Anarchist federation Public Meeting

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Battlescarred
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Feb 27 2007 18:13
Anarchist federation Public Meeting

Following the last successful public meeting, Anarchist Federation (London) are holding a another meeting on March 22rd on Work- A four Letter Word. The nature of work- can it be abolished? Thursday 7pm March 22nd at Marchmont Community Centre, Marchmont Street, London WC1 . Nearest tube Russell Square

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Alf
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Mar 9 2007 16:44

I would be interested in coming to this meeting, along with another comrade from the ICC. What would be the AF’s attitude to our taking part in the meeting?

Below is a short text which we offer as a contribution to the discussion. It’s a summary of a longer article from our series on communism. “The transformation of work according to the revolutionaries of the late 19th century” (International Review n°86) looks in particular at the ideas of William Morris about the nature of work under capitalism and its transformation in communism.

As an artist who wholeheartedly joined the socialist movement, William Morris was well placed to write about the transformation of work in a communist society, since he understood very well both the soul-destroying nature of work under capitalism, and the radical possibilities of replacing alienated labour with truly creative activity. In his visionary novel, News from Nowhere, it is stated plainly that “happiness without happy daily work is impossible”. This accords perfectly with the marxist conception of the centrality of labour in human life: man has made himself through labour, but he has made himself in conditions which generate his self-alienation. By the same token, the overcoming of alienation cannot be achieved without a fundamental transformation of labour.
Communism, contrary to some who speak in its name, is not “anti-work”. Even under capitalism the ideology of “refusal of work” expresses the purely individual revolt of marginal classes or strata. And one of the first measures of the proletarian power will be to install the universal obligation to work. In the early phases of the revolutionary process, this inevitably contains an element of restraint, since it is impossible to abolish scarcity without a more or less long transition period which will certainly involve considerable material sacrifices, especially in the initial phase of civil war against the old ruling class. But progress towards communism will be measured by the degree to which work has ceased to be a form of sacrifice and has become a positive pleasure. In his essay on “Useful work versus useless toil” Morris identifies the three principal aspects of the former:
• that work is informed by “hope of rest”: the reduction of the working day will have to be an immediate measure of the victorious revolution, otherwise it will be impossible for the majority of the working class to play an active part in the revolutionary process. Capitalism has already created the conditions for this measure by developing the technology which could – once freed from the drive for profit – be used to greatly reduce the quantity of repetitive and unpleasant tasks involved in the labour process. At the same time, the vast amounts of human labour power that go to waste under capitalist production – in the form of massive unemployment or work that serves no useful purpose (bureaucracy, military production, etc) – could be re-directed towards useful production and services, and this would also help to reduce the working day for all. These observations were already made by the likes of Engels, Bebel and Morris, and they are even more applicable in the decadent period of capitalism;
• that there should be “hope of product”: in other words, the worker should have an interest in what is being produced, either because it is essential for the satisfaction of human needs, or because it is intrinsically beautiful. Even in Morris’s day capitalism had an enormous capacity to turn out shabby and useless products, but the mass production of junk and ugliness in decadent capitalism would probably have exceeded his worst nightmares;
• that there is “hope of pleasure in the work itself”. Morris and Bebel insist that work should be carried out in agreeable surroundings. Under capitalism the factory is a model for hell on earth; communist production will retain the associated character of factory work but in a very different physical environment. At the same time the capitalist division of labour – which condemns so many proletarians to carry out mind-numbingly repetitive chores day after day – must be overcome so that every producer enjoys a balance between intellectual and physical labour, is able to devote himself to a variety of tasks, and develops a variety of skills in carrying them out. Moreover, the work of the future will be freed from the frenzied pace demanded by the hunt for profit, and will be adapted to human need and human desire;
• Fourier, with his characteristic imaginative power, had talked about work in his “Phalansteries” being based on “passionate attraction” and looked forward to daily work becoming more like play. Marx, who greatly admired Fourier, argued that really creative work was also a “damned serious affair”, or as he puts it in The Grundrisse, “A man cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish”. However, he continues: “But does he not find joy in the child’s naivete, and must he himself not strive to reproduce its truth at a higher stage?”. Communist activity will have overcome the old antimony between work and play.
These sketches of the communist future were not utopian, since marxism had already demonstrated that capitalism had created the material conditions for daily work to be utterly transformed in this way, and had identified the social force which would be compelled to undertake the transformation precisely because it was the last victim of the alienation of labour.

