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Anarcho-syndicalist organization?

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Harrison
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May 30 2013 02:39
s.nappalos wrote:
Speaking from experience in the IWW, many come into organizing from anarchism. Many militants have political desires that they have trouble engaging in reformist and neutral syndicalist projects. The usual outcome for this stuff is either to move to apolitical reformist organizing or towards bad politicized activism.

This is an interesting comment, but i'm a little confused by the definition of reformist here? The first mention looks like it refers to 'a campaign to achieve a reform' and the second looks like it refers to carrying out dogwork for the liberal 'social democratic' political current in the workers movement (ie. modern AFL-CIO). bozemananarchy's following reply is also impossible to engage with because of this.

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klas batalo
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May 30 2013 04:09

yes i believe that is what scott means harrison. basically there are a lot of political activists that are struggle or organizing shy, or that think wrongly or are too skeptical of any movement for immediate gains as being too reformist.

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Joseph Kay
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May 30 2013 06:23

Are you saying that people reason that if 'any work for immediate gains is reformist', they may as well work for well-resourced organisations and/or get paid for doing it, rather than pursuing independent initiatives?

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klas batalo
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May 30 2013 06:48

no i am saying that i believe scott is talking about total abstentionism, i.e. there is this sorta like huge skepticism within the activist scene here of anything that isn't total revolution.

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Joseph Kay
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May 30 2013 07:42

ok ta

Harrison
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May 30 2013 10:55
klas batalo wrote:
yes i believe that is what scott means harrison. basically there are a lot of political activists that are struggle or organizing shy, or that think wrongly or are too skeptical of any movement for immediate gains as being too reformist.

Thanks for answering, but I should also point out that you've introduced a third definition of reformism ('not radical enough').

I get that you and scott are using it to describe what a certain tendency (not your own) polemicises social movements with, but what i was trying to get at in my post was whether scott was criticising those activists for then doing something like joining SEIU as salts (ie. carrying out dogwork for liberals), or for being pushed toward extreme apoliticism in their organising for radical political projects.

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Nate
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May 31 2013 16:42

I just read through this thread and I have a lot to say. I think I agree with Redsdisease's points from earlier.

I think anarchosyndicalists in the U.S. don't actually have a lot in common and so a formal organization of anarchosydnicalists that would bring together all anarchosyndicalists in the US based on anarchosyndicalism as the common denominator sounds to me like a mess. Like some of us think the IWW is the place to be, others don't, the @syndicalists in the IWW disagree about what to do, and there's differences in theory (for instance I think Tom Wetzel is a really smart writer who makes important contributions by his writing but I and others disagree with some of his views on coordinator class and stuff like that). And so I think it'd probably be best if there were multiple anarchosyndicalist groupings in the U.S. pursuing different approaches to work out those differences in practice and by more writing. So like different small grouplets pursuing projects, maybe within a common framework that promotes relationships and comradeliness (which would probably need an organizing committee, either formally or informally - Syndicalist I think you've played this role in a huge way within the CSAC/mostly-platformist milieu for years, and others in WSA have done so as well) and maybe an occasional social gathering to promote good will. But nothing more unified/pan-a/s than that.

It might also be good to try to draw a map or make like a field guide to North American anarchosyndicalists.

This won't surprise my friends on here but personally I'm most interested in doing IWW work as an IWW member and I think that's just as valid a version of anarchosydnicalism in practice in the US as other versions (and no more valid a version either, as in, other folk could reasonably pursue other courses of action - this isn't a matter of differences in principle). For anarcho syndicalists in the IWW I think the things to do would be to sort out what in the organization is not in keeping with anarchosydnicalism, if anything, and start working to change that stuff, not by policy changes but by convincing the rest of the membership. I think the IWW could be (and may already be) basically what at least some anarchosyndicalists would want even though it didn't/doesn't identify itself with that vocabulary and those terms. Once that was done (ie, once the IWW became anarchosyndicalist for all intents and purposes) then it'd make sense to ramp up explicit ideological work around the anarchosyndicalist tradition and the terminology and actively advocate for it. That could be done sooner though too, like for instance I think a big push to get all wobs to read Fighting For Ourselves would be productive. Beyond that, the stuff talked about here like popular education etc, I'm more interested in doing this as an IWW member with IWW members. So like an education committee of the IWW bringing together IWW members and interested fellow travelers to talk about and shape the IWW's vision and activity. I think that work could be done with an anarchosydnicalist *content* without the vocabulary of anarchosyndicalism (and like I sorta said it'd be one variant of anarchosyndicalism, I realize others are possible). I'm more interested in that than I am in a body where the common denominator is the anarchosyndicalist tradition and vocabulary because I think that that stuff would fail to capture some important differences between people and would do less to work out the pressing issues the IWW faces.

