"Assembly"

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bricolage
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Jun 13 2011 17:41
"Assembly"

this isn't to discuss the relative merits and de-merits of everyone's favourite hot button topic but a query about the etymology and historical usage of it in the english language. when I think of assemblies I think of sitting on benches in primary school singing 'the ink is black the page is white together we learn to read and write', or listening to the head teacher ramble on in secondary school... anyway my assumption has been that the term has been lifted from France or other continental European countries where it has a greater and more relevant past legacy going back to say the French revolution, the Paris Commune and so forth. I was wondering if anyone knew of times it has historically been used as a way of describing mass meeting and decision making processes in the UK or whether it is just a new fad. Cheers.

Harrison
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Jun 13 2011 19:16
Bricolage wrote:
I was wondering if anyone knew of times it has historically been used as a way of describing mass meeting and decision making processes in the UK or whether it is just a new fad.

definitely not a new faddish name....
from my understanding pretty much all democratic systems have originated from assemblies (but most have devolved into various bureaucratic forms such as the UK parliamentary system)

ancient Athens is the earliest civilised example i can think of sovereign assemblies (of slave-owners)

i'd say it is the most logical manifestation of collective decision making on a [relatively] small scale, although they tend to become unwieldy when they reach a certain size (at which point i guess it might be logical to introduce delegate councils).

it is definitely important not to make a theoretical fetish out of them, but if they suit the practical task or arise more or less spontaneously, then i think one has to adapt one's theory to those circumstances.

...hope i haven't completely missed the point of your post!

bricolage
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Jun 13 2011 19:28

well I wasn't really asking if there had been assemblies in the past, there quite clearly have been, just whether they called them assemblies or something else. sorry it's a bit of a nothing question really but i'm quite interested by the language people use. thanks for the reply though.

martinh
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Jun 13 2011 20:07

Yes, it does echo school assembly in a British context, at least. But so what? All words have other meanings and assembly is better than most. I advocate assemblies to make decisions in struggles. The only other choice in british English I can think of would be "mass meeting" but that's not ideal either.

The regular phrase for revolutionary organ, commune can translate as council, or soviet, or even junta. Words all have competing meanings and it is a measure of our success or lack of it whether we influence those meanings,

Regards,

Martin

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Arbeiten
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Jun 13 2011 21:28

hehe Assembly. Yeah there has been a lot of talk of peoples assemblies for years. To the point it has now being fetishized....

Assembly has that school connotation of getting bored yeah, but for me it also has the connotation of getting bored in a different context (consensus decision making context).

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RedEd
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Jun 13 2011 22:26

just stick the word proletarian in front of it and it'll suddenly be sexy and exciting. That techniques works for loads of boring/unsavory terms:

democracy (middle aged men shouting at each other in parliament or queuing in poling booths) => proletarian democracy (passing resolutions to expropriate factories and denounce opportunists)

militia (right wing nuts building bunkers in in southern US for when the black helicopters come) => proletarian militia (armed workers seizing towns and declaring communes)

justice (judges in absurd costumes sending people down and talking in legalese) => proletarian justice (voting on whether to shoot the boss, and then doing it against the nearest wall)

slothjabber
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Jun 14 2011 00:00

Moot.

That's yer total English word.

Qu'est-ce que c'est, l'assemblement? La mot, c'est <<moot>>.

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 14 2011 00:03

A proletarian moot, surely?

Samotnaf
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Jun 14 2011 05:10

This has a photo (5th photo down) of an assembly in Spain in the 70s as part of an ad for Lois jeans, with the logo "Lois & Assembly". Underneath they've written: "Fashionable recuperation: soon to be unstiched!". The main original 70s article is pretty much a situ assemblyist perspective on the movement in post-Franco Spain in the 70s.

Andros
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Joined: 22-11-09
Jun 14 2011 15:12

This is a joke or are you really discussing the term "assembly" and its association with an authoritarian school life under capitalism in the UK .
More importantly one would think that the reemergence of working class organisation outside of union and therefor state control would be of greater significance and usefulness after a drought of many decades.

I might be missing something , but here in Canada school assembly has the same association but hardly any importance politically.

Andros

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Arbeiten
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Jun 14 2011 15:35

My post was largely supposed to be in jest yes.....

Glad to here there is some re-emergence in Canada, not sure the same can be said in the uK (unless I am missing something? I am more than happy to be corrected at this point?)

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Awesome Dude
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Jun 14 2011 17:14
Andros wrote:
This is a joke or are you really discussing the term "assembly" and its association with an authoritarian school life under capitalism in the UK .
More importantly one would think that the reemergence of working class organisation outside of union and therefor state control would be of greater significance and usefulness after a drought of many decades.

I might be missing something , but here in Canada school assembly has the same association but hardly any importance politically.

Andros

Just call it a proletarian assembly. Problem fixed.

slothjabber
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Jun 15 2011 18:08

My post was entirely in jest. If the associations of 'assembly' involve sitting on the floor in junior school and singing 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam', and it's a bit French, then the associations of 'moot', which is an Old English word that has the same etymology as 'meeting', are variously of lawcourts, folk music, and the Ents from the Lord of the Rings.