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A proposal for a regional anarchist federation in Australia

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Bilan
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Dec 9 2007 01:18
A proposal for a regional anarchist federation in Australia

A proposal for a Regional Anarchist Federation

Introduction

Even as many of us constantly engage in struggles to enact our revolutionary politics and ideas in collectives, as individuals, at work and at play, there is often an underlying sense of isolation from broader anarchist activity from which to draw knowledge and inspiration. We feel that this is a severe barrier on our ability to maintain effective struggle or to even propagate a revolutionary, anarchist politics on a larger-scale. We believe a Federation that collectives (and individuals) over the wide distances of this region can align with would begin to solve these problems.

Mostly the feeling that an Anarchist Federation is necessary emanates from a simple desire for solidarity amongst revolutionaries that cannot always be found in our local communities and workplaces. A Federation could provide strong support for campaigns and actions across the region. When organising around similar issues, collectives would gain a greater momentum from being able to share ideas and resources with others from across the continent and beyond. This is not a new idea but we hope that a new attempt can be made at solidifying such possibilities. That is what this proposal is for.

A solid, ongoing federation would help us look after each other. Solidarity with and support for those of us (and also those who aren’t ‘us’), who come under the repressive boot of the state is a crucial aspect of mutual aid and creating an anarchist community and will be an ongoing project for as long as we continue to resist.

Much of what communication currently takes place between anarchists happens on an ad-hoc basis at convergences, which are usually connected to major protests. This activist focus tends to exclude those who, because of family or work responsibilities, geographic isolation, or other reasons, can’t, or don’t want to, attend such events. A federation would enable better communication and ongoing political development. It could be a useful point of reference for people who, for whatever reason, are unable to be involved in collectives but who want to stay in contact or who need support. This would be important in helping to ensure intergenerational continuity so that individuals are able to stay involved and connected to anarchist struggle while being able to pass on their knowledge.

We do not wish to see a federation replicate or ‘override’ networks that already exist. By wanting to organise more explicitly as anarchists we don’t want to become inward-looking, purist or isolated. On the contrary, we hope that if we are more strongly organised, we will be better able to work alongside and be a part of social struggles that do not define themselves as anarchist.

One of the points we’ve discussed frequently is the tension between openness and political commonality. We don’t think it’s necessary or desirable to try to form an organisation of every activist, or even everyone who calls themselves an anarchist, in the region. Without a certain level of shared politics we won’t be able to go beyond talking about what we’re against and begin to talk about, and work towards, what we want. Alternately, we don’t want to define too narrowly a particular type of anarchism. One of the benefits we see of a federation is the possibility that different strands of anarchism can learn more about each other, and that we can further develop both our common and our separate politics. We want as much as possible that our contacts be your contacts, our networks your networks, our resources your resources and that internal strength can be translated into an outward focus.

This proposal is very much a draft. We’re putting forward our ideas in the hope that other people will consider and discuss the idea of a federation, not because we know for sure what it should be like. It was written by a small group of anarchists in Sydney. We’ve been helped a lot by discussion with others from Sydney and elsewhere, from looking at other models and from discussion that happened around previous proposals for a federation here. The people who wrote this are involved in anarchist projects such as Mutiny and the Black Rose Books collective, but it hasn’t been endorsed by these groups.

How we might get from proposal to federation:

Over the next few months, we hope that people will discuss the idea of an Anarchist Federation in their groups, in their cities, through existing forums & through an email list and a blog set up for such discussion.

http://afederation.wordpress.com
Anarchist.federation.discussion@gmail.com

Within the first half of next year we would like to help organise a convergence with the explicit purpose of discussing, and hopefully forming, the federation.

Common politics

The fundamental politics for participation in the federation would be that members:

* Seek the abolition of capitalism and class society in all its forms.
* Support an organisational philosophy based on decentralisation, mutual aid and autonomy, and reject domination and hierarchical/authoritarian organising.
* Oppose all forms of oppression and power over others and recognise that these rarely play out in isolation but are strongly interwoven and connected.
* Believe that an anarchist society is desirable, necessary and possible. Revolutionary change isn’t going to come from leaders, experts or professional activists but can only come from below: from the collective self-organisation of ‘ordinary’ people.
* Believe in solidarity across and against borders and are internationalists. We reject the state and all its functions such as the police and military.

Some further points

Here are some more thoughts that we’ve been discussing, and which inform our understanding of what the 5 points mean. These are provided for the purpose of discussion, not to be limits on the basis of federation.

Radical Struggles, Capitalism and Class

There are many different important elements in revolutionary and radical struggle. These include, but are not limited to, class, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, feminism and queer liberation. Some see one liberatory movement - such as the class struggle - as most important, whilst others choose not to create such a hierarchy. We hope that through working together we can discuss these differences in helpful ways.

When we talk about class struggle, we don’t simply mean the actions of the ‘traditional’ blue-collar working class. We recognise that the class composition of today has changed - largely as a product of neoliberal economic policies - and is characterised by conditions of casualisation and precarity. The unpaid and unrecognised labourer, the unemployed, the casually and underemployed, are all integral to revolutionary change. This class is diverse, but interconnected and we realise that all these struggles are affecting the same global capitalist system.

We further understand that capitalism is not just multinational corporations, economic summits or secret meetings of the very rich; it is a social relation and system that is played out and produced in our everyday lives.

Living without Hierarchy

The language of ‘non-hierarchical’ organising can still be used to implement the centralised control of a few. We believe that radicals should create structures that are genuinely decentralised and leaderless. Some frameworks for this include rotating and recallable delegates, consensus-based process and spokescouncils.

Although we may formally understand that racism, sexism, etc are an oppressive part of capitalism we still need to consciously ‘unlearn’ these concrete ideas and ways of social interaction in our own political organising and daily lives. This cannot be achieved by merely writing a paper - we need to create a liberatory culture everyday. That there are many ways of resisting all these forms of oppression is a strength, and we want to find ways of connecting our politics with these struggles.

Some Thoughts on Contemporary Struggles

The struggle against the global environmental crisis is inextricably linked to that against capitalism, and is a significant part of contemporary radical action. Environmental crises will necessarily affect those already marginalised and excluded more than those who are economically and socially privileged. ‘Green capitalism’ is not an answer, and we understand that a truly sustainable society will necessarily be decentralised, anti-capitalist and radically democratic.

