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IBT vs. NEFAC

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Randy
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Nov 8 2007 11:52

We live in a society that is patriarchal, white supremacist, and hierarchically stratified by class. The internal work of confronting one's conditioning is not irrelevant to the revolutionary project, i think (but neither is it the entire project).

But there comes a time to stop critiquing any and every thing, and settle down to work. Yes, there is something of an institutional left. But to compare whatever conditioning occurs as a result of activism, to the conditioning described above, is to trivialize the more severe cases.

No, the institutional left is not my ideal, i would much prefer an actively revolutionary current to involve myself in, in the here and now. But that is simply not where we are. Yes, some revolutionaries historically have selfishly betrayed their earlier principles. So what? By the same token, others have devoted their lives to laying the groundwork for revolutions that did not occur till long after their passing. (This is the role i try to play.) Humanity is instinctualy selfish, and also has instincts for mutual aid. This is news?

I agree with yosh's point (if i understand correctly) that the libcom dichotomy (to coin a phrase) is two poles of the same project. I think most posters here genuinely desire working class power, now and increasingly in the future, and we only disagree on how to get there.

yoshomon
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Nov 8 2007 14:28
Quote:
In Yosh's case... he seems to have gone from animal rights (vegan straight edge) into some weird "anti-civilization" Marxism and finally into not acting like such a patron saint of self-denial on behalf of animals, wildness (or some other abstract other that can't fight for itself)... into... um... I'm not sure what Yosh is doing now besides bagging on leftism/activism. Whatever those terms mean.

I don't think that's a very accurate description of the evolution of my ideas. Even when I was into animal rights activism (a lot of which was fun as hell, yelling at pharmaceutical industry fuckers with bullhorns, a lot of it was delusional and stupid), I was mostly interested in 'prisoner solidarity'. I've never done eco-defense or things like that.

What is activism? Making demands outside of immediate interests and fighting for interests other one's own, representing or organizing others, petitioning the state to act or not act for you, etc. I think that's a decent way to begin a definition. Ultimately, I define and understand these things based on my own experiences, which I think are very different from yours. I've never been part of a formal communist or anarchist organization, except I guess a brief and useless membership in the IWW when I was 15 or 16 and unemployed! I guess we did picket Wild Oats for a while...

yoshomon
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Nov 8 2007 14:33

I also don't think it's possible to "lay the groundwork for revolution", and even if it was, the 'institutional left' is certainly not interested or involved in such a project.

Flint
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Nov 8 2007 15:43
yoshomon wrote:
I don't think that's a very accurate description of the evolution of my ideas. Even when I was into animal rights activism (a lot of which was fun as hell, yelling at pharmaceutical industry fuckers with bullhorns, a lot of it was delusional and stupid), I was mostly interested in 'prisoner solidarity'. I've never done eco-defense or things like that.

What is activism? Making demands outside of immediate interests and fighting for interests other one's own, representing or organizing others, petitioning the state to act or not act for you, etc. I think that's a decent way to begin a definition. Ultimately, I define and understand these things based on my own experiences, which I think are very different from yours. I've never been part of a formal communist or anarchist organization, except I guess a brief and useless membership in the IWW when I was 15 or 16 and unemployed! I guess we did picket Wild Oats for a while...

I guess we come from completely different worlds. My first activism was walking the picket line with CWA striking workers (It was my mother's union at the time), my scoutmaster (pretty much a surrogate father for me) was the local treasurer. I got really involved in anti-war stuff when my sister got sent off to Iraq, but it was always a big sore spot for with me for how war had fucked up my father.

I don't know... I just have a hard time grasping what you are on about and how this leftism/morality was somehow keeping you from acting in your own self interest, so much that you had to "unlearn" it like you'd been programmed by a cult or something.

I'm familiar with the definition of "activism" that you use (it's the one in the "Give Up Activism" article, which is why I linked the postscript), but it's a definition that comes from a vary narrow strain of political thought. I think it's all also to short and curt of an answer. I don't think any issues out there have so narrow thin lines, and the self is as much defined by our relationship to others as it is some internal will.

I don't know... I just have a hard time understanding what you are on about when the "left" that you seem to lack having much of a connection to. Certainly not enough where it's leftism and moralism would put you in a position where you had to unlearn things so you could... I don't know... focus on improving your own life? I guess it's just so strange to me since growing up activism (or maybe more "organizing") was always associated with individuals coming together collective to defend their own interests and those of their families.

At the same time, I can't think of any individual whose interests are restricted to only some material demands for themselves. People have sympathy, the have mutual aid, solidarity, and all that. I've gotten involved in some fights because I can understand how I could be in exactly the same situation if not for a quirk of circumstance. And I like to think that building those relationships will also mean that other people will be there for me when I need it.

We've kind of strayed from the topic of why the IBT hates NEFAC.

Flint
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Nov 8 2007 16:01
yoshomon wrote:
I also don't think it's possible to "lay the groundwork for revolution"

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Postscript for Give Up Activism wrote:
many ultra-left groups have recognised that in periods of downturn, they are necessarily going to be minorities and have argued against compensating for this with any kind of party-building or attempts to substitute their group for the struggle of the proletariat as a whole. Some ultra-left groups have taken this line of thinking to its logical conclusion and have ended up turning doing nothing into a political principle. Of course our response would not be to do nothing, but nevertheless, the point remains that if everyone similarly just waited for an upsurge to happen then it certainly never would. Effectively by just waiting for it to happen we are assuming that someone else will do it for us and maintaining a division between us and the 'ordinary' workers who will make this happen.