I also agree that anarchosyndicalist unions and the IWW aren't in competition. If anything I think it'd be better for a/s unions to pop up around the US than an a/s political organization. The a/s unions and IWW could co-exist in constructive ways as long as there was good work done to build relationships and could share experiences. That'd be way, way better IMHO than creating an a/s political organization open to members regardless of their practical home (like drawing from the IWW, solidarity networks, etc).

IMHO creating an a/s political organization would create other problems at least for the IWW (though there still might be good relationships) because IWW members who are also in political organization tend to take one kind of work to the IWW and another kind to their political organization, when in my opinion the whole point of a/s stuff is to have what SolFed calls a political-economic organization. I don't want to repeat debates some of us have had on here about CSAC groups and the IWW as I think the positions are well defined and we'll just rehearse those argument again. I only want to say that I think the same problem would happen if the political organization's ideology is a/s instead of platformist or whatever. Maybe there's other reasons to do that despite the effects on the IWW. I'm open to that, it's a matter of what people's priorities are and I think this is something reasonable people can differ on.

So I think it'd be better to have a proliferation of a/s political-economic organizations in the U.S. rather than a/s political organizations alongside other fighting organizations whose members would then de facto do less political work in their fighting organizations.

akai wrote:
Food for thought: what has been the historical experience of anarchosyndicalists inside the IWW in terms of moving it towards anarchosyndicalist organization and politics?

Well recently the IWW's passed a constitutional amendment banning no strike clauses and has had some major ideological debate on contracts, which in part helped influence that amendment's passing. Some self-identified a/s people played big roles in that (and others opposed it, because in their view a/s is compatible with contracts and whatnot; FWIW I'm personally not interested in the debate about whether or not contracts are in keeping with a/s principles so much as I was interested in the debates over whether or not contracts are a good idea). I'd also say that some people played important roles in that who have politics that are basically identical with that of a/s but they don't identify with that tradition or speak that vocabulary. As in, the content's the same despite the trappings.
That aside, some of us have also written various pieces published in the Industrial Worker that try to analyze and criticize the role of the state and labor law. That's in line with what you're asking, I think. So I see some steps forward. And there's our training program which has improved the quality of the organizing and had an important democratizing effect, and we've worked hard to share that training in a comradely and internationalist fashion with groups around the world, like with SolFed. So that seems to me to be moving the IWW in that direction. I feel like a small handful of us have gotten a lot done in improving the IWW and the existing political organizations have contributed very little to that and mostly have been a distraction. As such I think further efforts on political organization will mostly also be a distraction (at least for the purposes of building and improving the IWW, again people could reasonably have other purposes and priorities). I also think that part of why we haven't gotten further on this stuff politically in the IWW is that it's taken a lot of work to build basic competency and to share skills in a democratic way.

klas batalo wrote:
Most IWW self-described anarcho-syndicalists are underdeveloped politically IMHO and are sorta a mix of Chomskyites/CNT history nerd LARPers (...)
It is not about drawing people away from their mass work, but about developing their practice and the political content. What does it mean that most US anarcho-syndicalists are in the IWW, if they are not actively developing an anarcho-syndicalist practice but just a democratic industrial unionism with an outdated vision of a cooperative commonwealth? Where is the critique of the State? Where is the critique of representational politics (other than a minority within the anarcho-syndicalists/ultra-left of the IWW)? Where is the practice outside of the workplace?

