Is community action a load of bullshit for most people?

Yes
39% (9 votes)
No
61% (14 votes)
Total votes: 23

Posted By

Devrim
Jul 5 2006 22:52

Tags

Share

Attached files

Comments

raw
Jul 7 2006 18:43

Maybe I was a bit harsh to say that it did contribute to its downfall but nonetheless there were limits imposed on that struggle mainly by the localists.

There can be no difference in relation to a social centre, though some social centres develop into radical public spaces. To clarify, social centres are created by political activist, from ideas, analysis, experience. Peoples (non-politicos) relationship to the social centre defines what the social centre then becomes, and is dependent on the political activities, events...etc which happens (mainly organised by the politicos).

Not sure if anyones interested (and by there being no responses cry ) I think its an important conceptual tool to use as it (radical public space) allows us to communicate in the same language mainly, as I pointed out, that words like "community" and "workplace" are problematic and politically meaningless. We should be looking what/how is happening, where the actual sites of struggles are emmerging, where consciouness is being constructed. In most cases (in the UK) these struggles are less and less within "workplaces"......(2005 - lowest level of strike action in 200 years) or atleast these strugles are hidden and are not articulated collectively.....so why harp on about the workplace without explaining something new about it, working class for itself (i.e. class recomposition) where is it? Until we develop answers then we can't spout the same dogma.

raw

madashell
Jul 7 2006 19:37
BB wrote:
Was it you or Ed, that had to explain to me what it meant, i've forgotten again, apart from my conclusion which was "bollocks!" last post b4 the weekend.

It's the attitude that heterosexuality is the "norm" and all sexual activity deviating from this is in some way wrong. Similar to homophobia but slightly different.

Rob Ray
Jul 7 2006 19:43

Hmm I think workplace remains a useful political tool used geographically if nothing else, everyone will understand what you mean (ie. the physical place to which you go and expend energy and recieve money in return).

I'd agree (or alternatively, posit) though that in many cases the concept of exploitation and resistance as an automatic addendum to the geographical context of 'workplace' has been lost, and would note that as its major problem. Too many people in shit jobs now regard them as 'just a job mate, we all need them' or 'a start for something better' and not as 'my life being deliberately stolen' and 'a means of keeping me down' and consequently not in any conscious way as 'the field of combat', either.

I'd argue though that this merely reflects a need for us to restablish that firm connection rather than dismiss the concept of workplace organisation - until we all work from home it will remain a potent tool for establishing a commonality of dissent.

In terms of community, I think it is the horribly unfocused nature of it which make definition both difficult and dangerous. I could call my road my community, or I could expand it to my local area, or even the entire town, depending on my point of view and personal decision as to the area of action. The distance around my house that counts as my 'community' is almost entirely an arbitrary decision on my part, and must by necessity include people who geographically speaking may be outside, but who personally speaking are very good friends and clearly regular parts of my life.

The easiest thing to do is take a comonly agreed profile (eg. Hackney), one which is easily understood. But as has already been said, division on that note play into the hands of the 'under seige' merchants and the isolationists. While easiest organisationally, it is also a potential nightmare of pitfalls and of course plays into the hands of councils and governments looking to define the terms of engagement before you even begin.

I kind of sound like I'm making the anti-community peeps' argument for them here, but this is merely an attempt to define the terms of what s being discussed - and in fact seems to be a refutation that what is being discussed can actually be adequately defined on any but an individual level, proof I suppose of John and Raw's argument that the word itself in inadequate for its intended purpose when applied to the kind of organising that we wish to work on.

I also suspect I'm beginning to ramble, but anyways, ploughing on...

The way in which I would come closest, in my own mind to defining comunity is in this diffuse manner, everyone's community is different, but interlocking, and solidarity between these interlocking units (i.e individuals), is what makes up the otherwise meaningless term. In expansion of our community from personal interactions with friends, to workplaces, we form one ongoing source of common struggle.

