A proposal for a Regional Anarchist Federation

Introduction

Even as many of us constantly engage in struggles to enact our revolutionary politics and ideas in collectives, as individuals, at work and at play, there is often an underlying sense of isolation from broader anarchist activity from which to draw knowledge and inspiration. We feel that this is a severe barrier on our ability to maintain effective struggle or to even propagate a revolutionary, anarchist politics on a larger-scale. We believe a Federation that collectives (and individuals) over the wide distances of this region can align with would begin to solve these problems.

Mostly the feeling that an Anarchist Federation is necessary emanates from a simple desire for solidarity amongst revolutionaries that cannot always be found in our local communities and workplaces. A Federation could provide strong support for campaigns and actions across the region. When organising around similar issues, collectives would gain a greater momentum from being able to share ideas and resources with others from across the continent and beyond. This is not a new idea but we hope that a new attempt can be made at solidifying such possibilities. That is what this proposal is for.

A solid, ongoing federation would help us look after each other. Solidarity with and support for those of us (and also those who aren’t ‘us’), who come under the repressive boot of the state is a crucial aspect of mutual aid and creating an anarchist community and will be an ongoing project for as long as we continue to resist.

Much of what communication currently takes place between anarchists happens on an ad-hoc basis at convergences, which are usually connected to major protests. This activist focus tends to exclude those who, because of family or work responsibilities, geographic isolation, or other reasons, can’t, or don’t want to, attend such events. A federation would enable better communication and ongoing political development. It could be a useful point of reference for people who, for whatever reason, are unable to be involved in collectives but who want to stay in contact or who need support. This would be important in helping to ensure intergenerational continuity so that individuals are able to stay involved and connected to anarchist struggle while being able to pass on their knowledge.

We do not wish to see a federation replicate or ‘override’ networks that already exist. By wanting to organise more explicitly as anarchists we don’t want to become inward-looking, purist or isolated. On the contrary, we hope that if we are more strongly organised, we will be better able to work alongside and be a part of social struggles that do not define themselves as anarchist.

One of the points we’ve discussed frequently is the tension between openness and political commonality. We don’t think it’s necessary or desirable to try to form an organisation of every activist, or even everyone who calls themselves an anarchist, in the region. Without a certain level of shared politics we won’t be able to go beyond talking about what we’re against and begin to talk about, and work towards, what we want. Alternately, we don’t want to define too narrowly a particular type of anarchism. One of the benefits we see of a federation is the possibility that different strands of anarchism can learn more about each other, and that we can further develop both our common and our separate politics. We want as much as possible that our contacts be your contacts, our networks your networks, our resources your resources and that internal strength can be translated into an outward focus.

This proposal is very much a draft. We’re putting forward our ideas in the hope that other people will consider and discuss the idea of a federation, not because we know for sure what it should be like. It was written by a small group of anarchists in Sydney. We’ve been helped a lot by discussion with others from Sydney and elsewhere, from looking at other models and from discussion that happened around previous proposals for a federation here. The people who wrote this are involved in anarchist projects such as Mutiny and the Black Rose Books collective, but it hasn’t been endorsed by these groups.

How we might get from proposal to federation:

Over the next few months, we hope that people will discuss the idea of an Anarchist Federation in their groups, in their cities, through existing forums & through an email list and a blog set up for such discussion.

https://afederation.wordpress.com
Anarchist.federation.discussion@gmail.com

Within the first half of next year we would like to help organise a convergence with the explicit purpose of discussing, and hopefully forming, the federation.

Common politics

The fundamental politics for participation in the federation would be that members:

  • Seek the abolition of capitalism and class society in all its forms.
  • Support an organisational philosophy based on decentralisation, mutual aid and autonomy, and reject domination and hierarchical/authoritarian organising.
  • Oppose all forms of oppression and power over others and recognise that these rarely play out in isolation but are strongly interwoven and connected.
  • Believe that an anarchist society is desirable, necessary and possible. Revolutionary change isn’t going to come from leaders, experts or professional activists but can only come from below: from the collective self-organisation of ‘ordinary’ people.
  • Believe in solidarity across and against borders and are internationalists. We reject the state and all its functions such as the police and military.

Some further points

Here are some more thoughts that we’ve been discussing, and which inform our understanding of what the 5 points mean. These are provided for the purpose of discussion, not to be limits on the basis of federation.

Radical Struggles, Capitalism and Class

There are many different important elements in revolutionary and radical struggle. These include, but are not limited to, class, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, feminism and queer liberation. Some see one liberatory movement – such as the class struggle – as most important, whilst others choose not to create such a hierarchy. We hope that through working together we can discuss these differences in helpful ways.

When we talk about class struggle, we don’t simply mean the actions of the ‘traditional’ blue-collar working class. We recognise that the class composition of today has changed – largely as a product of neoliberal economic policies – and is characterised by conditions of casualisation and precarity. The unpaid and unrecognised labourer, the unemployed, the casually and underemployed, are all integral to revolutionary change. This class is diverse, but interconnected and we realise that all these struggles are affecting the same global capitalist system.

We further understand that capitalism is not just multinational corporations, economic summits or secret meetings of the very rich; it is a social relation and system that is played out and produced in our everyday lives.

Living without Hierarchy

The language of ‘non-hierarchical’ organising can still be used to implement the centralised control of a few. We believe that radicals should create structures that are genuinely decentralised and leaderless. Some frameworks for this include rotating and recallable delegates, consensus-based process and spokescouncils.

Although we may formally understand that racism, sexism, etc are an oppressive part of capitalism we still need to consciously ‘unlearn’ these concrete ideas and ways of social interaction in our own political organising and daily lives. This cannot be achieved by merely writing a paper – we need to create a liberatory culture everyday. That there are many ways of resisting all these forms of oppression is a strength, and we want to find ways of connecting our politics with these struggles.

Some Thoughts on Contemporary Struggles

The struggle against the global environmental crisis is inextricably linked to that against capitalism, and is a significant part of contemporary radical action. Environmental crises will necessarily affect those already marginalised and excluded more than those who are economically and socially privileged. ‘Green capitalism’ is not an answer, and we understand that a truly sustainable society will necessarily be decentralised, anti-capitalist and radically democratic.

We support Indigenous struggles for true sovereignty, dignities and against the theft of land and resources and ongoing genocide. We understand that many modern states were built on a brutal and ongoing colonialism, which continues to be upheld and imposed by police and the military.

Our struggles are internationalist and directed against the nation state. Nationalism and patriotism are barriers that are used to divide and repress ‘ordinary’ people, and prevent our own autonomous self-organisation. Permitted and unpermitted migration is a pivotal part of contemporary capitalism, dividing rich and poor, and the vast bulk of people on the basis of a false nationality. We accept the slogan that “No One is Illegal”.

Direct Action, not Lobbying or Negotiation

We don’t want to negotiate with the representatives of the state or the functionaries of capital. We realise that the dominant global institutions are so intrinsically undemocratic, pervasive and directed by profit-making that lobbying has little or no effect. We see direct action and mutual aid as occurring in many different forms and as the most practical and realistic way of building our power, our autonomy and achieving revolutionary change.

Rough thoughts on structure

  1. When we talk about a regional federation, we are deliberately unclear about where in particular we are talking about. To limit ourselves to Australian borders seems silly: we would like to be open to comrades from Aotearoa and further. On the other hand, perhaps it would be more practical to begin with a smaller geographic region. There has already been some discussion about forming an Asian Anarchist Network as well.
  2. The federation would be horizontal and based upon already existing affinity groups or collectives that choose to align themselves with it. We see this as one way of ensuring a rejection of top-down politics.
  3. We do see there as being some solid requirements for participating individuals and collectives. We believe that there should be some kind of dues structure. This would give us some financial reserve and could be used on, among other things, a publication, jail solidarity and travel expenses for delegates. There would be an e-mail list or a message board for discussion.
  4. Anarchist spaces that already exist, such as infoshops throughout the country, could be supported more effectively. They could link up more frequently, and could provide an alternative space for organizing rather than through establishment-controlled structures like universities or student unions.
  5. A regular publication, either quarterly or biannually, could be produced. We see this as crucial to furthering both internal communication and propagating anarchist ideas to a wider audience. A website could be established.
  6. An annual convergence (that isn’t centred around a major protest) to bring together anarchists from across the region, to strengthen networks, share information and skills and to improve collective campaigns.
  7. Collectives would nominate rotating delegates or spokes that would meet either quarterly or every six months. This would be to further communication and facilitate the better functioning of the federation. We believe these would operate by a consensus-based model, with details to be decided at the foundation convergence.
  8. These people could be a contact point for the federation in their geographical area. A phone tree for urgent contact and discussion would be established.
  9. When there is a cross-over between collective work on certain important issues, federation working groups could be established. For instance this could include an Indigenous Solidarity working group or one against Australian Imperialism. We see collectives across the region working on these issues, and believe that there could be better co-operation and development of ideas. An Outreach working group could be set up to better spread our shared philosophy.
  10. We hope for a safer spaces policy to come out of a foundation convergence and we believe that there should be a grievance committee delegated at each convergence.

