The Anarchist Workers Group (deceased)

Submitted by AndrewF on April 9, 2006

Serge Forward

I'm thinking more of the hideously deformed Anarchist Workers Group.

The AWG wound up in 1992, an 18 year old entering the movement today would have been 3 when the last published anything. They had a maximum of 30 members and existed for les than four years. I don't understand why they still haunt the imaginations of anarchists in Britian in the manner they seem to above. Learn what is to be learned and move on.

(For the 18 and older year olds see http://www.struggle.ws/awg.html for a partial archive of AWG material and analysis of their collapse).

pepe carvalho

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

it also has to be understood that a large number of the AWG's members were coming from an SWP background, that must have had a relationship with their politics.

AndrewF

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

pepe carvalho

it also has to be understood that a large number of the AWG's members were coming from an SWP background, that must have had a relationship with their politics.

Oddly enough the ones coming from the SWP background seemed to be most resistant to the turn to leninism while the ones who were ex-DAM seemed to pushing that direction the most. (I was an observer at a couple of their conferences so this is first hand). And most of the members didn't understand quite what was being argued about anyway as their internal education and communication was very haphazard.

Actually this isn't so odd, I guess the SWPers had first hand experience of the problems of leninist organisation whereas the others could only see what they considered to be solutions.

AndrewF

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mods - it might be a good idea to split this off as a thread on the AWG

Steven.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

JoeBlack2

Mods - it might be a good idea to split this off as a thread on the AWG

Done.

Yeah I see the point about Leninism, I think ex-Leninists would be much less likely to become Leninists again, because we've consciously rejected it, rather than some anarchists who just bypassed it straight into being anarchists, but might be susceptible to it later on, particularly after experiencing all the problems of the anarchist movement (disorganisation, etc.)

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Joe,

I think that you are right. It is something that happened along time ago, and it has no relevance to today. Maybe though it is important to discuss what happened in a reasonable way. The standard analysis is that they were all Leninists anyway, and they were just a cancer on the anarchist movement. I actually knew then quite well, at least the people from London who were involved in the formation of the AWG ( I don‘t know anything about the people in Manchester, or the other groups they formed their organization with), so let’s discuss what really happened.

First, none of the members of SWLDAM, who went on to form the AWG had been in the SWP, FACT. The people in Manchester, and the other groups may have been, but the core group hadn’t been. Second FACT, if they were influenced by any leftist group, I would say it was the old (Ferudi) RCP. Some of them had studied under him at university.

They, the people who formed the AWG, were in DAM because at the time it was the national anarchist organization. One has to remember that this was the early days of the AF, and ‘Class War’ wasn’t a serious organization, as it isn’t today. All of the people in SWLDAM were young workers, who had tried to work with SLDAM, but found that they were completely obsessed by Anarchism, and what had happened in Spain in 1936, and completely divorced from the class struggle.

They were interested in the platform as they saw that it separated them from ‘anarchism/life style anarchism’. In response to this when they split from DAM, they tried to form a national organization. I don’t see anything wrong in that. In fact, you have to admire them in that they approached political work seriously. They tried to open a dialogue with the ACF, who rejected their approaches for what ı believe were the right reasons, and did open a dialogue with the WSM.

I think that the whole criticism of them in the ‘Anarchist movement’ was bollocks. They tried to discuss politics, and formulated political positions. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact it is constructive. My disagreement with them was that the positions that they adopted were ‘leftist’ (i.e. support for national liberation movements, and putting pressure on the union leaderships). To be honest, quite similar to the position of the WSM.

I think that there were positive things to learn from the AWG. They emphasized, as the platformists say, ’tactical, and theoretical unity’. This is a good thing even if it is so basic we shouldn’t even need to discuss it. The problem was they did it around ‘leftist’ politics, not communist ones.

I think that a lot of the anarchist criticism of ‘Leninists’ today is completely meaningless. I can’t personally see how they are organizationally different. In fact, one of the positive things about the ‘Leninists’ is that they wouldn’t tolerate some of the rubbish that passes itself in theory in the anarchist movement. I don’t think that ı need to go on about ‘social centers’, and ‘pan Celtic federations’ again. The dividing line today is not between ‘Marxists’, ‘Leninists’ and ‘anarchists’, but between ‘social democrats’, and ‘communists’. The AWG were ‘social democrats’. That is all there is too it.

It would be interesting though if anyone who was involved in the group who is still around today wrote about it.

Sorry.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just to catch up on a little history, I'm presuming the following from various conversations ...

That DAM had some limited success as r+f union movement with the "networks" strategy. This brought in some people who were non-anarchosyndicalist and diluted the ideological content of DAM until people started suggesting things that were incompatible with a-syn. The a-syns in DAM then formed SolFed to re-focus on a-syn, and some of the remainder (ie. the less syndicalistic types) went off to found the AWG, which promptly fell apart in relatively short order.

Which is why I get looked at funny when bringing up wider r+f networks to SolFed people?

AndrewF

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim I'm pretty much in agreement with you on the factual end of the AWG. I also think a discussion of them is useful as over the years they have become a sort of scare crow.

Sorry.

The a-syns in DAM then formed SolFed to re-focus on a-syn, and some of the remainder (ie. the less syndicalistic types) went off to found the AWG, which promptly fell apart in relatively short order.

I don't think the order is right here as AWG was around from 1989 and the SolFed thing happened around 92 or '93 I think. I'm not really aware of the internal DAM stuff of that period and how this connects up

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

No, I don’t think that is exactly right. These things happened a long time before DAM became SolFed. Also think that young workers were coming into DAM because of their experience in the class struggle (e.g. the miners, and printers strikes). The rank and file groups were formed on the back of this, not the other way around.

Serge Forward

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I know it was a long time ago, but I think that some of the leftist ideas the AWG were coming out with have also been pushed by groups like the WSM and Alternative Libertaire/UTCL.

Sure the AWG is an extreme example, but the question I was trying to ask was, is there anything inherent in the Platform that steers class struggle anarchists towards bog-standard leftism? Or is it the case that creeping leftism just become something of a platformist tradition?

jack white

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

some of the leftist ideas the AWG were coming out with have also been pushed by groups like the WSM and Alternative Libertaire/UTCL.

... the question I was trying to ask was, is there anything inherent in the Platform that steers class struggle anarchists towards bog-standard leftism? Or is it the case that creeping leftism just become something of a platformist tradition?

Could you give some examples of these policies?

Serge Forward

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And yes, it all hapened well before the Industrial Networks. I never met any ex-Trots in the AWG. The ones I knew were mostly ex-SWLDAM and a couple of ex-ACF. After the AWG collapsed, most of these went on to join the RCP/Living Marxism lot. A few of us at the time, thought, "Told ya so."

martinh

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

I think your analysis of the AWG is fair. The core of the old SWLDAM group (led by D.A. aka Joe White) went on to join the RCP and Joe White has followed them all the way to Spiked. C, the other leader, was the one who went into Workers Power. I believe that one of the northern AWG comrades joined the SWP and was a UCW steward the last I heard of him. I think the WSM's analysis overlooks the fact that it was the leadership who were keenest on Trotskyism. My local of the DAM at the time continued to meet and discuss with them until about 1990 (I'm hazy here) but when we were reaching agreements on things I got the feeling that Joe White wasn't happy and those discussions stopped. (As an aside there was one person left from the SWLDAM group who went on to set up the IWW in Britain in its 90s to present day incarnation).

I only know one person who is ex-AWG and still around today, there may be others, but as far as I know he's not on these boards.

There is a problem with anti-intellectualism within the British anarchist movement, though it does have some quite useful roots in working class distrust of people who talk down to us. Sadly all too often it's an excuse to shut down debate that people don't want to have. This is the most useful legacy of the AWG, TBH, to remind us of the need for debate, consistency and theoretical and tactical unity. Their failure meant that each generation needs to learn these lessons anew.

Sorry., I don't know where you've got the chronology from but it's wrong. After successes in and around things like the miners, printers and poll tax struggles, the DAM decided to orient itself towards setting up a union. It was a different time and, IMO, we failed to anticipate the period of extended social peace that characterised the 90s onwards in most of Britain. The proposal to set up a union was controversial within the DAM, and once the argument broadly in favour of it had been decided the people who became the AWG left. It took a couple more years before the SolFed was established by the DAM, several industrial networks who contained non-DAM members and Norwich Solidarity Centre, which was functioning as a local at the time.

Looking at a contact list from the time, and the first SF contact list, we lost local groups in Leeds, East London, Leicester, Edinburgh, Burnley and Bolton around then, though my recollection is that some of those groups differed with the SolFed over industrial strategy, preferring a rank and file strategy within the unions, and others wanted a more "political" group. In reality, the class struggle was declining and a lot of people were burnt out. (I was probably one of them and would have drifted off if there hadn't been a group for me to rejoin when I got myself together again).

Regards,

Martin

Serge Forward

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, but I think Devrim has pretty much said it... groups like the WSM and AL have always had a less critical approach to the trade union bureaucracies than either the AF or SolFed. I also see the platformist organisations as being soft on national liberation.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

DAM had indusrial networks in those days too. They have had them on, and off since at least the mid 80's. You are right about them joining the RCP though. They always admired the look :confused: .

knightrose

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fascinating discussion. I only came across the AWG in their final days in the North, where they were a group that seemed firmly on the trajectory they finally took.

Serge Forward

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

They always admired the look :confused: .

Yes, flat-tops were definitely de rigueur.

Mike Harman

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah very interesting, the trajectory of these groups is important for us all to know I think.

jack white

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

groups like the WSM and AL have always had a less critical approach to the trade union bureaucracies than either the AF or SolFed.

What are you talking about here?

martinh

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

DAM had indusrial networks in those days too. They have had them on, and off since at least the mid 80's.

Well, sort of, though there is a difference between rank and filism and industrial networks, mainly about relating to the unions.

Devrim

You are right about them joining the RCP though. They always admired the look :confused: .

:)

As someone who was neither punk (the majority of DAM under 30 at the time were) or into the nascent club scene (which is what the AWG were into) I know exactly the pressures of which you speak :wink:

Regards,

martin

knightrose

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

when we met them it was at the time of the Gulf War after the invasion of Kuwait. We were trying to argue for a No war etc position. They'd have nothing to do with it. It was almost impossible to see any difference between them and trot groups. I wasn't surprised when they ended up in them, but was disappointed.

martinh

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

knightrose

when we met them it was at the time of the Gulf War after the invasion of Kuwait. We were trying to argue for a No war etc position. They'd have nothing to do with it. It was almost impossible to see any difference between them and trot groups. I wasn't surprised when they ended up in them, but was disappointed.

I think at the time a lot of minor trot groups did lots of work to try to convince us (anarchists/internationalists generally) that such a position wasn't nuanced enough :roll: I think the RIL did a special leaflet aimed at us (they had members in our local APTU) on this very issue.

I'm sure they can say so themselves, but I don't think the WSM would ever take the sort of line the AWG ended up doing. Which is one reason why I'm not hostile to the whole platformist tradition - just because both attempts in Britain have been conveyor belts to Trotskyism and beyond, it doesn't mean that the same is true everywhere. Or indeed need happen here again. IIRC the ACF at the time was heavily into the Platform, as well, but managed to draw on other things and not go the same way as the ORA and AWG.

Regards

martin

jack white

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

martinh

"the sort of line the AWG ended up doing."

What line did they take? Victory to Iraq or something?

knightrose

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've said somewhere else that I don't think the the Platform leads to "platformism". There's nothing wrong with a sense of collective repsonsibility and a desire to seek political agreement and a common effort.

Equally, I'm not sure that the ORA (Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists) was just a conveyor belt to trotskyism. The AF are really their descendents. In any event, the ORA/AWA were part of a process of development in the 70s. There were other groups as well. The upshot of those developments were the groups we see today, with the politics we see today.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Martin,

I was in DAM at the time, so if there is a fault with the chronology it is with my memory. I do remember DAM deciding to found a union, but I didn't think that even the membership took it seriously. I think that the AWG had decided to split before then anyway. DAM did have a 'Industrial network' strategy before that as that was one of the reasons we originally set up 'Communication Worker'.

On a personal side, I am a bit upset by C.H. going into 'Worker's Power', but P.C. (post office counters) from SWLDAM had already gone there. The thing you said about an ex-member of SWLDAM being involved in the IWW really surprises me. Whom? initial will do.

Dev

Divisive Cottonwood

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My memory is a bit hazy from then but I do remember them being into another "anti-war" coalition that traded under the slogan Victory to Iraq - it was full of ultra-leftists, in particular the RCP. God knows how they theoretically ended up with this position! Talk about national chauvanism.

They also liked to turn up "en masse" (appropiate inverted commas here for an organisation of their size) at the SWP's Marxism event and intellectually slug it out with the Trots. Although that must have been as responsive as chatting to a brick wall. Their magazine was called Socialism from Below - which I thought was quite a good title anyway.

