others) your approach to the economic system that subjugates us, and the role you see for the working class in revolutionary struggles/politics (in relation to the role of the revolutionaries).

So what is YOUR answer? What do YOU actually think the role of the working class in revolutionary struggles is, without resorting to the parodic shit you come out with about cloth caps and headscaves?

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

rat

This Novara Media podcast from 2016 may offer a snapshot of contemporary anarchism:

Novara Media: What even is anarchafeminism?

Genuine or parody? Either way Aaron Bastani and his mates must have listened with a wry smile.

Like, like, like, like, feminism, like, like, anarchism, like., like. Nothing truly said.

rat vs Battlescarred?

Is the debate (previous to my intervention of course) no more than acrimony and recrimination because the game has been spoiled?

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

Tom Henry

dark_ether

Tom Henry

Did it all go wrong (or go right) when the revolutionaries let themselves think that the working class was an identity, expressed in headscarves and cloth caps?

I literally don't know anyone who thinks this. Especially since most of us who most feel the brunt of economic issues are a million miles away from the 70's stereotype... working in call centres, care work or hospitality, and rarely stepping inside a football ground, downing cheap lager or watching soap operas.

So, though you indicate that the working class may have 'changed', do you consider 'the working class' to be an identity?

Your answer to this is crucial (in this discussion and in a far broader sense) because it will explain (to yourself and others) your approach to the economic system that subjugates us, and the role you see for the working class in revolutionary struggles/politics (in relation to the role of the revolutionaries).

So what is YOUR answer? What do YOU actually think the role of the working class in revolutionary struggles is, without resorting to the parodic shit you come out with about cloth caps and headscaves?

I have no answer. It is you who say you have an answer. What is it?

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike should weigh in here to offer his usual 'reasonable' balance that allows everything to continue to slip away from him (see the 'Why are these places dying' thread).

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred, do you think the working class is an identity?

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Complete parodic tosh from Tom Henry. Oh, if we had only read Otto Ruhle ( we had). This from the guy who continued to push anti-organisational politics after he'd been let back into the AF after specifically avowing that he'd dropped those ideas, Only to cynically start afresh almost immediately.. When confronted he decamped PDQ. No respect for M. Dupont/Tom Henry, I'm afraid.
As Dark Ether says, "don't know anyone who thinks this", re cloth caps and headscarves.We never did, and Tom Henry knows this and as usual is being completely dishonest.just as he is being completely dishonest by saying he has no answer. Pretty tired of his tedious sophistries.

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Less time talking about working class identity, less time listening to denizens from the groves of academe, and more time actually organising around our common conditions, basing our theory and praxis on actual concrete struggles. Useful theory springs from actual struggles and events, defining common conditions, both in terms of economic exploitation and of oppression, on which and around which we can work towards mutual liberation..

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

Battlescarred

rat

This Novara Media podcast from 2016 may offer a snapshot of contemporary anarchism:

Novara Media: What even is anarchafeminism?

Genuine or parody? Either way Aaron Bastani and his mates must have listened with a wry smile.

Like, like, like, like, feminism, like, like, anarchism, like., like. Nothing truly said.

rat vs Battlescarred?

Is the debate (previous to my intervention of course) no more than acrimony and recrimination because the game has been spoiled?

No, no versus here. Oh, and it's not a game (although it always was to you) but a serious matter.

AndrewF

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Waiting for 'anarchist' accounts of things is a bit self-perpetuating for me - you're not necessarily suggesting that, but certainly there is a tendency for people to look for 'anarchist' tendencies in struggles, and either write them off because they can't find one, or inject them where they don't exist.

That wouldn't be what I mean by an anarchist account though - in fact its that tendency to dismiss struggles where a relatively pure anarchist faction can't be found I'm highlighting above. I think there is a very strong need for British anarchists to produce material on British colonialism, the impact it has had on the formation of the British working class and then perhaps a look at some of the more interesting aspects of anti-colonial struggles. Instead we only get a negative 'this is not the answer' boilerplate argument about resistance movements.

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

Complete parodic tosh from Tom Henry. Oh, if we had only read Otto Ruhle ( we had). This from the guy who continued to push anti-organisational politics after he'd been let back into the AF after specifically avowing that he'd dropped those ideas, Only to cynically start afresh almost immediately.. When confronted he decamped PDQ. No respect for M. Dupont/Tom Henry, I'm afraid.
As Dark Ether says, "don't know anyone who thinks this", re cloth caps and headscarves.We never did, and Tom Henry knows this and as usual is being completely dishonest.just as he is being completely dishonest by saying he has no answer. Pretty tired of his tedious sophistries.

Show me where I said I had dropped those ideas. I always thought it was worthwhile belonging to a group. You are seriously missing the point and continue to waste your opportunities.

The postmodernist mess that the ACF/AF is in now is precisely what I was trying to avoid (or argue against) all those years ago. But none of you seem to understand where you are located in this mess, or what the history leading to it is.

Wheels in a rut. History has left the ACF/AF/LAC behind.

How are you going to deal with this, apart from closing your eyes?

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It is not with me that this discussion should be happening (how ridiculous!), but between the different factions that appear evident within the AF and Libcom.

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And if this discussion isn't transparent and open, published etc, then it is a betrayal of the class.

Tom Henry

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred wrote:

Less time talking about working class identity

Battlescarred, do you think the working class is an identity?

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AndrewF

I think there is a very strong need for British anarchists to produce material on British colonialism, the impact it has had on the formation of the British working class and then perhaps a look at some of the more interesting aspects of anti-colonial struggles. Instead we only get a negative 'this is not the answer' boilerplate argument about resistance movements.

I thought Base's first editorial made a good start on linking colonialism to the current wave of anti-immigration policy (via Sivanandan and the 1968 immigration act). Sivanandan's writing on this is excellent but hasn't had nearly enough attention, partly why we included him here: https://libcom.org/blog/6-underrated-marxists-dont-get-enough-love-16102017. He died recently so maybe there'll be some more engagement.

Another area that hasn't had enough attention is the pre-Grunwick strikes by mostly Asian workers, we've been slowly building up our archive about these: https://libcom.org/history/imperial-typewriters-strike-1974-ron-ramdin for example.

With major TUC unions (especially but not just McCluskey) arguing for tighter immigration controls, that immigrants lower wages etc. all of this is still relevant.

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry. Please keep comments to one at a time, at one sentence each you're not running out of space.

Jim

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've just seen people discussing the Anarcho-Communism group on Facebook which has more than 23,000 members. These are the questions you need to answer before you can join:

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tom Henry

Battlescarred wrote:

Less time talking about working class identity

Battlescarred, do you think the working class is an identity?

I don't , no. Now can we move on.

darren p

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jim

I've just seen people discussing the Anarcho-Communism group on Facebook which has more than 23,000 members. These are the questions you need to answer before you can join:

Jesus christ, that group is a car-crash don't even bother to go there! Nothing to do with anarchist-communism, just some weird kind of white guilt crypto-maoism. I think it's really just a US internet thing. I wouldn't have given it the oxygen by mentioning here...

EDIT: This comment is not to do with the enrolment questions but the standard of typical posts.

jondwhite

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jondwhite

Can anyone summarise which (splinter) group believes what?

At the risk of more downvotes, I don't suppose anyone can give a precis of this?

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jondwhite

jondwhite

Can anyone summarise which (splinter) group believes what?

At the risk of more downvotes, I don't suppose anyone can give a precis of this?

