WSM and Organise! The Difference?

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
James Connolly
Offline
Joined: 15-06-05
Jun 16 2005 19:15
WSM and Organise! The Difference?

Why doesn't the the two groups merge? both share common aims and principles and will only help to build a more vibrant, strong efficient class struggle anarchist movement on the island.

sam05
Offline
Joined: 11-01-05
Jun 16 2005 20:45

The brits should have done a better job with you in 1916

Not very funny. confused

What do the two groups disagree about concering the north?

circle A red n black star

AndrewF's picture
AndrewF
Offline
Joined: 28-02-05
Jun 17 2005 14:58
James Connolly wrote:
Why doesn't the the two groups merge? both share common aims and principles and will only help to build a more vibrant, strong efficient class struggle anarchist movement on the island.

It's a good question that deserves a serious rather than flippant answer.

The first thing to say that there have been many dicussions between the WSM and the various manifestations of Organise since 1991 which have included weekend gatherings and joint speaking tours. At one stage one person was even a member of both organisations for a period.

Some of these discussions have touched on the issue of merging including a proposal from one Organise (then SSN) member a couple of years back to set up a new organisation bringing both and the AF together. This might even have happened as we dropped under the process under the illusion that people had lost interest but in fact this wasn't the case! (The AF and SSN merged).

This shows the importance of good communication.

There are political disagreements but opinion of how important these are in themselves would differ quite widely within the WSM. I'm inclined to see them as mostly based around terminology and an inclination to seek out what divides rather than what unites. Other WSM members would see them as realer than this (as obviously do at least one ex member of Organise).

So I think they would have soon been overcome within a single organisation - they almost all related to the debate about Ireland, partition and imperialism although there are also differences in terms of what aspects of anarchist history each organistion identifies with.

Revol68 claims some sort of difference in relation to ideological organisation but I don't see a baisis for this claim. As far as I can see the methods of both organisations at least in theory are quite similar revolving around the production of propaganda and intervention in struggles. Again one could certainly seek out differences here - I'm just fairly convinced they would be overcome in a single organisation.

The biggest current difference seems to be over whether anarchists should bother with the wider libertarian movement or simply concentrate on 'the class'. The WSM has put a lot of effort into building 'the movement' through stuff like the Grassroots Gathering, DGN and now Dissent. Organise! appear to have rejected and even become quite hostile to that strategy - but that could just be individual members (and in at least one case this is not true). I guess someone from Organise might clairfy this.

I think with good faith and commitment all these differences could probably be overcome - its worth understanding that within the WSM at least there are also differences and ongoing discussion on all these questions. It would be hard to imagine a healthy organisation where this was not the case.

However I think in terms of the members of the organisations the will for such discussions is no longer there. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which are obvious to anyone reading these boards, but going into them wouldn't improve the situation.

In terms of 'neutrals' who think the organisations should fuse I'd suggest you join one and preferably both organisations and make this argument inside them. If half a dozen people were to do this I think a merger would be quite likely as both organisations would have to treat the question seriously but even just one or two would improve communications a lot.

Needless all this is in a very personal capacity - I'm sure other WSM members would disagree.

Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Jun 18 2005 23:10

Thanks for that assessment Joe. As I undersood it the response from the WSM to the 'merger' proposal I put out, actually having left the SSN, was non-commital. I do understand that some members may have been keener than others but as far as I can remember there wasn't a positive response at that time from the WSM as an organisation. Others who had responded positively pursued it.

However I do believe that there are real differences particularly in relation to the north. The person who was a member of both organisations (Joes referring to the Syndicalist Solidarity Network which went on to make up part of the current Organise! group) for a while was quite clear that differences with the SSN position on the north was a major factor in his leaving the SSN while staying with the WSM who he more closely agreed with. Are these differences insurmountable? I'm really not sure. Sometimes I get the impression that a lot of the problems are around language. On some issues I sometimes feel we aren't even speaking the same language. In relation to the day to day work of Organise! and the WSM there is a lot in common. In terms of short term strategy in the unions we're also pretty close, although Organise! are opposed to supporting people in election for full time posts which is something the WSM have done (just the once though).

