towards federation anarchist conference

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Rats
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Mar 16 2013 14:18

I think establishing a national federation should be a goal of anarchists and anarchist groups now and in the years to come. I think there's nothing to be lost by giving it a go. At worst we just end up in the same situation we have now. I think the people and energy is available around the country to easily set up a federation, or at least the ground work of a federation at the June conference.

I'm not sure what other avenues people are suggesting alongside their criticisms.

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ites
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Mar 16 2013 21:49
Rats wrote:
I'm not sure what other avenues people are suggesting alongside their criticisms.

Probably a scenario where we don't 'just end up in the same situation we have now.'

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Mar 17 2013 01:25

But that's only given that the project doesn't work, but I think it will work.

If it means we end up here back at square 1, all the Anarcho-cynicalists can pat themselves on the back and say "I told you so." and we can learn from the experience and try again later. The only real issue is whether there is the energy or not, and I think we have the energy.

If you think the federation is going to be informally controlled by MAC, then I think you're not placing as much value on the principles of federalism as it deserves. MAC people have already suggested a melbourne-wide federal structure for existing groups, and this includes groups which have been distinct from them for a long time, as well as groups of mostly ex-members. I think that's a really positive stance by MAC people, and a demonstration of commitment to good-faith practice.

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Mar 17 2013 03:41
Rats wrote:
But that's only given that the project doesn't work, but I think it will work.

Yeah right Gabs, and labeling anyone critical of certain facets of the anarchist milieu 'anarcho-cynicalists' straight off the bat demonstrates the kind of willingness to hear criticism that bodes well for the future in terms of the capacity of an anarchist federation to learn from its mistakes and adapt to changing circumstances in precisely the kind of way that the anarchist milieu generally fails to do at present. Making that kind of a leap could itself be construed as a display of cynicism, in which case putting the same on anyone else might be considered ironic.

Maybe it'll work out; it would be good if it did since it's high time that the anarchist milieu organised itself out of a paper bag. If it develops enough positive momentum and is seen to spend more time being productive and making itself useful than in being right and defending its ideological purity over the medium to long time it could prove its critics wrong, which would only be a good thing. By the same token I'm not sure why federal structures of necessity imply the impossibility of informal hierarchies or what use a structure is without a strategy or the ability to communicate with workers on a level they can understand and appreciate, much less to say listen to them and command respect by demonstrating it - especially where the capacity to listen attentively is concerned.

I see little of that in groups such as MAC for reasons I've already discussed and little willingness to address those kinds of issues much less to say make changes or adapt to changing or unexpected circumstances, of which the propensity to label critics as 'anarcho-cynicalists' is yet another manifestation and no real reason I can see to imagine that things are likely to improve.

caterpillar
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Mar 17 2013 04:55

Oh ffs. The real issue Ites has with a federation is that he'd have to join one of the groups in Melbourne to be involved, and at the moment he isn't particularly welcome in any of them. He'd have to demonstrate a serious commitment to change his behavior and make amends to a lot of people. Much easier join with people in other places who haven't had any experience of actually trying to deal with him in real life. And of course, keep blaming the whole anarchist scene rather than take any personal responsibility.

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Mar 17 2013 05:26
caterpillar wrote:
Oh ffs. The real issue Ites has with a federation is that he'd have to join one of the groups in Melbourne to be involved, and at the moment he isn't particularly welcome in any of them. He'd have to demonstrate a serious commitment to change his behavior and make amends to a lot of people. Much easier join with people in other places who haven't had any experience of actually trying to deal with him in real life. And of course, keep blaming the whole anarchist scene rather than take any personal responsibility.

For the record the last post from this poster was removed for publishing my full name in violation of my privacy and I await recognition of a harassment complaint I submitted against this individual to the Melbourne IWW branch secretary over 6 months ago. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story though I always say.

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Mar 17 2013 07:32

In specific response to Ites, and his demand to know where I mentioned alternatives, specifically acknowledging platformism (and a potential current project), I did so several times in this thread.

Lumpen wrote:
I suppose there is the question of a platformist organisation instead of a federation, too.[N.B. I clarified this statement later in this thread, as you can see below]Source.

