How can we (re)build the Anarchist movement in Britain?

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Vaneigemappreci...
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Jan 30 2004 16:08

Anarchism is an ideology,its a set of ideas forzen and made concrete, reified.

I dont think theres anything wrong about talking about ideology in the same sense theres nothing wrong about talking about fairy washing up liquid!

You have to think beyond the parameters of ideology though otherwise they become restrictive and easy to reply to, they arent definitive or incisive, particularly when we consider that the ideology of anarchism is well over a hundred years old, is it still supposed to contain any vigour? In an ideological sense no, i cant think of an ideology that does.

nastyned
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Feb 1 2004 12:14

'the revolution of everyday life' was written over 30 years ago... wink

Vaneigemappreci...
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Feb 2 2004 16:24

it doesnt portray an ideology though.

Ok i didnt intend it to be a criticism in terms of its age.

ROEL may have been written thirty years ago, however the conditions present then are those that have become widespread and more common today, its still relevant, plus it isnt so much of a political theory than a subjective portrayal.

butchersapron
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Feb 2 2004 18:50
Vaneigemappreciationclub wrote:
it doesnt portray an ideology though.

Ok i didnt intend it to be a criticism in terms of its age.

ROEL may have been written thirty years ago, however the conditions present then are those that have become widespread and more common today, its still relevant, plus it isnt so much of a political theory than a subjective portrayal.

I disagree completely - the conditions obtaining when the ROEL (and the other situ texts) and the assumptions and arguments based on those conditions have changed utterly. We've rapidly shifted from that Keynesian Welfare State with near full emploment, with index-linked pensions, almost 100% free universal health-care coverage and rising real wages and shorter hours not to mention high levels of social housing and others aspects of the social wage to the shit we've got now - these were the material grounds that ROEL was based upon and nearly all of them have gone (or at the very least been subject to savage and sustained attack.

The situs supposed that capital had manged to overcome its central contradictions and that it would operate on cruise control from then on continuing to integrate the working class via 'the spectacle' - but they got this almost as wrong as it was possible to be - within a few years of their squalid implosion we were living in very different world - one where the central preoccupations of the situs no longer made as much sense as they had once done as the conditions they were based upon no longer existed (except for a priviliged few).

Vaneigemappreci...
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Feb 3 2004 16:14

In terms of the spectacle, spectacular culture, the individual being a spectator of a non-participant, dead-end culture the notion of the spectacle has more relevnace today than it did in the 60s or 70s when the sits were writing. I think that in general the spectacle has become more universal and integrated into everyday life, hence more powerful.

Totally agree about the economic environment, thats not was i considering though.

While the advent of thatcherism, neo-liberalism or whatever you want to call it, may have meant a regression in terms of standards of survival eg greater material poverty and economic insecurity, this is after all simply a shift in the ferocity of work based capitalism. The capitalist class have been able to extract a greater surplus from workers by attacking the unions and worker organisation. This simply demonstrates the impotence of unions in the developed contemporary world. However this is a rerun of pre-war economics where brutal exploitation was prevalent, the system had to adapt for the purpose of firstly containing the workers movement and secondly they had to offer the populace something salutory following their sacrifices during the war.

What has happened is that the capitalist class has been able to shift things back to a more profitable, intensive capitalism age. Whilst doing this the nature of work, particularly in developed economies has nevertheless continued along the lines of consumerism and service sector jobs as opposed to heavy industry which has moved to less developed countries so to increase profitability.

butchersapron
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Feb 3 2004 19:18

Well this, to my mind, is the central weakness of the situs - their seperation from material conditions in favour of only concentrating on the surface of society - the spectacle isn't fathomed out of thin air - it's fundamentally based on the immediate needs of capital at any given point. It can't be seperated from that material base - the situs (and debord at the time of his death) imagined that it could be, because they thought capitalism would never again meet the sort of crisis it has faced since the mid-70s.

But it did and the 'spectacle' (if you accept that concept) would automatically evolve and change - but i'm afraid lots of people who are influnced by the SI have seemed to miss this developemental dynamic that makes the concept still useful when used in conjunction with present day material conditions, in favour of just looking at the subjective half of the idea and not tying it to class struggle/capitalism.