In the other scenario, the one we have been shorthanding as 'community' organising but perhaps would be better served as geographical organising, or 'home organising' or something equally weak, the far more difficult one conceptually, we each have our own personal territories of engagement around our geographical living spaces. Each next door neighbour has the same. Common bonds are limited by time, distance, on your personal level but because you are not alone, you are linked to a dozen, a hundred other people who also have their own links, the potential for concerted effort is still near infinite in theory, though organising it is a right bastard and far more unweildy than for tight-knit, definable units .

That make any sense at all?

Blacknred Ned
Jul 7 2006 21:14

Workplace is just as vague a term as community and anyone who tries to kid you that the traditional certainties of class and work are the foundations upon which social revolution must be built is just relying on creaky old models polished up afresh to sit shining in the little visited emporium of the Left.

Please note that I am not dismissing workplace struggles or workers; I am just trying to point out that not only are there plenty of ways to skin a cat, so far we have singularly failed to skin one at all and many of us are relying on a description of a cat that is long out of date and that has arguably been wildly inaccurate all along.

I would also like to point out that the home (which might be the house; the neighbourhood; the bioregion or any one of a number of interlocking or even concentric areas) must eventually take precedence over the workplace. We want to be people don't we? When we work we will want to be doing it for what? For the community I suggest, and because of our place in it. Anarchists have often looked to unify the means and the end of revolutionary struggle; it strikes me that in that cause we should identify ourselves as people in comunities at least as much, if not more so than as workers in workplaces.

Rob Ray
Jul 7 2006 21:33

You've completely missed the means by which I was trying to work. It's not about workplace being the sole foundation, it's about the workplace being a place where people interact, as John says, for much of their lives and importantly, where concrete struggle is always very evident, collective or no. Given the way it is constructed and the sheer volume of waking energy put into it, the workplace must be regarded as a/the primary place in which struggle must happen. Tactics dictate.

But I'm curious, on community organising, having seen me argue for seven pages for it, why are you talking as though I hadn't or suggesting that I'm being 'kidded' on workplace organising? I'll be honest, I found that incredibly fucking patronising, particularly given that your actual analysis was poor.

Steven.
Jul 7 2006 21:54
Blackn'red Ned wrote:
Workplace is just as vague a term as community

confused No it's not - it's very clear. It's where you go to work. How is it vague?

Anyone can see how vague "community" is; it's used to designate national, racial, ethnic, religious groups, website users groups, musical and cultural taste groups, etc.

raw - I don't know about other people, but I know I for one don't think this is the thread for discussing "radical social spaces", I think a fresh one for that would be the best idea if you want to start a discussion

Red Marriott
Jul 7 2006 23:48

There have been fierce struggles in the South African townships going on for several years now against the austerity measures imposed by the ANC govt. This has been well documented by Ashwin Desai in 'We are the Poors', well worth a read. There have been mobilisations against evictions, resettlements, rate rises, electric and water disconnections. Alot of inspiring stuff, especially considering how hard the new black ruling class are screwing the poor. There is a long article on this at the endangeredphoenix.com site on the class struggle histories page. Some excerpts;

Quote:
" Linking struggles in the Cape Town area, the multi-racial Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign was born. “Much like the organisations in Chatsworth, it has become amoeba-like. When there’s a need for action it expands and increases in density. In between it shrinks, concerning itself mainly with resolving community disputes and providing a kind of social worker service. The initiative of poor communities in self-organising, re-housing evicted families, and re-connecting disconnected water supplies (often using inventive local technology), and the courage of campaigners to fight the police in the streets, has meant that to enforce the war on the poor in Cape Town is no simple thing…. By and large the actions of the council grind to a halt.” (Ashwin Desai)

"As a result of over a million water disconnections in the 8 years from 1994, 40,000 children were dying from diarrhoea caused by dirty water every year. Cholera returned with a vengeance, infecting over 100,000 people in Kwa-Zulu Natal alone. When the water company came to disconnect water in a house in Bayview, in Chatsworth, the community turned up en masse and formed a human wall around the targeted houses. The security company withdrew. There was a mood of elation and militancy, with people dancing in the cul-de-sacs between the rows of flats to hastily improvised music. This was now the fifth battle in a row they had won against those who would either evict them or cut off their water. Chatsworth was fast becoming a terrain of defeat for the Metro Council. The next day an agreement was reached that the water cut-offs would be stopped, accounts would be frozen with no further interest charged on arrears, and the water could be turned back on. ... Struggle plumbers abound – and are not prosecuted. The council re-disconnects, and the struggle plumbers dis-re-disconnect."

