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IBT vs. NEFAC

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Flint
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Oct 25 2007 13:01
OliverTwister wrote:
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The two aren't identical, and in fact probably the most contentious issues amongst platformists are positions on unions and national liberation struggles.

What evidence is there for this?

I forget, have you ever actually been to a NEFAC conference?

yoshomon
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Oct 25 2007 13:48

How can there be contentious issues amongst platformists? I thought their whole thing was tactical and theoretical unity. If there are contentions about positions on nationalism and unions under the tent of 'platformism', what the hell is the point of it?

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MJ
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Oct 25 2007 15:06

The point is that we are committed to the process of working through these internal contentions, contradictions and disagreements, instead of just accepting them and letting them fester, as we would if we were a multi-tendency, synthesist, or liberal anarchist organization.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Oct 25 2007 15:10
yoshomon wrote:
How can there be contentious issues amongst platformists? I thought their whole thing was tactical and theoretical unity. If there are contentions about positions on nationalism and unions under the tent of 'platformism', what the hell is the point of it?

Considering, in this day and age, none of us believe in building one large uniform "general union" of anarchists (sorry Makhno) I'd say the point is to strive for ideological/tactical unity within our own specific groups. It would be pretty unrealistic to think each and every specific platformist-influenced anarchist group the world over would have identicial positions to one and other. Pretty close maybe, but as of yet no one has come up with the infallible world political program that transcends all local experience, social/cultural/historical nuance, and tradition of struggle (well, maybe Devrim and Revol have, but for the rest of us its still something of a developmental process).

Randy
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Oct 25 2007 15:23

Historically, the anarchist movement was split between individualists and class struggle anarchists. Among the latter were those who saw the need for a specifically anarchist organization, and others who thought anarchist efforts should be expended wholly within the mass organizations (unions, community groups, anti-militarist groups, etc.)

Platformists are uniformly class struggle anarchists who see the need for a specific organization. Today, when "anarchism" is often confused with primitivism or lifestyle choices like veganism, this is a high level of unity indeed! Unity does not mean we march in lockstep regarding every detail. Unity is sought, not imposed.

I think the discussions, and yes, debates, around unions and national liberation are exactly what we should be discussing among ourselves at this time.

edit: MJ and SRB responded while i was typing (with a break to talk on the phone to my daughter's pediatrician.)

Flint
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Oct 25 2007 15:23
yoshomon wrote:
How can there be contentious issues amongst platformists? I thought their whole thing was tactical and theoretical unity. If there are contentions about positions on nationalism and unions under the tent of 'platformism', what the hell is the point of it?

Platformists aspire to tactical and theoretical unity. Platformism is about kind of organizational structure, one that strives for tactical and theoretical unity. What tactics and theory will be have to be decided by those who participate in the organization through some democratic means. What those will be isn't spelled out by platformism.

You could have a platformist organization that was unified in it's opposition to working with labor unions, just as you could have one that has a program of being active within labor unions. You could have a platformist organization that is infavor of working with the CNT, but not the UGT. You could have a platformist organization split in three on this issue, with one platformist organization being united in opposing working in labor unions, another being pro-CNT, and another being willing to work with inside the UGT (but not the CCOO).

Likewise you could have one platformist organization that is sympathetic to national liberation movements, and one that is dogmatically opposed to even acknowledging "nations".

Platformism basically "calls the question" more regularly. That doesn't mean that there aren't questions. A synthesist organization might make little attempt to have it's membership come to a unified position on any particular tactic or idea; but platformists strive to come to that. In the process, there is a lot of debate and discussion, when a majority comes to a solid position it's not unusual for those who were most opposed to that point to leave the organization (and that's fine!)

Maybe the confusion here is that most platformist groups see themselves within a revolutionary plurality that doesn't necessarily agree with them. Most platformist groups think the idea that we'll get a "general union" of all anarchists on a shared program isn't going to work; and are satisfied with smaller specific organizations that have tactical and theoretical unity.

But theoretical and tactical unity doesn't come out of nowhere. It's a process that develops overtime. And people's individual positions can also change over time and experience.

