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Thursday, September 18 2014 @ 12:39 AM CDT

The End of Arrogance: Decentralization and Anarchist Organizing

News ArchiveSubmitted by Curious George Brigade:

THE END OF ARROGANCE:
DECENTRALIZAION AND ANARCHIST ORGANIZING


For too long, anarchist projects have been mismanaged by arrogant fantasies of mass. We have unconsciously adopted the Statist, Capitalist and Authoritarian belief that “bigger equals better” and that we must tailor our actions and groups towards this end. Despite our intuitive understandings that large organizations rarely accomplish more than small, tight groups working together, the desire for mass remains strong. We must re-examine how we organize projects in order to awake from the nightmare of over-structure that inevitably leads to bureaucracy, centralization and ineffective anarchist work. This article suggests a few ideas on how anarchists can reject the trap of mass and reinvent ourselves, our groups and our work: from local community activities to large revolutionary mobilizations. The rejection of mass organizations as the be-all, end-all of organizing is vital for the creation and rediscovery of possibilities for empowerment and effective anarchist work.

The Tyranny of Structure

Most mass structures are a result of habit, inertia and the lack of creative critique. Desire for mass is accepted as common sense in the same way it is ‘common sense’ that groups must have leaders, or that that they must make decisions by voting. Even anarchists have been tricked into accepting the necessity of super structures and large organizations for the sake of efficiency, mass, or unity. These super structures have become a badge of legitimacy and they are often the only conduits by which outsiders, whether the media, the police or other leftists, can understand us. The result is an alphabet soup of mega-groups which largely exist to propagate themselves and, sadly, do little else. Unfortunately, we haven’t just been tricked into accepting superstructures as the overriding venue of our work: many of us have gone along willingly, because the promise of mass is a seductive one.

Large coalitions and super-structures have become the coin of the realm not only for leftist groups in general but also for anarchist enterprises. They appeal to activists’ arrogant fantasies of mass: the authoritarian impulse to be leading (or at least be part of) a large group of people that reinforce and legitimize our deeply held ideologies and beliefs. Even our best intentions and wildest dreams are often crowded out by visions of the black clad mob storming the Bastille or the IMF headquarters.

The price of the arrogant dream of mass is appallingly high and the promised returns never come. Super-structures, which include federations, centralized networks and mass organizations, demand energy and resources to survive. They are not perpetual motion machines which produce more energy than what is poured into them. In a community of limited resources and energy like ours, a super-structure can consume most of these available resources and energies, rendering the group ineffective. Mainstream non-profits have recently illustrated this tendency. Large organizations like the Salvation Army commonly spend 2/3 of their monies (and even larger amounts of its labor) on simply maintaining its existence: officers, outreach, meetings and public appearance. At best, only 1/3 of their output actually goes to their stated goals. The same trend is replicated in our political organizations.

We all know that most large coalitions and super-structures have exceedingly long meetings. Here’s a valuable exercise: The next time you find yourself bored by an overlong meeting, count the number of people in attendance. Then multiply that number by how long the meeting lasts: this will give you the number of person-hours devoted to keeping the organization alive. Factor in travel time, outreach time and the propaganda involved in promoting the meeting and that will give you a rough estimate of the amount of activist hours consumed by greedy maw of the superstructure. After that nightmarish vision, stop and visualize how much actual work could be accomplished if this immense amount of time and energy were actually spent on the project at hand instead of what is so innocently referred to as ‘organizing’.

Affinity or Bust

Not only are super-structures wasteful and inefficient, but they also require that we mortgage our ideals and affinities. By definition, coalitions seek to create and enforce agendas. These are not merely agendas for a particular meeting but larger priorities for what type of work is important. Within non-anarchist groups, this prioritization often leads to an organizational hierarchy to ensure that all members of the group promote the overall agenda.

A common example is the role of the media person or ‘spokesman’ (and it is almost always a man) whose comments are accepted as the opinion for dozens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of people. In groups without a party line or platform, we certainly shouldn’t accept any other person speaking for us—as individuals, affinity groups or collectives. While the delusions of media stars and spokespeople are merely annoying, superstructures can lead to scenarios with much graver consequences. In mass mobilizations or actions, the tactics of an entire coalition are often decided by a handful of people. Many of the disasters of particular recent mobilizations can be squarely blamed on the centralization of information and tactical decisions on a tiny cadre of individuals within the larger coalition/organization (which might include dozens of collectives and affinity groups). For anarchists, such a concentration of influence and power in the hands of a few is simply unacceptable.

It has long been a guiding principle of anarchist philosophy that people should engage in activities based on their affinities and that our work should be meaningful, productive and enjoyable. This is the hidden benefit of voluntary association. It is arrogant to believe that members in a large structure, which again can number in the hundreds or thousands of people, should all have identical affinities and ideals. It is arrogant to believe that through discussion and debate, any one group should convince all the others that their particular agenda will be meaningful, productive and enjoyable for all. Due to this nearly impossible situation, organizations rely on coercion to get their agendas accepted by their membership. The coercion is not necessarily physical (like the State) or based on deprivation (like Capitalism) but based on some sense of loyalty or solidarity or unity. This type of coercion is the stock and trade of the vanguard.

Organizations spend a significant amount of their time at meetings trying to convince you that your affinities are disloyal to the greater organization and that your desires and interests obstruct or remove you from solidarity with some group or another. When these appeals fail, the organization will label your differences as obstructionist or breaking ‘unity’ —the hobgoblin of efficiency. Unity is an arrogant ideal which is too often used against groups who refuse to cede their autonomy to a larger super-structure.

Many anarchists whose primary work is done in large organizations often never develop their own affinities or skills and instead, do work based on the needs of super-structures. Without affinity groups or collective work of their own, activists become tied to the mass abstract political goals of the organization, which leads to even greater inefficiency and the ever present “burn-out” that is so epidemic in large coalitions and super-structures.

Liberty, Trust and True Solidarity

“All Liberty is based on Mutual Trust” —Sam Adams


If we seek a truly liberated society in which to flourish, we must also create a trusting society. Cops, armies, laws, governments, religious specialists and all other hierarchies are essentially based on mistrust. Super-structures and coalitions mimic this basic distrust that is so rampant and detrimental in the wider society. In the grand tradition of the Left, large organizations today feel that due to their size or mission, they have a right to micromanage the decisions and actions of all its members. For many activists, this feeling of being something larger that themselves fosters an allegiance to the organization above all. These are the same principles that foster nationalism and patriotism. Instead of working through and building initiatives and groups that we ourselves have created and are based in our own communities, we work for a larger organization with diluted goals, hoping to convince others to join us. This is the trap of the Party, the three letter acronym group and the large coalition.

In large groups, power is centralized, controlled by officers (or certain working groups) and divvied out, as it would be done by any bureaucratic organization. In fact a great deal of its energies are devoted to guarding this power from others in the coalition. In groups which attempt to attract anarchists (such as anti-globalization coalitions) this centralization of power is transferred to certain high profile working groups such as ‘media’ or ‘tactical’. Regardless of how it appears on the outside, superstructures foster a climate in which tiny minorities have disproportionate influence over others in the organization.

As anarchists, we should reject all notions of centralized power and power hoarding. We should be critical of anything that demands the realignment of our affinities and passions for the good of an organization or abstract principle. We should guard our autonomy with the same ferocity with which the super-structure wishes to strip us of it.

Mutual aid has long been the guiding principle by which anarchists work together. The paradox of mutual aid is that we can only protect our own autonomy by trusting others to be autonomous. Super-structures do the opposite and seek to limit autonomy and work based on affinity in exchange for playing on our arrogant fantasies and the doling out power. Decentralization is the basis of not only autonomy (which is the hallmark of liberty), but also of trust. To have genuine freedom, we have to allow others to engage in their work based on their desires and skills while we do the same. We can hold no power from them or try to coerce them into accepting our agenda. The successes that we have in the streets and in our local communities almost always come from groups working together: not because they are coerced and feel duty-bound, but out of genuine mutual aid and solidarity.