Why not then work on getting IWW members together to talk about this stuff, based on the common values and vocabularies that IWW members have, and in a way that improves the content of those values and vocabularies? This sort of gets back to the thing about how there are different practical versions of a/s in the US, I'm sort of advocating for one version of this for and among IWW members. I do think there's good stuff that could be done based on the lowest common denominator being "we're anarchosyndicalists" but as I've probly made clear I think that there's important limits to that. Especially if it's doing the same old political organization thing again (instead of political-economic organization) just with a/s politics as the official ideology.

syndicalist
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Jun 6 2013 14:18

At some point I'd like to come back to this. Just squeezed in other areas at the moment.

I will say that I'm prolly of the opinion that folks pursuing anarcho-syndicalism will prolly not be in one organization. But folks should find ways to have open lines of communication and cooperation.
Coordination around campaigns can be useful as well.

Nate wrote, in regard to relation building and communications:

Quote:
Syndicalist I think you've played this role in a huge way within the CSAC/mostly-platformist milieu for years....

Just for clarification. First, a thank you.

When we (WSA) started to reach out to folks back around 2007, there weren't many anarcho-syndicalists to reach out to. Most of the folks who were active and pro-class struggle anarchist were engaged in specific class struggle anarchist organizations or close to ideas then a lot more in vogue (such as platformism, them especifismo and now, to a limited extent, it seems anarcho-syndicalism). "Trust me", if there were folks out there who considered themselves anarcho-syndicalists, we would have made the effort to reach them. I can assure you of that. But there really weren't, not to any extent that they wanted to be reached outside of what they personally might have been engaged in.

I guess the point is, while the stresses and strains of stuff make relation building hard (actually harder to hold together), an aim is to always build those relationships. Because we are not an island unto ourselves (mush as we often like to think that way).

On the other stuff, for the time being, I'll just agree to disagree with some of the CSA stuff & the political-economic stuff. I've respect for the IWW and a/s folks who care to be active in the IWW and they should build the "content" of a/s.

Well, signing off for now.

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syndicalistcat
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Sep 12 2013 22:30

When I think about my ideal of a libertarian syndicalist specific org, I think of it as having two roles:

1. As organizers, in mass organizing projects, via concentration of effort to be more effective
2. As a center of popular education.

In practice it has been very hard to have an organization of this kind in the U.S. because there are so few militants, and few committed working collectively on such projects. By organizers in a mass organizing project, I have in mind several things. One would be building an actual base union in a workplace, or a small class union with a set of base unions, independent of the business unions. I don't think of such unions as using the language of "anarchosyndicalism." that's not going to happen in USA. Rather, I think in terms of the three features I take to be defining for libertarian revolutionary unionism:

1. Grassroots worker control of the union, reliance on direct collective struggle
2. A solidarity orientation, seeing the union as part of a fight of the working class against the dominating classes...class unionism.
3. A recognition that labor (with nature) creates all value & that the capitalists are thus an unnecessary, exploiting class, and some concept of the working class liberation requiring the taking over of direct collective management of industry, eliminating the power of boss classes over us.

At this point in time the IWW's limited vision is fine as a basis for mass organizing. I think the extent of the vision really depends on what is feasible given the current level of consciousness in the class. I don't agree with the SolFed minority union concept, even if in fact unions at present may need to exist as minority organizations (as some in USA do). I think that the power to make headway & pushback against employers to any significant degree, apart from small concessions, means we have to aim to build the grassroots union to a majority force. I suppose that some people might say that I'm proposing to adapt to current consciousness by leaving out elements of a full anarcho-syndicalist vision, in order to strive for a majority unionism. In reply I'd say we have no choice but to do this to some extent, and to push the envelope along the way, to test how far revolutionary libertarian ideas can be accepted and find some way to affect practice.