The alternative to this scenario is to stop thinking of the ebb and flow of the class struggle as like some force of nature that just comes and goes without us being able to effect it at all, and to start thinking about how to build class power and how to end the current disorganised and atomised state of workers in this country. The problem is that over the last twenty or so years, the social landscape of the country has changed so fast and so rapidly that it has caught us on the hop. Restructuring and relocation have fractured and divided people. We could try and help re-compose a new unity, instead of just being content with doing our bit and waiting for the upturn, to try and make this upturn happen. We will probably still be acting as activists, but to a lesser extent, and at least we will be making it more possible for us to abolish activism altogether in the future.

"Perhaps, then, the first steps towards a genuine anti-activism would be to turn towards these specific, everyday, ongoing struggles. How are the so-called 'ordinary' workers resisting capitalism at this time? What opportunities are already there in their ongoing struggles? What networks are already being built through their own efforts?" ...

We need to maintain our radicalism and commitment to direct action, not being afraid to take action as a minority. But equally, we can't just resign ourselves to remaining a small radical subculture and treading water while we wait for everyone else to make the revolutionary wave for us. We should also perhaps look at the potential for making our direct action complement whatever practical contribution to current workers' struggles we may feel able to make. In both the possible scenarios outlined above we continue to act more or less within the activist role. But hopefully in both of these different scenarios we would be able to reject the mental identification with the role of activism and actively try to go beyond our status as activists to whatever extent is possible.

Good enough for me.

Vaguely back on topic, J. Kellstadt's The Necessity and Impossibility of Anti-Activism which is referenced in the Postscript, mentions the very beginning of NEFAC, and reading group I was involved in Baltimore... half of which went on to form a local NEFAC collective. The reading group seemed to have split over the issues relating to "activism", the utility of a "specific anarchist group" that would have some engagement with "the left". Kellstadt actually gave a talk about the founding NEFAC conference he observed at Black Planet Books, which I think was pretty instrumental in encouraging folks in Baltimore to join. Kellstadt never joined NEFAC. Looking back over the last 7 years... I think I made the right choice, if anything I should have hesitated less and done more.

Flint
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Joined: 17-12-05
Nov 8 2007 16:13

Next up, the origin of SmashRichBastard's drullet.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Nov 8 2007 17:01
Flint wrote:
Next up, the origin of SmashRichBastard's drullet.

Dude, the dread mullet is soooooo 6-7 years ago. roll eyes

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thugarchist
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Nov 8 2007 19:19
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Flint wrote:
Next up, the origin of SmashRichBastard's drullet.

Dude, the dread mullet is soooooo 6-7 years ago. roll eyes

your drullet and Flint's ponytail were the best things about NEFAC. Now there's nothing left.

yoshomon
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Joined: 19-06-07
Nov 8 2007 21:15

Flint, do you think that your activity and the activity of NEFAC (like for example, helping with a Teamsters organizing drive) are "laying the groundwork for revolution"?

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MJ
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Nov 8 2007 21:18

Yoshomon, this question was directed at you:

MJ wrote:
Just curious -- toward which pole would "people who wish to fight to improve their lives, their communities and their working conditions," who "identify primarily with the trends of workers' solidarity, co-operation and struggle throughout history," probably fall?
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thugarchist
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Nov 8 2007 21:20

There's an ongoing nurse strike in kentucky. Why don't you go be fucking useful instead of whining about your existential angst for the rest of your life?

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MJ
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Nov 8 2007 21:23

His idea of being useful would be to get them to leave their union, though. Are you sure that's what you want?

Flint
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Nov 8 2007 21:47
yoshomon wrote:
Flint, do you think that your activity and the activity of NEFAC (like for example, helping with a Teamsters organizing drive) are "laying the groundwork for revolution"?

Never worked on a Teamsters campaign. Right now, I'm helping out with some Hotel workers who are organized with UNITE-HERE. I figure helping workers involved in a struggle against their employer, particularly when direct action is involved and there is a very active committee and lots of rank and file participation is... infact, helping laying the ground work for revolution as people gain efficacy through the struggle, as well as a deeper grasp on class antagonism. Things they learn through such a campaign, they can apply in future labor struggles or other areas of their live. Also, struggles in some places, can encourage other struggles elsewhere. Is the second largest industry in Baltimore, so what happens in such a fight will have a big influence throughout the local working class and the economy.

I think it's a small, modest effort. Something is certainly better than nothing.

rebelworker
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Joined: 11-07-06
Nov 8 2007 22:08

Fear not, Im getting dangerously close to a Mullet myself these days...

Smash Rich Bastards
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Joined: 24-03-06
Nov 8 2007 22:56

Yeah, but your Canadian. Its not really making that much of a haircut statement for you. I mean, doesn't your prime minister have a mullet?

rebelworker
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Nov 9 2007 03:15

If only...
But our old Prime Minister was a scrapper from a family of like 30...

He actually choked out a protestor who got in his face one time, I bet BUSH would have the secret police shoot anyone who got near him.

Ive actually had fisticuffs with Cretien's security, I dont even know if they have guns, just knuckle dusters.

petey
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Nov 9 2007 14:49
rebelworker wrote:
Ive actually had fisticuffs with Cretien's security, I dont even know if they have guns, just knuckle dusters.

but do they have 26 of them?

yoshomon
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Nov 9 2007 16:34
MJ wrote:
Yoshomon, this question was directed at you:
MJ wrote:
Just curious -- toward which pole would "people who wish to fight to improve their lives, their communities and their working conditions," who "identify primarily with the trends of workers' solidarity, co-operation and struggle throughout history," probably fall?

I don't know. I assume both a left-communist and platformist (and trotskyist and syndicalist and socialist etc) would agree with those because they're so vague. That's not the language I would use, but I identify with class struggle and want to improve my life, have higher wages, nicer work conditions, etc.