We should continue to encourage others to do their work in coordination with ours. In our anarchist work, we should come together as equals: deciding for ourselves with whom we wish to form affinity groups or collectives. In accordance with that principle, each affinity group would be able to work individually with other groups. These alliances might last for weeks or for years, for a single action or for a sustained campaign, with two groups or two hundred. Our downfall is when the larger organization becomes our focus, not the work which it was created for. We should work together, but only with equal status and with no outside force, neither the state, god nor some coalition, determining the direction or shape of the work we do. Mutual trust allows us to be generous with mutual aid. Trust promotes relationships where bureaucracies, formal procedures and large meetings promote alienation and atomization. We can afford to be generous with our limited energies and resources while working with others because these relationships are voluntary and based on a principle of equality. No group should sacrifice their affinity, autonomy or passions for the privilege to work with others. Just as we are very careful with whom we would work within affinity group, we should not offer to join in coalition with groups with whom we do not share mutual trust.

We can and should work with other groups and collectives, but only on the basis of autonomy and trust. It is unwise and undesirable to demand that particular group must agree with the decisions of every other group. During demonstrations, this principle is the foundation of the philosophy of “diversity of tactics”. It is bizarre that anarchists demand diversity of tactics in the streets but then are coerced by calls for ‘unity’ in these large coalitions. Can’t we do better? Fortunately, we can.


Radical Decentralization: A New Beginning

So let us begin our work not in large coalitions and super structures but in small affinity groups. Within the context of our communities, the radical decentralization of work, projects and responsibility strengthens the ability of anarchist groups to thrive and do work which best suits them. We must reject the default of ineffective, tyrannical super structures as the only means to get work done and must strengthen and support existing affinity groups and collectives. Let us be as critical of the need for large federations, coalitions and other super-structures as we are of the State, religion, bureaucracies and corporations. Our recent successes have defied the belief that we must be part of some giant organization “to get anything done”. We should take to heart the thousands of anarchist DIY projects being done around the world outside super structures. Let us come to meetings as equals and work based on our passions and ideals, and then find others with whom we share these ideals. Let us protect our autonomy and continue to fight for liberty, trust and true solidarity.

Anarchy works!
All power to the affinity groups!

Curious George Brigade,
August 2002, NYC


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The End of Arrogance: Decentralization and Anarchist Organizing | 187 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:42 AM CDT
I agree, I primarily think that anarchists should make attempts to be a part of two groups, if they can manage the time them being a revolutionary group and either a coop, a grassroots group, a union, a consumer group, whathaveyou. This could continue to grant revolutionary potential to the other groups while at the same time granting time towards working towards specifically revolutionary projects.

I, however, don\'t see this as vanguardism, because the anarchist revolutionaries aren\'t necessarily controlling the other groups, but they are adding their voice. I know that churches have members that are also activists, and they put in their imput into their activities, but this isn\'t done because the church is controlling the member, rarely is this the case. Instead they just happen to be a member of a church, and just happen to be an activist. This is the same feel I would like to convey...I suppose.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:25 AM CDT
ChuckO, not to pry (I asked this earlier, and wasn\'t sure if you saw it) but why were you \"purged\" from the ACC. I thought the ACC and you had a similar view of things, but I\'m not too informed on what is going on. If you\'d like to reserve your comments on this issue for later, that\'s cool, no problem.

I think this author does make some good points, bringing together several arguments based around the same subject manner of anarchist organizations. My favorite point was \"The next time you find yourself bored by an overlong meeting, count the number of people in attendance. Then multiply that number by how long the meeting lasts: this will give you the number of person-hours devoted to keeping the organization alive. Factor in travel time, outreach time and the propaganda involved in promoting the meeting and that will give you a rough estimate of the amount of activist hours consumed by greedy maw of the superstructure. After that nightmarish vision, stop and visualize how much actual work could be accomplished if this immense amount of time and energy were actually spent on the project at hand instead of what is so innocently referred to as
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:13 AM CDT
ok...I think we can get some stuff done in small groups, but where is the proof that large groups are bad?

where is the proof that all mass organizing is bad?

I think we need a synthesis of the two styles, and this is gonna get me bashed, but what we need is small sized committees (affinty groups) of respected members of a given community that can lead large numbers of folks to take action.

yeah and I\'ll agree that it\'s vangaurdists, but it is a vangaurd not of people with power over a movement, but of respected members of the community that are natural leaders that have to be the first ones to stand up, because no one else will.
comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:04 AM CDT
Makhno, I suggest resubmitting it in a few weeks. I\'ve instituted a semi-moratorium on \"anarchist movement\" stories for the next two weeks, in hopes of cooling off some of the flame wars that are raging on various recent threads. I\'ve decided to pursue this option instead of resorting to more aggressive moderation. The other option is for me to simply go on strike or vacation for the rest of the month.

I\'ve made an exception for Curious George\'s piece because it is new material. I believe the piece you submitted is older material, which I think would tend to exacerbate the current flame wars, since it is anarchist movement-related.

Now, I\'ve been open and transparent with everybody about this, so I ask you all to respect my decision to do this. I\'m not playing favorites here and I\'m not discriminating against any faction.

It\'s August, which is the traditional vacation time for workers (in the northern hemisphere),, so I suggest that everybody get away from their computers.
comment by john
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 08 2002 @ 11:59 PM CDT
It\'s nice that Curious George, after spending years working in coalitions like NYC DAN and the ACC, has finally woken up smelled the coffee. However I see nothing wrong with federations of autonomous affinty groups who actually agree on a number of principles and choose to work together to attain certain aims.
comment by Makhno
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 08 2002 @ 11:08 PM CDT
Right on!

P.S. - Chuck0, why did you reject my Anarchist Opinion submission, Maximalist Anarchism?
comment by Western Sun
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:33 AM CDT
This article\'s interesting... I was discussing the very same thing a couple of days ago to with a friend of mine... personaly I agree... if you have a lot of really small groups, say, 3-7 people... and each of them organize on different projects and just leave participation open while the organizing is done by the fewest amount of people w2e\'d be able to get a whole hell of a lot more just about anywhere
comment by Circuit
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 03:07 AM CDT
Large coalitions and super-structures have become the coin of the realm not only for leftist groups in general but also for anarchist enterprises.

Where? I don\'t see this huge attempt by anarchists to create super-structures. I see loosely affiliated federations (food not bombs, anti-racist action), and tighter federations with specific organizing methods, politics, and stated goals (NEFAC, Ruckus). And furthermore, I see autonomous organizing groups whose stated goal is to serve as a local hub for single-event mass actions (ACC/CLAC)

I don\'t think any of these are \"super-structures\", nor do any of them intend to be.

I really hate the term \"Tyranny of Structure\". Many non-organizational anarchists interpret this as meaning that you don\'t have to be somewhere when you say you\'ll be there, you don\'t have to follow through on your commitments, hell, that you don\'t even have to make any commitments, you can just show up at the right time, and benefit from the hard work that people have been doing for sometimes months.

We can not have any sort of functional society that exists only on an affinity group level. At some point there would need to be coordination between affinity groups.

Now, I agree that no anarchist organization should seek to be the One Big Organization. But apart from the IWW (whose methods and structure I think are outdated, although I\'m still a nominal member), I don\'t see any groups who are attempting to do so.

To conclude, I apologize, but I just don\'t see this article as being anything but an attempt to attack a strawman that just doesn\'t exist in North America.

Circuit
comment by Sven
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 03:15 AM CDT
Great article, BTW - especially the final \"synthesis\":

\"Maximalism might be defined as imagination and desire unleashed. Moving beyond politics, maximalism means conducting experiments, freely chosen in line with desire, imagination and interest, in all areas of everyday life, including language, modes of thought, perception, behaviour, relationships, action and interaction. Anarchist maximalism is the optimal means to create our own lives free of the controls exercised by power, authority and order.\"
comment by Scavenger Type
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 04:09 AM CDT
I think this article makes clear easyer ways of getting things done. We\'ve said for quite a while that anarchists need to build up support. But how much support do we realy need to get the ball rolling? It isn\'t that much. I think anarchists should try organizing smaller groups and possibly if a group grows too much split it into smaller groups. Then if these groups networked they would achieve a lot more than a single large group. Either way it\'s time to quit recruiting anarchists and start a revolution. I\'m still trying to get a local organization started. It\'s a small town and I don\'t expect too much success, but hey maby next punk show I\'ll see what I can do for getting something going. It\'s probibly no easyer in big citys though.

Anyway, the main thing is to get out there and if your gonna get into an organization make sure it\'s more doing stuff then just sitting arround talking. I mean sure planning and networking is important, but if nothing gets done then it\'s a lot of time and effort for nothing.
comment by (I)An-ok Ta Chai
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 04:28 AM CDT
I think that this article is totally right-on, and has expressed a lot of what I have been trying to say for a while now. This is exactly what I experienced with the ACN, most of all the focus was on \"organization\" and not that much on actual projects.