Organise! don't call themselves platformists but I guess this relates to Joes point about 'aspects of anarchist history' we identify with. I don't actually think this is just a question of history. Organise! for instance would support the IWA/AIT opposition to involvement in works councils. Some of us are probably what Joe called 'IWA loyalists' in a previous post - others aren't. Though importantly we don't see Organise! as an embryonic anarcho-syndicalist union we are an ideological organisation or propaganda group. It is a tradition we identify with among other examples of working class self organisation.

As for the 'movement' or 'class' issue I do think that Organise! (or members of it) have become more critical of some of the emphasis on the wider libertarian 'movement' and sees itself more as a part of and oriented towards the 'labour movement'. Or perhaps more accurately we have problems with some of the elements included in this 'movement'. (then again we've major problems with lots of whats included in the current labour movement) We tend to reject boycott politics except where workers in struggle have called for a boycott in solidarity with their struggle.

For instance we were appalled by calls to 'Close the Gap' which literally meant closing the Gap retail outlets in the 'first' world due to sweat shop conditions in the production of the clothes sold. None of the workers organisations in these sweat shops actually wanted the retail outlets shut down they wanted the right to organise and improved terms and conditions. It would perhaps have been much more constructive had workers been asked about union recognition and terms and conditions in Gap retail outlets rather than demanding they were put out of a job. The main culprits in this were actually the SWP however many poeple who would be regarded as or would regard themselves as 'libertarian' supported this line of 'reasoning'. Also, many of these libertarians will hit the streets for a crical mass bike ride or a reclaim the streets party or to 'make poverty history' - while, for example, we found it almost impossible to convince many 'libertarians' to call by a firefighters picket line and support workers in struggle. A lot of 'libertarians' actually have quite dismissive attitudes to working class struggles.

There has not been a rejection of work within things like the Grassroots Gathering, personally speaking I'd be opposed to such a decision. We aren't actively involved in Dissent and that was a deliberate decision and with only one member on the outskirts of Dublin we're not really in a position to get involved with the DGN. In Belfast we agreed with many in the wider 'libertarian movement' who didn't see the development of a Belfast Grassroots Network out of the GG as a necessary next step.

Related to this and on what Revol68 has referred to before as an 'activisty' emphasis we are to debate this in the near future. He seems to have some valid criticisms but I do believe that a lot of it is intellectual dressing for doing next to nothing.

I think Joe is right when he says the will to pursue a merger isn't there. However our organisations, and other folks, will be working together in relation to the education industry and will hopefully be working more closely in other areas where we share a common approach. There may be a possibility that this work will bring us closer together or we may find that certain differences work against the possibility of a merger.

Merger or not I believe we can still work together to "build a more vibrant, strong efficient class struggle anarchist movement on the island".

Again this is a personal assessment and other members of Organise! may well disagree with me.

circle A red n black star

AndrewF's picture
AndrewF
Offline
Joined: 28-02-05
Jun 20 2005 12:35
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
As I undersood it the response from the WSM to the 'merger' proposal I put out, actually having left the SSN, was non-commital.

H'mm yes that was the communication problem I referred to. We bascially took the decision at a national meeting to pursue the proposal but this was never communicated formally to SSN and instead we somehow got it into our heads that you'd lost interest. BTW I think this was all our fault not least because we ended up reaching that conclusion based on what someone thought someone else had said in the pub rather than through written communication. Of course different individuals had different opinions as to how succesful the proposal could be but as an organisation we made a decision which we then failed to implement which was very bad - the only excuse being that we were in a pretty disorganised period.

Boulcolonialboy wrote:
although Organise! are opposed to supporting people in election for full time posts which is something the WSM have done.

Organise! for instance would support the IWA/AIT opposition to involvement in works councils.

Are either of these even close to a 'make or break' issue though. The second in particular would be odd as it refers to debates going on within the anarchist movement in other countries - there is no equivalent of works councils here (and actually we don't have a position on them).

