Proposed constitution for an anarchist federation in Australia

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klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Jul 17 2013 03:36

thanks for this update comrade!

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 20 2013 02:27

Constitutions are crap.

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Lugius
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Jul 20 2013 10:58

How so?

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 20 2013 12:24

Wherever there is constitution-writing and organisation-construction there is usually an absence of content. All the focus is on form. Why not just be anarchists?

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Jul 20 2013 18:08

How does one be anarchist without be organised?

One of the questions addressed at the TFAC open forum was 'What is an anarchist?' One view was that it was not enough to consider anarchy desirable and believe it to be possible, action had to be taken to that end. Or to put it another way, to be an anarchist to had to be involved in an anarchist group. Without being a member of an anarchist group, one would be, at best, an anarchist sympathiser.

there were some in attendance who bristled at term 'anarchist sympathiser' as if it was somehow pejorative.

There was another view that being an anarchist simply meant behaving and living in a way that was consistent with anarchism.

Curiously, there was a view expressed that an anarchist federation would have no legitimacy without the general approval of 'the broader anarchist community'.

I wonder what constitutes 'the broader anarchist community'. How is it defined?

Harrison
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Jul 20 2013 22:08
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
Wherever there is constitution-writing and organisation-construction there is usually an absence of content. All the focus is on form. Why not just be anarchists?

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ites
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Jul 21 2013 05:09

I think what people are having a hard time trying to understand is the assumption that the two are mutually exclusive. You suggest yourself that an anarchist is measured by what they do rather than what they say, and yet paradoxically you seem to be rejecting structure and collective action in favour of the 'I say I'm an anarchist therefore I am' type of approach.

One could argue by contrast that 'anarchist' is a verb rather than a noun. One could further argue that that, rather than competing to see who can beat their chests the loudest about how much more anarchist than thou they are, and to slander and backstab anyone they perceive as threats to their dominance of miniscule groupings, the competency of an anarchist is measured by their capacity to organise collectively and effectively - perhaps even by their ability to put anarchist organisations at the service of the working class rather than expecting the working class to put itself at theirs.

bastarx
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Jul 21 2013 05:18
Lugius wrote:
How does one be anarchist without be organised?

One of the questions addressed at the TFAC open forum was 'What is an anarchist?' One view was that it was not enough to consider anarchy desirable and believe it to be possible, action had to be taken to that end. Or to put it another way, to be an anarchist to had to be involved in an anarchist group. Without being a member of an anarchist group, one would be, at best, an anarchist sympathiser.

Does the group have to do anything for the individual to be awarded their anarchist merit badge?

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Jul 21 2013 09:20
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anarchist merit badge?

Sounds a bit sarcastic (lack of a point /argument?)

It would be fair to presume that the point of forming an anarchist group would be to engage in some kind of activity that advances toward the aim of creating anarchy - a free and equal society. A reading group type of activity could be one example.

The definition of anarchist given above is not new, Albert Meltzer, a well-know anarchist from England has put it forward in the past.

Please see: http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-australia

Up til now, there has been general agreement that an anarchist federation in Australia would be a good idea. It would appear that timing is a point of contention.

Tell us why anarchists should not organise into groups and federate if you think so.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 23 2013 02:09

You don't need a formal organisation with a formal constitution to do anarchism. There are many ways of doing anarchism, from the active (anarcho-syndicalism, etc.) to the inactive (making yourself invisible to oppressive forces). All are valid. If your schtick is to orient yourself towards activating the working class then orient yourself towards activating the working class. Constitutions and secret handshakes won't help.

redsdisease
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Jul 23 2013 04:25
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
If your schtick is to orient yourself towards activating the working class then orient yourself towards activating the working class. Constitutions and secret handshakes won't help.

They do (constitutions that is, not sure about secret handshakes) if you want to "orient yourself towards activating the working class" with other people over large geographic distances in accountable ways with shared resources. How about this: if your schtick is working by yourself or in informal groups of friends then work by yourself or in informal groups of friends. Other people's desire to establish guidelines and accountability in how they operate doesn't affect you (really, it doesn't).

bastarx
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Jul 23 2013 04:49
Lugius wrote:
Quote:
anarchist merit badge?

Sounds a bit sarcastic (lack of a point /argument?)

It would be fair to presume that the point of forming an anarchist group would be to engage in some kind of activity that advances toward the aim of creating anarchy - a free and equal society. A reading group type of activity could be one example.

The definition of anarchist given above is not new, Albert Meltzer, a well-know anarchist from England has put it forward in the past.

Please see: http://libcom.org/library/anarchism-australia

Up til now, there has been general agreement that an anarchist federation in Australia would be a good idea. It would appear that timing is a point of contention.

