Struggle Changes Everything

  • Posted on: 13 March 2016
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)


The key to finding the proper organizational structure is to avoid “organization for the sake of organization.” Specific anarchist organizations must always be linked to the concrete struggles and needs of our class, and should never outlive their usefulness. They must be flexible, and adaptive to the ebbs and flows of material conditions.
Organization is simply a vehicle, or structure for sharpening our praxis collectively. As the Batko Group succinctly put it […] “form is always dependent on the capacity of initiative.”

Charted and Uncharted Territories: Common Cause and the Role of the Anarchist Organization - Mortar Volume 2.

On Sunday March 6th 2016, members of Common Cause Ontario unanimously voted to dissolve as an organization. As revolutionaries and anarchist communists, we remain united in our belief that political organizations are necessary vehicles for collectively sharpening political analysis and practice. Common Cause has been invaluable to our membership in this regard. We are proud of the work we have accomplished in the past nine years, but this time has not been without challenges. Both the accomplishments and hardships that emerged from our organization have shone light on what it is that our members wish to pursue, as well as leave behind, in future political organizations dedicated to the self-emancipation of the working class. It is because of the invaluable lessons that we have learned through Common Cause that we know that it is time to move on, and we all have a better idea of in what direction that should be.

We sincerely thank our comrades and wish each other all the best.

Written by every member of every branch of Common Cause Ontario



I understand why "platformists" would seem appropriate to many folks, but it ain't.

While Common Cause might have started as an explicitly platformist organization, they didn't end that way. Their May 2014 journal contains an article that documents some of their organizational history, in which they had moved on from that position in at least 2013 if not earlier. (Although I am sure at least a few members probably still had some fondness for the Platform.)

Someone, preferably who was in Common Cause, should correct me if I'm wrong / add to anything I said.

Don't slam the door on the way out you fucking Maoists.

Like, a Maoist is a specific thing, y'know.

And I suppose we should be ecstatic with joy that we can now look forward to the "real" anarchy/anarchism that is mostly a deluded, anti-intellectual, hipster cesspool that presents itself as a "nihilist" alternative but in reality is nothing more than a short lived fad lost in the North American desert that is liberalism.
My apologies to the anarchists and comrades who still represent and fight for a living, breathing, and social anarchism in North America.
And yes, Maoism is a very particular thing.

If you're gonna sling mud at an anarchist-communist organization, either for being anarchist-communist or "not up to date/not cool" or whatever, at least try a little harder with the mudslinging. Common Cause is an organization that is worthy of critique but also of praise for some of their contributions to the anarchist milieu, particularly within Canada, and for that I give them my respects.

"worthy... of praise for some of their contributions to the anarchist milieu..."

Pictures (or any actual documentation), or it didn't happen.

Which I am just gonna say is a cut above, way above, most "position paper"-type shit you'd get from other anarchist communist formal organizations. But as I say, they sort of acted like an affinity group, and not necessarily claiming actions as "we are Common Cause, we did this thing" because that might not be appropriate. Certainly people in the crew were at some things in Ontario the last few years, or also in Montreal in 2012, which is again why I'd call it sort of a larger, more formalized affinity group. And looking at their website, you'll find some "neighbourhood organizing"-related articles that hint at what some members have done (and, presumably, are still doing, in some cases) in a way that, again, one imagines would not be claimed as "Common Cause turf".

Such stuff is consistent with the shit they say in this article: - which I consider their best. I think there are takeaways for people whose anarchism might even be a very different flavour than theirs (cuz certainly I always considered myself a little too postleft wingnutty for 'em, and I'm guessing my buds in the org felt similar about me, haha).

Is someone going to gonad-empower themselves on this site and tell you that YOU are the enemy of the hoi polloi, and if not, then shall it be I who embarrass my usual diplomatic tolerance and sensitive tact and good manners when replying to forum comments? If you think that the uneducated masses can be politicized so easily by your specific leftist doctrine you have a big shock awaiting you!!

Platformism is a spook.

21st century anarchism is a spook also. Only the individualist has sovereignty enough to make legitimate claims for total liberty.

What are sovereignty and total liberty?

Relations are all there are. These concepts fragment, and are used to scapegoat retributive blame, ignoring negative causality.

