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(en) Britain Anarchist Federation (AF) on-line - JOIN THE AF!; AIMS & PRINCIPLES; Why We Want You to Join; Constitution (revised) 2008

Date Sun, 28 Sep 2008 00:00:27 +0300



JOIN THE AF! ---- Membership of the Anarchist Federation is open to all who
agree with our aims and principles* and are willing to work within them. If you
agree with our aims and principles you may apply for membership by emailing the
address below. We will need your name and address to send you information on the
Anarchist Federation. Once we receive your information a member will be in
contact with you asap.

Read: Why we want you to join**. It's also worth taking a look at a summary of
decisions from one of our most recent national meetings (2008)*** and What we
did with 2006****, an account of our activities over one year, and this
Interview with an AFed activist*****, to find out more about the kinds of things
AF members get up to.

Plus: Our constitution contains more information about how the AF is structured
as an organisation and expectations for individual members and groups. To find
out more about the origins of the AF, its history and its politics, we recommend
you read our 10th & 20th anniversary issues of Organise! magazine, and the In
the tradition series of articles.

Please note joining the AF requires a level of commitment. Depending on where
you live you will either join a local group of AF members or, if there are no
other members nearby, join as an individual member. Unfortunately, we cannot
accept membership if you live outside the UK and Ireland. However, if you are
not in UK or Ireland, still get in contact with us as we may be able to help you
find groups in your region. Alternatively, check our links page.

E-mail your membership enquiry with name and postal address to: joinafed.org.uk

--------------------------------------

* AIMS & PRINCIPLES

The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists (based
in Britain and Ireland, but with many contacts overseas) which aims to abolish
Capitalism and all oppression to create a free and equal society. This is
Anarchist Communism.

direct action graphic We see today's society as being divided into two main
opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and
the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism
and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the
rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can
defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.

As the capitalist system rules the whole world it's destruction must be complete
and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it such as working through
parliament and national liberation movements (like the IRA) as they fail to
challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist
system, so although workers struggle within them, they will be unable to bring
about capitalism's destruction unless they go beyond these limits.

Organisation is vital if we're to beat the bosses, so we work for a united
anarchist movement and are affiliated to the International of Anarchist Federations.

Read: our monthly bulletin for news and activism, our topical magazine and
collection of pamphlets to find out more about us.

Find out: how to join the AF in Britain and Ireland, or contact us for more info.

Aims and Principles - point by point
Translations of our Aims and Principles and other AF texts are available in:
Français/French, Deutsch/German, Español/Spanish, Português/Portuguese,
Greek/ÅëëçíéêÜ. Hollands/Dutch, Russian, Gaelic/Gàidhlig, Welsh/Cymraeg,
Esperanto, Turkish

1. The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of revolutionary class
struggle anarchists. We aim for the abolition of all hierarchy, and work for the
creation of a world-wide classless society: anarchist communism.

2. Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the working class by the
ruling class. But inequality and exploitation are also expressed in terms of
race, gender, sexuality, health, ability and age, and in these ways one section
of the working class oppresses another. This divides us, causing a lack of class
unity in struggle that benefits the ruling class. Oppressed groups are
strengthened by autonomous action which challenges social and economic power
relationships. To achieve our goal we must relinquish power over each other on a
personal as well as a political level.

3. We believe that fighting racism and sexism is as important as other
aspects of the class struggle. Anarchist-Communism cannot be achieved while
sexism and racism still exist. In order to be effective in their struggle
against their oppression both within society and within the working class,
women, lesbians and gays, and black people may at times need to organise
independently. However, this should be as working class people as cross-class
movements hide real class differences and achieve little for them. Full
emancipation cannot be achieved without the abolition of capitalism.

4. We are opposed to the ideology of national liberation movements which
claims that there is some common interest between native bosses and the working
class in face of foreign domination. We do support working class struggles
against racism, genocide, ethnocide and political and economic colonialism. We
oppose the creation of any new ruling class. We reject all forms of nationalism,
as this only serves to redefine divisions in the international working class.
The working class has no country and national boundaries must be eliminated. We
seek to build an anarchist international to work with other libertarian
revolutionaries throughout the world.

5. As well as exploiting and oppressing the majority of people, Capitalism
threatens the world through war and the destruction of the environment.

6. It is not possible to abolish Capitalism without a revolution, which will
arise out of class conflict. The ruling class must be completely overthrown to
achieve anarchist communism. Because the ruling class will not relinquish power
without their use of armed force, this revolution will be a time of violence as
well as liberation.

7. Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary
transformation of society. They have to be accepted by capitalism in order to
function and so cannot play a part in its overthrow. Trades unions divide the
working class (between employed and unemployed, trade and craft, skilled and
unskilled, etc). Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental
nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order
to make deals with management. Their aim, through negotiation, is to achieve a
fairer form of exploitation of the workforce. The interests of leaders and
representatives will always be different from ours. The boss class is our enemy,
and while we must fight for better conditions from it, we have to realise that
reforms we may achieve today may be taken away tomorrow. Our ultimate aim must
be the complete abolition of wage slavery. Working within the unions can never
achieve this. However, we do not argue for people to leave unions until they are
made irrelevant by the revolutionary event. The union is a common point of
departure for many workers. Rank and file initiatives may strengthen us in the
battle for anarchist communism. What's important is that we organise ourselves
collectively, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves.

8. Genuine liberation can only come about through the revolutionary self
activity of the working class on a mass scale. An anarchist communist society
means not only co-operation between equals, but active involvement in the
shaping and creating of that society during and after the revolution. In times
of upheaval and struggle, people will need to create their own revolutionary
organisations controlled by everyone in them. These autonomous organisations
will be outside the control of political parties, and within them we will learn
many important lessons of self-activity.

9. As anarchists we organise in all areas of life to try to advance the
revolutionary process. We believe a strong anarchist organisation is necessary
to help us to this end. Unlike other so-called socialists or communists we do
not want power or control for our organisation. We recognise that the revolution
can only be carried out directly by the working class. However, the revolution
must be preceded by organisations able to convince people of the anarchist
communist alternative and method. We participate in struggle as anarchist
communists, and organise on a federative basis. We reject sectarianism and work
for a united revolutionary anarchist movement.

10. We oppose organised religion and religious belief(s).

--------------------------------------

** Why We Want You to Join

We want people to join the Anarchist Federation!

Working together makes us stronger. New people bring new ideas and keep us
fresh. They bring understanding of areas of struggle that we haven’t thought of
before. New members make it possible for us to distribute our propaganda
further. We already produce 2,500 copies of Resistance each month (sometimes
more) – we’d like to double that! We can be more effective when we are involved
in struggles and campaigns. For new members it means meeting with like minded
people, realising we’re not alone and being able to work more effectively as
part of a group project.

If you want to join us, there are a few things you need to know first...

There are two things you need to do

1. Agree with our Aims and Principles - they are published in Organise and
most of our pamphlets. They are also on the web. It's probably best if you've
read Beyond Resistance too as it's something of a manifesto of ours and broadly
represents our collective views.
2. Be prepared to work with us. That's a bit of a variable one. What we mean
is that we aren't interested in having lots of 'members' who don't do anything.
But "working with" is pretty vague, so ... Here's an example of member & group
activities

The Manchester group meets every two weeks. They go out and distribute
Resistance and organise as part of Defy-ID. They occasionally edit Resistance
and group members write for it from time to time. They are also quite active in
the local IWW group. They take an active part in our union meetings at work and
in organising against Academy schools. They're trying to organise a benefit gig
for the G8 campaign and get together a CD to raise money for the Defy ID
Campaign. Some, obviously, do more than others - it's all a matter of what you
can do.

The joining process & the things you can do once you are a member

If you want to join then it's important that you meet someone in the AF first.
That's how we find out if you do basically agree with us and also how you find
out whether you really want to be part of the AF. It's a two way process of
getting to know each other, not an "interview".

Once you are a member you have exactly the same rights as anyone else. That
means you can be an editor of one of the papers (Organise and Resistance), have
a vote when it comes to decisions, can go along to delegate meetings and
conferences and vote (We'll explain what they are in a minute). It means you can
do one of the many jobs we need to keep the AF going. Or, of course, you can do
none of these! It depends on your confidence and skills. However, we really do
encourage new members to take on things.

You can also come to our summer camp and if you want you can work for us at the
various festivals that are on around the summer. We work for an outfit called
the Workers Beer Company at Reading and Leeds and others. It raises most of the
money we need and gets us into the festivals for free with our friends and
comrades. You also get to pay dues! Sadly as we live in a capitalist world we
need money to do stuff. The lowest rate is £16 a year for unemployed people, £24
for those with a job. It goes up depending on how much you earn. We reckon 1% of
wage or salary is reasonable – but obviously people with kids aren’t expected to
pay the same as those without. Finally, you also get to be on our internal email
list (if you want).

How we organise throughout the year

Delegate meetings and conferences are a very important part of our life as an
organisation. As you can gather we have agreed policies and principles. We try
to co-ordinate what we are doing and to work together as well as we can. To do
this we need to meet together to discuss things. We don't have a central
committee to tell us what to do. So once every three months we get together. The
national conference is usually at the end of April. At Conferences we spend some
of the time on routine business, but there is also plenty of time for discussion
of our views and activities. This year the theme will be theoretical and
practical unity. All members should try and get to conferences. We try to make
decisions by consensus, but if that fails we vote. Sometimes we decide that we
need more time to think things over, so we are prepared to wait. It may not
always be fast, but it does mean everyone’s opinions are valued.

