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Strategy and Struggle - Anarcho-syndicalism in the 21st Century (What should anarchists be doing right now?)

Discussion in 'Anarchism and radical activism' started by makhno, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. makhno

    makhnoActive Member Forum Member


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    Sep 29, 2009
     
    Check out this pamphlet that was posted on libcom:
    http://libcom.org/library/strategy-stru ... st-century

    Summary:
    In my mind, this article answers the question "What should us anarchists be doing right now?"

    The short answer:
    1. Building networks of militants 2. Propaganda.
    For building networks of militants, read the article for more details, but a good example of such a network is the Seattle Solidarity Network. seasol.net

    Propaganda is a dirty word these days, but the word propaganda means simply "material designed to convince someone of something." So it is our job to put the ideas of anarchism out there, and engage in debate openly and clearly.

    Discuss
     

  2. Jack

    JackExperienced Member Experienced member Forum Member


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    Aug 30, 2009
     
    Syndicalism is dead, it may have been possible whent he IWA was formed, but traditional methods of syndicalist organizations are obselete. Unions are naturally reformist organizations, and while the mystical general strike may be a nice idea, it has never been enacted. No revolution was led by a union, in Russia, Germany, Hungary, all the way to Ireland and Portugal, the working class rose by itself without the guidance of a union.

    During the Spanish Civil War, Treinista (who had been let back in at the conference of 1936) influence in the CNT meant the syndicalist faction, as opposed to the FAI and later Friends of Durruti faction, took positions in government and refused to take the revolutionary action that the working class wanted. I would suggest reading Bonnano's criticism of unions (I just read it but forgot the name), Bookchin's criticism of Syndicalism (It's available on anarchosyndicalism.net), and the platform of the Friends of Durruti to understand more about the natural reformism supposedly revolutionary unions succumb to.
     
  3. ungovernable

    ungovernableAutonome Staff Member Uploader Admin Team Experienced member


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    Yes, but maybe without years and years of anarcho-syndicalist propaganda before the civil years, maybe there would have been no revolution at all....
     
  4. makhno

    makhnoActive Member Forum Member


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    Sep 29, 2009
     
    If you mean to say that syndicalist organizations are nowhere near the size they once were, then I totally agree.

    I don't understand how. There is still capitalism, there are still workers, means of production are still controlled by a minority, and worker direct action still has the potential to improve worker quality of life. I must have missed something.

    I'm probably using the word syndicalism incorrectly. I am using the word "anarcho-syndicalism" to mean "any sort of working class organizing." I just don't understand what the alternative is. I realize that we can organize around a large number of issues, but where does the power lie in that sort of organizing? Worker organization seems to be the ONLY possible way forward, because our ONLY strength, the ONLY way we can actually "shut it down" is using strikes.

    General strikes have been used throughout history to create revolutionary situations.

    I feel like it is not the nature of unions themselves, but rather, how the members within that union act. All I consider a union to be is simply an organization, run according to anarchist principles. I have not read that material. I will definitely check that out. I have read a tiny bit about Bookchin's criticism, for example this one:

    I don't understand how syndicalism relies upon the factory system. Why can't syndicalism apply to the service sector?

    I understand how syndicalism needs class consciousness in order to work. I agree that class consciousness has waned. But that means we need to build it back up again. Where did class consciousness come from in the first place? Propaganda distribution by militants perhaps?

    Anyway, I have heard your criticisms quite a bit from other people, but I am having a hard time understanding them. I have heard primitivists criticize syndicalism, but of course primitivists and anarchists don't have the same goals. I have heard platformists criticize syndicalism in favor of general community organizing, but then of course, we come back to the problem of "How do we get what we want?" Please explain further. I would also like to know what you think are the most effective ways of organizing. :)

    Cheers!
     
  5. squatpunk

    squatpunkMember Forum Member


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    Dec 30, 2009
     
    to awnser your question about the most effectif way to organise, getting out there.
    i know how that sounds, but i dont think propanda works.
    people are allready to bombarded with input, commercial and informational.
    most anarchist zine's ect are ignored by people outisde the "scene"
    unless we gain control of the major channels of informing, like tv, internet ect, we're just going to reach people allready intrested in the subject of anarchism.
    take this forum, i dont think the "regular joe" is going to go online and visit anarcho punk forums. so in my point of view just getting out there and talking to peolpe is the best way to reach them. demonstrations, at work, in you're school and even at shows (Inot all punx are anarchists).
     