We support Indigenous struggles for true sovereignty, dignities and against the theft of land and resources and ongoing genocide. We understand that many modern states were built on a brutal and ongoing colonialism, which continues to be upheld and imposed by police and the military.

Our struggles are internationalist and directed against the nation state. Nationalism and patriotism are barriers that are used to divide and repress ‘ordinary’ people, and prevent our own autonomous self-organisation. Permitted and unpermitted migration is a pivotal part of contemporary capitalism, dividing rich and poor, and the vast bulk of people on the basis of a false nationality. We accept the slogan that “No One is Illegal”.

Direct Action, not Lobbying or Negotiation

We don’t want to negotiate with the representatives of the state or the functionaries of capital. We realise that the dominant global institutions are so intrinsically undemocratic, pervasive and directed by profit-making that lobbying has little or no effect. We see direct action and mutual aid as occurring in many different forms and as the most practical and realistic way of building our power, our autonomy and achieving revolutionary change.

Rough thoughts on structure

1. When we talk about a regional federation, we are deliberately unclear about where in particular we are talking about. To limit ourselves to Australian borders seems silly: we would like to be open to comrades from Aotearoa and further. On the other hand, perhaps it would be more practical to begin with a smaller geographic region. There has already been some discussion about forming an Asian Anarchist Network as well.
2. The federation would be horizontal and based upon already existing affinity groups or collectives that choose to align themselves with it. We see this as one way of ensuring a rejection of top-down politics.
3. We do see there as being some solid requirements for participating individuals and collectives. We believe that there should be some kind of dues structure. This would give us some financial reserve and could be used on, among other things, a publication, jail solidarity and travel expenses for delegates. There would be an e-mail list or a message board for discussion.
4. Anarchist spaces that already exist, such as infoshops throughout the country, could be supported more effectively. They could link up more frequently, and could provide an alternative space for organizing rather than through establishment-controlled structures like universities or student unions.
5. A regular publication, either quarterly or biannually, could be produced. We see this as crucial to furthering both internal communication and propagating anarchist ideas to a wider audience. A website could be established.
6. An annual convergence (that isn’t centred around a major protest) to bring together anarchists from across the region, to strengthen networks, share information and skills and to improve collective campaigns.
7. Collectives would nominate rotating delegates or spokes that would meet either quarterly or every six months. This would be to further communication and facilitate the better functioning of the federation. We believe these would operate by a consensus-based model, with details to be decided at the foundation convergence.
8. These people could be a contact point for the federation in their geographical area. A phone tree for urgent contact and discussion would be established.
9. When there is a cross-over between collective work on certain important issues, federation working groups could be established. For instance this could include an Indigenous Solidarity working group or one against Australian Imperialism. We see collectives across the region working on these issues, and believe that there could be better co-operation and development of ideas. An Outreach working group could be set up to better spread our shared philosophy.
10. We hope for a safer spaces policy to come out of a foundation convergence and we believe that there should be a grievance committee delegated at each convergence.

Ideas on Safer spaces

We have to talk and think about ways to make the Federation and its events spaces in which we respect and support each other: because this doesn’t just happen automatically. It is everyone’s responsibility to think about how their behaviour and the behaviour of others affect people’s ability to participate and feel safe in a space. We all have to constantly work to ensure our spaces are free from physical violence and sexual assault, from intimidation and discrimination. There will be people involved in the Federation from various backgrounds and with various identities and people will have different experiences of the same spaces. We want to be able to vigorously disagree with each other while still making sure that everyone is listened to and is able to talk.

We want to set aside significant time at the initial convergence to talk about these issues. Any founding document would highlight such concepts as a necessary element of revolutionary struggle. We hope that collectives and individuals will bring concrete ideas and proposals to participate in this dialogue.

Moving Forward

As we have tried to make clear, all parts of this proposal are open for discussion and change. To facilitate discussion over the next few months - hopefully leading to a convergence - we have created a blog and email account. We see the blog as a public forum for discussion while the email would originally be for direct queries/responses/getting in contact. If it becomes necessary we would possibly also look at creating an egroup for more practical matters such as organising a formation convergence.

http://afederation.wordpress.com

Anarchist.federation.discussion@gmail.com

asn
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Dec 9 2007 13:26

HEALTH WARNING - A Proposal for A Regional Left Subcultural Swell Head Federation who want to masquerade as so called anarchists

The above proposal seems to me all about building/establishing another exotic leftist sect
- no doubt with strong stalinist tendencies certain to alienate any militant worker who had the misfortune to come across those associated with it
- it has some serious contradictions - it seems to recognise the existence of class struggle whilst endorising the divisive irrationalities of identity politics and associated theologies eg women's, queer,black, brindle, crimson etc oppressions which no doubt are beyond debate and discussion just as in the catholic church with its blessed trinity, virgin birth etc. For a critique of the stalinist tendencies among those who support identity politics see on the internet "A Document in Distributed -Feminism & Class Struggle by Peter Seigl" For the role of the CIA and various American Foundations (funded by multinational companies) in promoting the resurgent feminist movement in the US in the early 1970's see relevant articles about "Gloria Steinam and the Women's Movement" on the internet
- It has a terrible "navel gazing" look about it - and seems to aspire to some maoist style "criticism/self criticism" of individuals
- it seems to me its all about providing excuses for social occasions and creating another micro bureaucracy and a receipe for aimless activism and of course "political correctness displays" - and could have severe effects on the health of those involved - the development of very swell heads at these convergences the initiators of the document have in mind - trapping themselves in convergence/confernnce rooms - and they may need to get "police rescue squad" assistance to escape the venue!