Their demise is what happens when people sit around theorising too much - they go up their own arse and promptly disappear.

Divisive Cottonwood

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Serge Forward

I don't understand why they still haunt the imaginations of anarchists in Britian in the manner they seem to above. Learn what is to be learned and move on.

Maybe it's because they very quickly went so ultra that ended up in Leninist/Trotskite positions... which is a strange trajectory to go!

Certainly don't agree with another posters description of them as being social democrats.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

They weren't ultra left at all. They were the antithesis of it. I would characterize them as social democrats, but then I would characterize Lenin as one also.

martinh

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Divisive Cottonwood

My memory is a bit hazy from then but I do remember them being into another "anti-war" coalition that traded under the slogan Victory to Iraq - it was full of ultra-leftists, in particular the RCP. God knows how they theoretically ended up with this position! Talk about national chauvanism.

Twas all about supporting small nation against big imperialism. There's a logic to it if you agree with Lenin. Or Saddam Hussein. But not a lot otherwise.

Divisive Cottonwood

They also liked to turn up "en masse" (appropiate inverted commas here for an organisation of their size) at the SWP's Marxism event and intellectually slug it out with the Trots. Although that must have been as responsive as chatting to a brick wall.

Actually at the time it was quite a sensible thing, at least in international terms. The Berlin Wall had just fallen and the SWP paid for anarchists or people close to anarchism to come over from Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Russia, at least. One of our members who'd gone along brought a member of the then IREAN group of Moscow (now KRAS) too our local group meeting and we had to rope someone in to speak German as it was the only language we all understood. IIRC the AWG did have some success in recruiting from the SWP, mainly in Southampton I think, sadly these people were let down by the trajectory the group was on.

Divisive Cottonwood

Their magazine was called Socialism from Below - which I thought was quite a good title anyway.

Their demise is what happens when people sit around theorising too much - they go up their own arse and promptly disappear.

I don't think it was too much theorising that did for them, but the wrong sort of theorising :wink:

Regards

martin

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also the problem wasn’t that they thought too either. This is a comment very typical of the anti intellectual current in British anarchism.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Martin,

I am really intrigued. Who from SWLDAM was involved in setting up the current IWW?

OliverTwister

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The experience of the AWG group, with the ex-leninists fighting the hardest against becoming leninists, is not unique.

There were some ex-trots involved in the Love and Rage federation in the US - these were the people who struggled the hardest against the pro-maoist faction, and they're in NEFAC now.

bastarx

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

The experience of the AWG group, with the ex-leninists fighting the hardest against becoming leninists, is not unique.

There were some ex-trots involved in the Love and Rage federation in the US - these were the people who struggled the hardest against the pro-maoist faction, and they're in NEFAC now.

NEFAC is hardly a million miles away from the Trotskyism of some of its older members youth.

Pete

Admin - Side discussion about the WSM and Platformist positions on unions split here:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9285

Glory hunter

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some of you Libcom people would have had more in common with the AWG than you might imagine, you remind me of them a lot. :r: :r:

revolutionrugger

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

JoeBlack2

Oddly enough the ones coming from the SWP background seemed to be most resistant to the turn to leninism

Funny ain't it? this parrallels Wayne Price and other ex-RSL members of Love and Rage here in the states. Ex-leninists defended the principles of anarchism with more ardour than those that had begun their revolutionary careers as anarchists. Now, though many love and ragers became maoists or crypto-maoist (BTR), Wayne and other ex-RSL members remain ardent anarchists and members of NEFAC.

revolutionrugger

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Peter

OliverTwister

The experience of the AWG group, with the ex-leninists fighting the hardest against becoming leninists, is not unique.

There were some ex-trots involved in the Love and Rage federation in the US - these were the people who struggled the hardest against the pro-maoist faction, and they're in NEFAC now.

NEFAC is hardly a million miles away from the Trotskyism of some of its older members youth.

Pete

Admin - Side discussion about the WSM and Platformist positions on unions split here:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9285

go to hell troll. Sorry nefac doesn't conform to your purist and utopian ultra-left politics of inaction; but they are and always will be clearly and obviously working WELL within the anarchist discourse and history of practice. You're mindless trot-calling has no substance in either NEFAC's official positions nor Wayne and Bills current works. Its the recycled name calling NEFAC has experienced since its founding from a bunch of scared losers who are afraid that their three guys and book group style of anarchism might be endangered by a well organized and specific anarchist political organization.

gurrier

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

revolutionrugger

go to hell troll. Sorry nefac doesn't conform to your purist and utopian ultra-left politics of inaction; but they are and always will be clearly and obviously working WELL within the anarchist discourse and history of practice. You're mindless trot-calling has no substance in either NEFAC's official positions nor Wayne and Bills current works. Its the recycled name calling NEFAC has experienced since its founding from a bunch of scared losers who are afraid that their three guys and book group style of anarchism might be endangered by a well organized and specific anarchist political organization.

Well said!

Steven.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Now now peter and revolutionrugger, play nice.

bastarx

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[quote="revolutionrugger"]Peter

go to hell troll. Sorry nefac doesn't conform to your purist and utopian ultra-left politics of inaction; but they are and always will be clearly and obviously working WELL within the anarchist discourse and history of practice. You're mindless trot-calling has no substance in either NEFAC's official positions nor Wayne and Bills current works. Its the recycled name calling NEFAC has experienced since its founding from a bunch of scared losers who are afraid that their three guys and book group style of anarchism might be endangered by a well organized and specific anarchist political organization.

NB. This is my attempt to reconstruct my post from yesterday which seems to have disappeared.

Sorry John, I'm not going to play nice with these leftist hacks. Anyway this is far nicer than what they get up to in rugby scrums. Although maybe revolutionrugger is a back.

First up don't insult me by calling me an anarchist, I haven't been that silly since I was 26.

The whole boring mantra that you clowns throw at us constantly: "you're so pure cos you don't do anything, at least we're getting our hands dirty with real workers" is a fucking crock of shit. You don't know what I do and you certainly haven't said what great things you've achieved through your submission to trade unionism. But even if do nothing, I'd choose that every time over being a stooge for the union bosses.

How about you tell us what makes NEFAC so different from the smaller Trot groups.

Is it 'critical' support for the unions? Nope

Is it ambiguity over national liberation movements? Nope

Is it activity centred around building the party (sorry federation)? Nope

There doesn't seem to be a huge difference between NEFAC and Trots on the important questions that demarcate social democratic and communist positions. Arguments about Kronstadt and Spain are not so important IMHO especially when anarchists who make a big song and dance denouncing the Bolshevik counter-revolution turn around and glorify the CNT counter-revolution.

As for Wayne Price, when you were twittering uselessly on the anti-politics forum did you notice his posts there advocating socialism and democracy? What do you think adding them together gives you? Add lip-service to revolution and you've got Trotskyism

Pete

Rob Ray

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

then I said you shouldn't call them trots just because they had stuff in common with them (also I thought it was 25?), to which you replied something along the lines that they were losers nyer nyer nyer...

Okay I made that last bit up.

Skraeling

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I haven't made up my mind about modern day platformists, but i do see Pete's point, that a lot of their positions are similar to Trotskyist groups. I dunno if you can call em out and out Trots tho.

The way i see it, i do not see some magical dividing line or rigid division between anarchist communism and Leninism. At some point, the two merge. Perhaps the AWG is a good case in point. I think of all the types of anarchist communism, platformism is probably the closest to Leninism. Sure it doesn't share some aspects with Leninism, but it does others. Perhaps platformism is a kind of Leninist/anarchist hybrid. When i talk about platformism to Leninist friends, they say it is the type of anarchism that is closest to their own politics.

(for the record, i also see anarchist communism merging at the other end of the spectrum into left communism or simply 'communism' as it is known these days)

and also, its worth repeating, when anarchist communists first came across the platform, they rejected it as being too close to Bolshevism. I think Malatesta's critique was spot on.

finally, in my experience, i've met a couple of trots who became anarchists and then went back the other way, to become even more pure trots. These ex-anarchist trots then become rabid, religious specialists in dissing anarchists, and treat anarchism as a scornful infantile deviation. So i'm really unsure about ex-leninists being the staunchest opponents of Leninism. They seem to bring a lot of baggage with them.

Steven.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Peter

Sorry John, I'm not going to play nice with these leftist hacks. Anyway this is far nicer than what they get up to in rugby scrums. Although maybe revolutionrugger is a back.

I dunno if you saw my post yesterday abuot I see where the shit has come from with you and NEFAC, re the whole scab/trot name-calling, but it would be nice to keep things civil.

bastarx

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Saii

then I said you shouldn't call them trots just because they had stuff in common with them (also I thought it was 25?), to which you replied something along the lines that they were losers nyer nyer nyer...

Okay I made that last bit up.

Yes I did say 25 but I thought about it and realised that although I started to get interested in commie stuff when I was 25 (Harry Cleaver - boo and Aufheben - yay) I was still identifying as an anarchist until sometime when I was 26.

I think in my reply to you that I said I don't think they are Trots as such but that disagreements with self-proclaimed Trots over Spain and Kronstadt are less important than what I see as their similarities.

Skraeling, some of the more party oriented left-commie groups have written stuff praising the platform. Try googling the Brousse Collective. They seemed to be close to the ICG.

Revol, clearly I was being somewhat tongue-in-cheek (or should that be arse?) when I said the stuff about social democracy. And yet I think there is some truth in it.

The CNT will have to wait cos the library's closing.

Pete

gurrier

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Peter

...glorify the CNT counter-revolution.

As for Wayne Price, when you were twittering uselessly on the anti-politics forum did you notice his posts there advocating socialism and democracy? What do you think adding them together gives you? Add lip-service to revolution and you've got Trotskyism

Wow, pete, you've got even more extraordinarily cut off from reality over the last few years.

The CNT counter revolution against.... um... the CNT membership? The organisation without which there certainly wouldn't have been a revolution was responsible for the counter revolution? Unspeakably silly.

Then your denunciation of Wayne Price for advocating socialism and democracy manages to trump the earlier comment in terms of pure bonkers-ness.

So, taking the definitions of socialism and democracy that wayne is working from rather than whatever silly definition you use:

socialism - equal division of wealth

democracy - equal division of decision making power

What would you counterpose to these counter-revolutionary positions?

*n.b. you are not allowed to substitute the above definitions for your own bizzare and meaningless ones.

revolutionrugger

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

CNT counter revolution. blah. Hardly. When I was in NEFAC, "Towards a Fresh Revolution" by the Friends of Durruti Group was required reading in the Baltimore Local Union. Also, you argue that the difference between troskyism and NEFAC is historical posturing (kronstadt, ukraine, etc) and then you bring up the spanish civl war, who's posturing now?

National Liberation Struggle? Dude, the Quebec comrades hate that shit. What are you talking about? NEFACs ideas about that are solidly anti-nationalist. Are you talking about the Vermont Collective spending time in Chiapas working with the EZLN? seriously do you even know what you're talking about?

Why is anarchist a juvenile term? Sorry if being a "communist" or a "marxist" gets you more psuedo-intellectual cock points but I'm an anarchist baby.

The anarchist tradition has included many variants with different positions on trade unionism. Taking that SINGULAR similarity and conflating our position with that of Trotskyite groups, simply because you disagree, is intellectually dishonest, or shows a complete ignorance of trotskyism, and anarchism.

Building the party? dude, nefac don't have membership drives. They don't recruit. They don't hand out flyers about NEFAC. they are small and like it that way. they simply coordinate their participation in Mass Struggle. No membership cards, no central office. Where's the "party building" you ignoramus?

The truth is you don't know anything about nefac, just what you want to believe or lie about to support your arguments.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It’s lets attack the ‘internationalists’ time again, and as usual this is being done with the usual theoretical rigor, and clarity.

The ‘internationalists' obviously are:

mindless

a bunch of scared losers

clearly a muppet whose blasting poorly digested ultra leftism out his arse

Unspeakably silly

and

pure bonkers

O.k., now that you have managed to throw a load of insults at them, you can go happily back to your critical support of national liberation, and your trade union work, satisfied that another criticism has been adequately dealt with.

The alternative is to try, and deal with the actual arguments, which is a lot more difficult.

First, lets talk about national liberation. In NEFAC’s aims and principles it says that:

We do not support the ideology of national liberation movements, which

claims that there are common

interests held between the working class and the native ruling class in

the face of foreign domination. Although we support working class

struggles against political and economic imperialism, racism, genocide

and colonization, we are opposed to the creation of a new ruling class.

We believe that the defeat of imperialism will only come about through a

social revolution waged against both the imperialists and the local

ruling class. This social revolution will have to spread across national

borders. We further 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 will be eliminated. We

must encourage and develop international

solidarity which will one day lay the basis for a global social

revolution.

