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A Few Words on the Greek Insurrection

category greece / turkey / cyprus | anarchist movement | opinion / analysis author Friday December 12, 2008 17:31author by Kevin S. Report this post to the editors

The social rebellion in Greece contains all the explosive potential for a revolution. But an insurrection alone is not a revolution. Now more than ever discipline is needed to keep the struggle going and intensifying — not the discipline of waiting but the discipline of acting, the discipline it takes to step up the struggle faster than the authorities are able to control. [Polski] [Ελληνικά]


A Few Words on the Greek Insurrection


There is no denying the tragedy of the violence in Greece, especially the murders by the State’s police forces and their “citizen” allies, but also of all violence which is never pretty except in some illusions. But all the same, this is probably the best and most important news for us since May 1968. It is especially good news after our public discredit in the U.S. during the convention protests. This insurrection makes anarchism an internationally important social and political movement again. Not to say that in itself it will lead to anarchism becoming a popular movement elsewhere, but at least it does not end in public humiliation whereas it does demonstrate the power of a popular anarchist movement to resist the bourgeois State. Still, it is worth making a few more critical notes.

The social rebellion in Greece contains all the explosive potential for a revolution. But an insurrection alone is not a revolution. Now more than ever discipline is needed to keep the struggle going and intensifying — not the discipline of waiting but the discipline of acting, the discipline it takes to step up the struggle faster than the authorities are able to control. More than that, it requires a more definite social content than fighting police and ransacking banks. Insurrections that fail to deepen and intensify inevitably become defensive, then either are defeated by the State or simply fade out. Without discipline and direction, this rebellion will fail to deepen and intensify. By deepening, I mean moving from only immediately fighting the police and State forces to seizing capitalist and State property, as well the need for social self-organizing of the people, more specifically of the rebellious workers and anti-authoritarian students. That is how this uprising can become a revolutionary struggle.

The anarchists and the rebellious people of Greece have shown they know how to fight, that they know how to agitate and organize well enough to effectively resist the State. It is unlikely that even their best efforts will lead to a complete revolution, but with disciplined, concerted effort they could make some real revolutionary conquests. Furthermore, the uprisings in Greece point the way to wider anarchist agitation and involvement in popular social struggles to resist the oppressive apparatus of the State. Anarchist groups and organizations should openly support the rebellion in Greece and make every effort to equal the achievements of our Greek comrades. At the same time, all must be wary of the old mistake of substituting riot for revolution, the past failure of our movement of letting confusion and disorganization prevent us from being at the front of social struggles and turning rebellion into social revolution.

Article written for Anarkismo.net

author by Ilan S. - AATW; ainfos; Maspen;publication date Fri Dec 12, 2008 23:27author address Tel Avivauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Kevin S wrote:
"But all the same, this is probably the best and most important news for us since May 1968".

It is indeed the most wide spread activity in the developed countries since long. It surely more prominent than the PGA and Resist! initiated actions against the WTO and the G8...
and it is under the label of "anarchism" the 1968 and the later ones did not have. However, it is still riots - not revolution and not even an insurrection.

Kevin S wrote:
"It is especially good news after our public discredit in the U.S. during the convention protests."

I wonder how come Kevin regard the convention protests as discrediting our movement. In spite of huge state repression the No DNC and more so No RNC delivered the message. Even the US state police admitted they lost control for more than an hour.

In comparison to Greece the US initiatives were samples of highly organized project seldom ocuring in US....

author by Kevin S.publication date Sat Dec 13, 2008 08:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ilan,

You wrote: "It surely more prominent than the PGA and Resist! initiated actions against the WTO and the G8...
and it is under the label of "anarchism" the 1968 and the later ones did not have. However, it is still riots - not revolution and not even an insurrection."

Obviously it is not a revolution, but I disagree with you that is not an insurrection, however spontaneous and disorganized. There a certainly some in Greece who consider it such (e.g. the "We are at war" statement by the Occupied School of Theatre, posted on Anarkismo), and I think an uprising as widespread and intense as these riots has to looked at and treated as an insurrection.

Regarding the U.S. convention protests: I can't speak for their international reception, but here in the U.S. the DNC protests were almost invisible, and more importantly the RNC protests mostly were looked down on and denounced by the non-anarchist public, and discredited the anarchists as silly window-smashers picking for a fight, while the cops had no difficulty painting them as dangerous punks and even "terrorists." The first couple days in particular had even the most hostile anti-Republicans denouncing irresponsible anarchist tactics.