Ideas on Safer spaces

We have to talk and think about ways to make the Federation and its events spaces in which we respect and support each other: because this doesn’t just happen automatically. It is everyone’s responsibility to think about how their behaviour and the behaviour of others affect people’s ability to participate and feel safe in a space. We all have to constantly work to ensure our spaces are free from physical violence and sexual assault, from intimidation and discrimination. There will be people involved in the Federation from various backgrounds and with various identities and people will have different experiences of the same spaces. We want to be able to vigorously disagree with each other while still making sure that everyone is listened to and is able to talk.

We want to set aside significant time at the initial convergence to talk about these issues. Any founding document would highlight such concepts as a necessary element of revolutionary struggle. We hope that collectives and individuals will bring concrete ideas and proposals to participate in this dialogue.

Moving Forward

As we have tried to make clear, all parts of this proposal are open for discussion and change. To facilitate discussion over the next few months – hopefully leading to a convergence – we have created a blog and email account. We see the blog as a public forum for discussion while the email would originally be for direct queries/responses/getting in contact. If it becomes necessary we would possibly also look at creating an egroup for more practical matters such as organising a formation convergence.

https://afederation.wordpress.com

anarchist.federation.discussion@gmail.com

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94 Comments

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94 responses to “A proposal for a Regional Anarchist Federation

  1. This sounds highly intriguing – sign me up!

    I’d like to argue for several things straight off.

    a) That the website have an appeals process that is open and includes natural justice. I’ve noticed a couple of ‘anarchist’ websites that behave like virtual nation-states if not feudal monarchies.
    b) That the revolutionary subject’s be God and the state as opposed to capitalism. I see this as mainly a tactical case where God and the state form the weakest supports for predatory capital. If capitalism is described as the main enemy then that makes it easy for enemies to pigeon-hole us as Marxists imho.
    c) That the convergence also have a strong net-based aspect. Au is a big place even for those of us lucky enough to own a motor-bike.

    Hope this is not too premature or presumptuous and all goes well. Bueno!
    Hasta luego los solidarios!

  2. grumpy cat

    Hi comrades…
    Well this is exciting. Whilst I think there is a lot that is very interesting in this document it seems to position the question of organisation within the the parameters of how can self declared anarchists better relate to each other. I think the more crucial question is “what is the relationship(s) of revolutionaries to revolution?” That is “how does organising help generate the development of a vast movement of emancipation and social creativity?”For me revolutions are not the products of the activity of revolutionaries – they arise from both the general antagonisms that constitute the magma of society, and the eruption of unpredictable events that go beyond the social co-ordinates of what was previously believed as possible.

    The old UK groups Solidarity wrote in that

    Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self -activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others – even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

    I think this is a good starting point, and perhaps a thread to be taken up in discussion…..
    rebel love
    dave

  3. juan.castro

    I would be 100% in support of this…

    Just a small thing, I might prefer spending any spare organisational money on investing in technology such as video conferencing to eliminate the travelling component of convergences.

    Even though socially (and perhaps politically) it would be great to actually meet with a significant number anarchists, from an environmental perspective I think we need to begin seeking alternatives to the destructive ‘fly overseas every few months for a conference model’.

  4. Interesting callout…if you’re interested in actually getting this out to Aotearoa anarchist crew, I’d suggest putting it on Aotearoa Indymedia for starters (I’d do it but I’m on dialup and getting too frustrated with it, sorry!)

    The following two articles that I wrote recently might be of interest:

    What is to be done?
    A proposal for an Aotearoa Anarchist-Communist Federation
    http://anarchia.wordpress.com/2007/08/08/what-is-to-be-done/

    Further thoughts on Aotearoa anarchist organisation
    http://anarchia.wordpress.com/2007/08/27/further-thoughts-on-aotearoa-anarchist-organisation/

    Will have another read and a think and maybe write something in response soon.

    In solidarity from the other side of the Tasman,
    Asher

  5. I think the ideas raised here seem sound, balanced and carefully thought through. They do need revision and the eagerness of this proposal for further development appeals to me.
    The Federation would have to be significantly open (supporting all strands of anarchist politics, philosophy etc.) and could only include a non-specific ‘common politics’ agreement for members.
    I don’t think any political movement should make it’s members “believe” anything as a condition of entry or inclusion. However, an understanding of the basis of anarchism’s roots could be reworded and included to provide some commonality of political ideas.
    The individuality of this proposal and most notably it’s structure provides a democratic function and stands for a “different method” for “different ideas.” That certainly is necessary, but the discussion surrounding the method and ideas must provide synergy between the two. Uphold all of the principles of this ideology and this should be a successful Federation. One which I would not be afraid to work with, in formation and beyond.
    Thanks – keep up the good work.

    ttc

  6. grumpy cat

    …..And if the politics are defined as “anarchist” does that mean non-anarchist anti-state anti-capitalists such as myself (if I had to have a label it would be “communist”) have to sit this one out?
    rebel love
    Dave

  7. Ana

    Kia ora whanau

    This is awesome and a great close to a busy year for us all. Here’s to organising, educating & agitating then. Meeting and talking together is great, it builds trust and bodes us well for the struggles we face in the Pacific, now & in the future. Kia Kaha Tatou

    Nga Mihi
    Ana

  8. Sancho

    Just a thought, isn’t an anti-state, anti-capitalist an anarchist? what’s the difference?

  9. grumpy cat

    Sancho wrote

    Just a thought, isn’t an anti-state, anti-capitalist an anarchist? what’s the difference

    I guess that’s the point. There is smattering of comrades in Australia who have political stances that are largely compatible with anarchism yet don’t see themselves as anarchists nor do they desire too. Personally I would call myself a communist because intellectually it has been communist writers who have influence me the most. Will this matter?

    I hope that answer is no, and that cooperation will be based on substance and not labels…….
    rebel love
    dave

  10. RE the term communist – I prefer libertarian-socialist for pragmatic tactical realist reasons that should be self evident.
    Even if there is a consensus that socialism and communism are near enough to be the same thing I would argue, at the risk of sounding offensive ,for ‘ product differentiation’ between us and communists at this stage. Not that there’s anything wong with communism!
    Now about that appeals process…is this mainly an advocacy/ theory/ circle jerk thang, or is their room for a little devlish activism here?

    Perverted itchy and scratchy inquiring mind wants to know.

  11. Sounds really good.
    Much support from me here. I passed this onto crew, as well.

    Love,
    Tea.

  12. Lumpen

    There is smattering of comrades in Australia who have political stances that are largely compatible with anarchism yet don’t see themselves as anarchists nor do they desire too.

    I’m guessing that would be more of a decision for the individual rather than a federation; chances are, you wouldn’t join an explicitly anarchist federation or group if you’re not an anarchist and didn’t like the constitution.

    Have the people who drafted this given any thought to what individuals wanting to join could do? For the record, I personally think we need a federation of groups, and interested individuals should be encouraged to join or create one of these groups rather than stay isolated.

    There’s been similar talk in Melbourne of restarting a federation, btw. Sydney and Melbourne might be in sync for once!

  13. frew

    I like the common points for action etc. Although I don’t see ‘class’ as a very effective way to talk about things, if it was a prerequisite to believe in such an ideology, it counts me out. Equally I would be happy to work with Communists etc. (like Dave) as long as we agree on the practicle terms.
    The common politics statement is fine (minus the word class, but I’ll live) as is the outline of organisational structure.
    On the question of individuals, people should be able to join by themselves. Some people live in geographically isolated places and they need to be able to get involved too.