NEFAC has more tactical and theoretical unity than when the organization started. That doesn't mean that what unity NEFAC has on such issues are inherited by other platformist organization (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't). There is no international central platformist committee line that all platformist organization currently follow. Could there be? Well maybe there could be one, maybe there could even be DIFFERENT ones (an anti-union platformist international vs. a pro-union platformist international; to make a crude caricature of everyone's arguments).

Finally, most platformists organizations I'm aware of allow for folks with minority opinions to express them in a personal capacity to express them as long as they make clear it's not the position of the majority. That leaves room open for quite a bit of debate on some contentious issues.

There seems to be some confusion over "what platformism is" versus what is the perceived tactical and theoretical unity across SOME platformist organizations internationally. Platformism is often a lot less than people make it out to be. Perhaps as an organizational structure it might encourage certain tactical or theoretical points (such as the need for a specific organization that is distinct from mass organizations of social movements) but there are other areas where organizational structure might not have any predisposition to a certain tactical or theoretical point (do we acknowledge "nations"? Do we critically support RAWA? Do we reject participation in a Quebec referendum on secession from Canada?)

Platformism calls the question, sometimes on questions that synthesists don't get around to discussing because they would be seen as do divisive.

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Devrim
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Oct 25 2007 15:57
Quote:
Platformists aspire to tactical and theoretical unity. Platformism is about kind of organizational structure, one that strives for tactical and theoretical unity. What tactics and theory will be have to be decided by those who participate in the organization through some democratic means. What those will be isn't spelled out by platformism.

You could have a platformist organization that was unified in it's opposition to working with labor unions, just as you could have one that has a program of being active within labor unions. You could have a platformist organization that is infavor of working with the CNT, but not the UGT. You could have a platformist organization split in three on this issue, with one platformist organization being united in opposing working in labor unions, another being pro-CNT, and another being willing to work with inside the UGT (but not the CCOO).

Likewise you could have one platformist organization that is sympathetic to national liberation movements, and one that is dogmatically opposed to even acknowledging "nations".

I think that theoretically this is correct, but 'Platformism' as it exists today, let's say the groups around Anarchismo, do tend to have certain theoretical position, and while it is true to say, you could have this, or you could have that. There is something that you do really have. I don't think that it is wrong to say for example that 'Platformism' as it exists today doesn't oppose working in the unions, and is pro work within the unions.

Devrim

Flint
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Oct 25 2007 16:18
Devrim wrote:
I think that theoretically this is correct, but 'Platformism' as it exists today, let's say the groups around Anarchismo, do tend to have certain theoretical position, and while it is true to say, you could have this, or you could have that. There is something that you do really have. I don't think that it is wrong to say for example that 'Platformism' as it exists today doesn't oppose working in the unions, and is pro work within the unions.

This is not surprising in that Anarkismo has a shared editorial statement, and there is The Anarchist Platform that came from discussion between the WSM and (defunct) WSF, which put forths a shared positions like "We work within the trade unions as the major focus of our activity where this is a possibility."

I can tell you that in NEFAC there was considerable debate about whether to work with labor unions (trade unions vs. industrial unions a whole another debate). If NEFAC rejected working within labor unions, we probably wouldn't sign on to "The Anarchist Platform" (which NEFAC has). Early on, NEFAC took as much inspiration from the A(C)F (and it's sympathy to certain councilist arguments/workplace resistance groups) as it did from the WSM. Over time and activity, our position has become closer to that of the WSM and the AP.

If you take a look at NEFAC's Aims and Principles, they are actually far more ambiguous about working with labor unions than our current position as referenced by the horribly named "workplace position paper". That A&P reference was largely a compromise positioned worked out by myself (at the time much more of an orthodox wobbly), Hendricks (who was also a wob and just getting started with HERE and was pushing for working in most labor unions) and commie00 (who was opposed to working with unions). Really, it could have gone any direction. In practical terms, though, NEFAC found a lot of it's involvement with labor struggles gravitating towards working more with labor unions (than without them); and working as much or more with AFL-CIO and CTW unions than with the IWW.

Strangely enough the new Ontario Common Cause organization that even has 3 NEFAC members/supporters as members, and has agreed to a slightly modified version of the Anarchist Platform (right?)... has not joined NEFAC and didn't even send a delegate to the last NEFAC meeting in Boston.