Now that is not entirely anarchists' fault so much as of mainstream sensationalist media covering every "horror story" of anarchists attacking Republican delegates, police claims about anarchist weapon stashes uncritically believed and blanketly applied to all the anarchist groups (the less violent groups were never covered, and no one really investigated possible police frame-ups despite all the accusations of excessive use of force etc.), and so on and so on. The point is, yes the "No RNC" message was heard loud and clear, but the anarchists did not come looking any better than the cops for most of the public.

That is why I regard the convention protests as having ended largely in public discredit for anarchists, despite some very hard and admirable efforts on the part of our militants and even a degree of tactical success in disrupting the RNC -- it left us looking irresponsible and silly, and for some people dangerous, and little if anything more than that.

author by Akai - ZSP publication date Mon Dec 15, 2008 07:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We translated this article:
http://cia.bzzz.net/kilka_slow_o_greckim_powstaniu
There's only one comment, negative - if you're interested, use google translator.

Although I personally have received conflicting first-hand accounts of how it really looks in Greece, I do suspect that there is a lot more popular organizing going on than you would suspect by reading the mainstream media - or the anarchist media for that matter! The anarchist media itselfs tends to deal with clashes, but there's a lot more going on, a lot more people involved. That said, traditionally some parts of the Greek anarchist movement has been stronger on demos and clashes than long-term movement building work, so there is something legit behind what you are saying.

Right now, anarchists are involved in some assemblies (although having been to a couple in Greece, I can say that some people need to work on process issues and I suspect they may not be as constructive as needed). It would be a good idea for them to talk about some concrete goals - they probably are. In particular, it would be interesting if the students and professors made plans to take over the administration of the universities permanently and if some workplaces kicked out their bosses.

A larger movement to overthrow the government could wind up a number of ways - the EU countries could send in the military or some opposition party could take over and try to quell the resistance. Something more interesting could happen - no way to tell now. But the point is well made that people need to prepare themselves for times like this and work consistantly now.

author by Kevin S.publication date Mon Dec 15, 2008 13:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for translating; I noticed a Greek translation as well, so I am pleased my "few words" have made some impression.

Sadly Google's translator is not very good and I don't accuses me of "Bolshevism" -- all I have pointed is the need to organize and to deepen and intensify the revolt. have a better one, so what I understand from the negative comment is very loose and sketchy. Basically, the commentor accuses me of Bolshevism and being afraid of this uncontrolled power, and says the rebellion itself is valuable and points out the importance of bottom-up decisions.

Mostly I agree with the commentor for emphasizing the importance of initiative and of the revolt itself. I am not sure why the poster thinks I am "Bolshevik" -- I completely support the uprising and think it should be intensified and deepened, or else it will simply burn itself crushed even if it is not beat down by the authorities.

I also could not agree with you more, Akai, about the need to prepare and work consistently etc. That is what anarchist organizing is about, and anarchists who denounce it as "Bolshevism" and refuse to organize are hurting our movement irreperably, as they have done for too many years.

author by anon - selfpublication date Wed Nov 04, 2009 05:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

it is sad that there were people in Greece fighting in the streets and producing legitimate expressions of their rage and someone wrote this article calling for more "discipline" among anarchists. You say "all must be wary of the old mistake of substituting riot for revolution", sure, but one must be even more wary of mistaking Political Parties as sources of anarchist action with any potential for liberation.

author by Kevin S.publication date Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi there "anon,"

Did you even read this article, or did you just notice the word "discipline" in there and could not help your emotions? If you did read read it, which should not be hard since it's only three paragraphs -- or even if you read nothing but the summary at the top! -- you would know that it says not one word "Political Parties" but it calls in simple, straightforward terms to be keep the fight going! Something that takes "discipline," by the way, but the discipline to act as said in the piece.

So my friend, what on earth are you crying about? Maybe you are so used to arguing against cliches that when you hear the word "discipline" you can only assume I am a Bolshevik in anarchist disguise....

author by Jamiepublication date Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't wish to speak for the original poster you responded to but are you even aware of what the word discipline means? I'm guessing not, because if you did, I doubt you would say that action requires discipline. You may say that by discipline you mean something like personal perseverance, but you can't just attribute whatever meaning you want to words and expect people to ignore actual, common definitions for the sake of your "analysis" (in my humble opinion by the way, this piece takes a form unworthy of the word analysis). I have heard platformists say that by discipline they mean personal perseverance but i'm skeptical, calls for theoretical unity and discipline seem to reveal intentions all to well. These intentions become much more clear when a small political sect which clearly calls for the formation of political parties looks to uncontrolled anarchist revolt and calls for "discipline".

