towards federation anarchist conference

76 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Feb 20 2013 23:35
towards federation anarchist conference

All anarchist groups in Australia are invited to a conference to be held in Melbourne over the long weekend of 8-10 June 2013. The conference programme and structure is yet to be completely finalised but at this stage it is envisaged that the first day will take the form of introductory workshops to which anyone is welcome, and the final day will take the form of a plenary session in which the delegates of anarchist groups in Australia will take part.

The Towards Federation Anarchist Conference is an initiative of the Melbourne Anarchist Club and builds upon earlier co-operative anarchist projects such as 'Sedition' which has been published jointly by Jura Bookshop, MAC and other anarchist groups. The Towards Federation Anarchist Conference aims to explore the possibility of taking anarchism to a stage beyond a loosely networked milieu to an organised movement recognisable as consistent with the historical practice of anarchist organisation.

There will be a member of the MAC conducting a workshop on the topic of anarchist federation at the upcoming Camp Anarchy for those who are interested to find out more.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 21 2013 03:22

http://www.networketiquette.net/do_not_use_all_caps.htm

Rats's picture
Rats
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Feb 21 2013 14:01

"and other anarchist groups."
lols.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 22 2013 14:07

I take it you two chaps will be coming with your groups to deliver the stinging critiques based on your experiences of successful long-term participation, showing us the true way forward.

Oh.

Right.

Obviously I think the conference is worth supporting and greater cooperation amongst groups is a good thing worth striving for.

The questions are on the table; what basis, if any, is there for an anarchist federation, who would be in it, what would it do, what geographical area should it cover, could/should we join an existing federation instead, and so on. I suppose there is the question of a platformist organisation instead of a federation, too. That's the purpose of the conference.

From what I can make out, neither of you two, Rats or Ites, have the ability to influence the outcome except through the strength of argument – and you have elected to post silly bullshit like the above. Who is the audience for that, exactly? What is it meant to convince a general audience of, either way?

That isn't an invitation for more unfunny macros, baseless statements stemming from non-existant critiques, or abusive private messages, btw.

Rats wrote:
"and other anarchist groups." lols.

I don't know what knowledge you think you have on the topic, so I couldn't say why you would leave that kind of reply. This is the second time you have recently posted a glib statement relating to MAC, and we are yet to hear what you have to say and what the evidence for it is. But please, start a new thread so we can see the true clarity of your insight.

For the record, in the past few years MAC has actively pursued relations with groups like Jura, overseas groups, new (now dead) groups and has good relations with the ASF-M and ASF-B. MAC has, by its actions and questions, attempted to clarify issues of organisation and anarchism. Potentially this could form a basis for future organisation, but maybe not. This is why the question has been put publicly.

The main lesson from the last conference was that any combined organisation needs to be one that directly addresses the needs of existing groups and lays the ground for new ones. We did a lot of compromising with individuals and very new groups (that no longer exist) that ended up pleasing no-one, so it didn't go far. The positive outcome was it created more formal networks amongst the groups that continue.

It's incumbent upon us to build on organisation at every single opportunity, and so we do.

P.S. There's nothing wrong with all caps.

Rats's picture
Rats
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Feb 23 2013 13:45

I just thought op was odd: 'Sedition is a mutual collaboration between three geographically disparate Australian anarchist collectives, melbourne anarchist club, jura collective and organise! the adelaide anarchist communist group.'

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 23 2013 14:27
Rats wrote:
I just thought op was odd: 'Sedition is a mutual collaboration between three geographically disparate Australian anarchist collectives, melbourne anarchist club, jura collective and organise! the adelaide anarchist communist group.'

Methinks Lumpen doth protest too much.

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Feb 23 2013 17:38

Informed early last year that orgainse! was defunct.

Rats's picture
Rats
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Feb 24 2013 04:49

And it still is, but does that mean its not worthy of mention?

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Feb 24 2013 07:15

On February 14 Rats wrote:

Quote:
I don't mind if people throw around a bit of critique of people who are actually standing up and organising, but at least if you're going to do it, do something of value yourself so people can see an alternative - cos MAC hasn't done anything in years.

Do you a deal; I'll rewrite the original post to mention Organise! if you explain your "MAC hasn't done anything in years" comment.

If you have a critique of the Towards Federation Anarchist Conference I'd be happy to hear it. If you're going to engage in petty sniping, then I'm not interested.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 24 2013 14:15
Rats wrote:
I just thought op was odd…

…Does that mean its not worthy of mention?

Fair enough. I think that it is worth mentioning, if only to demonstrate that anarchist groups have formally cooperated in recent history and this is our context for publicly asking the question (and seeking opinion). A blurb can only cover so much. FWIW, I agree that mentioning the collaboration gives the impression they still exist. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal though, or offers anything substantially critical to point it out.

The quick downhill direction of this thread is pretty worrying. It seems indicative of /Oceania generally.

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Feb 25 2013 01:36

Lumpen wrote:

Quote:
The questions are on the table; what basis, if any, is there for an anarchist federation, who would be in it, what would it do, what geographical area should it cover, could/should we join an existing federation instead, and so on. I suppose there is the question of a platformist organisation instead of a federation, too. That's the purpose of the conference.