National delegate meetings (NDMs) are held during the rest of the year. They are
to allow routine business to take place and decide on day to day matters. We
also try to work in some discussion at these. Conferences last for two days,
NDMs last for one day and we try to hold them in different parts of the country
each time. One NDM is at the Summer Camp, plus there's always a good social
evening (or two) during the annual Conference weekend, so we do manage to mix
'business' with pleasure whenever possible!

If you want any of our pamphlets you can download them off the web, most are on
this site but if you want the real thing let us know and we’ll send them to you.

--------------------------------------

*** Anarchist Federation Summer Meeting 2008

* Anarchism 2009- After the success of the Northern educational it was
suggested that the AF hold a public event celebrating anarchist ideas.
It is going to be a big event with the all encompassing theme of
"celebrating cultures of resistance" both internationally and at home. Speakers
will be coming from across the country (and the globe) to speak of their
experiences in class struggle and the focus of the day will be very much on the
lessons that can be learned from our ideas in practice. The year also coincides
with the 25th anniversary of the miner's strike, the 40th anniversary of the end
of the Spanish Revolution and the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Bogside.
These events will be incorporated as central themes throughout the day. The
intention is to hire out a large venue (enough to give us a cinema space, cafe,
area for stalls and large meeting area) as well as additional seminar rooms for
smaller meetings. Films, music and various other entertainment will be
incorporated into the day as well as the more educational stuff. It will be held
in June as this will also allow us to generate a great deal of publicity for
2009 G8 (and invite some Italian comrades to come over and speak about the
mobilisations).
* Oppose Fascism - Defy ID!- The Anarchist Federation is having a demo on
Friday 19th Sept at the Italian Consulate in Manchester in solidarity with
Italy’s Roma. It's at 11.30am, at 111 Piccadilly Manchester, M1 2HY. Manchester
No Borders and Roma groups in the north-west will attend too. Please come &
bring placards & banners! Full details here.
* Stop the War- The Anarchist Federation agreed to nationally support
Manchester AF & Manchester No Borders joint proposal for an anarchist bloc at
the September 20th Stop the War March in Manchester that coincides with the
Labour Party conference week. See also: AF North website
* Education Workers- The education workers group was convened and decided
to produce a pamphlet/magazine focusing on changes in education and education
work from a libertarian perspective to be distributed to new students and
education workers during “Fresher’s Week”.
* Social Centres- Following publication of an article in What's this Place,
the meeting agreed to produce a pamphlet on the subject of autonomous social
centres with this and other articles.
* Black Flag- The proposal from the Black Flag collective was discussed to
publish and joint-edit a national, cross-federation anarchist magazine.
* Camp for Climate Action- Members will go to this year’s Camp for Climate
Action to participate in camp activities and the day of mass action.
* Stop the BNP- The anarchist federation will support Notts Against the BNP
and Antifa’s call out for actions to oppose the British National Party’s “Red,
White and Blue” festival on Saturday 16th August.
* Constitution- The meeting agreed changes to the AF's constitution.

--------------------------------------

**** What we did with 2006
We attempt to recall the numerous activities of AF members over the previous
year ...

For the libertarian movement 2006 started in late 2005, in Hackney, East London.
When the notoriously corrupt council decided to sell its shops on Broadway
market to millionaire property shark Roger Wratten, they didn’t bother to check
with the current tenants first. Despite having the right to buy his own café off
the council, Tony Platia’s application was (illegally) rejected in favour of the
big money, despite the fact he was even offering more money. In July he was
evicted from the café he had run for 30 years. At this point the local community
took matters into their own hands, and occupied the space – were evicted on the
21st of December – then reoccupied it for a further 2 months! AFers are proud to
have helped slept over on eviction watch, help clean and rebuild and generally
support the campaign: http://34broadwaymarket.omweb.org

At this point France exploded. Mass demonstrations against a proposed youth
employment contract (the CPE) turned into school and university strikes, until
almost all universities in France were out. Direct action was taken daily –
motorways and railways were blocked – and riots became the norm. After a general
strike on the 28th March – the same day a million workers in the UK struck to
defend their pensions - the French government caved in a retracted the law.
AFers went over for the 28th to soak up some gallic flavour and generally drool
over French militancy: http://libcom.org/blog/cpe-france

Throughout the year, AF members were involved in many other international
activities, especially as the current Secretariat of the International of
Anarchist Federations which brings together like-minded organisations across
national borders. Around the IAF Day of Action on March 18th, 600 AF/IAF posters
against the War abroad and at home mysteriously appeared all over London and
Manchester, and London AF organised public meetings around the day. AF general
conference immediately followed, held in central London, with our industrial
policy being a major topic of discussion. After supporting Gate Gourmet airline
catering workers at the end of 2005, AFers took action over pensions in March as
mentioned earlier, held solidarity pickets outside coffee houses for the sacked
Starbucks IWW members in USA, and participated in a picket of JJB Sports. We
have supported the development of the IWW union (there’s a lot of
dual-membership in both England and Scotland) and the launch of a libertarian
education workers network.