Another possibility would be building an independent "extra-union" committee in a context where a business union is recognized by the employer. A third possibility might be building a tenants union or maybe a solidarity union that took up both landlord fights & outside fights in regard to employers, as workers centers & solnets do.

The other aspect of the organizational role would be popular education. One-off organizer trainings from time to time are totally inadequate for this. People need more extended study where they learn how to theorize their experience, through things like learning basic radical economics, some revolutionary history & theory. This could take a variety of forms, including a reading circle. Part of the purpose here would be formation of revolutionary militants, and also formation of organizers. My model here would be the Spanish Ateneo tradition which has also existed at times in Latin America. Part of my idea about how this would work might be bringing people who have knowledge in some area to lead discussions in this center, in addition to things like reading circles or on-going organizer training.

Finally, there is one other role I could see for such a specific org, and this would be producing some local mass oriented publication, whether print or webzine, to provide favorable publicity in cases of struggles, to mobilize popular support, to take sides in defense of militant rank & file elements in things like internal conflicts against the bureaucracy in business unions, and to provide very accessible pieces on bits of radical analysis on topics that are real to the local population.

I know there are those who argue that a specific org simply becomes the focus of radical politics for militants & thus they are less likely to inject radical politics into the mass org. This is how Leninist groups tend to work, but they start from a position that revolution is brought about by the specific org, the party. We don't have that view. As I have defined my ideal specific org, the aim is just the opposite. the aim is precisely to organize mass orgs and organize in them for the kind of direction & way of working that we favor.

It's mistaken to talk about this being whether unions are to be "political" or not. Any union has a politics. They generally tend to be political-economic orgs. Rather, the issue for us is the kind of politics the union has, and this includes how it is run...is it based on participation, direct struggle, independent of parties & bureaucracies, built so as to encourage & facilitate participation & control by members? And so on.

I think the IWW's self-definition as a union has tended to lead it to focus on the workplace, tho there have been some cases of other focuses, such as the enviro area. but I think it's not likely the IWW is going to become a center of tenant organizing for example. I don't see why all mass struggles have to be organized thru the worker union.

Another way of looking at this would be to think in terms of alliances that should exist between the union and mass struggles & social movement orgs apart from the union. The CGT & CNT in Spain both have some involvement in environmentalism, and ally with Ecologists in Action, which seems to be a more direct action oriented enviro group there. Both unions have had links to squatter groups, and possibly squat collectives associated with the union. In the earlier era of anarcho-syndicalism, there was some history of that sort, like the Renters Union in Vera Cruz Mexico affiliated to the CGT in the '20s. Jose Luis Carretero's article Siete tesis para un movimiento en el centro del tormento (anarkismo.net/article/24149) discusses this issue of how much can be taken on by a worker union, in the context of contemporary Spanish anarcho-syndicalism.

I think that the ability of a revolutionary libertarian union to maintain its approach & its radical spirit depends on having some way to train & form active worker members so that they are inclined to continue the union's grassroots democratic character & its critical stance towards the employers & union bureaucracies & politicians & state. So you could say, I suppose, that the union, if it has the resources, should have its own worker's school. In the case of the CNT in Spain in the '30s they relied on the Ateneos, which were independent of the union. There were at least 100 of these in Barcelona in the '30s. They were independent membership organizations.

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klas batalo
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Sep 13 2013 06:17

i'm not just saying this cause we're in the same organization, but also from my experience that i'd pretty much agree with your framework here.

one thing regarding the whole minority/mass distinction, solfed's conception, etc...

just wondering, couldn't there be room for the anarcho-syndicalist minority to eventually win over the various independent libertarian revolutionary grassroots solidarity class unions (say that three times fast) to anarcho-syndicalism and anti-statist methods as they become more and more mass entities? thus organically growing the size of the anarcho-syndicalist minority within society?

i mean i actually think history speaks to the fact that revolutionary syndicalism of a libertarian anarchistic bent can thrive even if on a small scale in the united states, look at the IWW, though again you are probably right at least historically that the a-s label may not have taken off huge... but surely now we are at a point where there is a large anarcho-syndicalist majority within that organization and maybe later down the line it could be won to anti-statist positions and methods, etc.

this being said I do think some places could have success organizing as an anarcho-syndicalist minority union...but mostly depends on the composition and age of the workforce...

anyway if SolFed call the revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist minority a union and we call it a political organization i really don't see much difference theoretically if both are engaged in the same sorta strategy.