The poster you responded to didn't use the term bolshevik, but, I always thought it would be a good idea for platformists to just cut to the chase and call themselves "anarcho-Bolsheviks". What do you think?

author by Kevin S.publication date Tue Mar 02, 2010 06:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jamie,

"discipline"
Being that you think I have the word wrong, maybe you could offer up an "actual, common definition" that would clarify the problem. I will say though I have known plenty of people who are full of rhetoric and can't push themselves to act when the time for action comes, which to my mind does require "discipline." But as said in the article, the discipline of acting and not the discipline of waiting. Struggles waged without that kind of discipline always seem to die fast once the "fun" of rioting wears out.

"Bolshevik"
I would also ask that you kindly explain better what you mean by this sentence: 'These intentions become much more clear when a small political sect which clearly calls for the formation of political parties looks to uncontrolled anarchist revolt and calls for "discipline". ' It seems to me like you are throwing out a lot of charged-up terms, as dressing for a sterile formula you use to write off all platformists. As for the word "Bolshevik," it was used by another poster on the Polish site linked before, who made the same criticisms of this piece. It's also a well-known accusation made by folks like yourself against platformists ever since the original Platform was written, right through to the present day. When the previous poster made the comment about "Political Parties," he was referring to that argument.

author by Waynepublication date Tue Mar 02, 2010 15:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is a good statement. However, I feel a need for further information about the mass unions. It is my impression from US newspapers (which may be quite wrong) that the mass union marches and strikes were clearly controlled by the Communists (Stalinists) and the Socialists. Is this correct? Do the uions have most of the workers or many or a few? The report has only a vague reference to workers organizing. In any case, while a rebellion by students and other yourth is excellent,, there will not be a revolution until the anarchists sink roots among the workers.

author by Jamiepublication date Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On the matter of discipline I will provide several definitions and remind you that the root of the word of discipline is the same root shared with disciple (which shouldn't tax your analytical abilities too much to understand where a distaste to anarchist calls for discipline come from) .

Discipline:
"Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement."
" Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training"
"A set of rules or methods, as those regulating the practice of a church or monastic order."
"systematic training in obedience to regulations and authority"

or, to be sloppy, i'll quote wikipedia (for shame):

"In its most general sense, discipline refers to systematic instruction given to a disciple. To discipline thus means to instruct a person to follow a particular code of conduct "order.""

on the Bolshevik matter,
first of all and with all due respect, it would either take extreme ignorance or extreme dishonesty to attempt to maintain that a Platformist Federation is not a political party; it quite clearly is. second of all, an attempt by bitter anarchists to develop the anarchist alternative to Bolshevism combined with Platformists' constant use of the Leninist concept "Dual Power" provides me with what I feel is a rather strong case for Platformist's deep Bolshevik influences.

you point out that: "It's also a well-known accusation made by folks like yourself against platformists ever since the original Platform was written, right through to the present day"

Do you ever wonder if, since anarchists have been comparing Platformists to, and accusing them of being Bolsheviks since the Platform was written, that there is a certain amount of validity to the assertion?

As for the quote of mine that you asked about, the intention i speak of is summed up well in the wikipedia passage i referenced. Here's what i see, an insurrection is fueling in Greece and an individual who belongs to a political sect which wishes to create a political party and materialize their political program (so theres a necessity for both accumulation of social capital & social reproduction, and obedience to a code) calls for discipline among those in revolt. it smells a little too much like politicians in waiting wanted to recuperate the revolt to aid their political agenda as opposed to those struggling uncontrollably.
til next time.
best regards
Jamie

author by Kevin S.publication date Sat Mar 06, 2010 15:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry for the long reply.

Wayne,
Something I should underline is that this was not written as a detailed analysis of all the players in the struggle. It was a hastily typed up response to the news at the time, not a rigorous analysis. Maybe that is what Jamie means by saying "this piece takes a form unworthy of the word analysis." On the question of the unions, I don't know well enough what the situation is in organized labor in Greece, except to say my impression from reports and news at the time is exactly what you say. I don't know how accurate that is, but if it is the case then it is interesting to note yet another similarity to May 1968.