One thing that I think was left out and needs to be talked and written about is how in most all anarchist(and non-anarchist too) groups, you have one really engaged, pro-active, energetic, involved leader person, and everyone else is just a worker or a spectator. For all our sentiment against rulers, anarchist groups tend to be *very* strong on leaders!

I know that rulers and leaders are two very different thing, but I find it quite disheartening how pretty much every anarchist group that I can think of I can think of, there is just one guy(and yes, it is usually a guy) who is the real force behind the whole operation. Collectives then really aren\'t collectives anymore, they are each just one guy and the people who surround that person and each contribute a little work to the project, if that.
comment by anarchistic tendencies
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 08:29 AM CDT
I think it probably depends on how coherent their philosophy is, and whether or not they opt for \"departmentalizion\". It\'s not particularly the size.
comment by jj
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 08:38 AM CDT
Very good article!
This rings so true in my experiences with the (now defunct) NYC ACC.

As appealing as the superstructure, coalition groups, are with large numbers and all, we might not neccesarilly be at the point where these large groups can be sustainable.

In NYC many folks have begun the process of building affinity groups after nightmarish experiences with DAN and ACC type groups. This is something we should all take into account. I\'m glad that the DC ACC is organizing the peoples strike (the actions at least) with these decentralized principles in mind.
comment by Curious George Brigade
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 08:50 AM CDT
Circuit wrote: \"I don\'t see this huge attempt by anarchists to create super-structures. I see loosely affiliated federations (food not bombs, anti-racist action), and tighter federations with specific organizing methods, politics, and stated goals (NEFAC, Ruckus).\"

Food Not Bombs is not a federation, it\'s an \"idea\" that hundreds of autonomous affinity groups and collectives have taken up and made their own. There is no bueracracy or leadership roles in FNB. I think FNB is a prime example of why many anarchist projects don\'t need central-bodies, platforms and all the rest of the bad kitty cabodle.

Rukus is not an anarchist group, though much of the good work that it has done is by anarchists. Same for ARA, which always refers to itself as a network (or movement). ARA, much more so that Rukus, is decentralized and a pretty anarchistic phenomenon. Indymedia, is another phenomenon/ organization that anarchists do great work in yet sometimes get dragged down by more reformist (or in some cases, such as the DC IMC, blatantly sexist behavior) in the groups.

Federations are definitely problematic, as many of the people who have done work with Anarchist Black Cross have come to realize. The ABCF (federation) still exists, yet many anarchists do ABC work independently, or are in the more loose knit ABC network.

NEFAC is the only actual federation Circuit mentions. It, like Love and Rage, is an attempt to create a larger regional (or national) organization in order to organize anarchists. It certainly feels like a super-structure, with a fair amount of official position-holders and even a constitution (ouch!) by which members must accept.

Fortunately, North American anarchists have mainly shied away from super-structures (though our European comrades seem to embrace them more readily). What we do, is join pseudo-anarchist groups like DAN. We also join large coalitions, such as the spate of anti-war coalitions right after 9-11, which limit our autonomy and often go directly against our politics and aims.

In the
comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 09:52 AM CDT

This is precisely what has kept me from getting involved with groups, or starting new ones: I tend to be that person, that male \"leader\" that everyone looks to for cues. Until I figure out ways to subvert that dynamic, I\'m trying to avoid putting myself in that situation.

comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 10:22 AM CDT
*sigh* I was going to write a long post about the importance of anarchist being involved with large organizations of people involved in class struggle. But you know what, I don\'t care. I\'m tired of semantic debates with an over-intellecutalized academic anarchism that seems more concerned about purist perfection than fighting and fighting to win.

The anarchism I\'m interested in is about struggle. It\'s not about dropping out. I\'m not interested in an anarchism that is always inwardly focused on the individual and the scene.

If folks want to continue to argue for isolation and irrelevance to everything else that\'s going on, so be it. If some tenacious anarchists wants to argue with others for a need for orientation to the struggle that the masses are and do engage in, good luck. I\'m not going to keep wasting my time.

I\'ll be looking for anarchists elsewhere.

Maybe if some of us are successful, the rest of you will see value in it. If not... well, good luck to you.

From now on, I\'m sticking with Chuck\'s program \"Heck, let\'s just get them mad, get them together, and let\'s see what happens.\"
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 10:41 AM CDT
i\'ll agree with myself and flint...

this is pointly ya\'ll, a few people can\'t win. A few people are irrellavent. If a few people could have done it we would have won decades or hundreds of years ago. If sponteniety did it we would have won hundreds of years ago, it doesn\'t.

more power to ya\'ll, but to me ANARCHISM IS ABOUT FIGHTING AND ANARCHISM IS ABOUT WINNING.

If we\'re gonna bring down the state and capitalism we gotta do alot better than FNB and ARA. Neither of which holds any potential for building a mass movement. But none of you care.

As one of my leaders in the union says...\"we\'re not playing dominos here...we\'re fighting the fucking class war.\" if you got that you would be thinking like a strategist.

so I\'ll keep doing that...you keep worrying about how to be an anarchist and I\'ll keep worrying about how to build anarchism.
comment by (I)An-ok Ta Chai
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 11:14 AM CDT
I do not find any contradiction between having a solid intellectual foundation, consistency of beliefs and dropping out from the capitalist-statist death machine with building a solid working class movement, fighting organization, and a strategy and programme that can win in the real world. In fact, I see having BOTH of these things as being absolutely essential!

Do you see these two things as being incompatible? If so, why?

I do want a real fighting anarchist organization, Flint, I just want to make sure that the direction that we are going in is not the wrong one. I want to make sure that if we do win, that we do not inadvertantly become something that we despise.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 11:24 AM CDT
Personally, I\'m willing to take the risk of being wrong. If we fuck it up, put a bullet in my head.
Who are we kidding though, if you won\'t do it now, you won\'t do it then. Dropping out ain\'t going to do shit. It\'s a retreat.

It\'s not you or me who should be deciding the direction that we are going in. It\'s the people as a whole. They (and us as part of them) will pick their fights.

Whatever, I\'m not going to argue about it anymore. Either I\'ll see you at the barricades, or I won\'t.
comment by anarchistic tendencies
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 11:43 AM CDT
This whole pseudodebate about organization is irrelevant because you\'ll still be arguing about this when we start revolting. If people tended to nitpick like this, NO revolutions would happen. We would just be a bunch of washed out propagandists planning our own failure. You can\'t apply one model to everything. I suggest the bureaucratic style bickering be left to the Stalinist rather than us.
comment by anarchist super-structuralist
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:13 PM CDT
Flint returns weary from the brutal E-Wars. Committed, more than ever, to evading annoying \"anarchist\" intellectuals and continuing to organize from within his class.

Don\'t worry do-nothings. After the revolution there will still be plenty of meaningless debates to have.

On to the barricades!
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:23 PM CDT
*sigh* Really. if we continue with the current \'strategy\' of opposing some use of formal organization (because they are formal organizations!), some involvement with mass movements (because they are mass movements), we will continue to be irrelevant. We have to acknowledge our failures, our complete and utter failures to actually advance our ideas outside a tiny scene. Atleast partially from our inability to set any kind of realistic goals and organize with anybody other than other folks who come to anarchism through an intellectual path.

We keep having the same debate, again and again. It\'s repetitive and annoying. I\'m going to try to committ to focusing on what I should have been doing more of all along, and less of this never-ending debate. Which means, I\'m going to have less to do with this board.

Serious, we\'ve been debating fucking primitivism and whether democratic decision-making is an unbearable tyranny! What the fuck? I mean what the fuck! Why did I take any of this crap seriously enough to bother with debating about?

Mock me all you want. I don\'t give a fuck about it anymore.

comment by (I)An-ok Ta Chai
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:30 PM CDT
I don\'t want analysis, theory, beliefs, thought and criticism to take the place of revolutionary action. I see the two as having to take place *simultaneously*. One should think and criticize their actions *while* they are doing their actions.

Sure, mistakes will be made. We are all fallible people. There will always be mistakes in theory as well as in action. That is why our theory *and* our action needs to be developed and evolved as time goes on. We need to continually criticize, improve upon, build and develop our theories and our actions. We need to think better *and* act better right now, during, and after the revolution.
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:34 PM CDT
Obviously, NEFAC removed my humor gland too.

