AFTER THE ELECTION:
THE ANARCHIST ALTERNATIVE
After the election we analyse the state of play, the nature of Corbynism and how we relate to it, and how we need to help bring to birth a mass grassroots movement that goes beyond electoral politics and poses a real threat to capitalism and the State with a vision of a new society based on equality and freedom. We will also be discussing the Grenfell fire and how the traditional left has responded and how our response should be diferent, based on encouraging self-organisation.We will be inviting guest speakers and there will be plenty of time for everyone to discuss.
Refreshments available, disabled access
Convened by London Anarchist Federation
7pm, Thursday June 29th at Common House, 5e Pundersons Gardens London E2 (nearest tube Bethnal Green
We are participating in the Anti University events from 10th-16th June –Teaching and Learning As Direct Action, a direct action programme of self-organised radical learning activities. On June 11th as part of these events we will be putting on a public meeting at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC1 (nearest tube Holborn) at 4pm, An Introduction To Anarchist Communism.
Later the same day at the same venue at 7pm, London AF will be hosting the writer-activist Pieter Gelderloos, who will be speaking about his new book Worshipping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation’.This book provides a history of state formation in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe, from Mesopotamia to the 20th century. Identifying different models or paths of state formation, Worshiping Power lays the groundwork for an anarchist theory of the origin of states, and in the process disputes common misconceptions stemming from liberal, Marxist, primitivist, and environmental determinist theories of state formation. Rather than treating state formation as a singular event, a Pandora’s Box, Worshiping Power analyzes state formation as a constant process, with religious, militaristic, economic, and kinship-based motors. It is also a work in grassroots scholarship, taking the study of the State out of academic institutions and into the streets, showing how a historically grounded understanding of the nature of the State is relevant to today’s struggles against patriarchy, environmental devastation, racism, war, and capitalism. There will be a talk by the author and Q&A session. Peter Gelderloos is also the author of ‘Anarchy works’ and ‘The failure of non-violence’. At White Building, Queen’s Yard, White Post Lan,e Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN
The London Anarchist Federation would like to make a statement of solidarity with sex workers. This comes following conversations at the Anarchist Bookfair with sex worker comrades who had felt let down by the level of solidarity they had received from other anarchists. We hope this statement will be a first step towards improving that situation, to encourage further acts of solidarity and relationship building from anarchists towards sex workers’ struggle.
Sex workers are workers. They are members of the working class. As class struggle anarchists, we stand in solidarity with all workers against their domination under capitalism. The call for sex workers to be seen as workers is echoed by global and local sex worker organisations such as the Global Network of Sexwork Projects and English Collective of Prostitutes.
As revolutionaries, we aim towards a world free from capitalism and the necessity to undertake work. At the same time, we must support workers in their struggle against their material conditions in the here and now. There will be no revolution without the building of networks of solidarity between the most oppressed in our society. We support sex workers in their resistance against poor working conditions, whilst also struggling for a world in which none of us will be coerced to sell our labour in order to survive.
We support the call of these organisations for sex work to be decriminalised. This involves the removal of sex work-specific laws and for it to be treated as any other work. This is distinct from both legalisation and the ‘Nordic model’ of client criminalisation. The latter both expand the state’s role in worker’s lives, and increase the marginalisation of those already most oppressed.
Decriminalisation also increases sex workers’ power to collectively self-organise, and makes it safer to be open about their work if they wish. Many people in the sex industry experience physical and psychological violence, such as rape and trafficking. Many will want to leave. Decriminalisation, by improving workers’ rights, makes it easier to find safety through working collectively, to report abuse, and to find support should they wish to leave.
Whilst we do not extend our support to bourgeois organisations such as Amnesty International – which are so often used as tools of imperialism – we nonetheless agree with their broad conclusion that decriminalisation improves sex workers’ rights and working conditions.
None of these models are perfect solutions, as attested by sex worker organisations themselves. But as anarchists we agree that there will be no emancipation for sex workers by increasing the state’s ability to harass, detain and deport them.
We would encourage other anarchists and anarchist organisations to make similar statements in support of sex workers, and to make efforts to build links with sex worker organisations to enable us to work together more effectively in future.
London Anarchist Federation
A great oppourtunity has arisen for a potential free screening of this film followed by a debate with the director.
Tuesday, 3 November 2015 – 6pm to 8pm
Birkbeck cinema, 41 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
What future for a successful (eco)revolution?