I would think that one basis for an anarchist federation is to facilitate co-operation between anarchist groups. If anarchists are to demonstrate that a co-operative society based equal access and equal rights is possible, would not an anarchist federation go some way towards achieving this? An anarchist federation would act as a nascent organisational infrastructure that shows replacing the government of people by the administration of things is not only desirable but plausible.

An anarchist federation would make a more efficient use of collective resources as has been demonstrated to some degree by those anarchist groups who have co-operated in the production and distribution of 'Sedition'. This alone illustrates the possibilities of socialised production and distribution.

The multiplying effect of anarchist organisation on the potential impact to be made on the broader political discourse would become evident as the anarchist federation co-operative and coordinated campaigns such as the current MAC campaign to urge people to 'Vote for Nobody' at the up-coming federal election. Other campaigns that an anarchist federation could initiate and sustain could be those that speak directly to the issue of opposing and winding back excessive powers of the state, such as the powers the federal government has acquired under the anti-terrorist legislation and the ABCC.

The quantity and quality of internal communication between affiliated anarchist groups would improve with all its accompanying benefits.

A functioning anarchist federation in Australia could apply to affiliate to the International Federation Anarchiste (IFA) and organise globally in opposition to governments everywhere.

These are just some of the positives of creating an anarchist federation consistent with the theory and history of the practice of anarchism. But what, if any, negative considerations might there be?

In the past, there has been only one attempt at avowedly and explicitly anarchist federation in Australia. The Federation of Australian Anarchists was founded at an anarchist conference held in Glebe, NSW in January 1975. This conference was the largest ever anarchist conference held in Australia at that time (estimates vary between 250-400 people in attendance) and it seems doubtful that there has been a bigger conference since. In June 1976, the FAA disintegrated in an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.

There was not to be any attempt at federation along anarchist lines until the founding of the ASF in 1986. But the ASF was never attempting to supplant an anarchist federation in Australia. Nevertheless, the experience of the failure of the FAA was taken into account when the organisational statutes were drawn up and was one of a number of factors that determined the particular structure of the ASF as a federation of affiliates.

IMHO, there were two salient reasons for the failure of the FAA; groups and individuals could join (a compromise solution), the problem arose that individuals had the same status as a groups and the groups themselves lacked a clearly defined membership. The other reason was the apparent ideological split between 'lifestylists' and 'workerists'.

An anarchist federation can only be one comprised of autonomous groups with a clearly defined membership. The role of the individual anarchist is to join an existing group or find other individuals to form a group with.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 25 2013 05:10

A functional anarchist federation would need to have a willingness and capacity to engage constructively with Australian workers on the basis of reciprocity and above all else a demonstrated ability to listen, as well as a strategy to unite disparate struggles against a variety of forms of social and economic privilege and be effective thereby. It would need to be able to guard against the formation of informal heirarchies and the domination of the organisation by aggressive personalities, with all that that would imply in terms of authoritarian attitudes, assumptions and fallacies being invoked using the language of anarchism and social justice.

Any attempt at organising lacking all of these would flounder and result in the formation and perpetuation of insular cliques, as they have done in the past with the results we see in terms of insularity, dogmatism and cultishness being dominant characteristics of the anarchist milieu in this country. This would appear to explain its incapacity to effectively challenge its own social marginalisation despite the great appeal of anarchist ideals, the patently vacuuous, corrupt, injust, oppressive and otherwise insane nature of mainstream politics, and the clamorousness on the part of the Australian public for real social change. Personalities over principle is the rule rather than the exception of the anarchist milieu in this country and this initiative demonstrates nothing to suggest any willingness or ability to change in that respect.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 25 2013 08:04
Ites wrote:
A functional anarchist federation would need to have a willingness and capacity to engage constructively with Australian workers on the basis of reciprocity and above all else a demonstrated ability to listen…

My understanding is that these are questions left to local groups. A federation could coordinate the activities amongst groups, not determine action by its locals. It's possible that a member-group would have a specific basis for association that precludes this – a worker's cooperative, for example. This is a different model to the ASF (which already belongs to a federation) or the IWW, of branches with a common constitution.

Being too prescriptive about what groups should and shouldn't do contributed to the collapse of the previous attempt – it's fairly safe to assume groups join with their intentions set.

All of this is arguable, though. Others might disagree, or disagree with the question entirely.

Ites wrote:
It would need to be able to guard against the formation of informal heirarchies and the domination of the organisation by aggressive personalities, with all that that would imply in terms of authoritarian attitudes, assumptions and fallacies being invoked using the language of anarchism and social justice.

Kind of. All of these questions, and "guarding", would be dealt with at the local level. Only a group can be admitted or expelled from a federation. There are no individual memberships.

I doubt there would be much interest in policing other groups for authoritarian attitudes or informal hierarchies – after all, who would be qualified to judge?

I would argue that the admittance of a group should be based on a shared definition of anarchism and a willingness to bring that definition about, and that's it – how they organise should be up to them. It's better to argue inside a federation, even if you disagree on a whole bunch of other points.

Only in the most extreme cases should a group be answerable for the conduct of their members. For example, if a group continued to admit a member responsible for murder, rape, scabbing or police collaboration. Otherwise the business of federation would get bogged down in the oversight of local activity. If a group choses to expel a member, a federation is not the fit place for appeal – a federation is not the boss of anarchist groups.