For Mayday, some AFers helped organise the Anarchism06 conference at The Square
social centre which was a moderate success, and the anarchist block on the TUC
march in London drew 300-500 people – a reaffirmation of the anarchist
movement’s place in workers struggles.

In mid-June we helped with the Projectile Anarchist Film Festival in Newcastle
and also held a talk about Nestor Makhno. Projectile was a really positive event
which will hopefully continue for many years. The 2007 one will be held on
Friday 18th until Sun 20th May: http://www.projectile.org.uk. On June 25th some
of us helped resist the eviction of the previously mentioned Square Centre in
London. The ‘Festival of Resistance’ was to be the centre’s final event, the
occupants deciding to leave on a high note.

In July London AF group held a joint action with Reading Grassroots Action in
support of Russian comrades arrested at the G8 in St Petersburg. The
Russo-British Chamber of Commerce was occupied for 3 hours. Everyone was
arrested then released without charge – apart from one attempted fit-up for assault.

Rossport Solidarity Camp in the West of Ireland remained a focus of activity,
with some UK members joining Irish comrades at the camp itself during the
summer, organising UK speaking dates for the campaign throughout the year, and
taking part in several anti-Shell solidarity actions: http://struggle.ws/rsc &
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/actions/2006/mayo/

Some AFers went to the Earth First! summer gathering on the Welsh coast. August
also saw the first ‘Climate Camp’ action in front of Drax power station as part
of a week of environmental activity in Yorkshire. The event drew a huge amount
of media attention despite moderate turnout (600 on final day) and seems to have
awakened a new appetite for eco-action in the UK. AFers who took part say it was
good, and will support next camp this summer as well as regional action groups
that have now been set up. On the 25th we produced a special edition and
print-run of Resistance handed out at Leeds Festival, where some members were on
Workers Beer Company duties.

In September we hosted the Anarchists Against The Wall speaking tour in London
and Sheffield. As an anarchist direct action group in Palestine and Israel, AATW
are a seriously interesting outfit. The talks went down very well with Sheffield
raising £300 in donations. For more info on the group see:
http://www.awalls.org. September also saw a joint anarchist block with the
Solidarity Federation and other anarchists on the Stop The War march coinciding
with the Labour Party conference in Manchester. A joint leaflet was also
produced. This hopefully paves the way for more joint work in future – and why
not? Other demos we attended in 2006 included an anti-Academy School demo, and
outside the Mexican embassy against repression in Oaxaca.

Against their better judgment some AFers went to see if the cops really meant
their ban on protests in Parliament Square at the ‘sackparliament’ event on
October 9th. They really meant it. 30 people got nicked by 800 cops and one
journalist was put in a coma by a police baton charge.

As usual we hosted several meetings at the Anarchist Bookfair in London that
took place on October 21th, and participated in those organised by others. Then
on November 25th Nottingham Defy-ID hosted the second national Defy-ID gathering
on how to fight ID cards and databases, which was well attended. AF members are
involved in several of the local groups in this small but active network.

Rounding the year off nicely, London AF held its first club night ‘Just Defy’ on
December 15th. Originally intended to be a benefit for the comrade arrested on
our G8 action, the police scuppered this plan by not submitting any evidence and
getting the assault charge thrown out of court. £100 was donated to Anarchists
Against The Wall and the rest was made available to those arrested at
Sackparliament.

Our Resistance newssheet has come out like clockwork every month, and 2 editions
of Organise! were published – one celebrating the 70th anniversary of the
Spanish Revolution and the other celebrating the AF’s own 20 year anniversary,
the Hungarian Revolution's 50th and the General Strike's 80th. In spring the
second edition of ‘Defending Anonymity’ was published, our free guide to the
hows and whys of fighting ID cards and databases, plus the historical pamphlet
‘Resistance to Nazism’ which recounts the activities of libertarian groups in
Europe during the 1930s. West Midlands AF and the Anarchist Black Cross jointly
produced a new prisoner support guidebook, also listing current anarchist
prisoners. Various local newssheets were produced and distributed. The AF
website was maintained, which provides all of our publications online for free,
and a ‘MySpace’ networking space was set up that now links up over 1000
‘friends’ across the world, together with an excitingly irregular blog. We
contribute to various internet forums, newswires and online libraries especially
through libcom.org but also on Anarkismo, A-infos, and Indymedia. Huge numbers
of posters and stickers were produced in 2006, especially in Manchester and
London. And we did an interview for Freedom newspaper... whilst dodging various
requests from the mainstream media (they couldn’t meet our appearance fee).