I don't know Devrim, I know it would be convenient to lump us all together as a monolith, but I don't think that's the case.

Really, everything would be better if everyone just agreed with me!

petey
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Oct 25 2007 16:21
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
as of yet no one has come up with the infallible world political program that transcends all local experience, social/cultural/historical nuance

i couldn't agree more tongue

Randy
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Oct 25 2007 16:33

Flint,

Am i to understand there is an actually existing current in platformism that is class struggle oriented, advocates a specifically anarchist organization, but contends that members shouldn't participate in mass organizations? (And if so, what pray tell is the purpose of the specific org?) Or do they contend members should participate in mass orgs, but just not in unions? Or what?

Flint
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Oct 25 2007 16:36
Randy wrote:
Flint,

Am i to understand there is an actually existing current in platformism that is class struggle oriented, advocates a specifically anarchist organization, but contends that members shouldn't participate in mass organizations? (And if so, what pray tell is the purpose of the specific org?) Or do they contend members should participate in mass orgs, but just not in unions? Or what?

Does AF count? (ducks)

Smash Rich Bastards
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Oct 25 2007 16:51
Flint wrote:
Randy wrote:
Flint,

Am i to understand there is an actually existing current in platformism that is class struggle oriented, advocates a specifically anarchist organization, but contends that members shouldn't participate in mass organizations? (And if so, what pray tell is the purpose of the specific org?) Or do they contend members should participate in mass orgs, but just not in unions? Or what?

Does AF count? (ducks)

I dunno, they actively work to build the I.W.W. which, at least historically (and who knows, maybe in the brighter days to come?), would fall under a "mass organization" of the union variety. Plus they do not actively discourage their members from participating in unions and union struggles. As far as I can tell the only real difference between them and us is largely rhetorical in that they have a more complicated dance (and maybe a little self-delusion) they do around 'the union question'.

booeyschewy
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Oct 26 2007 03:18

Oliver- There is debate both within groups and across groups internationally. This is most clear if you look at the latin american groups positions on unions (which none of us know enough about). These things are not stagnant either, just consider the WSM's old positions and their present practice within the independent union (spacing on the name). Or the difference between Quebec NEFAC's relationships to unions vs. the US, or disagreements within the FdCA (Which on the surface looks like bore-from-within, but has anarchosyndicalists and probably anti-unionists within it). I think Flint did a good job of concretely showing how opinion differs. And seriously those two issues are probably the two most contentious issues generally with radicals. In nearly every group I can think of there is conflict over the union question and the nature of national liberation struggles.

I think it is worth noting that anarchist communists had hard line anti-unionism before the council communist analyses (if you take it back to the french anarchist movement in the second half of the nineteenth century for example). Platformist groups are the major organized anarchist communist organizations these days, and of course attract many of these folk.

Personally I try not to get too worked up these days about it as I see these problems diachronically. The anarchist movement in the US is relatively inexperienced, and is growing and learning. My position on unions has evolved over time alongside my experiences, and I try to be understanding of others while retaining my critique and principles... realizing that I have a lot to learn and that it may shift.

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Devrim
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Oct 26 2007 09:25
Flint wrote:
This is not surprising in that Anarkismo has a shared editorial statement, and there is The Anarchist Platform that came from discussion between the WSM and (defunct) WSF, which put forths a shared positions like "We work within the trade unions as the major focus of our activity where this is a possibility."
...
I don't know Devrim, I know it would be convenient to lump us all together as a monolith, but I don't think that's the case.

I think the idea of a 'monolith' is actually quite a good one. I know that there are differences within 'Platformism', they are certain political similarities though.

Devrim

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MJ
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Oct 26 2007 12:17

Beltov
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Oct 31 2007 12:57

Hi,

The IBT also wrote a pamphlet on 'Platformism vs. Bolshevism' in 2002.
http://bolshevik.org/Pamphlets/Platformism/Platformism.html

Did NEFAC or any other platformists ever reply to it?

B.