A viable alternative to a federation might be a platformist organisation. I'm open to the argument and would be interested to see if there's any support for it – there are some rumblings. In that case, there would be more scope for dealing with individual conduct, although testing for attitudes sounds very boring and not something I would want to be part of.

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Feb 26 2013 01:38

Lumpen wrote:

Quote:
Only in the most extreme cases should a group be answerable for the conduct of their members. For example, if a group continued to admit a member responsible for murder, rape, scabbing or police collaboration. Otherwise the business of federation would get bogged down in the oversight of local activity.

I would think a definition of 'extreme' is needed, i.e. a line drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. While adjudicating on every petty personal dispute would have a deleterious effect, so would ignoring behaviour that, while not as extreme as the examples given, can have an equally deleterious effect.

I'm thinking about harassment and assault (of which there have been actual occurrences over time) as an example.

Lumpen wrote:

Quote:
a group choses to expel a member, a federation is not the fit place for appeal – a federation is not the boss of anarchist groups.

Totally agree. The can be no executive function separate from the federation. One or more groups could be chosen to carry out necessary administrative functions but the primary purpose of a federative organisational model is the dissipation of power away from individuals - eschewing a vertical structure in favour of a horizontal one.

This issue of the behaviour of an individual member of an affiliated group has to be the responsibility of that group. What is and what is not acceptable behaviour in any particular affiliated group would be determined by that group and that group alone. In the case of the behaviour of an individual member of one group affecting or impacting an individual member of another affiliated group, then there may be cause to disaffiliate that group if it is not prepared to take responsibility and the requisite remedial action.

There will always be periodically recurring issues with individuals behaviour. A clear statement in the first instance of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour is desirable. A just and effective process expiditing remedial action is necessary.

Conflicting views of the relationship between the individual and the group, and the role of the individual in the group were the major contributing factor to the failure of the FAA 1975-76. There were broadly two views that were located in the context of class attitudes that were current at the time.

Up until the 60s, anarchism in Australia was wholly located in the almost exclusively male migrant working-class experience. From the 60s an increasing number of educated white middle-class youth, a significant number of whom were women, became involved in what began to be referred to as the 'anarchist movement'.

Whereas there has always been an understanding among militant unionists about the relationship of the freedom of the individual to class interest, the educated white middle-class youths that made up a larger and larger proportion of 'the anarchist movement' brought with them an understanding of individual freedom that was echoed in traditional liberalist discourse.

There was a lingering suspicion that federation meant some kind of monolithic organisation that would inexorably and inevitably suppress individual freedom. A conflict between doing what you want, what feels good, and conducting oneself in accordance with a class consciousness.

The compromise solution of a federation that would be composed of groups and individuals created its own self-destruct mechanism. It represented the triumph of the rights of the individual over a collective responsibility.

Following the collapse of the FAA in 1976, anarchism in Australia disintegrated into small atomised scenes located in some of the (mainly eastern seaboard) capital cities where a decent tertiary education was to be had. An argument arose that posited a class analysis was no longer relevant and had to be replaced with a more sophisticated power analysis. These scenes would function as safe spaces for bourgeois sensibilities and reorient the focus to an almost exclusively identity politics discourse. There would be no attempt to raise the issue of, let alone create, a federation of anarchist groups for more than twenty years.

Since then, there has been a steady accumulation of wealth by the already wealthy, both in Australia, and elsewhere that undermines the notion of a power analysis that diminished the centrality of class if not exclude it in its entirety. Consequently, fundamental issues about how to organise effectively have begun to re-emerge.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 27 2013 02:25
Lumpen wrote:
My understanding is that these are questions left to local groups. A federation could coordinate the activities amongst groups, not determine action by its locals. It's possible that a member-group would have a specific basis for association that precludes this – a worker's cooperative, for example. This is a different model to the ASF (which already belongs to a federation) or the IWW, of branches with a common constitution.

Being too prescriptive about what groups should and shouldn't do contributed to the collapse of the previous attempt – it's fairly safe to assume groups join with their intentions set.

This has got nothing to do with being prescriptive - it's a question of the relationship between those of us who identify as anarchists (whether we practice what we preach being an entirely different kettle of fish), Australian workers and Australian society, and how we choose to present ourselves. Do we treat anarchism as a revealed religion with a 'correct line' that we shove down people's throats while trying to maintain our own ideological purity by line policing, or do we assume that there's an anarchist inside everyone trying to get out and adopt the role of helpers in that respect, accepting at the same time that there are as many different approaches to anarchism as there are anarchists?

This to my mind is a basic question that has never satisfactorily been addressed by the anarchist milieu, with the result that it continues to be more or less marginal, ineffectual and irrelevant. In my experience attempting to address it has met with demonisation, marginalisation within an already marginalised milieu, ostracism and the substitution of personalities for principles.

Lumpen wrote:
Kind of. All of these questions, and "guarding", would be dealt with at the local level. Only a group can be admitted or expelled from a federation. There are no individual memberships.

I doubt there would be much interest in policing other groups for authoritarian attitudes or informal hierarchies – after all, who would be qualified to judge?

Policing is about imposing the assumption that 'you are either with us or the enemies of anarchism' on your interactions with others and demonising anyone who fails to submit to your authority with the requisite level of awe. Somehow I'm not surprised that you fail to understand the issue at best and at worst turn it on its head.

