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(en) Freedom 6323 Nov 30 2002 - Pissing in the wind

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 16 Dec 2002 03:08:11 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

On 10th August, Iain McKay asked in Freedom whether
there should be a new form of anarchist federation in
Britain. We've since printed responses from Ed of the -
already existing - Anarchist Federation and others (21st
September) and, more recently, a discussion of the history
of Class War. Now Brian Bamford, Paul Maguire and
'Libertarian Lad' take up some of the points Ed and Iain

I read with interest Iain's suggestion that a federal
structure would resolve the problems facing the anarchist
movement, and in particular his suggestion that most
class struggle anarchist groups agree with each other 95%
of the time. My main dispute with his proposal is that it
offers an organisational solution to what is essentially a
political problem. The class struggle anarchist groups
with which Iain is 95% in agreement don't inspire
anything like that degree of fraternity so far as I'm
Class War offer up a cartoon anarchism that seems more
designed to serve the fantasies of the Daily Mail than
meet the needs of working class people. The Solidarity
Federation provides a syndicalist equivalent of trade union
routinism. The Anarchist Federation has at least the
virtue of a lively and provocative journal, but they seem to
rely on a belief in the primacy of ideological struggle. This
means that propaganda becomes deed and practical
activity goes to the wall. Black Flag appears to want to be
all things to all people.
What's common to all these groups is the belief that
retailing propaganda (literally - is it any wonder the main
anarchist event in the UK is a fucking bookfair?)
constitutes meaningful political activity. Iain's suggestion
amounts to the idea that what's needed is a kind of
anarchist Bluewater, where the various sects can carry on
business as usual.
But what if the real problem isn't organisational at all?
What if the real problem is the isolation of all these
groups from any meaningful constituency? What if most
of them are happy in their isolation, as I assume they are?
I've yet to read a self-criticism which admits that the
distance of the anarchist movement from any working
class base is an issue, let alone one that admits it's the
fault of the groups themselves. What if our practice is the
cause of our failings?
What if events like Mayday, while providing a meeting
point for the middle class activists of yesterday and today,
actually constitute an obstacle to reaching any wider
audience? What if all the rhetoric about 'carnival' only
goes to show that the anarchist movement pretends to a
hatred it doesn't really feel? What use is the
organisational solution Iain proposes then?
More than ever, capitalism needs less of us to produce the
wealth it feeds on. More and more of us function as
waste, excess, living on shite estates, thieving and
dealing, banged up and going out of our heads, ignored by
the political mainstream because - as the arse end of the
working class - we carry no social weight. The British
National Party has gained a sizeable political presence in
working class areas by organising parts of the white
element of this disenfranchised working class. In giving
that element some social and political weight it's gained
credibility and allowed capital to reintegrate one section of
the excluded while turning it on the rest. The BNP gain
of another council seat in Blackburn on 21st November is
proof the strategy works.
A political solution to the problems of the class struggle
anarchist movement should be based on a recognition
that we need to offer solutions to the problems our
assumed constituency faces. Housing repairs, bailiffs,
policing Ğ dealing with these issues has practical
implications. Offering an anarchist utopia as the solution
to all our nightmares doesn't. We take for granted the
future allegiance of a class whose interests don't, in
practice, concern us at all!
I suggest we could learn more from the recent successes
of the BNP, lessons we can turn against them, than we
can from what the CNT did in 1936. Anarcho-librarians
don't want to learn from the history of our errors. But we
need to look at how our practice since 1968 has led us
further and further into useless isolation. There's no point
finding a safe haven in the good old days of Durruti and
Makhno - we should ask whether a militant like Durruti
would waste time in the Anarchist Federation, Class War
or Sol Fed today.
Anarchists became a social force in Spain because they
functioned as an army of the excluded and damned. As a
black working class man, I have to say I've never felt less
in common with any movement than with the
dreadlocked, face-painted, carnival-obsessed freaks who
call themselves anarchists today. Providing a more
coherent organisational structure to a movement whose
failings are political and social seems to me like pissing in
the wind.
Paul Maguire

The reason anarchism has so little support in this country
is simple. It's of little interest to the Jo Punter. The public
face of anarchism doesn't mean anything to someone
who has three kids, a partner, a crap job and a mortgage -
and most people who might support it have at least one of
these. Until anarchists stop worrying about foxhunting,
factory farming, war in the Middle East and the rest, and
help workers organise a fightback in the UK against
capitalism, the working class will be too disheartened and
crushed to care what happens anywhere else in the world.
Until we get our propaganda popularly known among the
masses here in the UK, they'll only know what Rupert
Murdoch tells them. But to achieve this, we need a
properly organised federation of groups with an agreed set
of priorities (though keeping their independence),
slogging away in their communities and trade unions,
breaking the reliance of people on electoral politics.
Which sounds like hard work É
I don't like the idea of a war any more than other people,
but I take little comfort in the fact that thousands of bible
thumpers, CNDers and treehuggers were got on a demo
by the Stop the War front group of the Socialist Workers
Party. 'Die-ins' in front of the Cenotaph won't convince
working people of the folly of war, however much the
radical liberals and lifestylers want anarchism to be a
fluffy and laid-back political philosophy, with their Fair
Trade coffee and hessian shopping bags. All they do is
sap the vitality of the movement. They need to be got rid
Libertarian Lad

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