MACG Position on proposed Anarchist Federation 2008

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Lugius
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Jun 20 2013 05:44
MACG Position on proposed Anarchist Federation 2008

* The MACG welcomes the discussion about a possible Anarchist Federation as a sign that the Anarchist movement in Australia is developing and becoming more serious.

* We have no objection in principle to a federation. It is the correct way to operate in a single organisation. The key is to know what you are doing and do it correctly.

* The Anarchist groups have little experience of working with each other and there is little understanding of what politics we have in common. What we will work out at the Conference is only the beginning of what it is necessary to know. We therefore consider that an Anarchist Federation in Australia at the moment is premature.

* The best outcome that can come of the Conference is to set up a formal network of groups who make a commitment to working with each other with a view to deciding, over the course of a year or two, whether a federation is possible.

* Any Anarchist Federation must be a federation of groups, not one of groups and individuals. The latter would create major problems in decision-making and be a haven for cranks and destructive personalities. The groups would have to be real ones, with common principles and acting in their own names. Phantom groups for the purpose of admitting scattered individuals would not count. At the most, individuals would be able to participate in the Federation as observers.

* Any Anarchist Federation must be based on a clear set of shared principles so that its members can be able to come to agreement on how to act. Without a strong set of shared politics, every practical proposal will be the subject of endless argument. This is a recipe for bitterness, division and ineffectiveness.

* We oppose the concept of a General Union of Anarchists. Instead, we support having a multiplicity of Anarchist organisations, some of them federating and some not. Attempting to unite all Anarchists under the one organisational umbrella would result in the Anarchist movement adopting all the sins of the Leninists. We would become sectarian towards other groups as “competitors”, while we would have a vanguardist relationship to the broader working class. The Anarchist movement should not be resolving its differences behind closed doors and presenting the working class with a “final position” on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Instead, our differences must be argued out in public so that the working class as a whole can pass its judgement on them.

* Any Anarchist Federation must be based on a clear class analysis. Class is not an “issue” to be put alongside other issues, but a fundamental dynamic of how the world works. The new world will be created by a revolution of the working class, or not at all. Problems such as the oppression of women, racism, homophobia and the destruction of the environment can only be eliminated by the overthrow of capitalism. This does not mean that all non-class oppressions have to wait till “after the revolution”, but rather that it is the duty of the entire working class to fight them here and now. Just as there will be no women’s liberation without workers’ revolution, there will be no workers’ revolution without women’s liberation. An injury to one is an injury to all.

* A class analysis means a recognition that the power of the working class is based on our ability to stop capitalist production and the flow of profits. The strategic orientation of the Anarchist movement needs to be towards building workplace organisation, for that is where our power is. All other activities should be seen in the light of their contribution to that strategy.

* The lack of a class analysis leads Anarchists, like it does others, into dead-end strategies. Some of them include parliamentary reformism, lifestylism or insurrectionism. A criticism of lifestylism does not mean that we should not try to live our lives as Anarchists as much as possible in the here and now, but rather that making personal efforts in that direction is not a substitute for a workers’ revolution. Insurrectionism derives, in part, from using class as a badge of identification rather than a strategic orientation for action. The revolution will not be made by making riots against the police, however despicable they are, but through workers taking over their workplaces and defending them against all comers.

* If, despite our objection, an Anarchist Federation is formed at the Conference, the MACG will not join. Instead, we will establish close relations with its constituent groups with a subjective class struggle orientation for the purpose of having co-operation on shared priorities and helping them deal with the issues that arise. Our attitude to the Federation will be supportive and not hostile. We will not rule out joining the Federation at a later date should it evolve into a form we support.

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
20 March 2008

Ablokeimet
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Jun 21 2013 02:07

Lugius has posted the MACG's 2008 position on a proposed Anarchist federation. MACG's attitude to what sort of federation is necessary has not changed in any significant way. What has changed is MACG's approach to the process of federation.

In 2008, MACG took the position that any federation that would be formed would be what Platformists call a "synthesist" federation. From that flowed MACG's position that it would not join. Anarchist Affinity seems to be taking a similar approach this year (though I won't pretend to be certain about that). MACG's 2013 position was adopted because the more restricted nature of the groups being invited indicated that the "synthesist" nature of the prospective federation was not pre-ordained. Instead, MACG decided to enter the process in good faith and argue for its politics. In addition, it is now obvious to all participants that federation is a process and not a single event and that the process is a valuable means of getting the necessary clarification.

