user preferences

A Brief History of the Rapprochement Process of US Class Struggle Anarchist Organizations

category north america / mexico | anarchist movement | feature author Friday August 02, 2013 00:54author by klas batalo - Common Struggle, Workers' Solidarity Alliance Report this post to the editors

featured image

A short history of the rapprochement process between US anarchist groups the last few years:

"The first weekend of February 2013, delegates representing Common Struggle (Boston, Providence, Western Mass., Buffalo, and at large) Four Star Anarchist Organization (Chicago), Miami Autonomy and Solidarity, Rochester Red and Black, Wild Rose Collective (Iowa City), and Workers Solidarity Alliance (Bay Area, St. Louis, Northeast, at large) convened in Rochester, NY for our first delegate convention. Discussion centered around drafting points of unity and a constitution for our proposed new organization, as well as establishing a time line for our continuing regroupment towards this goal."

[Italiano]


A Brief History of the Rapprochement Process of US Class Struggle Anarchist Organizations


1) Beginnings

During the late 2000s, individual and collective consciousness began developing around the fact that not only were U.S. based anarchist and syndicalist organizations of previous generations persisting and growing in size, but, simultaneously, new groups identifying with these tendencies were emerging all over the country. The membership of these nascent organizations was comprised of veterans of previous groupings and struggles as well as energized newcomers, all representing diverse experiences of politicization. Most importantly, these groups seemed to benefit from an understanding of the failures and successes of past formations as well as the opportunities provided by a particularly ripe political moment. Instead of burning bright and fading away over a short period of time, these groups persevered and began to put down roots. In the shadow of a looming economic crisis, comrades around the country were preparing to take up with renewed vision and heart the old struggle against capitalism and the State.

The founding and proliferation of these new organizations coincided with the rapid, massive expansion of communications technologies. The new communications paradigm very soon became fertile ground for the seeds of international collaboration in struggle, best represented by the collaboration of international anarchist organizations that produced the websites Anarkismo and Anarchist Black Cat. In fact, it was within and by means of the new communications paradigm that a discussion, begun on the (international) Anarchist Black Cat in 2008, soon developed into a project, mutually supported by old and new class-struggle anarchist groups in the US, to start on a process of regroupment aimed at achieving a coast to coast anarchist federation.

2) Early Period

The first Class Struggle Anarchist Conference was called in June 2008 in New York City. Following New York, there were three more CSACs: Detroit (2009), Seattle (2010), and Buffalo (2012). These conferences were organized by members of the participating organizations and attended by their memberships and sponsored observers. They featured speakers, workshops, trainings, open discussions, and activities designed to excavate political similarities and bring to light situations for possible collaboration and mutual aid.

By the end of the Seattle CSAC, there was a collective will to take things to the next level -- that is, to create a formal network of participating organizations. A shared listserv and website were created and groups elected delegates to participate in monthly conference calls.

By the end of the Buffalo CSAC, a delegate track was begun, where political documents and positions were hashed out, furthering progress towards the idea of building a unitary coast-to-coast anarchist organization.

Over the course of time, many groups participated in the CSAC process. Some groups disbanded, others emerged, and new members continued to join the ranks of participating organizations. Some groups also exited the process - which by then had come to be called Rapprochement - citing a variety of reasons for why this was not a good match for them politically or strategically. Those who remained continued to work on weaving the network work together and testing again and again for similarities and controversies.

3) Middle Period

In the fall of 2012, the question was called: has the process of rapprochement finally brought us to a point where we can form a new organization that reflects the best of what all the participating organizations and individual members have to offer?

4) The Rochester Conference

The first weekend of February 2013, delegates representing Common Struggle (Boston, Providence, Western Mass., Buffalo, and at large) Four Star Anarchist Organization (Chicago), Miami Autonomy and Solidarity, Rochester Red and Black, Wild Rose Collective (Iowa City), and Workers Solidarity Alliance (Bay Area, St. Louis, Northeast, at large) convened in Rochester, NY for our first delegate convention. Discussion centered around drafting points of unity and a constitution for our proposed new organization, as well as establishing a time line for our continuing regroupment towards this goal.