The point here is that any anarchist organisation of size is going to have to contain individuals with a variety of viewpoints on tactical questions. If what are either quite minor tactical questions or ones that are actually irrelevant in this country get turned into 'split' questions you'd end up with the same sort of fractured landscape that you see with trotskism.

An anarchist organistion needs to debate out and collectivly agree a set of tactics that it will implement but that shouldn't be confused with everyone in the organisations either agreeing or even being happy with what is agreed. On the union election question I would expect a healthy internal debate whenever it came up - and not always with the same outcome. Over time perhaps a 'correct' position would start to become obvious but short of that it would be madness if people were to leave because they lost the vote one way or the other at a particular meeting on that question. We have had and indeed have long running internal debates on tactical questions (and theoretical ones) and no individual member is going to be on the 'winning' side in all of these.

Boulcolonialboy wrote:
Some of us are probably what Joe called 'IWA loyalists'

No I wouldn't say this. Sure some of you think a lot more of the IWA than I do but it has never been the sort of blind, justify anything loyality that I associate with groups and individuals elsewhere in Europe. Its possible to have a reasonable conversation about IWA related stuff - with the loyalists its not - indeed doing so would be seen as a mark of disloyality I suspect.

But given the tiny size of the anarchist movement here and thus the very, very limited role we could play in any sort of international making that a make or break issue on its own would be daft. (maybe this is something you have already decided internally anyway?)

Boulcolonialboy wrote:
For instance we were appalled by calls to 'Close the Gap' which literally meant closing the Gap retail outlets in the 'first' world due to sweat shop conditions in the production of the clothes sold. None of the workers organisations in these sweat shops actually wanted the retail outlets shut down they wanted the right to organise and improved terms and conditions.

Err right but in Ireland this was an SWP led demand within Globalise Resistance and one that was in fact opposed by people like myself. Personally in fact this marked the point at which I took the decision to break from GR as did a number of others (although I don't claim the Gap debate was important to all of them and for me it was just one of a number of issues). Since then I'm not aware of the grassroots crowd supporting any boycott call that did not originate from the workers concerned (eg Coke boycott) and in the event of a proposal to do so and a subsequent debate I'd be very surprised if it went that way.

The one issue that this was sort of tested on was the bin tax debate in Galway where I expected a large majority of people to be a least ambivalent about our oppostion to this 'envionmental' tax. The Green Party supported it which is why we got one of their candiates in to debate it. But I was pleasantly surprised that in fact everyone was quite capable of understanding the class basis of the opposition campaign and I ended up feeling sorry for the GP guy as it looked like we had set up an ambush rather than a debate.

So not only is the Gap example irrelevant in relation to the grassroots in reality people have been quite capable of understanding and supporting a class analysis over one that claims to be an environmental one. Things may be different in Belfast (I've never managed to make a Belfast gathering and not that many Belfasters have been at the others) but this does seem to be true of Cork, Dublin and Galway. I'm less certain of Limerick but again thats just because I haven't made the Limerick gathering.

Boulcolonialboy wrote:
Also, many of these libertarians will hit the streets for a crical mass bike ride or a reclaim the streets party or to 'make poverty history' - while, for example, we found it almost impossible to convince many 'libertarians' to call by a firefighters picket line and support workers in struggle.

Your obviously talking of Belfast here but in Dublin the majority of a Reclaim the Streets event was quite prepared to move up to and join a bin tax demo that was happened to be on the same evening on the other side of the city centre. But although this showed solidarity and a certain willingness to get involved we failed to convince any significant number that they should get involved in their local campaigns. I'd be careful as to what conclusions to draw from that though as the potential reasons are numerous from us not making the case for doing so well enough to the fact that most of them are flat dwellers without any link to the area they happen to be living in. I know from talking to people that this means they can find the idea of getting involved in a local campaign as quite intimidating.

Boulcolonialboy wrote:
We aren't actively involved in Dissent and that was a deliberate decision

Our of interest was the basis of this a lack of resources or an objection to summit hoping in general.

Boulcolonialboy wrote:
In Belfast we agreed with many in the wider 'libertarian movement' who didn't see the development of a Belfast Grassroots Network out of the GG as a necessary next step.