Like most grassroots activity, everything the AF does is done voluntarily - we
have no paid workers, or paper-selling targets, unlike political parties. Funds
come from members as annual 'subs' and by members committing effort and time,
dipping into their own pockets, and sharing all this with others! Activism isn't
everything. But being involved in activity and at the same time working in an
anarchist organisation like the AF means we can form the 'politics' of what we
do, say, and write from real world practice. Getting stuck into a campaign and
being involved in struggles that concern us in our own workplaces and
communities informs our understanding of the different issues and the ideas of
the other people involved. We get to share our skills and tactics with others
and learn new ones, hopefully win those struggles, and maybe even meet some
future AF members.

--------------------------------------

***** Organising for resistance - Interview with an AFed activist
Freedom talks to ‘Bob’, a longstanding member of the Anarchist Federation, about
UK’s main anarchist-communist group.

Original posted April 7th, 2007 by Freedom newspaper, in Libcom library.

The Anarchist Federation is growing in membership and involved in a range of
campaigns including Defy ID. Its magazine ‘Organise!’ recently reached its 20th
anniversary issue.

Freedom: Why did you join AF?
Bob: I joined the AF back in 1999. Before that I’d been a member of a council
communist group called Subversion. We’d been going for about 12 years, based
mostly in the Manchester area. We’d come together after the Wildcat group
dissolved itself in 1987. One of our main tenets then had been the need to be
anti-sectarian and work with other like-minded communists.

As time went by we found that the group we had most in common with was the ACF
(AF was previously the Anarchist Communist Federation). We shared views on
trades unions, parliament, national liberation and so on. We held a number of
joint day schools together and organised a couple of summer camps too. I’d
actually wanted us all to join the ACF anyway, but as some of the Subversion
group held to a more Marxist line that didn’t happen. (Most of Subversion’s
material is still online, it’s now on the AF Manchester website).

After the collapse of Subversion, I got on the phone to ACF comrades in London
and said I’d like to join. In the end three of us from Subversion joined, though
one has since left. If we’d joined up earlier, the result would have been a much
stronger organisation which would have had a strong group in London and in
Manchester. Sadly that wasn’t to happen and it took us a number of years to
successfully create a Manchester AF group. Having known and worked with ACF
members for the best part of 10 years, it was a simple move and one I wish had
happened before.

What changes have you seen over the years you have been a member?
Well, we’ve grown quite a lot since then. I think we’ve doubled in size. And of
course we’ve joined up with IFA (the International of Anarchist Federations).
Not so many of the new members are old crumblies like me, either - there’s a
healthy number of young anarchists joining us.

When I joined we weren’t really a federation. There was just a London group and
a load of individuals around the country. Now we have groups in Manchester,
Liverpool, Nottingham, Surrey and we’ve got the makings of groups in a few other
towns too. We’ve just taken the decision to start rotating the editorship of
Resistance around the country. Manchester have produced four issues, Nottingham
are doing the current one and so on. We’ve also taken a collective decision to
involve ourselves in the anti-ID cards campaign. AF members are heavily involved
with Defy ID, for example. We also collectively decided that working together on
solidarity with Rossport was a priority.

One major change has been that a number of AFers have joined the IWW. However,
we haven’t really worked this out yet and haven’t sorted out how it relates to
our attitudes to trades unions, for example. This is something we’ll have to
deal with soon.

Joining IFA has meant that we’ve focussed our international work mostly through
that organisation. I think we’ve recently realised that this hasn’t been wholly
for the good. It has allowed us to let our contacts with the Irish groups slip
somewhat, for example. Since some of us got involved with doing solidarity work
for Rossport we’ve come to realise the need to improve things in that area.
Personally I’ve got high hopes, but we’ll have to see what happens. You guys
ought to do interviews with Organise and the WSM in Ireland.

What do you think the relevance of anarcho-communism is today?
There is still a need for an anarchist communist organisation. Too often the
anarchist scene is incredibly elitist. There are loads of friendship groups
doing things that exclude the participation of working class people. They have
no structures that allow people to join them, no internal democracy that places
everyone on an equal footing. No point of contact for people new to anarchism.
And ultimately no staying power.

Anarchist communism offers a set of perspectives in struggle that maximise the
chances of success - direct democracy, mandated delegates, the right to recall,
mass assemblies and so on. It’s a strategy that builds confidence, rather than
inhibits it. And because our strategy is based on real experience of real
workers in struggle, it brings with it a respect for the people most directly
involved in the struggle. The people at the Rossport Solidarity Camp have found
this. A number of those heavily involved in the camp are anarchist communists
(one’s AF, the others are WSM). They have impact with the local community
because they operate in an inclusive way, they don’t go round saying, “We’re the
activist experts the rest of you watch us in action.”