Jamie,
So yes, I am well aware of the definitions you gave, they are the same in my home dictionary. Obviously some of those are innately authoritarian - discipline as in obedience - but not all of them. There is also discipline as "training," methodical behavior, and there is also self-discipline - as defined in my dictionary: "Training or control of oneself and one's conduct, usually for personal improvement." Now, when anarchists talk about "discipline" or "self-discipline," what we are talking about is the need for militants to not only talk about revolution, but to actually do the tedious work of organizing, the need for consistent and methodical work, the need to keep commitments made and the need to follow up on every action. It's just not enough to impulsively take action when the mood strikes, it's necessary to persevere through the slow and often thankless work that makes action - and victory - possible, long before the big day.

I have never met a person who could keep up this kind of effort without what would typically be called "discipline." The best comrades I know are the ones who organize and fight despite daily exhaustion, disenchantment with fellow workers and one disappointment after another. It takes a lot to do this, and one of the things it takes is discipline.

'first of all and with all due respect, it would either take extreme ignorance or extreme dishonesty to attempt to maintain that a Platformist Federation is not a political party; it quite clearly is. second of all, an attempt by bitter anarchists to develop the anarchist alternative to Bolshevism combined with Platformists' constant use of the Leninist concept "Dual Power" provides me with what I feel is a rather strong case for Platformist's deep Bolshevik influences.'

It depends on what you mean by "political party." If all you mean is a specific political organization, then yes it is a political party, as would be a good many non-Platformist anarchist groups (even "informal" ones). If you mean something more specific than that, you will have to define it for me or we will just end up debating in circles.

I will say honestly that I have rarely heard the term "dual power" among Platformists, although I have run into prominently with cadre types and every so once in awhile with individual Platformists who come from that background. Personally I find it a fairly useless concept, but having said that, it's hardly adequate basis to write off the Platform as Leninist - especially since the word is nowhere to be found in the Platform itself or anything else I have ever read from its original authors (except maybe Arshinov's piece about the October Revolution, that I would have to double check). It's also possible you are mixing it with the term organizational dualism - this is a completely different concept. It's not in the original Platform either, but is a common term among Platformists and similar types which refers to a distinction between political and mass organizations, and the respective roles they play. I believe it came from the Italian anarchists.

'Do you ever wonder if, since anarchists have been comparing Platformists to, and accusing them of being Bolsheviks since the Platform was written, that there is a certain amount of validity to the assertion?'

To be honest, no I haven't wondered this because I have studied both Leninism and the Platform and I know the crucial differences between them. I have also noticed that a good many of those I read denouncing the Platform as "anarcho-Bolshevik" seemed to be extremely ignorant both about Marxism-Leninism and about the Platform. Simply the fact that many people label it "anarcho-Bolshevism" does not make it so, especially when the label is thrown out as a crude epithet rather than a serious treatment. The only validity to the whole accusation is the fact that the Platform was a response to anarchism's defeat at the hands of Bolshevism, due to rampant disorganization and confusion even when the revolution had fallen in the movement's lap. But we do not aspire to state power or to an authoritarian monopoly over proletarian struggles, nor do we promote authoritarianism in our own ranks - all of which is fundamental to Bolshevism.

SUMMING UP
'Here's what i see, an insurrection is fueling in Greece and an individual who belongs to a political sect which wishes to create a political party and materialize their political program (so theres a necessity for both accumulation of social capital & social reproduction, and obedience to a code) calls for discipline among those in revolt. it smells a little too much like politicians in waiting wanted to recuperate the revolt to aid their political agenda as opposed to those struggling uncontrollably.'

Comrade, I honestly don't see what you are reading into my piece except your own personal dislike to the word "discipline." If you read the piece with even a drop of seriousness, it would be obvious to you that I am not out to "recuperate" anything but rather it was a call to take everything a step further. If it smells to you the way you claim, it is because you have a bad nose and has nothing to do with what is actually written. The talk about accumulating social capital etc. and "obedience to a code ... as opposed to those struggling uncontrollably" ... all of this reads rather empty to me. What do you mean by "uncontrollably"? The word has more than one meaning.

I also don't understand at all where you going about the political program. I have nothing wrong with a program if it is a decent one, in fact I believe we need one. I have heard many anarchists denounce all programs as such but I have never heard a coherent explanation as to why or what they themselves are proposing - and it's no surprise either, because the purpose of a program is to have some coherence, so it never surprises me to hear confusion from the those who make a point to denounce all programs with discrimination. Not that I am out to impose my program on anyone, only that those of us who see the need for it will go ahead and have one and put it forward openly - and there is nothing authoritarian whatsoever about that.