- rather than having this unwholesome micro bureaucratic and leftist psuedo tribal fun
why not make a serious study of syndicalism and the revolutionary movement in general and find out what its really all about ?
- form a reading group - some useful books are as follows:
"Red Barcelona" edited by Angel Smith - very important discussion of anarcho-syndicalist and related movements in spain in the 20th Century available at Sydney Uni Library
"Gramsci & the Anarchists" by Carl Levy available at sydney Uni Library
" Revolutionary Syndicalism: An International Perspective" edited by Marcel Van Der Linden and Wayne Thorpe available at the State Library of NSW
"The Agony of Modernization" by Benjamin Martin very important book about the spanish anarcho-syndicalist movement - available at sydeny uni library
"Red November/Black November" by Salvatore Soldarto about the IWW in the USA
- "Reds or Rackets and "Battling for American labor" by Howard Kimeldorf about the workers movement in the maritime sector in the us and syndicalist actvity there - available at sydney uni library
- for reviews of some of these books see the archive section on our web page www.rebelworker.org
and also you can find on this site articles about what revolutionary activity informed by anarcho-syndicalism is actually about today in australia - the asn welcomes assistance with the distribution of its publications and interviewing of workers for them
mark

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Bilan
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Dec 9 2007 14:46

I don't see how this ignores syndicalism, or workers struggles. Infact, I'm pretty sure that's one of the key points.
What you seem to ignore is that oppression exists in more than just one way, and that it is necessary to struggle against the various forms of oppression - whether racial, class based, or otherwise - in our society. This proposes a practical way of organizing, and uniting anarchists - because, whether you accept it or not, those who wrote this are - and the various struggles which occur across Australia - from Land Rights, to the struggles against Work Choices (soon to be abolished and replaced with the same shit under a different banner), and so forth.

Where in this do they claim a sense of moral righteous, or arrogance?
Indeed, it seems we find that in your response rather than the proposal.

- Nick.

ronan
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Dec 9 2007 17:31

hi anarcho, i think the point that asn was trying to get at it that class is not a form of oppression, it's a relationship of exploitation. while anarchists should surely oppose all forms of hierarchy and oppression we also need a way out of this system. class struggle is this way, and so it is fundamentally different to racism, sexism etc.

anarchists also argue that these specific forms of oppression are frequently the creation of the capitalist class, as they foster prejudice and oppression in order to divide the working class and so make them easier to rule. (silvia federici's caliban and the witch is a good study of this process). attacking these hierarchies within the working class is a priority for those of us who are active in social movements and also our own neighbourhoods and workplaces.

on a practical note, i'd argue that creating a federation of anarchists who have only a small level of common agreement can be quite unproductive as it severely limits the organisation's ability to take action as an organisation, you end up acting only on a lowest common denominator of agreement. my own group, the workers solidarity movement has quite a high level of political agreement and we are quite effective despite our small size.
check out the platform for an idea of why we organise this way.

good luck with your initiative!

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Bilan
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Dec 9 2007 20:34

Hi Ronan,
Just for clarity, this isn't my proposal. I took no part in it's creation, or anything, I just support it.
hehe
Anywho, no, I definitely agree with what you've said here, but I don't think it's what Mark was trying to say.
From what I've seen, it seems he paints all politics which don't specifically relate to "worker - means of production" relationship as "identity politics" and thus "worthless", which is of course, absolute, out-dated rubbish.

I think this quote says it all, "seems to recognise the existence of class struggle whilst endorising the divisive irrationalities of identity politics and associated theologies eg women's, queer,black, brindle, crimson etc oppressions which no doubt are beyond debate and discussion just as in the catholic church with its blessed trinity, virgin birth etc. For a critique of the stalinist tendencies among those who support identity politics see on the internet "A Document in Distributed -Feminism & Class Struggle by Peter Seigl" For the role of the CIA and various American Foundations (funded by multinational companies) in promoting the resurgent feminist movement in the US in the early 1970's see relevant articles about "Gloria Steinam and the Women's Movement" on the internet"

Whilst I think Federations certainly have their issues, as do all forms of organizing, I think that it could be one of the best initiatives to unite and link up various anarchist groups - from collectives, unions, etc - and strengthen and build the anarchist movement. Certainly, there will be issues though. I suppose we can only see how it plays out.

-Nick.

ronan
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Dec 9 2007 22:03

ok yeah, didn't notice the CIA stuff.
i'll make a few more points.
on delegates council:

Quote:
We believe these would operate by a consensus-based model, with details to be decided at the foundation convergence.

i don't think you can feasibly have a delegate system that will work on the basis of consensus. consensus can only be arrived at through long discussions around a topic within a group. to ask several different groups to have a discussion on a specific topic, then give a specific mandate to a delegate who meets with delegates of other groups, and is supposed to somehow arrive at a consensus that represents all the views members of the federation seems impossible. it may be more correct to look at this as a representative system of democracy. in my group, our delegate council decision making is based on motions which all branches have discussed, then the motion is voted on and each vote is tallied up. so delegates basically just bring the list of votes of their branches and mention the discussions we had.

i'm being critical here but there is a few points there i think are quite good, working groups are a useful initiative (although they frequently prove difficult to get going) and i think it's good that you're talking about having dues, this represents a good level of political committment. also the commitment to regular meetings and discussions is very important in order to clarify politics.

the main difficulty i see is that the proposal seems torn between a network for communication and discussion between different collectives and a federation that will develop its own political line and act on this. i think this distinction should be clarified, setting up a group only for it to crumble because people involved have different visions of what it should be is a disempowering experience that puts many people off politics and formal organisation. i'd say have a look at some different groups whose structure and activity you would like to emulate and figure out how they do it. it may prove useful to go through this exploratory phase now rather than finding out a few months down the line.

asn
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Dec 10 2007 09:26

-on the issue of the role of agencies of international capital playing a role in the resurgence of the "women's movement" in the usa - why not check out that reference I made in my post? - there is certainly fairly irrefutable evidence of the cia connections of key figures in the resurgence of the so called women's movement - steinam certainly has never denied her long term cia involvement and katherine Graham richest woman in the world one of steinnam's key collaborators in Ms Magazine had close ties with the "agency" via one of her key publications - I'm not saying the cia or usa based capitalist agencies "created" this movement but helped it along enormously and shaped it and it played a very divisive role in the anticapitalist milieux - also see the book "Who Paid the Piper?" has some very well documented accounts of these agencies roles in getting behind other movements for us imperialist purposes - eg the massive support for the "abstract expressionist" artistic movement in the 1950's to counter the soviet "socialist realism" - this artistic movement got going on its own steam but certain agencies of us capital got behind it in a massive way.
- on the issue of "uniting the anarchist movement" - a question arises -are these really anarchist groupings? The problem in such countries as australia is the continuing influence of the stalinist legacy within the anti-capitalist milieux - via student politics, the union bureaucracy, left groups - many pick up unwhole practices - underhanded and maniputlative practices., stacking meetings, psychological manipulative of individuals, hostility toward rational processes of debate of discussion - the reference I mentioned - "A document is distributed Feminism & Class Struggle" provides a graphic example of this problem in a self proclaimed "anarchist grouping" - it also exposes the contradictions of this "oppression" mongering which encourages unscientific climates- and going along with stalinist type approaches within groupings within the anti-capitalist milieux in places such as australia
mark