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Mar 20 2014 00:53

the word "anarcho-syndicalism" only got sort of entrenched in the movement in the '30s I think. I mean, what is the difference between anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary, libertarian, self-managed, horizontal, class unionism that aims at workers management of industries & expropriation of the dominating classes? I think a revolutionary union movement also needs to fight against all forms of oppression, and thus should be feminist & anti-racist. But I don't expect a full understanding of all these aspects to develop overnight. Especially not in an era when struggle is often at low level (especially in USA) or episodic. I'm not a member of IWW so I'm not sure to what extent members understand the critique of the business unions. Altho it is true USA doesn't have a social-democratic party, the Democratic Party has played an analogous role for the union bureaucracy here. As they gave up the struggle over control of the workplace, and reject direct action that falls outside the narrow legally allowed limits, they always point people to electoral politics as the solution...voting for the Democrats. But this does not have a lot of traction with many working class people in USA. Rate of abstention is quite a bit higher in USA than in Europe or Australia. So how the anti-statism inherent in revolutionary unionism is to be understood is something that needs to be thought out, as far as how to approach this in USA. In other words, I think it is true to say that people who go along with IWW are likely to go along with anarcho-syndicalism, de facto at any rate. But what would that mean exactly, for the IWW to be anarcho-syndicalist?

At present there are some local initiatives that anarcho-syndicalists in USA are involved in that are not part of IWW, such as SeaSol or Lansing Workers Center. There are also class fights that take place outside the workplace, such as around housing & transit, as Scott mentioned earlier. I think a radical base union could be built with a basically revolutionary, libertarian character apart from the IWW. So I think the problem with limiting anarcho-syndicalist organization to simply work in the IWW for example would leave a lack of connections....people working in diverse areas. And how does a revolultionary union relate to the struggles against various forms of oppression of a non-class character? Not saying it can't. I'm saying this is an open question. IWW can't quite take in all the possible areas of organizing. Maybe it's okay that there is this lack of connection. But it would be useful for there to be an organization that tries to think about the range of contexts of struggle.

If you look at the history of the labor movement in the USA, unionism has only grown in periods of large-scale strikes & insurgency, and all kinds of new organizations were created, new people became active. The bureaucratic business unions can't bring this about because it would require people breaking out of the currently limited legal framework, violating court injunctions, sympathy actions (which are technically illegal in USA altho they happen occasionally). I think in a period like that the IWW would be likely to grow, but so would other organizations.

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Mar 20 2014 02:54

i think a healthy way of looking at anarcho-syndicalism would be to look at it as hopefully developing again as a mass movement with a plurality of organizations...so let's say even if the IWW did become basically anarcho-syndicalist in orientation, but alongside libertarian base unions of such an orientation, or solidarity networks, or other workers social centers and public popular spaces for education, and so on... this is how the movement as a movement existed historically and there will probably not just be one or two single organizations... but I do think attempts towards more explicit AS should be tried...and discussions between militants and such organizations could be further promoted.

s.nappalos
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Mar 20 2014 23:31

In Miami IWW we're throwing out wide nets and have taken the orientation to organize around the experience of capitalism in general including struggles around neighborhood, housing, immigration, gender, etc. There's no reason that can't happen, and housing stuff has happened in IWW branches in recent history.

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Mar 21 2014 19:01

nate, I'm not sure why you think this:

Quote:
So I think it'd be better to have a proliferation of a/s political-economic organizations in the U.S. rather than a/s political organizations alongside other fighting organizations whose members would then de facto do less political work in their fighting organizations.

if the aim of the libertarian political org is to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character, it seems to me that would be likely to increase the political character of the mass org. Nor is it clear that all political activity that is useful to do has to occur in a single organization.

