Proposed constitution for an anarchist federation in Australia

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I am NOT Ret Marut
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Jul 29 2013 01:34

Rob Ray said:

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things only improve once organised anarchists learn to have the confidence to not worry about what the likes of I am NOT RetMarut think.

You don't learn to have confidence, Rob Ray, you get it from actually doing anarchism and getting results. Doing anarchism doesn't involve creating mirages and calling them anarchist federations. Sorry to have to point out the obvious again but, for class struggle anarchists, there is but one course of action: to do class struggle anarchism.

Ablokeimet
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Aug 6 2013 13:47
bastarx wrote:
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.

There has been one previous attempt at an Anarchist federation in Australia and that was the Federation of Australian Anarchists. It was founded in 1975 and then in 1976 it did not so much split as blew itself to smithereens. Everybody who survived in the movement from that time has used the FAA as a textbook example of how NOT to do things.

There is now an attempt to form a federation in Australia. The proposal has learnt from the failures of the past and, as a result, the proposed federation differs from the FAA on some crucial points. In particular, it:

(a) Is a proposal for a federation of groups, rather than groups and individuals; and

(b) Has a class struggle orientation, rather than being open to every interpretation of Anarchism under the sun.

At the moment, I don't know how successful the initiative will be, but the process has already been useful.

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Lugius
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Aug 8 2013 01:18

There is no guarantee of success. But you're right, the process has been totally positive. I think the key has been the openess and transparency.

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Aug 9 2013 02:24

We won't be creating Mirages.

We will be uniting existing anarchist groups together. As you are obviously against the existence of anarchist groups, you are precluded from membership.

Goodbye.

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Rats
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Aug 9 2013 02:25

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the lack of a nation-wide anarchist federation must be destroyed.

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Aug 9 2013 02:37

bastarx
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Aug 9 2013 08:47

Bloke, I could have sworn that some platformists in Melbourne tried to set up a nationwide fed about 5 years ago.

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Lugius
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Aug 9 2013 13:03

Your referring to the Anarchist Federation Conference held at the MAC March 2008. Although no agreement could be reached with regard to the foundation of an anarchist federation in Australia, there was an agreement

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Aug 9 2013 13:52

You're referring to the Anarchist Federation Conference held at the MAC March 2008. Although no agreement could be reached with regard to the foundation of an anarchist federation in Australia, there was an agreement entered into by three groups in existence at the time to co-operate together to publish what came to be called 'Sedition'. It was acknowledged at the time that three anarchist groups co-operating together could build the kind of relationship between the groups involved that might lead to the formation of an anarchist federation later.

The plenary that was held last June was a continuation of that process that is necessarily slow if it is to be done properly, so that all groups involved have clarity on what is being proposed.

The MAC, one of three groups involved in the original agreement (along with Jura and Organise!) took the initiative early this year after a discussion about the future of 'Sedition'.

It was acknowledged that co-operation between groups is possible and that perhaps the next step was to propose a constitution to be put up for scrutiny to see what level of support there might be for the formation of an anarchist federation, and how much common ground is there politically between various anarchist groups. No assumption were made about the groups invited beyond their own acknowledgement of themselves as anarchist.

Since then there has been another additional meeting between the MAC and the MACG for the purpose of continuing to work on the proposed constitution.

At the last MAC meeting, it was agreed to seek co-operation with other groups who may be interested in continuing and contributing to the process of working on the current proposed constitution by holding regular Plenaries every six months in other places as well as Melbourne.

To my knowledge, this current attempt at federation is the first serious attempt in Australia since 1975. The FAA of 1975-76 a has undergone a thorough post-mortem and will have a bearing on the character of any future federation (so the FAA won't be a complete loss) and can be dated from a proposal made by some individual anarchists from Melbourne and Sydney published on 7 December 2007.

Have a look at this;

http://afederation.wordpress.com/

If you read through it, you can see that there was still a lot of confusion at the time about anarchist federation and you can compare that with what is going on now.

Although it currently being talked about in terms of Australia involvement from across the Tasman has not been ruled out (to my knowledge there has no interest expressed from over that way).

