Standing at the Crossroads

From Anarchist Communist Group

“The ACF remains a comparatively small organisation. Its desire to create or be the component of a large revolutionary organisation and movement has failed to happen. Many are put off joining a group where a strong commitment and a lot of determination are required. Many libertarian revolutionaries are as yet unconvinced of the need to create a specific libertarian communist organisation. They remain tied to the ideas of local groups, or at best regional federations loosely linked, being adequate for the very difficult tasks of introducing libertarian revolutionary ideas and practices to the mass of the population. They remain unconvinced of the need for a unified strategy and practice, for ideological and tactical unity and collective action as we in the ACF have insisted upon consistently. Some remain mesmerised by the myths of nationalism and national liberation, some by illusions in the unions. … As we noted in Virus 9, in late 1986-early 1987: ‘There has been little sharing of experiences among libertarians in various campaigns and struggles. Even on something as basic as a demonstration, libertarians have marched separately and in different parts of the demonstration.’ This still remains true today. Libertarians remain within their separate local groups and organisations. There is little dialogue and little attempt for united activity, for forums and debates where these are possible. And yet not since the pre-World War 1 period and the late 60s has there been such a potential for the growth of the libertarian revolutionary movement. The collapse of Stalinism, the changes within social-democracy-including the British variety of Labourism- with the end of welfarism, and the effects of both of these on Trotskyism, have created a space which revolutionary anarchists must fill.”

This was written in spring 1996 for Organise! The magazine of the Anarchist Communist Federation, in which several of those of us who founded the Anarchist Communist Group were active. Its observations remain largely true and valid, apart from the temporary reviving of the Labour Party with the phenomenon of Corbynism. The fact that this statement is still relevant 23 years later is both tragic and disturbing.

Indeed since this statement both the Solidarity Federation and the Anarchist Federation have gone into decline with few of their groups still functioning and active. The events which followed the last London Anarchist Bookfair in 2017 have aggravated these circumstances and there appears to be little appetite for cooperation between anarchist organisations, and between those organisations and unaffiliated local groups – with a few exceptions like the Revolutionary Anarchist Group in Birmingham.

We later noted in Organise! In summer 2014 that:

“An indication of the malaise within this scene- a scene rather than a movement as the last term implies some shared identity, which seems lacking- is the disappearance of hard copy publications like the newspaper Freedom and the magazine Black Flag [update: there is a plan for an issue in time for the London Bookfair 2014]. These both disappeared essentially because they lacked a base able to write for them and to distribute and sell them. Other magazines like the magazine of the Solidarity Federation, Direct Action, and Here and Now, based in Glasgow and Leeds, have also disappeared. They were unconnected to a movement, a network of groups and individuals, or a national organisation or organisations. Even the problem of a lack of a visible and united presence on demonstrations and actions is one that still plagues British anarchism.”

This again remains largely true, with Freedom sporadically appearing now and again in hard copy and with an online presence.

The article went on to say: “What passes for British anarchism seems at the moment unable to develop as a result of the space created by the decline of the traditional left and seems to be in crisis itself. Various conferences which somehow sought to unite the different anarchist groups and develop a revolutionary practice- Mayday 1998, the Anarchist Movement Conference of 2009, the ALARM Conference of 2012- all proved to be damp squibs and failed as organisers. Some local attempts to organise- the Whitechapel Anarchist Group, the ALARM London-wide network, also collapsed. Meanwhile the Haringey Solidarity Group, which has done sterling local work over many decades has, we must speak truthfully, failed to develop its idea of a network of local London community groups, influenced by libertarian ideas. Apart from the HSG, few local neighbourhood/borough groups have developed and the network, Radical London has disappeared.”

In fact since then we have seen the development of Corbynism and the complete loss of critical faculties among many self-defined anarchists with their entry into the Labour Party or at the least enthusiastic support for Corbynism. Alongside this has been the capitulation to nationalism, whether it be Scottish nationalism, or the uncritical cheerleading for the Kurdish nationalists of the PKK. There has been a significant shift away from class struggle politics.