Lumpen wrote:
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. Source.

Lumpen wrote:
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. Source.

And also (indirectly) here.

I think that is sufficient evidence of my personal position.

Ites wrote:
it's perfectly possible for authoritarian tendencies to arise that seek to polarise it by demonising those who are regarded as threats to it and by invoking the logic of 'you're either with us or you're with the enemies of anarchism.'

The proposal to meet, discuss and exchange ideas on federation and cooperation is not an example of this. My conduct in this thread and elsewhere is not an example of this.

The avoidance of the very direct question put to you leads me to conclude that your statements on this subject are not intended to be taken seriously.

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Mar 17 2013 08:05
ites wrote:
caterpillar wrote:
Oh ffs. The real issue Ites has with a federation is that he'd have to join one of the groups in Melbourne to be involved, and at the moment he isn't particularly welcome in any of them. He'd have to demonstrate a serious commitment to change his behavior and make amends to a lot of people. Much easier join with people in other places who haven't had any experience of actually trying to deal with him in real life. And of course, keep blaming the whole anarchist scene rather than take any personal responsibility.

For the record the last post from this poster was removed for publishing my full name in violation of my privacy and I await recognition of a harassment complaint I submitted against this individual to the Melbourne IWW branch secretary over 6 months ago. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story though I always say.

You have had comments removed too.

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ites
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Mar 17 2013 11:01
Lumpen wrote:
I think that is sufficient evidence of my personal position.

That's nice but the issue as far as I was concerned was the specific proposal published here. The issue isn't being for or against a platform but the conditions under which it comes to be adopted and whether or not the organisation based on it is beset by internal hierarchies.

Lumpen wrote:
Ites wrote:
it's perfectly possible for authoritarian tendencies to arise that seek to polarise it by demonising those who are regarded as threats to it and by invoking the logic of 'you're either with us or you're with the enemies of anarchism.'

The proposal to meet, discuss and exchange ideas on federation and cooperation is not an example of this. My conduct in this thread and elsewhere is not an example of this.

The avoidance of the very direct question put to you leads me to conclude that your statements on this subject are not intended to be taken seriously.

I've avoided nothing. Intentionally or not you misunderstood and misrepresented the issue at hand and have effectively dismissed my argument on the basis of a strawman. You can invoke logical fallacies and then suggest that things other people say shouldn't be taken seriously to your heart's content, but it won't get you far.

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Mar 17 2013 11:12
bounce wrote:
You have had comments removed too.

This poster wrote a letter to the Melbourne IWW branch of which I was a member and then sent me an email saying she wanted a break in contact before sending the letter to the branch, which the branch secretary declined to read out on the basis of the inflammatory, defamatory and descriminatory comments contained therein. One might consider sending a letter to a branch of which you a member contact, much less to say harassment especially if it contains defamatory content. Then as now she feels free to talk to me even though she has insisted on no contact, and if I engage directly I'm apparently guilty of derailing threads and my comments are, as pointed out, removed. If this is what the future looks like then there is none.

caterpillar
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Mar 17 2013 12:01

Below are the findings from the IWW complaints committee. This includes both the complaints which Ites was expelled over, as well as the complaint Ites friends made against the Melbourne branch secretary TB, which were found not to have any basis. In fact, the people who signed the complaint against TB never even bothered to show up for mediation or submit any statements or evidence.

And then there are at least another 3 women outside of IWW who've accused Ites of harassment. I wonder how many people will have to call him out on his behavior before he acknowledges that he might have done something wrong.

*****

Complaints Committee Findings Regarding BD

Committee members:

Purpose

This Complaints Committee has been tasked with reviewing the Melbourne Branch's Complaints Committee's process and findings regarding complaints brought by fellow workers EC, CH and DH against fellow worker BD, and determining the validity of said process and findings according to the IWW Constitution.