- Kevin

author by Kevin S.publication date Mon Mar 08, 2010 05:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The last paragraph was supposed to say "those who denounce all programs without discrimination" ... meaning, people who denounce all programs period, regardless of their contents. Probably that was obvious from the context, but I thought to edit just in case it was confusing.

author by Jamiepublication date Wed Mar 10, 2010 06:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Kevin,
On my "bad nose": 1. a.) as a Platformist, your project necessarily requires the accumulation of social capital and this capital to essentially "follow a particular code of conduct 'order'". this is because the Platformist federation serves as a political party (you weren't sure of the definition, the literal definition is "an organization for political power"), obviously discipline (in the more common sense) is a necessary part of this.

b.) is it really a coincidence that you used the term "discipline" as you are maintaining you did (why not use the many words that are commonly thought of for that meaning but which lack the authoritarian undertones a la: perseverance, devotion, dedication, consistency etc etc) when the more common meaning fits so well with the Platformist "theoretical and tactical unity"?

c.) when you use the phrase "without discipline and direction" in the original article, does that not sound to you more similar to the common definition of discipline than the one you maintain you meant? this is becoming quite obvious. to be directed definitely points to the authoritarian meaning of discipline more than that which is synonymous with perseverance.

2.) it wasn't just my personal dislike of the word "discipline" that caused me to dislike this article as you seem to believe. It was my understanding of the meaning of the word and the context which produced the article (understanding your position combined with your call for discipline and the Greek anarchists use of informal organization). i think my "bad nose" was a somewhat logical conclusion. Not to mention, my dislike of the article was not an isolated case among a majority of joyous responses; i know NO ONE personally who feels that this article has anything of worth to add to anarchist discourse AND this article was reprinted in a recent AJODA as an "embarrassment to the anarchist milieu".

to deny any validity of the critiques of many historical and contemporary anarchists regarding the Platform because of their assumed ignorance on the subject and your supposed wisdom on the matter is more than slightly pompous. i see it as hypocritical to read your article on the important matter of 'anarchist debate' and than to see you use such poor logic; surely such disregard for comrades' analysis is not the critical contention you see as important among anarchists. unlike the Bolsheviks, the Platformists don't aspire for state power; naturally, they are being called ANARCHO-Bolsheviks after all. but, the (theoretically, not realistically) large Platformist federation undoubtedly wishes to manage those in revolt, when reading your piece this mentality resonated with what i read.

with all due respect, i am really beginning to question your analytical skills. on my words which read "rather empty" to you i will attempt to break them down as simply as i can:
a.) most anarchists i have discussions with are able to comprehend the term "social capital" when in the context of, say for example, a political party, as meaning people, but individuals which are viewed less as unique individuals and more as capital which make up the mass and add to the political power of the party.
b.) "obedience to a code" reads empty to you? you must be joking! we were having a discussion about your use of the term "discipline" and i provided that as one of the definitions.
c.) on the "uncontrollable" struggle, to quote sasha k: "self-organized struggles are by nature uncontrollable when they are spread across the social terrain" as opposed to say struggling under to control of an organization of synthesis, political party, anarcho-federation. "uncontrollability versus managed revolt"

my apologies if this comes off as rude but i am getting frustrated and feel that you are being intentionally dense; if this is simply my impatience, i do apologize.
best regards,
jamie

author by Kevin S.publication date Tue Mar 16, 2010 16:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

hi Jamie,
Sorry I haven't replied already, I have been busy on other work and haven't had much chance to type a decent response. Now then....

"my apologies if this comes off as rude but i am getting frustrated and feel that you are being intentionally dense; if this is simply my impatience, i do apologize."

No I don't think you are being rude, but I do think you are making some unfair assumptions. I know one thing well from experience, which is that the same words can read completely differently to different people, something you do not appear to give a second thought to. For example, you keep insisting on what you call the "more common sense" of the word "discipline," but in my personal background the word is used regularly to mean self-discipline, all depending on the context. Something which happens to square perfectly with its use by the authors of the Platform, who made it absolutely clear that whenever they spoke of anarchist discipline they meant self-discipline. It seems to me if we are going to debate in good faith, we have to reckon with those kind of different backgrounds.