This seems quite clear, but then in the article 'The U.S. Deserves to Lose in Iraq but Should We "Support the Iraqi Resistance"?', which was reprinted in this latest issue of 'KaraKızıl Notlar' in Turkey, Wayne Price says that:

The term national liberation implies more than this, an end to economic and political domination by imperialism--something which is not fully possible without the overthrow of world imperialism. But if national self-determination means the right to make a choice, then nationalism as such is a particular choice, the choice of a national state. It is possible to support the right of a people to make a choice without agreeing with the immediate choice they make.

and:

Lucien Van der Walt, of the Zabalaza Anarcho-Communist Federation of South Africa, points out that anarchists have participated in national anti-imperialist struggles in Cuba, Egypt, Ireland, Ukraine, Macedonia, Korea, Algeria, and Morocco. “The anarchist movement has paid in blood for its opposition to imperial domination.” He summarizes, “Anarchists...may fight alongside nationalists for limited reforms and victories against imperialism, but we fight against the statism and capitalism of the nationalists....This requires active participation in national liberation struggles but political independence from the nationalists. National liberation must be differentiated from nationalism, which is the class program of the bourgeoisie: we are against imperialism, but also, against nationalism.”

and:

Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey, of the Nigerian Awareness League, write in African Anarchism (1997), “Anarchists demand the liberation of all existing colonies and support struggles for national independence in Africa and around the world as long as they express the will of the people in the nations concerned. However, anarchists also insist that the usefulness of ‘self-determination’ will be very limited as long [as] the state system and capitalism--including Marxist state capitalism--are retained....A viable solution to the myriad of problems posed by the national question in Africa, such as internecine civil conflicts, is realizable only outside the context of the state system.”

and

Anarchists believe that nationalism and national independence (with a national state and a capitalist economy) will not solve the problems of oppressed nations. We are right to believe this. But the workers and peasants of Iraq, say, or Palestine, may believe otherwise. They are, we say, making an error, but they should have the RIGHT to make that error. We should--we must--support them in that right, against their oppressors. We must not say that since the Arab masses are making an error (by being nationalist), we will be neutral between the Iraqis and the U.S. or the Palestinians and the Zionist army. In fact, the only way the Iraqis, Palestinians, or others may be won to anarchist internationalism is if we support them fully, and if, if possible, anarchists struggle along with them, demonstrating in practice that libertarian socialism is the best program for ending imperialist domination.

I am sorry to quote at such great length, but I don’t want to be accused of quoting people out of context. It appears to me that they have kicked national liberation out of the front door, and then let it back in through the window. Nobody accused them of being Trotskists. What was said was:

NEFAC is hardly a million miles away from the Trotskyism of some of its older members youth.

I personally can see very little difference between this position, and the Trotskist position of critical support.

If somebody else can, could they please explain it to me.

The 'internationalists on the other hand say that today all national liberation movements are anti-working class. Our position is very clear. If you want to attack it, please do, but try to do it on a political level, not just throw insults. Please explain to me what we should do here in Turkey. Should we support the Kurdish nationalist in the PKK? As Wayne says:

The nationalism of the oppressed nations contains, however distorted, a positive aspect, namely opposition to imperialist oppression.

Or should we support the Turkish nationalists, who also claim that Turkey is oppressed by the imperialist powers?

Or should we support both, and wear different hats depending on whom we are talking to?

I for one will continue to take an internationalist position, and continue to say that the working class has no interest in supporting this squalid war, in which over 36,000 people mostly workers, peasants, and conscript soldiers have lost their lives on behalf of competing nationalisms.

For Internationalism

Devrim

Joseph Kay

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

uh-oh here comes Devrim to raise the tone of debate :roll: :P

Steven.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim - is Wayne Price in NEFAC? If not those aren't fair criticisms. If he is then while they're not fair criticism of NEFAC then Peter's point (about "some members") would have some truth

revolutionrugger

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

yes wanye is in the NYC collective.

OliverTwister

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Wayne Price was one of the members of the Revolutionary Socialist League, a trot outfit which had common origins with the ISO (our version of the SWP) but which gradually moved towards libertarian socialist positions, dropping Lenin, then Trotsky, and even a good portion of Marx and picking up anarchist thought. When the Love and Rage anarchist federation was founded in the early 90s, the rump of the RSL dissolved and joined L&R. (The ex-RSLers numbered around 5). Towards the end, as a definite trend centered around Chris Day was moving towards Maoism and promoting the ideas of Noel Ignatiev heavily (that white folks should become 'race traitors'), Wayne and some of the other ex-trots became the most outspoken defenders of anarchist thought and critics of leninism. Wayne is indeed in NEFAC and does write quite a few articles, though from a personal capacity - relatively few are published in the Northeastern Anarchist.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just one point Oliver. If something is published on an organisation's website with no disclamers what does in a 'personal capacity' mean. Is it anarchist slang for "we are not 'authorıtarian' enough to have a political position. Everyone can believe what they like". He is, as you said, a mamber. Does he have to agree with the aims and principles even?

In solidarity,

Dev

PaulMarsh

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

Towards the end, as a definite trend centered around Chris Day was moving towards Maoism and promoting the ideas of Noel Ignatiev heavily (that white folks should become 'race traitors'), .

Excellent - this sort of lunacy is why I have always thought the Americans just nudge it over the Turks for having the worst "left" in the world.

Perhaps that is why revolutionrugger and Devrim are arguing so intently?

revolutionrugger

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i mostly argue intently because its better than doin my job.

OliverTwister

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

Just one point Oliver. If something is published on an organisation's website with no disclamers what does in a 'personal capacity' mean. Is it anarchist slang for "we are not 'authorıtarian' enough to have a political position. Everyone can believe what they like". He is, as you said, a mamber. Does he have to agree with the aims and principles even?

In solidarity,

Dev

I do not think any Wayne Price articles have been placed on the NEFAC website anytime recently - a search for his name brings up a page with links to a few essays, none of which function. Most of his writing, as of late, has gone on the anarkismo.net website and say explicitly "Written for anarkismo.net", which declares

The purpose of the site is to:

1. Collect and distribute the news and analysis produced by anarchist groups and individuals all over the world who are influenced by the "platformist", anarchist-communist or especifista tradition of anarchism.

2. Facilitate fraternal debate and discussion between anarchists of this tradition.

3. Provide a space where other anarchists, socialists and anybody else can learn about the activities and views of this anarchist tradition and engage in constructive dialogue with them."

Yes it could be taken as "we are not authoritarian enough..." but keep in mind the primary purpose of the page is for internal debate within the anarchist-communist movement, not external propaganda.

Secondly, I think that you are being semantist in your reading of different anarchist-communist texts. Jean Barrot

Of course, anti-fascism is not a homogeneous phenomenon. Durruti, Orwell and Santiago Carrillo all qualify as antifascists. But the question remains: What is anti-fascism anti? And what is it 'pro' exactly?

I am against imperialism, be it French, British, US or Chinese. I am not an 'anti-imperialist', since that is a political position supporting national liberation movements opposed to imperialist powers.

I am (and so is the proletariat) against fascism, be it in the form of Hitler or Le Pen. I am not an 'anti-fascist', since this is a political position regarding fascist state or threat as a first and foremost enemy to be destroyed at all costs, i.e. siding with bourgeois democrats as a lesser evil, and postponing revolution until fascism is disposed of.

Lucien Van Der Walt

“The anarchist movement has paid in blood for its opposition to imperial domination.” He summarizes, “Anarchists...may fight alongside nationalists for limited reforms and victories against imperialism, but we fight against the statism and capitalism of the nationalists....This requires active participation in national liberation struggles but political independence from the nationalists. National liberation must be differentiated from nationalism, which is the class program of the bourgeoisie: we are against imperialism, but also, against nationalism.”

Are the two really all that different, other than semantically? I'll readily admit that I think there are some areas of thought in which criticism needs to take place to solidify the anarchist-communist movement, including the "closeness" with which we relate to nationalists... but no movement will be completely homogenous, especially one struggling to assert itself from decades of counter-revolution.

Lets take the above quote by Lucien van der Walt - what if we replaced [national liberation struggles] with [struggles against imperialism]. Is it the semantic or the meaning which is most important - and if it is not semantic then how does this differ greatly from Barrot's own thought?

Let me bring the example closer to my own experience - right now the US ruling class are attempting to impose extremely draconian immigration laws and there have been massive mobilizations against them - just two days ago in Atlanta there was one in which at least 50,000 people marched, one of the largest marches i've been in and likely the largest ever to take place in Atlanta. The next round of major demonstrations is set to take place May 1, a workday, and everything is indicating things will be even larger. What these are are limited, one-day general strikes, of a sort never seen in North America (in that they are not localized), and in particular these will be the first large-scale demonstrations for Mayday in north america in about 70 years. This is a huge opportunity, and one extremely relevant to this topic. With our limited abilities we are trying to intervene - in what way would you say the brief outline by Lucien is a wrong one: criticism of the statism and capitalism of nationalism as being the class program of the bougeoisie, but still participating in the struggle against imperial domination [with the goal of encouraging proletarian self-activity]?

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi Oliver,

I am in the middle of writing something else at the moment, but I will come back to your points later tonight. The article I referred to was: http://nefac.net/node/1956 , it is on the home page of the NEFAC website under:

"Popular content

Today's:

The U.S. Deserves to Lose in Iraq but Should We "Support the Iraqi Resistance"?"

I am not sure how old it is, but that does seem to imply it is quite recent. The reason that I quoted from it was that it has just been reprinted in 'KaraKızıl Notlar' the magazine of AKİ. The people, who e-mail you from Turkey. All the quotes I used came from the original English version though, not the translation, so they are accurate.

Take care,

Dev

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

I am not sure how old it is, but that does seem to imply it is quite recent. The reason that I quoted from it was that it has just been reprinted in 'KaraKızıl Notlar' the magazine of AKİ. The people, who e-mail you from Turkey. All the quotes I used came from the original English version though, not the translation, so they are accurate.

Take care,

Dev

It was originally written for Anarkismo.net and was reposted to NEFAC.net.

Mike Harman

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A member of NEFAC writing for Anarkism, then this being reposted on NEFAC's website doesn't in any way change Devrim's statement below.

Devrim

Just one point Oliver. If something is published on an organisation's website with no disclamers what does in a 'personal capacity' mean. Is it anarchist slang for "we are not 'authorıtarian' enough to have a political position. Everyone can believe what they like". He is, as you said, a mamber. Does he have to agree with the aims and principles even?

In solidarity,

Dev

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oliver,

I answered your points on the other thread:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=118510#118510

Dev

bastarx

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

gurrier

So, taking the definitions of socialism and democracy that wayne is working from rather than whatever silly definition you use:

socialism - equal division of wealth

democracy - equal division of decision making power

What would you counterpose to these counter-revolutionary positions?

*n.b. you are not allowed to substitute the above definitions for your own bizzare and meaningless ones.

No I won't change the definitions. I'll just point out that they appear to presuppose the existence of abstract individuals alienated from each other just like every other bourgeois position.

What I'd counterpose to those bourgeois positions is that old saw of 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs'. I'm not opposed to taking votes on some things but to fetishise voting as THE decision making process is silly and yes, bourgeois and counter-revolutionary.

Alternatively Marx's son-in-law Paul Lafargue put it pretty well way back in the 19th century, "...the aim of the revolution is not the triumph of justice, morality, liberty and other bourgeois jokes, but as little work and as much intellectual and physical enjoyment as possible."

cheers

Pete

bastarx

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

revol68

Devrim, who are these "Internationalists"? I agree totally with your position on national liberation, but my problem isn't to do with internationalism but rather ridiculous comments about the CNT and the purer than though anti union position adopted by Peter.

Revol, I think I responded to something similar of yours a few days ago but both our posts disappeared.

I don't think I take a purer-than-thou anti-union position. It's certainly not purer than the ICC's which forbids its members to join unions unless it's a closed shop. I've joined a union in the past although with hindsight I think it was a mistake. If I changed jobs or circumstances at my current job changed considerably I might join a union again.

There is however a considerable difference between my pragmatically joining a union and NEFAC's assertions that unions are actually-existing working class social movements and their acceptance of paid union organisers within their party.

Pete

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Revol,

Which parts of the left communist 'shit' don't you agree with? I think that the accusation of:

rejection of everything not in their nice "communist programme", a programme that exists on a platonic plane, always escaping the dirty grubby hands of real concrete humans.

is a bit unfair. I know that there is a lot of bullshit talked in the name of left communism, probably not as much as is talked in the name of 'anarchism' if only because there are a lot more 'anarchists'.

I think to a certain extent you are tarring people with the same brush here. I wouldn’t accuse anarchists like yourself of being ‘pro-nationalist’ just because ‘anarchists’ like the WSM, and NEFAC are.

The communist position on democracy is actually quite simple. We just say that it shouldn’t be fetishised. Of course there are times when we make democratic decisions, and we are not arguing against this. We do say, however, that there are times when minorities either don’t go through the democratic process, or even actually go against it.

I will give two examples. The first is the start of the English miners strike in 1984. .