For example there are reasons why there are distinct women's organizations. In the past anarcho-syndicalists sometimes said that was "divisive". that's what CNT leaders said in regard to Mujeres Libres in '30s.

Not sure why an Ateneo type center has to be a project of a political-economic mass org.

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Mar 21 2014 20:04

I don't want to speak for Nate but I'm sure that what he was referring to is the emphasis, very present in the US scene at the moment, of forming anarchist political organizations with "unity of theory and tactics" which will somehow bring the right ideas to the mass organizations. Central to the underlying theory here is that "mass organizations" should be emptied of any revolutionary political content because then all they are is political organizations pretending to be otherwise. I've even heard (ahem) a WSA member talk publically about how we can make a neat division of labor between the IWW (mass organization) and the WSA (specific organization).

Your example of Mujeres Libres is a good one. In the basic platformist/especifista schematic, at least as it gets interpreted in the US, it was a mistake from the start to form a mass organization for anarchist women, it should have been a mass women's organization to which a properly oriented anarchist organization gave the correct ideas.

I know for myself, and I believe for Nate and others who are critical of this need to divide everything into mass and specific organizations, we are happy to be a bit more pluralistic.

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Mar 22 2014 01:33
Quote:
Central to the underlying theory here is that "mass organizations" should be emptied of any revolutionary political content because then all they are is political organizations pretending to be otherwise.

This is certainly not "central" to what *I* was suggesting, since what I was suggesting was just the reverse. Here is what I said above:

Quote:
I know there are those who argue that a specific org simply becomes the focus of radical politics for militants & thus they are less likely to inject radical politics into the mass org. This is how Leninist groups tend to work, but they start from a position that revolution is brought about by the specific org, the party. We don't have that view. As I have defined my ideal specific org, the aim is just the opposite. the aim is precisely to organize mass orgs and organize in them for the kind of direction & way of working that we favor.

s.nappalos
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Mar 22 2014 14:54

Personally I think the most pressing question is what you do with less than 5 militants in a given area where workers aren't self-initiating struggle. If workers start self-initiating and sustaining their fights or you have more serious concentrations of people that are active in struggles, reliable, can agree and work together amiably, etc., those are different scenarios. In our context I do think that most places are stretched extremely thinly and will have a hard time being able to do too many things at once. In that context I personally think we have to prioritize activity that will sustain and develop people. Organizing immediate issues in the community is foremost alongside cultural and educational work directly tied to that. I do think that work is best done by a unitary anarchosyndicalist union right now. But I also think it's important for there to be a plurality of approaches attempted to experiment, and that shifts in context could radically change both what's possible and expedient.

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Mar 23 2014 15:31
syndicalistcat wrote:
nate, I'm not sure why you think this:

Quote:
So I think it'd be better to have a proliferation of a/s political-economic organizations in the U.S. rather than a/s political organizations alongside other fighting organizations whose members would then de facto do less political work in their fighting organizations.

if the aim of the libertarian political org is to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character, it seems to me that would be likely to increase the political character of the mass org. Nor is it clear that all political activity that is useful to do has to occur in a single organization.

For example there are reasons why there are distinct women's organizations. In the past anarcho-syndicalists sometimes said that was "divisive". that's what CNT leaders said in regard to Mujeres Libres in '30s.

Not sure why an Ateneo type center has to be a project of a political-economic mass org.

not to speak for him but i think nate would probably be open to this idea that there can be multiple types of organizations under the anarcho-syndicalist banner.

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Mar 23 2014 15:43
Quote:
Organizing immediate issues in the community is foremost alongside cultural and educational work directly tied to that. I do think that work is best done by a unitary anarchosyndicalist union right now.