People seem to have this assumption that anarchism is inherently immune from doublethink (which seems to be the same error that socialists make) and that it's not possible to use it as window-dressing for autocratic and compulsive forms of behaviour. I for one would strongly dispute that.

Anarchists are as capable of autocratic and domineering behaviour and control freakery as everyone else on the planet, and without understanding, appreciating and most importantly of all being willing and able to remain vigilant of such conduct, there is nothing to stop the same cycles of organise and bust that seem to recur endlessly within the anarchist ghetto. Until we acknowledge and at least attempt to challenge these all attempts at organising are bound to fail, and in this respect issues of group autonomy are irrelevant.

bastarx
Offline
Joined: 9-03-06
Feb 27 2013 03:23

So what's the point of this federation then if it's so loose that all power stays with the local groups? What can you do as a federation that you can't do as separate groups with friendly relations?

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 27 2013 04:04

That's a good question. My understanding is that one of the main benefits would derive from being able to pool resources through having a dues structure so that you could publish newspapers (which are incidentally not cheap) and produce literature using economies of scale to be distributed locally. I've suggested things like that in the past which have been pooh-poohed as bureaucratic in the past though it recently did allow the IWW to begin publishing Direct Action in some quantity, however briefly.

Otherwise though what's the point of organisation? Because in getting organised we overcome the powerlessness of isolation, and the more sophisticated we become organisationally, the more potential we have to be empowered to reclaim control over the conditions of our lives.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 27 2013 07:17
bastarx wrote:
What can you do as a federation that you can't do as separate groups with friendly relations?

There are a number of practical tasks that a loose or small federation could do – joint statements, propaganda, conferences, accountability, sharing resources. The amount of organisation required for that is achievable immediately.

My own preference is for something much more formal, but I reckon that we are much better off addressing practical problems and how we can do those tasks. Maybe establish common goals to achieve jointly (full communism by 2017!).

Ites wrote:
It's a question of the relationship between those of us who identify as anarchists (whether we practice what we preach being an entirely different kettle of fish), Australian workers and Australian society, and how we choose to present ourselves.

We are at cross purposes. The questions are being posed to organised anarchists; self-identification is not enough to get a seat at the table. In order to effectively ask these questions, we require organisation adequate for the task. A federation – with common rules of engagement, organisation and system of enacting decisions – is an organisational model fit for purpose.

Just to emphasise, we are talking about existing groups, not starting new ones in a new organisation. Existing groups have their own priorities, I'm sure. I would think that an agreement to federate would involve recognition of a common definition of anarchy, anarchism and anarchists, and an agreed method of resolving questions.

Ites wrote:
Policing is about imposing the assumption that 'you are either with us or the enemies of anarchism' on your interactions with others and demonising anyone who fails to submit to your authority with the requisite level of awe.

If it was a real problem and effecting the ability to organise, then the question would be about an ability of groups to work together, not of a federation worrying about individuals.

There is no compelling case for any proposal for a federation to concern itself with the "authoritarian attitudes" of members of constituent groups. There is no evidence that this is a pressing concern or even an accurate appraisal of the current situation.

I am not guilty of "demonising anyone who fails to submit to [my] authority with the requisite level of awe", and the suggestion is a product of your fantasies. I do require a minimum amount of respect and dignity in all social interactions, and refuse to indulge poor behaviour and personal attacks.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Feb 27 2013 12:33
Lumpen wrote:
We are at cross purposes. The questions are being posed to organised anarchists; self-identification is not enough to get a seat at the table. In order to effectively ask these questions, we require organisation adequate for the task. A federation – with common rules of engagement, organisation and system of enacting decisions – is an organisational model fit for purpose.

Just to emphasise, we are talking about existing groups, not starting new ones in a new organisation. Existing groups have their own priorities, I'm sure. I would think that an agreement to federate would involve recognition of a common definition of anarchy, anarchism and anarchists, and an agreed method of resolving questions.

I agree that we're at cross purposes, though not in the sense you appear to mean. From what I can gather you're saying that creating an anarchist federation shouldn't provide a means for anarchists who aren't organised to get organised _in addition to_ enabling anarchists who are in groups to organise in a more efficient and effective manner, but rather should be a vehicle for the latter purpose alone.

To me that sounds like you're setting up a rationale for excluding anyone whose interpretation of what an effective, meaningful and relevant organisational strategy should look like doesn't match up with your own. Without leaving room open for the federation to grow and for new groups to be formed and to join you're just creating a federation of ghettos which functions more effectively to keep anarchism elite and to systematically stamp out any possibility of the milieu growing beyond the capacity of the informal heirarchies that beset it at the present time to retain their dominance.

It seems to me further that that has something to do with this apparent unwillingness to allow people you don't happen to like their anarchism. I don't like many of the people who post in this forum and I don't like you but I try to avoid being so arrogant as to assume that l'anarchie c'est moi in the manner of the Sun King and that anyone who disagrees with me is an fake anarchist or some kind of fifth columnist impostor. When it comes to ancaps you can demonstrate that they're not anarchists because they try to defend the wage system but otherwise you're just anarchy policing.