Battlescarred
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Mar 12 2007 10:56

No, you were written to some time ago about this and told that your interventions were not welcome

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jack_spratt
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Mar 14 2007 00:49

Is the meeting open to anyone - non members I mean?
If I come will you guys promise not to beat me up?
How long do you expect the meeting to last?
Is there any charge? Need I bring cash for anything?

Thanks!

Battlescarred
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Mar 14 2007 09:40

It's free. It's open to the public. It will last from between 7 to 9. Bring cash if you want to buy our pamphlets, magazines and books.
Why would we want to beat you up? Maybe if you said "What's wrong with Nazism?" or came out with some shite about getting funding from Jesuits, perhaps.

lem
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Mar 14 2007 10:04

stufff like icc interventions, make we wonder how serious (wrong word, cos i'm not saying discussion doe not seem in-depth to me. maybe i feel that they're enjoying their irrelevence) anarchists are that they don't want to deal with them. of course if they are overly agressive then i understand, but criticism in itself ought to be welcome :comfused: imho, like

but the reactions of everyone else to the icc and their size, makes me question if my own opinions are not infact flakier than the flakiest confused

i wouldn't mind going tbh: butchers is af isn't he, seems like a sound chap smile after lazyrisers strange attack on my intellectual powers/level of functioning, i...

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Alf
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Mar 16 2007 13:36

According to the AF on urban75, we were banned (almost ten years ago now if my memory is right)) for disrupting one of their meetings. We will come back to what we said about this at the time, but we don't think it's at all serious to invoke this ancient fatwa without explaining to the world outside the AF what we did that was so disruptive. For ourselves, we don't go to political meetings to disrupt them or break them up, but to put forward our political positions. You may not agree with them and may think we don't do it in the best manner, but we do at meetings what we do on libcom, which is to take part in discussions without compromising our principles.

knightrose
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Mar 16 2007 16:21

Alf, the trouble is that ICCers have often shown a remarkable insensitivity to others. My experience of interventions by your members has been that they are lengthy and attempt to turn the discussion into one of ICC politics.

For example, I remember one in Manchester. We (Subversion) had advertised it as being about Nestle, baby milk and breastfeeding. The comrade who'd prepared the talk was doing her first ever meeting. As soon as she'd finished one of the ICC members present announced that we shouldn't be talking about this subject, rather it should have been something else that was going on at the time.

To be honest, I've never been to an ICC meeting since. I've never bought a copy of WR or anything else. And as you know I've been remarkably hostile to you.

If you ares aying that yuor behaviour has changed, then you should be allowed to come to AF meetings. That means that your interventions are not overly lengthy and that they keep to the question under discsussion. It also means that you allow others to speak. Not having one speaker after another developing the ICC line.

Jason Cortez
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Mar 16 2007 21:17

Now let me see, the ICC disruptive, never! Ask anyone who ever went to any of the No War But the Class War meetings grin

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Tojiah
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Mar 16 2007 22:17

What's all this intervention business? I go to CPI meetings, courses and actions both to learn and to try and raise unpopular positions, get people to discuss them. Is that kind of like what ICC does?

john
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Mar 16 2007 22:28

what's CPI?

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 16 2007 22:30

communist party of israel i think

knightrose
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Mar 17 2007 08:26
Quote:
Is that kind of like what ICC does?

Yes. Funnily enough it's what we'd do at a leftist meeting. When we go to meetings with comrades we go along to discuss in a way which encourages mutual understanding. We also go to aim to try and discover areas of common agreement and practical co-operation. \The way they behave at meetings says loads for how the ICC consider other groups.

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Alf
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Mar 20 2007 12:26

Knightrose's post seems to open a door that was
closed by Battlescarred's. We will not be attending
the meeting on Thursday, but would be interested in
attending future meetings in the series. We have no
problem with avoiding overlong interventions; on the
contrary, we would be quite self-critical about any of our own
comrades discouraging discussion by talking at excessive length.

On the other hand, the ICC's role
in such meetings is frequently exaggerated. Around the
time of the AF ban (late 98) we also attended a
meeting of Class War. Two ICC comrades went to a
meeting of around 100 people and were accused of
trying to 'take over the meeting'.

We would propose that the AF decide on their collective position on our participation at future meetings and let us know. We would welcome clarification of its view about what constitutes acceptable behaviour at such meetings.

nastyned
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Mar 20 2007 13:33

I don't think the ICC have changed. Fuck 'em.