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Bilan
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Dec 10 2007 11:00
asn wrote:
-on the issue of the role of agencies of international capital playing a role in the resurgence of the "women's movement" in the usa - why not check out that reference I made in my post? - there is certainly fairly irrefutable evidence of the cia connections of key figures in the resurgence of the so called women's movement - steinam certainly has never denied her long term cia involvement and katherine Graham richest woman in the world one of steinnam's key collaborators in Ms Magazine had close ties with the "agency" via one of her key publications - I'm not saying the cia or usa based capitalist agencies "created" this movement but helped it along enormously and shaped it

And...therefor, womens liberation is irrelevent? What garbage. The legitimacy of something is not defined by those who've high jacked it, but what it really is. The liberation of women - the abolishment of patriachy - as an absolutely necessary measure for all revolutionaries, in order to build toward a truly egalitarian society.
It doesn't mean we have to like, or agree with the politics of ALL people who preach this, in the same was you don;t have to like, or agree with all politics of anarchists.

Quote:
- on the issue of "uniting the anarchist movement" - a question arises -are these really anarchist groupings?

and the answer follows; Yes.

Quote:
The problem in such countries as australia is the continuing influence of the stalinist legacy within the anti-capitalist milieux - via student politics, the union bureaucracy, left groups - many pick up unwhole practices - underhanded and maniputlative practices., stacking meetings, psychological manipulative of individuals, hostility toward rational processes of debate of discussion

I'm interested to hear your contemporary evidence for this, using relevant, current examples.
And I'm also interested to hear how this outlines why an Anarchist Federation in Oceania is pointless and so forth.

Quote:
- the reference I mentioned - "A document is distributed Feminism & Class Struggle" provides a graphic example of this problem in a self proclaimed "anarchist grouping" - it also exposes the contradictions of this "oppression" mongering which encourages unscientific climates- and going along with stalinist type approaches within groupings within the anti-capitalist milieux in places such as australia
mark

This truly is the epitome of cliche'.
I have no doubt that there are issues with various feminist groups, anarchist groups, etc. in fact, in all revolutionary currents and organizations, there are issues (even Anarcho-Syndicalism - : O). But can you, without being totally inaccurate, paint them all with one brush like that?
I'm afraid not.

asn
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Dec 10 2007 12:34

- the meeting mentioned in peter seigl's article is a clear cut contemporay example of this phenomena in 2004 in Australia ( its well documented) where you have this stalinist aligned practices in a so called anarchist group - an avowed anarchist grouping voting not to allow debate and discussion on certain issues of identity politics like you have in the catholic church with its "theologies" (which are beyond debate or discussion) or the communist parties in their stalinist heydays eg re the party line at the time - many in the group prior to the meeting mentioned in Peter's article had been subjected to certain psychological manipulation techniques and had been also incited by this individual at the meeting via his loud emotive attack on another at the meeting - and he had also been involved in manipulating the meeting agenda as part of this cunning manoeuvre - waiting to introduce this item re identity politics until the last minute - (the adoption of such positions is of course also very much in the way of the leftist sect with all its ridiculous pretentions of being able to resolve every issue under the sun or the leninist/stalinist party in "power" such as in the USSR during its existence
- the individual in question whose name escapes me also had very much a background in student politics and had good connections with the lower rungs of the union bureaucracy where its likely he picked up these unsavoury techniques - he and others in a grouping known as "Love & Rage" (many of whom joined this anarchist grouping) had also been involved in "stacking practices" in meetings associated with organising the "Workers Control" conference held in Sydney in late 2003. He and other members of this group didn't appear to me to have read very widely in politics or history been members of explicit Leninist/Stalinist groupings - but they had picked up stalinist style practices/technique as a sort of "activist unwisedom" - acceptable activist behaviour - Antonio Gramsci would describe it as a case of "hegemony" - massive stalinist influence within the anticapitalist milieu - causing these practices to be adopted even within so-called anarchist groupings
- I consider Peter in his article effectively argues that feminism/so called women's liberation is contrary to the revolutionary project and is a type of bourgeois movement
- in the federation your taking about - although you may have what look like formally "anarchist procedures" in place due to this "stalinist" hegemony or "activist un-wisedom" affecting many involved - you would end up with a grouping heavily influenced by these practices - and given the associated unscientific climate and lack of workplace class struggle experience of many involved (probably many students/ those in the lower rungs in the union bureaucracy, those with high levels of autonomy in their work,etc) effective strategy would be developed and like various leftist groupings who don't use the label "anarchist" you would be swept into all many of aimless opportunist activity - the meetings of the federation would be effectively excuses for social occasions and hatching schemes for "activist" spectacles eg involvement in anti-globalist protests and you would have a micro bureauracy of offices and rituals irrelevant to the revolutionary project
-mark

asn
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Dec 10 2007 12:37

correction to the above post- it should read "autonomy in their work, etc) "no" effective would be developed and..."

