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The ISN's "regroupment" project: IWW, AFed?

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jonthom
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Dec 12 2013 10:37
The ISN's "regroupment" project: IWW, AFed?

noticed this article on facebook today:

Quote:
We said that we would give you a more considered response to the decision of your Politics conference to call for a wider regroupment involving Workers Power, Plan C and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) which would conclude with a regroupment conference in the spring. This effectively replaced the existing three way process between ourselves, yourselves and the Anti Capitalist Initiative (ACI) comrades.'

Ian Bone has written about the same (quoting the Weekly Worker), with the addition of AFed.

first I've heard of it, and seems a little odd....is this speculative or have approaches been made etc.?

[edited for clarity]

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Dec 12 2013 21:41

'decision to call for a wider regroupment' = not yet called for, aka. would seem to imply those organisations not yet approached = Bone can get off his high horse.

ISN isn't homogenous to any degree, lots of different opinions and tendencies in there, which I guess follows from it being a collection of people each of whom had a level of critical thinking high enough to follow through in an organised fashion on what they judged to be right, even against their own friendship cliques and the swp internal apparatus. I've a lot of time for discussion with people like that, no matter their political background.

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Dec 12 2013 16:32

Exclusive SolFed proposal to merge with Socialist Resistance for next conference rumor. Believe to have been started by someone of LibCom. The gossips suggests that some LibCom bosses are claiming that these rumors are baseless. Mmmmhhhh..... the plot thickens.

redsdisease
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Dec 12 2013 19:39

I'm struggling to understand what a regroupment between a group like Socialist Resistance or Workers Power and the IWW would even look like.

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Dec 13 2013 02:41

Personally I think it would be nice if should a lib com or syndicalist group be invited, they might attend, and offer their opinions and positions in discussion in an open and kind fashion. No one is forcing anyone to engage in anything they don't want to.

It might be termed 'regroupment' etc. but to me at least it looks in many ways that it is ISN members, some of whom now have quite fluid politics, trying to explore who might be willing to talk to them / what the politics of the other revolutionary groups are.

To be honest, I don't really think a forum thread is a great place for discussing this, the original quote shows them discussing sending invites to organisations, not the blogs of self-appointed anarchy spokesmen. The difference is the former is able to give considered and democratically discussed formal replies, rather than just internet vox pop.

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Dec 13 2013 14:17

As an aside, an ISN member developed a series of criticisms of the Unite Against Fascism ineffective model of anti-fascism, and wrote an article in favour of today's Anti-Fascist Network and 'dual track anti-fascism', which was effectively the tactical position successfully used in the UK by Anti-Fascist Action to squash fascism in the 1980s/90s, that saw heavy involvement from various libertarian groups and the paper sale defence squads expelled from the SWP in the late 1970s. (Although the article does get a bit confused in that it thinks the expelled squadists and AFA were oriented solely toward physical confrontation - they were in fact always in favour of a dual track approach).

That ISN members might critically reconsider UAF doesn't surprise me, given that the strategy decided by the SWP's central committee on the UAF leadership board was for many years manifested by none other than Martin Smith, the central committee member that refused to face multiple rape and sexual harassment allegations on a fair basis or to stand down from his party positions, and against which the opposition faction that later left to become the ISN was formed.

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Dec 13 2013 15:04

This discussion is a farce. I'm an anarcho-syndicalist and not in the Afed / IWW - but I want to say that I oppose formal involvement with Popular Front style political organisations, specifically and especially trots. Discussion with members of those organisations is an entirely different issue though.

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Dec 13 2013 15:58

Accepting an invitation to put forward anarchist or syndicalist arguments in an organised fashion in a discussion does not equal involvement in a popular front - this is not 1936 and you are not the friends of durruti.

It is perfectly possible to enter a clearly temporary formal discussion exchange with trotskyist organisations without forming a joint organisation, or having to engage in joint activity. A joint organisation might be what some ISN members want to propose, but it is easily possible to politely decline.

As stated previously, it is clearly being organised by people with fluid politics, but if you keep calling them trots maybe they'll end their period of political experimentation and just return to reading cliff.

You echo the arguments of the IWA no contact rule. Enough people in the IWA are already fed up with that, don't try putting it on the other anarchist and syndicalist organisations.

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Dec 13 2013 16:36

regroupments have become Socialist Resistance's (and its predecessors) second (or first) nature, don't know if they would be able to survive without being involved in something they perceive as "growing into a broad-based leftist org", e.g. they liquidated there professionally-made paper in favour of a "RESPECT paper"

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Dec 13 2013 16:40
Quote:
This discussion is a farce

Nailed it.

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Dec 13 2013 20:24

I like how that comment was really comradely / useful and had informative political content.

