What do you think of the AF?

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butchersapron
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Feb 26 2006 18:49
What do you think of the AF?

In terms of propaganda/activity/politics/etc.

What do you dislike about us, what do you like, what would you like to see us doing some more of. You know the drill - tell us something. Harsh as you like or liddle pussy cat points.

Admin - this thread was moved from the Anarchist Federation's forum

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Steven.
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Feb 26 2006 19:49
butchersapron wrote:
In terms of propaganda/activity/politics/etc.

What do you dislike about us, what do you like, what would you like to see us doing some more of. You know the drill - tell us something. Harsh as you like or liddle pussy cat points.

butchersapron! well well well good to see you mate.

Hmmmm the AF... well. I like the AF. Some great comrades in it (most of the best ones I've met in this country anyway), and who have been in it (yearzero, The Blast...). Good ideas, and good writing.

I don't really want to join though, for a couple of reasons. Mainly personal, I don't have time/commitment to dedicate to a political organisation with collective responsibility - although I do think such organisation is important. Also I do think that the AF, like most anarchist groups, does things just because "that's what groups do" - for example Resistance and Organise - which I don't think make best use of time+financial resources.

I think that some members' ultra-leftism in terms of unions - and particularly anarcho-syndicalism (visible in a few threads on here) - are misguided and counter-productive, and in practical terms see no real difference between the politics of the AF and SolFed.

I do with the AF the best of luck though, and am always happy to see them grow.

Hmmm well that's me being totally honest.

butchersapron
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Feb 26 2006 20:03

Cheers J. more of these type answers please - let us fucking know!

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Jacques Roux
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Feb 26 2006 20:11

Hmm guess my main one is the same with all groups as john says - AF seem to being a group and therefore doing 'group' things, some of which might be a surplus in this day and age.

Maybe also that the dont have enough local emphasis? I know this a problem with numbers thin on the ground, but i seem to be aware of SF's local aspect more than AF.

Also of course i find the whole 2 national federations thing pretty annoying, I think it would just be common sense to try and move towards the AF and SF being the same thing. Obviously there are those niggling problems john mentions though.

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Steven.
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Feb 26 2006 20:48

Also, I don't like the logo!

I'm not entirely sure why it has fire in it... Still it is better than the SF logo

Re: the local focus, TBH I'm not sure they could do any better than they currently do...

I think in terms of outreach materials, I think there's a lot of untapped potential in the AF which I don't think is brought out by its "organs" (the site, resistance and O!).

butchersapron
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Feb 26 2006 20:53
John. wrote:
I think in terms of outreach materials, I think there's a lot of untapped potential in the AF which I don't think is brought out by its "organs" (the site, resistance and O!).

Can you expand on this johno!

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Steven.
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Feb 26 2006 21:25
butchersapron wrote:
John. wrote:
I think in terms of outreach materials, I think there's a lot of untapped potential in the AF which I don't think is brought out by its "organs" (the site, resistance and O!).

Can you expand on this johno!

Well i wrote more then deleted it cos it wasn't thought out too well...

I mean I don't wanna blow our own libcom horn, but I think I might have to. In terms of web sites, the AF has more then ten times the membership of libcom. But in terms of a website useful for libertarian communist outreach + self-organisation help I think we do a much better job, and certainly get way way more than ten times the site traffic - nearly 100 times as much from what I can work out.

I know the AF has its written stuff as well - resistance which is what 4,000 a month? Even assuming every one is read by someone that's still only 48,000 a year (as opposed to libcom 80-90,000 visits, 600-700,000 pages a month and rising). That's still significant though, and Organise will reach a couple of thousand more.

But if Resistance (I'll now call it R) was succeeding, I think there would be feedback from people. I mean does the AF benefit much from it? From talking to a lot of political groups, it seems many put a lot - if not most - of their effort into producing a newsletter, but almost none seem to get any feedback from it.

Particularly with news, R is an unsuitable format - it's monthly, and so news is out of date. Ok not everyone has access to the net, but the majority of people now do have access, and tens of millions read news online - and the net has more reach than street distributions of newsletters.