  14. There is a project to organise communication between anarchists in NZ at anarchism.net.nz contact them at aspaceinside@gmail.com

    Chur

  15. Rekov

    Comrades,
    the replies so far seem to bring up a series of points which I believe need to be addressed before we move on to the establishment:
    -what to call it?
    I think that calling it an Anarchist Federation will scare away people who might share similar beliefs, but are unwilling to go by that term for fear of persecution or otherwise. I also believe that, by avoiding a group or movement specific name we will have a broader spectrum of opinions, which I believe will be absolutely necessary if we are to eventually create an agreeable federation.

    I also believe that groups and individual people need to be allowed into the federation. As frew said, people, like me, live in conservative hellholes and are unable to network easily.

    Free Earth!
    Matt

  16. Hi to all

    Like the suggestion, and have one of my own.

    I’d like to suggest that this blog is moved from its present position on the Internet (who owns WordPress or the server on which your blog runs?) to the only independent anarchist server in Oceania (AFAIK) – xchange.

    You can contact me on the above email address. We would love to have you on our server!

    Peace and Anarchy for all!

  17. enzyme.org.nz is an independent anarchist server, although its run through a commercial enterprise in singapore.

  18. what i meant was its free and has https and gnupg etc

  19. What about a yahoo group?
    I’m really sick and tired of all the drivel on GLW.
    Or something like Marxmail?
    Only without a ‘Pope’.

    I’m not sure WordPress is a secure platform – according to Wikipedia it wasn’t last time I looked.

    And if anarchy.org is running this include me out.
    They, along with that Nazi loving little liar @ndy denied me natural justice and displayed rank cowardice when they kicked me out.

    There really need to be guidelines for how this site is run – if we can’t organize that then we can’t organize the proverbial piss-up in the brewery.

    Be-the-change-you-wish-to-see remember?

  20. thoughtful

    Great ideas. It would be good if there were an anti-capitalist egroup. GLW egroup is driving me mad. I, too, think that anti-capitalist or something like that would be better than anarchist.

    I dont see why this cant just be a yahoo egroup. There are no security issues – ie, every egroup is insecure. One of the moderators would just need a back up of subscribers in case they pull the plug for political reasons.

    Also, what is ‘regional’. Is it Aus. & NZ, or the Pacific, or Asia? Or, anyone rich enough to travel to Sydney and Melbourne? I think it should be spelt out.

  21. Princess Mob

    I helped write this thing & I’m really pleased that people are commenting on it. To continue the debate and take up some of the comments:

    On the question of whether it’s a federation for people who call themselves anarchists
    I’d definitely want to organise on the basis of shared politics not anarchist ‘identity’ (for lack of a better word.) This was one of the reasons for trying to articulate a shared politics and not just go ‘yeah, we’re anarchists’. Some people who call themselves anarchists are, frankly, fuckwits. Others aren’t fuckwits, but aren’t people I agree with much about what we mean by anarchism: and then there are people who describe their politics with different words, but who have politics that are a lot more similar and differences that are more productive.

    In response to thingstocome, who said:

    “The Federation would have to be significantly open (supporting all strands of anarchist politics, philosophy etc.) and could only include a non-specific ‘common politics’ agreement for members.
    I don’t think any political movement should make it’s members “believe” anything as a condition of entry or inclusion.”

    I don’t see any reason why a federation shouldn’t consist only of individuals and groups who share a fairly solidly defined common politics. To use the jargon, it’s the principle of free association. I think that in order to help develop our politics and our actions there needs to be a fairly strong political commonality, as well as a mutual understanding of difference. This may make it something that less people want to join – and that’s ok. The important thing to remember here is that the federation can’t be, and shouldn’t try to be, ‘the movement’.

    Of course, as collectives and as individuals, we’ll interact with people and currents and events outside of the federation. But (and this is in response to Dave’s point as well) I don’t think that understanding this is counterposed with wanting to improve communication, organisation and political development amongst those who consider themselves revolutionaries, as long as we remember that this is only part of what we have to do. I think the ideas from Solidarity are really useful in thinking about this.

    Asher – your articles were some of those we discussed while writing this. I found your points about the need for a federation rather than a network particularly useful, and the ideas about diversity / commonality were also things we discussed a lot. I really recommend that other people read Asher’s articles as part of this discussion.

    On structure – While I that a federation of groups would be ideal, I think it’s true that this would be difficult to begin with, especially for people who are geographically isolated, and we should have mechanisms for individual membership to. The question of what region is included really depends on who responds, and who comes / sends a delegate / takes part in another way in the foundation conference, whenever that is held. In the long term, one reason we think it’s important to have dues is so the federation would have momeny to subsidise the travel costs of delegates. Having city/area level federation meeting would also help with this. I disagree with those who say that we should do all this over the web or whatever – I think delegates meeting face-to-face is important. If anyone wants to set up an anti-capitalist egroup they should just go ahead and do so.

  22. Just for info of interested crew,
    there is a bit of a discussion on libcom.org about this at the moment,
    some crew might want to check it out.

    http://libcom.org/forums/oceania/proposal-regional-anarchist-federation-australia-09122007

  23. duckmonster.

    PR, I don’t know the politics of the east, but what did @ndy do to piss you off so much?

    My dealings with him have always been great, and the guys got a mind like a steel trap as far as I’ve seen.

    Whats the odds of trying to put the sectarian squabbles of the past behind? No one heres proposed including the trots, so that wont be an issue.

  24. I’m far less concerned about the past than about a future where we frankly need to get out there and sell our ideas – scorned as they are by Marxists, timewasters and dilletantes – into the broader market.
    If people want the drum on @ndy and the board he manipulated a few years ago they can write me off list. He may be ‘growing up in public’ as I don’t honestly know how old he is, but inmho he is is less a ‘steel trap mind’ than a somewhat more prosaic description mentioned here already beginning with ‘f’ and ending in ‘t’.
    Anyways if people want to get together and talk online in a positive , constructive way then I think we need to set up the machinery that is best suited for that. And as I said that would naturally include a set of protocols whereby we defend ourselves against serial pests, spammers and so on in a way that demonstrates we are serious about natural justice.
    I’m still hearing a lot of rhetoric bordering on bs and no concrete proposals such as usable platforms, open appeals against sliding suspensions and so on. A directly democratic site – you know – as opposed to some herd-like ‘nation-state’ or worse…feudal absolutism.
    yrs etc
    pro2rat@yahoo.etc

  25. ausmensan

    Hi,

    I think this is a terrific idea. There are several issues though, and primarily, imho, would be using the term ‘anarchist’ The term has been wrongfully abused, and is now seen as something dangerous, instead of standing for what we all know it means. How about the use of ‘Libertarian’ instead?

    I would also support the use of online resources for contact, instead of any further additions to the CO2 problem.

    It should also be kept as broad as possible, to avoid splintering into sub-groups.

    The problem I have always found with the concept, is the lack of discussion on alternatives to the current structures in place. How would a free association work in practice without central authority?

    Thanks

  26. Sancho

    OK, we’ve got some mostly decent discussion going on here. Firstly I strongly advocate calling it an Anarchist Federation. The reason why anarchism is so tainted is because we are not organised enough to provide a model of what anarchism is
    when capitalists and authoritarian socialists denegrate the term. If people don’t wish to call themselves anarchists (for whatever reason) but still have no problem with the structure of the Federation then I don’t see how joining will be an issue. I would personally put in a lot of effort into developing a Anarchist Federation but have no interest in being involved in a ‘anti-capitalist’ Fed. It would seem that such a group to me would leave itself open to being ‘stacked’ by Trotskyists and others and therefore being as useless as all their parties. I believe its time that would stand up proud and public about our anarchism and reclaim the real meaning of the word.

    Secondly I am also in favour of having individuals in the Federation as well as groups. I grew up in the country and sure could have used something like this while I was still there. Revolution can’t be restricted to the capital cities (where do you think all the food comes from?)

    And thirdly in response to “Frew’s” statement:
    ‘I like the common points for action etc. Although I don’t see ‘class’ as a very effective way to talk about things, if it was a prerequisite to believe in such an ideology, it counts me out.’
    Any ‘anti-capitalist’ group needs to have class at the forefront of its thought patterns and agenda. Capitalist society is based on class and can’t not be confronted until there is a mass class conciousness. It is the basis of our current society and if anyone can not see this then I suggest you join the greens right now because you will never successfully challenge capitalism without acknowledging this reality

  27. Hi peops,

    Sounds like a great idea. I believe that we need a federation for the oceania area, but first we need functioning locals and regional groups – otherwise it’s a bit of the old “cart before the horse”. Its important to be clear from the start what it is you are creating. If it’s an anarchist federation, then it needs to be anarchist. Having something explicitly anarchist doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of something broader as well. If you’re actually looking at creating an activist network or a “little a anarchist group” (i.e. anti-authoritarian modes of organising, but not necessarily class-anarchist ideology) then I would suggest you make something broader and don’t limit yourself to an anarchist federation. There is also a lot you can do without something formal if that is the case. If its a loose group of people and you can’t necessarily agree on certain things (and with federations it must come from the bottom so if there aren’t functioning groups there then you’ve got a problem) then having shared projects is probably a better idea.