Have you read the statements/posts? Roughly chronological order:

https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/london-anarchist-bookfair-saturday-28th-october-2017-30052017?page=6#comment-599462 (original link is down but it was copy/pasted into the thread).

http://afed.noflag.org.uk/afed-trans-action-faction-statement-in-response-to-events-at-london-anarchist-bookfair-2017/

https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/class-struggle-anarchist-statement-on.html

https://londonacg.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/resignations-from-anarchist-federation_6.html

https://www.facebook.com/Anarchistfederation/posts/2231949820163757

Serge Forward

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jondwhite

jondwhite

Can anyone summarise which (splinter) group believes what?

At the risk of more downvotes, I don't suppose anyone can give a precis of this?

A gross oversimplification and more than a bit partisan, but...

AF remainers: moving in the direction of identity politics, more likely to talk in terms of "class oppression" when they do talk class politics. Possibly still some remainers who might have more in common with the Leavers.

Leavers (aka Communist Anarchism project - for now): reject identity politics, privilege theory, de-colonial bollocks and yer liberal intersectional shite. More likely to talk in terms of "capitalist exploitation" when we talk class struggle politics.

But don't take my word for it, check the websites:
Remainers: http://afed.org.uk/ (but bear in mind, the most recent article on there was written by... er... Leavers).
Leavers: https://communistanarchism.blogspot.co.uk/

doug

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

AF remainers: moving in the direction of identity politics, more likely to talk in terms of "class oppression" when they do talk class politics.

Well, I can only speak for myself but this is a total distortion. I'm not interested in the politics of identity but a class struggle perspective, and communism. The difference is for me, and many others, feminism, anti-racism and so on can't just be tagged on to this but should be rooted in our analysis and practice.

We need to look at how class is articulated through 'race' and gender, at class composition not just in a technical sense but also in terms of the divisions constantly imposed on us, and at the material and not just ideological basis of 'oppression'. If we want to create a political unity it will come about through concrete struggles, of course, and through the collective empowerment of different groups leading their own struggles and being given solidarity and respect.

I agree with Andrew F about the massive need for us in Britain to understand and listen to those who have struggled against colonialism, for example. And the same goes for militant anti-racist struggles here.

If we don't do more to think about the working class and struggle in its diversity, and globally, then I don't think we have much of a chance of contributing to a unified movement, and we won't have a particular good understanding of how 'exploitation' happens.

Steven.

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

jondwhite

jondwhite

Can anyone summarise which (splinter) group believes what?

At the risk of more downvotes, I don't suppose anyone can give a precis of this?

A gross oversimplification and more than a bit partisan, but...

AF remainers: moving in the direction of identity politics, more likely to talk in terms of "class oppression" when they do talk class politics. Possibly still some remainers who might have more in common with the Leavers.

Leavers (aka Communist Anarchism project - for now): reject identity politics, privilege theory, de-colonial bollocks and yer liberal intersectional shite. More likely to talk in terms of "capitalist exploitation" when we talk class struggle politics.

But don't take my word for it, check the websites:
Remainers: http://afed.org.uk/ (but bear in mind, the most recent article on there was written by... er... Leavers).
Leavers: https://communistanarchism.blogspot.co.uk/

yeah I really don't think this is a helpful explanation. I think Mike's links are much more useful, because this split was specifically precipitated by what happened at the Bookfair. Specifically the majority of the AF disagreed with the Leavers statement.

As with any organisation, there are internal disagreements in the AF. I have recently temporarily resigned, just because I'm not in the UK for a while.

It kind of looks like Serge is trying to trying to paint the Leavers as the legitimate heir of the AF's ultraleft internationalism. But on the flipside of this at least a few of the Leavers were people who joined the IWW, which some would argue was in conflict with the AF aim and principal regarding the unions.

Anyway I'm not trying to add to any beef here, just point out that I think Serge's comment is inaccurate and unhelpful

Auld-bod

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Doug #183

‘If we don't do more to think about the working class and struggle in its diversity, and globally, then I don't think we have much of a chance of contributing to a unified movement, and we won't have a particular good understanding of how 'exploitation' happens.’

Doug, I don’t think you understand just how patronising that sounds to anyone who considers themselves to be working class. If you have been a wage slave you understand ‘how exploitation happens’.

No amount of ‘thinking’ will enable me to share the ‘diversity’ of other people’s oppression. Also in all honesty, I don’t give a dam about how oppressed or exploited rich people are (poor Mrs Trump a rich man’s trophy wife), they shit on my class so to hell with them. The world is split between the haves and the have nots. The rest is just eye-wash.

Uncreative

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Anyway I'm not trying to add to any beef here, just point out that I think Serge's comment is inaccurate and unhelpful

To be fair, its useful in that it shows how one side (or one person on one side, at least) views the difference.

Auld-bod

I don’t give a dam about how oppressed or exploited rich people are

Can you quote the bit of someones post where they said anarchists should give a damn about this, please? Ive seen people talk about how working class people get treated like shit in different ways because of gender or race or whatever, but i must have missed the bit where someone said we should care about rich people, so if you could quote it for me that would be great, thanks.

Burgers

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

But on the flipside of this at least a few of the Leavers were people who joined the IWW, which some would argue was in conflict with the AF aim and principal regarding the unions.

I always thought that, but can't remember anyone else in AF agreeing with me sadly, but then I've always been willing to swim against the stream.

Auld-bod

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Uncreative #186

'Can you quote the bit of someones post where they said anarchists should give a damn about this, please? Ive seen people talk about how working class people get treated like shit in different ways because of gender or race or whatever, but i must have missed the bit where someone said we should care about rich people, so if you could quote it for me that would be great, thanks.’

No you didn’t miss it, I was making my own position clear. I don’t imagine I can understand what it’s like to be a colonial subject, or a working class woman, etc., no matter how much I read. All I have is my own experiences.

doug

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not suggesting that w/c folk aren't all too familiar with the misery of work. I was talking about a group trying to update our theory on the bigger picture, of capitalism and resistance to it. Any one person's perspective of exploitation isn't irrelevent but obviously it's only a piece of the puzzle.

Putting theory aside though, I'd like libertarian communism to be well organised, and for us to make an effort to include and be active alongside many more different types of w/c people (and not rich people!?).

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Auld-bod

Doug, I don’t think you understand just how patronising that sounds to anyone who considers themselves to be working class. If you have been a wage slave you understand ‘how exploitation happens’.

No amount of ‘thinking’ will enable me to share the ‘diversity’ of other people’s oppression. Also in all honesty, I don’t give a dam about how oppressed or exploited rich people are (poor Mrs Trump a rich man’s trophy wife), they shit on my class so to hell with them. The world is split between the haves and the have nots. The rest is just eye-wash.

This reads about the same as 99%-ism. Simply dividing the world into haves and have nots fails to explain how divisions work to undermine struggles, why some groups of workers are more combative at different times, and it treats class as a social category rather than a relationship (i.e. literally a definition based on wealth/income differentials rather than exploitation through the systems of wage labour and capital).

Whereas we can learn from people's actual experiences (our own, comrades, historical experience) of how those divisions manifest and undermine struggles (content note: racism and sexual harassment in the following quotes):

1973:
Geoffrey Sheridan

There was a rumor circulating on the picket line at Standard Telephones and Cables that a shop steward in the Electricians’ Union had threatened Asian workers that if they joined the West Indians who were on strike, they would be reported to the police and deported [emphasis added].

Perhaps the rumour wasn’t true, but the strikers were quite prepared to believe it. there was, after all, only one white worker at STC’s North London factory who had come out in support of the West Indian machine setter the members of the Electricians’ Union were refusing to train.

..