Wiki says this:

Sensitive to the impact of the proposed closures in their own areas, miners in various coal fields began strike action. In the Yorkshire coal field strike action began when workers at the Manvers complex walked out over the lack of consultation. Over 6,000 miners were already on strike when a local ballot led to strike action from March 5 at Cortonwood Colliery at Brampton, South Yorkshire, and at Bullcliffe Wood colliery, near Ossett. What had prompted the March 5 action was the further announcement by the Coal Board that five pits were to be subject to "accelerated closure" within just five weeks; the other three were Herrington in County Durham, Snowdon in Kent and Polmaise in Scotland. On the next day pickets from the Yorkshire area appeared at pits in the Nottinghamshire coal field (one of those least threatened by pit closures). On March 12, 1984 Arthur Scargill, President of the NUM declared that the strikes in the various coal fields were to be a national strike and called for strike action from NUM members in all coal fields.

There are times when workers send out flying pickets to directly ask other workers to join them in their struggle. To a certain extent the miners strike was spread by flying pickets. This is not democratic. It is minorities taking action to spread the struggle.

Of slightly less importance to the international class struggle was a little spat we had at work a couple of months ago. The point however remains the same. The director threw a fit, and sacked one of the workers (there were some issue, but I feel that the main reason was that her family’s origins were in one of those ‘Eastern’ countries, and she wasn’t quite ‘white’ enough. Our management are really racist bastards). Myself, and one of the lads at work (who happens to be a left nationalist) had foreseen this, and had said in the pub one night that if it happened we would go on strike. She was sacked, we refused to go back to work, we explained to the other workers what we were doing and why, and we were joined by some, but not all of them. If we had held a meeting, and put it to a vote, we would have definitely lost. By striking ourselves, we forced the management to back down after two hours, and saved her job. This is anti-democratic.

That is basically it. There is a theoretical side to it too, but when it comes to getting your hands dirty that is what the so-called ‘critique of democracy’ is about.

İn solidarity,

Dev

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

First my strike, it was anti-democratic in that if we had held a meeting of all the workers, the decision would have been against going on strike, in that we forced our decision to strike against the will of the majority of the workers on that shift.

On to the more important points. I think that it is important not make idols of past leaders or movements. I don’t need to draw a family tree of how we are related to the history of the movement. Everything has to be seen in its historical situation, and nobody is beyond criticism.

Bordiga is a product of his time too. You must remember that the defeat of the Russian revolution was a catastrophe for the international workers movement, and caused a massive amount of confusion, and disorientation. Many just refused to believe that it had all gone wrong. My grandfather for example, who was a Stalinist, wept when the coup against Stalin was defeated in 1993. He was just many who failed to recognize that there had been a counter revolution at all.

Bordiga was one of those who did. Lots of Bordiga’s ideas were very confused. For example, he was confused about the exact nature of the ‘Soviet state’ until the 1950’s, but his break with the Comintern came in 1926 when they adopted the theory of ‘Socialism in one Country’.

While he was not clear about lots of things, especially the role of the party, some of his work is very interesting, particularly his opposition to frontism. Also unlike Lenin, Bordiga had some understanding of what communism was.

The German left is much more interesting, and I feel closer to their positions. They made mistakes also.

As it happens I think that the CNT's descision to join the government was disasterous, counter revolutionary, and whether or not carried out through "formally democratic" means within the CNT was a betrayal of actual workers democracy eg just as a democratic decision to allow slavery would be.

This is an interesting paragraph. Are you actually saying that you would defend the idea of ‘workers democracy’ against the democratic decisions of workers? What is the idea of ‘workers democracy’. Could it be something close to what Bordiga called the communist programme (not as he articulated it, but as an abstract idea)?

The difference between the CNT and Bolsheviks was that the joining of the government was an actual break with it's past, was not imposed upon the working class by force of arms and did not pro actively seek out dissenters, nor did it hold state capitalism as a desireable goal.

Even after joining the government many leading CNT members were fighting against this counter revolution by proxy, and the Friends of Durruti group, Libertarian Youth and much of the Mujeure Libres held the potential to continue the revolution.

Many leading Bolsheviks also opposed the Bolshevik counter revolution. In fact one group split from the party, and joined the KAI (The KAPD led Communist Workers International). In both countries there was working class opposition to counter revolution, and in both countries it included both those who called themselves anarchists, and those who called themselves Marxists. Those who supported the counter revolution whether in Russia, or Spain put themselves on the side of capitalism against the working class. Whilst the CNT didn't actually shot down workers in the street. They supported a government that did, and called on workers to abandon their struggles. I don't need to call them ‘traitors to the revolution’. Revolutionary anarchists had already done it.

Leninists of course actively embrace counter revolution, whilst 99% of people I know who identify with anarcho syndicalism are very critical of the CNT's leadership, which is more than can be said for the ICC and other Bordigist ballbags who can't bring themselves to side with the Kronstadt insurgency. Any anarchist syndicalist I know defends the May Days uprising and condemns the CNT ministers role in clearing the streets for counter revolution.

Maybe this is because those who come from a Marxist tradition, who stood against the counter revolution stopped calling themselves Leninists :wink:, and when they did this they broke with the Lennist social democratic conceptions, what G. Davue quite nicely referred to as Kautsky-Leninism. Have the anarchist syndicalists rethought their conceptions, or do a lot of them just put it down to a 'bad man theory of history'?

Dev

P.S. I do agree that the ICC are very, very confused about who was on which side of the class line at krondstadt.

knightrose

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

many left communists seem to denounce the CNT root and branch because they betrayed the revolution in 1936. Funnily enough they manage not to do the same about the Bolsheviks. Somehow they see them as revolutionary up until 19__ (insert your own date here). Strange, eh? (Not having a pop at Dev here!)

martinh

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi Devrim

Devrim

My grandfather for example, who was a Stalinist, wept when the coup against Stalin was defeated in 1993.

:confused: Bit late perhaps?

Devrim

Leninists of course actively embrace counter revolution, whilst 99% of people I know who identify with anarcho syndicalism are very critical of the CNT's leadership, which is more than can be said for the ICC and other Bordigist ballbags who can't bring themselves to side with the Kronstadt insurgency. Any anarchist syndicalist I know defends the May Days uprising and condemns the CNT ministers role in clearing the streets for counter revolution.

Maybe this is because those who come from a Marxist tradition, who stood against the counter revolution stopped calling themselves Leninists :wink:, and when they did this they broke with the Lennist social democratic conceptions, what G. Davue quite nicely referred to as Kautsky-Leninism. Have the anarchist syndicalists rethought their conceptions, or do a lot of them just put it down to a 'bad man theory of history'?

While a few might put it down to Montseny (bad woman), Garcia Oliver or de Santillan, I think there's more going on and so do most other a-s. Perhaps the crucial thing as I said before is why the rank and file went along with the leaders. I think there's more than one answer, but the FAI is certainly part of it. Have you read Stuart Christie's "We the Anarchists!" which looks at the FAI in the 30s. It sheds a fair amount of light, IMO, and reminds those of us with a romantic worldview that there is no "final triumph", there's always another battle to fight. (Though perhaps that is a different thread :wink: )

Outside of Spain, Italy, Sweden and France, most a-s are in the IWA, which kicks people out for participating in any state-run bargaining apparatus. Tactically, the CGT-E, CNT-Vignoles, SAC and the varioous non-IWA unions in Italy don't, but it's not as if a-s in them aren't aware of the contradictions and don't have mechanisms for controlling them. The CNT have conducted a long vitriol against the CGT for having members who worked in prisons, and the SAC have been attacked for co-operating with the police at the Gothenburg summit. These examples show that people are aware of problems around the state and how we relate to it.

Regards,

Martin

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Catch

A member of NEFAC writing for Anarkism, then this being reposted on NEFAC's website doesn't in any way change Devrim's statement below.

Devrim

Just one point Oliver. If something is published on an organisation's website with no disclamers what does in a 'personal capacity' mean. Is it anarchist slang for "we are not 'authorıtarian' enough to have a political position. Everyone can believe what they like". He is, as you said, a mamber. Does he have to agree with the aims and principles even?

In solidarity,

Dev

So, every single peice of theory posted up to Libcom.org is fully endorsed by the entire collective? We have a website with specific sections for position papers and documents that have been endorsed by NEFAC. Everything else is theory, analysis and news reports that is within the general realm of our politics and areas of struggle where we are active. Kinda thought that one was obvious, but apparently not.

Ah well, honestly when it comes down to it I personally don't like or respect most "anarchists" (and I REALLY don't like or respect ultra-leftist windbags), so by all means feel free to paint us as pro-nationalists, Trotskyists, reformists, blah, blah, blah. Knock yourselves out.

Steven.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Smash Rich Bastards

So, every single peice of theory posted up to Libcom.org is fully endorsed by the entire collective?

No it's not, I'm not sure Devrim's or catch's are fair comments really. Talking to NEFAC people I've only heard them have similar anti-nationalist stances to the AF, not the more pro-nationalist ones of say WSM.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think that they are unfair, John. Libcom doesn't claim to be a political organisation, and is therefore different. I read the article in KaraKızık Notlar in Turkey, and then checked the English original to quote from. I found it on a link from the main page under "Popular content: Today's:The U.S. Deserves to Lose in Iraq but Should We "Support the Iraqi Resistance"?". It was actually first on the list. I would assume that with it being there on an organization website, it did actually defend the position of that organization. maybe that was a stupid assumption to make. I don't know anything about NEFAC, and people have said that they are not orientated towards national liberation struggles. In which case why do they publish such rubbish so prominently.

I believe from what he said earlier that 'Smash Rich Bastards' is actually the author of the piece. If this is the case, when he says:

Ah well, honestly when it comes down to it I personally don't like or respect most "anarchists" (and I REALLY don't like or respect ultra-leftist windbags), so by all means feel free to paint us as pro-nationalists, Trotskyists, reformists, blah, blah, blah. Knock yourselves out.

, it doesn't surprise me. I am not in the slightest bit interested whether he REALLY doesn't llike me or not. It seems to be on the same level of argument as that often used by these types of leftists. Don't address the argument, just insult. Do you really think SRB that this 'ultra-leftist windbag' bothered to write the post that started this off to convince you that you were a pro-nationalist leftist? No, I wouldn't wear myself out. Unfortunately some people who might listen to this sort of rubbish aren't. They are people, who are worth discussing with, not leftist hacks such as yourself.

Devrim

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

I don't know anything about NEFAC, and people have said that they are not orientated towards national liberation struggles. In which case why do they publish such rubbish so prominently.

I dunno, is it prominently displayed on our website? From what I can tell, it keeps coming up on the 'today's popular content' section... which means it is getting hits. Probably coming from Google or something. None of us really have control over what people viewed on our website or how many times they view it. Sorry.

I believe from what he said earlier that 'Smash Rich Bastards' is actually the author of the piece. If this is the case, when he says:

Yeah, well you're wrong. I ain't Wayne. Its hard to confuse us. He's much more pleasant than me.

Don't address the argument, just insult. Do you really think SRB that this 'ultra-leftist windbag' bothered to write the post that started this off to convince you that you were a pro-nationalist leftist?

Well, because you're argument is largely based on a strawman you have created and decided to attribute to us. What's to argue? Anyone who is interested on our position in regards to national liberation or whatever else is free to read our 'Aims & Principles' (which, last I checked is anti-nationalist, but what do I know?) and determine where we stand based on that.

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

They are people, who are worth discussing with, not leftist hacks such as yourself.

Stop, you're breaking my heart. Really...

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

O.k.

So you didn’t write it, sorry. Something that you said made me think that it was you. Do you agree with it? The post that started this argument originally incuded this:

First, lets talk about national liberation. In NEFAC’s aims and principles it says that:Quote:

We do not support the ideology of national liberation movements, which

claims that there are common

interests held between the working class and the native ruling class in

the face of foreign domination. Although we support working class

struggles against political and economic imperialism, racism, genocide

and colonization, we are opposed to the creation of a new ruling class.

We believe that the defeat of imperialism will only come about through a

social revolution waged against both the imperialists and the local

ruling class. This social revolution will have to spread across national

borders. We further 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 will be eliminated. We

must encourage and develop international

solidarity which will one day lay the basis for a global social

revolution.