I wish there were more to indicate the reason for the organization ending - some sense of what was/is actually up. Weird.

I thought the quote in the text from the Batko Group was super-interesting. It's pulled directly from Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism by Sasha K, so clearly the group had gotten over platformism...

The real reason that they have disbanded is because there were multiple accusations of sexual assault leveled at several leading members of the collective and they did not have either the resources or any kind of protocols or procedures in place that would allow them to effectively address the issue so they decided that the best thing they could do is disband.

Common Cause people at least had the decency of not turning into this kind of empty shell federation that leads to little good places. Their texts were sharp as well... rich in self-criticism of North American anarchist milieus among other things, especially for their endorsement of a critique of identity politics. But that's about it.

I think the issue with contemporary anarchist groupings and organizations is to be painting themselves in fixed, outer-worldly revolutionary abstractions taken from 100 years ago instead of building on what's THERE, on what they got and what they are in the real world, what they're into. Like Common Cause could have just called itself an « anarchist publications network » and that would have been way better and maybe more creative that way.

I hope that the platformists finally can acknowledge that the specific anarchist organization is just as problematic as any other group in this day and age. They need to acknowledge that their intervention in mass worker struggles only reaches the level of labor activism. They also need to acknowledge the segment of the population they target is not going to generate mass direct action because they more often closer to middle class than they are to a point worth fighting, at least as far as employment is concerned.

When people target workers, they aren't hitting them in ways that will generate anarchist results. The most destitute of workers might need more money, but usually issues are complicated and workers manage to scrape by. Union work acts as a competition in the labor market, almost a median. If the numbers are right and a section of the non-unionized worker market makes so far below unionized, union organizing suddenly gain traction. Most people don't want to be in unions because they take money from them and don't do anything for them. For an anarchist group to work beside unions is to work with another boss of the worker, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary. Union democracy is a joke and votes are rigged to favor the union bureaucracy. Organizing against the bureaucracy's point of view is just asking to look like a problem, that could face a lack of solidarity on the job versus the union's most active and vocal members for the bureaucracy.

Joining a union, working beside a union on a labor dispute, even the IWW, is locking yourself into struggles that might not be hitting the right veins of anti-authoritarianism that has to deal with work in America. It also is siding with a known recuperative and reifying institution, which steers workers towards its goals and failing that, to control the workers in any way they can to keep the viability of the union as a legal instititution secure. When the issue is work abolition, the end of compulsory labor and the choice of if and when to work without the threat of destitution or living as a grifter, unions only offer the barest of minimums. They can only promise money and piecemeal benefits, which both often disappear depending on the economic climate.

So while I don't know if Common Cause remained loyal to union organizing or solidarity with unions, I do know that NEFAC and several other lesser federations attempted to enter this realm as an anarchist intervention and these things made no real ripples that could not of been done by a non-anarchist group and there wasn't anything to differ a platformist from a liberal activist in these interventions, other than maybe imagery and maybe perhaps some criticism of how unions control labor protests and collaborate with law enforcement? This I do not know. I do know that anarcho-communists that haven't taken on some aspects of post-left critique to consider their role in relation to the left, tend to move more towards the left and away from their anti-authoritarian roots because what activity they do, it defines them and the logic of anarchism is best as a critic in these situations of control and not as an aid to the management of labor, a role unions are accustomed to.

Another issue seems to be anti-fascism. This old left position has been gaining traction lately, but without any real criticism, anti-fascism is easily steered by the authoritarian left and away from the kinds of ground that Crimethinc thought was important in their "To Change Everything" tour. It is seen by many anarchists as an entry point into becoming an anarchist, as many that are and were active in anti-racist and anti-fascist groups move into other anarchist projects. It protects some small subcultures from becoming fascist and there isn't really anything that seems likely to change in this regards, but these groups are just as likely to be steered into supporting any left position, like Trump being a fascist, or the libertarian party being fascist, or the Republican or religious fundamentalism or anything that has to do with the right wing. Speak with a common paralance that is out of sync with liberal and left jargon of whatever year it is and that person is in cohoots with fascism, is a racist and a white supremacist. Militant anti-fascism falls more in line as an executive arm of this kind of radical leftism than it does as an extention of an anti-authoritarian approach.

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