If someone is opposed to the state, class society,, the autocratic hierarchies that form around social and economic privilege, the wage system, etc they're an anarchist. Our behaviour may not reflect our beliefs a lot of the time, and it may not reflect our beliefs much of the time, but if we hold to the same ideals sincerely then we have room to hold each other to account for our conduct where we feel that it departs from that ideal and to challenge each others' assumptions about what it means to hold it. This to my mind would be the ideal situation for an open milieu where people were free to talk openly and entertain differing opinions only without fear of running afoul of those who seek to influence others by polarising communities and then accusing those they disagree with of being a threat to its safety.

Of course this assumes the willingness to engage in mediation and other constructive dispute resolution processes of course, as opposed to setting up the kind of kangaroo courts founded on mediation-dodging whose function is merely to demonise and ostracise those who again fail to bow their heads before those of us who appear to work off the assumption that to be contradicted is to give aid to the forces of injustice.

Lumpen wrote:
There is no compelling case for any proposal for a federation to concern itself with the "authoritarian attitudes" of members of constituent groups. There is no evidence that this is a pressing concern or even an accurate appraisal of the current situation.

I disagree. I think there's compelling evidence. Exhibit A: The anarchist milieu in this country, in all its marginalised glory. There is no evidence that it's not. Since you're the one who made the claim the onus is on you to provide sufficent to support it, which you haven't. In fact and you haven't provided any, I would assume because most of the evidence supports the opposing argument.

Your comment about the ability of the question being about the ability of groups to work together rather than a federation worrrying about individuals is likewise as fallicious as it is unevidenced. Again the evidence points to the truth of the opposing argument. You assume that the groups themselves are internally cohesive and free of dysfunctionality, which again would appear to me to be at odds with the groupthink, cliqueishness, insularity, dogmatism, toxicity, elitism and suspicion of outsiders that maintains Melbourne anarchist groups especially in their ineffectuality and general irrelevance to the wider Australian community, a fact that is I believe reflected by their marginality.

Lumpen wrote:
I am not guilty of "demonising anyone who fails to submit to [my] authority with the requisite level of awe", and the suggestion is a product of your fantasies. I do require a minimum amount of respect and dignity in all social interactions, and refuse to indulge poor behaviour and personal attacks.

I think I was talking in general, so if that was the case which it is you would appear to be protesting too much which is telling in and of itself. Doesn't everyone require a minimum amount of respect and dignity in all social interactions? Why single yourself out, unless you're worried that you do demonise anyone who fails to submit to your authority with the requisite level of awe because you do assume that anyone who you don't see eye to eye with is some kind of fake anarchist who isn't allowed to identify how they want, and ignoring the right of all to respect and dignity makes it easier to invoke the idea that those who aren't for you are against you?

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Feb 27 2013 13:43
Ites wrote:
I think I was talking in general, so if that was the case which it is you would appear to be protesting too much which is telling in and of itself.

You adressed me in direct response to my post. Saying someone will only object to an insult if it's true is childish. Say, have you stopped beating your wife?

In any case, there is no-one who matches your description. You blame a cabal of autocrats and charismatic personalities for a host of problems. Saying "look, they exist" does not call it into being. The reality is more mundane.

Quote:
To me that sounds like you're setting up a rationale for excluding anyone whose interpretation of what an effective, meaningful and relevant organisational strategy should look like doesn't match up with your own.

That sounds rather like another insult that you didn't make to anyone in particular through the use of loaded statements.

As you asked, I advocate strengthening ties amongst the groups that exist, confronting and excising feuds, and forming a solid basis for long-term organisation.

It is not for everyone – calling for an anarchist federation of anarchist groups excludes many, but we aren't attempting to create society through this association (or call to associate). My ambition for it is modest. It seems to be the general consensus so far, but we will see.

From this point on, I will be directing my energies to those with a stake in the conversation, and the capacity to carry it out.

Ites wrote:
Since you're the one who made the claim the onus is on you to provide sufficent to support it, which you haven't. In fact and you haven't provided any, I would assume because most of the evidence supports the opposing argument.

The claim is that there has been sufficient and cautious moves of co-operation (and not actually my claim per se). The time is right to formalise this. The model for this is federation, but there are other options and conversations we may need to have.

The internal conversations on the topic have been linked to practical, immediate questions. The co-operation that prompted it was of a similar nature.

An illustrative episode was a discussion at the last conference between MAC and some other groups about dealing with finances. This was something that no group alone could achieve. We learned a lot and I'd like to see more things of that nature. I imagine if the same wisdom and resources was applied to other areas we would be in a better position.

There has been no move to create a new organisation with the primary concerns as you describe. As an individual, you are free to posit anything you like and how you like, decoupling it from any concern for cooperation, compromise, reality or fear of accountability.

Ites wrote:
You assume that the groups themselves are internally cohesive and free of dysfunctionality.

No. It is a recognition of the limited scope of a federation based on our cooperation and good will thus far. I anticipate problems and aim to confront them with organisation and cautious planning. A federation should have no power outside of its groups. The practical reasons should be obvious.

Interested individuals should be directed to their closest local anarchist group. Disgruntled individuals should be redirected to the same. Such individuals are free to launch critiques that might sway groups to reconsider their relationships.

jolasmo
Offline
Joined: 25-12-11
Feb 27 2013 15:06

I'm somewhat at a loss as to why "Platformist Organisation" is presented here as an alternative to "Federation". In the Organisational Part of the Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft) federalism is listed as one of four "basic organisational principles" of the GUA, and in fact most of the "Organisational Part" is given over to an explanation of Federalism. It seems like people are using "Federation" as a shorthand for synthesist organisations which I think is pretty confusing and unhelpful.