Battlescarred
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Mar 21 2007 15:16

No that decision was binding as far as London are concerned. No means no, you're not welcome.

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Alf
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Mar 28 2007 13:32

Battlescarred: you still haven't explained either to us or to anyone in the outside world what it is we are accused of.

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Steven.
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Mar 28 2007 13:55

Sorry Alf, you're a nice guy, but I've seen a couple of ICC interventions and they have been severely disruptive, have pissed everyone off and not won (or endeared) anyone to an "internationalist position." You haven't been at either of them, one was a curly-haired dude...

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Alf
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Mar 28 2007 21:06

We're willing to listen to criticisms of our style or way of speaking. But what do you mean by "severely disruptive"? Severe enough to earn a nine year old ban?

nastyned
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Mar 28 2007 23:04
Alf wrote:
Severe enough to earn a nine year old ban?

Nine years? Surely permenant!

IrrationallyAngry
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Mar 29 2007 00:51

I'm curious as to what exactly it is the ICC do that is so grotesquely wrong that you have to ban them for years on end.

It doesn't indicate much of a commitment to freedom of speech. Or if talk of freedom of speech is too soft for "libertarians", you can read that as "it doesn't indicate much confidence in your own ideas" if you like. Who else is barred? Is there a list?

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Alf
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Mar 29 2007 08:19

Sounds very rational and calm to me!

As you can see from the account of our forum in Manchester, members of the AF are welcome at our meetings.

nastyned
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Mar 29 2007 08:57
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
I'm curious as to what exactly it is the ICC do that is so grotesquely wrong that you have to ban them for years on end.

Think the sparts, only left communist.

knightrose
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Mar 29 2007 11:21

think endless and interminable. think requiring extra strong chairing

nastyned
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Mar 29 2007 11:32
guydebordisdead wrote:
Do the ICC and AF not have a fair bit in common anyway? (don't mean that in an insulting way). Their positions on nationalism & unions like.

Are ICC interventions like Spart interventions?

ICC members are banned from joining unions, AF members are not.

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Alf
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Mar 29 2007 12:57

Knightrose, you said this a while back:

"If you ares aying that yuor behaviour has changed, then you should be allowed to come to AF meetings. That means that your interventions are not overly lengthy and that they keep to the question under discsussion. It also means that you allow others to speak. Not having one speaker after another developing the ICC line".

Does this mean that you disagree with what Battlescarred said was London AF's position?

knightrose
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Mar 29 2007 14:42

It's up to London AF to decide their position, not me. In any event it's purely pragmatic, isn't it? Even I'd need a lot of convincing.

IrrationallyAngry
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Mar 29 2007 15:32

So does this mean that the Sparts are barred too?

It all strikes me as very much lacking in any commitment to free speech that you organise public meetings and then bar various organisations from attending. So what if they require strong chairing? Just make sure that the meeting is strongly chaired. Tell people they have a set amount of time to speak and tell them to shut their cake holes when it gets to the end of that time. Problem solved.

knightrose
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Mar 29 2007 16:43

Why should the behaviour of a few spoil the meetings for the many? We try to avoid "strong chairing" and don't want to have to use it.

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madashell
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Mar 29 2007 16:57
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
So does this mean that the Sparts are barred too?

It all strikes me as very much lacking in any commitment to free speech that you organise public meetings and then bar various organisations from attending. So what if they require strong chairing? Just make sure that the meeting is strongly chaired. Tell people they have a set amount of time to speak and tell them to shut their cake holes when it gets to the end of that time. Problem solved.

What the fuck does any of this have to do with "free speech"?

London AF aren't saying that the ICC can't come because of their political viewpoint, but because of their disruptive and rude behaviour in the past.

IrrationallyAngry
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Mar 29 2007 17:32

This stuff is genuinely hilarious. "Anarchists" who won't let their left wing critics come to their public events because they were supposedly rude at a meeting 9 years in the past. What are you suggesting that the ICC are likely to do exactly? Will they shout people down? Or heckle people?

Or is it just the standard sensitivity of left groups to smaller groups on their left who might (a) criticise them as sellouts or reformists or the like or (b) drone on a bizarre fashion, thereby giving newcomers a bad impression? The same kind of reasons that other bastion of free debate the SWP has for refusing to allow Sparts or various people who have irritated them in the past attend their public meetings.

It's interesting to see the difference in culture between different parts of the left on issues like this. If someone suggested barring various left groups from our public meetings they would be looked at as if they had two heads.