    Personally I’m more interested in anarchist-communist specific federation and have a strategy for working with other anti-authoritarians and activists in general keeping the two seperate and having a specific campaign focus.

    Anyway some comments,
    SImon

  28. sorry – I meant:

    “If it’s a loose group of people and you can’t necessarily agree on things then having shared projects…” such as a website etc instead of a formal structure which may just slow the process of making things happen that don’t require much ideological agreement.

  29. Sancho
    ‘…Any ‘anti-capitalist’ group needs to have class at the forefront of its thought patterns and agenda. Capitalist society is based on class and can’t not be confronted until there is a mass class conciousness. It is the basis of our current society and if anyone can not see this then I suggest you join the greens right now because you will never successfully challenge capitalism without acknowledging this reality…’

    I would argue that if you were serious about tackling capitalism then you would not confine yrself to any ‘class’ analysis at all. You would simply get the f*uck on with attacking capital at its weakest points – God and the state.
    Later for capitalism.
    If you want to wait for mass class consciousness then you may as well be a Marxist imho.

    Now it seems that there is some helthy interest in a ‘broad tent’ anarchist discussion/action group. The anarchist federation downunder. I hope we can get on with creating the list-serve we need to develop this asap and cut the posturing bullshit.

    Otherwise just get a frikkin blog like @ndy the gay Nazi and let the Don Chipps fall where they may.
    Please – thank you – guten harbin.

  30. juan.castro

    @ Professor Rat
    “You would simply get the f*uck on with attacking capital at its weakest points – God and the state.
    Later for capitalism.”

    Religion has been around a lot longer than capitalism. I agree that it needs to go, but not sure how you would go about attacking it in a way that doesn’t alienate the billions of people who identify as religious. I’m also not convinced there is a fundamental and necessary connection between capitalism and religion… Lastly, I’m not sure that an libertarian world-view is consistent with wanting to attack the personal beliefs of others. If on the other hand, by ‘attacking god’ you mean attacking the church and other forms of institutionalised religion (still not something I would personally invest energy in, but probably wouldn’t dismiss either), then please be clearer.

    “Now it seems that there is some helthy interest in a ‘broad tent’ anarchist discussion/action group. The anarchist federation downunder. I hope we can get on with creating the list-serve we need to develop this asap and cut the posturing bullshit.”

    I think there are also quite a few posts supporting a narrower anarcho-communist/platformist view. It has been pretty clearly stated that the co-authors of this proposal desire a relatively narrow organisation “in order to help develop our politics and our actions “. There are plenty of big-tent anarchist forums already imo, this seems to be aiming for something a bit different. If you’re keen to set up a (another?) broad anarchist homepage website then go for it, many of us will probably join that too!

    Oh, another thing: someone can easily be influenced by Marxism and identify as an anarchist. Your belief that anarchism is incompatible with a class analysis belies a remarkably narrow (or shallow?) understanding of the movement, both historically and in the present. In fact, I think one would struggle to be defined as a revolutionary if Marxist concepts were not a big part of one’s world view.

  31. Sancho

    Look don’t get me mistaken. I’m not specifically a ‘class war’ anarchist. I believe in the modern world there is room and even a need for a very broad movement. We need anarcha-feminist groups to challenge the patriarchy that surrounds us, we need eco-anarchists to protect what’s left of the environment so that we’ll have a planet left after the revolution AND we need anarchist/revolutionary worker organisations (CNT, IWW, ASF) to fight the mass exploitation the majority of the population faces in the work place.
    I’m not talking about waiting for a mass awaken of conscience, but rather create organisations that can challenge the concept of capitalist economics in the workplace here and now.

    And Professor Rat, you’re ranting has been going on for years. Calling @ndy a “Gay Nazi” – setting aside the homophobia set in that statement – shows you’re ignorance and warped politics. Quite frankly, if you wanna go mindlessly attacking any symbol of religious or state power without a strong movement to back you up then I say go for it. I’d be happy to see the end of your ranting bullshit. Come up with some cohesive arguments or fuck off.

  32. I used gay nazi term as a descriptive term for @ndy because he acts like one so often. Should he stop I’ll withdraw but he started it. I realize I am hold minority opinions on some issues but if you want to preach to converted and sing to the choir then good luck with a capital ‘f’.
    I only ever attack religion insofar as it props up the state. The worst first. Gilead and Sharia ‘laws’ for example. These are such obvious weak points of capital and far better and more fun to go after than educating the mass worker movement but again this is clearly a minority opinion – so far.
    Getting god out of politics is a process that does have wide support ever since the enlightenment though. And that brings me to Marxism. I see this as a regressive movement in the tradition of Hegel and Plato ( and the dark ages in ‘actually existing’ Marxist regimes) Not much to do with the renaissance let lone the enlightenment.
    I advocate a tactical alliance with social democrats and even xtian democrats against red fascism of the Friedrich Engels- Karl Marx school.
    I admit they saw themselves as revolutionists – but then so do a lot of fascists. Finally I see the platformists generally as acting as a trojan horse cover for entrists from the decaying and decomposing Marxist movement. Federations are one thing – neocon type parasitism is something else entirely. End rant.
    Oh – just one last thing. Why won’t anyone address the moderation process? No one want to do the dirty work?

  33. Ablokeimet

    The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group welcomes the Federation proposal as evidence of Anarchists in Australia thinking seriously about the need for organisation. On the other hand, we have some serious concerns about key aspects of the proposal. We are currently developing a considered response, but I can make a couple of preliminary points in a personal capacity, both of which are drawn from the lessons of the ill-fated Federation of Australian Anarchists in the mid-70s:

    1. A federation composed of groups & individuals won’t work. It has to be either one or the other. You can have a federation composed of groups, which means that individuals have to join a constituent group in order to be a member of the federation. Or you can have a federation composed of individuals, organised into branches. Mixing them up entails a loss of organisational coherence & responsibility. There is a genuine issue with geographically isolated activists, but I believe that is best tackled with the concept of associate membership.

    2. Attempting to have a federation which includes different strands of Anarchism and not wanting “to define too narrowly a particular type of Anarchism” will import into the federation all the internal conflicts of the Anarchist movement. In particular, it will create a massive conflict between those (such as the MACG) who see a class analysis as essential and those who do not. The federation would then become consumed by internal debate and would not be able to act effectively – if at all.

    That said, I think there is much to commend in the thinking of the authors of the proposal and I hope that our formal response will be seen as constructive and useful when it comes in a few weeks.

  34. grumpy cat

    Hi Comrades,
    this is all very interested but I have a feeling that this might soon degenerate like so many new and innovate ideas do – sucked into a vortex of old disputes and fixed positions.

    Perhaps parallel to continuous discussion we need to flesh out concrete processes of consultation and decision; processes that are both wider and more substantial than Internet discussions and are built around actually trying to invent and decide relevant forms of organisation.

    I suggest regional meetings with a consultation collective the travels from each one; and a a big get together around MayDay / 40th anniversary of the Mai68.

    rebel love
    dave

  35. G C, you said exactly what I was thinking.

  36. Princess Mob

    Though I think this discussion has mostly been interesting & useful, I agree that actually meeting & talking & trying to work with each other is really important. However, as beautiful as meeting on Mayday would be, it might be easier for many to attend if the big meeting is on a national long weekend, ie Easter (March 21-24.) This still leaves 3 months for existing collectives to respond, and for regional meetings.
    (I’m also not sure what a travelling ‘consultation collective’ would do & how it would be constituted. If you mean that a small group travels to each of the regional meetings I worry that this could start to collect information & influence within those few individuals rather than broadening their flow, & I think that writing up reports of each meeting could be a simpler way to communicate what happened.)

  37. @professor rat – what about Christian Anarchists? Tolstoy, Gandhi, Jaques Ellul, the Catholic Worker movement etc. etc.

    Perhaps Bakunin is a bit anachronistic on this point? Are not the Anabaptists often cited as proto-Anarchists? I agree with Bakunin that the God hes talking about must go but I’m not sure that that God is the only one.