There has been some useful local work in neighbourhoods and several interesting attempts to set up Solidarity Networks. There has been some work around workplace issues and strikes, and some valuable work around housing, evictions, Workfare, and the Bedroom Tax. There has been the setting up of the Green Anticapitalist Front in response to the climate change school strikes and the emergence of Extinction Rebellion. This latter venture appears to be growing to include activists beyond the original initiating work of the Anarchist Federation, but these are early days and already the involvement of Leninist groups may lead to difficulties.

This work is not enough, it needs to be multiplied. We need to develop a serious class struggle anarchist practice and theory. We need to move away from amateurism and lack of seriousness. We have to develop a willingness and practice of coordinated activity wherever we can. We have to reject populism, electoralism, nationalism and anti-organisationalism.

We have to break with the swamp of traditional anarchism and emphasise the need for anarchist communism, an anarchist communism that relates to everyday struggles. We need to assert the need for a specific anarchist communist organisation, with both clear analysis and practice based around the struggles mentioned above, with the aim of assisting in the creation of a mass movement in both the neighbourhoods and the workplaces and in every sphere of life. We need propaganda and activity, we need an active intervention in the social movements. Our propaganda needs to be clear and free of jargon, able to relate to the mass of the population, and it needs to be on a mass basis as possible. We have to develop a press and our social media. We need to actively propagate the ideas of anarchist communism as widely as possible.

In order to do this, we need to strengthen and solidify the Anarchist Communist Group. If you agree with these aims, we strongly urge you to join the ACG.

There are 16 Comments

We have to...emphasise the need for anarchist communism, an anarchist communism that relates to everyday struggles. We need to assert the need for a specific anarchist communist organisation, with both clear analysis and practice based around the struggles mentioned above, with the aim of assisting in the creation of a mass movement in both the neighbourhoods and the workplaces and in every sphere of life. We need propaganda and activity, we need an active intervention in the social movements. Our propaganda needs to be clear and free of jargon, able to relate to the mass of the population, and it needs to be on a mass basis as possible. We have to develop a press and our social media. We need to actively propagate the ideas of anarchist communism as widely as possible.

You are putting the cart before the horse -- (and for the moment let's leave aside how wholly appropriate nineteenth century analogies are to anarchist efforts...)

You need to completely retool what you do first, and if a new pattern of extremely public collective action shows signs of resonating among the contemporary wage earning class people from other anarchist tendencies may want to get involved with you as well.

For what I'm seeing here, and other ACG stuff I've read, you seem to think that "revolutionary activity" adds up to showing up at demos and giving out leaflets, plus a few stock pious bromides. Other than a tiny number of people who build their social life around organizing and attending demos nobody pays any attention to demos.

Clearly whatever the ACG has been doing for a while now isn't going anywhere.

It's time to retool. Here are some clear, specific suggestions.

Since the early 1990's, actions in the San Francisco Bay Area around mass transit, described here,

the initial impetus behind this,

Efforts to disseminate this among US military personnel,

and the anti-gentrification Mission Yuppie Eradication Project,

have been part of an ongoing effort to establish a new kind of anti-state/anti-market, autonomous class struggle praxis among mainstream working people in the contemporary United States.

1. These efforts take place "on the terrain of everyday life" of the wage-earning class, where we confront what market relations do to our lives, and where the market system's antagonism to human needs gives rise to the possibility of an organized, conscious, mass collective response. These efforts have not been directed towards the left-liberal protest ghetto, or toward academic, anarchist or self-styled Marxist subcultures.

2. Mass collective class struggle includes the fight against the boss in the workplace, but is not limited to the workplace.

3. The methods used to help create a new politics of working class resistance to capital and it's political apparatus have to be qualitatively different from the politics of the left. In all its statist, populist and directly democratic flavors the left is simply the left-wing of capital.

4. Authentic enemies of capitalism in the 21st century cannot use strategies, tactics or communication methods used by pro-wage labor leftists in the 20th century.