BTW, Bastarx, if you have decent argument against anarchist groups organising in a federation I'd be fascinated to hear it - I've yet to hear a coherent one.

paul r
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Aug 11 2013 02:42

As an instance of the problems associated with recent cooperation between anarchist groups in different cities is the failure, so far, to continue the publication of "Sedition" magazine. I understand this project was initially planned to be shared among the three anarchist groups mentioned by Lugius (MAC, Jura, and Organise).

The first issue was published in February 2012, but no.2 is yet to appear.

From what I hear, if and when no.2 will appear is an open question. IMO, its failure to appear by now -- well over a year since the publication of no.1 -- is not a good sign for future inter-city cooperation between anarchist groups.

This is not to deny the value of such successful instances of inter-city anarchist cooperation, eg, the Sydney and Brisbane summer schools, and the Melbourne Bookfair, nor does it negate the value of continuing to work towards an Anarchist Federation -- but it does point to a serious gap and deficiency in anarchist publishing efforts in this country.

bastarx
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Aug 11 2013 04:29

Given how terrible most of the articles in Sedition #1 were I think it's a good thing everyone involved is too embarrassed to put out #2.

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Aug 11 2013 10:51

Being on the outside of the process, you might not see what goes behind something like Sedition or the benefits that come from it, even if it does not succeed. Only those who do nothing make no mistakes.

I've said elsewhere that it was terrible (I may have said something at the time about not wanting to put it out). On the plus side, it got people from different groups talking to each other and those involved continue to benefit from taking initiative.

One realisation, for example, was the real disparity (and poverty) of what constitutes anarchism from some of those who responded to the call out. This in turn informed the idea that we need clarity and commonality in future projects. It's not exactly a revelation, but those involved have a concrete example and experience that they then draw from. From an organisational POV, that is a gain.

On a side note, Sedition was explicitly posed as an experiment. As fond as I am of print, I don't think a print journal is the best idea. An online journal with a focus on current events and a strong editorial approach could be better, for instance. Even then, giving a new mouthpiece to the great theoreticians of the Australian anarchist scene isn't something that floats my boat. But, you know, experimentation is a good thing and usually becomes a point of attraction to the ideas.

The danger of putting out something bad is the net outcome is you are worse off than if you had done nothing. On reflection, I would say that Sedition was a net gain, but only just.

P.S. Haven't we had this exact conversation on Libcom before? I was involved with the Sedition stuff, and it wasn't seen as a big deal at the time. I'm surprised that anyone gives a shit about it! It was ages ago and released with a bit of collective groan then forgotten about.

paul r
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Aug 11 2013 11:33

Hi Lumpen,
Thanks for your reponse. Given your confirmation that there'll be no second issue of Sedition, I'll see if I can get the 2000 word book review I wrote for it published elsewhere.
Cheers.

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Lumpen
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Aug 11 2013 11:37

I'm not the person to ask – was speaking in the past tense. I've decided to hone my keyboard warrior skills for a while. Best to contact MAC or Jura or Mutiny.

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Aug 14 2013 13:33

Lugius has written a couple times that Sedition came out of the 2008 conference, I just wanted to set the record straight.

Sedition came out of meetings between MAC, Organise! and Jura people during the 2011 Sydney Anarchist Summer School and Melb Anarchist Bookfair in the same year.

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Lugius
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Aug 15 2013 03:11

At #70 I wrote:

Quote:
You're referring to the Anarchist Federation Conference held at the MAC March 2008. Although no agreement could be reached with regard to the foundation of an anarchist federation in Australia, there was an agreement entered into by three groups in existence at the time to co-operate together to publish what came to be called 'Sedition'. It was acknowledged at the time that three anarchist groups co-operating together could build the kind of relationship between the groups involved that might lead to the formation of an anarchist federation later.

Perhaps I should have been clearer about the sequence of events. I was not at the Anarchist Federation Conference 2008 or the events in 2011 you mention above. But I do have a copy of the ' Anarchist Federation Conference, Melbourne, March 2008 Reader.

On page 18 is an article titled 'A Proposal for a Regular Federation Publication' by two members of the Mutiny Collective. There is also a specific reference to a "regular publication, either quarterly or biannually" on page 7 in the article titled 'A Proposal for a Regional Anarchist Federation'.