I\'m just really annoyed. I went to the picket today for the Olive Branch folks. 36 people (including Indymedia) in attendance. I\'ts going to take a mass movement to actually do something in DC about the housing crisis... a mass movement that can use all kinds of affinity groups, decentralized actions, etc... but you ain\'t going to do shit unless you can mobilize a bunch of folks around the issue. And this is an issue you can actually do something about that with. I don\'t feel like we are living up to our potential because we hamstring ourselves into faulty structures (and they are structures, even if they aren\'t called that!) with little accountability and responsibility. I like the direction May Day DC is going in by being on top of impotant issue, having demands that can actually be met (even though the city is unlikely to willing give in on any of them).

And I don\'t feel like being civil, polite, diplomatic or any of that shit with people\'s ideas are thing are overwhelming wrong and a fucking dead end.

My, I\'m pissy this morning.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:55 PM CDT
More or less, I agree with Flint here. Dropping out to build a dual power strategy based soley on intentional communities isn\'t going to be confrontational because its a petite-bourgoeis strategy, meaning it is a strategy that commoners would have to struggle to afford before they could even concider being a part of it, and because of this, the dual power will only achieve a percentage of the middle class, rather than a percentage of commoner (which is a larger percentage of the total population, concidering the size of the common class). If you are proposing that this strategy work with other strategies, it might make sense, but if not, it will be a long long time before the economics of such a setup would be able to employ large numbers of workers, and Corporate power would have to be taken down a notch in order for such communities to realistically compete so that it could employ enough people that it would actually challege the power of corporate capitalism. However, because corporate capitalism controls the state, it will adjust itself so that such occurances are unlikely.

Intentional communities are a good way to help people, and a good way to live, and also a good way to help fund revolutionary projects, but they are hardly a revolutionary strategy in themselves.
comment by Central Command
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:55 PM CDT
Message Central Command Unit 52345YB-3245

- Begin Transmission -

Flint-borg:

Report immediately to Central Command. You are failing to follow directives. The anarcho-communist group-mind is aware that you are wasting time arguing anarchist principles with middle-class nothings and hippy drop-outs. Report immediately. Your priorities chip is clearly malfuctioning. Your repair order # is RH D7357-U51616-K34667-E57782.

- End Transmission -

comment by working class anarchist
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 12:57 PM CDT
I don\'t understand this.. It looks like this article is arguing for *MORE* organizing, better organizing and more anarchistal organizing. What the hell does it have to do with \'dropping out\' or \'doing nothing\'.

Instead of wasting or fucking time in alienating, giant groups, we should be doing what we do best: being anarchists, fighting the state, confronting capitalism, challenging heirarchy. There are a million different ways to do this. I can organize at my job, you can organize in your neighborhood, in the last great forests, or at big demos.

The article simply suggests we do this in a less centralized, less compromised manner. If this is anarchist intelluctulism, then let\'s have more of it.
comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:09 PM CDT
Is that what Chuck from Baltimore said?

I\'m down with that.
comment by Agent 33 1/3
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:11 PM CDT
[YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED]
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:15 PM CDT
Yes. Chuck from Baltimore. Via Foxwoods, via Palm Springs.
comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:18 PM CDT
It was good to see you this morning at the picket. Too bad you couldn\'t come up to the building occupation. That went pretty well.

The important thing to keep in mind is that this is the start of a citywide organizing campaign on housing issues. Yes, it could be argued that people are struggling over housing all the time, but there are more and more of us willing to take direct action and even get arrested if necessary.

I wish that we had had more people today, but it was early in the morning during on a Friday during the August vacation period. Many of the organizers have been tied up with their eviction--I think they should be applauded for going on the offensive with this building takeover. More people will get out on the streets as we continue this fight.

Folks should also know that the Mayor\'s office will be thrown for a loop by this. The mayor and the city council were already feeling threatened by the Olive Branch activists. Remember that the Oilve Branch eviction was ordered by the mayor himself. This is the mayor\'s approach to homelessness and affordable housing: evict people who feed the homeless. This is the mayor who is more popular among white people in the District than folks of his own race. Mayor WIlliams is in bed with the developers.

Ultimately, as any anarchist will tell you, this isn\'t a problem with one politician. All politicians do the work of the rich. And it\'s interesting to hear this morning that the Metropolitan Labor Council is endorsing Mayor WIlliams.

comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:23 PM CDT
Oh yeah, the Mayday DC demands won\'t be met by the city, but they articulate what many housing and homeless activists want to see happen. The turnout didn\'t reflect much of the work that is being done to build allies with other groups working on these issues. One of the challenges is to overcome the turf fights between community groups.

The city is actually feeling the heat and seems to be willing to grant some concessions. Bork told me yesterday that somebody came out of City Hall and asked her what they could do to make her go away.

;-)
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:33 PM CDT
chuck from baltimore, foxwoods, palm springs is now anarcho-bolshevik...and don\'t forget it
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:44 PM CDT
we need to make sure that the revolution will happen.

it will only happen if we organize enough folks. end of discussion.

everyone wants thanksgiving dinner, no one wants to cook it.
comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 01:53 PM CDT
Damn, straight!
comment by john
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 02:00 PM CDT
\"PS to John: No members of the Curious George Brigade have ever been members of NYC DAN or ACC, though we have done support work for their actions, most notably through legal/court support.\"

Ok, that explains why I saw you at a few of those meetings with a calculator. I guess you were counting man hours wasted. I jumped to the wrong conclusion. Sorry for the slander.

Still, I don\'t see anything wrong with a federation of affinity groups so long some of the things you complain about, call it a superstructure and de facto hierarchy doesn\'t emerge. It doesn\'t have to emerge. Good open organization can prevent that, and it is entirely up to the participants to prevent that.

Now if you lend support from time to time to mass mobilizations, that strikes me as participating in the mass mobilization. You have just defined for yourself how you will participate. That\'s good.

Now there may be times when being federated with other affinity groups with whom you hold a high level of agreement is very useful and practical, and the only way to get certain things done. I think you say as much in your essay somewhere.

Being in a federation and preventing all the worst things from emerging is better than standing outside and waiting for bad things to happen so you can point your finger and say \"I told you so.\"

It is difficult to prevent the worst things from emerging when a coalition contains all manner of authoritarian groups, liberal groups, and would be superstars.

That\'s all the more reason to have a federation of anarchist affinity groups for those times for those tasks when something larger than an affinity group is appropriate, is needed.

I\'m all for affinity groups that stick together and do the work that needs to be done. However, just as an affinity group is better for certain things than an isolated individual, so to is a federation of affinity groups better than a single affinity group for some stuff. It\'s a matter of fractal scaling from person to group to local federation to regional federation. Things can go wrong on any level. I wouldn\'t be a afraid of a federation of autonomous affinity groups. That\'s very useful provided the individuals within it have their heads together.

comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 02:03 PM CDT
I\'m really glad to see this article from my buddy Curious George Brigade. I think they put into some words several things that need to be said about organizations.

But you know, I\'m going to knock everybody off their chair and say that I think we need radical organizations like NEFAC, ACC, Ruckus and local unions. I think that some of the more dysfunctional of these groups need some changes, but I think that these changes are minor and could easily be implemented. I think the most important change that organizations need to make is to be more laid back about people\'s personalities. Just because somebody says the wrong thing, doesn\'t mean that the organization needs to grin to a halt, put them through therapy in the group, or eject them from the organization.

Cause, you know, if you had regular working class non-activists in these organizations, you\'d be purging them all the time for the violations of your narrow activist political correctness.

The main reason why I think we need organizations around is because we\'re up against alot, folks! We need everything we can muster against the capitalists and statists and racists. If some people want to be members of radical organizations, then good for them. See, we don\'t have a lot of time to effect radical change on this planet. We have 20-30 years, tops, before the envrionment is so fucked up that we\'ll be living in some kind fo Mad Max, dystopian world, if we survive at all. When millions, if not billions, are starving, they won\'t give a shit about the debates we had within our movements in the early 21st century.

I think we need to have these debates and discussions, as long as we can find ways to work together despite our differences. What\'s the point of winning won of these arguments, when pro-capitalist propaganda fills the airwaves?

One of my best friends is in jail right now, so excuse me if I go quiet over the weekend.
comment by B rad
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 02:22 PM CDT
Ok, now take the amount of time you spend reading and replying to infoshop.org news threads per day add it up for the week and compare it to the amount of time you\'ve spent working on organizing actual projects.

Ok, now take the amount of time you spend talking to other \"anarchists\" about \"anarchism\" per day add it up for the week and compare it to the amount of time you\'ve spent working on organizing actual projects.