~J.

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Feb 27 2013 23:00

I'm guessing that platformism is mentioned with reference to a group in Melbourne called Anarchist Affinity who a organise reading group activity and are currently discussing platformism.

It is the intention of the organisers of Towards Federation Anarchist Conference, The MAC to invite every anarchist group to the conference on the basis that they make that claim. A plenary session will be held on the final day to which only delegates of groups will be admitted. The first day is intended for anyone who is interested in anarchist federation.

Aside from the MAC, the following groups from Melbourne will be invited; Libertarian Workers for a Self-managed Society, Melbourne Anarchist-Communist Group and Anarchist Affinity.

Jura Books in Sydney is invited and if comes to notice that there are any other groups that have hitherto been missed, they shall be invited.

Rats's picture
Rats
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Feb 28 2013 13:57
Lugius wrote:

I would think that one basis for an anarchist federation is to facilitate co-operation between anarchist groups. If anarchists are to demonstrate that a co-operative society based equal access and equal rights is possible, would not an anarchist federation go some way towards achieving this? An anarchist federation would act as a nascent organisational infrastructure that shows replacing the government of people by the administration of things is not only desirable but plausible.

An anarchist federation would make a more efficient use of collective resources as has been demonstrated to some degree by those anarchist groups who have co-operated in the production and distribution of 'Sedition'. This alone illustrates the possibilities of socialised production and distribution.

The multiplying effect of anarchist organisation on the potential impact to be made on the broader political discourse would become evident as the anarchist federation co-operative and coordinated campaigns such as the current MAC campaign to urge people to 'Vote for Nobody' at the up-coming federal election. Other campaigns that an anarchist federation could initiate and sustain could be those that speak directly to the issue of opposing and winding back excessive powers of the state, such as the powers the federal government has acquired under the anti-terrorist legislation and the ABCC.

The quantity and quality of internal communication between affiliated anarchist groups would improve with all its accompanying benefits.

A functioning anarchist federation in Australia could apply to affiliate to the International Federation Anarchiste (IFA) and organise globally in opposition to governments everywhere.

These are just some of the positives of creating an anarchist federation consistent with the theory and history of the practice of anarchism. But what, if any, negative considerations might there be?

In the past, there has been only one attempt at avowedly and explicitly anarchist federation in Australia. The Federation of Australian Anarchists was founded at an anarchist conference held in Glebe, NSW in January 1975. This conference was the largest ever anarchist conference held in Australia at that time (estimates vary between 250-400 people in attendance) and it seems doubtful that there has been a bigger conference since. In June 1976, the FAA disintegrated in an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.

There was not to be any attempt at federation along anarchist lines until the founding of the ASF in 1986. But the ASF was never attempting to supplant an anarchist federation in Australia. Nevertheless, the experience of the failure of the FAA was taken into account when the organisational statutes were drawn up and was one of a number of factors that determined the particular structure of the ASF as a federation of affiliates.

IMHO, there were two salient reasons for the failure of the FAA; groups and individuals could join (a compromise solution), the problem arose that individuals had the same status as a groups and the groups themselves lacked a clearly defined membership. The other reason was the apparent ideological split between 'lifestylists' and 'workerists'.

An anarchist federation can only be one comprised of autonomous groups with a clearly defined membership. The role of the individual anarchist is to join an existing group or find other individuals to form a group with.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, and would also like to appologise for my recent hostile comments re: the mac in the interest of moving forward.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Mar 1 2013 03:17
jolasmo wrote:
It seems like people are using "Federation" as a shorthand for synthesist organisations which I think is pretty confusing and unhelpful.

I think if we said "Hey everyone, let's chat about synthesist organisations", that would offer less clarity. I get that specific terms offer clarity, but it isn't an academic discussion. Pretty much everything is on the table, and the usefulness of the discussions is hearing what other groups want, or why they don't want to organise with other groups.

Personally I hadn't given much though to platformism (aside from being a bit of a fan of Makhno), but like I said, it seems as viable an option as any and there is some interest. So it's "platformism" as opposed to the proposal for federation at the last conference or internal discussions in MAC, not in opposition to federation per se.

I guess any clarity should be given by anyone advocating a platformist organisation.

ites's picture
ites
Offline
Joined: 10-02-11
Mar 1 2013 11:20

Federation without strategy or purpose and for its own sake is nothing but an exercise in giving currency to for informal hierarchies and egomania that drives them.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Mar 2 2013 09:15

Strategy is not arrived at through the brilliant ideas of lone individuals. It will happen through a careful process of consultation, respectful exchange of ideas and clarification of purpose.

If you look at what MAC is proposing, it is a conference with sessions open to anyone, in groups or not as well as a sessions limited to delegates from groups. The topics are, broadly, greater cooperation, ideas on organization and moving toward federation.

Ites, you may be jumping the gun a bit.

happyanarchy
Offline
Joined: 24-09-04
Mar 4 2013 03:41

I think the main issue here is that there just isn’t the active numbers of Anarchist and organisations in any region to require a Federation structure. Not even in Melbourne. 3 co-operating organisations is awesome, but still doesn’t require a Federation structure.