This seems quite clear, but then in the article 'The U.S. Deserves to Lose in Iraq but Should We "Support the Iraqi Resistance"?', which was reprinted in this latest issue of 'KaraKızıl Notlar' in Turkey, Wayne Price says that:Quote:

The term national liberation implies more than this, an end to economic and political domination by imperialism--something which is not fully possible without the overthrow of world imperialism. But if national self-determination means the right to make a choice, then nationalism as such is a particular choice, the choice of a national state. It is possible to support the right of a people to make a choice without agreeing with the immediate choice they make.

and:Quote:

Lucien Van der Walt, of the Zabalaza Anarcho-Communist Federation of South Africa, points out that anarchists have participated in national anti-imperialist struggles in Cuba, Egypt, Ireland, Ukraine, Macedonia, Korea, Algeria, and Morocco. “The anarchist movement has paid in blood for its opposition to imperial domination.” He summarizes, “Anarchists...may fight alongside nationalists for limited reforms and victories against imperialism, but we fight against the statism and capitalism of the nationalists....This requires active participation in national liberation struggles but political independence from the nationalists. National liberation must be differentiated from nationalism, which is the class program of the bourgeoisie: we are against imperialism, but also, against nationalism.”

and:Quote:

Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey, of the Nigerian Awareness League, write in African Anarchism (1997), “Anarchists demand the liberation of all existing colonies and support struggles for national independence in Africa and around the world as long as they express the will of the people in the nations concerned. However, anarchists also insist that the usefulness of ‘self-determination’ will be very limited as long [as] the state system and capitalism--including Marxist state capitalism--are retained....A viable solution to the myriad of problems posed by the national question in Africa, such as internecine civil conflicts, is realizable only outside the context of the state system.”

andQuote:

Anarchists believe that nationalism and national independence (with a national state and a capitalist economy) will not solve the problems of oppressed nations. We are right to believe this. But the workers and peasants of Iraq, say, or Palestine, may believe otherwise. They are, we say, making an error, but they should have the RIGHT to make that error. We should--we must--support them in that right, against their oppressors. We must not say that since the Arab masses are making an error (by being nationalist), we will be neutral between the Iraqis and the U.S. or the Palestinians and the Zionist army. In fact, the only way the Iraqis, Palestinians, or others may be won to anarchist internationalism is if we support them fully, and if, if possible, anarchists struggle along with them, demonstrating in practice that libertarian socialism is the best program for ending imperialist domination.

I am sorry to quote at such great length, but I don’t want to be accused of quoting people out of context. It appears to me that they have kicked national liberation out of the front door, and then let it back in through the window. Nobody accused them of being Trotskists. What was said was: Quote:

NEFAC is hardly a million miles away from the Trotskyism of some of its older members youth.

I personally can see very little difference between this position, and the Trotskist position of critical support.

If somebody else can, could they please explain it to me.

The 'internationalists on the other hand say that today all national liberation movements are anti-working class. Our position is very clear. If you want to attack it, please do, but try to do it on a political level, not just throw insults. Please explain to me what we should do here in Turkey. Should we support the Kurdish nationalist in the PKK? As Wayne says:Quote:

The nationalism of the oppressed nations contains, however distorted, a positive aspect, namely opposition to imperialist oppression.

Or should we support the Turkish nationalists, who also claim that Turkey is oppressed by the imperialist powers?

Or should we support both, and wear different hats depending on whom we are talking to?

I for one will continue to take an internationalist position, and continue to say that the working class has no interest in supporting this squalid war, in which over 36,000 people mostly workers, peasants, and conscript soldiers have lost their lives on behalf of competing nationalisms.

I did look at your 'aims, and priciples', and they seemed very clear. That article seemed to be in complete contradiction to them. I could have pulled lots of other quotes from it. I don't think that these are unrepresentitive.

So where does NEFAC stand with this article, or with its aims, and principles? They are in contradiction.

Actually, I didn't call you a leftist hack. It was proceded by

I believe from what he said earlier that 'Smash Rich Bastards' is actually the author of the piece. If this is the case,

.

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I honestly haven't even read it fully. I have had conversations with author in the past, and feel like I have a pretty good idea of his positions in regards to national liberation struggles (which are more nuanced and complex then you are painting them) and can guess where he's coming from.

From what you have quoted, I don't see any real contradiction between this:

We do not support the ideology of national liberation movements, which claims that there are common interests held between the working class and the native ruling class in the face of foreign domination. Although we support working class struggles against political and economic imperialism, racism, genocide and colonization, we are opposed to the creation of a new ruling class.

and this:

The term national liberation implies more than this, an end to economic and political domination by imperialism--something which is not fully possible without the overthrow of world imperialism. But if national self-determination means the right to make a choice, then nationalism as such is a particular choice, the choice of a national state. It is possible to support the right of a people to make a choice without agreeing with the immediate choice they make.

It's called critical support.

Again, this is not to say I agree with Wayne's views 100%. But I don't think it is in contradiction with the basic politics or strategic orientation in NEFAC (as I understand them). We are not pie-in-the-sky purists, we're class war anarchists who accept that there is no such thing as a perfect scenario for struggle, so we critically support a number of imperfect struggles (and have even been known to work in coalitions with *gasp* leftists) while simultaneously advocating our own revolutionary politics.

Steven.

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

So where does NEFAC stand with this article, or with its aims, and principles? They are in contradiction.

To me it seems obvious that NEFAC stands with its As and Ps, but some of its members don't agree with it totally.

NEFAC has shitloads of articles on its site, I think it would be silly to think it agrees with them all.

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Come on, I know there is struggle alongside leftists. From an earlier post on this thread abit of the point but:

Of slightly less importance to the international class struggle was a little spat we had at work a couple of months ago. The point however remains the same. The director threw a fit, and sacked one of the workers (there were some issue, but I feel that the main reason was that her family’s origins were in one of those ‘Eastern’ countries, and she wasn’t quite ‘white’ enough. Our management are really racist bastards). Myself, and one of the lads at work (who happens to be a left nationalist) had foreseen this, and had said in the pub one night that if it happened we would go on strike. She was sacked, we refused to go back to work, we explained to the other workers what we were doing and why, and we were joined by some, but not all of them. If we had held a meeting, and put it to a vote, we would have definitely lost. By striking ourselves, we forced the management to back down after two hours, and saved her job.

Left communist organises a strke with anti working class nationalist shocker I do live in the real world, but there is a differnce between organising together with these people as workers for working class demands, and organising with them politically.

I think there is a difference between these two statements, and that critical support is support.

Can you answer these questions

Please explain to me what we should do here in Turkey. Should we support the Kurdish nationalist in the PKK? As Wayne says:Quote:

The nationalism of the oppressed nations contains, however distorted, a positive aspect, namely opposition to imperialist oppression.

Or should we support the Turkish nationalists, who also claim that Turkey is oppressed by the imperialist powers?

Or should we support both, and wear different hats depending on whom we are talking to?

I for one will continue to take an internationalist position, and continue to say that the working class has no interest in supporting this squalid war, in which over 36,000 people mostly workers, peasants, and conscript soldiers have lost their lives on behalf of competing nationalisms.

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with your position. I think most people in NEFAC would agree with your position (at least I would hope so). Hell, alot of our membership are anti-nationalist Quebecois (often from pro-seperatist family backgrounds), many of whom have fought it out in the streets with fists and boots against MLNQ seperatists. On the ground, when it counts, we are staunchly anti-nationalist, which is why it is insulting to be painted otherwise.

Mike Harman

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

First my strike, it was anti-democratic in that if we had held a meeting of all the workers, the decision would have been against going on strike, in that we forced our decision to strike against the will of the majority of the workers on that shift.

I'm not sure about that.

You met with someone and decided to strike if something happened - there were two of you so you simply came to an agreement informally. Voting or anything else would've been stupid.

For it to be anti-democratic, you'd have had to either

1. In some way force other people out on strike against their wishes

2. Have the meeting and the vote go against you, then go out on strike anyway.

Just doing something off your own bat on your own responsibility isn't anti-democratic IMO. If 2000 French school kids vote unanimously to block a motorway, and 5,000 motorists would rather they got the fuck off the road, is that 'anti-democratic'?

guadia

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

First my strike, it was anti-democratic in that if we had held a meeting of all the workers, the decision would have been against going on strike, in that we forced our decision to strike against the will of the majority of the workers on that shift.

there is one more example made by dauve. it is from 1968 year in france where there was a voting in one rail station whether to continue the strike which stopped transport to paris or not. the verdict was to withdraw the strike but minority of workers didn´t follow the decision of majority and prevented the trains to go to paris. was it democratic? no. did it help the struggle? yes. and it implies that you can separate democracy from revolution. would we condemn this active minority which tried to contribute to the struggle?

to contribute to the revolutionary doesn´t mean to follow democracy nothing more than to be antidemocratic ensure to be on the revolutionary lines.

democratic principle (that everybody must have say in the issues which is concern his/her) is an ideal abstraction. actually it is even more that abstraction: it is a weapon of the present system. while the ideas of society are ideas of the rulling class the democracy principle would prevent any action against it - which is at least at the start minor one.

on the other side it is really a dangerous nonsense to enter the action in the condition (also concerning numbers of people) which have no perspective to get support and be spread. but it is totally different sotry which has nothing to do with the question of democracy.

gurrier

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Peter

No I won't change the definitions. I'll just point out that they appear to presuppose the existence of abstract individuals alienated from each other just like every other bourgeois position.

:D :D :mrt:

the phrase "equal division of x" presupposes abstract individuals alienated from each other and is inherently bourgeois - well I never!

I suspect that it would be even more bonkers than it looks if I could figure out what it meant.

Peter

What I'd counterpose to those bourgeois positions is that old saw of 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs'. I'm not opposed to taking votes on some things but to fetishise voting as THE decision making process is silly and yes, bourgeois and counter-revolutionary.

And I'd counterpose a bar of chocolate to your proletarian position - it has exactly as much relevance to my question. I should add that you introduced voting to the argument so you can hardly accuse me of fetishising it.

Peter

Alternatively Marx's son-in-law Paul Lafargue put it pretty well way back in the 19th century, "...the aim of the revolution is not the triumph of justice, morality, liberty and other bourgeois jokes, but as little work and as much intellectual and physical enjoyment as possible."

To your bourgeois position, I counterpose my own proletarian one

"nice things are nice"

cheers

Pete[/quote]

gurrier

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

No it's not, I'm not sure Devrim's or catch's are fair comments really. Talking to NEFAC people I've only heard them have similar anti-nationalist stances to the AF, not the more pro-nationalist ones of say WSM.

That's ridiculous. The WSM are pro-nationalist!!!

God, it seems that objecting to wealthy and powerful slaughtering people in poorer and weaker parts of the world is now pro-nationalist.

:roll:

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Welcome to the club comrade.

Mike Harman

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You've already gone out on strike by that point Jack. I'm talking about the initial decision to strike: in Devrim's case taken in the pub during a quiet chat, not what's done afterwards.

Similarly, I fail to see how a flying picket is 'anti-democratic" - a flying picket could be mandated by an assembly of workers, or it might be one person taking things into their own hands - since it can be either of those things, to me it's neither democratic nor anti-democratic but merely a strategy or tactic to be used.

The point at which the flying picket (or any picket) interacts with other workers is a different thing, but that's a different set of people to 'have a say in the issues which concern him/her', who'll be making their minds up in different circumstances. The decision's already been taken by that point and lines have been drawn.

Welcome to the forums guadia, by the way.

Mike Harman

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

gurrier

God, it seems that objecting to wealthy and powerful slaughtering people in poorer and weaker parts of the world is now pro-nationalist.

:roll:

Are squaddies 'wealthy and powerful'?

gurrier

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Catch

Are squaddies 'wealthy and powerful'?

Good grief. We should denounce opposition to imperialism because the grunts who do the shit jobs in it aren't members of the ruling class?

If you were an Iraqi and your country was occupied by an imperialist army who killed maybe 250,000 people or so, mostly for no reason whatsoever, would you denounce those who fought back without having a theoretical world view that agrees entirely with your own?

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Smash Rich Bastards,

O.K. you sat that you and basically agree with what I am saying, and you think that most of NEFAC does. In which case I withdraw my accusation that you are a nationalist. However, I am sure that you understand how things can appear to comrades in foreign countries especially comrades who don’t speak English, know little about NEFAC, and see a translation of this article. I have just checked in KKN, the source given was from anarchismo.net, It was after a lot of foot notes, and I didn’t notice it, but when I searched for it, I did find it on the NEFAC website.

We talked about a week ago about the special responsibility of English speaking comrades. I wrote:

Do people in English speaking countries realize how important their work is? In lots of conversations I have with anarchists here English language magazines come up. For example the WSM are very influential in Turkish anarchism, and I have just received an e-mail from a comrade in Istanbul saying that he had been following my arguments on the unions on Libcom.

In a country like Turkey, and I suspect that this is true for many countries, there isn't much published in the local language, and with English being effectively the international language (please let's not start that one again). The English anarchist, and communist groups have an disproportional influence.

Given that the point about influence is undoubtedly true, and let’s add NEFAC up there with the WSM, don’t you think that NEFAC has a special responsibility to think extra carefully about what goes on its website. Also, as I read it Wayne Price is in direct contradiction with your aims, and principles. Is it acceptable in NEFAC for a leading member to publish as a member of the organization things that openly contradict those principles.