"In line with their programme to clear old debts, in 2001 the manager of Eskom (the state-run electricity company) announced, “The aim is to disconnect at least 75 percent of Soweto residents”. 20,000 households a month were cut off during 2001 – many times more than were connected by the ANC's great programme to connect millions of black households to the national grid. In Soweto, the cost of one kilowatt unit of electricity is 28 cents, in Sandton (the ultra-rich area of Johannesburg) it is 16 cents, big business pay 7 cents and the worst- off rural areas pay 48 cents.

As they went to disconnect, Eskom security forces assaulted and bullied members of the community and opened fire on protestors. The community marched to the Mayor’s house and pledged to “embark on a campaign of mass non-payment”. After Emergency Electricians in Soweto reconnected 3,000 houses in six months, Eskom announced that it would not be cutting off those who could not pay – not a bad result!" Protestors "also went to the home of the Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo and disconnected his water supply and electricity. ... As part of this movement the offices of banks in Cape Town have been occupied, and the debt-collection building of the Thekwini Council in Durban was layed siege to. Apparently, the struggle to re-connect disconnected electricity supplies was initiated by anarchists in the ZACF collective and in the Shesha Action Group (SAG) in Soweto who started Operation Khanyisa, meaning "light", the operation that illegally re-connected some 25 000 homes in Soweto."

"In 1997 people in the poor Johannesburg suburbs of Eldorado Park and Westbury organised a "stayaway" - exhorting people not to go to work - over increases in local council rates and threats to cut power and water for non-payment. Hundreds of young people built barricades in the streets to prevent residents from getting to work. While the cops cleared away the barricades, their vehicles were stoned and a full-blown confrontation developed as the cops killed a 7 year old boy. By midday, thousands had joined the confrontation in three areas south and west of the city."

Blacknred Ned
Jul 8 2006 09:46

Saii, I am sorry that you think I was patronising you. I didn't claim to be writing directly to you; as you point out a lot has been contributed to this thread and I was just putting in a few thoughts. Actually I have a lot of sympathy with your arguments. As for poor analysis just because I didn't write a fucking essay doesn't mean I didn't make any sense. To be as honest as you were, I think that you were a little over-sensitive; to reiterate (in case of poor analysis) I never suggested anything about you or your stance.

John, I am afraid that your definition begs as many questions as it answers. Look work can be at home; on the move; in one place or several; in a succession of places for very short periods. Even without looking at the fuzzy boundaries around what might be seen as work, the workplace is not a fixed place always readily identifiable. It might have escaped your notice but you and I don't bump into one another every morning just before dawn at the pithead. The pithead's gone and the guys that used to work in the pit have to cope with a world in which the places they work range from their own front rooms to portacabins to vans to other people's back gardens. Organise that lot with a workplace leaflet!

The title of this thread asked whether community organising is bullshit; the suggestion that it is is arrant nonsense, nevertheless as Saii has pointed out (much more intelligently and thoroughly than I have) this does not mean that workplace organisation is pointless or even necessarily secondary. As LR pointed out earlier we need to organise and struggle on whatever terrain we can.

cantdocartwheels
Jul 8 2006 10:02
Quote:
I don't really see the point of this. One of the facts of capitalism though is that they are separate activities, and therefore environments, and this is how people perceive it. Or maybe I just live within a really weird social group where people say 'I wish that I didn't have to go to work tomorrow', and 'I'm glad that it is Friday' as opposed to yours where people obviously say 'It doesn't matter that it is Friday as tomorrow I have to engage in some equally alienating interaction in my community.'

So you don't think we should be drawing links between the two then, in fact you think we should be reinforing those differences, despite the fact that those differences are ideologically constructed in favour of the bourgeoisie.