Methods

This Committee has been presented with a large volume of good but disorganized evidence and we've done our absolute best to try to review properly all the pertinent facts within the very restrictive time frame we've been alotted. We are four members of the Portland GMB who were nominated and selected at the November 2012 GMB meeting to oversee this process, pending approval from AUSROC and the GEB. All of our evidence came directly from AUSROC fellow workers or former IWW members. Most of the people we contacted requesting information did not respond. We feel like we gathered enough information to make an informed decision, however problems with communication muddied our process. We had 3 meetings to review all this information, spending a total of at least 60 person hours as a group. We operated on a consensus basis as we felt that everyone needed to be in agreement on all points of our findings.

Findings

By process of deduction, we find that DHs complaints were properly discounted from consideration, but their evidence accepted as valid, by the Melbourne Complaints Committee as DH was not a member in good standing at the time that the complaints were filed.

Regarding FW EC, we find that FW BD engaged in continued harassment of FW EC. This harassment was done via text message, email and Facebook. On an unknown date, in an email chain provided by FW BD, FW EC states “Just get out of our fucking lives, BD. Nobody ever asked you to get involved in CH's business. In fact, you were asked multiple times by her, and I, to stop interfering...Just get out.” FW BD then went on to send two more emails in response, and then again FW EC writes “As we have been telling you from the beginning, CH does not want you messing with her life. Nobody has ever given you permission to interfere in their personal business in any way. We have repeatedly asked you to stop since well before any complaints were made. Neither CH, DH or I wants anything to do with you. Mind your own business. Stay out of our lives.” FW BD went on to write back one more time that we know of according to the evidence he provided in his Defense Brief. In FW BD's own Defense Brief he writes, “'Fellow worker TB confirms that he had asked FW BD not to contact FW EC more than once before this time'.” This statement from FW BD indicates that he was made aware that FW EC should not be contacted by BD any longer. On an unknown date, FW BD writes to someone named Justine in Facebook, “The accusations of stalking, etc. are, I would argue, a pretext to sidestep the fact (provided to me by lawyer) that the attacks she posts on her Facebook profiles are what is known, for defamation purposes, as 'publishing' (it's in the Facebook terms and conditions), even if the object of the attacks is blocked such that they can't see that they're being attack(ed) or otherwise defend themselves. In terms of the alleged 'stalking', the question seems to me to be which came first, it or the attacks.” This indicates that BD knew he had been specifically blocked by FW EC and rationalizes his inappropriate behavior. At no point in FW BD's Defense Brief does he explicitly deny the long list of allegations brought forth by FW EC and in fact defends and continues to rationalize such behavior. Beyond these two examples, FW EC has substantiated her allegations with dozens of pieces of evidence, including screen shots, emails, text messages, etc. that clearly outline a pattern of harassment.

On August 16th, 2012 FW CH writes, in a Facebook private message to BD, “Due to everything that has happened of late, I think it is best for me and for you too if I just step back from contact with you for the time being.” Our Committee understands this statement to mean that CH was requesting no further contact with BD. FW BD responded via Facebook, “What the hell ever...a million dollars says you wouldn't subject (EC) to this kind of treatment...go have fun with Ushter and everyone else.” On it's own, although inappropriate and hostile, this Committee does not find that this constitutes harassment; however, on August 26th BD sent a text message to FWs CH, FM and AR as well as a non-IWW member which details EC's private and sensitive medical information. This evidence is available for viewing in FW BD's 50-page Defense Brief which he submitted to us. Not only do we consider this continuation of contact with CH to constitute harassment, but we find that, in divulging EC's private and sensitive medical information, BD committed an egregious breach of EC's legitimate right to privacy.

Conclusion

The first subsection in article III, Sec. 2(a), under the Harassment heading says: “The focus of action against discrimination and harassment is protecting and supporting the complainant, to make the accused gain insight into the effects of their behavior, to prevent future incidents, and to improve awareness of harassment and discrimination and further a culture of solidarity and equality in the IWW.” The following Sec. 2(b) states: “In the case of harassment or discrimination there is no need to show that harassment was the intended effect. A person can commit harassment without intending to do so. The deciding factor in initiating the complaint or mediation process is the the complainant perceives harassment to be taking place.”