Tell us why anarchists should not organise into groups and federate if you think so.

"General agreement" are you for real? I'd be surprised if even 20 people hold to this so called agreement.

This isn't the first time there's been an attempt at an anarcho federation here is it? Maybe the reason the previous attempt(s) have failed is because it's a very complicated process to form a tiny group that probably won't do very much.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 23 2013 15:35
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Other people's desire to establish guidelines and accountability in how they operate doesn't affect you (really, it doesn't).

redsdisease, I know it doesn't affect me, but should it preclude me from proffering opinions on the process?

In my experience all that formalistic, organisational stuff is a substitute for a lack of substantive anarchist activity. I think it would help to reflect on this notion. If you don't see any truth in it then you don't see any truth in it.

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Jul 23 2013 19:49
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
In my experience all that formalistic, organisational stuff is a substitute for a lack of substantive anarchist activity.

It certainly can be. That doesn't mean it need be. It doesn't even mean that it can't have the reverse effect in certain situations.

When a significant numbers of people come together to 'do politics' it makes sense to hammer out what the basis of the coming together is, how they are going to work together and what they hope to achieve. In a friendship group or a small 'scene' that can quite easily be done informally, and that's all well and good. But when most of the people coming together have never and will never meet each other, writing things down can be a good idea. That can take the form of a platform, a statement of principles, a constitution, a rule book, a creed or whatever.

Maybe it is the case that a lot of anarchists have a particular interest in organisational structure. I know I do. And maybe for at least some this spills over into a fetishisation of form over content and activity (I may be guilty again). However, that in no way implies that constitutions block content and activity. Indeed, I think, if used properly, they facilitate it.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 24 2013 23:37
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Maybe it is the case that a lot of anarchists have a particular interest in organisational structure. I know I do. And maybe for at least some this spills over into a fetishisation of form over content and activity (I may be guilty again). However, that in no way implies that constitutions block content and activity. Indeed, I think, if used properly, they facilitate it.

I look forward, then, to the great successes that will arise from the project.

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Jul 25 2013 05:37

I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:

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etc.) to the inactive (making yourself invisible to oppressive forces). All are valid.

What kind of 'cloaking' tech do you employ and will it cover your invisible friends? Will it defeat the oppressor's infrared heat signature detection system? But seriously....

Quote:
You don't need a formal organisation with a formal constitution to do anarchism.

You need to organise anarchism because capitalism won't fall down by itself. Presenting anarchism as a catalogue of correct consumer choices is simply supporting a reformist agenda that seeks a cleaner, greener, warmer, softer capitalism and consequently has nothing to do with anarchism.

Quote:
In my experience all that formalistic, organisational stuff is a substitute for a lack of substantive anarchist activity. I think it would help to reflect on this notion. If you don't see any truth in it then you don't see any truth in it.

The truth in it can't be seen perhaps because it is not there. If this is your experience, why not share it? It may provide some evidence to support your assertion.

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orient yourself towards activating the working class. Constitutions and secret handshakes won't help.

The constitution proposed is public and open to amendment and modification by a totally transparent process. The use of 'secret handshakes' is a method used by those so-called 'anarchist' networks to keep the rif-raf out. Being admitted depends totally on form and style as in what can be regarded as 'cool'. But the definition of 'cool' remains a secret and is known only to the initiated.

The best examples here in Melbourne would 'Food not Bombs' and 'Loophole'. Both claim to be anarchist without openly avowing it. If you want to be involved, you need to look and sound just right. If you offend delicate sensiblilities, you won't be expelled (that would be Stalinist), you are simply ignored until you get the message and piss off.

The proposed constitution is directed at anarchist groups not individuals. It is up to those groups how they admit or expel individuals but there would be an expectation that any group wishing to affiliate would make these mechanisms unambiguously clear which puts each individual on the same level.

bastarx wrote:

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"General agreement" are you for real? I'd be surprised if even 20 people hold to this so called agreement.

Are you for real? Have a look at this thread and others on the topic. Many lead with "an anarchist federation is a good idea but..." What would be truly surprising is any anarchist arguing against anarchist federation from an anarchist point of view. So surprise me.

Quote:
This isn't the first time there's been an attempt at an anarcho federation here is it? Maybe the reason the previous attempt(s) have failed is because it's a very complicated process to form a tiny group that probably won't do very much.

Go further and shock me by referring to real example(s) of a previously failed attempt(s) and then astonish me by drawing a conclusion that is as comprehensible as it is coherent.

It appears to me that you are trying to argue that anarchist organisation is not possible. Are you for real?

Battlescarred
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Jul 25 2013 09:28

I suggest to those against the creation of an organisation with (gasp) a constitution, that they let those who want to create it get on with it, and that they leave them alone if they're not interested in this project

"Like yellow fever, this disease of disorganisation introduced itself into the organism of the anarchist movement and has shaken it for dozens of years.