Quote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Na, i knew who was on the board of executives for our NHS trust, i know who's behind various gentrification projects in colchester and what slaries they're on, i knew who the council officers and tory/labour gropup leaders were, i even knew where they lived in a lot of cases, fuck i think i shook the hand of the tory leader once (shudders). Not to sound too crazy or something, but these are real people, not just an abtract concept of capital. They are an extremely concrete class enemy.

Is this in anyway important? I know who the Mayor is and that is about it.

So you aren't involved in any struggle to do with facilities in your lcoal area, how wonderful for you, anyone who campagns on any issue in the local area whatever its basis is going to, sooner or later, run into these people or find out who it is thats selling off their homes, hospital, services, cutting their wages, charging extra parking fees etc.

"Catch" wrote:
Devrim wrote:

As for 'Identifying a concrete class enemy in your lcoal areas, be they local businessmen and politicians', I can't imagine that any politicians live round here, and I actually quite like the people who run the corner shop, and the guy who owns the second hand furniture stall on a personal level. I certainly don't see them as 'a concrete class enemy'.

How about your landlord?

Quote:

I think that this is quite true. What is revolutionary about campaigning about 'dangerous roads' for example?

Oh come off it, as if every campaign we are ever involved in is explicitly revolutionary. And how is that an answer to catchs statemenmt at all, its just a pointless strawman arguement..

Quote:
The point about campaigning about dangerous scaffolding is that it is the working class that has the ability to change society, and that its struggles at work are paramount.

Oh great so when i'm campaigning about dangerous roads or housing issues your going to hand me a leaflet saying ''no you workers shoudln't be doing this, you should be concentrating on the workplace where struggle is paramount because you can create a communist society''.

The whole fucking point is to connect struggles not to bracket them off into ''workplace''. ''community'' and other little theoretically correct sections.

Rob Ray
Jul 8 2006 10:11

K fair enough, I might have overreacted a touch.

However, I do still think that although the question of the self-employed, the home worker, the travelling workforce, is an indicator of where exceptions to the concept of work=better organisation exist, the concept in itself is still in the main an easily defined, palpable one. Most people still work in a factory, office, retail environment that they go to every day, work a set shift in the same small area with a (perhaps slowly, perhaps quickly) changing but stable series of people, before they go home.

That in itself, for the majority (though as you say not all) of the workforce makes the concept an understandable and helpful one, and the organisation process easier - enforced contact with the same people all the time means yuou are garunteed to see them and talk to them for organisational purposes, for example, and mostly you know they'll show up, and if not, you'll find out quickly.

quint
Jul 8 2006 10:14

I hate the word "community", it is used to mean anything. The point about struggles outside the workplace, is that you don't necessarily have the immediate class confrontation you have in almost every workplace. Only struggles based on this class confrontation have the potential to go further and deepen and become subversive of capitalism. I have been involved in a lot more "community organizing" than "workplace organizing". There is a confrontation between renters and landlords, but in the United States the most working people own their own homes (even if their morgage amounts to rent paid to the bank, or if they only own a trailer). I was involved in a spectacularly unsuccessful anti-gentrification campaign a few years ago. I mostly think that gentrification is a hopeless issue at this point--although other housing issues such as evictions, can be good. I think public transportation can be another important flash-point for class conflict. Public transportation is not and has never been a profitable business. The main point of public transportation is to get workers (especially low wage workers) to and from work in big cities. When there are cut-backs, or price increases, this seems to me to affect a lot of people who have similar interests in fighting it. I was involved in a campaign against transit cuts that had some success in Chicago. It was interesting to see that the first argument of the local politicians and religious leaders who wanted to turn the fight against the cuts into an electoral one, was that they were cutting the transit lines to black and latino neighborhoods, not white neighborhoods. This got a lot or press, despite the fact that it was blatantly false. They were in fact planning to cut lines equally throughout the city. Of course, the people who depend on transport in every neighborhood were the poor. Still there were plenty of liberal groups who only wanted to defend their particular transit line, or (worse yet) who wanted to complain about how the bus drivers made too much money or weren't courteous.