According to the minutes of the meetings of the MAC, there is a number of mentions of this proposal including "publication of the Federation" and "federation publication" right up to the first suggestion of the name 'Sedition' at the meeting of 20 November 2011. This name was agreed to at the meeting of 9 December 2011. (Reading the minutes it appears that the name was suggested from outside the MAC.)

Although I did not attend the events you mention above, I do recall conversations with members of the MAC and Jura Books with regard to the publication that was to become Sedition. It was clear to me (and the minutes of the meetings of the MAC would concur) that the publication was seen in the context of an activity that could be participated in as preparation to the possible forming of an anarchist federation in the future.

I shall endeavour to scan and post the document cited soon.

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Aug 27 2013 11:55

You can find the 2008 Anarchist Federation Conference reader here:

http://libcom.org/library/anarchist-federation-conference-melbourne-marc...

If I remember correctly, this conference was a joint initiative of the Mutiny Collective and the MAC. Perhaps other know more, or perhaps were there and may share their recollections.

Reading it suggests their was some confusion about what an anarchist federation should look like - there are references to status of individuals and groups. At that time, the MAC was clear about federation being groups only, with 'isolated' individuals to join their nearest affiliate. It seems others had different views (p.17) but there was some acknowledgement of the experience of the 1975-76 FAA suggests a federation of groups and individuals was a bad idea.

There is a list of groups involved on p. XX, some of them no longer extant.

On p. 38 I read:

I don't think that people who use class analysis are wrong, just different.

Different to whom or what?

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Aug 30 2013 02:12

Hi Paul, inre: Sedition's non continuance,

In early 2012, two members of Organise! moved interstate, and one to Japan, and the remaining 3 active members had trouble pulling things back together or getting new people involved; so it collapsed. We have now regrouped as a new organisation since May: Black Swan.

At the time of Jura's involvement in Sedition, they stated they were very drained on energy as a collective. They had only recently finished with a year long campaign to fundraise to pay off their mortgage on their Paramatta rd building as the bank had 'called in' their loan with only about $15k left on it. Only one Jura member really had the time to be an editor, and then when his partner had a child, available time dropped to nil.

We would have probably continued with the publication but practically it wasn't possible.

To all of you who think it was so poor quality: where were your submissions?

I agree that those who do nothing make no mistakes; but don't sit around and judge our work as mistaken from a position like that. Every anarchist group is fully democratic, you can get involved whenever you like; if you have time or other constraints I understand, but so do the rest of us, and we do the best we can with the resources we have.

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Lugius
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Aug 30 2013 06:22
Quote:
I agree that those who do nothing make no mistakes; but don't sit around and judge our work as mistaken from a position like that. Every anarchist group is fully democratic, you can get involved whenever you like; if you have time or other constraints I understand, but so do the rest of us, and we do the best we can with the resources we have.

Well said, comrade. Anarchism is what we make it collectively - not what some individual imagines it to be.

There was one or two articles that I didn't care much for, but I thought it was a good first up effort and it was very well-designed, the layout was excellent.

Thank you for the historical information, a clearer picture has emerged.

Congratulations on the formation of Black Swan, good to see a setback hasn't put you off.

Do you think it is worth pressing on and having another go with a second issue?

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Rats
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Sep 5 2013 04:23

Yeah i think another issue would be great, it was a great way to bring the groups together.

star8uck
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Oct 2 2013 21:05

HI,
I am a member of the UK anarchist federation, I do not speak for everyone in Afed, just myself.. Over here we have the following aims and principles;

1 The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of revolutionary class struggle anarchists. We aim for the abolition of all hierarchy, and work for the creation of a world-wide classless society: anarchist communism.

2 Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class by the ruling class. But inequality and exploitation are also expressed in terms of race, gender, sexuality, health, ability and age, and in these ways one section of the working class oppresses another. This divides us, causing a lack of class unity in struggle that benefits the ruling class. Oppressed groups are strengthened by autonomous action which challenges social and economic power relationships. To achieve our goal we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a political level.

3 We believe that fighting systems of oppression that divide the working class, such as racism and sexism, is essential to class struggle. Anarchist-Communism cannot be achieved while these inequalities still exist. In order to be effective in our various struggles against oppression, both within society and within the working class, we at times need to organise independently as people who are oppressed according to gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability. We do this as working class people, as cross-class movements hide real class differences and achieve little for us. Full emancipation cannot be achieved without the abolition of capitalism.