They can't be seperated though - you can't have an idea based on the superfluity of commodities and free-time etc when that simply isn't what's happening in the material world anymore.

On the profit thing - profits (on general social capitlal) have been down for around 30 years now, forced down by working class resistance (and not just in the workplace) which to me suggests that the idea of people stupified by the spectacle is, at the very least, challenged by the reality of economic life.

The best critique along these lines is here. http://www.geocities.com/~johngray/barsit.htm

Vaneigemappreci...
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Feb 4 2004 12:52

i think they highlighted how the system is able to cope with crisis, evolve and maintain itself as a functioning system.

In terms of class struggle they didnt suppose that it no longer existed, in fact they highlighted what debord termed the 'proletarianisation of the world', an extended working class, much in the sense of hardts analysis of the multitude.

The S.I. didnt announce the absense of struggle and opposition they simply highlighted the poverties of existing struggles, and the incompetence of the organisations which called themselves revolutionary.

Its still evident that the spectacle has a particularly notable sway in terms of the values of a large majority of people, people accept the rules of the game, they may not be happy with their situation but it is largely taken for granted that its just the way things are. People are still seduced by the spectacle, you only have to look at the mountains of media associated with its propagation and praise. Perhaps this could be said to be a desperate attempt on behalf of those who organise the spectacle to maintain the passivity of the masses?

They may have been a little hasty in their ideas concerning the relative upturn of the economy, however to suggest that people are vastly poorer materially in the developed world today would be ignorent. People consume more than ever, even if this results in falling into considerable financial debt.

They wrote in a time of relative upturn, welfare based society etc. But they acknowledged that this was only an augmented survival, nothing more, a trend, an economic peak.

'They can't be seperated though - you can't have an idea based on the superfluity of commodities and free-time etc when that simply isn't what's happening in the material world anymore.'

It is happening, people have large amounts of 'free time', note the new shopping malls, the gyms etc which are built for the purpose of colonising and profiting from this 'free time', simply because conditions may be a little harder it doesnt necessarily mean that the general fundamental conditions have dissappeared.

butchersapron
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Feb 4 2004 13:15

Just a brief reply for now - i wasn't suggesting that the SI had abandoned the idea of class struggle, clearly they didn't. But their conception of what the content of that struggle was, was defined within the paramaters of the capitalism that existed then, which differs fundamentally from that which we are faced by today. I also said that this change was the result of w/c struggle as first developed by the Italian autonomists, who also first came up the idea of the 'proletarianisation' of the world - or the 'social factory' if you like.

The idea i was trying to get across by pointing this out is that to accept the concept of 'the spectacle' is, to in part, ignore this - it's to see people as passive and 'seduced' - and it's only a small step from this to seeing them as being incapable of struggle, and only one smaller step into the sort of leninsm that concludes that as the w/c are not up to arriving at a revolutionary position themselves then the w/c therefore need someone to struggle on their behalf. Or to only see the capital operating without resistance, instead of being met by defiance, revolt and insurrection at every step. Or a whole myriad of unhealthy positions.

This approach seems to me to operate on a partial analysis that doesn't always manage to see the very real struggles that people engage in every single day, whether at work, home, in the community or wherever - and i think this is tied in with the SIs neglect of the material world (of capitalism as a system of production rather than one of representation) as i pointed out earlier. Their's is a very useful critique, but a partial one nonetheless.

BlackEconomyBooks
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Feb 7 2004 18:26

I think first of all we need to seperate the anarachists who really want change from the students who are just angry at their parent's/teacher.

Then its simple, WE RIOT.

No war but the class war.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Feb 17 2004 16:04

Anger at teachers and parents is surely one of the first signs of discontentment with authority as a whole?

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JoeMaguire
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Feb 18 2004 20:00
BlackEconomyBooks wrote:
I think first of all we need to seperate the anarachists who really want change from the students who are just angry at their parent's/teacher.

Then its simple, WE RIOT.

Then the rioting anarchists are catered away and the movement is left to the sappy campus dwelling left, to generally meander roll eyes not such a good plan methinks sad

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pingtiao
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Feb 19 2004 11:31

Sorry, Black EconomyBooks, but relationships of production ain't going to be changed by throwing molotovs at the cops. The fetishisation of violent confrontation and the abandonment of community w/c struggle by many anarchists is, IMHO, the main reason why we are so impotently miniscule. The only time the vast VAST majority of people ever hear the word "anarchist" is in the context of rioting: therefore it has become impotent. If we have no real base in the labour movement then we have nothing.

