Text of a 1979 pamphlet by UK-based Anarchist Communist Association, setting out their principles and consitution. The group emerged from a split in the Anarchist Workers Association.
Introduction: A New World In Our Hearts
“we are going to inherit the earth. The bourgeoisie may blast and bomb its own world before it finally leaves the stage of history. We are not afraid of the ruins. We who built the cities and ploughed the prairies can build again only better next time. We carry a new world in our hearts. That world is growing this minute”
This pamphlet is about the basis on which we, the Anarchist Communist Association, organise
The pamphlet consists of three parts:
(1) “What We Stand For” (our statement of “aims and principles”).
(2)“What Is Anarchist Communism?” which first appeared as an article in our paper Bread & Roses.
(3) The constitution of the ACA.
The statement “What We Stand For” is quite short. People who are thinking of joining the ACA aren’t expected to dot every i and cross every t, buttare expected to agree with the gist of It.
“What Is Anarchist Communism?” is a bit longer. It’s not as basic as “What We Stand For’ but you would expect people in the ACA to agree with the better part of it.
The third part, the constitution - it should be said that we are probably more flexible than (or less well organised than) it looks like on paper.
Durruti said it better, “We carry a new world, here In our hearts. That world is growing this minute”.
A.C.A., August 1979
2. WHAT WE STAND FOR
Freedom And Equality
The Anarchist Communist Association exists to fight for a free and equal society in which people control their own lives.
Society would he planned so that people give what they can and get what they need. In place of government there would be a network of workplace and community councils.
Anarchism is not an abstract theory or a utopian dream. It gets its ideas from the practice of working people struggling against their exploitation. In Spain during the l930s thousands of ordinary people controlled their own lives in this way through factory, street, and village councils.
Revolution Not Reform
The courts and parliament, police and army, exist to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.
We know from experience that it is useless to try and reform these institutions by electing representatives to parliament. Neither can they be captured and used in our interests after a revolution. Both simply lead to swapping one form of exploita¬tion for another.
They need to be destroyed completely and immediately replaced with workers’ and community councils. If this is to be achieved, we will need to take up arms to defend ourselves.
A Revolution Of Everyday Life
Relationships now are based on domination and submission: bosses over workers, men over women, adults over children.
We seek to change all of this. We seek not just an economic revolution but one that also frees us in our social and personal relationships.
The way to build for revolution is through direct action. This means ignoring official ways of protesting such as general elec¬tions. Instead, tactics such as occupying factories and squatting empty houses should be used.
It also means making sure that every struggle is controlled by the people concerned and not, for example, by full-time party or union officials.
Exploitation not only happens in this country. Ordinary people are exploited throughout the world. In the “communist” world as much as in the “free” world.
The experience of every previous revolution shows that there can be no successful revolution in one country alone and that we need to unite with ordinary people everywhere if we are to be free.
If we want to achieve a free classless society, we must organise in the same way.
The ACA rejects equally the idea of creating a party in which a central committee hands down orders to the members and also the dis-organisation of other anarchist groups. Our organisation aims to provide an alternative to both.
Organisation is necessary because it breaks down our indi¬vidual isolation, helps us to share our experiences, and to co-ordinate our activities. In this way, each thread of resis¬tance can be gradually woven into a tapestry of revolution and freedom.
3. WHAT IS ANARCHIST COMMUNISM?
Most people realize that the system under which we live is rotten to the core. It doesn’t matter which party is in power, the rich and powerful stay rich and powerful while the rest of us are forced to slave away long hours (at work and in the home) in boring, soul-destroying jobs to get basic needs and maybe a few comforts.
Decisions that affect our lives are nearly always taken from above with the result that much of what goes on (the building of roads, office blocks, airports, nuclear power stations, for example) is directly against our interests and insensitive to our needs as human beings. Dangerous jobs are often made even more dangerous because the people giving us the orders either don’t know or don’t care about the conditions we’re working in.
From the moment we’re born we become cogs in a relentless brutal machine whose only purpose is to provide wealth and comfort for a small privileged minority -- the bosses. Because these bosses control the economy (through their ownership! control of property and of the factories and machines that pro¬duce goods) they are able to control every aspect of our lives through science, education, and especially the media (press, radio and television).
We are led to believe that there is no alternative to the present system of things and that our best bet Is to tighten our belts and work harder to provide a bigger cake for the bosses in the hope of picking up bigger crumbs for ourselves. That’s lifet We can either like it or lump it.
Sod this for a laugh! Anarchists believe that the struggle for a better life must involve the destruction of the present system of society and its replacement by a stateless society based on freedom, equality and direct control over our own lives. This means doing away with all forms of domination -- adults over children, men over women, bosses over workers, the young over the elderly and so on.
It also means an end to the wastefulness of production for profit. Children will no longer starve to death in one part of the world while in another large quantities of food are left to rot. In an anarchist society goods will be produced and distrib¬uted to the needs of everyone.