Add these two numbers and you have your total number of \"hours traveled away from the reality\" (or \"anarchy hours\") for the week.

(kind of just a joke arrr... strike anywhere flame bait)
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 03:38 PM CDT
Oh, really not in mourning? Please come to the northwest... I doubt you\'ll have such a problem here...
comment by FlAmE bAiT
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 03:44 PM CDT
My God, Chuck0, 36 people! Things are going well in DC... you must be doing something right!

P.S. You really should take that vacation...
comment by Flint
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 04:24 PM CDT
This ain\'t Chuck0\'s thing. Though Chuck0 is now doing alot of support work for it. Mayday DC is a spin off of Olive Branch. They are doing good stuff. Stop being an ass.

http://www.infoshop.org/maydaydc/index.html
comment by
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 04:27 PM CDT
Hey flint you are not alone.there are people on *your side*.Maybe not in America but in the rest of the world...;)
comment by middle-class white intellectual
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 04:54 PM CDT
anarcho-bolshevik shows that his name isn\'t just a joke. So called anarchists that believe in these faulty and outdated ideas of a mass populace uprising have no clue as to how post-industrial society functions, they have no clue as to how society can be organized decentrally, and they often exhibit the worst traits of the people they supposedly are against.

\"we need to make sure that the revolution will happen.\"

Who is this \"we?\" How exactly do you define revolution? I will not be part of your revolution. We are already in a revolution. Twice a week, six of us meet for an anarchist reading group. We discuss the texts and comment on them. That is revolutionary, not your supposed \"worker\" revolution. Ignorant people that have no desire to learn are never going to be revolutionary. All violent revolutions have either failed or become corrupted. We need a revolution of the mind.

\"it will only happen if we organize enough folks. end of discussion.\"

People can organize themselves. Your petty mantra of \"organize, organize, organize\" is cry of a failed strategy. You should be reading, studying discussing and developing a strong new theoretical view of the world. Your old washed up paradigms are as irrelevent to today as Popper was after Kuhn.

\"everyone wants thanksgiving dinner, no one wants to cook it.\"

This statement needs little comment except to point out your obvious racism. Clearly you will never understand how such a reference supports the plightof indigenious peoples. I work with a native amerikkkan and I couldn\'t imagine saying something this inappropriate. You are a callous fool.


comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 05:37 PM CDT
Yikes, I am back from Europe for all about two days and already I want to go back...

So, the argument from this essay seems to point to the fact that anarchists are entirely incapable of organizing outside of small, isolated affinity groups, or else we will inevitably be replacating the worst aspects of the State (hierarchy, buearucracy, etc).

So, those of us who actually believe in revolution (i.e. the radical transformation of society on a LARGE-SCALE) are clearly wasting our time, because the organization required to pull off such a feat (i.e. organizing with LARGE groups of people) seems to be entirely incapatable with our anarchist ideals.

To me, this essay reads like a model peice of writing for Marxist-Leninists to exploit in order to paint the anarchist movement as an absoutely hopeless pipedream. Nice work.

comment by Amoeba
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 05:41 PM CDT
What all these anarchist opinion pieces do is create a super-structure of anarchist thought. Most often these opinion pieces include the phrase \"As anarchists we need to...\" I guess everyone should just follow along because it\'s the anarchist thing to do.

As good a news source as infoshop.org is it does alot to create group think and divisions with these opinions.

The internet connects, but it also centralizes.

The best thing is to find a solution to a problem then act on it. If it takes mass organzing, do it. If it takes small, temporary, loose-knit groups, do that. There is no one way to do things. Only the right way to solve the problem at hand.
comment by (I)An-ok Ta Chai
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 05:47 PM CDT
Why does it always have to come down to a dichotomy of large vs. small? Why can\'t we have BOTH?

Why not have thousands upon thousands of autonomous little small groups, that when you add them all together, you have large-scale?

Why not be creative and incorporate the best of BOTH sides, instead of sticking with a constrictive small/large duality?
comment by (I)An-ok Ta Chai
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 05:52 PM CDT
\"it will only happen if we organize enough folks.\"

\"Organizing\" is not good just by itself. There are many different kinds of organizing out there, so you need a qualitatively *distinct* form of organizing.

Capitalist and Statist organizing doesn\'t do it. Neither does \"anarchist\" organizing that leads to capitalist or statist results. We need a completely new and unique form of \"organizing\" that by-passes all the authoritarian bullshit.
comment by not in mourning
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 06:00 PM CDT

What do you mean? You have too many \"leaders\" (ergh) or not enough?

:)
comment by MWI
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:20 PM CDT
Perhaps. At least jokes can be enjoyed. Workerists are miserable all the time. The sad thing is that you choose to de-humanize yourselves by congregating in unnatural interpersonal formations.
comment by MWI
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:23 PM CDT
You\'re so angry and frustrated that you don\'t realize that you\'re an outsider, even to yourself. You have embraced your own alienation and all of your vaunted *activism* will forever be tainted by that fact.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:28 PM CDT
Middle Class White Intellectual is a troll...probably doesn\'t even agree with anything s/he is writing, it is obvious bait. I wouldn\'t respond to it.

I wonder if ChuckO would get worn down if we started just reporting trolls instead of taking their shit or taking their bait.
comment by M W I
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 06:32 PM CDT
\"Why not have thousands upon thousands of autonomous little small groups, that when you add them all together, you have large-scale?\"

This is good as far as it goes, but if we just changed our viewpoint a little it would be obvious that this is already practical. If we view all individuals as autonomous, then every time they interact positively, we just need to reinforce it. That way society revolutionaizes itself organically, without the taint of anarcho-bolshevik\'s outsider style of organizing people. He basically wants to force revolution on people. Anarchists need to allow revolution to happen, not invent it. This is the difference between natural processes of nature over the mechanization of current societal models. So 18 and 19th century.

comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 06:48 PM CDT
\"That way society revolutionaizes itself organically, without the taint of anarcho-bolshevik\'s outsider style of organizing people. He basically wants to force revolution on people. Anarchists need to allow revolution to happen, not invent it.\"

How the hell am I an outsider. Seriously anarchists don\'t fucking get it...I AM PART OF THE WORKING CLASS...I WANT TO ORGANIZE MY CLASS...MY CLASS...MY CLASS. Get it yet, I want to organize the working class that I am a part of. How difficult is this people.

And yes, I want to make the revolution happen. If it was just going to happen when enough folks got mad, it would have happened under serfdom or the industrial revolution. It doesn\'t. We have to make it...once again I mean by WE...the working class, and I am a part of that we...get it...not apart from the working class, but rather A PART OF....simple enough for you all.

Revolutions don\'t just happen. Never have never will.
comment by joe schmoe, blue collar nobody
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 06:48 PM CDT
k
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:30 PM CDT
what the hell does that mean. god or goddess or whatever you want to call it...that is some pointless crap. seriously, I\'m not working class...is that what your trying to say. Or I don\'t know who I am...or I am invisible...or I\'m really a women on the inside and need a sex change...or I need to get in touch with my danish-scottish roots...what seriously.

I\'m in touch with the fact that I don\'t like this world. Bosses, landlords, bankers, politicians, rich folk and morons all piss me off to no end. That\'s what I can get in touch with and I won\'t be happy, really happy deep down to the core until they are all gone, wiped off the face of the planet.

then I\'ll be happy, then the goddess can shine her light down on me or whatever, I can eat granola all day and dance merrily around the may pole naked before I run off into the woods to enjoy the true sounds and smells of life...
comment by joe schmoe blue collar nobody
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 06:54 PM CDT
hey sorry about that last one, i screwed up.

elliot, it looks like your pece could use some examples in it. you know i\'m not big on the anti-structure thing but you also picked some pretty shabby networks to site. ARA and FNB? there are hundreds of them, but how often do you hear of any of them? honestly...i only hear of b-more ara, columbus, chicago, and toronto.... no others. i only hear of richmond FNB and hartford. unless i know of some people in those groups, i only hear about the individual chapters if they\'re doing anything and these networks often just dissolve into nothing. both of those networks have defacto hierarchies too.
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:04 PM CDT
i said: \"everyone wants thanksgiving dinner, no one wants to cook it.\"

someoneelse said: \"This statement needs little comment except to point out your obvious racism. Clearly you will never understand how such a reference supports the plightof indigenious peoples. I work with a native amerikkkan and I couldn\'t imagine saying something this inappropriate. You are a callous fool.\"

now i say: you are an idiot. \"obvious racism.\" god, anarchists are worse than republicans. every time anyone says anything that can be taken out of context it will be.
comment by MWI
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:18 PM CDT
\"now i say: you are an idiot. \"obvious racism.\" god, anarchists are worse than republicans. every time anyone says anything that can be taken out of context it will be.\"

Like most racist reactionaries, when frustrated you return immediately to the corrupt declarations of the bloodied judeo-christian tradition. Its funny how you workerist anarchists are always so angry about everything. If you brought a little of the goddess into your life, then you would be a much more centered individual.
comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:19 PM CDT
Thank you, Flint. I\'m doing support work for Mayday DC, which is part of my current \"vacation.\"

It\'s pretty stupid to diss us over numbers, considering what we had to do to pull this action off. I mean, look at what a small group of activists did TWO DAYS after they were evicted from their home. Doesn\'t it encourage you that there are activists who wake up one day with a shotgun in their face and then go and take over a major building two days later?