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Dec 13 2013 19:52

LOL, it's a joke, how would a legal union regroup with leftist organisations and why would Afed with it's views on unions and national liberation fit in with SA, WP or ISN?

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Dec 13 2013 20:30

Did you even read anything I posted? There isn't really much point me continuing to post the same points.

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Dec 13 2013 23:21
leomarinus wrote:
I like how that comment was really comradely / useful and had informative political content.

It wasn't meant to be uncomradely, but seriously, this whole discussion is bizarre.

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Dec 14 2013 01:28
leomarinus wrote:
Did you even read anything I posted? There isn't really much point me continuing to post the same points.

Yes I did read what you have said, but as I didn't quote you, why do you think I was responding to you in particular? It was more a general comment.

But as for your idea of formal discussions with such groups, it's not going to happen till these groups seriously break with there trot past, that's not to say communists shouldn't engage with individual members.

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Dec 14 2013 03:38

The stupid "raaaaarr! We are anarchists! They are trots!" responses are entertaining but also based on a complete misunderstanding of the ISN. The ISN has no settled politics. Its members have in common that they broke from the SWP, but they broke in different directions.

The people saying "lets discuss merging with AFed or Plan C or the IWW" aren't really suggesting an immediate merger. They are responding to the desire of the "right" of the ISN to rush into a merger with the soft Trotskyist Socialist Resistance and similar. The point is to cut across the more rightist elements by saying hang on a second, why are we looking to the right of the SWP rather than their left? Whats more the left moving ISNers outnumber the right moving ones, which is why the bizarre lets merge with totally incompatible organisations position beat out the merge with Socialist Resistance one. The ISN isn't going to last in its current form, but where the dozens involved end up is up for grabs. Any even remotely sane anarchoid group would see this as the best short term recruitment opportunity they've seen in a decade.

Those anarchoids/libcoms/whatevers who respond by saying "Trots are icky" are self defeating clowns. Which is exactly what I'd expect from most of them to be honest.

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Dec 14 2013 12:48
Serge Forward wrote:
It wasn't meant to be uncomradely, but seriously, this whole discussion is bizarre.

Ok, thanks for clarifying, the internet can make things unclear sometimes. I edited out the more petty response I posted initially, and I appreciate the reply.

I was going to post an explanation of their internal debates and divisions, but I realised it would look trainspottery and weird to do so considering I am not a member. Scour the CPGB rag, and you'll find some stuff, but basically there are different loose but to a degree intermingling groupings, one more orthodox and gathered around Seymour ('lenins tomb' blog) and pursuing the election of a full timer / formalisation of the network toward becoming a multi-tendency 'nicer swp', another influenced by (what the swp leadership termed) the 'autonomism' of the student movement, and opposed to the election of a full timer / formalisation of the network and seeking a new (as yet relatively undefined) direction. Maybe i'm reading to much into this, but my instinct is that different suggested invites stem from different groupings, and the confusion from inviting a legal union and group that organises outside of unions, is because the interesting people inviting the libertarians and syndicalists are primarily students not industrial cadre, and campus based.

Theft wrote:
But as for your idea of formal discussions with such groups, it's not going to happen till these groups seriously break with there trot past, that not to say communists should engage with individual members.

I agree there can be no directly political co-activity without such occurring, but I don't understand why the lack of this would preclude formal discussion? In fact I would say the latter is important in helping the membership explore alternative political approaches - beyond the student movement, I don't think lib coms have much social contact with ISN members, and even in this it is probably quite limited due to lingering personal differences from various occupations and anti-fees groups when they were carrying out SWP policy etc.

So I really don't see there is any effective way to politically discuss with any more than a handful through individual channels. I can't see any alternative to formal discussion that would reach a significant portion of them. Of course, it is up to afed and co. to decide, and not me.

I know you are both generally lightly critical of some of the political elements of the new influx of younger militants into revolutionary circles, and that is fine, however hopefully my post will be helpful.

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Dec 14 2013 04:00

edit: double post

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Dec 14 2013 10:07

Well, speaking as an AF and IWW member (though in a personal capacity as obviously I can't speak for either organisation), what I can say is the AF tends to be positive about working with other class struggle anarchist, libertarian socialist and left communist groups, while the IWW is a union that refuses formal alliances with political (and anti-political) groups and organisations. Should ISN start moving in a libertarian socialist direction, I suspect the AF would respond fairly positively towards them. I am sure ISN members would be welcome to join the IWW... actually, they are already welcome to join the IWW, just like any other workers who happen to be members of political organisations and groups.

Speaking personally, I would like to see the development of a formal libertarian socialist front consisting of AF, SolFed, Left Comms and any other groups moving in a 'libertarian communist' trajectory.