It just so happens that half the 3,000 manual laborers at STC in North London are black, and although many of them have worked there for over 10 years, not one has been made a supervisor. Promotion of any kind - from the lower grade jobs to which the vast majority of West Indians and Asians are confined, to the skilled work which is virtually a white preserve - has involved organization and struggle on the part of the black workers themselves.
...

Roderick Adams, a young Jamaican, was the second to be selected, after five months’ vigorous negotiation, and last winter he started his 12-months training on the night-shift, where all the setters had joined the EPT. In July, after the AUEW setters on the day-shift had agreed to train a third black worker, the EPTU stewards immediately informed Adams that his training was at an end, and the management sent him home.

It was an open alliance between a racist management and racist white workers. ‘You are the niggers in the woodpile,’ the personnel manager subtly put it to the West Indian stewards, and the AUEW had little option but to make the strike for Adams’s reinstatement official. Two hundred West Indians came out, together with the white AUEW convener of shop stewards, Ted Corbett. It was the first strike at the plant for over 30 years.

https://libcom.org/library/standard-telephones-cables-strike-1973

Or in 1992:

Subversion

The Manchester Burnsall Strikers' Support Group has produced several leaflets which have been portraying this strike as a black issue (most of the strikers being Asian women) rather than a workers' issue. For instance their leaflets have slogans such as "Black Workers Fighting Back" and "Black Workers Demand JUSTICE" (sic); one of the leaflets relates that on one occasion "the strikers were attacked by three white scab workers from the factory". An approach such as this "support group" is taking is practically calculated to strengthen "racial" divisions and hatred between workers.

(I have no idea how the subversion author managed to read this as strengthening racial divisions and hatred, since they only mention 'black' and 'white' workers in those quotes, literally no other evidence is given, it'd be like not even mentioning the tensions around Polish workers at the Lindsey oil refinery dispute - either the attempted involvement of the BNP, or when Polish workers joined the strike, or when they were put on equal footing contractually at the end).

And from participants in one of the community support groups, not necessarily the one Subversion was talking about, I think there were several:

South Asia Solidarity Group

What these women face is not only the acute exploitation as sweat shop workers fight intense racism and blatant sexism not only from their own communities but from the well heeled white men who are their trade union officials. (In the whole of the West Midlands there is not a single black woman trade union official)

But the role of these men cannot simply be categorised as racist and sexist. Shackled by the law, prevented from calling mass pickets or sympathy strikes the trade union leadership appear to be quite happy doing the job demanded by them by the government and employers - keeping the workers under control. This at Burnsalls was done in a variety of ways - threats that the strikers would he arrested if they showed any militancy, keeping the strikers isolated by making sure that they did not attend any branch meetings and in fact did not know what their branch was, colluding with the police in their harassment of the strikers; consistently attacking anyone from the community who supported the strike, and finally of course calling off the strike soon after it began to show signs of becoming a major national issue. Britain's Trade Union leadership has for many decades played the role of managing the conflict between Labour and Capital Now they are doing this in the name of keeping within the law. The fact is that the laws governing and preventing industrial action are now draconian. Without mass pickets for example it is virtually impossible to win a strike and this means that no strike can he won within the law. In this situation the role of the trade union local officials at Burnsalls was simply to police the strikers and their supporters to try and prevent them from breaking the law.

‘We have to realise that the unions - the paid officials of the union - will not break the law to win strikes. But strikes cannot be won without breaking the law. This does not mean we cannot win strikes. We have to organise to force the employers ourselves. Independent action by the support group was the most effective thing in both pushing the union and frightening the employer.’ Burnsall strike supporter

https://libcom.org/history/burnsall-strike-glimpse-future-sarbjit-johal

Or 2014:

Rebecca Winter

All too often, survivors of sexual violence are greeted with disbelief, anger, and defensiveness when they should be believed and supported. This happens in left-wing groups, our social movements, our friendship circles, our workplaces, and countless other places in society. While most left-wing groups and movements share a stated opposition to sexism, this does not make them immune to the misogynist assumptions which underlie victim blaming and which often come up when people are confronted by sexual violence committed by their friends or political comrades.

https://libcom.org/library/silent-no-longer-confronting-sexual-violence-left-anarchist-affinity

Or 2017:
NRV Strike Testimonies

The next few days at work he asked me who I was going to take with me out to dinner with my gift
card. I told him my sister. He told me that if my sister canceled her plans with me, he would happily
take me to the restaurant, just the two of us. He brought this idea up at least two more times. He was upset when he found out I went with my family to the restaurant, instead of him. Also, since that day he would walk by my register and touch my lower back and whisper things like “you’re my favorite
cashier” in my ear. This was something he would do from time to time the two years I worked at the
store

[...]

I had come in on my day off to pick up my paycheck and was waiting for a manager to retrieve it when Butler came up to me, lifted up my shirt to my bra, and asked if he could see my new tattoo. I saw the people around me looking at me, with his hand on my shirt and my shirt pulled almost all the way up, and could do nothing but tell him about my new tattoo for fear of losing my job

https://nrvstrike.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/targettestimoniespdf1.pdf

The issue is not that Barack Obama can experience racism or Hillary Clinton sexism, but that racism and sexism manifest right through into the politics of workplaces and revolutionary organisations. And it doesn't just manifest via open racism and sexism, but also through indifference - i.e. writing off what happens to people because it doesn't match our own experiences and failing to challenge it sufficiently, which contributes to its persistence even if we're not personally doing it ourselves.

Spikymike

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MH, Can't remember everything about the Manchester Burnsall Strikers Support group activity back then but the politics of that group were clearly from Subversion's point of view aimed at emphasising (for their own purposes) a 'racial' division rather than a collective class struggle one that had potential to gain wider support and possible extension of the struggle. Too late now to go into all the 'ins and outs' of that and maybe a more detailed article examining how the strikers and the unions themselves worked through that might have been better but your quoting this now doesn't really reinforce your argument.

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

SpikeyMike:

It remains that the only online content by Subversion about that strike is attacking one of the support groups as "practically calculated to strengthen "racial" divisions and hatred between workers". And without the SASG article, it would be the only analysis of the strike that's online at all (there's a couple of mentions in mainstream articles, and a book on google books, that's it from what I can see - I know this because I was looking for things a few weeks ago and was really disappointed that this was all there was).

The SASG are critical of their own role in the dispute, and they emphasise that many of the problems were due to structural limitations on trade union politics (while acknowledging that Joe Quigley's dismissiveness of the mostly women asian workforce also reflected misogyny and racism, using someone's husband as an excuse to end the strike ffs) and the relative isolation of different workplaces. They propose 'new support networks from the community, unemployed workers, women's groups ... mass pickets' - precisely broadening the strike, if looking for support from different sections of the working class than industrial workers - something that's been a common feature of mass strikes since the 1870s - not dissimilar from your own assessment. Quite possible the Manchester Group did not do that, but Subversion doesn't mention any other support groups so we'd never know if SASG not written about it themselves.

The google books excerpt talks about 'separatist' politics in the London Support Group a bit and the tensions that arose over that - meaning creation of autonomous black and asian workers organisations along the lines of the Indian Workers Associations of the '40s-'70s. The IWAs weren't created due to an inherent separatist or communalist politics, but mainly in response to outright exclusion, then indifference from the mainstream trade unions. Doesn't mean that they were a successful model, but acknowledging the racism of mainstream trade unions in addition to their structural role against workers as a whole is not the thing that creates divisions.

Which comes back to Doug's point:

Doug

If we want to create a political unity it will come about through concrete struggles, of course, and through the collective empowerment of different groups leading their own struggles and being given solidarity and respect.