5) Looking Forward

Following the Rochester convention, our groups have continued working on our founding documents, through a process of committee edits, organizational amendments and membership referendum. Our membership recently approved a constitution, and we are aiming for a hard launch of our new organization in late 2013.

author by mitch - personal capacitypublication date Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:03Report this post to the editors

The origins of CSAC falls short. The concept actually originated with NY WSA, with very early support for the first conference and concept from NEFAC (CS), with May First (Michigan-Minnesota Group) in close order. Additional comments to follow.

author by Xtnpublication date Sun Aug 04, 2013 00:37Report this post to the editors

It's good to see you all writing up a little something saying where you all are at and where you are wanting to go. I wish you all the best and look forward to future networking, discussions and collaboration.

I do think that the outline and presentation of the Class Struggle Anarchist initiative is skewed and simplified, however. I say this as someone who was involved in the first couple years of organizing the initial conferences and then what became part of the "Rapprochement".

At the beginning, the CSAC came from loose conversations on the old Friends of NEFAC list where it was determined that given a recent wave of workers struggles (auto, transit, aircraft mechanics) that it would be a good thing for us to come together, get reacquainted and educate ourselves on a number of our common histories and experiences, and from there maybe figure out some practical forms of working together inside these emerging and future struggles.

The Regroupment aspect was never the primary basis for networking. It was a small tendency that grew but was never agreed upon by all groups or individuals. I was and remained opposed to Regroupment although I and my comrades were open to arguments in its favor. But I felt that a satisfactory argument in favor of Regroupment was never offered.

The course that I was a part in advocating (as well as other members of the pre-First of May Anarchist Alliance affinity group, the Michigan-Minnesota Group) was that the existing class struggle and social revolutionary anarchist and anti-authoritarian formations should develop various ongoing networks around labor, social justice, housing, etc. Through a decentralized, heterogeneous network that nonetheless had programs, principles and collective strategies for intervention and action, we would be building a revolutionary and anarchist presence in the mass movements. We would also, through principled collective collaboration, be developing a sense of shared politics. We felt this was a better (and organic) way of constructing what might be a down-the-road "federation". But we had the long view rather than the immediate "let's get all the groups together now" approach of the regroupment tendency. In fact, this debate was had in the open plenary of the second Class Struggle Anarchist Conference that was held in Detroit 2009. We were part of a bloc that included Open City (NYC NEFAC), MAS, Solidarity and Defense, and some individual members of the WSA.

Later that year MAS issued the Rapprochement proposal, which while I was skeptical of, I and others participated. My primary feeling of the Rapprochement process was that it was too close to and would be a cover for a simple regroupment and the creation of a unitary organization in which important political and strategic differences would be minimized in favor of a drawing together of as many groups and individuals as was possible under the rubric of a Platformist influenced class struggle anarchism. In the course of the Rapprochement Process discussions I feel this is exactly what happened and questions of internationalism, self-determination of the oppressed and an anti-Empire politic were never agreed upon and in fact positions that were at diametric odds were purposefully minimized.

For the record, I am in favor of self-determination (even within nationalist struggles) and anarchist involvement in class fronts within these struggles. I consider this an important point rather than a blanket rejection of nationalism or a plague on both houses approach. Given the limits of international class struggle and social revolutionary anarchism, we have to develop practical relations with a number of movements who we may have political differences with. This is not an easy avenue but what is easy and if anarchism is to be a viable alternative in these struggles then we have to consider a different approach rather than abstentionism.

This all said, I think that you all continuing to discuss and organize together is positive and as I said, I look forward to future networking around struggles.

author by mitch - personal capacitypublication date Tue Aug 06, 2013 07:13Report this post to the editors

I'd largely agree with these comments and observations:

"At the beginning, the CSAC came from loose conversations on the old Friends of NEFAC list where it was determined that given a recent wave of workers struggles (auto, transit, aircraft mechanics) that it would be a good thing for us to come together, get reacquainted and educate ourselves on a number of our common histories and experiences, and from there maybe figure out some practical forms of working together inside these emerging and future struggles.

The Regroupment aspect was never the primary basis for networking. It was a small tendency that grew but was never agreed upon by all groups or individuals. ..."