Devrim

Devrim

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When I got home tonight there was a discussion programme on TV, and the subject was ‘Are the claims of the Armenian Genocide part of the imperialist project?’ Lots of Turks really do believe this. They think that Turkey is an oppressed nation, and that the imperialist powers are conspiring to stop Turkey becoming powerful, and that the EU, and the US want to divided Turkey (into a separate states for the Armenians, and for the Kurds). As much as it may sound bizarre to those of you outside of this asylum, this is actually mainstream ideology in this country. It is linked into Kemalism, and is the basis of the ideology of the state. I often get completely blank looks when I try to explain that this country is a member of NATO, and actually one of the imperialists. The nationalist position here goes right across the political spectrum from the neo-fascist MHP (and they are a lot bigger, more mainstream, and dangerous than fascists in England, and America) to the Turkish Communist Party. The Kurdish nationalists are just an ugly mirror image of this (I can remember talking to a Kurdish nationalist, who said “the first thing to do when we have our own state is to kill all the Aleviler”. They don’t say this anymore). All nationalism, and national liberation struggles are anti-working class, and workers have no interest in being drawn into them. To a certain extent the comrades in North America are isolated from this (even if there have been fist fights in Quebec) as there isn’t or hasn’t been a national liberation war going on in their countries.

Mike Harman

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

gurrier

Good grief. We should denounce opposition to imperialism because the grunts who do the shit jobs in it aren't members of the ruling class?

If you were an Iraqi and your country was occupied by an imperialist army who killed maybe 250,000 people or so, mostly for no reason whatsoever, would you denounce those who fought back without having a theoretical world view that agrees entirely with your own?

I'm under the impression that many of the secular elements of Iraqi society who are opposed to the occupation are quite happy to denounce people like Zarqawi, are they wrong to do this?

Would they also denounce posturing 'victory to the resistance' twats in the UK? I should fucking hope so.

Not to say that you're anywhere near a "victory to the resistance" line, but I hope that answers your question.

gurrier

16 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Catch

I'm under the impression that many of the secular elements of Iraqi society who are opposed to the occupation are quite happy to denounce people like Zarqawi, are they wrong to do this?

If they denounce him for fighting against the occupation, yes. If they denounce him for being a reactionary and brutal butcher, no.

Catch

Not to say that you're anywhere near a "victory to the resistance" line, but I hope that answers your question.

Nope.

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Smash Rich Bastards

So, every single peice of theory posted up to Libcom.org is fully endorsed by the entire collective?

As Jack pointed out, we're a website, not a group. Most of the stuff on here is here because it should be of interest to revolutionaries - not because it necessarily has the right line (although obviously we aim to have as much stuff we do agree with as possible as well). In many cases this means including things we don't agree with at all (hence the best of the worst section in the library, which includes some people I personally feel are beneath contempt) - since it's necessary to read that which you don't agree with or which attempts to recuperate your ideas in order to avoid many of the traps that people regularly fall into.

If, for instance, the AF had Kautsky or Bey on it's website I'd want to know why sharpish.

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If you were an Iraqi and your country was occupied by an imperialist army who killed maybe 250,000 people or so, mostly for no reason whatsoever, would you denounce those who fought back without having a theoretical world view that agrees entirely with your own?

Well I thought I'd answered this, I'll try again.

If I thought the people fighting against occupation were going to be as bad or worse as those occupying, then I'd denounce them, yes. That might not entail going into armed struggle against both them and the UK army, especially if it was just me, 'cos I'd lose. But I wouldn't feel any moral obligation to support them, critically or otherwise, and certainly wouldn't give them active support unless the alternative was my own untimely death. I'm not really into 'lesser evils' either, although that might change in a crisis.

'As bad or worse' would include nearly all the factions in the Iraqi resistance at the moment as far as I understand them.

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Catch,

Just a point on Hakim Bey. The Bey is not a surname its an honourific. It is somewhere between saying 'Mr', or 'Sir'. I suppose a direct translation would be something like 'Lord', but it doesn't really convey the feeling of it. Hakim means 'Judge', so the direct translation would be 'Judge Lord', but really it sounds to me like the English 'Your Honour' when said in court. Calling him 'Bey' sounds really strange to me as essentially you are saying 'Lord'. Actually, I don't suppose you give a toss what you call him. It is a really pretentious pen name though.

Dev

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry Devrim, it's a holdover from Bookchin who insists on referring to him as "the Bey" - which he translates as "the prince".

I appreciate it sounds stupid to anyone who knows what it means, but I don't think Peter Lamborn Wilson's intention was to appeal to Turkish readers, but to the third-worldism and exoticism which infests the activist milieu in the US, and his own sympathy for Italian fascism and mystical cultism.

Still waiting for you to come back on that Unison/pensions thread btw.

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi Catch,

It doesn’t bother me at all. I just wondered if you knew the meaning. The prince is a bit of a strange translation. The Turkish word for ‘prince’ is ‘prens’. According to the mini Langenscheidt dictionary that I keep at my desk: bey-gentleman; Mr.(used after the first name);husband.

I had actually never heard of him until I started using this site. I now realize that I did read one of his books years ago. It was called ‘Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy’ under the name Peter Wilson. There were a few things in it that were quite interesting alongside some crap. There was some stuff about Hasan Sabah II, who is quite an interesting historical figure. This is not getting into mysticism, but like with people like the ‘Diggers’ in the English civil war there was a time when political opposition could only be expressed through religion. Hasan Sabah II’s pronouncement of the ‘resurrection’, and that the ‘Rule of Law is Ended’ is quite interesting.

Of course I mean only in a historical sense. I really can’t stand mysticism. Not as much as my next door neighbour who spits the word like it is an insult though. Just to prove it I am going back to the UNISON thread now.

Dev

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

I had actually never heard of him until I started using this site.

Then you're very, very lucky.

This is not getting into mysticism, but like with people like the ‘Diggers’ in the English civil war there was a time when political opposition could only be expressed through religion. Hasan Sabah II’s pronouncement of the ‘resurrection’, and that the ‘Rule of Law is Ended’ is quite interesting.

Of course I mean only in a historical sense. I really can’t stand mysticism. Not as much as my next door neighbour who spits the word like it is an insult though. Just to prove it I am going back to the UNISON thread now.

Dev

Yeah I think historically those currents are very, very interesting. There's a bit in the Devils of Loudon where Huxley talks about human emotion being the same throughout history but being experienced through completely different cultural parameters - although he's talking about it in the context exorcism, mass hysteria and sexual abuse as entertainment it's still interesting.

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi Catch,

I don't think Peter Lamborn Wilson's intention was to appeal to Turkish readers, but to the third-worldism and exoticism which infests the activist milieu in the US,

Is it really that popular in the States :shock:? Do you think that I could give up my job, and sell 'third-worldism and exoticism to American idiots? It would be better than going to work everyday. Now all we have to hide is that I live in a tower block in the middle of a city of 5,000,000 people...

I don't know the Huxley book you mention, but the historical things I was talking about were communistic, egalitarian movements that sprang from Christianity. There were a lot of similar currents in mediaeval Islam too.

Dev

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

Hi Catch,

I don't think Peter Lamborn Wilson's intention was to appeal to Turkish readers, but to the third-worldism and exoticism which infests the activist milieu in the US,

Is it really that popular in the States :shock:?

Crimethinc's pretty popular, and Bey's stuff has been used a fair bit by them, then you've got all that Starhawk stuff that was posted up here - £500 to learn about permaculture and witchcraft. Deep Ecology, Gaia theory. One IWW campaign in New York was for a Wiccan to be allowed to wear religious symbols at work. I'd guess not a great deal more popular than it is in wider society in the North West and North East - all those New Age management consultants and self help books etc. I've seen Temporary Autonomous Zone in a fair few bookshops in the US though - with it's odes to Italian fascism and paedophilia. And you scoff about social centres. Check http://libcom.org/library/social-anarchism--lifestyle-anarchism-murray-bookchin

if you want an entertaining run-down.

Do you think that I could give up my job, and sell 'third-worldism and exoticism to American idiots?

Maybe, chuck mysticism and lifestylism in and you could be onto a winner, you'd have to stop making sense though, which might be a problem.

I don't know the Huxley book you mention, but the historical things I was talking about were communistic, egalitarian movements that sprang from Christianity. There were a lot of similar currents in mediaeval Islam too.

Do you mean Sufism? That's about as far as my knowledge goes. I can see some parallels with the Ranters and whirling Dervishes I guess. :wink:

The Huxley book is a fun read, it's about a group of Carmelie nuns who claim to be possessed by the local priest, and end up as an S&M street show (and the local priest ends up quite a lot worse off than them) - all based on historical records. There's a film based on it called "The Devils" by Ken Russell, which isn't as good.

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh my God! I have just read through about half of that description of lifestyle social anarchism. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Actually, I can't read any more.

I was refering not to the Sufi's, who tended to talk mystical rubbish, but more to groups like the Kharijites.

Wiki says

Kharijite theology was a form of radical fundamentalism, preaching uncompromising observance of the teachings of the Qur'an in defiance of corrupt authorities. They preached absolute equality of the faithful, in opposition to the aristocracy of the Quraysh which had grown more pronounced under the Umayyads. They spread by violent jihad (the sixth pillar of Islam to some) their radical anti-authoritarian ideals: only the most pious should be caliph, they believed, even if he were an Abyssinian slave (the lowest social class of the era). For some, a caliph was not even necessary; they insisted only that if one were chosen, he should be elected by the entire community of believers.

When you consider that this was a group in the 7th century in a period where virtually all politics were expressed through religion, they were saying some pretty radical things.

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Cool, if you've got any book recommendations, I can think of a certain library frequented by a large number of Muslims they could be stocked in...

As to social anarchism or lifestyle anarchism you've clearly led a very protected existence, sorry it had to be me to break it to you :mrt:

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Catch,

I am 37 years old, and heve lived, and worked in seven different contries. I always thought that 'life style' anarchists were people who didn't recognise that class was central, and just put it up there as one issue alongside aninal rights, the enviornment, etc..., but still recognised it. It was quite a shock to read that. :shock:

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm sure some of them are the relatively harmless types you mention, but Bookchin spent about 30 years arguing against the people he describes in SA/LA before finally rejecting anarchism about 10 years ago.

For my next trick, I suggest this:

http://www.hermetic.com/bey/taz_cont.html

Particularly "Wild Children" and "Pirate Utopias".

and this:

http://libcom.org/library/leaving-out-ugly-part-hakim-bey

I'd suggest a strong drink beforehand, or possibly not depending on your temperament.

Steven.

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

Catch,

I am 37 years old, and heve lived, and worked in seven different contries. I always thought that 'life style' anarchists were people who didn't recognise that class was central, and just put it up there as one issue alongside aninal rights, the enviornment, etc..., but still recognised it. It was quite a shock to read that. :shock:

Ha thought it was funny you saying about how there are a lot of lifestlyist elements on these boards. You should've seen them a year ago, ha ha!

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I had a brief look. I don’t think that I am going to bother reading it, Catch. I don’t actually know much about Bookchin. Is he worth reading? Why did he bother arguing with these people? I think that one of the things that all of these people who talk about getting out of the ‘anarchist ghetto’ do is orientate themselves completely towards it. I don’t really think that these loonies are worth writing about. Certainly, I will look at the ‘lifestyle anarchists’ on the Mayday march here with a little more interest. There are about twenty of them, but I think that the fact that you see them with a circled A banner at demonstrations suggests they are of the type I described. I may even talk to them.

The second thing I would like to know is what is the thing with the big (British?) anarchist obsession with pedophilia? Obviously I don’t support pedophiliac propaganda. (I don’t think that it should even be necessary for me to say that. They fact that I do shows that there is an obsession). And I would be quite annoyed if I called myself an anarchist, and somebody started to defend this in the name of ‘Anarchism’, but no more annoyed than I would be by the other shite that they are spouting. Actually, I am annoyed about it anyway. (It’s a good job that I didn’t have that drink, Catch, possibly as it’s 8.50 a.m. and I have to go to work soon). But why the obsession with pedophilia? The only thing that I can think of is that it comes from Class War, and their following of the gutter press media campaign. Let’s be honest, I am sure that there must be relatively few pedophiles compared to muggers. They both commit violence against other individuals. Why all this focus on pedophiles? Is it trying to copy the Sun, and be more working class then thou? I think ultimately it is scaremongering.

I read an interesting story in a Turkish newspaper about it, but I don’t know if it was true. Back when the Sun was having its ‘name, and shame’ campaign an angry mob burnt down the house of a pedophile in Southampton. Unfortunately, the guy turned out not to have been a pedophile at all, but a pediatrician. Easy mistake to make. Luckily the guy wasn’t in the house at the time.

Take care,

Dev

knightrose

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bookchin is a very eclectic writer. A product, I think, of an environment that favours starts and lacked a decent organised movement for a long time. However, although some of what he wrote is odd, I'd definitely recommend Post Scarcity Anarchism and the book about lifestylists (forgotten tis name).

As to paedophiles..... I suppose we reflect the society around us. Also back in the 70s, paedophiles claimed they were jsut another sexual liberation movement and worthy of the same support as womens and gay liberation. A lot of anarchists swallowed it, (horrible images come to my mind when I write that) maybe our attitude today is something of a reaction against that?

