IFA "social anarchists?"

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klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Jul 18 2011 05:28
IFA "social anarchists?"
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The IAF/IFA is only one part of what has become a global anarchist movement. Its member federations are active in a wide range of activities from helping to organise G8 summit protests and No Borders camps to solidarity actions with struggles around the world. However, the International has a distinctive identity, bringing together social anarchists who stress the importance of 1) being organised into free associations and 2) being part of the wider working class movement. Though there are many differences between the member federations, they are united around the principles of the Associative Pact. Member federations include: Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, Great Britain and Ireland, Iberia (Spain and Portugal), Italy, and Russia. We are also in close contact with organisations in Holland and Turkey.

Just wondering if this has been an ideological label used for a while or not?

radicalgraffiti
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Jul 18 2011 13:31

I think its just means all anarchists that are not individualist, its generally used by people who want a term more general than anarchist communist, or to make clear that they are not including right wing "libertarians"

Sidney Huffman
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Jul 18 2011 14:12

Didn't Murray Bookchin use it to describe anarchists who weren't lifestylers?

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klas batalo
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Jul 18 2011 15:39

I know the meaning and origin of the term, I was just wondering if this is a new usage by the IFA?

I thought they were a mix of anarchist communists, syndicalists, and individualists? Or the "synthesists" so I was wondering if they were moving more to a simple social or class struggle anarchism?

nastyned
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Jul 18 2011 20:37

The French speaking federation are the synthesists and they've even said things like the (small number) of individualists they have are 'class struggle' individualists! I'm not entirely certain what they meant but as an organisation they're much better than their awful constitution would suggest.

Certainly having been to a couple of IFA congresses they really are class struggle anarchist affairs.

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klas batalo
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Jul 19 2011 01:16

awesome, great to know!

iconoclasta
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Dec 3 2012 04:33

IFA federations like FA and italian FAI have included individualist anarchists. Also individualists like miguel gimenez Igualada have participated in the CNT spanish anarcho-syndicalist union. To me the label "social anarchist" is something the most bolchevik and sectarian of anarchists such as those belonging to the platformist will tend to use more in order to sell true or the right anarchism as one focused on stereotypical working class quasi leninist politics. In my mind as within real experience nothing stops an anarchist to be a nudist naturist, promiscuous, interested in alternative education and also someone who sympathizes or joins an anarcho-syndicalist trade union or an anarchist federation. In fact one of the most influential recent individualist anarchists, Hakim Bey, also belongs to the IWW. As such Hakim Bey said in an essay entitled " An esoteric interpretation of the I.W.W. preamble" he says:

"As “individualists” moreover we have good reason to appreciate the IWW concept of the union. Stirner — contrary to the belief of those who have not actually read his book — spoke approvingly of a “Union of Unique Ones” (we prefer this translation to “Union of Egoists”), in which all members would reach for individual goals through common interests. He suggested that the workers had the most to gain by embracing this notion, & that if the productive class were to organize on such a basis it would prove irresistible. (The prejudice against Stirner, by the way, can be traced to Marx & Engels, who considered him potentially even more dangerous than Bakunin, & wrote their biggest book to destroy his influence.)...The Mackay Society, incidentally, represents a little-known current of individualist thought which never cut its ties with revolutionary labor. Dyer Lum, Ezra & Angela Haywood represent this school of thought; Jo Labadie, who wrote for Tucker’s Liberty, made himself a link between the american “plumb-line” anarchists, the “philosophical” individualists, & the syndicalist or communist branch of the movement; his influence reached the Mackay Society through his son, Laurance. Like the Italian Stirnerites (who influenced us through our late friend E. Arrigoni) we support all anti-authoritarian currents, despite their apparent contradictions. Why? Because we feel that some realization of personal liberty is possible even in the very act of struggling for it. From our point of view, radical organizing (up to the point of insurrection) is not a sacrifice one makes to the future; it is rather a mode of self-liberation with its own immediate reward — even if that reward consists only of fragments & moments of realization. Wobblies, with their contempt for “pie in the sky someday” (or as Lewis Carroll put it, “Jam tomorrow or jam yesterday, but never jam today”), must feel the same distrust of any leftist utopianism which demands our martyrdom on behalf of a materialist “someday” which we ourselves will not live to see."