I would share these thoughts as well. But I would also say that the collective we never really got it together enough to make such happen. Even though a few of us tried:

"The course that I was a part in advocating (as well as other members of the pre-First of May Anarchist Alliance affinity group, the Michigan-Minnesota Group) was that the existing class struggle and social revolutionary anarchist and anti-authoritarian formations should develop various ongoing networks around labor, social justice, housing, etc. Through a decentralized, heterogeneous network that nonetheless had programs, principles and collective strategies for intervention and action, we would be building a revolutionary and anarchist presence in the mass movements. We would also, through principled collective collaboration, be developing a sense of shared politics. We felt this was a better (and organic) way of constructing what might be a down-the-road "federation"

That said, I think we share a minority point of this on this. The correct one ( -:) ), but a minority one.

author by Wayne - personal opinionpublication date Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:58author email drwdprice at aol dot comReport this post to the editors

The criticisms make some valid points: It is good to have unity in practice, in labor and other arenas, before merging. It would be good to have unity in theory and program. This is especially true of taking a clear stand in favor of self-determination for oppressed nations, races, and communities (considering that we are living in the major imperialist power on earth, rotten with racism!).

But it would be a mistake to let these weaknesses hold up genuine movement toward merger, to creating a national federation of revolutionary, class-struggle, anarchists. These are anarchists who (whether influenced by the historical Draft Platform or not) believe in dual-organizationalism (specific revolutionary-anarchist organization and general labor and community organizations). While building it and organizing it, we would be working on our unity in action and program. These are not either /or tasks.

author by mitch - personal onlypublication date Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:36Report this post to the editors

"This is especially true of taking a clear stand in favor of self-determination for oppressed nations, ...."

There will never be a unified point of view on this. I mean, after 20 plus years of the same discussions, you would think that closer view points would have developed, wouldn't ya? At best, all we prolly can do is comradely agree to disagree on this point.

author by anarcho-communistpublication date Tue Aug 13, 2013 21:56Report this post to the editors

Mitch, Wayne says "it would be good", not we "have to". I think he agrees to disagree on this point.

author by Xtnpublication date Wed Aug 14, 2013 06:45Report this post to the editors

To me the actual issue here is that it was difficult for the various groups to come to common consensus of what work to collaborate on. Part of this was that joint work between the groups was, for some, never a priority, or at best joint work would follow once political agreement was made.There should have been, and remains, an importance to determine how various campaigns intersect, match, parallel and diverge. Coordinating our forces would have and could still lay the foundation for a real regroupment. Despite saying " These are not either /or tasks" Wayne seems to be stressing that ideological coherence rather than practical action deserves more attention towards "genuine movement toward merger, to creating a national federation of revolutionary, class-struggle, anarchists". What does genuine mean? Without practical work, which should necessitate us all to examine in a critical manner, ourselves and the other parties were working with, then how do you arrive at "genuine" agreement and possible unity? Any overemphasis on ideological concerns disconnected from organizing is abstract at best.

I dont want to make light the difficulty at developing joint work, its easier said then done. But in its absence its easy for us to move on and sometimes it's what is necessary.

I in no way speak for M1, and this has to be seen as my personal position, but I felt that the Regroupment/Rapprochement initiative had no clear direction forward, definitely not with on-the-ground work, and thus the main task became drafting and debate over a series of documents. I feel that M1 as a (very)small group had to decide what time and energies we could contribute and how it fit into an approach of both identifying and aiding in the development of social struggles as well as our own organizational development. Housing, labor, anti-racist, Occupy (when it initially emerged), etc,. These were areas we were or became more heavily involved in and for good or bad, they trumped what appeared to be a stagnant Regroupment/Rapprochement process.

At the particular time (2011- 2012) I'm not sure we were in a position to formulate or argue for a renewal of the Regroupment/Rapprochement process and so we eventually resigned, wishing all well.

I think it would a mistake to think that a position on anti-imperialism/self-determination is the core issue for M1. It isn't, although it is an important one. However, it became at a certain point the most acute issue and encapsulated the bigger differences in political orientation and strategies. Possibly even greater an issue, could have been on questions of how social revolutionary anarchists interact with NGO's, non-profits, the union bureaucracies, and voting. These issue themselves never came up in a serious way and and I think many would be surprised to see the variance of positions within the anarchist movement(s). Rather than me cite my groups position I would direct interested people to read, Our Anarchism: http://m1aa.org/?page_id=57 which gives a brief and cursory view of my position as articulated by the organization I am a part of and which I agree with.