I think probably the AF would be best throwing their lot in with an online news/libertarian resource (and by that I really mean us, cos I think we're the best about at the minute - of course catch has done this, and NH has been doing some fantastic stuff for the site) I think paper-wise you're probably best doing regular single-issue pamphlets to sell (like Solidarity I guess) which can then be used for years. It just seems a more efficient use of AF members' valuable time and money. Using print-on-demand publishing services would be good for this too I think, cos then you'd hardly have to outlay any cash to get the pamphlets printed, you'd just make money when people bought them online - you could of course bulk-buy some to sell as well. That and/or working with Freedom.

butchersapron
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Feb 26 2006 21:28

Cracking, thanks for that again J. - exactly the sort of stuff i was after. Keep it coming please folks.

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Steven.
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Feb 26 2006 21:42

Hmmm yeah sorry if that came off a bit like a libcom wank-fest. But I don't think libcom's that great right now - I just know that it *really* could be with a few more people involved.

But that's a prob with a lot of libertarian groups/projects...

knightrose
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Feb 26 2006 22:02

A problem with the net based stuff, though, is that only about half the AF, for example, have internet access. I guess that applies to most people, dosn't it? I guess I'd like a blend of the two.

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Feb 26 2006 22:42
knightrose wrote:
A problem with the net based stuff, though, is that only about half the AF, for example, have internet access. I guess that applies to most people, dosn't it? I guess I'd like a blend of the two.

Yeah of course. I just think the AF could best direct resources by working collaboratively - probably with freedom and libcom for news and online stuff respectively, and solo regular pamphlet/mini-book publishing by topic.

Vis-a-vis political/economic activity - meaning struggle - I think it'd be good if AF people shared their experiences of struggles more effectively, or more openly (cos maybe you do it well within the organisation...). Cos AF people individually are involved in a lot of stuff in their everyday lives - like you and recent industrial action say - and your experiences could help a lot of people in similar circumstances.

Mike Harman
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Feb 26 2006 23:00

For me I agree with John that I think resources could be better spent on single-issue pamphlets than R/O - they've got much more longetivity and they aren't being replaced by the internet because very few people want to read long texts on-line.

In terms of R handouts, although I've only ever made it to one or two embarrassed , I reckon there's a much better chance of people coming by anarchist communist ideas on the internet than there is being given something in the street - I don't even take stuff handed to me in the street, and have even had to go back to get stuff I was interested in after blanking people before. We get targeted referrals from google (over 20,000/month although a bit of that will be internal searches, and a couple of thousand from wikipedia), which means people coming across this site for the first time may have been looking for something that's on here, or related to it, then the rest of the site is there for people to look at.

Related to that though, and the workplace discussion on the e-list, I also think there's a need for something like prol-position here, but IMO it'd be a shame if it was tied to any particular organisation since to work it'd need to encompass as many potential people as possible. Other than that for newsletters I reckon the best thing is stuff targetted to very specific areas, but even with HI we do 4-8000 households most times and there's not loads of feedback (although there has been some).

Er, more later.

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888
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Feb 26 2006 23:05

It would be good if the AF could be more involved in such stuff *as the AF* rather than as different individuals doing it, where possible...

John. wrote:
Also, I don't like the logo!

I'm not entirely sure why it has fire in it... Still it is better than the SF logo

You need a reason?! confused Fire is good. If anything, there's not enough fire in that logo. Perhaps some lightning is needed as well...

I think the initiatives London AF were trying to start at around the time I left were good ideas (transport & olympics campaigns, I think) - perhaps the AF needs to try and initiate campaigns. I think the WSM have shown themselves able to do this despite being a small group and the difference in politics is irrelevant here. I'm talking about the bin tax and other things they were involved, in which they took a fairly prominent role.

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Feb 26 2006 23:07
Catch wrote:
Other than that for newsletters I reckon the best thing is stuff targetted to very specific areas, but even with HI we do 4-8000 households most times and there's not loads of feedback (although there has been some).

Hmmm yeah (catch means Hackney Independent for anyone who doesn't know). And speaking of local sheets, I know Haringey solidarity group do similarly but I don't think they get much feedback either...