    Harry

  38. While I might be prepared to forgive and forget with @ndy on the basis that he may be well meaning but simply gaffe prone and very, very young ( and green) I will not stand idly by while ‘ablokeimet’ bargearses in here. This rotten creep is a Leninist!
    He has outed himself on Melbourne Indymedia and numerous times at the Leninist rathole ‘Leftwrites’.
    At least the ISM call themselves recovering Trotskyists!
    This is the sort of fascist entrist spam we will have to put up with and tedious as it may be deal with in – if not an anarchist way – at the very least with all of the current broadly recognized procedures for moderation.
    I suggest all fascist spammers ( glw.parramatta is another who ruined Dan Clores list ) be warned and then suspended and then if they don’t change their ways ejected. The moderation would be open and transparent and open to ( off list) appeal and circulate on longstanding revocable, recallable protocols.
    I hope that is what is what GC was driving at even if he expresses himself with such obscurantist obfuscation he even seems to confuse himself.
    As for the ‘God’ deal. Please write to me @yahoo pro2rat or at my pro2 blog on live journal.
    I thought I made it clear that I meant god in relation to the largest and worst capitalist state and its wars NOT generalized religion that is mostly just nutty and harmless.
    Love and rage – pr

  39. March would certainly leave plenty of time to organize it. But personally, I think if that is to be the date, being quite sometime away, a large amount of information is going to need to be spread about the proposal to anarchist groups and individuals so that it can receive as much response, feedback, and grow as big as possible, without fizzling out like so many projects do.
    Perhaps some sort of…paper or something?

    Tea.

  40. Hola,

    I support the creation of an anarchist federation in principle, although I believe a local or regional federation may be a better starting point than a national one.

    Perhaps not.

    I also believe that a federation is ideally comprised of functioning anarchist groups. As such, and because I believe that the proposal regarding the basis for membership — common politics — is basically anarchist, I also don’t object to the proposed federation being designated an ‘anarchist’ one. Note that doing so does not preclude groups belonging to the proposed federation, or the federation as a whole, from co-operating with groups that share a common political perspective or a common goal, whether in an ongoing fashion or in relation to specific projects of limited duration.

    With regards what to do next, I think that it would be worthwhile holding meetings of existing anarchist groups in, for example, Melbourne and Sydney (and elsewhere), and to discuss the proposal face-to-face. It would also be useful for existing groups to formally respond to the proposal, putting their position, and for these to be published here. On which point, I also endorse Chris’s proposal with regards possibly relocating this site to one hosted by xchange, and I would urge those responsible for maintaining it to contact Chris about this if they have not done so already. Finally, I’d also like to thank those responsible for initiating the proposal for taking the time and energy to do so, and look forward to future discussion.

    Cheers,

    @ndy.

  41. grumpy cat

    Hi Comrades
    Hmm…perhaps the idea of a “‘consultation collective” was a bit overblown. What i was imagining was a group that travelled to where there was interest in the proposal to relay information and also to carry out substantive discussions and investigations into what a broad range of peoples’ thoughts and desires on and for the project were.

    I agree with the critique that such a group could then amass a certain amount of power, however i think this is the tendency amongst all permanent organisations. Whilst countervailing practises can be inscribed into an organisations constitution at some level we just have to accept these tendencies and be willing to trust our comrades. Yes we need democratic culture and practices but without informal relationships of comradeship and love – which involve trust – there is little we can do.

    rebel love
    dave

  42. R.M.

    [sent to the email, reposted with permission]

    About the proposal for a Regional Anarchist Federation

    This Federation it cannot be a mixed organisaton of collectives and at the same time individuals, as this will provide chaos and disorganisation. For tactical reasons it must be a Federation of specific collectives or it can be a Federation of branches. If it will be a Federation of individuals it must be a specific one in terms of certain rights and responsibilities of the members. Such an example is the newly re-formed ZACF from South Africa.

    I think there is a negative tradition of the various convergences in Australia during almost the last decade, mostly connected with the organisation of the resistance against big events, such the Summit in Crown Casino in 2000, the APEC recentrly etc. These convergences apart of a loosing meeting between each other they were and are usuful for nothing elese, unless we will set up a specific strategy in terms of resistance and organisation.

    Where are any networks in Australia? Or if there are what are they objectivces, thei aims andprinciples?

    It is a really good idea to organise, but it needs some clear strategy and a solid and coherent anarchist organisation. Also, are there any ideas about the particiption of the anarchists in the trade unions or other community organisations and with what perspectives and aims?

    We do not need an organisation of synthesis, an organisation that will include militants of all tedencies of anarchism… The Federation must be a specific anarchist organisation otherwise will tragically fall after a while. There is also the very negative example of the Federation of Australian Anarchist (FAA) in the ’70s from which we have to draw some lessons

    A Federation of specific anarchist collectives is really different than this mention in the statement of yours: “AWithout a certain level of shared politics we won’t be able to go beyond talking about what we’re against and begin to talk about, and work towards, what we want. Alternately, we don’t want to define too narrowly a particular type of anarchism”. Really? Can you define it clearly?

    More and more in this sentence of yours – “One of the benefits we see of a federation is the possibility that different strands of anarchism can learn more about each other, and that we can further develop both our common and our separate politics” -. are hiding the dreams of having an organisation of synthesis. It seems that we are going to repeat the mistakes of the ’70s.

    Also, the fact that this document/proposal hasn’t been endorsed by Mutiny and Black Rose Books collectives as a whole shows clearly the problematic organisational principles (or the absolute lack of them) on which these collectives have been organised

    Also, why class had been seen in the documet as one of the limited issues? Why all the other issues referred in the document are separated and not connected to the class isuue? A class analysis and a clear class struggle orientated Federation must be the only task towards transforming anarchism in Australia and generally in Oceania or Asia-Pacific from an abstract “beautiful” Liberal and life-style tendency to a “leading” force in terms of theory and practice into the working class movement.
    The todays working class it is deverse, but it is still exists as a class ad therefore we have to engaged primarily in the working class struggle which includes all the so-called single issues.

    This procedure, that is the formation of sush a Federation, is going to be achieved only through the everyday participation of anarchists in the class struggle and not through single issue struggle. To be engaged in this struggle once again we have to form a specific anarchist organisation and not a federation of synthesis. We are not going to federate a hippie type “anarchist” with an anarchosyndicalist or an anarchocommunist with an individualist. There is not reason of existence for such a federation. It will fall apart at once. We have the historical examples, here and internationaly. We must not form an organisation just for the organisation, to say that Ok, we have a federation now”. Yes, but with what programme, analysis and aims?

    In Australia we have not even local anarchist collectives, we have not a movement. We have firstly to form local collectives in the local communities, work places, education areas etc. which have to engage in certain theoretical and practical work, then to organise common actions to see where they agree and where disagree. Then we have to form a federation in Australia and a confederation in the broader georgaphical area. Also, in some countries of Asia-Pacific anarchism is really new and consists only a few groups of youth mainly pre-occupeied with single issus, like punk music, veganism, animal rights etc (Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines etc) and in others we have a strong anarchist tradition in the past (Korea etc). How and in what basis we can federate all of these traditions etc?

    R.M (MACG – personal capacity)

  43. Hola,

    On the Federation of Australian Anarchists (FAA), see ‘The Organisational Platform of the FAA’:

    http://www.takver.com/history/aia/aia00037.htm

    (FAAB, No.4, March–April 1975, Rabelais, Vol.9, No.1)

    and Takver’s site generally for more on the history of one previous such attempt.

    RM’s criticisms seem to revolve around three main points. The first is whether or not individuals, as individuals, should be admitted to the federation. The second is the nature and the extent of the political agreement required of groups potentially comprising an anarchist federation for it to be actually worthwhile forming in the first place. The third and final concern is closely connected to the second, and relates to the centrality of class and class struggle in the federation’s politics.

    As indicated above, I think a federation should be a federation of groups.

    With regards the second point, any statement regarding political principles is necessarily going to include some groups and to exclude others; even the naming of such a federation, and its overall ideological branding, will have this effect. The more pressing question, I think, is to what extent do existent anarchist groups have a shared understanding of what anarchism is, and is this understanding sufficient to allow for a meaningful federation to develop? If nothing else, a proposal to form a federation forces ‘anarchist’ collectives to think seriously, and collectively, about exactly what they mean by ‘anarchism’, as well as to explore the implications this understanding has in terms of developing more formal links with other groups similarly inclined.