Well the branding is not really the key issue so much as the idea of the creation of some sort of space that would bring libertarians together on some sort of basis. I reckon in Dublin Dissent is replacing the DGN in that role but I wouldn't care if the network was called Turnip providing it existed. In my experience if you don't have something like this you tend to get all the formal and informal groups developing quite weird theories about each other - theories that collapse once they are exposed to each other.

The pointing about working together regardless is true but I would add a couple of observations

1. It is a lot harder to organise something complex across organisations than it is within an organisation. The EWN is a case in point - something which seems quite simple but is taking an age to get off the ground.

2. They dynamic of a larger organisation split into a number of branches is a whole lot healthier than a small organisation of one branch and a couple of individuals elsewhere. In the last couple of years the WSM has moved from the second setup to the first and the political effect of being in an organisation that has 3 real branches is much more than the sum of the parts. If the merger had happened we would have achieved that 3 years earlier and would also have broken out of just being in Dublin and Cork - something we have yet to achieve. (Applications by PM smile )

As already said all very much in a personal capacity - I emailed the thread address around our internal mailing list though so we might get more comments from other WSM members.

Con Carroll
Offline
Joined: 18-11-04
Jun 20 2005 14:36

Wsm comes from a very middle class agenda where they recruit their members from universities and colleges not many of them would last politically in working class areas indded it would be of no great surprise if some were to emerge with the pds or fine gael.

AndrewF's picture
AndrewF
Offline
Joined: 28-02-05
Jun 20 2005 14:45

Posted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 1:47 pm

Con Carroll wrote:
I have noticed on this site personal slagging matches have taken over,

class politics have become a second thing. what? do people want, people who behave like morans or people with class political intelligence.

let the morans with their childish antics stay on and those of us with politicl class intelligence move on.

Posted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 2:36 pm

Con Carroll wrote:
Wsm comes from a very middle class agenda where they recruit their members from universities and colleges not many of them would last politically in working class areas indded it would be of no great surprise if some were to emerge with the pds or fine gael.
Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Jun 27 2005 14:06
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
although Organise! are opposed to supporting people in election for full time posts which is something the WSM have done.

Organise! for instance would support the IWA/AIT opposition to involvement in works councils.

Are either of these even close to a 'make or break' issue though. The second in particular would be odd as it refers to debates going on within the anarchist movement in other countries - there is no equivalent of works councils here (and actually we don't have a position on them).

The point here is that any anarchist organisation of size is going to have to contain individuals with a variety of viewpoints on tactical questions. If what are either quite minor tactical questions or ones that are actually irrelevant in this country get turned into 'split' questions you'd end up with the same sort of fractured landscape that you see with trotskism.

An anarchist organistion needs to debate out and collectivly agree a set of tactics that it will implement but that shouldn't be confused with everyone in the organisations either agreeing or even being happy with what is agreed. On the union election question I would expect a healthy internal debate whenever it came up - and not always with the same outcome. Over time perhaps a 'correct' position would start to become obvious but short of that it would be madness if people were to leave because they lost the vote one way or the other at a particular meeting on that question. We have had and indeed have long running internal debates on tactical questions (and theoretical ones) and no individual member is going to be on the 'winning' side in all of these.

A few points on this.

Both of these points aren't make or break - only one, the support for a candidate in election to a paid full time post in a trade union election is actually something we have always been consistently opposed to. Its informed by our view of the reformist (and in some cases calling them reformist is an undeserved compliment) trades union movement and the role we believe anarchists should play within those unions and in encouraging control by workers of their struggles. We are not of the 'outside and against the unions' school of thought. We do believe that the interests of rank and file union members are not advanced through the election of better left wing candidates but through the building of solidarity and the practise of direct action.

We are putting together a 'position' on workplace organisng and industrial strategy which we hope to have in print before October. But we do see this 'tactic' as being contrary to the methods of direct action and the aspiration and practice of direct control of struggles by the workers involved in them - so this is for us more than a mere tactical difference.