AF and Sol Fed along with IWW have begun to work more closely together, jointly
creating the Education Workers Network for example. What is your view of this?
Do you think there should be just be one anarchist federation?
Well, as I was one of the movers behind its creation, I reckon it’s a pretty
good idea! We also worked hard in the North to organise the anarchist bloc on
the September 23rd demo at the Labour Conference. We get on pretty well with the
local Solfed people, so it was natural to work with them. You know how big the
anarchist contingent was. We distributed thousands of anarchist leaflets and
copies of Resistance and Catalyst. It is no exaggeration to say that people were
coming up to us asking for the literature. They were interested because there
were so many of us. Mind you, it was exhausting organising it and afterwards all
I wanted was an early night.

One anarchist federation? That’s a tricky one. Ideally I’d say yes. I know it’s
a bit controversial, but I don’t see much difference between the AF and Solfed.
We are basically an anarchist communist propaganda group, so are they. If you
read their pamphlet “The Economics of Freedom”, what you see is an attempt to
work out what an anarchist communist society would look like. There’s little in
it I disagree with. I suppose the biggest problem is that we see the need for a
specifically anarchist communist grouping. I believe that the attempt to create
an anarchist union will lead to the emergence of an anarchist leadership within
it. Freedom published a pamphlet on this some time ago, “The anarchist
Revolution: Polemical articles 1924 -1931: Errico Malatesta'.” It’s worth a read.

But yes, I reckon we could work together. It’d give us a joint federation of
around 150 members. We could really do some good work then. The comrades in
Ireland managed to work out how to do this – the Anarchist Syndicalist
Federation and the AF (Ireland) merged to form Organise. It’s still going pretty
strong. If they can, I guess we could. The problem of course is big fish in
small ponds.

Although AF is growing, most anarchists do not belong to a national federation.
In the editorial of the 20th anniversary issue of AF's magazine ‘Organise!’ you
call for anarchists to take a serious look at organisation. What do you think
the movement needs to do?
It needs to recognise that we are more effective when we work together. We need
to present a non-elitist public face that interested people can communicate with.

The activist scene doesn’t fit this bill. It depends too much on friendship
networks, which are notoriously hard to break into. If people agree with us,
then they should join us. If they agree with Solfed they should join them. It’s
that simple. It’s a question of understanding the need to work effectively in a
sustainable way, not just to feel good about spectacular “actions”.

Can you tell us some of the issues that AF is campaigning on in at the moment?
We’re working heavily on the anti-ID campaign. In Nottingham and Liverpool this
is the main focus of work. We’ve let it slip a little in Manchester, but are
refocusing back to it and will be helping re-launch Defy ID there soon. The
London comrades are basically the secretariat of the International of Anarchist
Federations, which takes up a lot of time, and they do most of the production of
Resistance.

Somehow they find time to go on the streets and do solidarity actions too! Some
of our members are busy setting up or sustaining social centres. Others are busy
in their local IWW branches. Then of course there’s asylum seeker support. The
list just keeps going on. And finally we support our comrades at Rossport and
have organised a number of pickets etc over here and some of us will go over
again when we get a chance.

AF can be contacted at BM ANARFED, London, WC1N 3XX,England, UK or email:
info[AT]afed.org.uk, website: www.afed.org.uk


--------------------------------------

****** Anarchist Federation Constitution (revised) 2008
PREAMBLE
The Revolutionary Organisation

The Anarchist Federation is committed to building an effective organisation
which has a collective identity and works to a common goal: anarchist communism.
However, we believe that such a collective identity must be based on free
association and respect for the autonomy of the individual. We value the
diversity of our members as we continue to develop our ideas in the light of new
developments in the world and from our experiences of struggle.

The Anarchist Federation works for the creation of an international libertarian
communist movement. We believe this movement cannot be created without the
building of a specific anarchist communist organisation. We reject spontaneism,
the belief that before the revolution revolutionary minorities have no more role
than to defend ‘historical communist positions’. Equally we reject the notion
that the revolutionary organisation is the ‘brain of the working class’ or is
its (self-appointed) vanguard.

The revolutionary organisation is the conscious minority of the proletariat
which has come together to express its opposition to class society in an
organised manner. The revolutionary organisation has a number of vital roles to
perform. It must be a propagandist organisation, producing and disseminating on
a national and international basis, analysis of and propaganda against
capitalist society, and for the establishing of libertarian communism. It must
be the memory of the working class, bringing out the lessons of past defeats and
‘victories’ and making them widely available amongst our class. It must be a
forum for debate and discussion between all revolutionary working class
currents. It must strive to understand the developments in our society and
deliver a coherent communist response to them. It must seek to win the
‘leadership of ideas’ within the class, against the challenge of the Left. It
must constantly expose the true role of the social-democratic and
authoritarian-Left. It must be an organisation of intervention, acting in a
co-ordinated and concerted fashion in all areas of working class life, in the
workplace and the community.

The organisation is based on the following fundamental criteria –

Federalism: We are a membership organisation in which individuals join both a
local group and the national organisation. However, the main basis of the
organisation is a federated structure of groups which have joined together to
form a national organisation. The federation develops theory, strategy and
tactics through debate and discussion, aiming for participation of all members
in decision-making such that effective consensus can be reached. The federation
has no centralised decision-making body and all officers work within the
mandates given to them by the National Conferences and National Delegate
Meetings, and are subject to recall. We actively fight against any tendencies
within the federation for hierarchies and inequalities to develop.