Flint
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Oct 31 2007 15:00
Beltov wrote:
Hi,

The IBT also wrote a pamphlet on 'Platformism vs. Bolshevism' in 2002.
http://bolshevik.org/Pamphlets/Platformism/Platformism.html

Did NEFAC or any other platformists ever reply to it?

B.

Wayne did: Why an Anarchist Organization is Needed........But Not a "Vanguard Party"

To which the IBT responded: Anarchist Organization and Vanguardism - In Defense of Leninism

rebelworker
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Nov 1 2007 03:59

Ok,

for the record.

Montreals Local Union (NEFAC) did infact actively participate in the "failure to the war" cooalition before quiting and making a statement on our political disagreements.

The group was at the begining, when there was a 300,000 strong anti war march a large group made up of social movement activists, unions and anti racist and immigrant cultural organisations, as well as oportunistic political parties.

In reality most of the work was done by labour movement types...
we quit after the politics became too liberal and the influence of the group fell off making it not worth putting effort into anymore (as far as influencing its political direction). While we
were in the group we organiosed an anti capitalist block to march in the larger demo.

Shortly after we participated in the seperate organisation of an explicity anti imperialsit march which drew more than the former coalition was at the same period.

As for the anti electoral thing. NEFAC Montreal helped initiate a rather large and public anti voting campaign whioch drew in some new militants and was high visibility in the corporate media.

I argued against the campaign before we started because:
While a agree with the clasical anarchist criique that electoralism is a road to cooptation and only a social revolution will fundamentally change the property relations and cultural norms that keep this exploitative system going, I do think that individuals deciding to vote is not the end of the world. i also think that in the absence of us voting, the politicall process rolls on without us, changes occur weither we like it or not.

Now heres the contraversial part. I think its actually couterproductive sometimes to argue against voting, when social programs that make meaningfull differences in working peoples lives are under attack, and their is a grassroots effort to fight back the growing right wing electoral victories, we shouldnt argue against voting. We might even want to vote oursleves...

now im talking about limited tactical voting, no illusions about changing the order of things, just defensive voting, kind of like when anarchist voted in spain to get prisoners released, serriously what can it hurt?

Obviously (for reasons of lack of serrious debate on the issue, in my opinion) the vast majority of people in Montreal NEFAC voted in favor of the anti electoral campaign, which was succesfull in re activating alot of the membership (funny how collective campaigns vs directionless education work seem to get people excited smile) and building a name for nefac in the media... I publicly kept my mouth shut in the interest of an effective campaign ( my individual opinion on this issue wasnt likely to make an difference either way).

So for the record, no one in nefac ever considered running for office, and we did run a very public anti electoral campaign.

yoshomon
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Nov 2 2007 15:59
Quote:
Now heres the contraversial part. I think its actually couterproductive sometimes to argue against voting, when social programs that make meaningfull differences in working peoples lives are under attack, and their is a grassroots effort to fight back the growing right wing electoral victories, we shouldnt argue against voting. We might even want to vote oursleves...

Because life would be better and the working class would be stronger if only a left-government was in power? What about your position is 'anarchist'?

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MJ
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Nov 2 2007 16:07

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you have absolutely zero capacity to understand the difference between a strategic argument and a tactical argument. He specifically stated that he thinks it can be counterproductive to argue against tactical voting to defend specific social programs. That has nothing to do with supporting a strategy of putting a "left government," whatever that is, "in power," whatever that means.

yoshomon
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Nov 2 2007 16:18

I guess I assumed that "a grassroots effort to fight back the growing right wing electoral victories" meant trying to vote the Left into government (in a lot of countries that would mean getting socialist/communist party politicians elected, not really sure what it would mean in the US). Or maybe lobbying? Or pro-voting campaigns around certain issues? I don't understand why anyone or organization would passively support voting... if you really want something or someone to be voted in, might as well go for it...

booeyschewy
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Nov 3 2007 00:33

i actually believe that voting sometimes matters. If my state wants to ban abortion that matters (on a personal and social level). That vote though isn't anarchists, and I don't think anarchists should deal with it. That isn't a contradiction. There are some things that are important, but not important for revolutionary reasons. I'm comfortable with that.

rebelworker
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Nov 3 2007 21:42

First of Kentucky, your assuming Im american, quebec has a large ish social democratic socialist leaning coalition party (made up of unions, social moveemnts and "revolutionary" groups.