I overheard one of the local housing activists comment that the turnout wasn\'t that important, given what we did today with the building occupation. There is alot of organizing going on right now among housing and homeless groups in the city. This coalition is NOT being organized by the regular groups of anti-globalization activists.

Mayor WIlliams is clearly threatened by what activists are doing. He was the one who ordered the eviction of the Olive Branch. He understands that his track record on housing issues looks terrible. What\'s more, city council members are ready to cut deals with housing activists. This is what we have accomplished. We are WINNING housing battles in this city.

And it was testimony to our power that the occupation required the presence of a police chopper.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:31 PM CDT
don\'t feed the troll
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 07:51 PM CDT
ok wombat...I\'ll be on your side...since you and I had a good go at it last week.

no more responding to \"trolls\"...
comment by Revolt
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 09 2002 @ 09:09 PM CDT
hahaha...
A revolution of the mind...ha..hahahah.hhahahahahahahahaha...hahahahahahahaahhahahahahaha

Oh man... hahahahahaha... I can\'t breath.. Reading group... hahahahahahahah revolutionary hahaha... we are already in a revolution
comment by blob
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 01:04 AM CDT
Sorry if this seems off topic, but the discussion about the Platform can\'t have any more posts, and since this is about the organization question it might be appropriate here.

The point is not small or large; the point is not quantity (as Chuck0 correctly pointed out in regard to the housing takeover) but quality. The point is to create some projects in the short term that can be built and expanded on in the long term. The point is not to become institutionalized into self-replacation, but instead agitate for ever-increasingly relevant projects that can draw some people in and inspire others to do better. No organization (anarchist or not) can do that by accident--it needs to be built into the consciousness of the people in the organization. It\'s called vision.

As soon as the organization becomes more important to maintain than the needs which it is supposed to serve, it is time to disband that organization, whether it\'s based on a document written by bitter and failed anarchists in exile in 1926 or whether it\'s based on the desire \"to win\" \"the revolution\" (are there prizes for runner-up?) for our class (or gender, or ethnicity, or sexual preference/perversion). If the supposed victory you want is predicated on the rigid lines of polarity between you and your perceived enemies, then you will have \"won\" a world based on hate and destruction. Such nationalist and xenophobic ideologies surely have little place of privilege within an authentically anti-authoritarian vision.

And another thing: all this talk of organizing others to perform some task (like a \"revolution\") assumes that these others are too dumb to figure it out for themselves. Insurrectionary moments that are pre-planned almost always fail; the self-organization of oppressed people struggling for liberation is where true revolutions occur, not in the grandiose plans of cliques of self-selected \"natural leaders\"--I can\'t believe that nobody jumped on that ludicrous term before! Anarchists have the opportunity to be examples to others in how to engage in self-organization to fulfill our needs and desires. When that happens openly, others will become interested--but *not*, I repeat *not* because they want to become good little anarchist followers. They will be interested because self-organized direct action is satisfying, dignified, and it works.
comment by Circuit
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 07:29 AM CDT
Don\'t forget Montreal ARA, LA ARA/PART, Goshen ARA, Phoenix ARA, Aurora ARA, Joliet ARA, etc.

Just because you don\'t hear about all of us all of the time doesn\'t mean we\'re not active.

Circuit
comment by Duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 08:03 AM CDT
Its funny that Baltimore ARA got mentioned as one people always hear about. We haven\'t existed more than a month or so. There used to be East Baltimore ARA but that hasn\'t existed in a while.
comment by joe schmoe blue collar nobody
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 11:34 AM CDT
well, if the networks were tighter, i prolly woulda heard about those chapters. i think i have seen the names of goshen and aurora, but i would have no idea if they were even still active. ara is tighter than FNB tho. maybe that\'s why ARA has mobilizations and FNB doesn\'t.
comment by joe schmoe blue collar nobody
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 11:37 AM CDT
but i guess one could conclude from that last post...sometimes loosely affiliated networks are good, sometimes they suck. sometimes it might be better to have a federation or confederation. oh well...
comment by joe schmoe blue collar nobody
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 11:50 AM CDT
blob, i would love to destroy the middle class by expropriating them and doing away with division of labor. i hate the fact that they exist. i hate my boss, i hate the landlord that ripped me off for, i hate the collection companies. i thinnk they should be put to work removing asbestos and cleaning up nuclear waste. them and all the trust fund kids. that way, the working people who have been getting sick and dying just to provide for their families can take a break.

this idea is based off of \"hate and destruction\" but it\'s still a vision of a positive revolution.

comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 11:58 AM CDT
This is ridiculous. In NEFAC there are somewhere between 100-120 people affiliated, tops (with an active core of probably half that). Relative to the sad state of the anarchist movement in North America, I guess this might make us the largest anarchist group around, but in the bigger scheme of things this is an incredibly small number of people. How, in any rational way, could you consider us to be some kind of unweildy, buearucratic \"super-structure\"?

As far as \"official position holders\", this really has not been a problem, and I think people outside of NEFAC tend to overplay the significance of these positions.

Here\'s the breakdown... We have two groups that deal with membership and collecting dues (one English, one French); one group to deal with international correspondance and networking; a few groups responsible for the various publications we produce (which is currently four); one group to deal with our \"warchest\" (legal defense for federation members); a women\'s caucaus; and we are looking to develop a few different working groups (which will be open to anyone in the federation) for the areas of activity we want to prioritize in our work.

Of all these positions mentioned, there is not one that exists for the sake of unnecessary buearucracy. They are positions that we have democratically agreed to be necessary and desirable for what we want to accomplish as a federation. Beyond that, they rotate between collectives on a semi-regular basis.

As for a constitution, what\'s wrong with that? So we have a few guidelines in place to ensure we don\'t have to continually reinvent the wheel everytime a controversal issue arises. I have been apart many anarchist groups without this sort of basis of affiliation, and have seen my share of them absolutely torn apart over issues that could have easily been dealt with if certain parameters were established in the beginning.

As for draining our resources with little to show, I don\'t, I guess it is debatable, but I think we get alot accomplished and have made a modest impact on the anarchist movement, especially here in the northeast.

If we were really interested in pissing matches, I suppose we could list every single thing we have done in the past year to further anarchism and compare it to any number of affinity groups around the continent and see who it is that is acomplishing more. Seems a bit silly though.

comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 12:00 PM CDT

NO there are no prizes for the runners up. And the boss class is my enemy. The boss class fights us, and if we want a change we have to change them. I don\'t know how this is xenophobic or nationalistic, but it sure the hell is classist. I hate the boss class, because they control the world and keep those of us that do all the work from having a good life.