I guess my point is that I think there are real possibilities outside the workplace, but they have to be seriously analyzed and looked at critically. Not all struggles are equal. The struggle of albino's against discrimination is not likely to set off a class movement. The struggle of transit riders could. Also, I think Devrim makes a good point. I never thought about it before, but there is definitely something to the idea that the reason some anarchists drone on about "community struggle" is because it is easy for anyone to say that they are the such and such community, and then start a struggle on its behalf. Easier than in the workplace.

Lazy Riser
Jul 8 2006 11:20

Hi

That was an excellent post.

Quote:
There is a confrontation between renters and landlords, but in the United States the most working people own their own homes (even if their morgage amounts to rent paid to the bank, or if they only own a trailer).

It is easy to underestimate material poverty. Allow me to share this graph showing housing affordability in England…

I also stumbled across this report showing that…

Quote:
50 per cent of people living in poverty are either outright owners (18 per cent) or people paying a mortgage (32 per cent). Forty-one per cent of poor people live in social housing and 9 per cent in the private rented sector.

http://www.jrf.org.uk/Knowledge/findings/housing/113.asp

25% of Britain is poor.

http://www.jrf.org.uk/KNOWLEDGE/FINDINGS/socialpolicy/d33.asp

Quote:
Britain may also be beginning to move up the European Union 'poverty league'. The latest published figures from the EU are for 1999, when the UK was still near the bottom, better only than Greece and Portugal and bracketed with Spain, Italy and Ireland. But if the rates in these countries have not changed since then, the reduction in poverty seen here since 1999 would mean that the UK was moving clear of this group by 2001/02, in the direction of the poverty rate recorded in France.

Now, theoretically, let’s say the government (under Cameron, say) moved to shut the Joseph Rowntree Foundation down. Do we have a response? I’m not sure if establishment philanthropy should ever be defended.

Love

LR

Devrim
Jul 8 2006 15:05
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Quote:
I don't really see the point of this. One of the facts of capitalism though is that they are separate activities, and therefore environments, and this is how people perceive it. Or maybe I just live within a really weird social group where people say 'I wish that I didn't have to go to work tomorrow', and 'I'm glad that it is Friday' as opposed to yours where people obviously say 'It doesn't matter that it is Friday as tomorrow I have to engage in some equally alienating interaction in my community.'

So you don't think we should be drawing links between the two then, in fact you think we should be reinforing those differences, despite the fact that those differences are ideologically constructed in favour of the bourgeoisie.

The differences are not only in peoples' perceptions the differences are very real. Only communism can abolish the difference between 'work', and 'leisure'. In the meantime you could say that I am reinforcing it, in the same way that I am reinforcing the banking system by not keeping my money under my mattress, and that I reinforce immigration controls by using my passport when I travel abroad. What I am stressing is that, as another poster wrote:

i'd rather be drinking wrote:

The point about struggles outside the workplace, is that you don't necessarily have the immediate class confrontation you have in almost every workplace. Only struggles based on this class confrontation have the potential to go further and deepen and become subversive of capitalism.

Now this doesn't say that those struggles can not erupt outside the workplace. It does say that struggles in the workplace have this confrontation of necessity, whereas many 'community' struggles don't.

Quote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Na, i knew who was on the board of executives for our NHS trust, i know who's behind various gentrification projects in colchester and what slaries they're on, i knew who the council officers and tory/labour gropup leaders were, i even knew where they lived in a lot of cases, fuck i think i shook the hand of the tory leader once (shudders). Not to sound too crazy or something, but these are real people, not just an abtract concept of capital. They are an extremely concrete class enemy.

Is this in anyway important? I know who the Mayor is and that is about it.

So you aren't involved in any struggle to do with facilities in your lcoal area, how wonderful for you, anyone who campagns on any issue in the local area whatever its basis is going to, sooner or later, run into these people or find out who it is thats selling off their homes, hospital, services, cutting their wages, charging extra parking fees etc.

No, I am not involved with any 'struggle to do with facilities in your lcoal area', and more to the point in the ten years that I have lived in this city, I haven't even seen any unless you want to include the campaign of the Alevi's to be allowed to build a cemevi (religious building). I thought it best not to get involved in that one. I did say in the first post that there were some times where these struggles are valid:

Devrim wrote:
Now, I am not disputing the fact that in some places there is a common interest in communities, for example in parts of the U.K. there are still large stocks of council housing, which gives people a common interest.