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pingtiao
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Feb 27 2006 11:53

I'd just like to add my total agreement with john and catch here. Catch and I are both Afed members for those who don't know.

I have thought for a long time that R seems to use far too many resources for not much in the way of results- I feel that the handing-people-things-in-the-street method of prop has been superceded with the rise of advertising and the like. People are well accustomed to ignoring you, or treating the material with a different perspective than they might otherwise get.

I have felt that this was a difficult issue to bring up to be honest. I agree that we'd be better off concentrating on longer and more rigorous pamphlets (like the Basic Bakunin, anti-Work, environment and class stuff) than media like R.

that's why I'm involved in libcom (altohugh I don't have much time for things like this at the minute)

None of this is supposed to denigrate either the effort or commitment of my AFed comnrades, I hope that is clear.

Mark

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Feb 27 2006 12:30

Just a quick note - we could move this thread into the main Organise forum where it might get more responses (a link to it would remain here, and we could put a link to this subforum in it)

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Feb 27 2006 12:36

It was suggested that I post this comment from the AF internal list on here. So here you are!

"I think there's a tendency to inflate the importance of the internet over other forms of communication or activity. Libcom is a great initiative but the fact that libcom.org gets loads of hits means nothing more than... lots of hits. But how does that convert into new and active members of any of the groups or federations?

"The problem with the internet is it's all very passive - lots of people like to just click and browse but it's a far cry from proper involvement in the revolutionary anarchist 'movement'. Remember how many people used to fill in the membership form on the AF website yet hardly any of them followed through - like I say, people get carried away with clicking here and there.

"I'm not doing down stuff like libcom which is a fab site but it all needs to be put into a proper perspective.

"I think the percentage of internet users is still a minority of the population. In fact, I know loads of people who don't even know how to switch a bloody computer on."

Admin - discussion on the relative merits of online and print media in response to this now here:

http://libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8278

butchersapron
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Feb 27 2006 12:52
John. wrote:
Just a quick note - we could move this thread into the main Organise forum where it might get more responses (a link to it would remain here, and we could put a link to this subforum in it)

I'd be ok with that.

Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2006 13:26

To continue, if we abandon the streets then we might as well abandon anarchism. It's safe and cosy to put your ideas out on the internet. Whereas ideas are really tested in the streets and the workplace.

Resistance acts as a handy instant leaflet- not only can you get through to people at demonstrations, but the more generalised handing out of R on the streets and at tube entrances does bring results- we've had a number of subscriptions to R ( which i would assume to be from street distribution) as well as enquiries about joining the AF from the same source. I've forgotten the number of times I've seen people read R from cover to cover after it's been left lying around on the tube

At our last AF delegate meeting there was what appeared to be general consensus that R was effective in that people seemed enthusiastic about taking it and reading it, rather than taking it and chucking it away.

Do we really want to give all that up.

In fact I would argue that we need to up the ante with far more flyposting and stickering. This is what our European comrades understand, the need for a visible anarchist presence in daily life. If we step back from that, I'd say we were admitting defeat.

Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2006 13:32

Yes, but I wasn't arguing that we should stop using the Internet- we should use it and have propaganda on the streets as well, they complement each other. People find their way to anarchism by a number of means.

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Feb 27 2006 13:41
Battlescarred wrote:
Resistance acts as a handy instant leaflet- not only can you get through to people at demonstrations, but the more generalised handing out of R on the streets and at tube entrances does bring results- we've had a number of subscriptions to R ( which i would assume to be from street distribution) as well as enquiries about joining the AF from the same source. I've forgotten the number of times I've seen people read R from cover to cover after it's been left lying around on the tube

At our last AF delegate meeting there was what appeared to be general consensus that R was effective in that people seemed enthusiastic about taking it and reading it, rather than taking it and chucking it away.

Do we really want to give all that up.

Hmmm well that does sound fair enough then.

Although I wonder if something like Freedom (which is more regular, and of a much higher quality, though less politically rigid - but this could change with more AF involvement) might be a better medium to do this, with one-off free street distributions together with paid subscriptions.

Please note I wasn't saying retreat from printed materials - just direct resources where they are most effective.