Maybe I seem "intentionally dense" to you because I ask so many questions? I don't like to assume too quickly what is meant by certain words when debating with a comrade who I know to come from a different theoretical background. Obviously, what is meant by one word can make a huge difference.

1. a.) This still reads rather empty to me, because technically speaking any movement, irrespective of its ideas, methods or composition, requires "social capital" and that capital to "follow a code of conduct or 'order'" - including yourself, as an anarchist. Which, by the way, has nothing inherently authoritarian about it - a movement needs people, ideas and methods after all. The question is simply who runs it/how is it run, what is its composition, and what are its ideas and methods?

"Political party" is both a loaded and somewhat ambiguous term. If all you mean is "any specific political organization whatsoever," then yes the Platform calls for a political party. If you mean some kind of power apparatus on the Bolshevik or fascist lines, then no it does not. Typically the word is used for political organizations which aspire to state power - especially electoral groups, but also those who seek to conquer it through armed struggle. If you just mean political organization though, then that it hardly a specific Platformist innovation - the same thing was wanted also by its primary critics (the synthesists). Even an affinity group, if specifically anarchist, could be called a political party by that standard.

b.) I believe you are mixing up things a bit. You refer to "the Platformist 'theoretical and tactical unity''" - those are not the same thing and neither of them is authoritarian. The first simply means that members of a political organization should share a common perspective, that is have the same "theory" whereas you would not expect such a thing of, say, a labor union or a social organization. The second can be lumped into "discipline" in the sense that it means agreeing to a plan of action and then sticking by it, but again that is not necessarily authoritarian.

c.) I will admit it was poor phrasing in that it's rather unclear, could easily be read in several different way etc. But again neither of those words means specifically authoritarian. So we are clear on where I am coming from, here is what the words mean to me in the context of this piece.
- "discipline" to me means doing the necessary work and making good on commitments, which, to be sure, can include things like abiding by an agreed upon plan, all of which may sometimes entail personal sacrifice
- "direction" means coherent goals and coherent means to get there, which requires having some decent organization to get things done but also having a well thought out program for what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it

2.)
"it wasn't just my personal dislike of the word "discipline" that caused me to dislike this article as you seem to believe. It was my understanding of the meaning of the word and the context which produced the article (understanding your position combined with your call for discipline and the Greek anarchists use of informal organization). i think my "bad nose" was a somewhat logical conclusion. Not to mention, my dislike of the article was not an isolated case among a majority of joyous responses; i know NO ONE personally who feels that this article has anything of worth to add to anarchist discourse AND this article was reprinted in a recent AJODA as an "embarrassment to the anarchist milieu"."

It seems to me the both context and my "position" unequivocally spoke out to keep the struggle going and, indeed, to step it up another notch. Of course, this article was neither an attempt to give directives (if it had been, your criticisms would be more than valid) nor was it an in-depth analysis of all the forces at play, the details of the struggle etc. It was simply a "few words" - i.e. a brief reflection - on the news of the day. I would not even call it a "position" in that it was not meant as a policy stance, but rather as a couple quick thoughts about something that seemed to me deserving of attention. It was a nod to the achievements of the Greek comrades, and at the same time pointing out that we should take mental note of the limits of a simple riot, that we should not expect the riots alone would make up a revolution - something born out by the year-and-more since then with no revolution, despite what some comrades were saying back at the time.

It does not surprise me that certain anarchists disliked this piece. It does seem just a bit odd to me that they still went on to reprint it on their sites ... but some comrades seem to be hellbent on denouncing anything they read that comes from a Platformist, to the point that they obsessively read and reprint our materials just so that they can denounce it!

"with all due respect, i am really beginning to question your analytical skills. on my words which read "rather empty" to you i will attempt to break them down as simply as i can:
a.) most anarchists i have discussions with are able to comprehend the term "social capital" when in the context of, say for example, a political party, as meaning people, but individuals which are viewed less as unique individuals and more as capital which make up the mass and add to the political power of the party.
b.) "obedience to a code" reads empty to you? you must be joking! we were having a discussion about your use of the term "discipline" and i provided that as one of the definitions.
c.) on the "uncontrollable" struggle, to quote sasha k: "self-organized struggles are by nature uncontrollable when they are spread across the social terrain" as opposed to say struggling under to control of an organization of synthesis, political party, anarcho-federation. "uncontrollability versus managed revolt""


a.) I comprehend the term just fine, but it reads as empty to me because you could make this accusation against any movement that seeks mass support. If you are trying to say the Platformism is some kind of machiavellian power-hungry scheme, please show some evidence for it besides your own claims about "accumulating social capital" and "undoubtedly wishing to manage those in revolt." I question how much you have actually read of the Platform itself or other writings by its authors, since your perspective seems to rest on using empty catchphrases like "social capital" without any specific evidence from the works themselves.