Battlescarred
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Dec 3 2012 09:08

I think you've come to the wrong place with your mention of HAkim Bey. Let the storm commence!!

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Dec 4 2012 00:09
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In fact one of the most influential recent individualist anarchists, Hakim Bey, also belongs to the IWW.

Fuck, no. Please tell me this isn't true.

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Dec 4 2012 01:34

No, this is some dumb kid asserting he is a member of the IWW all over the internet especially on AnarchistNews.org and Anarchy101.org where he wrote in reply to a similar question I had about IFA over there.

Just because Hakim Bey wrote about how he admires the IWW for whatever wingnut reasons doesn't mean he is a member of it. I am pretty sure we'd all know if that was the case, and there would be tons of drama about it in the union. If he is somehow involved at all, it would I assume be under him using some pseudonym so others didn't know. But I call BS.

Also the term Social Anarchist was not invented by big bad platformist bolsheviks cause you think Wikipedia said so.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 4 2012 01:59

Personally, I think writing anything which endorses Bay is grounds for banning.

But good to hear that paedo fuck isn't a Wobbly.

jolasmo
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Dec 4 2012 02:25

I'm not a big fan of the "Social Anarchist" label personally. It's really pretty vague and doesn't tell you a great deal about a group's actual politics. Rather like "class struggle anarchist", I think it's only really useful when distinguishing our politics from liberal or individual anarchism, and not as a positive description of what our politics actually are. Social anarchism is a very broad church really, encompassing political currents from mutualism to anarchist-communism, and I think the IFA's adoption of this label reflects its weaknesses in terms of developing theoretical and practical unity as an International.

But maybe I'm just a 'bolchevik' 'belonging to the platformist' and 'focussed on stereotypical working class quasi leninist politics'. Or some bollocks like that. I find iconoclasta's post above sort of fascinating really. I'm not sure what their beef with us anarcho-bolshevik platformist types is to be honest. I mean as an anarchist-communist I too see no reason why anarchists can't be nudists, promiscuous or into alternative education. More power to them, as far as I'm concerned. You certainly don't have to be an individualist to do any of the above though, or to be critical of utopianism, or to consider radical organising as "a mode of self-liberation" and not a sacrifice for some. However, I do think there are important differences between individualist anarchism and anarchist-communism.

As for the Hakim Bey angle, I'm pretty dubious about iconoclasta's claims of his being a member of the IWW, but I think it's interesting that he was into the Wobs. I sometimes feel like the IWW is a bit like a sort of political Rorschach test where people project their own ideas onto the organisation. So one person thinks it's an anarchist union in all but name, another thinks it's just a grassroots alternative to the TUC, and apparently in this case a Stirnerite "Union of Unique Ones".

~J.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 4 2012 10:46

Good post J.

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Theft
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Dec 4 2012 14:40

Interesting, as the main people I've heard using the term 'social anarchism' has come from people that would consider themselves as 'platformist', the same people that then went on to form CA.
Agree with jolasmo that neither is a clear and useful name, but class struggle anarchist is preferable of the two, even if I rarely use the word anarchist these days to describe myself.

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Dec 4 2012 14:51

in Germany, the term "Sozialer Anarchismus" was used mainly by people whose main points of reference where Proudhon and Landauer

klas batalo's picture
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Dec 4 2012 17:38
Entdinglichung wrote:
in Germany, the term "Sozialer Anarchismus" was used mainly by people whose main points of reference where Proudhon and Landauer

Interesting.

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Dec 4 2012 19:05
Entdinglichung wrote:
in Germany, the term "Sozialer Anarchismus" was used mainly by people whose main points of reference where Proudhon and Landauer

Peculair. Nowadays I'm not so sure the term is even used anymore though... Come to think of it, from my own experience within the milieu there's no distinction of individualist and "collectivist" anarchism, but then again I've yet to meet an anarchist who wasn't also a commie whether they were aware of it or not.

At least we're pretty safe from the ancap bullcrap though we have our own little feud with Gesellianism...