4 We are opposed to the ideology of national liberation movements which claims that there is some common interest between native bosses and the working class in face of foreign domination. We do support working class struggles against racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism. We oppose the creation of any new ruling class. We reject all forms of nationalism, as this only serves to redefine divisions in the international working class. The working class has no country and national boundaries must be eliminated. We seek to build an anarchist international to work with other libertarian revolutionaries throughout the world.

5 As well as exploiting and oppressing the majority of people, Capitalism threatens the world through war and the destruction of the environment.

6 It is not possible to abolish Capitalism without a revolution, which will arise out of class conflict. The ruling class must be completely overthrown to achieve anarchist communism. Because the ruling class will not relinquish power without their use of armed force, this revolution will be a time of violence as well as liberation.

7 Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society. They have to be accepted by capitalism in order to function and so cannot play a part in its overthrow. Trades unions divide the working class (between employed and unemployed, trade and craft, skilled and unskilled, etc). Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order to make deals with management. Their aim, through negotiation, is to achieve a fairer form of exploitation of the workforce. The interests of leaders and representatives will always be different from ours. The boss class is our enemy, and while we must fight for better conditions from it, we have to realise that reforms we may achieve today may be taken away tomorrow. Our ultimate aim must be the complete abolition of wage slavery. Working within the unions can never achieve this. However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

8 Genuine liberation can only come about through the revolutionary self activity of the working class on a mass scale. An anarchist communist society means not only co-operation between equals, but active involvement in the shaping and creating of that society during and after the revolution. In times of upheaval and struggle, people will need to create their own revolutionary organisations controlled by everyone in them. These autonomous organisations will be outside the control of political parties, and within them we will learn many important lessons of self-activity.

9 As anarchists we organise in all areas of life to try to advance the revolutionary process. We believe a strong anarchist organisation is necessary to help us to this end. Unlike other so-called socialists or communists we do not want power or control for our organisation. We recognise that the revolution can only be carried out directly by the working class. However, the revolution must be preceded by organisations able to convince people of the anarchist communist alternative and method. We participate in struggle as anarchist communists, and organise on a federative basis. We reject sectarianism and work for a united revolutionary anarchist movement.

10 We oppose organised religion and cults and hold to a materialist analysis of capitalist society. We, the working class, can change society through our own efforts. Worshipping an unprovable spiritual realm, or believing in a religious unity between classes, mystifies or suppresses such self-emancipation / liberation. We reject any notion that people can be liberated through some kind of supernatural force. We work towards a society where religion is no longer relevant.

to be a part of Afed you have to broadly agree with these aims and principles, not all anarchists have to join Afed, and alot do not. there are other federations including solidarity federation and IWW. who we work closely with, many of us seem to be joined up to all of them.

having these federations does not limit what individual local groups do. we all do our own thing most of the time. But it does enable us to share ideas and information more easily. like my local group wanted to set up a claimants union, and Edinburgh already has one, so we asked them about it got their advice and then just changed a few details on their leaflets to make it applicable to out home town. it was handy to know that we were able to get information quickly out, which we were able to do as we knew other groups within the federation shared the same view points as us. this would be true if there was one in Australia.

we also have an international anarchist federation, which meets up every couple of years and has a big conference where we can talk and exchange ideas, and find out news of other countries. it is useful knowing that we can meet up and discuss things knowing that we all agree with the basic aims and principles, otherwise it can get into one big argument.

it also makes sense on finance; as the organization is able to get a lot more money together than individual groups. especially if one groups has 20 people in it and another has only 3. it can really make a difference if you can ask national for more support to put a talk on or for making a local news letter.

it is also good knowing that other groups from around the country are looking out for you and can offer support,

so i think it would be good if there was an anarchist federation in Australia. although you may need to split it down into more local groups.... i remember how big your country is from when i went on holiday there 5 years ago!"

solidarity from the UK

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Oct 16 2013 03:51

Towards Federation Anarchist Conference Part Two (TFAC2)

will be held upstairs at Jura Books, 440 Parramatta Rd., Petersham

Saturday 25 January 2014