Spikymike

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This discussion has moved away rather from it's inception but just wanted a brief comment on doug's post 183 and it's follow up as I think they are right to analyse 'race' and 'gender' within the framework of 'class composition' and it's material underpinning rather than an amalgam of borrowed 'identity' politics (something attempted rather better by for instance the Angry Workers group rather than Plan C), but basing a strategy and tactics through supporting ''..different groups leading their own struggles'' still leaves much to consider as to what that means in terms of a distinctive communist class struggle politics. Though not alone in this amongst anarchists, in the AF that seems sometimes to have been little more than an uncritical blanket 'we are with you' message on the assumption that all such struggles have an automatic common 'anti-capitalist' theme.
See also my brief comment here: https://libcom.org/library/moving-towards-solidarity-laurie-penny

jondwhite

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So the identitarians who've taken over Afed would reject the label 'identitarian'?

Fleur

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have no dog in this race but I imagine that any member of AFed, past or present, would reject the label of identarian given that it's another way of saying white supremacist and has been eagerly adopted as a label by fash on both sides of the Atlantic.

Steven.

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jondwhite

So the identitarians who've taken over Afed

on what basis are you claiming this has happened?

Burgers

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Someone uses a wrong term, (something I didn't know was linked to the far right either) and gets 6 down votes, rather than 6 helpful explanations, explaining the difference between identity politics that's been talked about above and the term identarian. Then you wonder why you are all in such a mess.

jondwhite

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fleur

I have no dog in this race but I imagine that any member of AFed, past or present, would reject the label of identarian given that it's another way of saying white supremacist and has been eagerly adopted as a label by fash on both sides of the Atlantic.

I did not know the term was used in that way, and reading back my last post, mine was a stupid comment (probably the stupidest I've made here) anyway, sorry.

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Adolph Reed Jr. (and some other left-critics of identity politics, not sure who was first) has used 'identitarian' as well, here for example: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/bernie-sanders-black-voters-adolph-reed-trump-hillary

I think that might have been before Richard Spencer picked up the term - in which case the far right's use of it comes from the 'left critics of identity politics' genre.

The word was originally coined by Adorno, but the post '90s use of it is nothing to do with his usage (there's a very brief summary here: https://s0metim3s.com/2017/01/09/identitarianism/).

Reed and others who have been very influential in the 'identity politics is killing the left' debates are proposing specifically a social democratic politics in its place - class representation vs. identity representation. I tried to address that here: https://libcom.org/blog/identity-crisis-leftist-anti-wokeness-bullshit-22082017

Craftwork

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Quote from Reed from 1996:

"In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics."

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Quote from Reed in 2016:
Adolph Reed

The point is clear: We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. It is a matter of political will. We believe that Bernie Sanders’s candidacy can be a clarion call to galvanize millions of working- and middle-class Americans to fight for a policy vision that can invigorate the public, and make paramount our interests and concerns.

(he was a volunteer on the Labor for Bernie campaign).

Quote from Bookchin in 1986:
Bookchin

To dwell heavily on his well-known paranoia and suspicious reclusiveness beclouds the more important fact that he is a centralist, who is more committed to accumulating power in the mayor’s office than giving it to the people. To spoof him for his unadorned speech and macho manner is to ignore the fact that his notions of a “class analysis” are narrowly productivist and would embarrass a Lenin, not to mention a Marx. To mock his stolid behavior and the surprising conventionality of his values is to conceal his commitment to thirties’ belief in technological progress, businesslike efficiency, and a naive adherence to the benefits of “growth.”

...
Herein lies the greatest irony of all: all rhetoric aside, Bernard Sanders’ version of socialism is proving to be a subtle instrument for rationalizing the marketplace — not for controlling it, much less threatening it. His thirties-type radicalism, like Frankenstein’s “monster,” is rising up to challenge its own creator. In this respect, Sanders does not make history; more often than not, he is one of its victims. Hence to understand the direction he is following and the problems it raises for radicals generally, it is important to focus not on his rhetoric, which makes his administration so alluring to socialists inside and outside of Vermont, but to take a hard look at the realities of his practice.

Quote from Bernie in 2015:
Bernie Sanders

When you go to your public library, when you call your fire department or the police department, what do you think you’re calling? These are socialist institutions.

Quote from craftwork in 2017:

Craftwork

This new ideology is possessed of a certain underlying political logic, which tends to obscure the general, long-term, class perspective (i.e. struggle against the state/capital in general) in favour of the particular struggle (against a particular form of the state/capital - fascism); to overlook the long-term communist perspective and prioritise the immediate. In other words, it involves a mystification or distortion of the terms of class struggle (labour vs. capital/state), and their substitution for new terms (antifascist vs. fascist), and a redrawing of boundaries.

Quote from Adolph Reed in 2017:

Adolph Reed

From that perspective, it’s a little disappointing to notice how common the “never Hillary” line seems to be and the appeal that Jill Stein’s quixotic campaign seems to have for more than enough people on the left, including more than enough who are politically experienced and otherwise sophisticated themselves. I know the argument against lesser evilism as well as anyone and am not unsympathetic to it in principle. This will be the thirteenth presidential election in which I’ve been eligible to vote. In the previous twelve, I voted for the Democrat five times, beginning with McGovern, twice for third-party candidates and five times not at all. I have always been registered as a Democrat for the mundane reason that I’ve known that’s where most of my voting would be. I laid out my voting history up to that point in a column for The Progressive in 2000 on Ralph Nader’s candidacy, which I supported, not least because Gore’s selection of Joe Lieberman, who had led me in 1988 to cast my only vote ever for a Republican, as his running mate indicated where his commitments lay. Since then, I boycotted the presidential elections in 2004 and 2008 and in 2012 voted for Obama out of concern with the damage a Republican administration would inflict.

If we look at the past 7+ years, we've seen time and time again 'radical leftists' (including in the UK, not a few anarchists, Plan C etc.) get diverted into pedestrian social democratic politics - whether it's Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Syriza. One of the primary ways these professional left spokespeople attempt to create an electoral constituency is to rail against 'neoliberalism' as a substitute for any critique of capital. Then beyond even this social democratic shite, there is the spectacle of Momentum activists out on the streets canvassing for the most right wing Labour MPs at the last general election, Novara Media on stage with Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, or of Adolph Reed writing an entire column telling people to vote for the 'neoliberal warmonger' Hillary Clinton.

Really I'd expect people whose politics (whether anarchist or left communist) have been defined by a break with/opposition to social democracy, to be a bit more critical of social democrats and their regular attacks on feminist, queer and black communists (which very quickly flips to apologism for attacks on working class immigrants, increased funding for the police and prison system etc.), just because they can throw the word 'neoliberal' around and mount a superficial critique of the worst aspects of representational identity politics.

The most recent Angry Workers of the World blog gets into this a bit more from a different angle:

Craftwork

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I remember going to an antifascist demonstration years ago, and one local youth who tagged along with us asked "are we the fascists or the antifascists?" :D

dark_ether

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My experience of revolutionary communists, and to a lesser extent anarchists/anarchist communists who have thrown themselves into momentum/corbyn, is they have a miriad of explanations. (big tangent, I only no one former AF member this applies to, and they left a long while before this).

Generally 'should know better', but I can at least understand where they are coming from, even if I vehomently disagree.

1. They are tired of loosing, all the time.
Bar a few very minor victories, that haven't generally proved strategically important, the last 8 years have been a constant stream of austerity measures, growing state control measures, increasing racism, decreasing workers power, privatisation and on a global level 'peoples revolutions' turning into barbaric coups and civil wars.
They're just desperate for any victory. Even if that victory is just getting a social democrat into office.