It is nevertheless beyond doubt that this disorganisation derives from from some defects of theory: notably from a false interpretation of the principle of individuality in anarchism: this theory being too often confused with the absence of all responsibility. The lovers of assertion of 'self', solely with a view to personal pleasure. obstinately cling to the chaotic state of the anarchist movement. and refer in its defence to the immutable principles of anarchism and its teachers.

But the immutable principles and teachers have shown exactly the opposite.

Dispersion and scattering are ruinous: a close-knit union is a sign of life and development. This lax of social struggle applies as much to classes as to organisations.

Anarchism is not a beautiful utopia, nor an abstract philosophical idea, it is a social movement of the labouring masses" From the Organisational Platform

bastarx
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Jul 25 2013 10:07

Aren't you already in one anarchist federation Lugius? How many do you need exactly?

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Jul 25 2013 23:15

"Maybe the reason the previous attempt(s) have failed is because it's a very complicated process to form a tiny group that probably won't do very much."

What? No it's not. It's really easy. That group may not do much, or may do a lot. A federation simply makes it clear as to how other groups will work with you, and you them. It's not hard, it's not fixed, it's open to the assembly changing and modifying according to anarchist principles. It makes things a lot easier as process is clear and all you have to do is focus on content. Form isn't hard it's something that has been worked on by groups for decades and really clear.

What exactly in the proposed constitution do you disagree with?

Or is it simply you disagree that groups of anarchists should be able to put down in a simple way what they mutually agree too and accept as a process of organisation between them? As that is what it appears to be.

If I have created a false dichotomy, I'm all ears as to you possibly being more clear over the actual issues you have?

"I look forward, then, to the great successes that will arise from the project."

Or it may fail, but that doesn't mean that people don't learn from it. Anarchism has had failures in the past and a great deal can be learnt from it. It would be sad however that the reason it failed is because groups proclaiming anarchism refused to work with other groups and just maintain the status quo. Local scenes that for the most part are simply friendship networks of people doing yes, good things, but not actually working on organisation, not an actual movement, just simply touting for more friends into the same things. "It works well because we all get along"

Well it isn't working.

When others approaching these groups have issues over such things as being a worker and not getting paid by an individual, and all shit hits the fan and no one knows or can deal with it except 'You both really need to work on getting along" tell me exactly how that is anarchism and why as a worker I should bother putting effort into it.

I was told on the weekend exactly that. I have made requests asking for solidarity, for the local anarchists to help with struggles, and there has been nothing outside of sad faced nods or requests to just 'get over it' or "I've heard the opposite from someone else, so therefore there is no need to sort it out ... it's a 'personal issue'"

ffs if you are against federation don't join it. Myself I prefer accountability to the assembly for my action or inaction, my good and bad, rather than a friendship network of bickering that can't even sort out a simple black and white issue over workers labour, in fact calls for it to be ignored, but ready and willing to support reformist unions.

"Touch one touch all" yea right.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 26 2013 03:02

Lugius wrote:

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What kind of 'cloaking' tech do you employ and will it cover your invisible friends? Will it defeat the oppressor's infrared heat signature detection system?

It's possible to make yourself a very small target for those things in the social environment that might threaten your ability to flourish. Clever individualists and philosophical anarchists do it all the time.

Quote:
You need to organise anarchism because capitalism won't fall down by itself. Presenting anarchism as a catalogue of correct consumer choices is simply supporting a reformist agenda that seeks a cleaner, greener, warmer, softer capitalism and consequently has nothing to do with anarchism.

You can 'organise' till you turn blue in the face but you'll never get anarchism to the stage where it will topple capitalism, here or anywhere else. To believe so is to inhabit a world of fantasy. Reformism has a better track record than revolutionary modes of struggle will ever have, both in terms of achievement and in producing a much lower body count. Revolutions, while often showing initial promise, always seem to produce an authoritarian turn that subverts the original aims. Since anarchists have never successfully carried out any revolutions it's impossible to tell what would've transpired had they succeeded (in Spain, for instance). But given the track record of revolutions in general, and of anarchists in particular, it's a safe bet that some fiasco would've ensued and something other than a self-managed utopia would've been produced. We'll never know, and it's highly unlikely that history will give anarchism another chance.

If anarchism has a future in this country it has to stop living in the past, shake those utopian dreams out of its head, and start thinking about adopting pragmatic, gradualist methods that have some chance of producing results (however modest they might be). This would require taking anarchist methods and sensibilities into existing bourgeois structures (trade unions, for instance) and even - horror of horrors!! - political parties (the anarchist influence serves well in the Greens, for example).