b.) Yes, it reads empty to me because once again this could refer to anyone who claims to live by certain ethics or mores, not to mention anyone goes around using labels like "anarchist." I would be surprised if you yourself did not "obey a code of conduct" in both your daily life and when it comes to politics. Some good examples - opposition to political parties and "discipline," insistence on "uncontrollable"/self-organized struggles, things that are included in the "common sense" of the term moral code. I would take a wild guess that you also have a certain "code" about things like rape, murder etc. So yes, it is an empty phrase to me in the context of our debate.

c.) I agree completely with this and have never called for anything other than it. I wonder how it is you can talk about "self-organized struggles" and not understand then when I talk about (self-)discipline, how such a word could ever be used by anarchists. It's ironic because there are those who would tell you that "organization" also is authoritarian, that that is the common sense of the word and could tell you too that all organizations ("informal" or not - a meaningless term, by the way) require social capital and obedience to a code, and indeed discipline. I am curious as to what difference you see between that and our debate.

Sorry for the lengthiness again.

- Kevin

author by Jamiepublication date Mon Mar 29, 2010 15:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

apologies for the late response

on the matter of bickering over the intended meaning of the term discipline, i see our discussion going nowhere. i will leave it up to those who read our back and forth comments to utilize the mind of their own. you can tell me you meant "self"-discipline, as opposed to the discipline which i found an insulting thing to call for among those in revolt. but, i think that it is important to consider the context of your use of the term when coming to a conclusion on the intended meaning. let me explain: instead of using a term which would not produce this kind of misconception, (see above for examples i provided). you used this term as one not involved in the revolt and as a part of a tendency which wishes to manage those in revolt while analyzing a very intense explosion of social tension. while ad hominems generally do not make strong arguments, not all ad hominems are logical fallacies and i believe that looking at your political agenda, your article and the situation which produced it, puts this argument into perspective.

so i am going to attempt to kill two birds with one stone here and tackle why i feel you are being intentionally dense and deal with the matter of "code of conduct" etc. so, as i clearly explained above with the definition of discipline as following a particular code of conduct, it shares the same root word as that of disciple. how are you not able to detect the authoritarian nature of following a particular code of conduct as a disciple and not living your life according to your particular ethics as you encounter your environment?

on the AJODA reprint: lots of people read AJODA; i believe it is one of the most wide read anarchist journals around. Platformist material on the other hand is rather small (what's the distribution of the NEFAC paper outside of organization members? can you buy it at Borders?). i feel its safe to assume AJODA take anarchy seriously which would mean they want to create dialogue between anarchists which would mean making available anarchist ideas from all different perspectives. could it be they reprinted your piece understanding not many would read it, while wanting to make it known that they disagree with these perspectives?

political parties are political organizations for political power. political social relations separate decision making from the execution of those decisions and include the delegation of our active powers and representation. NEFAC for example has a claim on alienated power of their members. their members have delegated their active powers to the theoretical and tactical unity (yes i understand that theoretical unity and tactical unity are not the same but why should i type both out completely each time i bring them up) of the organization. NEFAC wishes to gain more power and to have more and more people delegate their active powers to that of the organization. an affinity group is a small group of people organizing largely ad hoc and not wanting to engage in political social relations.

i want an uncontrolled struggle. while you say that is what you wish as well, your organizing into a political party, calls for discipline and theoretical and tactical unity lead me to believe otherwise. when i engage with people with the intent to struggle with them, i see them as individuals with their own desires not as social capital making up a homogeneous mass which make up a movement.

while there is more i would like to respond to in your post, i will leave it short and with these points to discuss. maybe this should become a personal correspondence via email???
best,
jamie

author by Kevin S.publication date Fri Apr 02, 2010 08:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jamie,

I won't keep on either about the term "discipline." Readers can make up their own minds, as you said. If you want to discuss this via email, you can contact me at kevin.s.wsa at gmail. Otherwise, I am fine continuing our conversation on this site. Now, in reply to your last post....