And another thing: all this talk of organizing others to perform some task (like a \"revolution\") assumes that these others are too dumb to figure it out for themselves. Insurrectionary moments that are pre-planned almost always fail; the self-organization of oppressed people struggling for liberation is where true revolutions occur, not in the grandiose plans of cliques of self-selected \"natural leaders\"--I can\'t believe that nobody jumped on that ludicrous term before! Anarchists have the opportunity to be examples to others in how to engage in self-organization to fulfill our needs and desires. When that happens openly, others will become interested--but *not*, I repeat *not* because they want to become good little anarchist followers. They will be interested because self-organized direct action is satisfying, dignified, and it works.

ok..well thats stupid. It\'s not that people are too stupid to organize, it\'s just that THEY AREN\'T. Most people are apathetic, lazy, disheartended, don\'t know how to effectively organize and feel defeated. It\'s up to those that want to change the world to figure out how to get others out of their present state and into action.

and I\'m not even gonna comment again about natural leaders...if you don\'t think they exist then you\'ve never done anything, been to a meetings, had a job, played feild hockey, or done a play. all social groups have natural leaders.
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 12:02 PM CDT
Hate and anger as well as a vision of a better life is the only emotions that is going to get people to break through their motionlessness.
comment by Anon
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 12:47 PM CDT
this whole discussion makes me sad.

it reminds me why i stay as detached from actual anarchist groups and projects as possible. endless infighting, hatred, or over committment to a single strategy.

we can equally say all methods are a failure based on past and present examples. fine. but when i leave that group or this board and venture back to my job, the world full of propaganda, advertising, filth, none of that matters. it\'s all still there and growing bigger and stronger.

we have differences in approach, we need to learn how to deal with this and fight harder and together. we do not need to be wasting our time arguing with ourselves and pissing each other off.

you might think we have all the time in the world, but we don\'t.
comment by Anon
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 01:01 PM CDT
also, FNB is a great idea, but often the group go no further than providing weekly meals for the homeless. that\'s good, homeless people need good food and without having religion shoved down their throat as often is the case...

however, if all the group is doing this, they are doing the state and capitalists a favor. they are taking care of those who have felt some of the greatest wrath and injustice of their power.

my experience with internal FNB organizing is not much to brag about either. a few people who have the most time and resources tend to dominate the group. not by force, but it just happens. people come and go constantly. it is largely made up of people from the punk scene (not that i\'m dissing the punk scene).

Homes not Jails (and many squatting groups) would be a better example, although I have no first hand experience with any Homes Not Jails groups, but they tend to be a lot more proactive. Not just putting the band-aid on the cut, but engaging in actions that fight against the attacker.

anyway, i\'m not pointing this out to say that these groups should be abandoned or even need to be radically changed, but to pretend one strategy is a complete failure due to some existing and potential problems, while another strategy is perfect because none of its existing or potential problems are mentioned, is....
comment by anti
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 02:47 PM CDT
\"I won\'t be happy, really happy deep down to the core until they are all gone, wiped off the face of the planet.\"

When do the purges begin, comrade?
comment by anothersinkingship
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 03:15 PM CDT
wow, stop being boring and mean. if it\'s working for your collective, affinity group, group of friends, federation, hobby, or organization, then keep on doing it, and share your ideas! (like the cgb through this article) if it doesnt work for you, then it DOESNT mean it\'s WRONG! not everyone wants what NEFAC does, not everyone wants what I personally want, not everyone likes the way that cgb organizes, but that\'s a GOOD thing remember? stop trying to convince each other and just do what you can to help out each other out and stop this crazy machine. we can\'t program the world, and we shouldnt want to! hopefully the capitalists are learning that, maybe we need to too.
comment by Makhno
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 04:28 PM CDT
The debate about structure is one of the most important going on in the anarchist movement these days; but it is also part of a more fundamental conflict between those anarchists who more or less uncritically follow the traditional materialist, political, mass-organizing path, and and those who are trying to formulate a more comprehensive critique that challenges Power in all its forms, both on the social and personal, subjective level. Following the model laid out by John Moore in his article, Maximalist Anarchism (which our resident petty dictator, Chuck Munson, decided was unworthy to be posted on this board), I will refer to the former type as minimalist anarchists, and the latter as maximalist anarchists.

So far in this discussion, the points of view put forth by me, MWI, blob, and An-ok Ta Chai seem to be more consistent with the Maximalist approach, while Duke, Flint, Chuck Munson, anarcho-bolshevik, et al., have their feet planted pretty firmly in the minimalist camp. Of course, all of this is relative, and no such classification is meant to be absolute. The minimalists, as far as I can tell, seem unable to comprehend why a debate about structure is even necessary; almost any type of organization is acceptable to them, as long as they\'re fighting the good fight against capitalism, patriarchy, racism, etc. In fact, they tend to favor large-scale organizations, federations, super-structures, or whatever you choose to call it, because they see this as the only effective means of combatting the global power of capitalism. Speaking from what I consider a Maximalist point of view, I would say that the minimalists have a very narrow conception of what revolution is all about - to me, it is not about replacing one type of power structure with another, but challenging all such structures, since their very existence limits the possibilities for human freedom and creativity.

The more decentralized, small-scale, informal, and non-hierarchical the various revolutionary groups are, the greater the threat they will pose to the New World Order. On the other hand, the more they try to federate, unify, massify, the less hope they will offer of a real, effective alternative to our present society. The enemy cannot be defeated on their own terrain - that of power.

The Maximalist approach offers no hope of quick or easy victories, but begins, as MWI said, with a revolution of the mind. I agree with Chuck0 that the problems facing the world today are grim, but we can place no time limit on revolution, and we can take no shortcuts. I believe that a qualitatively different approach to revolutionary theory and activity among anarchists will yield rich rewards in the long run, as well as making the struggle a hell of a lot more interesting.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 05:10 PM CDT
MWI were diliberate trolling, read what they posted again, it is clear that MWI was purposely fucking with anarcho-bolshevik in particular, and mass organizationalists in general. Very well put together troll too, hitting numerous points ment to create discourse. They could\'ve been a mass organizationalist themselves playing a prank.
comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 05:24 PM CDT
\"The enemy can not be defeat on their own terrain-tht of power.\"

How the heck do we defeat the enemy than? Seriously?

The only way to defeat the enemy to to challange their power with our own. If we don\'t use power what do we use than? Civil disobidence is a display of power. Strikes...power. Rally\'s...power. All actions...power. Dual power...power. If we don\'t use power...what then?

The only real question is whether or not OUR (before I get jumped on, meaning our whole class) power is based on lots of people or a a small militant minority. The answer is simple to me...we need a whole fucking lot of really pissed of people to take down the state.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 05:48 PM CDT
Just to note, ChuckO seems to favor the \"maximalist\" strategy, and has offered numerous critiques of organization. He also did not deny your piece, he simply delayed when it was to be posted.

The troll Middle-class White Intellectual was posting a clear case of outright idealism, something dismissed a long long time ago. The battle is not ideas, but control of power, and a maximalist or an insurrectionist challeges that control, rather than struggles in the realm of ideas. The discussion group is a good strategy to begin with, as it educates people into why we should be revolutionary, and how to do it, but if that discussion group does not move beyond simple discussion, and into the realm of actually challeging power, then it is not revolutionary in the least.

The maximalist suceeds by grouping around affinities and striking, as well as critiquing all stations of power, be it informal or formal. That maximalist suggests that 10 groups of 10 is by far more successful in attacking capitalism than 1 group of 100. This is why I am a maximalist.

Just as well, influencing larger and formal organizations and creating informal groupings from within (but also does not attempt to take over or control the formal organization, opting instead to create small group(s) that agitate for more and stronger action) brings out the potential of the individuals involved and radicalizes the larger group into acting in a more confrontational manner when otherwise it may feel to continue to grow and protect its structure, rather than confront.

comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 05:56 PM CDT
right, many (if not most) informal organizationalists fail to recognize that informal groupings are a form of power. If informal groupings took down the state, they would be the dominant power and they would be the ones that control and dictate society.
comment by blob
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 06:13 PM CDT
Makhno, part of the problem is that not only do the \"minimalists\" not want to talk about the problems of organization, but they don\'t understand the danger of replacating the structures they supposedly fight against because of their narrow and shallow analysis of power. Your might as well be talking about life on Mars.

Anarcho-bullshit, your analysis of \"most people\" being intert and passive, just waiting for smart activists like you and your pals to agitate among them to get them to be on your side is patronizing and totally authoritarian. It is predicated on the idea that the smartest people are--or should be--the most \"natural\" leaders; that voting for them is always based on their ability and past performance instead of the usual grovelling, brown-nosing popularity contests. And your class loyalty sounds exactly like other forms of xenophobic nationalism (just replace the word \"boss class\"--how delightfully archaic--in your rants with \"straights\" or \"women\" or \"blacks\" to see what I mean). I am not saying that bosses and other members of the ruling class don\'t deserve some form of retribution for the perpetuation of the regime of capitalism, but I am more attracted to the ideas put forward by joe shmoe blue collar nobody than to your excessively sanguine \"vision.\"

Ideological demagogues like you scare me; you are the ones at the front of the firing squads screaming \"fire\" after you shoot. The venom you spew at the other anarchists on this site resembles that which you spew about the \"boss class\"; who\'s to say that you wouldn\'t be just as aggressive in suppressing dissent within the ranks of your revolutionary comrades who might be more reluctant than you to dispense with feelings of love and compassion?
comment by Chuck0
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 07:13 PM CDT
I don\'t think that this discussion is any cause for sadness. Folks seem to be staying away from the name-calling and troll-baiting. The fact that anarchists disagree is not cause for sadness. This is a good thing because it shows that anarchy has many different ideas and that there are things under contention. Of course, the debate gets unhealthy when people try to \"win,\" or call each other names, or when people spend all their time on debates.
comment by Duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 08:59 PM CDT
Don\'t waste your time.
comment by Duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 09:13 PM CDT
Makhno,

The argument between organization and non-organization is hardly the most important anything. What are you talking about? Its a non-issue. Either you find something productive in organization or you don\'t. Its fun to argue about, but it doesn\'t mean anything and is unimportant.

