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(en) The Red & Anarchist Action Network (RAAN) Praxis #1 Building a RAAN presence in your area

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.kazm.net/)
Date Tue, 27 Jan 2004 13:48:53 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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No sooner had our network decided to form then we had begun
wondering about the practical forms of organization that RAAN
would be using. The absolute primacy of uniting revolutionary
communists and anarchists is a task that demands organizational
forms and attitudes that act in congruence with our post-political
anti-capitalist view of society. More immediately, we have to
recognize the true variety of ideological tendencies comprising
RAAN, and remain constantly adaptable to new involvement and situations.
What we know for sure is that RAAN is capable of more than just
organizing black blocs, and that our revolutionary union of anti-state
communists and anarchists can and should be capable of organizing
long-term regional projects, and greatly strengthening the
anti-authoritarian movement through our involvement. The first step
in this process is to recognize and adapt our mentalities in relation
to the network. Thus far we have seen it as a set of shared
principles that can be associated with under the banner of RAAN -
a series of committed revolutionaries who are willing to act
together under those principles for the mutual benefit of all. This
conception is not incorrect, only incomplete - what remains is for us
to start treating the RAAN tendency as something around which
we can organize practically, a foundation for tangible action in our

As our network grows and communication between local RAAN
groups becomes more widespread and effective, it will be important
for us to become a visibly organized force that is capable of acting
under a common banner, while at the same time maintaining the
autonomy of regional groups. The conceivable benefits of an
organized revolutionary group (on whatever level) cannot be
underestimated. From one individual putting together an anarchist
zine, to a massive RAAN conference involving hundreds of
participants, the concept and ideas of the network can be
successfully applied to any undertaking.

The basic RAAN Principles of Organization are as follows:

1. RAAN is not something you can "join" (formally or informally).
Although in the past we have described ourselves as being
"members" of RAAN, it is in fact more accurate to use the term
"participants". As there is no membership of RAAN - save for
those who are presently working under its name - the network is not
something to join, but rather something you become involved in.
This semantic detail may seem cumbersome, but it is in fact
essential to the way in which we see ourselves as an

2. Although RAAN itself does not have any requirements for
membership (other than adherence to our shared principles),
individual RAAN groups (collectives, collaboratives, affinities,
etc.) may wish to put into place certain organizational procedures
or requirements to more specifically define membership. This will
be especially true of direct action affinities, which would need to
operate alongside a large degree of security culture.

3. RAAN is committed to a fluidity of organizational forms. We
want our groups to be not only flexible, but also open and inviting to
a variety of potential comrades. The exclusive use of collectives,
and especially those which operate off of Platformist principles, is
alienating to entire sections of the anti-authoritarian movement.
Likewise, an affinity may not be the most effective type of group
when it comes to organizing a conference or other event. Ideally, a
RAAN presence would be capable of shifting in and out of several
organizational forms in order to meet different challenges and
organize new involvement. We also generally discourage people
from naming their group an "anarchist collective", as RAAN is a
network comprised of anti-authoritarian anti-capitalists who
identify with a number of tendencies, and not all of us are
comfortable with the label of "anarchist" (or alternatively,

4. Within this general acceptance of all organizational (and
anti-organizational) forms, we expect only that all groups remain
non-hierarchal in their functions, and present egalitarian relations
within themselves that are consistent with our vision of a future
society. An important way of attaining this is the development of
Safe Spaces and Inclusionary Mechanisms (discussed below).

5. In keeping with the needs of a network based simultaneously in
autonomy and collective responsibility, we encourage local groups
to produce literature under their name and the name of RAAN, but
with the shared understanding that no single group can present the
definitive position of the network. Only a collectively-written piece
that has been approved by all of RAAN through consensus can
represent the entirety of our organization.

6. The communications hub of the network has been and in the
foreseeable future will continue to be the Internet. Through the
central website redanarchist.net, local groups and individual
activists can learn about the activities of other RAAN members,
and more easily collaborate on network-wide projects such as the
publication of new journals or position papers. It will be important to
develop other means of communication, and regional groups are
encouraged to set up individual mailing lists and pursue unique and
mutually beneficial relationships with other RAAN

7. As stated in our Principles & Direction, the network "embraces
at its core a true diversity and freedom of tactics. The absence of a
'Revolutionary Programme' leaves the question of accepted strategy
and action to the membership itself", and all members are
"encouraged to involve themselves in a variety of activities that
they feel to be fulfilling towards their political consciousness (and
more importantly, their immediate lives)".