So sure discuss the idea.

But my thoughts are that the focus needs to be on building local and regional grassroots networks first. Get them solid, consistent and strong, before some grand Federation would be relevant. Making the organisation first, thinking it will enhance or improve Australian anarchism, is kinda vandgardist.

There is already national and local co-operation and communication. It is done informally through existing networks with the simple action of either getting on the phone or email. To try and formalise this process through a Federation structure, would mostly likely result in the limited energy people have, being spent on essentially duplicated administrative functions. Along with the real risk of just creating another ‘Paper Empire’ federation for ego’s to argue over.

Also the overwhelming majority of Australian anarchist aren’t active members of any group. The ones who are, mostly operate in (often temporary) project based collectives/affinity groups.
Now there are consistent, long term anarchist organisations. A number of them are better described as ‘micro-organisations’ with only a couple, or one, real member. What mechanisms would then be in place in this Federation to make sure their influence is not disproportionate over the unaffiliated anarchist or project collective?

I think it is a great ideal to aim for, but just premature. Especially if we are talking about a national federation. It is something I’ve heard various people bang on about for years, usually as some sort of platform to show how well organised we Anarchists are in Australia (without the substance to back it up).

When it is required, groups from everywhere will be calling for it.

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Mar 5 2013 01:10

happyanarchy wrote:

Quote:
But my thoughts are that the focus needs to be on building local and regional grassroots networks first. Get them solid, consistent and strong, before some grand Federation would be relevant. Making the organisation first, thinking it will enhance or improve Australian anarchism, is kinda vandgardist.

Networks are no substitute for anarchist groups or anarchist federations. Both Jura Books (1977) and the MAC (1987) are groups that have demonstrated their capacity to organise collectively in a manner consistent with anarchist practice and are responsibile for the management and maintenence of building in which one of the primary functions of anarchist groups can be carried out; the dissemination of ideas and information. Here are two clear examples of "solid, consistent and strong".

Your assertion that anarchist federation does not make any sense at another level; 'vanguard' is a term employed by Marxist-Leninists to describe a form of organisation that is the antithesis to anarchist federation. It is vertical in structure and seeks to centralise power, anarchist federation is horizontal in structure and seeks decentralise and dissipate power.

Quote:
There is already national and local co-operation and communication. It is done informally through existing networks with the simple action of either getting on the phone or email.

Here you describe a closed circuit of decision-making by the self-appointed that is accountable to no-one. It is precisely how the business community operates. The point of an anarchist federation is to enable all to participate in the decision-making process through the mechanisms that have developed out of anarchist practice everywhere across time.

Quote:
To try and formalise this process through a Federation structure, would mostly likely result in the limited energy people have, being spent on essentially duplicated administrative functions.

On the contrary, instead of having the unaccountable self-appointed individual deciding, initiating, organising and communicating through their exclusive networks unexamined and free of scrutiny, an anarchist federation administrates efficiently through the process of delegation that is accountable to, and subject to instant recall by, the assembly.

Quote:
Along with the real risk of just creating another ‘Paper Empire’ federation for ego’s to argue over.

Name three examples as evidence to support this assertion.

Quote:
Also the overwhelming majority of Australian anarchist aren’t active members of any group. The ones who are, mostly operate in (often temporary) project based collectives/affinity groups.
Now there are consistent, long term anarchist organisations. A number of them are better described as ‘micro-organisations’ with only a couple, or one, real member. What mechanisms would then be in place in this Federation to make sure their influence is not disproportionate over the unaffiliated anarchist or project collective?

I suggest this illustrates a lack of understanding of not only anarchist organisation, but anarchist practice. Anarchism is not merely holding a set of opinions, it is a practice. To be an anarchist in any meaningful sense you need to participate in an anarchist organisation (in the same way that in order to be a flautist, you need a flute). At its most basic level, this is an anarchist group that, at bare minimum, would require three to five members.

The state is not temporary. Capitalism is permanent in the absence of change. Consequently, temporary " project based collectives/affinity groups" can not be properly considered anarchist however many circle a symbols stuck on the outside unless its ultimate aim is to replace the government of people with the administration of things held in common. Anarchism is not a project to reform capitalism. Anarchism seeks revolutionary change that will never be achieved by one or two individuals however brilliant they may be.

An anarchist federation is a federation of anarchist groups and while some groups may be larger or smaller than others, there is no danger of one or two individuals having a disproportionate influence. Disproportionate influence over others less connected or engaged is precisely what 'networks of affinity' (i.e. cliques) produce.

Only anarchist groups may affiliate to an anarchist federation and consequently, only groups may be disaffiliated. This effectively eliminates the disproportionate influence of individuals.

Individuals who declare themselves sympathetic to anarchism would have two choices; join an existing group, or seek others sympathetic to anarchism with the object of forming a new group. It is only within the collective environment that 'your anarchism' can be tested. For the individual, this means that their rhetoric would have to match their practice.