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Dec 5 2012 08:36
Railyon wrote:
Entdinglichung wrote:
in Germany, the term "Sozialer Anarchismus" was used mainly by people whose main points of reference where Proudhon and Landauer

Peculair. Nowadays I'm not so sure the term is even used anymore though... were aware of it or not.

true, I only stumbled over this term in texts which were at least 30 years old

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Dec 5 2012 11:02

Hi all,

I think there are two meanings to “social anarchism”.

Firstly, there is a dictionary definition. A summary of the intended meaning of the words, as the creator of the terms intended or how the terms are generally used.

The second meaning is what I call its “identity-reference”. I explain this below.

Dictionary definition

An individual anarchist believes freedom can be attained by an individual, regardless of her or his community/society.

A social anarchists believes freedom can be attained by an individual on the basis that there is freedom for her or his community/society.

The social anarchist has a basic sociological understanding of society: we are products of society and inseparable from it, driven by social structures like class, ethnicity, gender etc. The individual anarchist's notions of freedom are lodged within a liberal enlightenment understanding of the world, where an individual can achieve objective freedom/reality/transcend ones socialisation.

Anarcho-communism, anarchist communism, anarcho-syndicalism, class struggle anarchists etc are all sub-sets of social anarchism.

Identity-reference

There is, I believe, an unhealthy interest by anarchists in the meaning of [adjective]-anarchism. I think this has more to do with identify than actual political or ideological differences. It is more about stating what one is not, i.e. being a platformist means more about not being an unorganised anarchist that it does about the specifics of platformism as opposed to other forms of anarchist communism. In other words, its positioning.

This does two things:

Firstly this meaning comes from an internal dialogue that is independent of the actual meaning of the word. This meaning isn't obvious to someone who hasn't been involved in this internal dialogue and isn't something that is stated clearly by those using this meaning (and may not even be aware of this). It may even be that this knowledge make you somehow more important or special, in-the-know.

Secondly, this focus on identify and position distracts us from what matters. There is more in common between social anarchist positions, for example, than our differences with other political traditions. We focus on the small things that split us rather than the big things which unite us and which we should be focusing on: i.e being "with the people"/class struggle, being organised and strategic, and making anarchism the engine of struggle.

Use of the term

As far as the use of the term social anarchism goes, if that matters, it was used widely in the early 2000s and is still used today: see the Social Anarchist journal for example: http://www.socialanarchism.org/

I still use it too smile. As a boring aside - it was actually a quote from the book Social Anarchism that flicked the anarchy switch on it my head / when I caught the anarchy-bug. I even remember the exact moment and quote (which I think was on the cover) that did it:

"The social anarchist wants to create a world which we don't need to rebel against"

I put the book down, looked up, and said out loud to no one in particular: “Yep – I knew it, I'm an anarchist”.

Just before reading this book, I had been reading a history of Anarchism which painted a different picture to that painted for by the only anarchists I knew. These anarcho-punks seemed to fetishise smashing things and rebelling for the sake of it. They didn't seem to have any solutions, or want to. They fit perfectly in popular stereo-type of anarchism which really frustrated me. The statement above seemed to have been written just for me and my internal dialouge. On went the switch.

Happy Chaos.

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Dec 5 2012 12:55

the term "Sozialer Anarchismus" was btw. extensively used by Günter Bartsch in his study about German anarchism 1945-1973 ... but Bartsch cannot to be considered reliable in any way

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Dec 5 2012 17:43
happychaos wrote:
There is, I believe, an unhealthy interest by anarchists in the meaning of [adjective]-anarchism. I think this has more to do with identify than actual political or ideological differences.

Hmm. While true, I don't think you're looking at the real scope of the problem. If you were to write...

Quote:
There is, I believe, an unhealthy interest by [people] in the meaning of [Proper names]. I think this has more to do with identity than actual political or ideological differences.

...you'd be approaching the actual scope of the problem. Which would then, hopefully, lead to an appreciation that the actual solution would require a bit more than an appeal to naive rationalism and schoolmarm-ish exhortation. The dynamics of language, loyalty, the formation of collective identities and group dynamics is the stuff of politics and needs to be engaged with practically, as well as theoretically.