2. Short Term Pragmatism
The belief that the maximum number of changes they can make to improve or save the lives of working class people in the UK will be by backing Corbyn. As in, upon his ordained rise to power, the changes he makes to the NHS, social welfare etc will massively outstrip the number, extent, and likely hood of sucess, of the changes they/we could have made through direct extra-parliamentary campaigning.

3. It's where all the working class people are
Going from your meeting of between 5 and 30 communists, to sitting in a hall full of 300 momentum enthusiasts (and thats only one of five groups in your city) is probably more of a buzz. The fact that only half a dozen of these 300 people will ever show up at a demo, picket line, or do organising work is glossed over.

4. SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IS COOL NOW
For the first time in a long while, certainly in my life time, there is a genuinely correct perception that social democracy and corbyn are now 'cool' with the 'youth'. For a long while it was revolution that was cool, but i guess we just aren't in vogue this year.

5. They have this great idea about infilitratig the party and bending it to their will...
of course more socialist and communist factions and groupings than I even knew existed have had the same idea. So whilst at its best its some kind of alliance to push labour left, at its worst its petty infighting, ego and power grabbing.

6. It's ok it won't go bad, this time.
I guess this sums up all the ideas... the belief that this time the revolutionaries will change the social-democrat party more than it changes them. That those at the top won't sell out. That their glorious leader won't be bogged down in beurocracy. That the pendulum won't just swing back to the right in five or ten years letting them undo any 'progress' made. That the rise of the glorious leader will support the rise of grass routes struggle, rather than subsume it into an endless game of door knocking, phone calling, leafleting, and uncritically singing the praises of the saviour

It's all rather depressing from the outside, but they just think I'm bitter.

Spikymike

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If the 'Communist Anarchism' comrades that have split from the mainstream AF are intending to carry out a critical review of their past experience in the AF (and formerly ACF) then in addition to re-considering the AF's organisational structure they might also find these two older related discussions of the AF's politics worth another look:
https://libcom.org/blog/some-more-thoughts-national-question-17012012 and
https://libcom.org/library/frontline-redux-problem-unions
especially if they are to continue using or re-using some of the material that they have themselves previously contributed as part of the AF.

Battlescarred

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Why was the previous post voted down twice?, The mysteries of libcom.

Khawaga

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some people just doesn't like (a) Spikeymike (which I find hard to believe since s/he's one of the more polite posters here) and/or (b) the AF splitters (are they called the AC?).

Steven.

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

With the down votes I don't really know why people would do that on that post. However from an admin perspective, this is a warning: down votes are to be used on the comments which are abusive or in breach of site guidelines.

Admins can see who give down votes, and users who abuse the down vote system to try to bully other users will be warned and/or banned, so please desist.

Spikymike

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven and all,
I refused to use either the up or down 'votes' system for ages but gave in after a while, especially if someone posted a really good or daft item, and probably have misused it since like many others so your reminder is welcome.

rat

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anyway...

"What's going on in AFed?"...

Alf

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We wrote an article, 'Reflections on the split in the Anarchist Federation'. Thought it better to step back and present it as a more reflective piece, rather than jump into the discussion here. But quite willing to engage here with any comments on or criticisms of the article.

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201802/14822/reflections-split-anarchist-federation

el psy congroo

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

We wrote an article, 'Reflections on the split in the Anarchist Federation'.

Oh. Oh, boy. Haha. That's good!

The irony is -- if anyone had written something like this about the splits happening in the ICC, specifically the Mexican and Latin American sections, they'd be immediately castigated and chastised as reckless and parasitic enemies of the "international proletariat" (whoever the fuck that even refers to anymore).

dark_ether

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

....k, just to clarify no one in the fed is into 'IDpol', and everyone agrees with the A&Ps, and everyone is aware that the working class exists is the only possible vehicle for a revolution and that cross class alliances are bad.

If anyone either in the AF or who has recently departed it *DOES* agree with IDpol, doesn't agree with A&Ps, or thinks cross class alliancs are ok, let them speak now or forever hold their peace...

Steven.

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

We wrote an article, 'Reflections on the split in the Anarchist Federation'. Thought it better to step back and present it as a more reflective piece, rather than jump into the discussion here. But quite willing to engage here with any comments on or criticisms of the article.

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201802/14822/reflections-split-anarchist-federation

I stopped reading this after the bit which corresponded with bullet point 11, when it became clear that whoever wrote this hasn't got a fucking clue what they are talking about, beyond reading the inaccurate and highly partisan posts on this thread by Serge Forward.

Apart from the fact the fundamental point of it (that the AF remainers promote "identity politics" over class politics) is complete bollocks, there are numerous other issues with it. In my view it is basically transphobic as well.

I'm assuming the person who wrote it has pretty much zero understanding of trans issues.

I found the very start of it pretty offensive when it referred to "transphobia" in inverted commas. Why was that put in inverted commas? The only reason I can think of to do so is that you don't think the behaviour was actually transphobic. I can't think of any articles on the ICC website referring to racism in inverted commas, so why is this different?

Then it went on to say that the dispute was sparked by "a group of feminists". This isn't really accurate either. It was sparked by two Green Party transphobes.

Then it went on to say that the "feminists" had a "leaflet arguing that new government legislation on “transgender rights” could be seen as an infringement on women’s rights to organize separately, since it would allow transgender males into spaces reserved by or for women."

Now this is another sentence which shows the authors haven't got a clue what they are talking about. Either that, or they are out and out transphobes.

The gender recognition act would not permit trans men into women's spaces.

Current law already means that trans women cannot legally be discriminated against. The GRA would just mean people would not have to go through invasive medical testing, and instead could self declare their gender as female.

Alf, seriously that article is such a piece of crap I think you should take account immediately. It is an embarrassment to your organisation, and an insult to internationalist communism and anyone who opposes transphobia, as we oppose all forms of discrimination against parts of the working class.

Alf

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The article is merely trying to describe what the leaflet handed out at the bookfair is arguing. It's not trying to defend this argument.

And yes, transphobia is something real and needs to be opposed, but Steven's accusations against the authors as possibly being "out and out transphobes" looks to me like an expression of the wild misuse of this term which we have seen on this thread - comparable to the misuse of the term "fascist".

Serge Forward

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf, I would agree with Steven, that article was generally poor, as was basing a large proportion of it on my admittedly partisan comments in this here thread. Although I would obviously disagree with Steven over the "inaccuracy" claim ;) I'd also agree with Steven that it shows a very poor understanding of trans issues. I don't agree it means the ICC is transphobic though, just a bit ignorant and you really need to raise your game in this area.

The ICC claim of sectarianism is also a mistake. Leicester Anarchist Communists has good relations with the CWO due to both groups' involvement in the Midlands Discussion Forum. To date, it has no such relationship with the ICC.

Speaking in a personal capacity, I would like to see a more relaxed relationship between anarchist communists and the groups on the communist left. This article is really not helpful in this regard.

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

The article is merely trying to describe what the leaflet handed out at the bookfair is arguing. It's not trying to defend this argument.

It failed though, because a trans man is a man assigned female at birth. TERFs are actually fine with trans men accessing women's spaces, because they think they're confused butch lesbians or something (i.e. they can't admit that trans men are men, even they've had gender reassignment surgery and are sporting a beard etc.). Usually though, TERFs just don't mention trans men at all, because to do so would directly undermine all their arguments about trans women.

I've just re-read the leaflet distributed at the bookfair, and it does not use the phrase 'transgender men', so the use of that phrase comes entirely from the ICC author (or possibly is copied from someone else's account, which would not make it better).