5. The armed forces are themselves vulnerable to social forces at work in the larger society that spawns them. Revolt in civilian society bleeds through the apparent hermetic separation of the military from mainstream civilian life into the ranks of enlisted people. The relationship between officers and enlisted people mirrors the relationship between bosses and employees, and similar dynamics of class conflict emerge in the military and civilian versions of the workplace.

6. With the virtual disappearance of the conventional left, and the accelerating decline of the United States as a world power, the way is now open for the creation of a new type of autonomous working class oppositional praxis. We can borrow from the best insights of authentic revolutionary working class tendencies in the past. We can use these insights as a point of departure, but not as an end-point. Anarcho-syndicalism and council communism were both useful in their day. That day has passed. Everything has to be recreated from scratch.

Efforts like the ones around mass transit described in the articles above have a much greater future subversive potential than the Mission District anti-gentrification efforts of the late 1990's. They have the potential to directly involve a larger number of working people over an entire urban area, and under the right circumstances these actions can also have a "bleed-through" effect, spreading resistance in other areas of contemporary life.

What's being examined here is mostly a method of communication. These methods can be a template for similar anti-state/anti-capitalist proletarian actions elsewhere, including but not limited to fights around housing, social space and against austerity measures targeting employees and passengers of mass transit systems.

When will he just stop this cajoling and finally admit that while many of these short-lived ancient projects may have contained possible antecedents to wider and more profound challenges, that they were all ultimately FAILURES. Invoking his own failures in some desperate bid for contemporary relevances after all the intervening years of other, more ridiculous failures goes beyond self-parody. It’s just sad pathetic

Is Keating's inability to see outside of the Marxist Communist Materialist conception of history which can only look at modern constructed mass bodies which don't actually have a psychosomatic basis of existence, only a memeological countersensical one.

If you want to interject anywhere it would have to be at the level of surrogate activities not the means of sustaining those surrogate activities. Also, the primary and secondary learners are FAR more determinate of the continuance of things then the wage earning class. The knowledge power structure precedes the political military and economic power structure. Affect against perennial education and THEN you will see some interesting detournements away from the leviathan structure of existence. Of course you can't think of doing this in terms of organized mass body affection like that idiot Keating thinks you can being the communist materialist marxoid fool that he is.

anarcho-syndicalism and platformism are dead.... long live the union of egoists....

Are you new to this site? Union of egoists is not used around here, instead they call themselves Stirnerians.
Good luck dealing with the trolls.

The comrades of the ACG would be doing a fine thing if they attempted actions using mass transit as a potential platform for mass action along the lines of the ones cited above in a context of the London Underground. Admittedly this is a tall order, but if something like this takes off in a big way the implications could be wonderful.

'We will take the oppressors' tools.' 'We will re-animate Prince Kropotkin, Bakunin, Goldman, Proudhon et al.' 'The revolution is upon us.' 'Be prepared.' 'Stand shoulder to shoulder with the ACG.' 'Solidarity.'

Why does someone -- apparently from the ACG -- post stuff like this, then not engage in dialog with the response to it? Admittedly most of the responses aren't worthy of acknowledgment, but still...

before this article is relegated to the obscurity of the 2nd page of this site, i shall say something worthy of acknowledgement

A world of fragile things.

Moribund conglomerations have disintegrated into disparate efforts.

Trends of decline towards collapse, of failure towards disappearance.

Things fall apart.

Efforts like that of the A.C.G. want to go against the currents of dissolution and disintegration, swimming upstream to lay all their eggs in one basket.

A vain summation towards a critical mass blind to considerations of the rate of decay of their atomized constituents, in this day and age they still insist on living halved lives.

The final balance finds these efforts to be squarely in the red.

The rest jumped ship before the whitewater, ignoring such siren songs as the A.C.G's call to join.

Long term liabilities are finally due.

They convene at the summit of their fears, headed for a cliff.

In the free fall they'll realize they'll be better off when they hit the bottom.

Since eventually they'll come afloat, liquidated by the turbulent crash, after thrashing in the black.

Maybe ACG's new motto can be: Nothing to say, and no words to say it with...

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