There is however a lot of times when these issues are not class based.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
Devrim wrote:

I think that this is quite true. What is revolutionary about campaigning about 'dangerous roads' for example?

Oh come off it, as if every campaign we are ever involved in is explicitly revolutionary. And how is that an answer to catchs statemenmt at all, its just a pointless strawman arguement..

Devrim wrote:
The point about campaigning about dangerous scaffolding is that it is the working class that has the ability to change society, and that its struggles at work are paramount.

The point is that some struggles do have the potential to become revolutionary, or at least raise workers' consciousness, and prepare them for struggles to come. Some struggles are just liberal leftist dead ends.

cantdocartwheels wrote:

Oh great so when i'm campaigning about dangerous roads or housing issues your going to hand me a leaflet saying ''no you workers shoudln't be doing this, you should be concentrating on the workplace where struggle is paramount because you can create a communist society''.

The whole fucking point is to connect struggles not to bracket them off into ''workplace''. ''community'' and other little theoretically correct sections.

As I said before some struggles do have class potential and some struggles about housing do. I can't imagine anything about 'dangerous roads' having that potential. It can only become a pressure group orientated towards the local municipality. I wouldn't bother doing a leaflet, but I would tell you that it was about as revolutionary as calling on people to vote labour.

Saii wrote:
Devrim wrote:
I also said that I think that community struggle is often embraced by some anarchists as it is easier.

Hah, have you tried this? It can be far more difficult to get people along to a community action group – partly because of the perceived dislocation and lack of common interest between people of the same class living in the same conditions, taking the same bus etc – than to get people together or discussing issues which are often far more simple at work. I wonder, did you try to argue to Dave Morris that it’s easy? I’d be surprised if he agreed.

Saii, I would just like to put this back into its context:

Devrim wrote:
I also said that I think that community struggle is often embraced by some anarchists as it is easier. At the moment the level of workers struggle is low, and it can be difficult to do things at work. It is always possible, however, in a big city to get a few like minded individuals together, and to substitute yourself for the 'community'.

What I meant here was that it is easier to substitute yourself for the class. In places like Hackney I think that it would be quite possible to gather a group of anarchists, and fellow travellers (not that I am saying that these people are not part of the working class too), and organise around 'local' issues, and substitute yourself for the class. Getting people involved would still be difficult. I think, and I can't remember exactly, that Dave did agree with this.

Others seem to agree with me to:

i'd rather be drinking wrote:
Also, I think Devrim makes a good point. I never thought about it before, but there is definitely something to the idea that the reason some anarchists drone on about "community struggle" is because it is easy for anyone to say that they are the such and such community, and then start a struggle on its behalf. Easier than in the workplace.

As one of the few people who posts on here who has the experience of running a workplace group (Communication Worker), I do know what difficulties it brings. I think that they are larger than in setting up a community based group. Especially in the current climate. I'd like to quote two recent posts one from this thread, and one from another.

raw wrote:
In most cases (in the UK) these struggles are less and less within "workplaces"......(2005 - lowest level of strike action in 200 years)
october_lost wrote:
Let me digress - Im now in my mid twenties and most people my age have never been in a union, now that maybe because they feel that unions are just a thin wedge of a difference between themselves and their boss, but I believe its because people my age have adapted/accepted job-insecurity. Its not much better for people years older than me either

There is a low level of class struggle at the moment. Does that mean that communists should turn away from the working class? Times can change, and change very quickly. I understand how it is possible for the younger generation in particular to become demoralised, but just because the working class is not involved in mass struggles at the moment, it doesn't mean that this will continue to be so, and it doesn't justify an abandonment of the idea of workers' struggles.

Devrim

Rob Ray
Jul 8 2006 15:16

I was hoping you'd respond to a much larger percentage of my posting than that, which was in fairness the least part of my argument. sad

Having said so, you also don't address the points made later showing that it is actually entirely possible in a confrontational situation outside work for you to be pressured - particularly if you do it often or are well known, as by default, they know where you live...