BlackEconomyBooks
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Feb 22 2004 08:37

I appreciate your thoughts while sat on your arse typing on your PC while the world gets screwed over by your parents who just want a better world for you BUT in three years time when you've got your degree you fuck off. Money, being the boss and furthering your career will be filling the meaningless void in your life that you used to fill with anarchy because it seemed fun to get back at the people that controlled your life that is until you become one of those people.

circle A Manchester Working Class circle A

nosos
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Feb 22 2004 18:36
BlackEconomyBooks wrote:
I think first of all we need to seperate the anarachists who really want change from the students who are just angry at their parent's/teacher.

Then its simple, WE RIOT.

You have absolutely no idea how ironic that post is. grin

AlexA
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Feb 22 2004 21:28

I really think s/he must do grin

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pingtiao
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Feb 23 2004 13:29
BlackEconomyBooks wrote:
I appreciate your thoughts while sat on your arse typing on your PC while the world gets screwed over by your parents who just want a better world for you BUT in three years time when you've got your degree you fuck off. Money, being the boss and furthering your career will be filling the meaningless void in your life that you used to fill with anarchy because it seemed fun to get back at the people that controlled your life that is until you become one of those people.

circle A Manchester Working Class circle A

Well...thanks for that..?

I work in the NHS, by the way, and my anarchism is a tad deeper than a teenage rebellious phase.

(p.s. suck my balls)

AlexA
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Feb 23 2004 14:47

lol grin

BlackEconomyBooks - it's pretty sad to sit on the net slagging off people you know nothing about...

Augusto_Sandino
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Feb 23 2004 15:21

I think that the things we need to are get people young, in their student days when they are at their most impressionable, and instil something that will last. It doesent need to be Proudhon, just something that we can use.

I know that sounded quite exploitative, but once the seeds are sown for a movement, the movement itself can takeover, and then the ideological problems can be ironed out.

We need to be less picky as well, anyone will do, and bear in mind that class can be renounced. We should accept the students whatever, because numbers are the key. And if the members of our Anarcho-Syndicalist union or whatever arent going to understand something the organisation does, dont do it. It would be a waste of time.

Thirdly, if for instance we were aiming for a CNT style union with the same numbers, etc. then we probably need to accept that it isnt going to happen in our lifetime, or perhaps right at the end of it.

knightrose
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Feb 23 2004 19:43

I find this talk about students quite unreal. The state intends to get 50% of people into university. What's the percentage right now? It must be around 40%. Those students come from mnay backgrounds. They are not all the future owners of society! It probably all depends on what university people go to. I can't imagine that the university of Preston or the Oldham Business School being full of future exploiters of the working class, just young people hoping for a better paid white collar job than the blue collar one their parents have.

Whether students are the hope of the movement I don't know. I'm too far removed from it all now. Most seem to be tooo busy trying to make ends meet and parting to have time for politics.

murat
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Feb 24 2004 17:02
knightrose wrote:
Most seem to be tooo busy trying to make ends meet and parting to have time for politics.

I am new to this "student thing" as a new student.

The way I consider it- anarchism is for all.

I believe all people ultimately are able to live in a society without vast concentrations of power.

I believe all people who can conceive the above are essentially anarchists.

The concerns of those in favour of death penalty and

As a quick snapshot of examples in Britain:

University students- following syllabus after syllabus essentially suggesting that th thrust of history is one of privileged individuals of their own will making things better for us all

-to be forced into debt etc

School students- expected to follow exam criteria

- to have drug testing whenever a teacher wishes to nail them

Those supporting death penalty and tough sentencing- unhappy essentially with the unaccountable privilege of gun use or addictive drug use

Total shifts in social conditions, deprivation and circumstance are to be stressed as the only solutions to crime

Doctors- told not to care for illegal immigrants and there was uproar

Auxiliary care workers- "We're not being trained here, we do all the hard lifting and look what we get when something goes wrong"

care worker in Nthampton ruined her back at a care home

Library users- "Why can't anyone go into a university library?"