    On the question of class, it seems to me to be a core proposition of anarchist theory (that is, ‘anarchism’) that class society can and should be abolished; how class intersects with other economic and social categories, on the other hand, is the subject of some debate. I’m certainly interested in hearing from other anarchist groups — especially Black Rose and Mutiny — how they understand these issues, and I’m committed to the groups of which I’m a member also contributing to this process of mutual understanding.

    Cheers,

    @ndy.

  44. Ablokeimet

    Let’s get two things cleared up straight away:

    1. Professor Rat is wrong to call me a Leninist. I am not & have never been a Leninist. I know where Lenin was right & where he was wrong and, on the issues that fundamentally separate Anarchism from Leninism (i.e. centralism, the Party, the State) I am squarely with the Anarchists. That doesn’t prevent me from appreciating Lenin’s strengths – indeed, it is an appreciation of those strengths that leads me to understand the dangerous nature of Leninism. To defeat Leninism politically, we have to understand its strengths as well as its weaknesses. If everything Lenin ever said was rubbish, he wouldn’t have any followers.

    2. No Anarchist group of which I am a member will join a federation of which Professor Rat is a member.

  45. L.

    On one point from R.M.:

    “Also, the fact that this document/proposal hasn’t been endorsed by Mutiny and Black Rose Books collectives as a whole shows clearly the problematic organisational principles (or the absolute lack of them) on which these collectives have been organised.”

    While I’m not quite sure what’s meant here, I want to make it clear that the proposal was written by a small number of people from these collectives in an individual capacity. We named some projects we’re involved in just so that people reading would have some idea of where we’re coming from. Just as I hope other groups will, we’ll discuss & respond to the proposal in the collectives we’re part of.

  46. L,

    I think RM is assuming that a lack of collective endorsement for the proposal from either Black Rose or Mutiny is evidence of organisational incompetence. That is, because it is individual members of both collectives making this proposal, rather than the collectives themselves, the proposal was put to both but failed to secure the collective support of either. If so, this suggests the proposal is problematic. Or, RM simply assumes the worst: Black Rose and Mutiny operate in the complete absence of organisational principles. Needless to say, this doesn’t follow, but it would be great to hear (read) what the position of either or both collectives is with regards the proposal.

  47. juan.castro

    Hi,

    I would like to throw my support behind RM’s (anarcho-communist?) critique of the insignificance of a class analysis in the proposal. I agree that class is absolutely central to our entire society, and that it underpins (if not totally explains) all other forms of exploitation .

    I’m not totally convinced that the distinction between a federation of individuals or groups is necessary. I doubt that an anarchist from Melbourne who is part of the same federation as an anarchist group in Melbourne would be happy to stay isolated. The option for individuals to join seems to be designed more for comrades who might not have local support, and I’m not sure how that would weaken the federation in any way.

    On the third point, as somebody who is only beginning to identify as am anarchist, I’m interested in RM’s criticism that:

    “To be engaged in this struggle once again we have to form a specific anarchist organisation and not a federation of synthesis.”

    Sounds awfully like the ‘narrow party’ approach advocated by Trotskyists. Not that I necessarily disagree, but I’ve come to believe that my support for some level of organisational unity was relatively right-wing on the anarchist spectrum of things. Does anyone care to explain the difference between “a specific anarchist organisation” and a Leninist “vanguard party” with a unified voice? Or are the differences to be found in their subsequent tactics?

    Cheers, JC

  48. BGM

    To be honest, this criticism is a pretty ridiculous nitpick.

    [quote=andy]I think RM is assuming that a lack of collective endorsement for the proposal from either Black Rose or Mutiny is evidence of organisational incompetence. [/quote]

    Considering that RM is not a member of either BR or Mutiny; nor privy to the discussions of these groups – this is necessarily a baseless assumption (and unnecessarily provocative to boot).

    [quote]
    That is, because it is individual members of both collectives making this proposal, rather than the collectives themselves, the proposal was put to both but failed to secure the collective support of either.[/quote]

    Well the proposal was written by individuals, not as a representatives of any collective. The proposal has never been an ‘official’ document of the Mutiny or BR collectives… so why was it necessary for the people who wrote this proposal to get ‘official’ endorsements from the BR and Mutiny collectives before releasing and discussing what they had written with a wider audience?

    And for those who think this is a ‘significant’ nitpick – the proposal received unanimous support in the last Mutiny meeting.

    xo

  49. BGM

    How do i get quote tags to work?

    Thanks
    xo

  50. BGM,

    I agree with you. I was attempting to clarify what I think RM meant.

    juan.castro,

    The distinction between a federation of groups and a federation of groups and individuals is an important one in terms of decision-making structure.

  51. Lumpen

    It seems obvious to me that the way forward is for interested groups to meet locally and work things out from there. It’s a bit nuts that there are groups floating around Melbourne that aren’t talking to each other. Existing problems will be not be worked out by switching to a national/Oceanic level. Time to settle old beefs, I reckon.

    My bias is toward anarchism, but as long as the principles of liberty, abolition of class, etc., are the basis for federation, it’s hard to see anyone having significant objections. And if they do, fuck ’em.

    Princess Mob: I hear what you’re saying about fuckwit anarchists, but I think that’s an argument against fuckwits, not anarchists.

    BGM: the tag you’re looking for is “blockquote” I think.

  52. BGM

    No worries, i was speaking to RM.

  53. BGM

    [blockquote]BGM: the tag you’re looking for is “blockquote” I think.[/quote]

    Let’s see…

    Thanks but.

  54. BGM

    [blockquote]BGM: the tag you’re looking for is “blockquote” I think.[/blockquote]

    Alright, someone delete this stuff pls ^^^

  55. Barricade, “What We Believe”:
    http://barricade.org.au/?page_id=2

    Some disco:
    http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=68
    (Apologies for crap formatting…)

    Also some further disco here:
    https://bull.anarchy.org.au/viewtopic.php?t=366

    Merry Crassmas,

    @ndy.

  56. Lumpen

    BGM: You’re using square brackets. They’re html tags, so try using triangle brackets. At least, that’s what I can see in the code.

    This is a test, now hopefully we can get back on topic!

    MAC has the federation thingy as an agenda item at the next meeting. See? Stuff is happening.

  57. grumpy cat

    Hey comrades,
    There still seems to me to be a distinction between a discussion on how to form a well functioning anarchist organisation; and one about what kind of organisational activity can actually aid the development of effect emancipatory and autonomous politics…
    I think in practice they will actually be two quite different processes
    rebel love
    Dave

  58. grumpy cat

    Hey, where did everyone go?
    rebel love
    Dave

  59. grrregg

    grumpy cat:
    “Hey, where did everyone go?
    rebel love
    Dave”

    There’s still discussion happening a little on libcom Dave.
    all the best.
    gregg.

  60. biz

    hi!

    is there anyone here from canberra?
    i would like to be involved in this, but am inclined to agree with the argument that the best and probably most effective way to do it is to have network of collectives.
    without getting into that argument too much..
    i’m one of those individuals who would be interested in being part of this, is there anyone on here now from canberra who would be interested in meeting up to talk about forming a canberra anarchist collective to take part in this federation if it happens? i know there is (or is there still?) treason collective already in canberra but am not really in contact with them, however i would be interested to hear what they think too..
    also, canberra is in the middle of an area of nsw that has lot of small towns and isolated areas. if there is anyone from towns or rural areas around canberra who would like to be involved also, i might be able to offer a meeting space and possibly accomodation.
    if there is more appropriate place to make this call-out let me know

  61. grumpy cat

    Hi Biz…as a previous participant in Treason (which i assume still exists in some form) I think i can safely say that an anarchist federation is pretty far away from its politics. You should get in contact with them – really interested and lovely people. Also whilst Treason was never the most active of groups it has made a lot of excellent ultra-left and communist material more available.
    rebel love
    Dave

  62. anarchistfederationdiscussion

    There will be a meeting on Monday February 28 (public holiday) for groups & individuals from Sydney & surrounding areas to discuss the federation proposal & report back from discussions within their collectives. Anyone else who happens to be in town is welcome too.

    1pm

    Black Rose Anarchist Books, 22 Enmore Rd, Newtown (just near Newtown train station.)

  63. count_me_out

    Count me out.

    Too much talk and nothing being done.