NB// Actually, that doesn't address your clarification. I agree that subsititution is an 'easier' thing to do, however I don't see how this invalidates the concept of organising geographically? You want us to wait in workplaces until everyone agrees with us before suggesting workplace improvements too? Becuase surely, you are substituting yourself for the majority when you get together a workplace resistance group and start talking about how to improve things...

Devrim
Jul 8 2006 15:21
Saii wrote:
I was hoping you'd respond to a much larger percentage of my posting than that, which was in fairness the least part of my argument. sad

Having said so, you also don't address the points made later showing that it is actually entirely possible in a confrontational situation outside work for you to be pressured - particularly if you do it often or are well known, as by default, they know where you live...

Sorry, I will come back to it.

Dev

cantdocartwheels
Jul 8 2006 15:31
Quote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:

Oh great so when i'm campaigning about dangerous roads or housing issues your going to hand me a leaflet saying ''no you workers shoudln't be doing this, you should be concentrating on the workplace where struggle is paramount because you can create a communist society''.

The whole fucking point is to connect struggles not to bracket them off into ''workplace''. ''community'' and other little theoretically correct sections.

As I said before some struggles do have class potential and some struggles about housing do. I can't imagine anything about 'dangerous roads' having that potential. It can only become a pressure group orientated towards the local municipality. I wouldn't bother doing a leaflet, but I would tell you that it was about as revolutionary as calling on people to vote labour.

Well i'm sure you can inform people of how correct your position is all you want. No doubt campaigning for a hospital or road crossings for kids in working class areas or regular bus services makes people a local pressure group and means we have petty bourgeois aspirations, Sorry if it doesn't get us anywhere closer to the great goal of future communism, we'll try harder to live up to our historical manifest destiny next time. roll eyes

Blacknred Ned
Jul 8 2006 15:48

One problem here is that only struggle seems to have any credibility. There is more to life than head on confrontation and community building is not all about straightforward resistance.

Positive community action is a strategy more or less abandoned by the left and yet we should all recognise that it is a very powerful way of working. If all your effort is concentrated on negatives ("We don't want this!"; don't do this to us!"; "reject this!"; "reject that!") then you leave the field open for the kind of community groups who just reach out and fill the void where old social ties (class & neighbourhood) used to be. In the US and in many parts of the UK that territory now belongs to religious groups.

There are villages and neighbourhoods where the only existing community groups are Christian or Islamic. These groups become the focus of people's lives in a way that some poxy job on an industrial estate or a retail park could never be. People who want to create a free society ignore this at their peril.

So you resist, you struggle and you campaign against things; you promise that in the absence of these things the world will be a better place, and then you start talking about workers' councils (or whatever) in the same way that a priest of any religion uses magic words to impress the congregation. This approach is just politics and anarchism is not politics; we should not make promises about the way the world will be we should make the world we want to see. In part this work is about recognising and helping the essentially anarchic way in which millions of people already organise a great deal of everyday life, it is also in part about developing new ways to creatively bring communities back to life and help people to recognise that they have interests in common.

All over the world there are people whose lives defy the depredations of capitalism and whose achievements receive scant regard from leftists caught up in theoretical models of change that have singularly failed to deliver.

fort-da game
Jul 8 2006 16:20

Nobody has put this quote here:

Quote:
Only in the factory is the worker of today a real proletarian, and as such a revolutionary within the meaning of the proletarian-socialist revolution. Outside the factory he is a petty-bourgeois, involved in a petty-bourgeois milieu and middle-class habits of life, dominated by petty-bourgeois ideology. He has grown up in bourgeois families, been educated in a bourgeois school, nourished on the bourgeois spirit. Marriage is a bourgeois penal institution. Dwelling in rented barracks is a bourgeois arrangement.... In the factory the worker is another person. There he confronts the capitalist face to face, feels the fist on his neck, is irritated, embittered, hostile. If a conflict breaks out here, he cannot shirk so easily.

Otto Ruhle 1924

From the Bourgeois to the Proletarian Revolution

And together with this quote from yesterday’s free local paper it makes an interesting juxtaposition:

Quote:
‘Vandals have been threatened with eviction from their homes after a wrecking spree at Cambridge’s newest community centre. Tress and windows have been broken by youths at Brownsfield Community Centre off Green End Road, East Chesterton – which only opened earlier this year. And social landlords who rent properties to the vandals have pledged to write to them, threatening to kick them out if they are convicted...’