The works councils question would only impact on international relations and then hopefully only to a small degree. Locally the more important question would be our orientation to social partnership, as heavily formalised in the south and more aspirational and informal (although no less insidious) in the north and across the UK. I don't believe there is any difference of opinion between the WSM and Organise! on this.

Your point on debate and discussion on tactics is well made. Of course it would be madness if every time an individual or even group of members lost a vote on a decision they left the organisation. However we do believe that if significant enough differences emerged in any organisation, differences which often impact greatly on the ability of an organisation to function (and this could just as easily apply to a platformist organisation as any other) that a split might actually be the healthiest thing that could occur. The desire for unity of an organisation for the sake of unity is hardly a healthy impulse.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
Some of us are probably what Joe called 'IWA loyalists'

No I wouldn't say this. Sure some of you think a lot more of the IWA than I do but it has never been the sort of blind, justify anything loyality that I associate with groups and individuals elsewhere in Europe. Its possible to have a reasonable conversation about IWA related stuff - with the loyalists its not - indeed doing so would be seen as a mark of disloyality I suspect.

But given the tiny size of the anarchist movement here and thus the very, very limited role we could play in any sort of international making that a make or break issue on its own would be daft. (maybe this is something you have already decided internally anyway?)

Yeah, while I am probably among those most sympathetic to or pro-IWA in Organise! we have already decided that while we wish to maintain a friendly relationship with the IWA that the taking a position on the state of the IWA, or making any such decision make or break, would indeed be 'daft' in terms of building anarchism (for want of a better expression) in Ireland. International affiliations are something which we have decided not to concern ourselves with at present given our limited size and small resources. Its also something we believe should be set aside until an organisation is big enough to actually be able to fully contribute and particiapate in an international. There are other opinions on this but I think I've managed to cover the basic consensus of Organise!.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
For instance we were appalled by calls to 'Close the Gap' which literally meant closing the Gap retail outlets in the 'first' world due to sweat shop conditions in the production of the clothes sold. None of the workers organisations in these sweat shops actually wanted the retail outlets shut down they wanted the right to organise and improved terms and conditions.

Err right but in Ireland this was an SWP led demand within Globalise Resistance and one that was in fact opposed by people like myself. Personally in fact this marked the point at which I took the decision to break from GR as did a number of others (although I don't claim the Gap debate was important to all of them and for me it was just one of a number of issues). Since then I'm not aware of the grassroots crowd supporting any boycott call that did not originate from the workers concerned (eg Coke boycott) and in the event of a proposal to do so and a subsequent debate I'd be very surprised if it went that way.

The one issue that this was sort of tested on was the bin tax debate in Galway where I expected a large majority of people to be a least ambivalent about our oppostion to this 'envionmental' tax. The Green Party supported it which is why we got one of their candiates in to debate it. But I was pleasantly surprised that in fact everyone was quite capable of understanding the class basis of the opposition campaign and I ended up feeling sorry for the GP guy as it looked like we had set up an ambush rather than a debate.

So not only is the Gap example irrelevant in relation to the grassroots in reality people have been quite capable of understanding and supporting a class analysis over one that claims to be an environmental one. Things may be different in Belfast (I've never managed to make a Belfast gathering and not that many Belfasters have been at the others) but this does seem to be true of Cork, Dublin and Galway. I'm less certain of Limerick but again thats just because I haven't made the Limerick gathering.

Yeah, I think I acknowledged that this was a SWP led campaign or 'demand'. And yes as I recall members of the WSM did seem to have much the same reaction to this as SSN members at the time. Regrettably no-one from Organise! got down to the Grassroots in Galway but we heard the discussion/debate with the Green Party went well.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
Also, many of these libertarians will hit the streets for a crical mass bike ride or a reclaim the streets party or to 'make poverty history' - while, for example, we found it almost impossible to convince many 'libertarians' to call by a firefighters picket line and support workers in struggle.