Together and in our revolutionary organizations especially, we have
to come to terms with and combat the totality of oppression in
modern life, and in particular how we ourselves have been
influenced by this society. Sexism, racism (white privilege
especially), homophobia, abuse, ageism, ableism, and other social
forces like these are not abstract concepts, completely subjective
and without a firm basis in reality. There are thousands of ways in
which these prejudices and attitudes manifest themselves in our
everyday lives and relationships, and we have to realize that not
only are we not immune to them in libertarian organizations, but that
those organizations will become utterly useless if they fail to
confront these tendencies.

A "Safe Space" does not necessarily have to be comprised of a
physical location; rather it is a blanket concept and series of ideals
that should be put into place by RAAN groups in an effort to make
themselves more effective. The influence of oppression and control
in our lives is so total that there does not currently exist a
significantly developed dialogue of resistance to it, much less a
system of support for such a development. The principal goal of any
safe space should be to encourage - without censorship or
groupthink - the emergence of revolutionary culture in the form of
interactions and relationships where forces like racism do not exist
or (more realistically) are recognized and dealt with in mature and
respectful ways that can be beneficial to everyone in the group.

Wherever possible, RAAN groups should augment this overall
attitude (which is vague and pointless unless developed
practically) with what we call Inclusionary Mechanisms (IMs) -
the application of Safe Spaces into the actual organizational forms
taken by the group. Obviously, the availability of IMs will depend on
several factors, not least of which is the actual size of the group. In
communities where RAAN activists have organized into more
regimented collectives, it may be easier to establish IMs then it
would be in informal or clandestine RAAN affinities. Regardless,
we maintain that Inclusionary Mechanisms are absolutely vital to
the functioning of the network on a local level and as a whole.
RAAN groups need to be actively involved in deconstructing
oppression in their own domains, and so should set up circles within
themselves exclusively for women, people of color, males seeking
to identify their subconscious perpetuation of patriarchy, etc. These
circles should serve as more than just independent clubs, but as a
series of mechanisms that, working together within the network,
can greatly improve it.

To provide an example of a series of functioning safe spaces, let us
imagine that there has been a sexual assault in a leftist community,
and that it was perpetrated by a male member of that community
against a female member. Such a situation is all too common, and
more often than not there are no preexisting mechanisms within the
group to deal directly with the issue. In a situation where safe
spaces had already been set up for women, there is already a base
of support in the event of such an attack. Voluntary women's only
circles can meet periodically (once a week, for instance) and freely
communicate any feelings of oppression that are present in the
RAAN community (such circles should also be available for people
of color, various sexual identifications/orientations, etc).
Additionally, these circles should not be limited to groups that are
"traditionally recognized" as being oppressed - men's only circles
can be incredibly useful, especially as a collective force to tackle
subconscious patriarchy. The various circles should also meet
together at regular intervals to discuss issues relevant to their
particular concentrations (meetings between men's and women's
circles to discuss gender bias and sexism, for instance). So in a
functioning RAAN community with established safe spaces and
inclusionary mechanisms, the victim of assault could take the issue
to the women's circle, which could then arrange not only for direct
support from outside the community as may be needed, but could
also collectively bring the issue to the attention of the entire group
and begin a discussion related to the explusion and punishment of
the offender.

The building of these dual power functions should be seen as
essential to the functioning of a RAAN presence.


The first step to getting involved in the network is to see if there
are any other members already in your area. Getting in touch with
network membership that's even outside of your immediate
geographic location is also good because it gets you plugged in to
some of the larger network-wide projects, and builds the experience
of what it's like to work with RAAN. Even individually, there is a lot
that can be done with the network, and we hope that this will take
our message deeper into communities that may have a smaller or
more isolated anti-authoritarian presence. If there isn't a RAAN
project already in your town, you may want to start organizing with
the established activist community.