"so i am going to attempt to kill two birds with one stone here and tackle why i feel you are being intentionally dense and deal with the matter of "code of conduct" etc. so, as i clearly explained above with the definition of discipline as following a particular code of conduct, it shares the same root word as that of disciple. how are you not able to detect the authoritarian nature of following a particular code of conduct as a disciple and not living your life according to your particular ethics as you encounter your environment?"

Sorry, but to my ears "particular code of conduct" and "particular ethics" sound like the same thing, in this context. I certainly don't live by someone else's ethics and would not ask any different from you or anyone else. But it doesn't take an anarchist to recognize that one should conduct themselves according to their own beliefs and not simply whatever the boss told them so. I have some disagreements with other Platformists, and feel perfectly free to say so openly. If what you are claiming though is that to even express ones "code of conduct" or to argue to others for your own beliefs is somehow authoritarian, well than you and I have a different definition of "authoritarianism." I am going to take a friendly guess here that whatever it is you are arguing, it is probably more sophisticated than that, or you would not have taken the time to exchange comments like this. I apologize if this still seems "dense," but I suppose it is better being dense than jumping to dismissive conclusions as to what you are trying to say here.

"political parties are political organizations for political power. political social relations separate decision making from the execution of those decisions and include the delegation of our active powers and representation."

Okay, I am going to have to ask you to explain what you mean by "political social relations," unless your literal definition is simply any form of decision making that is authoritarian or alienating. I notice a distinct lack of clarity on the part of anarchists especially, but non-anarchists as well, on the meaning of the words "politics" and "political." Some anarchists talk about an anti-political movement, while others talk about a political movement, all with the same exact same thing in mind. Some use the word "political" as a reference to the State, others use the word for just about everything under the sun, and there are those of us who sit somewhere in between.

"NEFAC for example has a claim on alienated power of their members. their members have delegated their active powers to the theoretical and tactical unity (yes i understand that theoretical unity and tactical unity are not the same but why should i type both out completely each time i bring them up) of the organization. NEFAC wishes to gain more power and to have more and more people delegate their active powers to that of the organization. an affinity group is a small group of people organizing largely ad hoc and not wanting to engage in political social relations."

I am not going to debate about NEFAC's organization, because I am not a member and am not familiar enough with their internal organization norms to say much. I am a member of the WSA, which is a non-Platformist, anarcho-syndicalist organization. If you want to debate about them, I am willing to sketch out briefly my feeling, but I don't care to get into a long discussion of it. But as to your claim about theoretical and tactical unity as being "alienated power," I disagree with this complete. I will try to summarize briefly here:

a.) Theoretical unity means members join around a shared perspective. If don't share the organization's perspective, then you don't join, and no forces you to become or stay a members even if you agree with their perspective. Even a small, informal affinity group may in practice have a level of "theoretical unity," while an organization may claim to have but if the members don't actually agree, then it is not theoretical unity. So there is nothing "alienating" or authoritarian about it, it just means to join the organization because you agree with its perspectives.

b.) Tactical unity can mean to things: it can either mean compatibility, as in acting in ways that do not conflict with each other (rather abstract to my mind, and only makes sense in context of the second meaning); or it can mean agreement, as in sitting down, discussing and agreeing to a plan of action, then acting according to that plan. So it involves a bit more sacrifice of personal opinion than theoretical unity, in that with the theory one joins because they think the same way, whereas with the tactics may require you to act according to a plan you disagree with. However, as long as you have an equal say-so to every other member, and you freely agree to be involved, then it is still not authoritarian.

"i want an uncontrolled struggle. while you say that is what you wish as well, your organizing into a political party, calls for discipline and theoretical and tactical unity lead me to believe otherwise. when i engage with people with the intent to struggle with them, i see them as individuals with their own desires not as social capital making up a homogeneous mass which make up a movement."

If by uncontrolled struggle, you mean self-organized and self-directed, not monopolized by bureaucrats and bosses, then yes what I want is uncontrolled struggle. I don't see how a group of comrades organizing around shared anarchist convictions is alienating or bureaucratic, nor do I see how a group freely agreeing among ourselves to a shared plan of action can be called top-down control. I also agree with you about seeing people who I engage with as individuals with their own desires and motivations, not merely as a faceless mass or as some kind of cynical tool for gaining power. I believe in building mass movements, but building them on real relationships with people in struggle and on actual shared motivations, not simply stacking up ballots for the Party come election day, which is what I take to be tone (if not, in this specific case, your exact meaning) by this talk about social capital making up a homogeneous mass.

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