Final programme for Towards Federation Anarchist Conference June 2013

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Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
May 13 2013 02:10
Final programme for Towards Federation Anarchist Conference June 2013

Saturday 8 June
Welcome and Introduction
Questions to address;
What is Anarchism?
What is an anarchist?
What is an anarchist group?
What is anarchist federation?

1st Session 1100-1230
Lunch 1230-1330
2nd Session 1330-1430
Break 1430-1445
3rd Session 1445-1545
Break 1545-1600
4th Session 1600-1700

Sunday 9 June
Start 1100
Delegates and proxy votes acknowledged.
The MAC moves that the question be put to those groups in favour of federating on a provisional basis in accordance with the proposed constitution to be subsequently confirmed or not at a place and time to be determined.
The MAC moves that in the event of the affirmative, a Congress of all affiliates be convened in Brisbane or Sydney in a further 12 to 24 months as determined by agreement.
Lunch and other breaks scheduled by agreement.

Lumpen's picture
Joined: 11-02-08
Jun 1 2013 06:26

There is some discussion on Kieran's Review.

I wrote this reply below.

(Note: I wrote this before I read Lugius’ comment. Unsurprisingly, I cover some of the same ground.)

A point of agreement (not unique to Kieran or myself) is on the desire for clarity around anarchism, its history and the contemporary purpose. It is good to hear that others are also dissatisfied with the picture of anarchism presented at the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair. This is the apparent consensus of those in the organised anarchist milieu.

How necessary it is to intervene in the Melbourne Anarchist Book Fair is debatable. I would not discount that the success stems from an easy-going approach. However, I suspect if it was called The Freaky Books and Weirdo Politics Fair, it would attract similar numbers without affecting the content, and that is my concern as an anarchist (who is also interested in books!).
Fantin Reading Group is restarting again soon.

I agree that Sedition, as a publication, was unsuccessful. It did not provide the reader with any clarity on the topic of anarchism in Australia. What was great about it was the connections between groups. The quoted paragraph was meant to convey that there were enough anarchist groups in existence that could act together, and that bode well.

Kieran wrote:
It might be more useful to agree on a program of action that will build the capacity of anarchist groups and build cooperation amongst them.

This is precisely what is being put, hence TOWARD Federation. MAC has moved a motion to federate in order to prompt the required discussion on the necessary conditions and has been very upfront about this. The bold hope is that we might propose a first congress in around 12-24 months (see to put the question of a permanent federation.

By giving groups the opportunity to argue all sides and conditions around a concrete proposal, we can illuminate our position and the task at hand. I therefore put it to you that your post (and position) is based on a number of errors, primarily that MAC and others are pinning hopes on a paper tiger.

The purpose of the Toward Federation conference is to establish what capacity (if any) there is for cooperation amongst extant groups. If there is enough commonality, it is argued, it makes sense to work with each other to achieve those goals. A federative structure would be essential. This raises question of how we might go about establishing common goals and working toward them. This will not be answered through furrowed brows and stroking our socialist beards, but through practice and activity.

MAC has argued that if “vibrant anarchist groups” with “common political understanding” is seen as desirable then, far from being “willed out of thin air”, it will be achieved through conscious action.

If it is argued that, counterposed to this, a publication is needed, then some evidence needs to be introduced. In other words, says who? Personally speaking, I don’t think those with a capacity and desire to write lack for platforms, but they do lack the credibility that support from a larger organisation would provide. In any case, I’m confident that a motivated group could exercise better editorial restraint than we managed in Sedition, and they do not require a federation to pursue this. I see no strong case that they are inevitably counterposed.

It seems more urgent, in the immediate term, to establish conditions for meeting in a free and unfettered exchange of ideas. The precondition is some basic agreement on definitions (such as ‘anarchism’), purpose and conduct. This is one of the aims of the conference.

What I find perplexing about those arguing it is “too soon” is this assessment is devoid of practical content, and concerns groups having the gall to cooperate with each other (I’m thinking of discussion on the unfortunately-binned thread on this topic on Libcom).