  6. makhno

    makhnoActive Member Forum Member


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    Sep 29, 2009
     
    I agree, people are constantly bombarded with advertising from capitalist sources. But I think the reason most people ignore it is because they realize it is bullshit. The content of the media is important. From my personal experience out on street corners, people can be incredibly receptive to anarchist ideas, once they realize you aren't trying to sell them a product. I have had some very insightful conversations with many people. And of course, not everyone will listen or care, but we will just have to work past that. Even if 1 in 100 people are interested, that is considered a success by capitalist marketing standards.

    Again, I agree with you. But, I think there are some crucial issues to consider. We are trying to build a mass movement here, not just a movement for punks. This means making outreach material that the average Jane on the street will want to look at. It also means actively engaging folks as you hand them printed material. And of course, the content of the zine makes a huge difference. Or the format of the material. Does a zine, newspaper, or leaflet make sense for the material and the situation?

    The WSM in Ireland prints an anarchist paper which 10,000 copies are printed and distributed every month. So yes, it can work.

    I agree with you again. So this is exactly what we must do. We must bring anarchism into the mainstream. We must have interviews or debates on the radio. We must give interviews on TV. We must write editorials for mainstream media. And it IS possible for us to get printed or aired on mainstream media, to a degree. (eg Chomsky) If they won't print or air us, then we continue to build up independent media sources.

    Again, I agree. I am just saying that the "going out and talking to people" should be well organized, and we should also have printed material easily available to give people.

    Cheers comrade!
     
  7. back2front

    back2frontExperienced Member Experienced member


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    Nov 26, 2009
     
    This is good debate. If you look again at Bookchin's criticism of anarcho-syndicalism what he is actually suggesting is that we look beyond it and not be confined by it. He is not certainly not condemning it per se:

    "From decades of experience in my own life, I learned that industrial workers can more easily be reached as men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, indeed, as neighbours and citizens. They are often more concerned about community problems, pollution, public education, democracy, morality, and the quality of their lives than about whether they 'control' the factories in which they are ruthlessly exploited. Indeed, the majority of workers and trade-union members with whom I worked for years in foundries and auto plants were more eager to get out of their factories after working hours were over than to ponder production schedules and vocational assignments."

    and

    "Is anarchism to be immunized from further developments and revisions by the guardians of its ossuary? I would hope not, especially since anarchism - almost by definition - is the exercise of freedom not only in the social realm but also in the realm of thought.To lock anarchism into a crypt and condemn any innovative body of libertarian ideas as booty 'filched' from a sacred precinct is an affront to the libertarian spirit and all that the libertarian tradition stands for."

    This is an interesting position though I need to delve more into Bookchin's social ecology as a development of anarchism. Simply put there are anarchisms not anarchism, or at least that is preferable. Rather than confining anarchism to syndicalist notions we need to consider that they may well have been products of their time (Bookchin uses the word 'archaic'). But because struggle is relative I wouldn't go so far as to say syndicalism is obsolete - it remains a useful tactic - but it should be seen as one method in a particular (industrial) situation rather as thee only method there is to usher in libertarian communism.

    Where does this leave us? Precisely where it has always left us. I am not waiting for a revolution, I see the revolution as something that is ongoing and that we are part of now but I think we need to continually critique our methodolgy and develop strategy that caters for the ongoing chnages in cultural and social reality.

    Bringing anarchism into the mainstream is precisely what we want to do, that is to say we want it widely exposed but to suggest we utilise mainstream media to do so forgets the manipulation of that media which has continually buried anarchism in bad propaganda to proetct its corporate interests. Unless anarchists can have full editorial control of their statements, this is a simple playing into the political game where opposing opinions are set against each other to promote spectactle as entertainment, rather than as actual debate.

    Independant media is certainly the way forward and we might look to ways to popularise it and offer it as a more trusted analysis (though it too should be continually critiqued).
     
  8. squatpunk

    squatpunkMember Forum Member


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    Dec 30, 2009
     
    i have recently come across a theory about what anarchist should be doing now, and it seems to me very interesting and could bring a new dimension to this discussion. its has been discussed to some degree but in the one i find most interesting about it.

    http://theanarchistlibrary.org/insurrec ... ganization

    the theory i'm talking about it insurectionism, to put it simply anarchism of the dead. whereby direct action is the best way to inspire and activate other people to do actions.
    the link is a text from perter gelderloos, looking at this theory opposed to organisation.
    i would like yo hear how other people feel about this, cause to me thing like informing other people through independent media etc is important, but what it all come down to is direct action against the oppressive system in all its forms.
    are we too much concerned with trying to broaden "the movement" and thereby loosing sight of the direct confrontation with the state??
     
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