In the workplace itself methods used and hours worked will be decided collectively by the workers concerned. There will be no bureaucrats sitting behind desks giving orders from on high. Similarly decisions affecting the community -- the planning of schools, recreational facilities, housing, transport etc. --will be made by everyone in the community.
The whole thing will be co-ordinated not by a central parlia¬ment of well-off politicians doing what they want and represent¬ing their interests but by workplace and community councils. These will consist of ordinary people elected by their neigh¬bours and fellow-workers.
These people will not be able to make decisions on behalf of everyone else -- their role will be to carry out whatever tasks are delegated to them by the people who elect them. They will have to account for themselves regularly and can be sacked and replaced if people consider they are not doing their job properly.
It is through direct action that people realise the possibilities and gain confidence and experience to control their own lives. Direct action can take many forms -- wildcat strikes, occupa¬tions of factories, colleges, town halls etc., sabotage and so on
In Italy people have successfully reduced the prices of food in supermarkets by getting together and collectively refusing to pay the amount demanded. In France large groups of people travelling on trains have refused to pay their fares and got away with it.
Direct democracy is not going through the proper channels - these have already been proved too slow and ineffective. It is large numbers of people uniting in action to defend their common interests. This is the best way to keep our struggles indepen¬dent and completely under our control.
Anarchy For The U.K
We find our oppressors in every country in the world. We must fight for our freedom in uniting with the working people of all nations. There can be no true revolution in one country alone.
The Anarchist Communist Association is an organisation of class-struggle anarchists who want to develop anarchism as a living and decisive force. We do not seek power for ourselves, nor do we wish to control workers’ struggles, and we shall oppose any groups or parties that try and use these struggles for their own ends.
We see the need for those who share a common oppression (e.g. gays, women, blacks) to organise autonomously, but we realise our immediate oppression. We must link our struggles together.
The role of our organisation is in the action of spreading our ideas and spreading our ideas through action. We want to pub¬licise and help analyse examples of direct action and self¬management. Whenever possible we also give practical support (with no strings attached).
Our organisation also helps us to break down our own indivi¬dual isolation, to share our experiences and to link them together.
Thus each thread of resistance is gradually woven into a tapestry of revolution and freedom.
THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW.
4. HOW WE ARE ORGANISED
The A.C.A. Constitution
As agreed at the constitutional conference of 22/23 October 1977.
i) The basis of the Association is the small group, centred on workplace, geographical location etc.
ii) A group must have at least 3 members in order to be able to recruit others.
iii) Groups may only form by the division of existing groups.
iv) Each group is autonomous within the framework laid down by the Aims and Principles. Within this framework groups may decide on their own activities, produce their own litera¬ture etc. These activities should be undertaken in the name of the group concerned and may not commit the organisation as a whole, unless otherwise decided by delegate or national conference.
v) Responsibilities of groups are:
1. To provide a base for the development of the membership.
2. To co-ordinate and initiate activities.
3. To spread anarchist ideas within the principles laid down by the Association.
4. To collect national dues.
5 To report regularly and fully to the lnternal Bulletin (IB).
6. To maintain contact with all its members and contacts, especially associates.
I) Membership of the association involves acceptance of the Aims and Principles and Constitution of the Association.
ii) All members must belong to a group, either as regular or associate members.
iii) Membership is by invitation of the group which the potential new member is attached to.
iv) Groups can suspend a member from membership of the group, but only national conference can expel a member from the ACA as a whole. Suspension deprives a member of voting rights. When a national conference is approaching, a group should either lift a suspension or put forward a motion for expulsion. If it does neither the member concerned should appeal to national conference against suspension.
v) Expulsion of a whole group may be decided by a national or delegate conference, but only following 4 months’ dialogue in the lB between the group concerned and other groups/members.
I) National dues are calculated on a group basis.
ii) Each group contributes at least 2% of its collective income.
iii) Division of this amount within each group is decided by the group itself.
iv) Each group should inform the membership secretary of its contribution and ensure regular payment.
i) The role of Commissions is:
1. To co-ordinate ideas and action on specific topics, e.g. fascism, trade unions.
2. To produce discussion papers or suggest policy on issues within their competence for the rest of the membership. A commission may not decide policy for the Association as a whole.
ii) Commissions are set up after proper discussion of the need for them, by delegate conference or national conference, and must have at least 3 members.
iii) Commissions are expected to report regularly to the lB.
i) Co-ordinating functions such as production of the IB and organisation of delegate conferences are rotated round the groups.
ii) Groups perform these functions for 6 months at a time and are delegated at national conference.
6. National Conference
I) The National Conference is the supreme decision-making body of the Association.
ii) It may change decisions taken by Delegate Conference.
iii) It is the only body able to decide changes in the Aims and Principles or Constitution.
iv) National Conference elects all national officers of the Association and delegates all co-ordinating groups.
v) National Conference is held roughly every six months.
