A letter of disaffiliation by the Libertarian Workers Group from the Anarchist Communist Federation of North America in 1981.
March 31, 1981
Libertarian Workers Group
Post Office Box 692
Old Chelsea Station, NY NY 10113
Copies to all A.C.F.
Affiliates & Contacts
The purpose of this letter is to make known the LWG’s intention of disaffiliating from the Anarchist-Communist Federation. This decision has not been an easy one. The discussions around this decision have been long and hard, one which has been reached only after intense internal discussion spanning several months. We must strongly emphasize that this decision is an independent one. The LWG did not collaborate or inform any other ACF affiliate or ACF contact of this decision prior to the writing of this letter. We must further note that this decision was not a unanimous one.
Over the course of the past eight months we’ve seen a disintegration of the internal development of the Federation. Those LWGers who attended the Morgantown [West Virginia] conference left the conference with generally positive feelings. However since that time our feelings and commitment to the ACF has drastically changed. This can be seen, in part, to our lack of consistent contribution to the IDB [Internal Discussion Bulletin]. By the same token we have met our obligations to the ACF in those fields where we have committed ourselves, notably in writing articles and distributing the “NAA”
[“North American Anarchist”]; External Correspondence Group matters; finances; collection of graphics and in attempting, along with the Syndicalist Alliance [Milwaukee, Wisconsin] to develop an on-going fund and support group for our Chilean comrades.
Before we go any further, we should clearly spell out our future relationship to the ACF. In this regard we would like to maintain comradely ties. We view these ties in concrete terms. That is continued commitment to the “NAA” (in all aspects); to work on projects of mutual interest and concern and to discuss and debate in free and open fashion issues of the day, theory and development of an active class struggle anarchist movement.
On the positive side it can be said that our generally active role in the ACF over the past 2 ½ years has been a good learning experience. Our group has been able to sharpen our own theoretical as well as practical development and has made good contacts, in part due to the formation of the ACF. We look forward to continuing these positive developments, however, now on an independent basis. And we plan to send at least one observer to the forthcoming conference. Yet it is unfortunate that the negative aspects of this relationship outweigh the positive ones. It is now that we turn to this aspect and reasons why the LWG wishes to disaffiliate.
A problem that no doubts plague every active affiliate is that of finances. While the LWG is probably no larger than most affiliates
[10 members at time of this letter. M.] it can be honestly said that we are poorer than most. The average weekly income (gross is no more than $150.00 a week. In light of our high degree of activity (see our report in IDB V. 3 #’s 11-12) we’ve found our financial, as well as energy, commitment to ACF a drain on our limited resources. To clarify this let us say that many n the LWG feel that the money contributed to the ACF could have been directed to expand and publish on a much more frequent basis [the LWG newsletter] “On The Line”, the publication of more leaflets, as well as other projects.
The energy to distribute the “NAA” has generally presented little or no problems. However, over the course of time we’ve spent more and more of our meeting time to discuss the problems and future of the ACF. As an affiliated group we clearly saw the need, and rightly so, to discuss all matters pertaining to the Federation. Yet internal maters seemed to overtake the practical aspects of developing a clear organization with a presentable analysis and solid mutual projects. In this light the time that could have been used to develop our local work became somewhat wasted time discussing many non-practical matters. Matters that had no bearing on the future of an activist and well coordinated anarchist-communist movement.
Rather than placing the blame on what has become a rather sectarian (internally and otherwise) and ineffective organization on any one group, we feel we are all to blame to one degree or another. Thus we have observed that there has become little or no room for open and honest discussion. This has lead, in part, to the lack of collective discussion on practical activity and theoretical matters. The manner in which comrades have discussed issues with each other has been less than comradely. In fact some of the discussions and articles in the IDB and “NAA” have been downright dogmatic, ultra-sectarian and personally offensive. While many members of the LWG may not politically disagree with many of the opinions expressed, we are, however, displeased with the style they are written in.
Furthermore the LWG feels that the orthodoxy of some groups is not a positive example of other group’s attempts to develop a “new anarchism”. That is a theory and practice relevant to modern conditions. This only leads to a poor display of internal and public sectarianism, substituionalism, absententionism, censorship, intolerance and most of all lack of comradeship. While we can agree that it is important to maintain a solid degree of continuity with basic anarchist principles and organizational forms, we find it hard to accept and work with groups who are frozen in time and opinions.
Part and parcel of this, the LWG can no longer accept the fact that comrades are frozen out in one way, shape or form because of their particular outlook on any one issue or issues. We have found this to be the case concerning our group as well as others. We refuse to accept a monolithic outlook or “line”. We thus feel that by striking out on our own we will again have room to act and develop our ideas, methods of struggle and organizational forms without being unjustly criticized.
Concerning the “Basis of Affiliation & Internal Organization”, we feel that there is no longer a LWG consensus on this document. Over the course of time LWG members have come to some pretty clear and sharp disagreements with certain sections of this document. While there is some sympathy for continued debate on the “Basis”, it is clear that our concepts and future proposed changes would not be accepted by many affiliates.
Much to our displeasure we presently see the ACF as an ineffective organization. We have seen good intentions as well as potential dissipate without any signs that the present malaise will be overcome. We also see the ACF, as it exists, becoming more of a diversion from local work to mythical organizational fetishes. Our group has always stressed the need to build the local base as a compliment to building a continental federation.
The potential of our work in the New York area is great. It can be said without exaggerating that the LWG, small as it is, is in the best position we have ever been in to develop a solid base. Through the development of our independent positions and roles in our areas of activity do we stand a real chance of developing the type of influence and cohesiveness in the “movements from below” that has not been seen in the N.Y. area for years.
We would like to conclude this letter by making it clear to all that our decision to disaffiliate is an independent one. There may be those who feel we are working with others to wreck the ACF. On the contrary, we believe that the ACF will stand or fall on its own merits.
The Libertarian Workers’ Group looks forward to working with the ACF on many projects. We would still like to receive two copies of the IDB. We will continue to answer all external correspondence until a new group takes on this responsibility. We will forward all ECG files to the new group.
Naturally we invite comments on this letter and we hope to engage in an on-going dialogue with all.
Most importantly of all, we hope to maintain that special faith, trust and respect we have developed over the years.
Yours for a world without rulers,
Libertarian Workers’ Group
New York, New York