At the end of the bloody war that killed one in ten in the tiny South Pacific island of Bougainville, locals were promised a referendum on their independence to be held after 2015. Now, at the threshold of this historical event, we want to retrace the story of “the world’s first successful eco-revolution” (1988-97), which saw the peoples of Bougainville take on Papua New Guinea, Australia and the biggest mining company of the world to defend their land, culture and independence.
After the introduction by filmmaker Dom Rotheroe, we will see his multi-award winning documentary ‘The Coconut Revolution’ (2001, 50 mins) and the update/sequel he shot for Al Jazeera, ‘Bougainville: Reopening Old Wounds’ (2009, 20 mins). The former illustrates the extraordinary story of a people that rebelled against the exploitation of the world’s then largest open mine, and used its ingenuity and natural resources to win an impossible war (e.g. overcoming the blockade by using coconut oil as fuel for their vehicles). The latter, instead, investigates the insidious nature of capitalism and the nature of power, as the victorious Bougainville communities split over the new government’s proposal of reopening the mine to develop their economy.
Finally, we will have the opportunity to ask Dom Rotheroe about his experience in Bougainville, and draw on these extremely interesting documentaries to reflect on the difficulties that even successful grassroots movements have to face when it is time to concretely build the alternative.
Political organising and engaging in struggles can be quite problematic and needs from the outset to be pragmatic. As anarchists and communists, in contrary to the leftist model of organising, we tend to join struggles as equals. So doing a talk on something that could be construed as a marketing pitch for the AF, put me off a little and possibly others as well.
Instead, I wanted to give an introduction to the basic underlining principles of anarchist communism and how I think it compels us to organise. In the course of that the role the AF undertakes, or sees that it undertakes, or at least should undertake would hopefully be apparent. I appreciate that some may not be new to anarchism, but the hope is to underline what we believe and where this logically takes.
One comrade of mine in an anarchist introduction at the Anarchist Bookfair some years ago, tried to present anarchism as a critique of power relations. I want to take it further than that and say that anarchism, and by which we mean anarchist communism, is an attempt at a revolutionary project for the realisation of a genuinely free society; free of the inequities of the market and the oppression of the state. It’s a body of ideas which we feel has something to offer and whose time may not yet have come. It holds within it important lessons from the past and ideas to take forward, without the same colossal setbacks endured by various strands of Marxism.
In the founding statement of the Anarchist Communist paper Freedom in 1886, it stated;
“Anarchists work towards a society of mutual aid and voluntary co-operation. We reject all government and economic repression.”
For sometime this was falsely attributed to Kropotkin and not Charlotte Wilson, but all the same, it’s a good place to start from. It’s unrepentantly beckoning a future communist society.
The assertion of the future society, or attempting to ‘build the new world in the shell of the old” is a means and an end as we see it. In contrast to oppression, injustice, inequality and hierarchy, as anarchists, we struggle and invoke the potential of the new society. The premise being, our politics and struggles are intimately intertwined into the relations we’re developing with each other, or as German anarchist Gustav Landauer put it “The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another”.
When trying to isolate or pin-down the conception of anarchism we find some difficulty. There is no all encompassing manifesto or one founding father giving us our stone tablets that we have carried on unhindered. Its body of ideas are scattered across a number of theorists, organisations, a number of texts and historically encapsulated in events as diverse as the Spanish Civil War to the Paris Commune, and not just European events or events back in antiquity, we can see something of anarchy in the Arab Spring and more recently the resistance to racist police brutality and protests in immigration detention centres.
When we look at anarchism these core principles are at work;
- Means to an end philosophy; i.e. it is prefigurative, attempting to address matters in the here and now
- Utilising direct action without third party mediators
- Based on self-management through voluntary association
- And the important bedfellows of egalitarianism and solidarity
When we come to embrace even a fraction of these ideas, we clearly become antagonistic to a society based on the rule of property and market forces, the political supremacy of the state etc. These ideas compel us into confronting basic everyday struggles like those forced on many of us at the moment in London, such as;
- Housing – rising rents and the attack on social housing, unhindered building of new homes for the wealthy, pushing ordinary people out of the city
- Attacks on social security and welfare in its many guises
- The increasing racist and parochial character of politics whether its immigration controls or the rise in the confidence of the far-right
The struggles and potential success of our class requires a greater level of organisation than is currently apparent from the libertarian milieu. After being involved in anarchist politics for a number of years, anarchism, particularly in the capital remains as static and unable to meet important barometers of winning the decisive battle of ideas as ever. We need to insert our ideas into new arenas and put forward a movement building strategy.
These are important questions we need to address, collectively, which I feel even the most well intentioned affinity group or local collective will struggle with;
How do we present our ideas and the history of the struggles of workers, to the class?