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Bilan
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Dec 11 2007 13:55

- the meeting mentioned in peter seigl's article is a clear cut contemporay example of this phenomena in 2004 in Australia ( its well documented) where you have this stalinist aligned practices in a so called anarchist group - an avowed anarchist grouping voting not to allow debate and discussion on certain issues of identity politics like you have in the catholic church with its "theologies" (which are beyond debate or discussion)

From personal experience, I see this as false. And would rather assume that, saying that politics around "black" liberation (ranging from Indigenous to those of African descent, and otherwise), Womens liberation, and gay liberation as 'bourgeois', or counterrevolutionary, naturally, I can imagine you'd get quite a hostile reaction, not because of Stalinist tendencies of anarchist groups, or because of Stalinist influence, but rather, because of the absurdity of such a statement, and your inability to recognize the legitimacy of these issues, or even recognize them as such.
I'm not trying to mask up, or pretend that these tendencies don't exist - as I have witnessed that, too.
More so, I am saying that, at least from what I've seen, you have a tendency to ignore important issues around the emancipation of working people, and fail to recognize the 'classes-within-classes' which exist (around race, gender, sexuality, etc - see pay gaps between white, and non-white workers (particularly indigenous - of which is, on average, only 65% of White workers) and women are much the same), and recognize the necessity to resist these, and organize and educate on these issues.
There is obvious tactical errors in confronting and overcoming issues of male dominance, and so forth, and obvious problems arise in trying to find solutions to this; and some solutions have been highly inadequate, and some have not. This is unavoidable, however. Mistakes are to be made, as this is a process, not an end.

Quote:
- many in the group prior to the meeting mentioned in Peter's article had been subjected to certain psychological manipulation techniques and had been also incited by this individual at the meeting via his loud emotive attack on another at the meeting

No ones arguing thats a good thing. And even so, that's not a legitimate reason to portary the womens liberation movement as bourgeois. That's just as counterproductive.

Quote:
- and he had also been involved in manipulating the meeting agenda as part of this cunning manoeuvre - waiting to introduce this item re identity politics until the last minute - (the adoption of such positions is of course also very much in the way of the leftist sect with all its ridiculous pretentions of being able to resolve every issue under the sun or the leninist/stalinist party in "power" such as in the USSR during its existence

Right...

Quote:
- the individual in question whose name escapes me also had very much a background in student politics and had good connections with the lower rungs of the union bureaucracy where its likely he picked up these unsavoury techniques

That's quite a conspiracy theory you've come up with there, Mark. However, it doesn't prove that student politics are Stalinst, or have Stalinist tendencies.
I am a student. I am an anarchist. I am a worker. I hold no (to my knowledge) Stalinist tendencies - or at least any that I'm not willing to address.

Quote:
He and other members of this group didn't appear to me to have read very widely in politics or history been members of explicit Leninist/Stalinist groupings - but they had picked up stalinist style practices/technique as a sort of "activist unwisedom" - acceptable activist behaviour - Antonio Gramsci would describe it as a case of "hegemony" - massive stalinist influence within the anticapitalist milieu - causing these practices to be adopted even within so-called anarchist groupings

This sounds more like a person attack on certain members of collectives which haven't existed for 5 or 10 years.

Quote:
- I consider Peter in his article effectively argues that feminism/so called women's liberation is contrary to the revolutionary project and is a type of bourgeois movement

That's nice. I also know comrades who do the same. They do, however, recognize womens liberation as legitimate, but feminism as a movement with it's routes in bourgeois ideology.

Quote:
- in the federation your taking about - although you may have what look like formally "anarchist procedures" in place due to this "stalinist" hegemony or "activist un-wisedom" affecting many involved - you would end up with a grouping heavily influenced by these practices - and given the associated unscientific climate and lack of workplace class struggle experience of many involved (probably many students/ those in the lower rungs in the union bureaucracy, those with high levels of autonomy in their work,etc)

How patronising, and blatantly arrogant of you.
Most people in Australia aren't heavily experienced in workers struggles. Does that make them of any less value to the revolutionary movement?
Of course not. This isn't some sort of vanguard of the revolutionary anarchist movement, but merely a point of organization and communication. It's an experiment (actually, it's still a proposal).
Issues are there to be addressed, not ignored.

Quote:
effective strategy would be developed and like various leftist groupings who don't use the label "anarchist" you would be swept into all many of aimless opportunist activity

The possibility of that always exists, and is something to be weary of, however, it is not inevitable.

Quote:
- the meetings of the federation would be effectively excuses for social occasions and hatching schemes for "activist" spectacles eg involvement in anti-globalist protests and you would have a micro bureauracy of offices and rituals irrelevant to the revolutionary project

Rubbish. If you read the proposal itself, it address's that as one of the main issues of the current anarchist movement.

- Nick.

asn
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Dec 12 2007 14:02

How patronising, and blatantly arrogant of you.
Most people in Australia aren't heavily experienced in workers struggles. Does that make them of any less value to the revolutionary movement?
Of course not. This isn't some sort of vanguard of the revolutionary anarchist movement, but merely a point of organization and communication. It's an experiment (actually, it's still a proposal).
Issues are there to be addressed, not ignored.

- due to their lack of experience in the class struggle of the social elements I refered to and the stalinist legacy within the left subculture many would be influenced by - its likely they would be drawn into aimless activism of leftist sects and aimless protest politics - jumping from one issue/protest to another due to their feelings of "morale outrage" or the manipulation of sect gurus - and therefore irrelevant to the revolutionary movement ie the workers control project which would involve long range strategic assisting of workers self activity - that seems to me a fairly accurate description of the anti-capitalist milieu today in australia and elsewhere see peter seigl's report on the "workers control" conference on the archive section in our web page www.rebelworker.org for a discussion of the politics of these elements
- with these type of elements in your federation - its very likely you will have just that - a so called "anarchist vanguard" - an aping of the leninist sects with a different iconography and colour schemes

That's quite a conspiracy theory you've come up with there, Mark. However, it doesn't prove that student politics are Stalinst, or have Stalinist tendencies.
I am a student. I am an anarchist. I am a worker. I hold no (to my knowledge) Stalinist tendencies - or at least any that I'm not willing to address.
- I do not see any such theory - it seems quite plausible - the various factions of the alp active in student politics are heavily inflienced by the stalinist heritage - particularly the right faction - in the 1950's adopted "industrial groups" - copied from the communist party cell structure in its stalinist phase and various leninist groups which are active in student politics also descend from the stalinist heritage - so he and a whole layer of activoids - took practices associated with the stalinist tradition - also via his contacts in the union bureaucracy - who are masters of these tactics - he definitely wasn't born with this mastery of these unsavoury tactics - there must have been a learning process - he has never denied this background or contacts in the union bureaucracy - he would of course deny any stalinist heritage influence as would others in the so called anarchist grouping he was involved and love and rage (and now in mutineers) -which went along with stalinist ways - but its been documented and there are witnesses - and he himself is one of a whole "social layer"
- as I suggested - via a reading group which could focus to some extent on the history of communist parties and the groupings they influenced - you would develop a much better grasp of the stalinist legacy on the anti-capitalist milieu today in australia
- on the issue of class - I subcribe to the marxist approach which see it in the context to ones relationship to ownership of the means of production in a capitalist society -i don't recognise "any sub classes"
- mark

jeremytrewindixon
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Dec 13 2007 01:09

