Federation ideas

We are a small affinity group in Sydney who came together to talk about the Federation proposal. We want to say thanks to the people who initiated the proposal and who have been working to organise the convergence in Melbourne. We are excited to be having this discussion and have some ideas and thoughts to contribute, prior to the Melbourne meeting.

We think that the proposal is great and we have a couple of considerations to add, starting with the very term federation. We think it’s important in the convergence that we discuss what different assumptions and understandings there are. Do people think federation means organisation, network or something else? We imagine a federation that is created by the cooperation between collectives and affinity groups, rather than one that acts as an organization seeking to generate cooperation. We see the federation as being a forum for discussion and support internally before we can embark on any national or regional strategy, and recognise that this could take some time.

In terms of common politics we think that our organising spaces should reflect a world we want to create. We believe that important core values in these spaces are respect, and a commitment to recognising privilege and maintaining awareness of how we behave and communicate with each other. And in terms of objectives for the federation we need better and clearer internal communication between anarchists, more local collective organising and support for self-organising.

We’ve noticed there is a bit of discussion about the participation of individuals. Our two cents is that the federation should see collective work as desirable. We should prioritise facilitating spaces for collectives to form, with the aim of generating more collective processes, exchanging experiences and strategies, hooking people up with each other and identifying geographical isolation. The federation could encourage individuals to think about who they usually talk about organising with and to think about starting an affinity group with those people. We think that individuals should be able to participate and it’s inevitable that they will. However, we think that federation proposals should be fleshed out in collective spaces or at the very least between a few people.

We don’t want the federation to become an entity in and of itself but rather the sum of its parts. That is, we don’t want the federation to become some peoples’ project instead we want it to come out of all of our organising. We reckon that collectives can be more accountable. As an example we think that any working groups formed to work on particular projects or issues should be largely made up by the presence of collectives, this could be a rotating person. Also for this reason we don’t like the idea of a dues structure or accumulation of funds without pre-forecast projects. We think it would be better to decide on projects on a case-by-case basis and then raise funds.

The federation should not be endorsed to sign onto anything, make statements or call for actions unless it’s agreed upon at a national convergence. Just like we don’t think anyone should be able to talk in the name of the federation.

We suppose that a federation e-group will be proposed during the convergence. We recognise the importance of efficient communication between groups but have found that e-groups can become overwhelming and defunct. There should be tight subscriptions and the list should function as a virtual spokes council (as all communication in the federation would ideally be). If collectives discuss posts together and nominate a person to respond to a list on a rotational basis, it would dramatically reduce the number of posts while also facilitating more effective communication.

The list would be a useful forum to post proposals and responses to them. Announcements and call-outs should be posted only to the blog. It is important that there is also a forum where people can discuss issues and more personal responses or thoughts, and we suggest that the blog be used for this purpose.

In the interest of security culture we should operate on a need-to-know basis. Any exchanges that are not relevant to everyone else on the list should happen off the list between the people involved. We recognise that we need to be protective of our own, and other people’s personal information and suggest that sharing of contacts should be done at convergences or with people’s permission.

Security culture often depends on assumptions. We shouldn’t assume that we have a common understanding about what our security culture is or should be, but that we should articulate clearly and from the beginning, what we want and how we want to create it in the federation.

In the interest of continuity at each convergence collectives should bring proposals for when and where the next convergence could be held.

Cheers. See yas in Melbourne!

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