Political Unity: The federation is based on a common set of aims and principles.
Members must agree with these aims and principles. We also have a particular
approach to how we organise which is written in this constitution. New members
must also agree to adhere to these principles. In addition, we may adopt
policies and analyses that are the result of discussion and elaboration by all
the members. As these will be developed collectively, it is expected that they
will reflect the views of the whole organisation.

Tactical Unity: The federation seeks to act in a co-ordinated way, developing
strategies and tactics through discussion and debate which members are expected
to implement where appropriate.

Collective Responsibility and Solidarity: Members must not act so as to
undermine the federation but instead must seek to support the federation in
practice and show solidarity for other members.

Free Association and Autonomy: The individual does not subsume his/her identity
into the collective. A member is one who has chosen to associate with others and
retains their autonomy. If a member or group does not agree with policies,
strategies or tactics adopted by the national organisation once they have become
members, then they do not have to implement these decisions and may express
their disagreement. Members may also argue for making changes to the aims and
principles or constitution but this must be the result of a genuine change of
view emerging from new ideas and experiences since their joining the
organisation. When an individual joins, it is expected that they join as a
result of genuine agreement with the political and organisational principles of
the AF. The Federation will be responsible for ensuring that new members fully
understand the aims and principles.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE ANARCHIST FEDERATION