  64. BGM

    Somehow i don’t think you will be missed >_<

  65. I think its funny how many people say “to much talking and not enough being done”.
    It seems to be a common tendency of arrogant so-called-anarchists.
    If you want things to get done, why the hell are you helping to do them, or doing them yourself?
    psh.

    I’ll see you all there.

    – Tea.

  66. Common Cause, an anarchist federation based in Ontario, Canada, and formed in September 2007, has some interesting things to say for itself:

    http://linchpin.ca

    Constitution:

    http://linchpin.ca/constitution

    Cheers,

    @ndy.

  67. anarchistfederationdiscussion

    Lengthy minutes from the Sydney meeting are up here:

  68. Jeremy Dixon

    Hi people……..

    Look, the thing is that a federation must be based on shared action. You can’t just say one day “lets start a federation” and then look for soemthing for it to do. If an Australasian-wide federation is wanted then the thing to do is to start some Australasian-wide action, even if very modest, and the federation may flow from that. The questions about the structure of the federation will be answered by the needs of the action. Likewise the question of who should join the federation will be answered by the type of action.

    “Form follows function”……at least it does when things function well.

    Organising such common action, as a beginning, can be carried out on a site such as this.

    And I do have a concrete proposal. ANZAC Day. Every year for the past four years Anarchists in Melbourne have organised a small event of ANZAC Day honouring the Australian First World War anti-conscription campaign spearheded by the IWW. IWW people turn up, so do MACG people and other Anarchists of various tendencies. This could and (in my view) should be carried out throughout Australasia……in NZ of course there was in fact conscription so the nature of the meorial would have to be varied. But the variation would be minor, some of the NZ war refusers were heroic to the last degree.

    Other concrete actions would be possible, obviously, although I think the one I propose would be a good one. But the federation must follow the action in common, not vice-versa.

  69. Jeremy, I disagree to some degree.
    There exists a necessity in Australia for communication between various anarchists groups, to help build the movement, to create stronger and greater networks between anarchists.
    With a federation, we can move forward, and begin achieve this.

    We should not say “this is not being organized through practice, therefor, it is useless”, but instead, we should organize this, and through practice change, and fix it up so that it grows ever stronger and works to the best of its ability.
    So, it still is being organized through practice, but not initially. We have to experiment to achieve something greater: we develop politics through practice, and develop upon those through further practice.
    The same applies for the federation.

  70. Mog

    Jeremy,
    I can see where you’re coming from, but I too am going to have to disagree with you.
    I think that something like this could come into existence in a variety of different ways… organically, like I think you’re suggesting, is one of them, and although it might seem more ‘natural’ and not so much unnecessarily ambitious, I think all that will help to achieve over other methods is an excuse in case it fails.
    An Anarchist Federation could create more incentive for Australia-wide action, especially among those groups or individuals who are otherwise more isolated from larger anarchist action, and could mean the possibility of more meaningful action on their (and consequently all of our) part.

  71. Jeremy Dixon

    Well, a federation which was solely for the purpose of improving communication would be “organic” (to adopt Mog’s usage) because it would arise out of the action we are attempting, to communicate with each other. Such a federation might well be a good idea so long as its modest purpose was clear.

    The old Federation of Australian Anarchists (FAA)was in a practical sense a communication group. It had a bulletin edited on a rotating basis and a yearly conference/gathering. Appropriately for its function it used an inclusive definition of Anarchism and both groups and individuals could affiliate. It nursed the Libertarian Socialist Federation (LSF) in its bosom, and while the LSF bit the nipple so to speak I don’t think that was necessary. More clarity on what function the FAA could reasonably serve might have saved a lot of conflict and ill-feeling. The LSF although now defunct has left a permanent influence on Australian Anarchism, its Jura Bookservice was a precursor of Jura Books.

    I first discovered that I was not the only Anarchist in Australia by reading a comic journalistic report of the 1975 FAA conference, the one by JohnHepworth with an illustration by Leunig, and not just me. So a communication federation is worth doing, it can lead to bigger things. But it is important not to overreach. Unnecessary organization is very dangerous, I believe it is an important principle that organization must be justified in terms of the project it is furthering, not contrariwise.

  72. kuro

    i’m excited about this, the discussion at live and let dIy sounded promising. I think Anarchists/autonomists in Australia should be more connected before we start arguing about the nuts and bolts of organising, and this federation meeting sounds like a good starting point (although short notice).

    I can understand people being wary about where this might head, but i see it as a positive step.

  73. Gabs

    “Some people who call themselves anarchists are, frankly, fuckwits.” – i’ve said this many times 🙂

    The way i’m looking at it is, if you’re curious and hold in common some of these politics.. just come along, even if you don’t like it and just leave, you’re still on a little holiday in Melbourne.

    as for;
    “There are several issues though, and primarily, imho, would be using the term ‘anarchist’ The term has been wrongfully abused, and is now seen as something dangerous, instead of standing for what we all know it means. How about the use of ‘Libertarian’ instead?”

    Naturally the ones who would want anarchy feared would distort it’s meaning(e.g. anarchy in the dictionary)
    We can easily show people what it is.
    We have all the information(200 years worth) at our disposal to do it with.
    We have ways to express it, art of all varieties, music, public forums(that’s a fun idea) and of course the most awesome form – breakdancing.

    People stop being afraid/confused of/about anarchy once you break it down into, without archons. They’re intrigued by it even.
    “no government? you’re crazy!”
    “nah dude, because blah blah abolish this, expropriate that, free agreement, mutual aid.. blah blah”
    “hmm.. that is cool..”

    I think the convergence is a wonderful idea. And i’m sure we’ll easily be able to work out in direct conversation what purpose the federation will serve, and the least of our problems, what to name it.
    How about “BLANK Federation”
    BLANK being an acronym for,
    Babylon Liberation And Nutrition Kollective

    I’m just kidding there. But we ought bicker less on babylon and nutrition, and more on improving communication, support and the liberation of the human race; if you catch my drift.

    May i request of others more information on what might go on at this convergence? what should i bring? tea? candles? pen and paper? a 10 cm tall bike?? a boom box and public enemy tapes?(i am infact bringing this regardless)

    Much peace, love and solidarity.
    xxxxxxx

  74. Pingback: Convergence Call-out « proposal for a regional anarchist federation, oceania

  75. SourDough

    Hey everyone,
    if you do one to get involved organising the conference there is most definitely stuff to be done.

    We have an organising egroup. Yes egroups suck, but there are people from all over the country doing stuff so it’s kinda practical for now. So i guess just send us an email or something.

    cheers,
    S.D.

  76. I’d like to get involved in organizing it.
    Who do I get in contact with?

  77. Shayne

    Ok. A couple of questions.

    First off, I’m a little concerned that the group-federative model might pose some issues in the Western Australian context. The anarchist movement here is quite diverse, and largely NVA green-anarchist (That is I mean primitivist of sorts, however with a strong reading of the notion that all violence is authoritarian) , with some loose Syndicalists, ‘theatrical’ anarchists, individualist anarchists, plenty of young punk-anarchists, some nihilists, autonomists, marxist-anarchists and so on. We’ll never get a platform up here, and thats GREAT. Who needs the brain police.

    The problem however is that much of our little movement is really geographically spread out. Theres a little clan in Albany, some young punk-anarcho kids way out in the hills struggling with the trials and tribulations of being teenage punkers, guys and gals living in various southern forest happy-lands , folks up north working with Indig communities, and so on.

    Whilst concievable one could create a “Western Australian Anarchist federation”, it’d be pretty loose and it would be a challenge to get folks to see eye to eye much on points of solidarity. Its a *very* broad church out here.

    Added to the issue, is that we don’t have an existing Anarchist organising locus here, other than perhaps the “Black Dove collective”. But It has to be noted that Black Dove is NOT an anarchist collective per-se, just one with lots of anarchists, and a consensus based organising methodology.

    I’ll be speaking to some key folks tonight, and perhaps it might be worth my while proposing restarting up the old WA Anarchist Federation.

    But it’d be interesting to see the feedback on how others propose to deal with the challenges. I can imagine the South Australian Crew having similar issues (geography, many different viewpoints)

  78. SourDough

    Oh yeah, the email to get in contact is:
    anarchist.federation.discussion@gmail.com

  79. anarchistfederationdiscussion

    There’ll be a meeting in Melbourne to discuss the proposed federation & the convergence this thursday.
    Thursday 21
    6pm
    RMIT, meet at the students’ association.
    Please come along if you’re in Melbourne.