Psychiatrists- Unhappy with having to administer drugs to those they consider requiring psychotherapeutic counselling but unable to refuse because referred to by a GP

People pissed off at having to pay so much for non-caged hen eggs at a supermarket. Capitalistic production means non-intensive food production is doomed to higher costs

Pensioners- fear and intimidation ought not to exist out on the streets

Of course not now how do we reach this goal?

Not as it is currently going...

Occupational health specialists- How can it be sensible to force a 40-hr week or a 60-hr or a 70 or a 80 of manual labour on some and next to nothing for all others

Agency cleaners at NMH seeking to work despite evident pain because no sick pay in contract

Army/Navy/Air force recruits- worrying "Oh shit is this actually what we are doing and going to do with our lives"

What if there comes a time when I do not agree with the morality of a war?

Prison population...

murat
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Feb 24 2004 17:10

As for the politically active and the politically active left:

It is very difficult to deselect a local MP for not caring about her constituency all the party officials say "but that'll be like handing the Tories or Lib Dems the seat"

From some experience with council meetings in Hornsey and Wood Green.

Aren't there some SWP members not convinced by all this it was just Stalin's fault line about Soviet Union or it was just Mao's fault about China.

Augusto_Sandino
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Feb 25 2004 10:26

But what about this revolutionary vanguardism stuff? The students could be the revolutionary vanguard, the ones that stir everyone else up like in France in '68. But as anarchists and not authoritarians i guess we'd want to avoid that.

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Spartacus
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Feb 26 2004 18:27

students couldn't stir up a cup of tea...

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Spartacus
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Feb 26 2004 18:48

as i am a student myself and regularly stir cups of tea (at about six when the simpsons are starting) i was exagerating. but as a social group uni students (not college and school students tho) are less radical than haddock, and have less revolutionary potential than kilroy.

Augusto_Sandino
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Feb 26 2004 19:09

So who would you suggest? the Miners?, wait, there arent any! the factory workers?, wait, there arent any!, the dockers?, wait, there arent any of those either! And those that there are arent generally very revolutionary in mood. Look at the local organisation on the main enrager website, most of the papers are published in London or by students at the univerities. We need to take what we can get, Postmen, Firemen, Transport Workers, Builders, Students, whatever. In a time when the UK anarchist movement's numbers can be counted on two hands, we cant afford to pick and choose. And they dont need to be the FAI, we just need to gett back on the scene.

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JoeMaguire
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Feb 26 2004 20:22

...theres nothing wrong with working with people from different social backgrounds, but the Brit left unlike our continental neighbours, is dominated by the middle class and aside from very small pockets, radical politics doesnt extend beyond the uni campuses. Any hope that students are going to bring about anything significant in the future is fundamentally nonsense....

...and yes Im guilty too of once being a student...

knightrose
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Feb 26 2004 22:19

At the end of the day, anarchism may appeal to people from many different backgrounds, but to have any chance of success our movement has to have influence with those who have some means of exerting control over capitalism. That inevitably means those who are working and making things! Students fit into the equation as children of those who do or as those who are going to be involved in the production process in the future.

btw how mnany posts do you have to write to stop being un peu irrite?

The Blast
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Feb 27 2004 10:48
knightrose wrote:
btw how mnany posts do you have to write to stop being un peu irrite?

I was wondering that!

On the student issue, don't most students work as well though? Don't a lot of workers also study?

I'm not sure that a strict line can be drawn between the two, and it seems that we are becoming ever more intertwined.

knightrose
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Feb 27 2004 12:51
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On the student issue, don't most students work as well though? Don't a lot of workers also study?

I'm not sure that a strict line can be drawn between the two, and it seems that we are becoming ever more intertwined.

I'm not sure that is has ever been possible to, at least not since the university expansion of the 60s. That was when universities stopped being just the finishing schools of the rich and started to take on ever more kids of white collar workers, destining them to fill the magaerial and technical roles that capital required. I remember back in the 70s when I was at uni that there were two distinct sorts there. That change has no doubt continued as uni places have expanded since.

knightrose
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Feb 27 2004 12:52

So, it looks like you have to place 25 posts to get promoted to enrage. Finally done it smile 8) circle A