Gotta say that a few good reading groups would be very helpful. And when Mark talks of the dangers of massive time-wasting and displacement activity involved in setting up an anarchist federation he can point to a lot of experience tending to support his fears, and student politics are as I recall an appalling snake-pit, maybe the sitaution there has improved? (I'm sceptical), any influence on anarchism from the pracitces of student politics is likely to be regrettable. And for some reason humanities undergrauates in general seem to be of all people the least able to think for themsleves and the most intimidated by intellectual fashion. So a movement heavily recruited from such people is going to have inbuilt problems. And there are some extremely unhealthy tendencies in single-oppression politics, anti-racism, feminism etc. Groups which tail a clutch of various single-issues without regard to class (for example genuflecting to "black community leaders" without recognising that they are usually bourgeois as well as black thats how they got to be leader) , sooner or later make fools of themelseves bigtime. (Albert Meltzer used to be quite good on this on a good day.)

So I think my comrade Mark has to be granted those points. Of course, when it comes to feminism and the rest he does tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater; but at least he has so to speak been trying to wash the baby. Recently (Mark!) I came across an old interview by Germaine Greer in which she identifies as an anarchist marxist and makes the precise point that the women's movement is a bourgeois movement and limited by that fact......it would be helpful to discuss these issues rahter than just excommunicating each other.

I hope the anarchist federation goes ahead.....but I also hope Mark's concerns are borne in mind. A federation of reading groups would actually be a very powerful thing; something like the old Corresponding Societies which despite their innocuous name played as big part in building the labour and socialist movement.

princess mob
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Dec 13 2007 13:00
Quote:
so he and a whole layer of activoids - took practices associated with the stalinist tradition - also via his contacts in the union bureaucracy - who are masters of these tactics - he definitely wasn't born with this mastery of these unsavoury tactics - there must have been a learning process - he has never denied this background or contacts in the union bureaucracy - he would of course deny any stalinist heritage influence as would others in the so called anarchist grouping he was involved and love and rage (and now in mutineers) -which went along with stalinist ways - but its been documented and there are witnesses - and he himself is one of a whole "social layer"

I'm interested to know who the hell you think you're talking about here, Mark. There are only two (maybe three) people in Mutiny who had anything to do with Love&Rage. And the only 'he' among those people has no 'background or contacts in the union bureaucracy' to deny: I think you must be getting people confused. If you're going to go around critiquing proposals by slagging off individuals, you should at least make sure you have some factual basis.

asn
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Dec 14 2007 09:03

- the individual "he" was never a member of mutiny but was a member of love and rage also I'm critiquing a certain small social layer and certain nefarious practices it adopts or goes along with and historical legacies/sociological factors contributing to it- the individual "he" was just a good example of someone graphically displaying/engaging in these practices - and the associated affair he and other members of L& R were engaged illustrated a case of a formally avowed "anarchist" grouping adopting stalinist influenced practices/approaches
mark

omar
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Dec 17 2007 07:15

i think its important to differentiate between two very different types of anarchism that exist. the first type, is what could be called "Workplace Anarchism" which the Australian Anarcho-Syndicalist Network charcterises well. This form of anarchism aims to be based in workplaces and focuses almost solely on workplace struggle. this form of anarchism is rooted in the anarcho-syndicalist currents of anarchism.

the second type is what could be called "social movement anarchism" and the authors of the proposal for a regional anarchist federation typify this form of anarchism well. this form of anarchism is rooted in anti-war/ecology/anti-globalisation/social justice currents in anarchism.

i think it's fair enough to suggest that the two currents have little in common and that one has primarily a working class base and the other a student/youth base. when they come into contact it is often in a "I'm a better anarchist than you" fashion typified by the above exchange.

anarchists in both camps need to work on moving beyond this sectarianism to recognise each others strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/limitations and develop strategies of partnership not predatorism.

there's no point telling youth/students within social movement anarchist currents to go study syndicalism just so they can play a substitue for workers struggle. however i would agree that there' s a definite danger that a regional federation will become a sub-cultural ghetto, especially if ashers involved, ; ).

my suggestion would be that instead of spending a whole load of time and energy on a regional federation that may or may not materialise, it would be far better for anarchists in the region to work within their local collectives and network /cooperate regionally on important issues/campaigns:
-ending aus/nz support for the occupation of afghanistan
-climate change and fossil fuel use
-deforestation

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Bilan
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Dec 17 2007 21:56
Quote:
i think its important to differentiate between two very different types of anarchism that exist. the first type, is what could be called "Workplace Anarchism" which the Australian Anarcho-Syndicalist Network charcterises well. This form of anarchism aims to be based in workplaces and focuses almost solely on workplace struggle. this form of anarchism is rooted in the anarcho-syndicalist currents of anarchism.

the second type is what could be called "social movement anarchism" and the authors of the proposal for a regional anarchist federation typify this form of anarchism well. this form of anarchism is rooted in anti-war/ecology/anti-globalisation/social justice currents in anarchism.

I think this distinction can in itself be problematic, for what you describe in the latter, the former shares many characteristics, such as an all out rejection of all capitalist wars, anti globalisation, and social justice, of which Syndicalists have struggled for.
There is certainly a difference between the two, but it's more problematic than useful to create more distinctions between the two groups, simply on the basis that, we're all anarchists, and, at least to some extent, are all "anarchist communists" - though I'm sure there are other variations, and so forth.
The main principles which we should aspire to and struggle for are,
-total workers self management
- emancipation of all peoples, and the destruction of all social structures, and institutions which perpetuate the dominance of groups over others
- common ownership of property
- Liberty, equality and justice.

I think those are 4 basic principles that both sects can agree on, and are in my opinion, the most important.