As Steven. says there are only two ways to end up using 'transgender men' to mean trans women - either due to ignorance or intent.

If someone wrote an article saying that Muslims won a battle to wear turbans on buses in the late '60s that would rightly be described as either ignorant or racist. You wouldn't let an article get written that swapped use value and surplus value the whole way through because it just wouldn't make any sense at all.

So I'd really recommend actually learning about this and getting a bit less defensive.

Alf

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I confess the article has not mastered the terminology, which as the link to Wiki demonstrates, is Byzantine in its complexity. But my question regarding the content of the 'TERF' leaflet is this: was the leaflet not centred round objecting to the 'invasion' of women's spaces by people which they consider as not really women at all?

At the same time, this isn't really the main issue raised by the article, which is a much broader one, and which has to be examined if we are to understand why this clash at the Bookfair has caused such an explosion in the anarchist movement: is it true that significant parts of the anarchist movement are being pulled into the politics of 'identity', whether based on gender, sexuality, race or nationality?

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

I confess the article has not mastered the terminology, which as the link to Wiki demonstrates, is Byzantine in its complexity.

Alf, you're not a columnist for the New Statesman, you publish articles with paragraphs like this:

ICC

All social changes are the result of the deepening and prolonged collision of the relations of production with the development of the productive forces. If we defended the hypothesis of the definitive and permanent halt in this development, the deepening of this contradiction could only be demonstrated if the outer bounds of the existing property relations were 'absolutely' receding. However, it happens that the characteristic movement of the different periods of decadence in history (including the capitalist system) tends rather in the direction of expanding these frontiers up to their final limits than towards their restriction.

Alf

At the same time, this isn't really the main issue raised by the article, which is a much broader one, and which has to be examined if we are to understand why this clash at the Bookfair has caused such an explosion in the anarchist movement: is it true that significant parts of the anarchist movement are being pulled into the politics of 'identity', whether based on gender, sexuality, race or nationality?

You're asking the wrong question, because you don't understand the basis of the conflict. Another question to ask would be, "Why did two Green party members feel sufficiently emboldened that they could distribute transphobic leaflets at the anarchist bookfair, and put up posters in the toilets" One answer would be the ignorance of many people in attendance who had not read up on the issues prior, partly because they're unaffected by them. Something you're contributing to by posting an article that can't get basic terminology right, then doubling down on by calling that terminology 'byzantine' instead of reading up on it and issuing a correction.

el psy congroo

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf, just shut the fuck up already.

Go ahead, someone ask them how they feel about sex workers.

You and your organization have been misogynistic for years, so how can we be shocked at the transphobia?

TERF = trans-exclusionary radical feminist, not "trans exclusive" radfem as the article claims.

If anything is byzantine, it's the ICC.

Alf

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The discussion can be narrowed to disinterring exactly what happened at the bookfair. Or it could be widened into a discussion about the present difficulties in the anarchist movement. And further widened into a discussion about the present difficulties for all revolutionaries in a period where class identity and class consciousness are in retreat.

But perhaps it's better if I just shut the fuck up.....

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

The discussion can be narrowed to disinterring exactly what happened at the bookfair.

Again the framing here is fucked. If we look at the Sit Down strikes of the '30s, we could look at the role of women (black and white) in those strikes: https://libcom.org/history/sit-down-strikes-women-1937-ivan-greenberg - their exclusion from factory occupations, resistance to this etc.

Is that 'narrowing' the discussion of that movement (by talking about how systems of gender and race impacted, and were impacted by, the strike movement), or broadening it from an implicit or explicit assumption that the strikes were limited to white male workers? Is it more or less narrow to discuss 1930s US strike movements with or without reference to Jim Crow and structural racism in the North?

Alf

class identity and class consciousness are in retreat

ICC on the bookfair

it is not surprising that the problem of class identity is being obscured by a fixation on other, more specific identities

So you do like identity politics, then.

Dauve

If one identifies proletarian with factory worker (or with manual labourer), or with the poor, one misses what is subversive in the proletarian condition. The proletariat is the negation of this society. It is not the collection of the poor, but of those who are dispossessed, “without reserves,”14 who are nothing, have nothing to lose but their chains, and cannot liberate themselves without destroying the whole social order. The proletariat is the dissolution of present society, because this society deprives the proletarians of nearly all its positive aspects: the proles only get their share of capitalist material, mental, and cultural wealth in its poorest aspects. All theories (bourgeois, fascist, Stalinist, Labourite, left-wing, or far-leftist) which somehow glorify and praise the proletariat as it is and claim for it the positive role of defending values and regenerating society, are anti-revolutionary. Enlightened bourgeois even admit the existence of class struggle, providing it never ends, in a self-perpetuating bargaining game between labour and capital, where the proletariat is reduced to the status of an element of capital, an indispensable wheel within an inevitable mechanism. The bourgeois does not mind the worker as long as he remains a partner.

https://libcom.org/library/capitalism-communism-gilles-dauve

This is Marx vs. Lassalle all over again.

All of the Bernie vs. Hillary identity politics vs. class arguments of the past couple of years were this shit - a false dichotomy between positive class identity and representation vs. gender/race identity and representation. How people constantly manage to throw their critiques of class representation out of the window as soon as anyone mentions identity politics never ceases to amaze me.

If you want to make the argument that a positive 'class identity' is the missing thing in contemporary society, then even a cursory read of discussions around identity politics would show that people are not choosing between mutually exclusive identities, but rather discussing how different experiences of the stratification of class society shape imposed identities. Race and gender as the mechanisms by which many of the divisions of work (and the working class) in society are organised.

Combahee River Collective

We believe that sexual politics under patriarchy is as pervasive in Black women's lives as are the politics of class and race. We also often find it difficult to separate race from class from sex oppression because in our lives they are most often experienced simultaneously. We know that there is such a thing as racial-sexual oppression which is neither solely racial nor solely sexual, e.g., the history of rape of Black women by white men as a weapon of political repression.

Alf

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In response to a previous post by Mike Harman

I would not be against changing certain of the formulations in the article regarding the bookfair events. But it would help if Mike would answer my previous question, which was about what the leaflet was actually objecting to:

"was the leaflet not centred round objecting to the 'invasion' of women's spaces by people which they consider as not really women at all?". (Invasion in inverted commas, please note).

On narrowing: I don't think it's "narrowing" to recognise that issues of race and gender are constantly being posed in the class struggle. What I was objecting to was narrowing the problems facing the anarchist movement to what took place at the bookfair.

Class identity is indeed a major problem to be clarified and deepened, but I dont think that Dauve and/or the communisers have solved it because I think the tendency of their thought is to reject the working class as a revolutionary subject.

Shutting up (for now)

Steven.

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

The article is merely trying to describe what the leaflet handed out at the bookfair is arguing. It's not trying to defend this argument.

Alf the problem is that it basically does because it mis-genders trans women, calling them trans men. This de facto supports the argument of TERFs that trans women are not women.

And yes, transphobia is something real and needs to be opposed

I'm glad that you feel that is the case. That being so, why then is "transphobia" at the beginning of the text in inverted commas? The only reasons I can think of the doing so would be if a: you didn't think transphobia was a real thing, or b: you didn't think the transphobes at the Bookfair were transphobes, which they clearly are (you can just take a look at their hateful personal social media accounts for confirmation of this)

but Steven's accusations against the authors as possibly being "out and out transphobes" looks to me like an expression of the wild misuse of this term which we have seen on this thread - comparable to the misuse of the term "fascist".

here you are being ridiculously defensive.