For example, MAC has been in correspondence with a small, newly-established anarchist group in Brisbane (BAG). Consistent with anarchist practice, MAC and BAG have agreed to work together for mutual and material support. Previous to this, MAC had a similar relationship with Organise! in Adelaide. On occasion, MAC has worked cooperatively with Jura in Sydney, and so on. In keeping with this, MAC would like to expand these relations with other autonomous anarchist groups, to do this on a permanent basis and share our resources and energy where practicable. I look to examples like the IAF/IFA.

When, exactly, is it too soon or too late to do this? No new theory is necessary for anarchist groups to meet. No permission is required to call this a free federation of anarchist groups. We do not need to wait for anyone to catch up if they are unsure if the timing is right.

The proposed activities of such a federation groups may not be spectacular – we’re talking about some nice stickers, joint campaigns/online presence and, in my fantasies, an annual congress of anarchist groups and biannual meetings of groups in each capital.

It seems more likely that a coherent analysis and vision will occur from this type of organisation rather than preceding it.

Joined: 21-03-13
Jun 1 2013 12:44

wheres this happening?

Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
Jun 2 2013 00:30

Starts 11am Saturday 8 June at 62 St. George's Rd., Northcote, Victoria

Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
Jun 3 2013 02:06

Here is a copy of the submission by the Libertarian Workers for a Self-managed Society to the 'Towards Federation Anarchist Conference'.

Although we believe a Federation of anarchist groups is a good idea, we think the way that's currently proposed is not the best way forward. We think what is needed is a series of delegates meetings of the groups invited to form a Federation to thrash out:

Principles of Association
Decision making processes within the Federation
Federation structure

Delegates can then take these decisions back to the groups they carry a mandate for – for discussion / possible alterations and ratification or rejection.
We will be sending one delegate, M*** D****, to the Towards Federation Anarchist Conference on Sunday 9th June. His mandate covers;

1. Presenting our position regarding a provisional Federation (our position is included with this email, can you please forward this letter and our position paper to other delegates attending ASAP so they are familiar with our thoughts before the Conference?)
2. Involvement in any discussion regarding any submissions made.
3. Drawing up with other delegates a compromise position.
4. His mandate does not include the ability to make a decision on the day about whether the Libertarian Workers For A Self-Managed Society / Anarchist Media Institute accept the final position reached by delegates who attend the Conference. That decision can only be made by the group once Mick has reported back to the Libertarian Workers For A Self-Managed Society / Anarchist Media Institute.

Put forward for discussion at Conference

An anarchist society is a society without rulers, not without rules.
Anarchists actively work towards creating a society without rulers.
The struggle to redistribute power and wealth lie at the heart of the struggle to create an anarchist society.
Terror is the dominant weapon used by the State to maintain inequality. Terror plays no part in the anarchist struggle to create a society without rulers.
Anarchist organisations who wish to affiliate need to use direct democratic mechanisms within their organisation to make decisions and rely on recallable delegates with specific mandates to carry out those decisions.
Agreement on these principles/variations of these principles/or other agreed principles that are acceptable to foundation members form the basis of membership of the proposed anarchist Federation.

Put forward for discussion at Conference

Consensus or consensus (minus one affiliate) needs to be reached to change the Principles of Association.
Process to expel affiliate can only begin if a case is made they have broken the Principles of Association and that case is accepted by a majority of other affiliates. An affiliate can only be expelled from the Federation if 75% or more of affiliates agree with the expulsion proposal.
Other decisions – if no consensus possible, both a majority and minority position can be articulated on behalf of the Federation if any assets earmarked for a specific campaign and no consensus has been achieved assets divided in terms of the numbers supporting each side/s.