Your obviously talking of Belfast here but in Dublin the majority of a Reclaim the Streets event was quite prepared to move up to and join a bin tax demo that was happened to be on the same evening on the other side of the city centre. But although this showed solidarity and a certain willingness to get involved we failed to convince any significant number that they should get involved in their local campaigns. I'd be careful as to what conclusions to draw from that though as the potential reasons are numerous from us not making the case for doing so well enough to the fact that most of them are flat dwellers without any link to the area they happen to be living in. I know from talking to people that this means they can find the idea of getting involved in a local campaign as quite intimidating.

You see Joe, this is sorta the point. My original statement was making the point that many in the broader 'movement' hadn't even managed the minimum level of support that showing up at a picket line would entail let alone get involved in the support groups. Yes there are numerous different reasons for this and regretably among them is a snidey attitude towards 'plebs' from many who feel superior in their 'rejection of work', 'rejection of capitalism', their adoption of alternative 'lifestyles' and breaking from what they patronisingly regard as the 'herd' or and outdated 'class politics'. This is not uniform and I must stress it does not apply to all 'libertarians' in Belfast. You are correct that it is in working with people that it becomes easier to make the links and help develop everyones ideas.

But the particular example of the fire fighters dispute was pretty disheartening and did make many of us question whether many in the broader 'movement' were actually part of anything that could be considered the same 'movement' at all. It did also help us develop our ideas and tactics in relation to workers in struggle, the trades union and braoder labour movement and contributed a great deal to the Anarchist Federation (Ireland) and SSN coming together in Organise!.

Perhaps more to the point is what we would regard as something that is productive to work on with other people, and we do not have a uniform position or set in stone decision on this. Generally we focus on struggles that are primarily located in the class struggle. We have been active in anti-war, anti-fascist and anti-less lethal weapons activity and while a class based argument can be made for involvement in all of these not everyone who is supportive of or involved in opposition to any of these things necessarily comes to them with a class analysis. This leads onto the next point.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
We aren't actively involved in Dissent and that was a deliberate decision

Our of interest was the basis of this a lack of resources or an objection to summit hoping in general.

Resources no doubt impact on every decission about what an organisation commits to a given campaign or event but we reached a concious decision that as an Organisation we would not be building for the numerous anti-G8 summit events in Edinburgh and Gleneagles. Focusing on the local implications of the neo-liberal policies put forward by the G8 was felt to be a much more effective way of building opposition to capitalism at home and abroad in a practical way that working class people at home can better relate to and get involved in. We generally feel that summit hopping has served a purpose in the past but that its coming to the end of its usefulness.

More specifically MPH is something we are highly critical of and have not become involved in, likewise that Bob Geldolf bollocks. MPH has a great many problems, not least that it will 'win' some of its demands and effectively recuperate the G8 and co-opt struggle. They will also very likely serve as the model 'good demonstrators/good campaign' to be juxtaposed with the 'bad anarchist/nasty protestors'. I could go on about the MPH campaign, Live8 and all that other nonsense much more but I'm sure you get the gist. Oh, and I just remembered this 'cynicism' makes me a 'knobhead' according to thon knobhead from Coldplay.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
In Belfast we agreed with many in the wider 'libertarian movement' who didn't see the development of a Belfast Grassroots Network out of the GG as a necessary next step.

Well the branding is not really the key issue so much as the idea of the creation of some sort of space that would bring libertarians together on some sort of basis. I reckon in Dublin Dissent is replacing the DGN in that role but I wouldn't care if the network was called Turnip providing it existed. In my experience if you don't have something like this you tend to get all the formal and informal groups developing quite weird theories about each other - theories that collapse once they are exposed to each other.

Yeah, actually there has and continues to be 'Our Kitchen' meetings of activists in Belfast and while Organise! has never made a decision to drop out of attendance at these this is effectively what has happened. This has been more a result however of few resources and time constraints on members of Organise! in Belfast (jobs, kids, study, shift work, other projects, other meetings... in varying combinations).

Cheers;

circle A red n black star

Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Jun 29 2005 23:20

Missing posts from ronan and JoeBlack moved to new thread I've called "DGN - Dissent - Monthly Dublin Assembly"

Cheers;

circle A red n black star