Quote:
I know you are both generally lightly critical of some of the political elements of the new influx of younger militants into revolutionary circles

Not sure what you mean by this, fella. I'm highly critical of some of the recent drek that tries to pass itself off as anarchist and libertarian politics, e.g. privilege theory. But that's not solely down to younger elements, there are more long term militants who are also sympathetic to this massive ideological step backwards. Also, that Ian Bone (quoted above) and the old Class War have been trying to present class struggle as just another brand of identity politics for yonks. And don't start me on the old Freedom paper, which in the 1980s was the worst anarchist publication in the world. Ever. Probably.

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Dec 16 2013 03:06

Apologies in advance for the increasing length of my posts - it is just quite difficult to reduce such a complex series of happenings to a few sentences.

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Should ISN start moving in a libertarian socialist direction, I suspect the AF would respond fairly positively towards them.

Thats good to hear, but for the reasons mentioned before this is not likely going to occur in such a nicely neat fashion - there won't be a universal shift of the organisation because it was never set up with formal structures beyond being a network with a steering committee, with developing left and right camps, which are playing out their internal debates. As I understand it though, the steering committee is generally based in london and formed largely from the right camp - however I may be wrong. So the organisation is likely to formally remain like it is until the debates have finished playing out. Any olive branch of discussion has to come from syndicalists / libertarians, because of this internal paralysis of the organisation's political direction, whilst the membership refine the political directions they are interested in.

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Not sure what you mean by this, fella. I'm highly critical of some of the recent drek that tries to pass itself off as anarchist and libertarian politics, e.g. privilege theory. But that's not solely down to younger elements, there are more long term militants who are also sympathetic to this massive ideological step backwards. Also, that Ian Bone (quoted above) and the old Class War have been trying to present class struggle as just another brand of identity politics for yonks. And don't start me on the old Freedom paper, which in the 1980s was the worst anarchist publication in the world. Ever. Probably.

With regard to privilege theory etc. I am not too keen on the theoretical nature, but recognise/praise the moral impetus behind elements discussing it as largely influenced by the parallel observation of car crash / crisis in radical groups with regard to sexual harassment / rape (mostly the swp, but not confined to it). Majority of practical implications (ie. safer spaces, women's caucuses) are clearly necessary due to creepy stuff that goes on due to radical groups often attracting weirdos, but agree that no 'check your privilege' should be present. Also, all female class militants are necessarily going to have a level of feminism - it is about encouraging the development of this in a class direction, hence the importance of a criticism of privilege theory and in my opinion development of theories developed by Selma James and co., also the thought developed by female militants that emerged from the factory sections of the italian workerist groups - but such is up to female militants to discuss amongst themselves, i can only suggest, not set the debate.

With regard to ISN, the issue is especially contentious - the SWP leadership have decided to go for a line that now accuses everyone that split of being reformist, and not worker-centred. It doesn't really behoove lib coms to be playing into this by going too hard on them with regard to the specifics of the theoretical approaches they are adopting with regard to womens lib (not saying you specifically are, but just a bit of advice to people reading).

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Dec 15 2013 01:01

Serge said -

Quote:
Speaking personally, I would like to see the development of a formal libertarian socialist front consisting of AF, SolFed, Left Comms and any other groups moving in a 'libertarian communist' trajectory.

We all know that this sentiment has been raised about a trillion times, but as a seasoned and respected commentator, I'm curious Serge as to how you see this pan out.
If I can throw up a few thoughts about your statement which kind of makes me think it's more wishful thinking (and there's nothing wrong with this) than practical.
First off, solfed is an unabashed anarcho-syndicalist organisation, that is an organisation of people who organise in a particular way but whose members ascribe - certainly in principal as a minimum - to a set of political beliefs and goals.
AFed on the other hand (and keep me right here) although in principal had some strident views akin to left coms on unions in the ACF days, have changed perhaps only because of their membership's praxis as opposed to the Afed's aims and principals and have embraced first reformist/apolitical syndicalist unionism, and more recently the SolFed's anarcho-syndicalism.
Left coms (again, keep me right) only embrace anything beyond propaganda waffle in times of revolutionary potential, all workplace activity in non-revolutionaty being viewed as basically along the lines of a trade off between bosses and workers, and therefore reformist at best, sell out at worst.
Sooooo..a socialist front consisting of workers who disagree politically is certainly posible between perhaps some AFed members (joining IWW alongside 57 varieties of State supporters and single partyists); for solfed, perhaps only possible if to achieve a specific goal then review/disband; and possibly a wet dream for left coms inasmuch it gives them an opportunity to tell everyone else that it's bad idea and that only talk and printing magazine will do until the working class has achieved class consciousness and has revolution in its sights.
That all sounds a bit sarky, not really meant to be, but you get the general idea. Is it because I'm missing the potential here or expecting the worse?