The days of a discreet anarchist movement that's able to act as an independent agent of history are well and truly over, and in this country they never existed. Anarchists must adapt to survive. A failure to adapt will make anarchism's journey into the dustbin of history just that little bit quicker and surer.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 26 2013 03:10

Battlescarred wrote:

Quote:
Anarchism is not a beautiful utopia, nor an abstract philosophical idea, it is a social movement of the labouring masses" From the Organisational Platform

That might be the case if you're a Platformist. It isn't if you're not.

syndicalist
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Jul 26 2013 04:09
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
Battlescarred wrote:

Quote:
Anarchism is not a beautiful utopia, nor an abstract philosophical idea, it is a social movement of the labouring masses" From the Organisational Platform

That might be the case if you're a Platformist. It isn't if you're not.

I'm not a platformist, but, as an anarcho-syndicalist, agree with that "platform" quote.

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Jul 26 2013 06:47

Well one good thing about this process is it's flushing the reformists out.

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 26 2013 23:50

syndicalist said:

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I'm not a platformist, but, as an anarcho-syndicalist, agree with that "platform" quote.

Well, you might agree with it, syndicalist, as might a few of your comrades, but the vast majority of the "labouring masses" in this country don't. Therein lies the problem for anarchists who want to 'organise' amongst workers who historically have had minimal or no exposure to anarchism.

A few generations ago most of the "labouring masses" (generally referred to as 'workers' in this country) had a strong identification with the Labor Party, and a smaller, militant minority with the Communist Party. Anarchism didn't get a look-in. The late 1960s and into the '70s did see a rank-and-filist turn in some unions, and in the Communist Party, that had definite anarchist characteristics, but it wasn't referred to as such. By the '80s this period of militancy was effectively defeated and a downward spiral began that has not yet ended.

So in this brave new world that confronts us - of non-existent militancy, minimal exposure to rank-and-filist methods, and an absence of class-identification - what strategies are anarchists going to employ to activate the working class?

I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 27 2013 00:02

axxs said:

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Well one good thing about this process is it's flushing the reformists out.

Yes, axxs, better drag them down into the cellar and shoot them before they disturb too many of your fantasies.

syndicalist
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Jul 27 2013 00:12
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
syndicalist said:

Quote:
I'm not a platformist, but, as an anarcho-syndicalist, agree with that "platform" quote.

Well, you might agree with it, syndicalist, as might a few of your comrades, but the vast majority of the "labouring masses" in this country don't. Therein lies the problem for anarchists who want to 'organise' amongst workers who historically have had minimal or no exposure to anarchism.

A few generations ago most of the "labouring masses" (generally referred to as 'workers' in this country) had a strong identification with the Labor Party, and a smaller, militant minority with the Communist Party. Anarchism didn't get a look-in. The late 1960s and into the '70s did see a rank-and-filist turn in some unions, and in the Communist Party, that had definite anarchist characteristics, but it wasn't referred to as such. By the '80s this period of militancy was effectively defeated and a downward spiral began that has not yet ended.

So in this brave new world that confronts us - of non-existent militancy, minimal exposure to rank-and-filist methods, and an absence of class-identification - what strategies are anarchists going to employ to activate the working class?

Totally different question(s), but relative, in their own way, to building a class struggle anarchist workers movement.

The point, as I understand it, is that anarchism, if it's to be successful, must be of the "working masses." That abstract and beautiful ideas alone will not win the day.

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Jul 27 2013 01:19
I am NOT Ret Marut wrote:
axxs said:

Quote:
Well one good thing about this process is it's flushing the reformists out.

Yes, axxs, better drag them down into the cellar and shoot them before they disturb too many of your fantasies.

Of course, anyone pointing out you being a reformist must therefore want to shoot you *rolls eyes*

It is the reformists that have left us paying for the state of struggle in the world currently.

Anarchists fight both symptoms and the root causes.

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Rob Ray
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Jul 27 2013 05:00

/dp

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Rob Ray
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Jul 27 2013 04:59

One lesson I've learned over the years of watching anarchists bicker online it's that things only improve once organised anarchists learn to have the confidence to not worry about what the likes of I am NOT RetMarut think. They'll moan right up until you're getting shit done, then they'll moan that there's nothing else available, because their real problem is with not being in charge/having their own particular interpretation of anarchism as the working model.

jolasmo
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Jul 28 2013 14:52
Rob Ray wrote:
things only improve once organised anarchists learn to have the confidence to not worry about what the likes of I am NOT RetMarut think. They'll moan right up until you're getting shit done, then they'll moan that there's nothing else available, because their real problem is with not being in charge/having their own particular interpretation of anarchism as the working model.

+100 ups

Jeez, what is it with the Oceania forum? It's fucking troll central.

~J.