Quote:
In fact I would argue that we need to up the ante with far more flyposting and stickering. This is what our European comrades understand, the need for a visible anarchist presence in daily life.

This I'd broadly agree with as well.

Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2006 14:39

But Freedom has deteriorated a lot, and I'd find it an embarassment to sell. Plus I don't think you can sell papers at this moment in time, and I couldn't distribute something that had views in it from an individualist or pacifist or just reported on "trade union" activities with no real critique of the bureaucracy

martinh
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Feb 27 2006 19:41
Battlescarred wrote:
But Freedom has deteriorated a lot, and I'd find it an embarassment to sell. Plus I don't think you can sell papers at this moment in time, and I couldn't distribute something that had views in it from an individualist or pacifist or just reported on "trade union" activities with no real critique of the bureaucracy

From when? Would you care to expand? It's a darn sight better than it was during the 90s or 80s IMO, but you can't please everyone.

Regards,

Martin

Nick Durie
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Feb 28 2006 00:44

In my view the AF would do well to completely abandon national propaganda activities such as resistance and use the resources instead to build up the power of the AF in one particular locality, either by concentrating all of its national resources on organising in a few workplaces or by building up a community power base in the areas where it is strongest. That can only really be achieved through effective 'front groups'.

I also don't think that the AF is a federation at all as it's simply not the case that pre-existing local anarchist groups decide after months of deliberation to affiliate to the AF, but that the AF effectively starts the local groups. In my view the AF is much more of an anarchist political party, not that personally I have a problem with this, but I think it does devalue the word.

In the spirit of all constructiveness Resistance particularly (Organise! is much more of a party organ so there could be a need for that) suffers from a lot of problems in my view.

The first is that it's named 'resistance', so almost no public library/chipshop/cornershop would willingly have a stack at the front desk, and only people attracted to a title like 'resistance' will bother to read it.

There really is no need to be posturing like that. Consider 'Hackney Independent', or HSG's 'Totally Indypendent'? What's necessary is that people don't confuse you with some political party, or link you with the council/benefits/local housing office/other bureaucracy.

Two, the content of Resistance can often be about extremely random stuff and is not geographically located. It seems to be drawn up on whatever big news story the AF reckons has some propaganda mileage. In my view that's totally the wrong approach, and quite apart from perhaps the desire maybe to have every resistance as a stand alone 'encounter' with anarchist politics it actually ends up meaning that the pamphlet will only be continuously read by anarchos who are already very familiar with the ideas it contains.

Three it's covered in daft wee symbols that have had no currency since about 1901.

Solidarity and all the best in your efforts!

Nick

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Feb 28 2006 01:13
John. wrote:

Although I wonder if something like Freedom (which is more regular, and of a much higher quality, though less politically rigid - but this could change with more AF involvement) might be a better medium to do this, with one-off free street distributions together with paid subscriptions.

that would be brilliant in my opinion; resistance coul then become more of an action update, and mostly focussed on what the AF were involved with, handed out as a supplement whilst flogging Freedom.

I don't know what this is about Freedom being an embarassment to sell, but then i haven't read it for months. I asked for a sub for my birthday, but i din't get one cry

raw
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Feb 28 2006 01:42

Maybe AF people should walk the walk as well as talk the talk. The lack of support offered when SC from wombles was in prison was disgraceful not to mention the other excuses for anarchists in the UK. What does it take? a 60 day hunger strike? Also alot of the times from O! especially you sound very patronising on telling how the rest of the movement should behave (DISSENT especially) and it seems that this is a compensation for the lack of numbers involved.

If AF continue to not support initiatives that don't fit in their purist idealogy i.e. does not see the importance of supporting a movement in the UK of anarchists and anti-capitalists then it will stay where it is.

I know after mayday 2000, AF, isolated itself (I'm talking 'bout london).

Get involved in social centres rather than just spraying anti-social grafitti on them! grin

piece

Raw

AnarchoAl
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Feb 28 2006 04:07

I'm not in the AF because I don't see them providing a leadership of ideas. A serious platformist federation would be all about coming up with a clear strategy and a set of tested tactics, with detailed case studies.