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Dec 15 2013 01:45

Plasmatelly, yes, you do sound a bit sarky, are expecting the worst and I think you make a bit of a caricature of the AF, Solfed and the various left communists.

Your analysis of the politics and workings of the AF (including any alleged changes in our praxis) is very wide of the mark and sounds more like wishful thinking on your part. Incidentally, the AF and Solfed do work together informally. When you refer to Solfed as an 'unabashed anarcho-syndicalist organisation', it is correct that they are anarcho-syndicalist. However, theirs is not exactly 'classical' anarcho-syndicalism and there are more similarities than differences between the two organisations.

The AF is also generally open to working with left communists who are open to working with us. And while one or two left communists may well believe that any action in non-revolutionary times is 'reformist' or a 'sell out', I don't believe that would be the norm with most actual left communists.

I'm wondering if your post is all just Saturday night/Sunday morning and you're commenting after a few too many?

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Dec 15 2013 19:33

plasmatelly, can you please take the discussion on AF/SF cooperation onto another thread

(edited)

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Dec 15 2013 10:31

@ serge - yes a late one, bit of insomnia with the Xmas spend freak out. You still haven't explained how you see all 3 groupings coming together beyond something like a temporary, fixed goal sort of popular front. Anything beyond this requires a longer term suspension of politics.

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Dec 15 2013 11:19

It's not for me to explain, plasmatelly. If there is any wider desire for a libertarian socialist front and the political will to establish one, then that would be down to those involved to sort it out. It's not for a couple of people on Libcom to pre-empt, plan out and 'stage manage' something that hasn't happened and may or may not happen.

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Dec 15 2013 11:29

Serge, I'm not asking for any of that, no need to be so defensive. I'm genuinely curious what people have in mind when they suggest a coalition. Our SolFed local has both the treasurer and secretary as dual carders with AFed. I've seen the gap close between both SolFed and AFed in a way that DAM and ACF would never have dreamt of as possible; but IMO this has been largely movement from AFed members. I just can't see Left Coms ever becoming memberrs of SolFed, or working together in a coalition. Hopefully I'm missing something.

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Dec 15 2013 12:15

Sorry for seeming so defensive. Maybe your questions appeared to me to be a bit loaded. Anyway, I'm not looking for fake political unity and instead, see the political pluralism we have as a positive. That's not to say we can't and shouldn't cooperate more closely. I think we should. We can work together as and when we need or want to.

My local AF group holds regular meetings with non-aligned anarchists and left comm involvement and it hasn't once ended in a brawl in the pub car park. If we had SF members locally, I'm sure they'd get along with us as well. I really don't see what the deal is about groups or organisations working together more closely.

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Dec 15 2013 12:40

A vaguely related note, I have heard from one of their members that a fair few people in ISN like libcom. For whatever that's worth! Although considering our extremely hard line against Trotskyism/Leninism that seemed positive. Especially considering the robot-like nature of SWP types who generally don't even read anything other than party-written or approved pamphlets/texts.

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Dec 15 2013 18:31

From my understanding there are already members of ISN in the IWW, in Sheffield for example.

With regards Afed and Solfed I think it is fair to say that both groups have changed, in the ACF days I would say that the positions back then had a big influence on the wider anarchist milieu including Solfed, equally Afed moved away from its own positions with the catch all "On the Fronline" and its involvement in the IWW.

With regards your comments on left communists, it seems a very distorted view and like Serge has already said, Afed has worked with both individuals and groups like the ICT/CWO in the past where there has been mutual agreement on a local level on a number of issues. In fact ICT/CWO has a long history of working with anarchists in general.

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Dec 15 2013 19:27

Not sure how CWO's idea of working with anarchists pans out down your end Theft, up here we put a public discussion on anarcho-syndicalism and 3 really quite posh people from CWO turned up, took a big chunk of the q and a time up and then went about dishing their newspaper out. Maybe they're different where you live, but to us we found them recruiting and disruptive. They ain't coming back.

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Dec 15 2013 20:19
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quite posh people

You mean because they didn't dress in scruffy black clothes and talk posh? unlike many posh anarcho types, or is this some kind of I'm more prol than you type argument?

As for dishing out there paper at a meeting, seriously what is wrong with that, it's free after all. I do it all the time, does that mean I'm trying to recruit to my non-existant organisation? or is it sour grapes that Solfed hasn't managed to produce either a paper or DA in years?

Both Solfed and Afed are far more recruitist/Partyist than CWO. I have had close contact with them for a long time and held joint meetings with them and never found them anything like how you claim.