I wouldnt campaign for them but i wouldnt argue against people coting for them when, public healthcare, welfare, employment insurance are all under attack and some Prties are in support of the war in Iraq.

Anarchist should fight to keep these parties out of power. Now I grew up in a province where the labopur party was in power for over a decade. Its importnat that people see that the system is the problem, and one way this is proven is by a "labour" party getting elected on a wave of popular struggle and then selling people out. Just like union leadership, you have to see them fail you before alot of people realise whats wrong with them.

I dont know, I guess some anarchist are just out of touch utopians (not specifically talking about you yoshomon). This should be a pretty straight forward discussion , but some people would like to think that if we dont vote our hands are clean or something.

Bad Shit happens wether we are riding our high horses or not, Id just like anarchist to be involved in fighting to improve working peoples lives, not just hopping the revolution will eventually come and save us all...

yoshomon
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Nov 3 2007 22:41
Quote:
Anarchist should fight to keep these parties out of power. Now I grew up in a province where the labopur party was in power for over a decade. Its importnat that people see that the system is the problem, and one way this is proven is by a "labour" party getting elected on a wave of popular struggle and then selling people out. Just like union leadership, you have to see them fail you before alot of people realise whats wrong with them.

So why would you passively support them/not argue against voting for them? When their election is clearly not a solution to anything, why not just say so and denounce electoralism instead of dancing around it? Elections do not improve working people's lives - is saying this 'riding a high horse'?

On the other hand, if you do think that elections improve your life and the lives of working people, then you should be involved in them.

rebelworker
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Nov 4 2007 01:08

actually elections can have a huge impact o working peoples lives.

If Conservatives were always in power things would ba alot worse.

Now clearly its the popular movements that create the conditions for left wing ideas to be central to an election battle, but the fact remains, shit gets worse when right wing govts are in power.

Now maybe in the US this isnt as clear for you, bot in alot of other countires there is a huge difference between the "right" and the "left" in an election. the labour party here actually has a large socialistm caucus. If you dont think universal healthcare is not good for working people, Im not sure what kind of financial background you come from. Same thing with a livable welfare payment.

Im getting payed by a provincial youth training program run through employment insurance to go to trade school, that fuckin real for me. it means in a year or two ill be able to pay all my bills with ease. the current govt (to the right) is destroying programs like that.
People get laid off when the right is ion office.

Thats real shit, and anarchist sitting on their asses and saying nothing makes a difference is an insult to alot of people who are struggling to get by.

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thugarchist
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Nov 4 2007 01:16
rebelworker wrote:
actually elections can have a huge impact o working peoples lives.

If Conservatives were always in power things would ba alot worse.

Now clearly its the popular movements that create the conditions for left wing ideas to be central to an election battle, but the fact remains, shit gets worse when right wing govts are in power.

Now maybe in the US this isnt as clear for you, bot in alot of other countires there is a huge difference between the "right" and the "left" in an election. the labour party here actually has a large socialistm caucus. If you dont think universal healthcare is not good for working people, Im not sure what kind of financial background you come from. Same thing with a livable welfare payment.

Im getting payed by a provincial youth training program run through employment insurance to go to trade school, that fuckin real for me. it means in a year or two ill be able to pay all my bills with ease. the current govt (to the right) is destroying programs like that.
People get laid off when the right is ion office.

Thats real shit, and anarchist sitting on their asses and saying nothing makes a difference is an insult to alot of people who are struggling to get by.

Sellout.

petey
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Nov 4 2007 01:20
thugarchist wrote:
Sellout.

roll eyes

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thugarchist
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Nov 4 2007 01:21
newyawka wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
Sellout.

roll eyes

I'm pretty sure its illegal for mets fans to roll their eyes at other people.

petey
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Nov 4 2007 01:39

you're barkin' up the wrong tree there.

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thugarchist
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Nov 4 2007 01:41
newyawka wrote:
you're barkin' up the wrong tree there.

Well I try to give people the benefit of the doubt before I call them Hitler or a Yankees fan or something like that.