Quote:
i think it's fair enough to suggest that the two currents have little in common and that one has primarily a working class base and the other a student/youth base. when they come into contact it is often in a "I'm a better anarchist than you" fashion typified by the above exchange.

I don't think this is a fair call, either, and I think that arrogant Anarcho-syndicalists perpetuate this problem with their annoying attitudes of more anarchist-than-thou.
Fact is, the latter may have a different base - although, not that different, as most students are working class anyway - they represent a more diverse set of struggles - of which you outlined previously - from issues around Indigenous sovereignty (Land Rights, etc), Queer Liberation, Womens Liberation, etc. While the former clearly focuses purely on Workers struggles.
The failure of both sides is its inability to recognize the necessity of both.

Quote:
anarchists in both camps need to work on moving beyond this sectarianism to recognise each others strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/limitations and develop strategies of partnership not predatorism.

Most def.

Quote:
there's no point telling youth/students within social movement anarchist currents to go study syndicalism just so they can play a substitue for workers struggle. however i would agree that there' s a definite danger that a regional federation will become a sub-cultural ghetto, especially if ashers involved, ; ).

I've read a fair bit of a-s stuff, believe me, as well as Marx. ; ) hehe

Quote:
my suggestion would be that instead of spending a whole load of time and energy on a regional federation that may or may not materialise, it would be far better for anarchists in the region to work within their local collectives and network /cooperate regionally on important issues/campaigns:
-ending aus/nz support for the occupation of afghanistan
-climate change and fossil fuel use
-deforestation

That might be so, but the purpose of that federation is to establish better communication between collectives, to create a more organized base for struggle against capitalism, etc.
That was my interpretation anyway.

anna x
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Dec 18 2007 00:59

To be honest I think that the best thing many anarchists in Oceania can do is spend a bit more time checking out some of the thinking and discussions here on libcom before doing what they tend to do every couple of years from what I'm told - put out a grand proposal for a federation, argue about it for a while then watch it die. Maybe it's my age and the fact that I've managed to come to anarchism later in life without having a heap of trot or student politics baggage but I tend to agree with Mark when he warns of another leftist sect as the activistoid culture that seems to permiate much of what is called anarchism in Australia at least for me seems to be what alienates everyday workers from engaging with any kind of 'anarchist' thinking or organising... I know it keeps me from getting too involved with many that call themselves anarchists. I am also of the opinion that any kind of attempt to bring together the various strands of so called anarchism in Oceania under one umbrella is going to be frought with problems that i think human ego's won't allow to be sorted easily. Good luck with it though.
all the best.
gregg.
red n black star

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@ndy
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Dec 18 2007 16:39

Hola,

I don't think Mark's criticisms have any substance, either in regards to the current proposal or in regards to more general issues (for example, Western women's movements of the last few decades). The specific text Mark refers to is:

'Australia, Feminism & Class Struggle - A Document is Distributed'
From Rebel Worker <rebel_worker@yahoo.com.au>
Date Sat, 24 Jul 2004 10:00:06 +0200 (CEST)
http://www.ainfos.ca/04/jul/ainfos00445.html

In it, Peter Siegl criticises the contributions to the Jura collective of a number of individuals who were previously members of another group known as 'Love & Rage'. To the best of my knowledge, L&R, which existed during the mid- to late '90s (and dissolved in the early '00s) never described or understood itself as 'anarchist', but rather as a loose collection or network of individuals from the 'autonomous' student left. Presumably, therefore, the anarchist group to which Mark refers is the Jura Books collective.

Without going into detail regarding what is a relatively obscure event, the point, according to Peter, is that 'feminism' is bourgeois, bourgeois is bad, therefore 'feminism' is bad and has no place in the socialist movement. Whatever the merits of this argument (and I think that they are few), it doesn't bear any particular relevance to the proposal for an anarchist federation as far as I can see. I also don't see the point of engaging with Mark on this question, as it's obvious to me that he's just carrying on as he always does, and that if he wishes not to participate, he does not need to, and if a group of which he is a member is considering doing so, he is at liberty to try to convince them otherwise.

asn
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Dec 19 2007 12:37

at the time this meeting occurred - these people who had previously been members of Love and Rage had joined this avowed "anarchist grouping" jura books - and were idenitifying themselves as "anarchists or anarcho-syndicalists" at this time and their stalinist style approaches were being supported by certain longterm members of this proclaimed anarchist grouping and an allied grouping (particularly at this meeting)- none of these ex-Love & Rage members/jura members faced discplinary action re their stalinist style antics and the motions passed at this meeting have never been disovowed by the jura "sect" subsequently
- also what I was providing was an example of the extent of stalinist style influence within the anti-capitalist milieux here in Australia which is fairly smallish and the so called anarchist one even smaller (jura is one of the more significant and long lived) - this nefarious influence being likely to be pervasive in the proposed "federation" (many drawn into it would have picked up this influence from the left subculture via student politics, membership of political parties, associations with. the union bureaucracy etc ) - the federation proposal certainly embraces support of agreement with identity politics notions which Peter Seigl ably criticised in his article particularly in the case of "womens' identity politics" ( as I have shown agencies of international capital have supported it massively particularly in the USA for its divisive role to counter the new left which in the lately '60's and early 70's was playing a very important role in assisting workers self activity/industrial activity) focusing on its irrationalities/absurdities - a grouping (the proposed federation) where support for these notions is prevalent and no doubt beyond debate and discussion and leading to no doubt all manner of bizarre rituals and procedures would certainly have a very anti-scientific climate - precluding the development of strategies relevant to the workers control project and alientating itself from miliant workers
mark

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@ndy
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Dec 19 2007 15:41

Contradicting myself, and in response: from what I can gather, Mark is claiming that the anarchist milieu in Australia is basically 'Stalinist' in orientation, both in ideology and in practice. An example of this is the Jura collective, which from at least 2004 has been infected by this poisonous brand of politics. Further, given that this is a generalised condition (the cause of which is the supposed fact that many if not most members of this milieu come from "the left subculture via student politics... political parties... the union bureaucracy" etcetera) any federation of groups drawn from this same milieu will logically be prone to the same symptoms.