Most areas already have some sort of anti-capitalist presence, and
it is within these circles that one is most likely to find others who
would be interested in forming a RAAN group. At the same time,
RAAN can be most effective by building its reputation in direct
involvement with these groups. If your area sees frequent protests
and black blocs, organize directly on the street to make the bloc
more cohesive and effective. Make RAAN banners and flags to
increase visibility and interest. Draw from the experiences of
RAAN groups already in existence, and ask them for resources that
can help to organize the network in new places.

Especially in areas where most anti-authoritarians seem to already
be entrenched in rigid or sectarian organizations, always maintain
an awareness of those comrades who are alienated or excluded by
them, and try to build an interest in forming an association that
could help combat those problems. RAAN should first and foremost
seek to surpass the failings of the current anti-authoritarian
movement. Organize in communities traditionally ignored by the
anarchist "scene". Look for the often-scattered left communists
and autonomist Marxists, who many times are not made to feel
welcome in anarchist groups, but are integral to the makeup of

Get involved with preexisting anti-authoritarian groups, and present
RAAN as a method through which separate collectives and
affinities in the area (Platformist and non-Platformist, for instance)
can come together to work on projects. You can't expect everyone
to accept RAAN, but they may still help work towards achieving
goals that can add to the network. Organizing these temporary
affinities can be the exposure necessary to show what RAAN is all
about, and may lead toward future activity. A lone individual can
accomplish more if they strive to organize those they can aid in the
accomplishment of their goals.

In an area where anti-authoritarians have not organized themselves,
try calling a meeting to discuss the formation of an anti-capitalist
group, and bring up RAAN's principles as a possible basis for that
formation. The immediate goal of organization is not necessarily to
create a network-affiliated group, but to make our revolutionary
communities more effective.

Even alone, there is plenty that one can do as a member of RAAN.
Our focus on the development and usefulness of groups should not
be taken as neglect to the importance of the individual. RAAN is a
shape-shifting entity, comprised of the activities of a number of
independent participants with varying degrees of dedication to the
concept of the overall network. We wish only to increase the
effectiveness of these individuals - and therefore the network - by
bringing them together wherever possible.


To those wondering what they can do now that they have gotten a
RAAN presence together, the answer is "whatever you want!"

The most immediately helpful function of a RAAN group is its
capacity to serve as a forum for the discussion of explicitly
revolutionary politics and actions. The benefit of this alone cannot
be underestimated in a world where it sometimes seems like only
the authoritarians are organized (or recognized). RAAN is a
collective experience, and we can learn from each other to gain
inspiration for our own activities. Start by thinking locally, and use
RAAN as a vehicle through which to organize bike collectives,
Food Not Bombs, or whatever it looks like your community could
benefit from. Get involved with supporting other autonomous groups
and class war prisoners, which will build involvement and
recognition of the network as a force genuinely interested in
providing aid. Organize speaking tours and places for people to stay
if they are homeless or traveling. Provide full support to worthwhile
projects in the anti-authoritarian community, and consolidate
together to start your own and build the influence of
uncompromising revolutionary anti-politics.

For many the obstacle isn't the lack of unity between diverse
anti-authoritarians, but the lack of activists altogether. Or maybe
it's worse, that there is an adequate amount of anti-authoritarians
for actions, but then a lack of action. Having identified both
problems, we can work on the (anti)politicization of the solution.

For example, disputes at work could lead one to form a labor union.
A boring wall could lead one to put up a stencil. Living by the
freeway might lead you to insights on how to erect a barricade on it,

First, identify the environment to disrupt. Second, disruption.

"The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human
beings, a mode of human behavior; we destroy it by contracting
other relationships, by behaving differently." -Gustav Landauer

The purpose of RAAN cannot be simply to re-state the extensive
work of others, but rather our purpose should be to familiarize
ourselves with solutions to both conscious and unconscious
problems. Subversion is everywhere and needs to be set free. The
solutions are ready-made; all you have to do is to start seeing the

Above all, constantly work to make sure that your RAAN group
does not ossify into an exclusive clique within the local
anti-authoritarian scene. Always remain open to new membership
and continue to push boundaries and organize in ways that others
are afraid to try. Together and under the same banner, we have the
potential to build a vibrant self-supporting network that can
realistically begin to fight for autonomy from the system in some
very real ways.

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