1. STRUCTURE: The AF is a national organisation based on the principle of
federation on which regional/local/workplace/interest groups voluntarily work
together in a concerted manner.
2. MEMBERSHIP: The AF is a membership organisation. A member must agree with
the aims and principles and participate, to the best of their abilities, in the
work of the organisation. Members will communicate with the national
organisation on a regular basis (e.g. by word of mouth, letter, report,
attending National Conference) and should read the Internal Bulletin (IB) and
all national journals, pamphlets and leaflets, and endeavour to attend National
Conference. Individuals shall join through their local group. If no local group
exists they will be registered through the National Secretary.
3. GROUPS: A group shall consist of at least three members. Each group is
autonomous in that it is responsible for its own internal affairs. The group
shall hold regular meetings in the locality and keep in touch with isolated
members in their area.
A group requires two posts;
* SECRETARY: Responsible for receiving mail and answering enquires,
notifying members of meetings and actives, ensuring that members have access to
minutes of meetings and maintaining contact with individual members in their area.
* TREASURER: Responsible for keeping financial records, maintaining
the group’s bank account, collecting dues and keeping financial records open to
the group for inspection. The group should practise rotation and recall.
4. REGIONAL ORGANISATION: Groups shall federate regionally and shall
organise regular meetings attended by group delegates from the region. Regional
organisations will require a secretary. All groups and individual members in the
region will be sent all minutes of regional meetings.
5. NATIONAL ORGANISATION:
* A. National Delegate Meeting (NDM) - The NDM is responsible for
deciding tactics and the general running of the Federation in line with National
Conference policies. The NDM is subordinate to the National Conference. Groups
shall send one mandated delegate for every three members to the NDM.
* B. National Conference: This is the supreme decision-making body of
the Federation. It elects National Officers and decides Federation policy. It
meets once a year. Policy decisions are made on the basis of a simple majority
of the membership. Delegates are represented on the same basis as for NDMs’.
National Conference alone can amend the Constitution and Aims and Principles.
Emergency National Conferences can be held at the behest of a NDM. Non-members
may be invited to attend National Conference as long as they have been proposed
and approved by a NDM. Their names and details must be published in the
pre-conference IB.
6. NATIONAL OFFICERS: The principle officers of the Federation will be the
National Secretary, National Treasurer, Internal Liaison Officer, Publications
Officer, Anarchivist, Librarian, Computer Network Secretary, Prisoners Liaison
Officer, Internal Education Officer. These are elected annually by the National
Conference. They will normally not hold office for more than two years and will
not hold office for an intervening period of two years. Officers may be in a
post longer if no other candidate comes forward. National Conference can elect
other National Officers to fulfil specific tasks for specific periods. All
officers are subject to the control of the members through the National
Conference and the NDM, which can instruct the Officers to fulfil specific
tasks. All officers should give reports to all IBs’, NDMs’ and National
Conferences. All officers are subject to recall by conference.
7. INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT: In order to maintain contact with fraternal
groups overseas there shall be an International Secretariat. It will be elected
and accountable to the National Conference and the NDM. Those with linguistic
skills and a strong interest in international work will be involved. The
International Secretariat will make report to the IB and national meetings,
including listing publications received (copies available on request).
Secretaries are responsible for sending publications and Organise! to
groups/individuals on an exchange basis.
8. DECISION-MAKING: The AF makes decisions on the principle of consensus. We
reject the concept of bourgeois democracy in which a simple majority can decide
for the entire organisation. At local group meetings, national delegate meetings
and conferences, members will enter debates with the intention of reaching a
consensus such that the organisation can move forward together.
However, we also reject the idea that a few individuals can hamper the
functioning of the organisation by preventing decisions being made that are
clearly supported by the vast majority. Therefore, when a consensus cannot be
reached after appropriate debate the following procedure can be adopted at
National Delegate Meetings and National Conferences:
* 1/ A member can propose that an indicative vote on a proposal be taken.
* 2/ The meeting or the facilitator of the meeting may call for a
move to an indicative vote if consensus has not been reached. If the meeting
decides to move to a vote this is done by means of a straw poll.
* 3/ If two-thirds of those voting support the proposal, then the
vote is carried
* 4/ If the minority feel that the meeting was not representative,
then they can ask for the ratification procedure to be implemented (see next
section).
* 5/ However, in keeping with the principles of individual autonomy,
the minority is not expected to implement the policy. It is hoped that they
would not speak out publicly against it without discussing this first within the
Federation. However, they can argue within the organisation for a change of
policy and discuss internally the nature of comments they might want to make
publicly. All of this must be done openly within the groups comprising the
Federation. However, if their actions are considered to have severely undermine
the activity, functioning, and/or security of the organisation or its members,
then the individual(s) could potentially be subject to disassociation proceedings.
9. ACCOUNTABILITY: In order to ensure utmost accountability of all
decisions, all decisions are subject to ratification by members. There are two
kinds of ratification, negative and positive.
* Negative ratification: If the minority in a meeting decide that a
vote should go to negative ratification, members who do not agree with a
decision made a NDM or National Conference must register a negative vote with
the National/Regional Secretary within two weeks of receiving the minutes. If a
majority of the whole membership disagrees with a decision then the decision is
overturned.
* Positive ratification: If a decision is made by a vote in a meeting
that the minority feels is important enough to require the support of the vast
majority of the organisation, they may request that the final decision on that
issue is made by positive ratification. All members receive the minutes of the
meeting or conference, together with a ballot paper for the particular decision
to be ratified. They can vote YES, NO or ABSTAIN. They must send their vote off,
including abstentions within two weeks of having received the minutes. All
members can vote, including those who attended the meeting or conference. The
final decision will be that supported by a two-thirds majority of those voting.
10. DELEGATES: It is the job of delegates to present the views of their
groups. While they may express their own opinions during the debate, they must
also reflect the views of those who delegated them. When voting, they must vote
as mandated and not as how they personally feel. All delegates are accountable
to their group.
11. INTERNAL BULLETIN (IB): An IB will be produced at least two weeks before
each NDM for which members, groups, committees and officers etc. will be urged
to contribute. A special Conference IB will be produced at least one month
before the National Conference in order that groups can fully discuss motions
and instruct delegates on their decisions.
12. PUBLICATIONS: Groups and individuals may publish articles, pamphlets etc.
as they see fit under their authority. Newspapers, periodicals and other
publications produced in the name of the Federation are under the control of the
NDM which is empowered to nominate and remove editors, production teams etc.
13. FACTIONS: Groups may work with and contact each other in the Federation
but if such relationships effectively constitute a faction at variance with
Federation policies, then this should be made clear in public pronouncements.
This consideration applies to minorities in general.
14. ASSOCIATION & NON-ASSOCIATION WITHIN THE AF
1. Basic Principle
* 1.1 The AF is a federation of individuals, organising in
groups on a voluntary basis, joined together on the basis of free association
* 1.2 The AF consciously organises on a collective basis,
striving to achieve the highest level of unity but we also relinquish over each
other, personally and politically.
* 1.3 Where people can work together they should do so, where
they cannot, they should not.
* 1.4 We reject the ‘right’ to control behaviour claiming
instead the right to disassociate from those we cannot work with within the Aims
& Principles of our organisation.
2. Reasons for disassociation
* 2.1 These basic principles mean there is no power or
authority in the AF to punish, discipline or otherwise constrain individuals and
groups.
* 2.2 The sole grounds’ for the AF disassociation from any
members or groups are:
o A. Racist or sexist behaviour, harassment or abuse;
o B. Other abuse, threatening intimidating language or
behaviour;
o C. Assault;
o D. Unconstitutional disruption or other action or
non-action, which sabotages, damages or undermines the AF.
o E. Behaviour, which adversely affects the credibility
and relationship of the AF with individuals and organisations with whom we
associate or cooperate.
o F. Membership of political parties or other
organisations whose aims, methods or principles of organisation are incompatible
with those of the AF and which sabotages, damages, undermines or adversely
affects the credibility and relationship of the AF with other individuals and
organisations.
3. Disassociation Procedure (Available on request).
_________________________________________
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