Article III, Sec. 2(c) states: “If a member is behaving inappropriately they should be told their behavior is unwelcome and be asked to stop. If the complainant does not feel comfortable speaking to the member in question, they should report the incident to a branch secretary or other officer as soon as possible. The officer will facilitate the completion of a written statement as per Section 1(a).” Furthermore, although not specifically outlined in the Bylaws, we find that fellow workers are free to seek assistance in preserving safer space outside the frameworks set forth in the Bylaws as a matter of regular social interaction.

According to a definition of “harass” provided by FW BD, “harass” is a verb which means:

To trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc. as in war or hostilities; harry; raid.
To disturb persistently; torment.

Article III, Sec. 2(e) states: “Depending on the severity of the harassment or discrimination taking place, remedial action can lead to action up to expulsion...”

Based on the definition of “harass”, the Articles pertaining to harassment in the IWW Constitution, and considering the scale and duration of the harassment we find that the complaints against FW BD are substantiated and the terms of his expulsion are valid and should stand.

Beyond immediate expulsion from the branch, the Melbourne GMB voted 6 in favor, 1 against (in favor of suspension), and 1 abstention on the following specific conditions regarding what FW BD must do in order to be allowed to rejoin the Melbourne GMB.

-No access to members’ personal information.

-Barred from control of official and unofficial union publications including Direct Action and social media.

-Barred from holding elected office in the branch, IU, ROC or General Administration of the union for a reasonable period

-Acknowledging personal accountability for behavior relevant to these complaints and demonstrating a commitment to improved behavior in the future.

This committee would additionally like to define a “reasonable period” for FW BD to be barred from holding office as one (1) year from the date he re-joins the IWW.

We recommend the establishment of a Safer Space policy for the Melbourne GMB (with the Portland GMB policy provided as an example), as well as the creation, within branch bylaws, of a conflict resolution process and an outline of how accountability processes work.

Complaints Committee Findings Regarding TB

Committee members:

Purpose

This Complaints Committee has been tasked with reviewing the complaint brought by 7 members of AUSROC against the Secretary of the Melbourne GMB, FW TB.

Methods

This Committee was presented with an initial letter of complaint against FW TB, a second letter of complaint after FW TB refused the Terms of Immediate Relief, and 2 emails of personal testimony. We are four members of the Portland GMB who were nominated and selected at the November 2012 GMB meeting to oversee this process, pending approval from AUSROC and the GEB. We had 3 meetings to review all this information, spending a total of at least 60 person hours as a group. We operated on a consensus basis as we felt that everyone needed to be in agreement on all points of our findings.

Findings

In the process of reviewing the BD appeal, every time we came across correspondence from FW TB we found that he consistently addressed every fellow worker with respect and even-handedness. The following are just 3 examples of this behavior.

On August 28th, 2012 FW TB wrote to FWs EC and CH, “According to the Constitution, there is a process which we need to follow. This involves privacy for everyone involved, including the accused, so we should hold off on sending out the letter until we have to...I think I know what the answer will be, but I have to ask; are both of you completely opposed to mediation? It is the preferred method per the Constitution and I think would go so much cleaner than charges, which will just cause a huge mess when we really don't need one. Mediation does not require that either of you talk to or see BD. It starts with separate conversations and then moves on from there. I really think it should be the first attempt at an official solution.”

In response to a heated email from FW BD on August 29th, 2012 FW TB wrote, “I do remember these conversations, but nowhere in there is a request for me to initiate mediation. Telling me that you two are arguing is different from claiming harassment or a violation of the constitution. The complaints process covers pretty specific things, and not getting along isn't one of them. You mention harassment once and it is saying that you are going to 'revive' a harassment complaint. Honestly, at the time I thought you were referring to one from before I was secretary. I'm sorry that I misunderstood what you wanted, but the closest you get is saying that 'we might need to get mediation going.' I did not interpret this as a request for me to initiate a formal process, maybe that was remiss of me in my duties.”

On September 1st, 2012 FW TB wrote on the Melbourne listserv, “I request that members refrain from making judgments, either for or against the complaints being brought. Without knowing the details it is not prudent to dismiss complaints as 'infantile behavior' or 'immature accusations'. Until a properly elected complaints committee hears the case these will be taken as serious...If you want to know what's going on, come to the meeting Thursday. Until then, I ask that you withhold judgment on the merits of the complaints and refrain from judging those who brought them.”