Anyway, on the issue of self-determination, if there was a flattening of those differences within the Regroupment/Rapprochement process what else would be minimized in the sake of organizational "unity"?

author by mitch - strictly personalpublication date Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:11Report this post to the editors

I would agree with Xtn in this respect. Common work is key to forward motion. Very little of this has taken place. And where it has, it has been uneven at best. Organization building has to be organic on a number of levels. Ideological and interaction between comrades. Sometimes ideological difference get worked out as folks work together, sometimes not.

But I suspect, there are some with already exisiting politics which are close enough where there's a bunch of movement to regroup. My own read is that numbers of folks feel isolated and that some form of national would break that down. Personally, I'm much for hesitant and reserved. Some of this just goes back to my own ideological orientation, other, the fact that there's been no real close cooperation and working projects.

Number of comments per page
  
 
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

North America / Mexico | Anarchist movement | en

Mon 20 Oct, 21:08

browse text browse image

textCommuniqué of the Mexican Anarchist Black Cross following the declarations of the FD Govt. 23:15 Tue 18 Dec by Mexico ABC 0 comments

In recent days, following the events of the demonstrations on December 1st for the presidential inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto, during which the police forces, both of the Federal [national] and Federal District [Mexico City] forces, brutally repressed demonstrators - officials of the Federal District government, amongst whom were the head of government of the FD and the capital's attorney, have made statements declaring that those responsible for the clashes are anarchist groups.[Castellano] [Français] [Deutsch]

textNew Atlanta Anarchist Blog 12:04 Tue 13 Nov by sweezox 0 comments

Announcing the Heat Index blog at www.heatindexatl.info

textWorkers Solidarity Alliance Holds 2012 Continental Conference 00:42 Thu 23 Aug by sabotage 0 comments

A post-conference report from the Workers Solidarity Alliance's 2012 Gathering in St. Louis MO

pso.jpg imageThe creation of Prairie Struggle Organization, its politics and its goals 17:00 Tue 05 Jun by Prairie Struggle Organization 0 comments

In the last 5 months, some anarchists from Regina have been engaged in the difficult process of creating a revolutionary anarchist organization and debating its political influences. As a result of these meetings and debates, we are proud to finally announce the existence of Prairie Struggle Organization based in Regina. To hopefully start a dialogue with anarchists in the west of Canada and beyond, we feel it important to let you know why anarchist politics in Regina are taking this direction.

textM1 Mayday Statement 22:54 Mon 30 Apr by Chris Alexander 0 comments

Since May 1, 2006 we have seen a slow opening up of mass struggles on a scale not seen in recent memory, amplified by the silent economic crash in 2008. From the massive day without an immigrant to the historic Arab Spring; the Wisconsin workers uprising to the prisoners strikes in Georgia and California; Occupy Wall Street to the rallies for Justice for Trayvon Martin; General strikes of students in Chile and Quebec and of workers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. People committed to real change cannot help but feel the wind in our sails. People are rising and refusing, struggles are igniting, common ground is revealing itself, we are beginning to feel and take back our power, everywhere.

Despite the rise of new fighting forces, pain is growing not decreasing. Symbolic changes at the peak of empire—codename Obama—have only served to further entrench the direction of decline, with Democrats bringing the stick when the Republicans aren’t there to make their bad cop look good. Deportations have increased, prisons are overflowing, the local face of a global war given new legitimacy, while organized racist violence dares to seize an ever greater public stage. Cutbacks and the destruction of public safety nets pay for corporate welfare and bankers’ bailouts. Ecological destruction continues apace: tar sands mining, fracking, nuclear power, and the daily grind of a system that cannot long coexist with dignified human life on earth.

textlast call for NYC Anarchist Book Fair workshop Proposals 13:58 Thu 15 Mar by NYC Anarchist Book Fair Collective 0 comments

The 6th Annual NYC Anarchist Book Fair will be held on Saturday April 14th, 2012 @ Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, New York City with workshops continuing through April 15th

Cover of Northeastern Anarchist #15 imageNortheastern Anarchist #15 available now! 00:54 Fri 06 May by Flint 0 comments

This issue is on Ecology, Industry, Crisis and Alternatives: bell hooks on Intersectionalism, Transit Organizing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City; Indoor Fish Farms, Solar Power, Green Building, "The Vegetarian Myth", Ecological & Economic Crisis, and more...