From a communist perspective it is very difficult to theoretically justify involvement in social struggle as it occurs within spaces wholly defined by the general social relation. All communities are ‘alienated’, all communities exist and are defined by capital. And ATR most post-war built social housing of, and therefore the geographical grounding for, many alienated ‘communities’, will have to be bulldozed because the architecture is incompatible with communist society.

Whilst it is possible that proletarian struggle against value in the factories could conceivably bring a halt to capitalist society, social struggles, even in their most radical form, may only reach the level of ‘self-management’. In other words there is no theoretical basis within communist activity for involvement in social issues.

I do not think the theory is wrong but there is something about living in a place for more than several years which draws you into activities within it, and which you find you cannot refuse – whether this is combating christian fundamentalist on the local school board of governors or fighting the prejudices of staff at the local health clinic.

A community is built up from many non-intense exchanges within a restricted area over a long period of time, it is sometimes punctuated by extreme events... none of that counts for much to those on the outside, but that is precisely the importance of the particular. We reciprocate feelings to that which we are part of, we feel its defence of us (we know and are known). We defend against outside attack that which we ordinarily feel suffocated by. A community is that which outsiders have no feelings for, and no understanding other than in the broadest analytical terms.

fd

Red Marriott
Jul 8 2006 17:03

Its misleading to make a false opposition of either/or community struggle or workplace struggle. Until the late 80s they existed as practical aspects of the same movement and in moments of strength its not necessary to pose a hypothetical either/or; the very question is a sign of present weakness. The decline of both was for the same reason - the old class movement was oumanouevred by the ruling class.

fort-da game
Jul 8 2006 17:31
Ret Marut wrote:
community struggle (and) workplace struggle ... existed as practical aspects of the same movement and in moments of strength its not necessary to pose a hypothetical either/or; the very question is a sign of present weakness.

Yes, you can make the case that the struggle in the workplace is an attempt to realise the concrete (ie specific/local) relations of human community in the place that absolutely refuses them on those terms. I don't know if it is still in place, but when I was a postman a condition of employment was living within one mile's radius of the office...

But there is also a sense that capital is progressive in those places where 'community' is restrictive – the work of capital is to undo traditional relations as much as it is to commodify new ones (the story of 'liberated' miners' wives comes to mind, and the 'idiocy of village life'). I am not convinced by any of that... I see no particular progressive role for capitalism but I also feel ambivalence for 'community' which is a positive formulation and therefore productive of self-affirmation and 'patriotism' (which closes down the possible... I think of 'knee-cappings' and vigilantes) whereas workplace struggle is always negative, and therefore opens space up for innovative connections between people.

We live, we try and make our lives better for ourselves here and now but I get no sense of a linking up of our 'activity' or 'struggle' with a historical 'movement'.

fd

Skraeling
Jul 9 2006 06:45
Devrim wrote:

As I said before some struggles do have class potential and some struggles about housing do. I can't imagine anything about 'dangerous roads' having that potential. It can only become a pressure group orientated towards the local municipality. I wouldn't bother doing a leaflet, but I would tell you that it was about as revolutionary as calling on people to vote labour.

OK, if i may step in, what do you think of Aufheben's analysis of anti-roads struggles in London in the early 1990s? IIRC part of their argument is that roads have become integral to capital in modern times, in that capital demands more and more new roads being built primarily cos of the speed up of modern production & distribution due to just in time production and what not, and thus working class community struggles against these roads are thus a new terrain of class struggle or something (even if a lot of anti roads stuff is couched in non-class terms such as being "anti-car" and other greenie rubbish).

http://www.geocities.com/aufheben2/auf_3_roads.html#B

their argument is much more complex and nuanced than what i've crudely outlined, but the point is, here is a bunch of communists arguing that certain community struggles contain a hell of a lot of anti-capitalist (ie. communist) potential.

or maybe they were just going thru a phase of taking autonomist marxism too seriously...