Serge Forward

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

knightrose

Bookchin is a very eclectic writer. A product, I think, of an environment that favours starts and lacked a decent organised movement for a long time. However, although some of what he wrote is odd, I'd definitely recommend Post Scarcity Anarchism and the book about lifestylists (forgotten tis name).

Post Scarcity Anarchism was one of the first anarchist books I ever read. I still think it's good.

PaulMarsh

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I never bothered reading Bookchin again after Bob Black put him to the sword, giving him six of the best trousers down.

PaulMarsh

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack I suggest you read it again, wearing a new pair of glasses:

Steven.

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

But why the obsession with pedophilia? The only thing that I can think of is that it comes from Class War, and their following of the gutter press media campaign. Let’s be honest, I am sure that there must be relatively few pedophiles compared to muggers. They both commit violence against other individuals. Why all this focus on pedophiles? Is it trying to copy the Sun, and be more working class then thou? I think ultimately it is scaremongering.

Some anarchists defend mugging... I can think of one group which has produced stickers encouraging people to mug people in suits with briefcases but some prominent anarchists today still support paedophilia (like Bey) and like knightrose in the 70s lots more did. At work (library) we have a a load of pro-paedo propaganda which I had to copy - and it made me fucking sick to my stomach (even more than already) to see "anarchist" (not class struggle mind) material there - from groups still around today that I won't mention.

In the UK today there are quite a lot of paedos. From NCIS:

The numbers of paedophiles

9.1 While the number of registered sex offenders in the UK is known to be over 18,000, it is not possible to say with any certainty how many active paedophiles there are in the UK. Between 1980 and 2001, almost 70,000 crimes were reported involving gross indecency with a child and unlawful sexual intercourse with a female child. But this figure excludes other reported offences against children, and moreover there is a concern that many sexual offences against children go unreported. Independent witnesses are rare, and there are numerous reasons why victims may be reluctant to come forward at the time that the abuse is taking place, including intimidation and misplaced feelings of guilt or embarrassment. The fact that victims often report abuse historically, once they have reached adulthood, means that some paedophiles may be active over a long period before coming to the attention of the authorities.

With muggers I read somewhere there might not be that many, just a small number who just mug all the time. I read an estimate for 200 in London I think, but can't remember where...

I think paedophilia is a good example of the disgustingly ridiculous positions lifestlyist anarchists extend to, worth mentioning due to the fact that it is about the most disgusting crime imaginable.

Jack, I think Paul was joking...

PaulMarsh

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

No I was not joking re Bob Black v Bookchin, heresy that it is to praise Bob Black on these boards (horror of horrors, an anarchist who can actually write in an open populist style)

Chapter 5, in my opinion reddens Bookchin's arse.

PaulMarsh

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One version of the "snitch" debate here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Black#Controversy

A taster from the other side of the fence here:

http://www.spunk.org/texts/reviews/sp001727.html

OliverTwister

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

wikipedia

One altercation between Black and writer and alleged drug addict Jim Hogshire (author of the Loompanics book Opium For the Masses and the Feral House books Pills A Go-Go) resulted in Hogshire's arrest for possession of poppy pods with intent to manufacture opium. Black subsequently acknowledged that he had informed on Hogshire to the police, a claim that led to his alienation from some anarchist circles.

It is alleged that during the course of a dispute over religion (Hogshire proclaiming militant Islam), Mr. Hogshire aimed an M1 rifle at Mr. Black while blocking his exit. According to Black, Hogshire became incensed after Black "expound[ed] hermeneutics to Hogshire"[1]. Using Hogshire's wife as a human shield, Black maneuvered himself out of the house and escaped. Despite later accounts to the contrary, it was in fact Hogshire who first reported the incident to the police[2]. A month later, Black wrote a letter to the Seattle police claiming Hogshire was operating an illegal drug lab.[3] After news of this event became known, several bookstores, including Philadelphia's Wooden Shoe and Boston's Lucy Parsons Center stopped carrying Bob Black's books. Mike Hoy, owner and operater of Loompanics, sided with Hogshire and circulated a letter of support signed by himself and the ownership of Feral House. A legal defense fund was established and requests for donations were publicized by Loompanics.

Hogshire was indicted on the felony charge. Following his initial arrest bail was posted and Hogshire was released, after which he fled and was declared a fugitive. After a few months, his new lawyer negotiated his surrender and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor. The sentence was a fine, probation and community service. Hogshire and his wife later divorced and Hogshire (rumored to be addicted to heroin now) has not been heard from publicly since.

On another occasion, a member of the Church of the SubGenius, John Hagen-Brenner sent Black an "improvised explosive device consisting of an audio cassette holder wired with four cadium-type batteries, four flashbulbs, and five firecrackers" [4], as described in the charging document filed in Federal District Court. According to Black, he thought the package looked suspicious, then on impulse "threw it against the wall. There was a flash (the flashcubes) and a puff of smoke but the firecrackers did not go off." [5] Black turned the device in to the police. Black believes this is because of criticism Black made of the Church, and he has repeatedly brought up the incident in his writings concerning the Church. Ivan Stang and other members of the Church have denied any involvement in this incident, and no one else was charged.

On a previous occasion a member of Processed World allegedly assaulted him by slamming his head against a sidewalk because he did not like Black's criticism of the publication. Police records show it was Black who was arrested for assault - a fact which Black puts down to the individual in question calling the police after the incident. He subsequently sued the same individual for libel, in a case which he eventually dropped but which cost the defendant financially. Such incidents are sometimes represented by Black's opponents as a propensity to seek revenge by using the police and the courts, though this is contested by his supporters.

Chaz Bufe

Two years ago, Robert C. Black, Jr., attorney at law (also known as Bob Black and "The Last International") began to attack Processed World in various publications, among them Bluff, the SRAF Bulletin, and San Francisco's Appeal to Reason. Shortly after these printed attacks began, flyers were posted in the San Francisco financial district revealing the names of writers using pseudonyms in Processed World; this appears to have been an attempt to cause them to lose employment. (Most of the people who work on the magazine are office workers.) Flyers were also posted in staffers' neighborhoods vilifying them and listing their home addresses and telephone numbers. When staff members removed these violations of their privacy, there were immediate cries of "censorship" from Black's cronies. (There was, of course, no indication on the leaflets as to who produced or posted them.)

In 1984 the attacks were stepped up. Processed World's office lock was epoxied and in September a worker on the magazine received a middle-of-the-night death threat against her and her baby. In October, Robert C. Black, Jr., attorney at law, filed a complaint with the San Francisco Planning Commission over alleged zoning violations in Processed World's office. The following month, PW was forced to move after the Planning Commission discovered that the roof in its office was only seven feet high rather than the required eight. PW then moved to its present location in a warehouse shared with several other people. That same month an ax was placed through the magazine's office door in the middle of the night.

In 1985 things really got nasty. During the spring someone began slashing copies of the magazine with razor blades in bookstores in San Francisco and the East Bay. In April, flyers (again bearing no indication of their origin) urging that PW's new office be "torched," and which listed the new address, were posted in the financial district. In the same month Robert C. Black produced a xeroxed tract noteworthy primarily for his vicious personal attacks and disgusting vulgarity (calling one person whom he doesn't even know a "butt fuckee," for example). The next step was physical assault. On April 19, Black was arrested for physically assaulting a Processed World staff member hawking copies of the magazine on the sidewalks of the financial district. His arrest came about in a curious way. After the incident occurred, Black went running to the cops in an attempt to get the PW staffer arrested for assault. But fortunately, several passersby had witnessed the incident and identified Black as the assailant. So Black was arrested, hauled off and booked. In May he failed to show up for his arraignment on the battery charge and a warrant was issued for his arrest.Finally, in June, one of the residents of the warehouse in which Processed World has its office was returning home from a show at 3:00 a.m., and when he got home he found a person pouring gasoline all over the front of the building.

Mike Harman

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

I don’t actually know much about Bookchin. Is he worth reading?

You won't like him on democracy, but as mentioned earlier Post Scarcity Anarchism is very good, if not representative of what he's like now.

Why did he bother arguing with these people?

He was one of the first people discussing ecology in the '50s and '60s, then he saw the American Green part develop from an organisation he set up, liberal environmentalists, primmos and deep ecologists using some of this earlier work on organic communities to back up their misanthropic shit, and some of the people he worked with turned out to be mystics/individualists. I think he felt a responsibility to distance himself from that when his name was being used.

The second thing I would like to know is what is the thing with the big (British?) anarchist obsession with pedophilia?

I think it's something that's developed on this forum rather than a general thing. It does piss me off a lot that someone relatively well known such as Bey appears to have gone relatively unchallenged for some time on stating that the Republic of Fiume (run by one of Mussolini's mates) was the "first anarchist state", along with tacking paedophilia onto anarchism. He's published by Autonomedia - may have run it at some point, the TAZ stuff, from what I remember, had a degree of popularity with the RTS/squat party scene during the '90s - certainly it was tied in with those sorts of actions, and his stuff is sold in a lot of radical bookshops. I think the paedophilia stuff gets mentioned so much because it's the absolute worst example of where lifestylism/individualism/mysticism leads to - supporting stuff like that. As with so much on this forum the original reason why it's brought up disappears over time and it looks very odd from outside.

I read an interesting story in a Turkish newspaper about it, but I don’t know if it was true. Back when the Sun was having its ‘name, and shame’ campaign an angry mob burnt down the house of a pedophile in Southampton. Unfortunately, the guy turned out not to have been a pedophile at all, but a pediatrician. Easy mistake to make. Luckily the guy wasn’t in the house at the time.

Dev

Recently I heard some stuff that strongly contradicted this - apparently some kid spraypainted paedophile on a paediatrician's house - presumably as a joke. This was reported as a mob going round the house and burning it down, or there may have been two seperate incidents. Either way, although I can't remember where I saw it, the idea was put forward that this marked the beginning of the British media's attack on the white working class that's developed into the 'chav' phenomenon and other culturally based forms of recent class snobbery - "look at these stupid uneducated people who don't know what a paediatrician is" etc. - the hysteria around paedophiles becomes a mechanism for ridicule of those who often end up with people just out of prison being rehoused down the road from them.

PaulMarsh

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[quote="PaulMarsh"]Catch

I read an interesting story in a Turkish newspaper about it, but I don’t know if it was true. Back when the Sun was having its ‘name, and shame’ campaign an angry mob burnt down the house of a pedophile in Southampton. Unfortunately, the guy turned out not to have been a pedophile at all, but a pediatrician. Easy mistake to make. Luckily the guy wasn’t in the house at the time.

Dev

Recently I heard some stuff that strongly contradicted this - apparently some kid spraypainted paedophile on a paediatrician's house - presumably as a joke. This was reported as a mob going round the house and burning it down, or there may have been two seperate incidents. Either way, although I can't remember where I saw it, the idea was put forward that this marked the beginning of the British media's attack on the white working class that's developed into the 'chav' phenomenon and other culturally based forms of recent class snobbery - "look at these stupid uneducated people who don't know what a paediatrician is" etc. - the hysteria around paedophiles becomes a mechanism for ridicule of those who often end up with people just out of prison being rehoused down the road from them.

Agree with Catch's analysis.

There is no evidence of a house burning incident, but the attack on a paedetrician's office DID happen:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/901723.stm

Personally I see no point in going down the chav discussion route here - I just see this as on a par with the people in Hartlepool who hung a monkey thinking it was a French spy...

Or it was all a big joke....

Devrim

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think that possibly you are right, Catch. I have seen this term ‘chav’ in the English media, and while I am not 100% sure what it actually means, I do get the feeling that it is part of some form of snobbery in the media. I originally brought up the incident as an example of media scaremongering. I think that both of them are dangerous.

There are lots of scare campaigns in the media. Even if John’s remarks on the prevalence of pedophiles are true, your kids are in much more danger of being knocked down, and killed by a car. Yet nobody is talking about banning them. The last time I was in London (About two years ago I visited a friend who was working there for six months) I remember feeling afraid walking on the streets at night. I mentioned this to my friend, who replied that the worse thing about street crime is the fear that it creates. I think the media does create this attitude. Recently, an Irish friend of ours was staying with us, and he was shocked about the way that people in this country behave with children. For example it is quite normal for someone on an over crowded bus to ask a standing child to either squeeze in besides them on their chair or to sit on their knee. Even children who they don’t know. He said that you would get arrested for that in Ireland. Do we have less pedophiles here, or is there just less of a scare about it?

Dev

CWF

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

Recently, an Irish friend of ours was staying with us, and he was shocked about the way that people in this country behave with children. For example it is quite normal for someone on an over crowded bus to ask a standing child to either squeeze in besides them on their chair or to sit on their knee. Even children who they don’t know. He said that you would get arrested for that in Ireland.

Dev

Unless you were a priest of course!