I\'m glad you included MWI in your list of supporters. Honestly, I posted as MWI as a sort of lampoon. I tried to make it as wacko as I could, so it would be an obvious joke. The truly sad thing was, that except for HPW, it was a totally believable position to come from and everyone took it seriously. You guys are fuckin\' hilarious. That I could invent some bizarre non-sense as a joke and everyone would believe it and you would claim it as an ally... Wow!

By the way, I sampled some failed anarchism in DC today. The lack of organization allowed the project to be hijacked by the red left and they drove the anarchists out. Thus no productive work is being done and what is being done is in the name of the fucking paper-sellers. Fuckin\' A. Why continue mindless debates over nothing. Just go do something your way. I support you. I will go do something my way. You can choose to support me or not. Anyway you look at it, we\'ll be accomplishing stuff at least. Shit.
comment by verbalgerbil
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 09:27 PM CDT
Maximum verbiage=minimal results.

Small anarchist groups have a lot of the same problems as large groups. People tend to behve the same way no matter what kind of group it is.
comment by Nabat
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 10:06 PM CDT
Well, I don\'t think that the debate is between organization and anti-organization. I\'m of the opinion that all human activity is inherently a form of organization, and that \"organization\" automatically emerges when people get together to work on a specific project.

I personally don\'t know of any anarchists who are against all organization per se - it\'s just that some anarchist groups form over-arching bureaucratic structures with all sorts of institutionalized rules and procedures that are really unnecessary, whereas other anarchist groups are more loose and informal and hence usually function much better.
comment by hpwombat
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 10:29 PM CDT
hahaha, I knew it!!! you are one funny dude duke!!! I laughed when I read the first post. If I wasn\'t a moderator of several groups used to such postings, I could of almost taken you seriously.
comment by duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 10:37 PM CDT
yeah but what happened to my post about the flyers? that one had my side splittin.
comment by duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 10 2002 @ 11:06 PM CDT
wiping out the ruling class is not a purge in the political sense and you know it.

\"wipe out the ruling class? i don\'t know if we can get a decision consensed for that. maybe we can declare the social revolution at the next meeting. right now the meeting is getting long and we haven\'t decided what kind of vegan pizzas we should get for the unity rally.\"

Bah and double-bah!
comment by Makhno
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 01:10 AM CDT
You got me there, Duke. Your made-up position for MWI made a lot of more sense than most of the other stuff you or your minimalist comrades have posted, so it\'s no wonder I was fooled by it.
comment by Makhno
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 06:55 AM CDT
Hey, blob,

It\'s encouraging to see posts like yours; it shows me that there are people who are willing to take the level of discussion among anarchists to a higher level. My advice is not to waste too much time debating with anarcho-bolshevik, though; he\'s never said anything in his posts that is worth responding to. Since Kaiser Chuck Munson has decreed that there will be no new Anarchist Opinion pieces on this board for a while (at least, no controversial ones), why don\'t we move this debate over to the Anarchy After Leftism thread, where I recently posted a couple of interesting articles?
comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 09:27 AM CDT
This is the kind of over-mystification of \"power\" is absolutely useless to anyone but fucking post-modernist academics and other irrelevant eggheads (post-leftists). Yes, power is multi-faceted, and we can theorize day and night about how every possible manifestion of power exists and interacts, but, at the end of the day, who fucking cares?
If people are serious about revolution (and, incidently, I don\'t think a good many \"anarchists\" are), they need to prioritize a challenge to SYSTEMATIC forms of power (the State, capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, etc.). Also, challenging systematic power goes well beyond simply having a comprehensive understanding of the world around us. It requires a MASS STRATEGY, which would not only make revolution desireable for a large number of people (i.e. not everyone, but a clear majority of people... I am whole heartedly for \"purging\" all members of the ruling class out of existence!), but also attainable.

Also, for the argument that people are not, most part, inert or passive, well, they are, have been for years, and if they were otherwise, we wouldn\'t be in the global mess we are currently in. North Americans, on the whole, are priviledged and live in relative affluence compared to a majority of the world. However, this is reflective of our society, and there is nothing inevitabke about it. There will be a time, as there has been many times in the past, when economic, political and social conditions will deterioriate and class polarization will provide furtile ground for social revolt on a large-scale.

The point of organizing today AS ANARCHISTS, is to ensure that anarchism is a leading idea within whatever mass movements and social upheavals develop, so as not to passively allow fascism or authoritarian socialism to triumpth (yet again).




comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 09:38 AM CDT
Where did all this talk of \"maximalist\" and \"minimalist\" approaches to anarchism come from? You realize that, historically, these terms mean something entirely different than what you are using them for, right?

You might want to read up on your history of the Russian Social Revolutionaries (SR\'s), who, as far as I know, used this terminology to distinguish between reformsist and those who wanted immediate revolution, not between people who believe in organization and pseudo-academic eggheads.

comment by anarcho-bolshevik
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 10:27 AM CDT
I agree with MaRK, i\'d have no trouble puring the entire boss class...

and as to your question about would I purge the opposition...I don\'t know...Maybe! It depends if they were hurting the revolution. I know, I know, I\'m a stalinists, I\'m a trotskyist...whatever.

if people are hurting the cause they need to be made irrelevant. I\'ll give an example...

In Hawaii my union is in a huge fight 5,000 members are renegotiating their contracts and the boss is trying to screw them. They\'ve been screwed for years. Making like 8 bucks an hour. Well last year new leadership got in office, that built a strong committee is engaging in direct action and civil disobiedience, and fighting the boss. The old leadership is out of office, but is (the reform slate, HERETICS) and is trying to stop the workers from fighting the boss. Some of his cronies are still in office and trying to keep the fight from happening.

we\'re doing two things, one is trying to organize the old leaders, sergents, his top leaders under him onto our program, the second is we are making him irrelavent. Taking away jobs, titles, positions of those that are of our program. If the organization is carrying out a program and some people in the organization are actively undermining it, than I believe they should have no more power.

ok...now you can call me trotsky!! where\'s the icepick, I\'m ready.
comment by Makhno
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 10:29 AM CDT
Mark,

If you read the article, Maximalist Anarchism, you will see that the author discusses the historical origins of the terms \"maximalist\" and \"minimalist\" in the very first sentence. Check it out; maybe then we can have an interesting discussion.
comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 11:05 AM CDT
Okay, so there is some basis for it. Thanks.
comment by Duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 01:19 PM CDT
Maximalist or minimilist? Hmmm. I wonder which I should be?

On the one hand I could be maximilist and want to coordinate small groups to develop anarchism, and fight against the state, capitalism, patriarchy, racism etc.

On the other hand I could be minimalist and want to work in large groups of members of my class to develop anarchism, and fight against the state, capitalism, patriarchy, racism etc.

Quite the fucking dilemma. Since I already do both, I think I\'ll continue to do so. What was the point of the debate again? Oh yeah, \"all power to the affinity groups.\" hahahahaha.

On a slightly different topic, yes, I\'m for eradicating the boss class. I\'m a little bit at a loss to understand how one can be an anarchist and not want to eliminate the ruling class. Perhaps I\'ve been mistaken, but I am under the impression that this was a basic concept to anarchism. Are folks suggesting that eliminating the ruling class isn\'t something appropriate for anarchists? If I\'m understanding you wrong, please explain what the fuck you are talking about. If I understand you correctly, then you are completely insane.
comment by Duke
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 11 2002 @ 01:21 PM CDT
Wasn\'t it an axe?
comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 13 2002 @ 08:16 PM CDT
Eh, beards are alright. It is muctaches that can fuck off!
comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 13 2002 @ 08:16 PM CDT
Eh, beards are alright. It is mustaches that can fuck off!