Personally, I don't think that this is the case.

asn
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Dec 20 2007 09:23

I wouldn't say "stalinist" exactly as in the old days of the communist party in its heyday - I would refer to stalinist influenced practices being widespread in this milieu contributed by the predominance of mass stalinism in the shape of the moscow line communist party (CPA) being predominant to the left of the ALP for 3 to 4 decades in the mid 20th century marginalising enormously other anti-capitalist groupings - this is an historical fact - a useful book on the history of the communist party in australia is "Into the Mainstream" by Tom O'Lincoln - this nefarious influence is certainly difficult to tackle as it is so "acceptable" in the anticapitalist milieu here , but for revolutionaries it can never be "acceptable" - a serious study of the anti-capitalist movement and its current s would at least provide some insight into the problem I'm getting at
mark

jeremytrewindixon
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Dec 27 2007 09:07
@ndy wrote:
To the best of my knowledge, L&R, which existed during the mid- to late '90s (and dissolved in the early '00s) never described or understood itself as 'anarchist', but rather as a loose collection or network of individuals from the 'autonomous' student left. Presumably, therefore, the anarchist group to which Mark refers is the Jura Books collective.

Well, @ndy, the best of your knowledge is apparently nothing special. I've just been reading a selection of theoretical articles from the American Love & Rage press, published by AK and thoughtfully given me by a comrade. And yep, they thought they were anarchists all right; although they did regard "improving" anarchism as part of their project. While I know very little about the Australian group they must by taking the name have taken on this theoretical load barring actual dishonesty.

On the federation: I need to mention that the idea of a principled abandonment of negotiation under all circumstances is wrong. It is wrong to think that such rejection is part of anarchism; and if it was then anarchism would to that extent be wrong. Any effective mass movement will have to negotiate limited demands from time to time.

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@ndy
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Dec 28 2007 13:06

Special no, correct yes. My point: the North American L&R was anarchist, but had 4/5 of 3/4 of 2/3 of fuck-all to do with the Sydney-based student grouping, who stole the name but not the politics. The students who formed L&R in Sydney in the late '90s described L&R as a collective of the autonomous left.

jeremytrewindixon
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Jan 1 2008 10:12

2/5 of fuckall then? That's still quite a lot of fuckall.

Seriously I read in my US Love and Rage anthology a comment to the effect that their politics tends to be called "autonomism" in Europe because of the greater historical baggage on Anarchism. So your remark does little to counter my assumption that Love and Rage Australia believed themselves to be Anarchists; at leat in the sense that American Love and Rage believed of themselves. We need the intervention of an Australian Love and Rager and this point to take the discussion any further. If ex Love and ragers are involved in Jura I should hope theya re Anarchists.

More interesting and important is the question of negotiation.

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@ndy
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Jan 2 2008 14:18

Well, jeremytrewindixon, your knowledge of mathematics is apparently nothing special, as 4/5 of 3/4 of 2/3 of 0 is still 0. That there is a comment in (what I presume to be) A New World In Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (edited by Roy San Fillipo, AK Press, 2003) regarding the supposed fact that their politics might be called "autonomism" by some in Europe is neither here nor there: L&R always identified itself as an anarchist organisation, a fact which was reiterated in every issue of the newspaper the network (then federation) produced over its eight years existence. Further, by 'anarchism' they did not mean some attenuated form of Marxism known as 'autonomism'. And just as I've been familiar with L&R since I began reading its newspaper at the beginning of the nineties, so too am I familiar with the Australian grouping which adopted its name in the late nineties, having corresponded, spoken and organised with a number of its members, some of whom I continue to remain in contact with. To put it bluntly: your assumption is wrong.

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juozokas
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Jan 2 2008 18:18

While this discussion is riveting why don't we talk about something else like the class struggle & how is best for revolutionaries in Oceania to organise; what are effective methods of action, etc.

jeremytrewindixon
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Jan 5 2008 10:18

So, @ndy, "fuckall' means the same as zero? I suppose, then, that with all the fractions you were just filling in space having nothing to say? On the subject of Love and Rage I repeat that we would need the intervention of an Australian Love and Rager to take the discussion any further. If you really feel the need to substitute for such a person then you would need to quote your sources. Your unsupported opinion is worth, well, "fuckall". Have a read of A New World in Our Hearts, you seem to have read the cover to some effect, inside you'll encounter some interesting claims about (for example) the need to supplement the Anarchist tradition with Leninist ideas.

juozokas, I've written quite a lot over the years about exactly the subject you recommend.....but I am very much in favour of discussing it some more. I think organization should focus around developing the grass-roots infrastructure to run a succesfull indefnite general strike. That does not mean calling for a general strike right now (we would lose) , let alone calling on the ACTU to call one. Building the infrastructure for a victorious general strike would mean building a new union movement. We should also publicize and defend the idea of industrial sabotage "clogwork" as afighting tactic for the here and now. We should take the meat of what the IWW did in its great days, in other words. (The shell is not necessary). We should support things like the transport workers paper "Sparks", and see such support as part of building for a general strike. We should work to build a revolutionary culture, again as the Wobblies did. A small example is the celebration of the IWW atni-conscription campaign a few of us have been holding on ANZAC Day the las t four or five years.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on these and related matters.

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Bilan
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Jan 6 2008 04:09

I'd say thats good, but I ask, is it enough?
That sounds more like just building an industrial union, much like the IWW.
What about organizing in communities?
Unemployed folk?
etc.

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@ndy
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Jan 6 2008 07:19

juozokas : The ostensible subject of the thread is a proposal for a regional anarchist federation. Maybe you could venture an opinion on whether or not you think this is a good or bad thing, a worthwhile or useless proposal? The question of how revolutionaries in Oceania might organise and what are effective forms of revolutionary action is a broader question I think.

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juozokas
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Jan 6 2008 09:27

I think it is a good idea on paper but we probably lack the numbers at this time and judging by this thread already I think people in the anarchist and libertarian milleu are far too sectarian for this to ever work. My knowledge of theory and history is too shithouse to contribute much more but I am keen to learn from folks. I have not really made up my mind about syndicalism but it seems a little uhh... ambitious and maybe a little dated in this place & time. But that is the kind of thing I reckon we should be discussing - concrete aims and tactics and how to organise and avoid the bollocks as much as possible.