Put forward for discussion at Conference

Based on a delegate structure.
Delegates to meet via virtual means or physically at least once every three months.
Joint Convenors be appointed at each delegates meeting to speak on behalf of the Federation – No group is able to have more than one Convenor at any one time.
Convenors to be selected at delegates meeting. Convenors are recallable if more than 50% of affiliated groups not satisfied they are carrying out their mandate.
Yearly Federation dues set to only cover costs of running the Federation. All campaign costs to be borne by groups that support specific campaigns.
Individuals can apply for observer status.

If Federation is formed to be called
Federation of Australian Anarchist Groups.

We would be happy to become involved in future delegates meetings of anarchist groups that wish to federate, if no federation evolves from the June Congress.

Libertarian Workers For A Self-Managed Society / Anarchist Media Institute

Lugius's picture
Joined: 19-04-10
Jun 4 2013 04:00

From Anarchist Affinity (Melbourne)

Open letter to the Melbourne Anarchist Club,

We thank our comrades in the Melbourne Anarchist Club for organising the Towards Federation conference, and for inviting our participation.

Anarchist Affinity believes that a specifically anarchist political organisation must be built if we are to seriously advance anarchist ideas and advance the struggle against capitalism, the state and all forms of oppression.

We believe that anarchist organisations are most effective when built on a shared political understanding (theoretical unity), a common strategy (tactical unity) and united by a collective responsibility to their implementation. We believe that such an organisation must be directly democratic and federal in structure.

For these reasons, we welcome the Melbourne Anarchist Club's decision to re-start the discussion on how anarchist organisation in Australia might be advanced.

This said, Anarchist Affinity has significant reservations about the proposed Anarchist Federation in Australia.

First, we are conscious of our own limited capacity and resources at this point in time as a small group with less than a dozen members. We're focussed on building our local capacity through participating in local campaigns.

We are also aware that to be a success, the kind of federation we advocate will require the active participation of multiple functioning and healthy anarchist groups, with both the desire and preparedness to achieve greater theoretical unity, as well as the resources in labour and money required to meaningfully pursue common strategy.

We understand that other groups participating in the conference favour a much looser conception of federation, with more limited organisational goals.

We are keen to discuss our different approaches, but instead of discussing the organisational structure of a proposed national federation, we would support a program of political steps that build the cooperation between our groups. The aim should be laying the political groundwork for an anarchist national organisation with the capacity to make a serious impact on the class struggle in Australia.

This could include meaningful joint participation in political campaigns, such as for refugees, strike support, or for renewable energy, cooperating as an anarchist block. It might start with simply sharing our position statements or on these numerous topics, to see whether our groups share the same positions. In this way we could build the theoretical unity between us, as well as the political impact of anarchist groups in Australia by establishing a common front.

But there is still much more to be done before an Australia-wide anarchist political organisation is a viable proposition.

Therefore with respect to the plenary session on Sunday 9 June, we do not feel ready to commit to the proposal advanced by the Melbourne Anarchist Club. That said, we do not want to play spoiler and to stand in the way of groups that are ready to pursue it. For this reason, and those outlined above, Anarchist Affinity will abstain from the plenary session on Sunday 9 June.

We will send two delegates to the open discussions on Saturday, with a mandate to communicate the positions outlined in this letter. We will send you their names in a separate email.

In comradely support,

Anarchist Affinity

Rats's picture
Joined: 9-05-08
Jun 4 2013 07:13

Unfortunately noone from adelaide will be able to make it to this conference, but we are keen to hear reportbacks from attendees and i'll take these to our meetings. We are set for our own meeting on this weekend anyway, so we'll talk about it somewhat there.

Personally i have been very impressed by the clusters of anarchists i've met at a few conferences this year.
My opinion is that a national organisation is necessary to foster this new growth in interest, and by supporting these people with education and encouraging them to form their own groups.

At the moment you can contact me as secretary at the organise email account.

Rats's picture
Joined: 9-05-08
Jun 4 2013 07:19

To comment on kieran's piece, it is unclear to me whether his analysis of needing 'big' anarchist groups first in order to form the federation is correct or what he is basing this on. It's a bit 'chicken before the egg' , and i think it's wrong.