I fully understand that there are those self-styled 'anarchists' who are fearful of anarchist federation as it represents the threat of scrutiny and critical examination of their own conduct that may be unwelcome. I have little sympathy for their plight. More recently, we have had self-styled 'anarchists' assault anarchists who are actually members of groups as well as engage in the intimidation and harassment of both women and men. These self-styled 'anarchists' have been enabled and protected by their 'networks of affinity'. The yawning chasm between their theory and their practice is so great that not even Evil Knievel would make it across.

Quote:
When it is required, groups from everywhere will be calling for it.

At the 2009 conference held in Melbourne, there was an in principle agreement to participate in a broader co-operative effort among anarchist groups as a precursor to the formation of an anarchist federation. This involved Jura, the MAC and Organise! and the main project is the joint publication of 'Sedition'. Based on this experience, the MAC is organising a conference for June this year with the object of taking the logical next step.

Lumpen's picture
Lumpen
Offline
Joined: 11-02-08
Mar 5 2013 08:51

Lugius covered it. I would add:

happyanarchy wrote:
But my thoughts are that the focus needs to be on building local and regional grassroots networks first. Get them solid, consistent and strong, before some grand Federation would be relevant. Making the organisation first, thinking it will enhance or improve Australian anarchism, is kinda vandgardist.

There is zero evidence for anyone attempting to make a "kinda vangardist" "grand Federation".

The only discussions I am aware of have foreshadowed very modest aims.

As Lugius said, there are some groups of long standing (20+ years) that could be better served by through greater cooperation, and MAC has mooted this for some time. MAC is trying to create a forum to open discussion, so we can potentially improve on our anarchist practice.

happyanarchy wrote:
Also the overwhelming majority of Australian anarchist aren’t active members of any group. The ones who are, mostly operate in (often temporary) project based collectives/affinity groups.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed.

happyanarchy wrote:
Now there are consistent, long term anarchist organisations. A number of them are better described as ‘micro-organisations’ with only a couple, or one, real member.

MAC has a high proportion of active members, as does Jura, the ASF-M and I'm sure others do too. It's a bizarre statement to anyone vaguely familiar with anarchist groups in Australia.

happyanarchy wrote:
What mechanisms would then be in place in this Federation to make sure their influence is not disproportionate over the unaffiliated anarchist or project collective?

Fuck the unaffiliated anarchists. Get in a group or give up.

Organised anarchists can and should aim to exert influence over temporary organisation – they have an institutional memory that is a rich resource of experience. A federation consistant with anarchist practice can only speak for itself, and is free to influence others through example and argument. That is actually the point. The influence is in inverse proportion to disorganisation and isolation.

That said, the kind of things that have been talked about are joint propaganda, skill sharing, member transference, joint statements, resource sharing and maybe an annual conference. Not exactly bolshevism.

happyanarchy
Offline
Joined: 24-09-04
Mar 6 2013 02:54

Ok, an example of an Anarchist micro-organisation, (and paper empire) the ASF. It had it's 'National Congress' in Brisbane on the 27th January at 69 Thomas St, West End. 2 people attended.

Now let's not forget this is an organisation that not only publically claims to be a Federation, but also has the 'General Transport Workers Assembley' (which actually has no members), an active 'local' in Brisbane (with at most 3 people), and active membership around the country.

The week-end before a workshop on Anarcho-sydicalism during the Brisbane Anarchist Summer School had 50-70+ people involved.

So the overwhelming majority of anarcho-sydicalists in Australia are not members of the ASF. A small proportion are members of the IWW. And a fact is that in Brisbane, most are in close touch within the Brisbane Solidarity Network. Being a network it is dynamic and more fluid.

So considering these facts, in light of your comment ..."Fuck the unaffiliated anarchists. Get in a group or give up. Organised anarchists can and should aim to exert influence over temporary organisation ..." I would say that statment actively demonstrates a degree of 'vandgardist politics'.

Not being 'vandguardist' means working with what exists on the ground, and build from the grassroots up with free association and mutual aid. From your statements, to me it seems you want to create an overarching organisation, so that you can put out 'public statements' on behalf of the anarchist 'movement'. And that either anarchists join, or "they can go and get fucked". Especially strange for a politics that emphasises the freedom of the individual, and their right to direct democracy.

If you were really, honestly, serious about this, you would have spent the last 12 months making direct contact with as many anarchists accross the country as possible. Putting the date for the conference well ahead of time to allow as many people as possible to plan to attend. Creating a draft template for discussion, and even being general discussion online many months before hand to being nutting out various issues.

I actually think the idea is worth discussing. But obviously not here, this is a toss. Bye.

Lugius's picture
Lugius
Offline
Joined: 19-04-10
Mar 6 2013 05:57

happyanarchy wrote:

Quote:
Ok, an example of an Anarchist micro-organisation, (and paper empire) the ASF. It had it's 'National Congress' in Brisbane on the 27th January at 69 Thomas St, West End. 2 people attended.

Now let's not forget this is an organisation that not only publically claims to be a Federation, but also has the 'General Transport Workers Assembley' (which actually has no members), an active 'local' in Brisbane (with at most 3 people), and active membership around the country.

You are wrong. You clearly do not trouble yourself to get the facts. The Tenth Congress of the ASF was held at The Boundary Hotel on the 26th of January (you got the place and date wrong). There were five delegates from three affiliates in attendance. You have not the slightest idea how may members each ASF affiliate has. Currently, the ASF has a membership of three - affiliates that is.

Topic locked