7. Delegate Conference
i) Delegate Conference decides policy and tactics, and issues relating to the general running of the Association.
ii) It is held roughly every 2 months.
iii) All groups are expected to send one delegate with mandated votes for that group. Observers may also attend.
iv) A delegate must represent at least 3 members including her/himself.
v) The agenda for conference and any motions to be discussed are printed in the lB at least 2 weeks before conference.
vi) Delegate Conference is subordinate to national conference.
8. Policy And Minority Rights
I) Official policy of the Association is that which has obtained a 2/3 majority of those represented at Delegate or National Conference.
ii) Minorities who have voted against such policy, or groups of members acting on an issue for which no official policy exists, have the right to act as they see fit, providing that this is within the Aims and Principles of the Association, and that it is made clear that their position is a minority or unofficial one.
9. The Internal Bulletin
i) The IB is the single most important vehicle of communication within the Association.
ii) It is produced once a month.
iii) It is sent to all members and, at the discretion of the group concerned, to contacts.
iv) All groups, commissions, officers of the Association and members are expected to contribute regularly.
v) All contributions should reach the LB collective in reasonable time for publication, where possible members and groups them¬selves producing enough copies of their contribution.
vi) The responsibility for producing the LB shall change hands roughly every 6 months.
10. National Officers
i) National Conference should elect a national secretary, a membership secretary and one or more international secre¬taries as required.
ii) No national officer shall keep the same position for more than 6 months.
iii) All national officers are subject to recall.
iv) In the event of a national officer resigning or being recalled, a provisional officer is appointed by Delcon until next Natcon. The responsibilities of the national officers are as follows:
a) Deal with all internal and national correspondence.
b) To be responsible for organising of Natcon in an emergency.
c) To co-opt ‘members in the fulfillment of these tasks if necessary.
d) To submit to the IB a monthly report on the overall function¬ing of the organisation and the developments of her/his work.
a) To maintain a record and account of all funds.
b) To circulate once every 3 months in the IB a record of all income and expenditure, and a statement of membership figures and group dues.
a) To make and maintain contact with similar organisations and sympathetic individuals abroad.
b) To send our publications and news of ACA activity to the above-mentioned.
c) To report regularly to the IB.
d) To organise translation from foreign papers and the writing of articles for foreign papers.
Join The A.C.A.
If having read all this you are still awake and wish to join the ACA, please fill out this form and send to Box 2,136 Kingsland High Street, London E8.
Subscribe To Bread & Roses
I would like to subscribe to ‘BREAD & ROSES’( £2.20 for 10 issues)
Great stuff, thanks! Do you
Great stuff, thanks!
Do you have any more of their stuff?
The ACA organized around the
The ACA organized around the time we established the Anarchist-Communist Federation of North America(ACF). I recall we exchanged a letter or two. received a copy or two of their tabloid newspaper. I recall liking the former ORA/Anarchist Workers Association newspaper ("The Anarcist Worker" and "Libertarian Struggle") better, for some reason.
The ACF and ACA never did develop any relations. I suspect, in part, because of the distance and diifferences in politics. The ACF was not platformist, the ACA seemingly was.
Good to this the ACA thinger posted. Thanks to whomever posted it.
The ACA was a split from the
The ACA was a split from the Anarchist Workers Association (originally called Provisional AWA!) in the late 1970s and involved maybe 10 people. It only lasted a few years. The ACA was not platformist as such, though it argued for a specific anarchist communist organisation.
As Battlescarred says the ACA
As Battlescarred says the ACA wasn't platformist - they maybe owed more to Malatesta. I thought they had more members (around 30 at one point?) but I could be mistaken. I think it's disappearance was connected to the formation of DAM, which some of them joined but most didn't.
I joined around 1980, when I
I joined around 1980, when I was living in the far north of Scotland.I think there was a small group in Glasgow at the time. They were very stong on child care believing that society's ills were made worse by it's members being screwed up by their upbringing. The paper was called "Bread and Roses", and was really badly produced, with articles just thrown together. I met one of the ACA's leading members in London a few years back, who is now a Green Party activist. They did have quite a working class membership, one of whom I met at the 1980 Oxford Anarchist Conference, which was quite an event at the time. I joined the DAM shortly after, as did other ACA members.
Another leading ex-member is
Another leading ex-member is a supporter of Scottish independence.
And another leading member
And another leading member was Dave Carruthers, who acted as the National Secretary of ACA. He died in 2008 at the age of 55 of cancer. See obituary notices in Freedom of that time.
Quote: Do you have any more
Bread & Roses No. 5
hi I'm David Carruthers son
hi I'm David Carruthers son and I was wondering if you could put me in touch with people who knew my father during his anarchy days thanks