Mis-gendering trans people is transphobic. Would you agree with that?

If so then you have to agree this article is transphobic.

I would hope that rather than open transphobes, the people who wrote this article are just ignorant – both of trans issues and of the internal happenings in the AF. TBH this is pretty clearly the case in both senses, which is why this is such a crap article.

But your claim that calling something transphobic "transphobic" is equivalent to calling non-fascists "fascist" is completely ridiculous.

Apart from anything else, you mischaracterise my comment. What I said was:
Steven.

Now this is another sentence which shows the authors haven't got a clue what they are talking about. Either that, or they are out and out transphobes.

Now I don't know who the authors are, or anything about them. However from what they have written there are only these two possible interpretations. If you are saying the authors are not openly transphobic, I'm happy to accept that. However that does mean they haven't got a clue what they are talking about.

As Mike points out, your defence of the authors (that trans terminology is so complex it doesn't matter how you use it) also doesn't stand up in the slightest, considering how overly jargony and complex the languages in your average ICC text which may talk about dialectical materialism, decadence, obscure Marxist terminology. This is much more complicated than the idea that you should address trans women as women and trans men as men.

As I said before, my suggestion would be that the authors either take down the article, or take the time to get a very basic understanding of both trans issues and the issues in the AF before they write something. This is a very simple introduction to trans issues, which is much easier to comprehend than half the stuff on the ICC website: https://libcom.org/library/trans-101-wobblies

Steven.

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Alf

But it would help if Mike would answer my previous question, which was about what the leaflet was actually objecting to:

"was the leaflet not centred round objecting to the 'invasion' of women's spaces by people which they consider as not really women at all?". (Invasion in inverted commas, please note).

happy to answer your question: yes that was what the leaflet was centred around. However the ICC article was written in such a way that it showed that the authors essentially agree with the transphobes that trans women were not women: as it calls them "transgender men".

So your question is pretty irrelevant, in terms of defending the ICC authors from accusations of transphobia.

Edited to add: trans issues are pretty new to me, and I have occasionally accidentally used unintentionally offensive and transphobic language without thinking. However what I do now if challenged on it is that I immediately apologise and retract my comment. I don't double down, and start using people of falsely accusing people of being "fascists"

Mike Harman

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm going to keep banging on about the identity politics vs. class false dichotomy until it sinks in.

Back to the ICC statement:

ICC

These developments are not taking place in a vacuum. The tendency, within anarchism, to abandon class politics and look for solutions in various forms of identity politics – whether based on gender, race, or nation – while not new, are certainly being exacerbated by the characteristics of the current historic period, in which capitalism is sinking towards barbarism while the working class, weakened by all the divisions engendered by this decomposing society, has found it extremely difficult to resist as a class and above all to rediscover its own perspective for the future of humanity. In a situation where the working class is tending to lose its sense of itself as a distinct social force, it is not surprising that the problem of class identity is being obscured by a fixation on other, more specific identities – a fixation which, while linked to genuine oppressions, tend to obscure the central problem of exploitation and the capitalist social relation.

BBC Newsnight put out a video last night:

https://twitter.com/BBCNewsnight/status/961012360424038400

BBC

Has the liberal elite’s growing focus on race, gender and sexuality left working class people overlooked in favour of identity politics?

It goes on to lament John Major as the most recent 'working class' prime minister (or maybe it's Theresa May, it's not entirely clear).

And from this week by Chris Hedges in TruthDig:

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/bankruptcy-american-left/

Chris Hedges

The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle.

[David North, the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States]"I think this has been the narrative pushed by the pseudo-left, middle-class groups who are drunk on identity politics, which have a vested interest in constantly distracting people from the essential class differences that exist in the society. Dividing everyone up on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference fails to address the major problem."

[...]
Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers.
[...]
If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control—which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry—we will continue to be victims.

Let's defy liberal institutions, by... nationalizing banks and the arms industry! Let's not ignore capitalism and the class struggle, by making the state the owner of capital! Let's blame divisions in the working class on those who have been historically excluded from it!

Or we can look at Jonathan Pie's Tom Walker, with Michael Portillo, Andrew Neill and Rachel Reeves making similar arguments. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkoRODfEMyY 'faith flag and family', 'the cultural superiority of the coastal elites' and the rest.

These are not aberrations, they are mainstream political commentary repeated daily.

The ICC statement does some handwaving about a Marxist approach to different types of oppression under capitalism:

ICC

Does any of this mean that all the problems posed by the different forms of oppression and division reinforced by capitalist society have been solved by the marxist movement? Not at all: even when we are talking about authentic marxism and not its Stalinist or leftist caricature, its various currents have not been immune from workerist ideologies, reductionist visions of class, and even overtly “patriarchal attitudes”. But we are convinced that it’s only the marxist, historical method that will enable us to understand the origins of different forms of oppression and the way to oppose and overcome them, which can only mean starting from a lucid class standpoint that states openly that identity politics are a dead-en

But nothing is offered that actually does that, not in the statement, not a link to anything that does. Where is it?

The one link we get is to this article by Workers Offensive. https://www.workersoffensive.org/single-post/2017/10/13/The-Dead-End-of-Racial-Identity-Politics It talks about Fredrick Douglass and Marcus Garvey, without discussing the Black Panthers (revolutionary intercommunalism, "we fight racism with socialism") or DRUM and similar groups. And it cites social democrat Adolph Reed in three separate footnotes.

People who consider themselves communists are just borrowing arguments about 'identity politics' from right wing liberals and social democrats (who are busy trying to build their own cross-class electoral alliances under some rubric of a culturally defined (white) working class alongside populist economic measures that will appeal to small and medium (and large) businesses against poorly defined 'elites' (generally code for black people and bankers)), slapping a paragraph of handwaving on it, and calling it analysis. It's fucking lazy and it's time to do better.

Spikymike

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Since the split in the AF seems to me at least to be more about matters of strategy and tactics than principles, I think dark_ether misses the point in their demand 'to speak up now' and say if anyone involved either way in the AF split agrees with 'identity politics' as it may be quite possible from a communist class struggle perspective to view some people who claim to be against such politics in theory, never the less to contribute to it by their practice. Serge's earlier contribution maybe didn't help but the 'Communist Anarchism' comrades need to be given some space to develop their distinct political point of view without the likes of the ICC, SPGB, or others with their own agendas (and problems) rushing to judgement.

dark_ether

4 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's just tedious to see things that are not remotely close to the truth of what people in the 'fed do or believe brought up on libcom threads.

'cross class alliances' is rejected wholesale, its in the A&Ps for a reason.

Turns towards 'big tent anarchism' are likewise rejected, if anything discussion is turning more to widening the tent on the communist side of the tent, not the anarchist one. (to butcher a metaphor).

No one is talking about the idea encouraging to oragnise around identities, there is an openness to oragnising around oppressions faced, but thats distinct. In addition its always done with a class struggle strategy in mind, ie not cross class, and not aiming for more women MPS or minority CEOS or LGBT Police or any of the other liberal talking points we sometimes get lumped in with.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ICC

The publication of our article ‘Reflections on the split in the Anarchist Federation’[1] has been widely read (close to 1000 reads at the time of writing), but has also ignited a storm of virulent attacks on the ICC, led by two longstanding members of the libcom collective, Steven and Mike Harman

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201802/14928/recent-attacks-icc-libcom

Khawaga

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Lol. The ICC are such trainspotters. (ICC: I'm sorry for taking part in the "virulent attacks" on you).