Glory hunter

16 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I can remember the AWG well, they were a right laugh ! When they were around though, it was different times, it was pre message boards and internet, with more publications, more public meetings ect. I would imagine, that if they were still around they would be enthusiastic message board posters. They were all really young, nearly all of them were under twenty five, had been to university, come from relatively privileged backgrounds and so on, not that any of that mattered. They were though, very keen on going to other groups meetings, and lecturing them on the shortcomings of their politics. Everyone at that time was plagued by them, SWP, ACF, class war, they could be a right pain in the arse.

It went something like this, if you can picture the scene, early nineties, class war international conference Shoreditch town hall, monday morning, first day of a week long event. A class war member opens the meeting with a brief introductory speech from the chair, there is maybe three hundred or so people in the hall. It's then opened to the floor, with an invitation for anybody who wishes, to speak. A hand goes up, "My name is so and so, and im from the Anarchist Workers Group" who speaks and speaks and speaks, until the chair intervenes and says "Do you think you could wind it up now mate, and let someone else speak" Another invitation to the floor, another hand goes up, "My name is so and so, and im from the Anarchist Workers Group" speak, speak, speak, speak, another intervention from the chair "Please wind it up" And so on, and so forth, all week long, every meeting, in fact, every meeting that class war had at that time, every meeting everybody had at that time. And my memory of it is, that when they engaged with class war, they got slaughtered, time after time.

They had some strange ideas for would be anarchists, very heavily into theory, which is fair enough as far as it goes. More problematic though, was their idea that some kind of cadre based organisation should lead the way. The funny thing is though, that the group that lectured all and sundry on the error of their ways, and supposedly had it all sorted in terms of theory and ideas, in no time at all, disappeared up it's own arse. A couple of them go into Workers Power, but even worse, a couple of them ended up in the enfeebled and decrepit remnant of the RCP.

I had a bit of a soft spot for them, they were after all some enjoyable arguments. But as I said before, and nobody took me up on this ? they remind me a lot of some libcom posters, particularly that Colchester Anarchist Group lot ! Make no mistake, if the AWG was still around that's what some of you would be involved in, you would have got on like a house on fire, just a feeling ! :) :r:

Spleen Cringe

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry to re-open a thread that was last added to over five years ago, but I'd like to add a little of my perspective, if I may, as someone who was involved from the early days of the AWG but left before the mass defection to the Revolutionary Communist Party (if a handful of people can be classed as a mass defection). I came upon this thread during a bored moment at work, so apologies if the response is a little more rambling than it should be. My view is that the demise of the group was as much about small group dynamics as it was about politics, though it would be daft to claim that the political trajectory the group embarked on wasn't an issue.

The AWG had a distinct leadership in a handful of theoreticians who were probably smarter and/or more dedicated than the rest of us and generated the bulk of the group's output. They imposed a certain pressure on the group and on themselves to come up with a complete set of theoretical positions on everything in an insanely short space of time. Some of us struggled to keep up and tended to let things go that we should have probably opposed more vehemently. The pressure to develop positions quickly was probably one of the factors in some of those positions ending up a little too close to refried Trotskyism for comfort... along with the pathologically oppositional streak within the group that wanted to distinguish itself from the rest of the anarchist movement.

I don't by any means think all the members of the informal core group particularly coveted a leadership role, although the adoption of the cadre bullshit did tend to formalise that situation: rather, leadership was kind of thrust upon them as the key architects of most of the group's policies and strategy - and this was compounded by a certain amount of hero worship from some group members, especially as some of the leaders were quite charismatic individuals. Within the leadership group were some who did appear to fetishise Leninism to a degree (or were at least overly fascinated by it and by its percieved contrasts to anarchism's percieved failings) and others who appeared to fetishise their own intellectual prowess (and others who just wanted to wind up other anarchists). All of this lent itself to a certain air of smugness that probably did as much as the actual politics to alienate the AWG from the rest of the movement. This was exacebated by a degree of groupthink where a sizable proportion of the membership took on these characteristics to a greater or lesser extent.

In common with the much of the rest of the anarchist movement, the AWG couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery, though it very much wanted to project a self-created image of itself as a brutally efficient, highly organised political machine. In some ways, the fetishing of theoretical and tactical unity was a substitute for organisation - if everyone could argue a recognisable line, we could hide the fact that some of us had a pretty rudimentary grasp of it. The derision about 'organisational solutions to political problems' was symptomatic of this failure. Attempts had been made to do internal education, but again, this was an organisation aiming for too much too quickly and didn't stand a cat in hell's chance of keeping up with itself. It didn't help that some of us were already a bit burned out by the (dis)organsational side of anarchism by the time the AWG was founded, whilst others weren't confident enough or inclined to take on organisational roles. It also occurs to me that the key leadership would have been better off setting themselves up as some kind of anarchist thinktank rather than as a political organisation. That was certainly where their strengths lay.

Amongst some of the membership, the orientation towards the RCP was there quite a long time before the group dissolved. Whilst this orientation wasn't shared by all of us and indeed some of us were quite hostile to it, it came as no surprise when the SFB rump jumped ship. It was always on the cards. Interestingly, as I recall the first defection was to the SWP and came from an AWG member who had come to the group from CWF. I suspect the AWG was just a rest stop on a longer journey.

I think that ultimately the AWG threw the baby out with the bathwater. It was so focused on setting itself up in contrast to the rest of the anarchists that by increment it stopped being an anarchist group either organisationally or politically. It probably should have listened a lot more carefully to warnings from the WSM and and some of the older ACF members who'd been there and done that in the 70s. But as a group it was young and arrogant and fiesty and was never going to take any notice of anyone else - plus I think some of the members enjoyed flirting with Leninism. That's one of the reasons I jumped ship... and the fact it was a bloody exhausting organisation to be part of.

I still see some of the ex-members socially from time to time, although we don't necessarily see eye to eye politically, so this is not an attempt to dish the dirt, just one person's possibly flawed perspective. One thing I will say, though, is that we were the best dressed anarchists around. And we had the best record collections... and were we never less than sincere, even when we were wrong.

syndicalist

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not to reply 5 years later....but I was just the other day reading the AWG review of the Direct Action Movement's pamphlet "Winning the Class War" (in "Socialism from Below" magazine).
I suppose this is one of the benefits of cleaning out our old office...organizational fioles that haven't been read for decades are being re-read.

The magazine was well laid out and quality published. But it was a pretty sucky review .... as was the politics of the group in relations to anarcho-syndicalism. Sorry, just being candid.

nastyned

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Interesting post Spleen.

Martin O Neill

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think I am going to enjoy reading this thread about the good old days over Christmas. How long before L&S go the same way as the AWG?

Serge Forward

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spleen Cringe

One thing I will say, though, is that we were the best dressed anarchists around.

I seem to remember a few of you were well into yer flat-tops. I often wondered what happened to you lot, as those who didn't join the RCP seemed to disappear out of politics.

sawa

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Interesting, what did AWG actually, do what activity were they involved in, what influence on mass movements? Presuming they did more than intellectualise and argue with the left of course. :P

Martin O Neill

I think I am going to enjoy reading this thread about the good old days over Christmas. How long before L&S go the same way as the AWG?

How long before Solfed go the same way as AWG?
Sectarianism = boring.

martinh

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well they did a lot of intellectualising and arguing (and agreeing) with the left. IIRC they had a small presence in the CPSA and got workers in one DSS in South London to take action against the poll tax. It was token, but it was still an achievement. They were present in the anti poll tax struggle, though I recall them derailing an anti-poll tax conference by attacking the Labour Party as racist. I've no problem with their line of argument per se, but the timing was awful. Mind you this was in the context of Militant (now SP) shutting out all political organisations not affiliated to the Labour Party, aimed at the SWP, it had the effect of guaranteeing large paper votes for all the dead LP branches that they controlled, as well as all the LPYS etc. We (DAM) argued that there should be no political affiliation, only anti-poll tax groups and union branches should be involved. Needless to say the Militant won that vote, ironically that policy would ban their current incarnation from affiliating to any anti-poll tax group.

They did a fair bit around the first Iraq war, which is where they ended up having lots of rows with anarchists as they were effectively arguing support for Saddam with their anti-imperialist line. There is an archive of their material on the struggle.ws site I think so you can find more there if you're really interested.

They were always pally with the left socially and I think this led them to mistake an orientation to the left with one to the working class. Of the main leaders in London, one ended up in Workers Power, the other, who had studied under RCP guru Frank Furedi, in the RCP.

I only ever see one of them anymore, he never joined the RCP or anything and I think would still consider himself an anarchist.

BTW I don't think its sectarian to draw parallels between groups that have a similar point of departure. L&S is a split from the AF rather than DAM/SF, but draws on similar political traditions to the AWG and is also characterised by charismatic leaders and rejection of much of anarchism.

Regards,

Martin

Steven.

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spleen, thanks for that post, that was interesting!

sawa

Martin O Neill

I think I am going to enjoy reading this thread about the good old days over Christmas. How long before L&S go the same way as the AWG?

How long before Solfed go the same way as AWG?
Sectarianism = boring.

sawa, that comment doesn't make any sense.

There are clear parallels between L&S and many aspects of the AWG, which aren't there with Solfed - AWG split from DAM, which was Solfed's earlier incarnation. Leading members of it being close to (or even members of) statist left groups for example.

One thing which strikes me is Paul Marsh above saying that we in libcom are like people in the AWG. From spleen's description, some of that does certainly ring bells (especially with regard to being the best dressed), and interestingly she/he suggests that AWG would have been better off being a think tank rather than an organisation, and I think pretty much that's comparable to what we in libcom did, rather than try to start our own organisation. Which I think would have been a big mistake.

Red Marriott

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

martinh

They did a fair bit around the first Iraq war, which is where they ended up having lots of rows with anarchists as they were effectively arguing support for Saddam with their anti-imperialist line.

Chants on anti-war demos of the time;

"AWG, you are barmy, you should join the Iraqi army!"

Harrison

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

One thing which strikes me is Paul Marsh above saying that we in libcom are like people in the AWG. From spleen's description, some of that does certainly ring bells (especially with regard to being the best dressed), and interestingly she/he suggests that AWG would have been better off being a think tank rather than an organisation, and I think pretty much that's comparable to what we in libcom did, rather than try to start our own organisation. Which I think would have been a big mistake.

libcom is like a think tank (ie. the admins) with a surrounding affinity group (in the non-wanky sense) which are the forum/blog/library posters. As well as drawing new people into anarchism, I suppose it promotes a certain current within anarchism and within the national feds...

It's a bit like Fontenis' OPB (translation of which is something like 'mind battle organisation') in the French FA, except without the shitty bakuninist / trot authoritarian methods

Devrim

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Does anybody who knows the old AWG people have a contact email address for either of the twins from South London who were in it. I was very close to one of them a long time ago, and would love to hear from her and find out how her life has gone.

Devrim

nastyned

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Harrison

It's a bit like Fontenis' OPB (translation of which is something like 'mind battle organisation') in the French FA, except without the shitty bakuninist / trot authoritarian methods

LOL!

Serge Forward

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I remember the twins. They were alright, so unlike the AWG 'leading lights'.

freemind

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I found the AWG to be quasi Leftist and condescending towards Anarchism and some to be very arrogant in the extreme.I respected their knowledge on many issues but I suspect their faith in Anarchism to be limited at best eg;whilst they were in the DAM they produced a document on Women's Oppression which had no Anarchist sources!When challenged they said there were none to quote from!When challenged on their non appearance at Anti-Fascist events D----p stated that there was no point unless a decisive final battle was going to be fought(very SWP).
They were thought very highly of by the RCP which is pretty damning in itself and smacked of middle classism in my opinion.

vanilla.ice.baby

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I remember ages ago on Libcom, a couple of the Southampton based former members of AWG rocked up with what they claimed was the first issue of a new revolutionary newspaper (more like a long blog post) before rapidly vanishing again.

Steven.

10 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

nastyned

Harrison

It's a bit like Fontenis' OPB (translation of which is something like 'mind battle organisation') in the French FA, except without the shitty bakuninist / trot authoritarian methods

LOL!

or we are just better at hiding it :bb:

Battlescarred

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

SpleenCringe: "One thing I will say, though, is that we were the best dressed anarchists around. And we had the best record collections... "
Wrong, I was, and ditto with the record collection.

Devrim

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

SpleenCringe: "One thing I will say, though, is that we were the best dressed anarchists around. And we had the best record collections... "
Wrong, I was, and ditto with the record collection.

I never saw your record collection, but as I remember you were certainly better dressed than them.

Devrim

Steven.

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

Battlescarred

SpleenCringe: "One thing I will say, though, is that we were the best dressed anarchists around. And we had the best record collections... "
Wrong, I was, and ditto with the record collection.

I never saw your record collection, but as I remember you were certainly better dressed than them.

Ha!

Fozzie

9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Splits and Fusions has a new post on the AWG along with scans of all 4 issues of their magazine:
https://splitsandfusions.wordpress.com/2021/11/07/the-anarchist-workers-group/