How do we co-ordinate radical militants?
How potentially do we envisage winning campaigns from inception to fruition?
How potentially do we envisage workers running their own workplaces?
We have to ask ourselves deep probing questions, such as why do turgid leftist groups still dominate the campuses? How is it that Leninist groups still dominate some campaigns in our absence? How do we respond to this? Why does the old left still dominate certain sections of the trade unions?
In an article no so long ago, Marxist David Harvey noted “I wouldn’t want my anarchist friends to be in charge of a nuclear power station”
Well, I believe he got it wrong. Anarchist organising with its eschewing of the dead-weight of centralism, hierarchy in favour of self-management and autonomy complements the logical requirements of vital services like aviation and nuclear safety. Very real crises posed today like the spread of contagious diseases and international conflict require responses that go way beyond the restricted framework of the nation state and parochialism.
As anarchists our response to this has to be greater and greater organisational capacity as a movement. There are spaces all over that we should be contesting, be it the power of the state, the market or the left. The AF organisationally is very modest, but we struggle for, along with others, for a stronger dynamic and militant anarchist movement grappling with some of these questions. To echo Bakunin, our role is very reminiscent of that of a midwife; to highlight dangers to our liberty, while getting involved in the day to day fights, be it housing or work-place issues, anti-fascism and anti-racism while helping the spread anarchist ideas.
This is why, contrary to the mass media perception, anarchism has to imply order, it’s the logical consequence of what we believe in;
“organisation, far from creating authority, is the only cure for it and the only means whereby each one of us will get used to taking an active and conscious part in the collective work, and cease being passive instruments in the hands of leaders.” – Errico Malatesta
As anarchists we need to meet this challenge and we need organisationally to be dynamic and multi-faceted in our approach to the struggles ahead of us.
How does the AF attempt to undertake this?
- Grounded on a set of aims and principles which are explicitly asserting social/class struggle anarchism to bring together militants who share ideas in common.
- It’s based on local and autonomous self-organisation and has a structure that supports networking by oppressed groups
- Part of an international – International of Anarchist Federation (IAF) which helps us initiate activity internationally with our comrades facing similar issues.
To that end; the AF regularly puts a lot of work into
- Education, particularly propaganda and introductory ideas around anarchism
- Due to its resources its able to throw support behind important initiatives, such as the recent AFEM conference, where it was a principle supporter
- We support our members in community and workplace disputes
- Political engagement with wider campaigns
Listen to it here:
statement of the Group of Libertarian Communists (Athens) about the events of 6th December
Solidarity with anarchist Nikos Romanos
Solidarity with those arrested during the events of 6 December 2014
December 6, 2014 marks six years since the cold-blooded murder of 16-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the cop Korkoneas.
This anniversary coincides with the hunger strike of 21-year-old anarchist Nikos Romanos who is requesting furlough to attend university classes.
The day and night found tens of thousands of people demonstrating in the streets of many cities of Greece. The particularly massive afternoon demonstration in central Athens was succeeded by hours of clashes and street fighting mainly in the area of Exarchia. The police detained more than 200 people, of whom 43 were the arrested. Some of those arrested face felony charges, and are still being held at the police headquarters.
Clashes between anarchists/anti-authoritarians and the forces of repression took place in many other cities, such as Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Larissa, Ioannina, Agrinio, Mytilene, Heraklion, Chania, Kalamata and elsewhere. Specifically, in Patras there were six arrests (of which two on felony charges), in Thessaloniki seventeen, in Agrinio three, while about 100 people were detained in other parts of Greece.
Once again, the state attempted to unleash terror with the imposition of so-called “zero tolerance” by attacking marches, detaining protesters, and bringing charges of heavy and vengeful character to those arrested.
Once again, the rulers are wrong. Their imposed police state will achieve nothing more than to spread an intensify even more the hubs of resistance throughout Greece. Their suppressive machine does nothing more than to cause the spread of circles of subversion.
Hope lies in the militant and uncompromising attitude of anarchists hunger strikers Nikos Romanos (from 10 November), John Michailidis (from 17 November), Andrea Bourzoukou and Dimitris Politis (from 1 December).
Hope lies in the thousands of people who marched and are marching in the streets of Greece against state and capitalist barbarity.
Hope lies in the numerous hubs of resistance that have been created in the occupied town halls, universities and labor centers.
Hope lies in the neighborhoods of Istanbul where Turkish comrades marched in solidarity with N. Romanos and clashed with riot police there, in the streets of Ferguson, and wherever people are in the streets of revolt.