Also cause of the whole spread thin with a half dozen to a dozen people thing I do think it makes more sense to do more unitary a-s initiatives right now that try to connect the organizing to the educational and cultural element. These could take on more work as they go, and when it becomes too much work for one organization to handle then there could be reasonable reasons to split off and form a movement division of labor, i.e. I think a-s initiatives should do both community, student, workplace stuff for now within limited capacity but if that work became too much for one org to do then it'd make sense to split it off, but i don't think such struggles are sustained enough at the moment to justify that.

syndicalist
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Mar 23 2014 16:44

I suspect those US or north american groups that identify with anarcho-syndicalism or other forms of libertarian workerism will continue on their own ways. Which is perfectly fine and best for all. Whatever level of coordination or cooperation folks feels works, everyone should engage as appropriate.

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Mar 25 2014 06:09
syndicalistcat wrote:
if the aim of the libertarian political org is to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character, it seems to me that would be likely to increase the political character of the mass org.

I don't understand this. It sounds like you mean this as an objection to what I said but I don't get it so I don't get how it's an objection either.

syndicalistcat wrote:
Nor is it clear that all political activity that is useful to do has to occur in a single organization.

I don't think all political activity has to occur in a single organization. I'm for multiple fighting organizations and I'm actually for multiple examples of each kind For instance, I'm for revolutionary unions, revolutionary tenant organizations, revolutionary public transit riders organizations, revolutionary student organizations, revolutionary neighborhood associations, etc, and I'm for there being more than one of each kind in a given place, when that makes sense. I'm also for bundling these together when it makes sense (like a revolutionary tenants and workers organization, say, or a revolutionary students and bus riders organization, etc).

(I'm really for people doing whatever they want, but to the very limited degree anyone cares about my opinion...) what I was trying to say was that all things being equal, in my opinion people should start or join a revolutionary fighting organization, rather than a) start or join a revolutionary propaganda organization or b) start or join a non-revolutionary fighting organization or c) do both a) and b) at the same time. IMHO those three things are what some people on the left do in the US and I think a lot of the groups act/talk like c) is the best choice of all - be in a political org that's a propaganda group and be in a non-revolutionary fighting organization. I get that there are specific situations where each one of these makes sense and I trust people's judgment on that if they're like "this makes sense here we are." If something's going on where someone lives/works, it's cool to be part of it. And I think it makes sense for anarchists who are active in reformist organizations to be in a political organization as well, if they get something out of it. What I *don't* get (or don't agree with) is taking this two organization thing as the default approach/basic model. I'd prefer that the default be that people start or join a revolutionary mass organization in general, with exceptions for local circumstances. Like if someone is in a place where they're not active in some kind of fighting organization and they're basically looking for or creating what little activity there is (like starting a solidarity network, for instance), then they should have that activity be openly revolutionary.

syndicalistcat wrote:
Not sure why an Ateneo type center has to be a project of a political-economic mass org.

I don't remember saying that they have to be. I think it can be a valid choice either way and people should do what makes sense to them where they live and work. But I also think that the N American left has way more experience with approaches other than political-economic mass organizations and hasn't experimented much at all with approaches based on political-economic mass orgs, and I'd like there to be more experimenting with these second kind of approaches. So, personally, if someone said to me "we're setting up a community center modeled on the ateneos in Spain" I'd be like "oh, it'll probably end up a lot like an infoshop or a lefty bookstore, that's cool, good luck, I hope it goes well." But if someone was like "we're setting up an educational project within our local solidarity network" I'd be more interested, and if they were like "we're building a network of educational projects within solidarity networks" I'd be even more excited. This is because I think these education bodies are more likely to be rooted in or tied to struggle today, and because I think there's a lot less experimenting with that kind of thing in the US than there is experimenting with setting up lefty community centers in general.

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Mar 25 2014 13:56
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What I *don't* get (or don't agree with) is taking this two organization thing as the default approach/basic model.

+1.