We find the complaints against FW TB to be unsubstantiated. All evidence we have reviewed indicates that FW TB acted in a reasonable manner and attempted to strike a balance in the Melbourne branch. He made several attempts to resolve conflicts and prevent escalation. We received a letter outlining several complaints, however no corresponding evidence was provided. Therefore, the accusations cannot be validated by this committee.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this committee would like to echo the closing comments from the original Melbourne GMB Complaints Committee. We ask that:

Members acting in the capacity of publicly representing the Union use restraint and judgment and make statements which accurately reflect the position of the body they are representing.
All members utilize kind communication in all engagements with fellow workers. The solidarity the Union is founded upon has roots in tolerance and respect for the diversity of our fellow workers.
Fellow workers utilize the Constitution's guidelines for addressing complaints, as well as referring to a Safer Space policy, conflict resolution guidelines and outline of how accountability processes work, as recommended in the BD appeal.
The Melbourne GMB and AUSROC recognize that direct democracy necessitates active involvement of members to be functional. One elected member cannot be held responsible for all daily ongoings in a branch and also be held responsible for all conflict resolution duties.

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Mar 17 2013 13:15

While I recognise these disputes and their context, it is spectacularly unhelpful to keep bringing them into every discussion.

It may be that this thread has run its course, or that /oceania is not a useful forum for discussion anymore. I can only suggest the people exercise a bit of self-control and stay on point so I can keep coming back here.

It is also worth pointing out that the anarchist scene (and I use that term advisedly) in Australia can be characterised in many ways. I think recent years have been marked by greater cooperation, and a desire to have a positive influence on social discourse. This should be encouraged.

Like any milieu, it will be beset with feuds, arguments and disassociation. It's understandable; there is a huge amount of passion around ideas of freedom and organisation, and it's difficult to take contestation as anything other than deeply personal. This is nothing new.

By attempting to rehash disputes in the court of public opinion in the hope of a different outcome, the feuds tend to widen, go on without any clear end to the process and are opened to abuse. This is not consistent with any anarchist vision of society and for good reason.

I would suggest that an open forum such as this is not the best place to analyse and discuss the internal processes of the IWW such as the one above, and especially not in this thread. By constantly derailing these discussions, you are impeding our freedom from irrelevant clutter, for vigorous debate to occur respectfully and to have our positions informed through knowledgable discussion.

caterpillar
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Mar 17 2013 13:38

This issue, along with others of a similar nature, has been repeatedly alluded to by a lot of people on this thread. I'm sick of not being allowed to say what really happened in public while pretty much everyone even remotely associated with anarchism in Australia has been receiving emails from Ites about it. I'm also sick of not being able to post anything on this forum without worrying about what crap Ites will post in response. And it is not a "feud'' (as you well know) and by characterising it as such you are just dismissing abuse against women. Yes this thread isn't a great place for discussion but if people are going to keep bringing it up and if Ites is going to keep going on and on then I have a right to respond. I also think it's hypocritical that Libcom has a big article outing an abuser on IWD (which I obviously think it's good that they did), but at the same time protects Ites right to privacy and his right to continually attack the women he's harassed.

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Mar 17 2013 15:08

I was speaking in the abstract when I mentioned feuds, disputes and disassociation. Your suggestion that I was "dismissing abuse against women" is unfair and inaccurate.

I stand by my assertion that it is bad practice to reintroduce disputes through an appeal to public opinion after fair process has been exhausted.

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Mar 17 2013 15:36
Lumpen wrote:
While I recognise these disputes and their context, it is spectacularly unhelpful to keep bringing them into every discussion.

It may be that this thread has run its course, or that /oceania is not a useful forum for discussion anymore. I can only suggest the people exercise a bit of self-control and stay on point so I can keep coming back here.

This seems sensible.

This thread is now being locked to prevent further derailing.

If you have an issue with this admin decision please start a thread in the feedback forum to discuss it, or send us an e-mail. We are sorry, this just seems easier than going back through the thread trying to remove derailing posts, and it does seem to us like this thread has probably run its course in terms of any useful discussion.

Topic locked