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(en) THE NORTHEASTERN ANARCHIST #5 - A Response to the 'Bring The Ruckus' Statement.. Differences of Staregy and Organization- by Nicolas Phebus, La Nuit (NEFAC-Quebec City)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 30 Mar 2003 11:45:51 +0200 (CEST)

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

In the beginning, I was happy to see the Bring On The
Ruckus (BTR) position paper, as it seemed to be a solid
proposal and there are many political similarities I
personally share with them. However, in the course of a
debate that a few NEFAC members had with them on a list
aimed to build a North American Revolutionary Anarchist
Federation (NARAF), I realized that we disagree on a
number of key points (plus, their approach seems to be one
of "all or nothing" so it's hard to debate with them).

So, I have several problems with the Ruckus proposal and I
think there are several important differences between
NEFAC and the BTR project.


The Ruckus Collective wants to build a continental (or US
national) federation while we want to build regional
federations first. That's a problem, but only a minor one. Of
course, as their politics are really US-centered, I don't think
a continental federation will ever work. However, that is not
the main problem; rather, it is BTR arguments
for a cadre organization that is much more problematic in my

For those who don't know, "the cadre, as a political idea,
gained currency and eventually institutional standing in the
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP),
during the ascendancy of Lenin at the beginning of this
century. It was originally a military term used in the
bourgeois armies of the day. It denoted an officer rank with
professional and permanent status around which an effective
army could be built. Lenin in his characteristically
imaginative way borrowed it for use in the "class war". The
aim of the cadre in political change does not differ
substantially from its military origins. Essentially that aim is
to solidify and expedite organizational growth around
a given set of ideas. The cadre is then, by definition, an
organizational framework or tool. Secondly, by definition, the
cadre always pre-supposes a non-cadre level or,
more generously, a cadre-elect." [Kevin Doyle, WSM]

The problem I see with the idea of the cadre (and to a lesser
extent with the idea of the "organizer" put forward by our
American comrades) is that it is not libertarian.
It might build an efficient organization but it cannot build a
libertarian revolution. A libertarian revolution would require
an autonomous mass movement able to debate,
self-manage itself and develop it's own politics. This is not
what happens with cadre-style organizing.

BTR claims that "the purpose of a revolutionary organization
is to act as a cadre group that develops politics and
strategies that contribute to mass movements toward a
free society". So, as you see the idea is not to try to develop
the autonomy necessary within social movements so that the
movements themselves develop their own politics
and strategies. There's a contradiction in the BTR proposal
because at the same time they say they don't want to control
the movements and that they want members to be
"dedicated to developing its [the movements] autonomous
revolutionary potential". But then, if that's the case, why say
that a "cadre group should debate those politics and
strategies that best imagine and lead to a free society and
then fight to enact them in mass-oriented organizations and

My problem is that implicit in this theory is that mass
organizations do not have political autonomy and that the
average worker is too dumb to develop politics. I say, and
it is also the majority position in NEFAC, that the role of the
revolutionary organization is to develop autonomy of social
movements rather than think in their place. Of
course, we must agitate for our idea and lead the battle of
ideas, but as members of the class not as outside agitators.
We want people to think for themselves, not to
force down their throat our oh-so perfect ideas.

BTR claims that we "need to forge a path between the
Leninist vanguard party favored by traditional Marxist
parties and the loose "network" model of organizing favored
many anarchists and activists today". I think we all agree on
this. However, while NEFAC has chosen a platformist
federation model, BTR has chosen a cadre; they are not the
same thing, whether we like it or not.


While both BTR and NEFAC agree we need a strategy in
order to win, the two groups obviously have different
revolutionary strategy.

For BTR, "the glue that has kept the American state
together has been white supremacy; melting that glue
creates revolutionary possibilities" and so "the proposed
organization's priority should be to destroy white
supremacy". To do this, Ruckus argue that "the central task
of a new organization should be to break up this unholy
alliance between the ruling class and the white working class
by attacking the system of white privilege and the
subordination of people of color".

On the other hand, NEFAC believes that the central feature
of Canada and the United States is not so much that they are
racist or settler societies (which they are), but
that they are class societies. We also think that the only
ones who have the power to change society and build a
libertarian society are the workers. The central aim of our
strategy is to build a class force. While we agree that white
supremacy is one of the central obstacles to building such a
class force, we don't think it is the only one
(not even the main one in the case of Quebec). We think we
must confront all of the obstacles head-on and build a class
alliance on the basis of the needs and interests of
the most exploited sectors (which obviously includes people
of color in the US). Instead of focusing on racism or sexism
(or any other 'ism') we would argue that the
struggles with the most subversive potential are those where
oppression meet and where people coming from different
backgrounds end up having the same interests. That's why
we focus on housing, gentrification, poverty and workplace

We already had this debate with BTR, those that want to see
the end result on our side can read "Where Do We Go Now?
Towards a Fresh Revolutionary Strategy" [see NEA #3]

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