  80. Which RMIT campus? the one in the city?

  81. T

    sometimes i think us anarchists talk too much and don’t do enough, and that thats really disempowering for us. Can there please be a goal of doing some kick-ass action during this gathering, or creating a concrete strategy for decentralised action stemming from it, not only the goal of creating another organisation/federation/collective…. 😉

    But hey, we may run into the problem i’ve always struggled with working in ‘anarchist’ vs campaign-specific groups; can we decide, commit & follow-through with much more than a cpl of actions around a single issue/target? And if not can our actions still be strategic? hmmmm.

    T

  82. SourDough

    RMIT on Swanston st (near the corner of La Trobe) would be the one. It’s bulding 8, level 3.

  83. grumpy cat

    Hi all,
    I just want to voice that personally I think it would be good not to try to do a “kick-ass action during this gathering” – I would actually like the time to talk with people in depth without having to focus the necessary energy on something else
    rebel love
    Dave

  84. Shayne

    I might add, reading the notes from the live and let diy, that if the federation has a modified consensus for 80% votes, I’ll probably suggest to perth anarchists we opt out.

    Modified consensus is no consensus at all, and notably its a great way to smash down ‘small’ voices, particularly regional ones and ones from little itty bitty cities like Perth.

    I’d rather perth go it alone, if thats the vibes.

    Not starting fights, but just putting that out there.

    Also, Are we going to try and put some work in getting indigenous voices involved? Particularly from traditional mobs. Many of these mob won’t be anarchist per se, but I would have issues with excluding them on that basis.

    Sorry if this is mildly combatitive, but lets get it right so it starts right.

  85. T, I don’t think that’s the case, and think, almost to some extent, anarchists don’t talk, and educate each other anywhere near enough on anarchist theory, etc.
    We need to talk, discuss and organize before we can act in a way that is necessarily going to change anything, or make any real difference.
    (I’m not speaking on behalf of the Fed. here, mind you, just my opinion).

    Shayne, I don’t see, or necessarily understand why people who don’t identify as anarchists, or who don’t hold politics which fit in outlined in the ‘common politics’ section, (or more broadly, even) should be involved in the federation?
    That’s not to say, the A-F shouldn’t work with Indigenous people, on indigenous issues (or any other issues for that matter) – quite the opposite, we should do that. We should struggle side by side with indigenous people, and support them, the same way we would with workers on strike (for example) even if they didn’t identify as ‘anarchists’.

  86. anarchistfederationdiscussion

    There are a bunch of meetings coming up – in Sydney & Melbourne & Adelaide. Keep checking at https://afederation.wordpress.com/upcoming-meetings/ for the details

  87. As it is “Easter” there is always the possibility of discussing “religion” … some folks may want to come out say supporting the social justice buddhists, christians, jews and muslims etc, the “inter-faith” tolerance networks…
    In the wake of the recent anti-Scientology Church events around Australia and the world by “anonymous”
    Surely the anarchists can also consider taking such initiatives and as “oceania anarchist federation” members in Melbourne at Easter focus on one of the many Religious rackets eg Catholic Church hierarchy Arch-bigot George Pell or the broader than Catholic anti-abortion clan who hassle women at East Melbourne reproduction clinic:
    “YOU’RE PRO-LIFE ? THAT’S FINE
    NOW GET ONE AND STAY OUT OF MINE !”

    Like the upcoming “kiss-in” to protest the club that locked out two women for a light pash; with a bit of imagination and effort there can be engagement with the wider “non-anarchist” society through a creative action.

    Like the long running October international day of McDonalds protests initiated by London anarchists
    and the upcoming April international day of squatting & social centre solidarity. Anarchists will be seen and heard at these event in cities all over the planet
    it is just a matter of whether there is the spirit of cooperation coordination to get campaigns as anarchists happening here.

  88. Shayne

    Be careful however with activism around religion. Theres a fantastic movement, and I really should of not forgotten about them, of Christian Anarchists, both in Perth, and around Australia. I believe its quite big around NZ too.

    By and large they are a pretty good mob of direct actionist folk with a genuine commitment to anarchism AND christianity. We’d be remiss to exclude them

  89. Ablokeimet

    MACG Position on proposed Anarchist Federation

    * The MACG welcomes the discussion about a possible Anarchist Federation as a sign that the Anarchist movement in Australia is developing and becoming more serious.

    * We have no objection in principle to a federation. It is the correct way to operate in a single organisation. The key is to know what you are doing and do it correctly.

    * The Anarchist groups have little experience of working with each other and there is little understanding of what politics we have in common. What we will work out at the Conference is only the beginning of what it is necessary to know. We therefore consider that an Anarchist Federation in Australia at the moment is premature.

    * The best outcome that can come of the Conference is to set up a formal network of groups who make a commitment to working with each other with a view to deciding, over the course of a year or two, whether a federation is possible.

    * Any Anarchist Federation must be a federation of groups, not one of groups and individuals. The latter would create major problems in decision-making and be a haven for cranks and destructive personalities. The groups would have to be real ones, with common principles and acting in their own names. Phantom groups for the purpose of admitting scattered individuals would not count. At the most, individuals would be able to participate in the Federation as observers.

    * Any Anarchist Federation must be based on a clear set of shared principles so that its members can be able to come to agreement on how to act. Without a strong set of shared politics, every practical proposal will be the subject of endless argument. This is a recipe for bitterness, division and ineffectiveness.

    * We oppose the concept of a General Union of Anarchists. Instead, we support having a multiplicity of Anarchist organisations, some of them federating and some not. Attempting to unite all Anarchists under the one organisational umbrella would result in the Anarchist movement adopting all the sins of the Leninists. We would become sectarian towards other groups as “competitors”, while we would have a vanguardist relationship to the broader working class. The Anarchist movement should not be resolving its differences behind closed doors and presenting the working class with a “final position” on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Instead, our differences must be argued out in public so that the working class as a whole can pass its judgement on them.

    * Any Anarchist Federation must be based on a clear class analysis. Class is not an “issue” to be put alongside other issues, but a fundamental dynamic of how the world works. The new world will be created by a revolution of the working class, or not at all. Problems such as the oppression of women, racism, homophobia and the destruction of the environment can only be eliminated by the overthrow of capitalism. This does not mean that all non-class oppressions have to wait till “after the revolution”, but rather that it is the duty of the entire working class to fight them here and now. Just as there will be no women’s liberation without workers’ revolution, there will be no workers’ revolution without women’s liberation. An injury to one is an injury to all.

    * A class analysis means a recognition that the power of the working class is based on our ability to stop capitalist production and the flow of profits. The strategic orientation of the Anarchist movement needs to be towards building workplace organisation, for that is where our power is. All other activities should be seen in the light of their contribution to that strategy.

    * The lack of a class analysis leads Anarchists, like it does others, into dead-end strategies. Some of them include parliamentary reformism, lifestylism or insurrectionism. A criticism of lifestylism does not mean that we should not try to live our lives as Anarchists as much as possible in the here and now, but rather that making personal efforts in that direction is not a substitute for a workers’ revolution. Insurrectionism derives, in part, from using class as a badge of identification rather than a strategic orientation for action. The revolution will not be made by making riots against the police, however despicable they are, but through workers taking over their workplaces and defending them against all comers.

    * If, despite our objection, an Anarchist Federation is formed at the Conference, the MACG will not join. Instead, we will establish close relations with its constituent groups with a subjective class struggle orientation for the purpose of having co-operation on shared priorities and helping them deal with the issues that arise. Our attitude to the Federation will be supportive and not hostile. We will not rule out joining the Federation at a later date should it evolve into a form we support.

    Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
    20 March 2008

  90. I know its after the convergence and waaaay too late for the reader, but here’s some thoughts from the other side of the Tasman on what any Fed that may have been formed/be in the process of being formed should be doing:

    ————————

    For revolutionary struggle, not activism

    “We need more people!” “If only there were more anarchists…”

    These phrases and others like them are all too common amongst our anarchist communities across Aotearoa (and no doubt the rest of the world). But in themselves, they betray a fatal mistake in our goals, in how we see our role in moving towards a revolutionary situation.

    An anarchist revolution will not come if we simply seek to convert more people to anarchism. Rather, more people adopting anarchist theory will be a by-product of successful anarchist organising and solidarity. There are a few issues we need to examine in order to best understand the role of anarchists in capitalist society.

    See the whole article on my blog: http://anarchia.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/for-revolutionary-struggle-not-activism/

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