I look to HSG and the New York IWW as my current best models for the two main class-struggle organising areas. I see the workplace and the community as being two fronts against capital, both of importance.

I don't agree with the party-like presentation of a united front. If you disagree fundementally with the fed, you shouldn't be in it.

I don't see what I would gain from joining the AF. I'd rather start a local broad libertarian-left platformist group, and I don't see what a group like that would gain from affiliating to the AF.

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Feb 28 2006 06:04
raw wrote:
Maybe AF people should walk the walk as well as talk the talk. The lack of support offered when SC from wombles was in prison was disgraceful not to mention the other excuses for anarchists in the UK. What does it take? a 60 day hunger strike? Also alot of the times from O! especially you sound very patronising on telling how the rest of the movement should behave (DISSENT especially) and it seems that this is a compensation for the lack of numbers involved.

If AF continue to not support initiatives that don't fit in their purist idealogy i.e. does not see the importance of supporting a movement in the UK of anarchists and anti-capitalists then it will stay where it is.

I know after mayday 2000, AF, isolated itself (I'm talking 'bout london).

Get involved in social centres rather than just spraying anti-social grafitti on them! grin

piece

Raw

I and other people in London AF did do support work for Simon Chapman and the other thessaloniki prisoners - writing letters, publicising it, going to the meetings about it (couldn't go to whatever demos happened (what demos did happen?) I did go to 2 demos in Spain though). Also it was publicised in resistance and on the website.

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Feb 28 2006 06:05
AnarchoAl wrote:
I don't see what I would gain from joining the AF. I'd rather start a local broad libertarian-left platformist group, and I don't see what a group like that would gain from affiliating to the AF.

A broad platformist group? confused How are you going to manage that?

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Feb 28 2006 08:39

But the AF has never claimed to be platformist - though there may be the odd platformist in the federation. As far as I'm aware, HSG or the IWW are not platformist either. A 'broad libertarian-left platformist group' is a contradiction in terms by the way.

AnarchoAl wrote:
I'm not in the AF because I don't see them providing a leadership of ideas. A serious platformist federation would be all about coming up with a clear strategy and a set of tested tactics, with detailed case studies.

I look to HSG and the New York IWW as my current best models for the two main class-struggle organising areas. I see the workplace and the community as being two fronts against capital, both of importance.

I don't agree with the party-like presentation of a united front. If you disagree fundementally with the fed, you shouldn't be in it.

I don't see what I would gain from joining the AF. I'd rather start a local broad libertarian-left platformist group, and I don't see what a group like that would gain from affiliating to the AF.

martinh
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Feb 28 2006 09:11
Serge Forward wrote:
But the AF has never claimed to be platformist - though there may be the odd platformist in the federation. As far as I'm aware, HSG or the IWW are not platformist either. A 'broad libertarian-left platformist group' is a contradiction in terms by the way.

Yes, this puzzled me a bit. I think "platformist" is a term used nowadays in the same way as "anarcho-syndicalist" was in the 70s/80s - as a means of distancing yourself and your ideas from individualist, pacifist and quietist ideas. Hence people can talk about platformism in such a way when it's actually about having a tighter organisation than the AF.

AnarchoAl wrote:
I'm not in the AF because I don't see them providing a leadership of ideas. A serious platformist federation would be all about coming up with a clear strategy and a set of tested tactics, with detailed case studies.

I think there is a case to answer for the AF on the development of a leadership of ideas - while I've been impressed with some of the articles in O! over the last couple of years I think more could be done to do this and develop it (of course this applies equally to the other feds).

AnarchoAl wrote:

I don't agree with the party-like presentation of a united front. If you disagree fundementally with the fed, you shouldn't be in it.

Surely this is what "theoretical and tactical unity" is about - and that's probably the key insight of the platformist tradition today, at least within class struggle @ circles.

AnarchoAl I think I see where you're coming from, in terms of being a platformist for you means getting involved in broader working class struggles first and foremost (as did being an anarcho-syndicalist for Albert Meltzer) rather than organising as an anarchist, but I think the way you've expressed it here is confusing.

Regards,

martin