So far, there is quite a large common ground that has been discovered between MACG & MAC. MACG has been pleasantly surprised by this and it is my personal opinion that this alone has made the process valuable, regardless of what eventuates at a later date. Some of the groups invited to the TFAC were ones with which MACG would never federate, because of known political divergences. Others were worth considering and investigating. The process to date has convinced MACG that MAC, at least, is worth investigating in more depth.

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Lugius
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Jun 24 2013 01:23

I'm pretty sure I could say, without fear of contradiction, that the MAC has always understood anarchist federation as a process and not just a single event. But there is no escaping the fact that, at some point, an anarchist federation will be confirmed (or not) at a single event. This event I would refer to as Congress as is the custom.

Reading the 2008 MACG statement, I see a recurring theme that doesn't make much sense and is based on a false premise;

Quote:
* The Anarchist groups have little experience of working with each other and there is little understanding of what politics we have in common. What we will work out at the Conference is only the beginning of what it is necessary to know. We therefore consider that an Anarchist Federation in Australia at the moment is premature.

So a federation is premature because there is a lack of experience of anarchist groups working together because there is little understanding of what we have in common because we have no experience of working together therefore a federation is premature.(?)

Quote:
* We have no objection in principle to a federation. It is the correct way to operate in a single organisation. The key is to know what you are doing and do it correctly.

One could read the 2008 MACG statement as; The MACG is in possession of the knowledge required to do federation correctly and the onus is on other groups to align themselves with our understanding and to do so without any engagement with the MACG as it could not possibly engage with groups that do not share our understanding! We have the key, but we won't share it!

That reading may be a bit less than generous, but it is how it comes across to me.

Quote:
* The best outcome that can come of the Conference is to set up a formal network of groups who make a commitment to working with each other with a view to deciding, over the course of a year or two, whether a federation is possible.

This describes the process the MAC has initiated with the BAG and it now seems that the MACG (and hopefully others) now serious about engaging in this process. But for me, a question remains;

Given the MACG statement of 2008, why did the MACG not engage with the MAC then? If federation is premature, how will it mature?

If anything is premature, would it not be an Anarchist Book Fair which features hardly any anarchist groups and a majority of groups or businesses with very tenuous links to anarchism and even groups that are downright hostile to anarchism. It's bit like the Anarchist Book Fair you're having when you're not having an Anarchist Book Fair. I think the time for an Anarchist Book Fair would be when we actually have an anarchist movement. An anarchist movement, the salient feature of which would be an anarchist federation that could sustain a Book Fair you could describe as Anarchist without looking like a complete goose.

Quote:
So far, there is quite a large common ground that has been discovered between MACG & MAC. MACG has been pleasantly surprised by this and it is my personal opinion that this alone has made the process valuable, regardless of what eventuates at a later date.

I concur with your opinion. The process, in and of itself, is valuable regardless of outcome as it facillitates understanding of what groups have and don't have in common which would be a prerequisite for any possibility for federation. Although, I think it would be a good idea to avoid language like "synthesist" and "platformist" and "tactical unity" as it is confusing (it certainly confused me) and sounds a bit like a secret language designed to keep the bogans out.

Quote:
Some of the groups invited to the TFAC were ones with which MACG would never federate, because of known political divergences. Others were worth considering and investigating.

Ok, who? When the MAC was deciding who to invite, a number of factors were taken into account. One question was; who openly refers themselves to be anarchist? Also, which groups are still going concerns? This process certainly wasn't perfect but it was reasoned that if there were groups who were genuinely interested, they would demand to be part of the process, so no problem.

One group, I personally thought would not participate was LWSS, but they sent a delegate to the plenary with a clear mandate. Just goes to show you don't know til you try it on. One group I thought would participate didn't; Anarchist Affinity. But then, to be fair, they are composed of very young and consequently inexperienced individuals and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that they will no longer be solvent by the the time congress rolls around. But then, you never know your luck in a big town like Melbourne!

In my view, participation in the process that is now in train will act as a reliable measure of which groups are serious and which groups are merely posturing or are, in fact, not groups. So, really - no problem. What are your thoughts?