Especially when taking that default means arguing for a revolutionary fighting organization to drop its politics.

syndicalist
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Mar 25 2014 14:38

You lost me Oliver. I'm not clear what you mean or who that's directed to

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Mar 25 2014 17:49

Often times when the default idea is that there can and should be only revolutionary propaganda groups and non-revolutionary fighting organizations, this leads to attempting to pull the revolutionary politics out of the fighting organizations. This was certainly one of the main ideas leading to the CGT split, we've also seen it with current platformists supporting Red & Black coordination groups (and encouraging them to have even less explicit politics) for the same reason.

syndicalist
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Mar 25 2014 22:44
OliverTwister wrote:
Often times when the default idea is that there can and should be only revolutionary propaganda groups and non-revolutionary fighting organizations, this leads to attempting to pull the revolutionary politics out of the fighting organizations. This was certainly one of the main ideas leading to the CGT split, we've also seen it with current platformists supporting Red & Black coordination groups (and encouraging them to have even less explicit politics) for the same reason.

I see. Well, I can't speak from that perspective. And I can't speak for "platformists". But I think you use a pretty broad brush to paint things. There are surely folks within one "fighting organization" ,
that many north american folks on Libcom belong to, who see that "fighting organization" not so much in a revolutionary way either. I mean members of that organization, not the Libcom posters.
After all, raising the crimson flag or the red and black flag alone doesn't make a "fighting organization" revolutionary ....and "fighting" can mean different things.

My point is not to be critical of another organization. Said comradely....Rather, painting things with broad brush strokes on this thread really isn't helpful.

EDIT: I would like to say, while I hear some of what you are saying Oliver, about some platformist. I think some comrades coming out of that tradition or close to it to have actually tried to build links between those "in the tradition" and anarcho-syndicalism. Certainly here in the US. If you read some of the current stuff Klas Ballito and Scott Pinapples have written, they are trying to infuse a certain focus on revolutionary workers organization and against sterile "mass work".
While I may have my own viewpoints, I get what they are trying to do and who they are aiming it at. So, at least for some in the north america, the "standard" "social insertion" without revolutionary ideas and combativity is not a direction they see as appropriate. I give them credit
for trying amongst their peers.

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Mar 26 2014 00:06

I don't want to turn this further into a debate about platformism, I don't fully understand it. I do think having something like a platform is important, or maybe like planks (as lynd suggests) and there is no reason anarchists cannot have one. But they can do so through a single organization, or federation surely.

More relevant to my own perspective, is what Scott brings up; What do isolated militants of like 2-10 do to effectively grow and struggle? It seems we should be doing a combination of seeking out and supporting organic, and cultivating class based rebllion in our cities. It further seems like solnet style "community organizing" (more appropriately class unionism) has potential to build toward workplace orgs. Then again, we may not even see anything like classic workplace orgs, but might see something more geographic just extend itselft further, like solnets. But if that's possible, I don't think it can remain successful or grow, while maintaining it's explicit, simple anti-boss/landlord line and may have to make explicit aspects of it's leftcom or a/s politics.

It's also hard to share the limited resources we have, especially knowledge, experienced organizers, etc.

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Mar 26 2014 01:42

Scott Pineapples

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Mar 26 2014 02:03
Pennoid wrote:
might see something more geographic just extend itselft further, like solnets.

Pennoid wrote:
if that's possible, I don't think it can remain successful or grow, while maintaining it's explicit, simple anti-boss/landlord line and may have to make explicit aspects of it's leftcom or a/s politics.

Why do u think that second quote? (not trying to sound curt, just cant really type right now)

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Mar 26 2014 02:55
Pennoid wrote:
More relevant to my own perspective, is what Scott brings up; What do isolated militants of like 2-10 do to effectively grow and struggle? It seems we should be doing a combination of seeking out and supporting organic, and cultivating class based rebllion in our cities.

I would love to have that discussion being in a new city (and country) and not having many relationships with people who seem to be into doing this. One thing I have been learning/telling myself is it's not a race against time or super urgent, and those solid relationships one does have are very valuable and should be invested in for their own sake. I have to run but more discussion on what do with small numbers of people would be great and I will try to contribute more later. It would be nice to have a place to safely share experiences and brainstorm ideas on how to handle it.

syndicalist
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Mar 26 2014 02:56
Uncle Aunty wrote:
Scott Pineapples

I say it lovingly