Spikymike

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes the ICC often equate criticism (useful or not) of individual posts here with 'attacks' on their whole organisation. My personal request to give the new Communist Anarchism (ex AF) some time and space to develop their distinctive approach from that of their former organisation, before other organisations started making assumptions on little evidence, got the same treatment. As yet the Communist Anarchism group has not produced any original critical examination of what they consider the fault lines that emerged over the years in the AF in relation to 'identity politics' apart from their comment on the London bookfair, but for those still curious they have referenced several texts from others that give some clues. I presume they are still doing their best not to turn their disagreements with the mainstream AF into an antagonistic feud but to retain a dialogue and co-operation in some areas. That would be commendable but shouldn't stop honest and open criticism where it is warranted.

Serge Forward

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

communist anarchism (ex AF)

Now the Anarchist Communist Group, and our new publication should be out soon.

Spikymike

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As Serge says here now: https://www.anarchistcommunism.org

rat

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Editorial:

“We fear change…”

It’s scary breaking out of the shackles we’ve grown used to.

The paradigms and assumptions we’ve cemented into our zeitgeist as a society are often all too comforting and reliable and even for the fearless (and reckless), ready to build the new world, the way forward can seem impossible, the suffocating fear of change, of transition permeates every thread of our community, suppressing and restricting progressive development at every juncture. In this edition of Organise we dip our toes into two very differant forms of transition, the personal and the social and we look at how the fear of new ideas and change is having an impact.

Firstly, we’ve had an explosion in the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, courtesy (I think) of the internet which has seemingly become a bastion for people exploring their gender and identity. This sudden wealth of community subsequently has lead to a beautiful explosion of awareness, analysis and communal exploration of self. Unfortunately that change in conversation has brought around a growth in hostility and bigotry. Trans and gender non-conforming people are being attacked by traditionalists and conservatives almost persistently. This abuse ranges from the monosyllabic hollering of transphobes on the street and the “I AMZ AN ATTACK HELICOPTER HUR HUR” memetic drivel online to the seemingly erudite prattle of Jordan Peterson or pseudo leftist articles from Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists, attempting to mask transphobia behind manufactured fear. Reactionary scaremongering and bigotry seem to be rising at an alarming rate as our society is forced to address it’s ideas and assumptions regarding gender, sexuality and identity.

Secondly, we look into new visions for future Anarchistic societies with ecology and socialism at their core. Whether it’s giant vertical forests or living afloat in seasteaded cities we need alternatives to the concrete jungle, perhaps even in time, out there in the stars aboard space stations and distant colonies. These ideas about how we can make a society that function are themselves constantly attacked and shot down. Traditionalists demand the maintenance of the class system, patriots glorify the inherent value of servitude to the state which alongside the capitalist moguls economically throttling communities and pushing programs of gentrification ensure our cities cannot grow beyond these cold, sterile post industrialist commerical hubs. The seats of the corporate elite, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast and the centralised authourity that reside in them continue to make forwarding even the most benign aspect of a progressive society near impossible, chocking the culture of the major cities while logistically crippling others and treating rural communites like holiday destinations to be hollowed out and preserved for those summer retreats.

Some of the wonder has been lost along the way, the brutal reality of trying to survive capitalism is slowly killing our imagination and the dreams of a beautiful society that exists in relative harmony with the environment. We need to remember the world Anarchist Communists have fought for these past few hundred years, a world based on mutual aid and compassion, where people are truly free from the lingering residue from millennia of religious intolerance and the abuses of the nob parasites living off their labour. A world without borders, hierarchy or financial nightmares, A world where the people are free to build their dreams and be who they truly are.

We also have a wonderful interview with Sally from Cribs and articles looking into contemporary fiction and ongoing solidarity campaigns amongst other things which we hope you find useful and enjoy. We’ve tried to sow some seeds, hoping for some change however slight because change isn’t something we need fear. We should be standing proud of our progression we’ve come a long way and we should keep on developing our new world.

Change is something with should be striving for and celebrating it is at the core of the revolution and to building a society which functions and subsequently finding our space and place within it.

Peace, Love and Rage,

Ed.

http://afed.org.uk/organise-magazine-issue-90-summer-2018/

Spikymike

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not sure why 'rat' assumes that his last posting provides any self explanatory criticism of the AF remainers rather than an ad for the latest issue of 'Organise' magazine? I read that latest issue as a result and whilst I personally prefer the ACG statement on the past London anarchist bookfair and this issue is heavily weighted on the politics of gender which might be open to some criticism, it is only one issue at this stage in the tradition of themed Organise issues, so not as yet any indication of a full re-orientation in the AF's priorities for organising. There are other articles included of general interest at least worth a read. In particular the article that seeks to address issues around anarchism and futurism, technology and culture has some positive things to say although when it moves on to try and recommend 'Actions' and new priorities for anarchists to influence change in a positive direction I couldn't help thinking I was reading much the same approach of the Plan C group that I have criticised elsewhere. Fortunately the article doesn't go down Plan C's soft line on Momentum and the Corbyn lead Labour Party but there is a dangerously thin reformist line between 'critical engagement' with other social movements orientated towards localism and municipalisation and reinforcing measures who's only practical result is incorporation into capitalist modernisation. The 'Social anarchism' model of this article and the site it was originally taken from seems a good distance from a more revolutionary class struggle anarchist communism that will be more familiar to most on libcom.

the button

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The paradigms and assumptions we’ve cemented into our zeitgeist as a society are often all too comforting and reliable and even for the fearless (and reckless), ready to build the new world, the way forward can seem impossible, the suffocating fear of change, of transition permeates every thread of our community, suppressing and restricting progressive development at every juncture.

PARKLIFE!

Spikymike

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well the style of language used in that Organise intro is pretty off-putting but I've overlooked that to see if the follow up articles still have something worth discussing. I suppose rat was able to read more into the subtext of the intro than just it's language than me.

dark_ether

3 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Organise is a collection of articles that are deemed 'interesting' and likely to inspire debate by the organise collective at the time. So shouldn't really be taken as if it were a collection of position papers, or even things that all afed members would agree with - or even any of them in its totallity. This is especilaly true of 'reposts' rather than origional content.

Have only read a few of the articles so far myself (the ones on trans issues, the ursula la guin ones, and the one on killmonger from black panther), not found anything super objectionable. Will see what I think of the one mentioned above.

Agree the language in the intro is less than ideal, but due to various personal issues (and the recent downsizing of the organisation!) by the time writting the editorial came around there was only one person involved in doing it

Spikymike

2 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The latest issue of 'Organise' certainly does reflect dark_ether's description of it's new approach even more than the first edition I commented on with it's apparent attempt to offer something of interest to a much wider socially networked audience than previously. It's contents are not ''objectionable'' but if the intent is to ''inspire debate by the Organise collective at the time'' we outsiders are none the wiser as to what that was and unable to really tell what the AF's current new collective ideas or strategy is. I did get a bit of an idea of that from a conversation with one of their newer members at the Liverpool bookfair but it struck me as a rather over-ambitious attempt by a pretty tiny organisation to relate to (and maybe take a lead in) every new social movement around however transitory.

rat

8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is the Anarchist Federation really functioning as an organisation at the moment?

freemind

8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The security and screening of new members entering Anarchist organisations is nonexistent or a joke.Its a recipe for division and splits.Another example of the inertia of disorganisation dominating a desultory and chaotic ".movement"

ajjohnstone

8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

screening of new members entering Anarchist organisations is nonexistent or a joke.

Hmm? Perhaps an anarchist version of a test might be an answer? Just some basic questions that's all. No PhD necessary but to ensure ideas are shared in common sufficiently

https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/membership-application/