1mayoe.jpg imageMayday Greetings from the First of May Anarchist Alliance 00:11 Tue 03 May by C. Alexander 0 comments

Mayday is not only a time to remember the sacrifices of so many before us who fought against all authority – capitalism and the state, patriarchy and white supremacy, empire and ecocide – but also a time to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of our movements today. In recent months the world has again been changed by the actions of masses of ordinary people.

textCommon Action dissolves 22:19 Mon 29 Nov by Common Action 0 comments

Common Action, a regional anarchist organization in the Pacific Northwest, has collectively decided to dissolve as of November 15, 2010.

uclcc.jpg imageThe UCL launches its new website 19:05 Tue 01 Jun by Secrétaire externe UCL 0 comments

After several months of preparation, the UCL's website is now online at long last. The site contains all the latest news about the organization, archives of the federation's publications together with our basic documents, such as our Aims & Principles and our Constitution. [Français]

more >>

imageAnarchism and the Philosophy of Pragmatism May 06 by Wayne Price 1 comments

Anarchism and the philosophy of pragmatism can add to each other. Pragmatism is explained as a philosophy of active experience and experimental naturalism. Pragmatism advocates radical, decentrlized democracy and industrial self-management, which is very close to anarchism. However pragmatists have often opposed reformist perspectives to revolution. The case for revolution is presented.

imageShould Anarchists Raise a Program of Demands? Jan 21 by Wayne Price 1 comments

This essay is slightly expanded from one which was rejected by a US anarchist magazine for political reasons. It deals with a disagreement among activists: Should we propose that the movement raise a program of demands? I think that anarchists should, but with a more libertarian-democratic version than the liberals and state socialists. The essay is followed by a response to the political points raised by the editors of the anarchist journal.

textFighting for the Future Apr 17 by Adam Weaver and SN Nappalos 0 comments

This essay is an argument for moving towards national organization in the United States. It explores the limitations of political organization today, recent positive experiences, and possible ways to build on the present to push forward.

imageBuilding Power and Advancing: For Reforms, Not Reformism Mar 03 by By Thomas 0 comments

"We shall carry out all possible reforms in the spirit in which an army advances ever forwards by snatching the enemy-occupied territory in its path." - Errico Malatesta(1)

imagePlatform of Rochester Red & Black Dec 31 by Rochester Red & Black 0 comments

These are the points of unity for the entire collective, reflecting the ideas that inform our organizing work.

more >>

textNew Atlanta Anarchist Blog Nov 13 Heat Index 0 comments

Announcing the Heat Index blog at www.heatindexatl.info

textWorkers Solidarity Alliance Holds 2012 Continental Conference Aug 23 Workers Solidarity Alliance 0 comments

A post-conference report from the Workers Solidarity Alliance's 2012 Gathering in St. Louis MO

textM1 Mayday Statement Apr 30 First of May Anarchist Alliance 0 comments

Since May 1, 2006 we have seen a slow opening up of mass struggles on a scale not seen in recent memory, amplified by the silent economic crash in 2008. From the massive day without an immigrant to the historic Arab Spring; the Wisconsin workers uprising to the prisoners strikes in Georgia and California; Occupy Wall Street to the rallies for Justice for Trayvon Martin; General strikes of students in Chile and Quebec and of workers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. People committed to real change cannot help but feel the wind in our sails. People are rising and refusing, struggles are igniting, common ground is revealing itself, we are beginning to feel and take back our power, everywhere.

Despite the rise of new fighting forces, pain is growing not decreasing. Symbolic changes at the peak of empire—codename Obama—have only served to further entrench the direction of decline, with Democrats bringing the stick when the Republicans aren’t there to make their bad cop look good. Deportations have increased, prisons are overflowing, the local face of a global war given new legitimacy, while organized racist violence dares to seize an ever greater public stage. Cutbacks and the destruction of public safety nets pay for corporate welfare and bankers’ bailouts. Ecological destruction continues apace: tar sands mining, fracking, nuclear power, and the daily grind of a system that cannot long coexist with dignified human life on earth.

textlast call for NYC Anarchist Book Fair workshop Proposals Mar 15 0 comments

The 6th Annual NYC Anarchist Book Fair will be held on Saturday April 14th, 2012 @ Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, New York City with workshops continuing through April 15th

imageMayday Greetings from the First of May Anarchist Alliance May 03 First of May Anarchist Alliance 0 comments

Mayday is not only a time to remember the sacrifices of so many before us who fought against all authority – capitalism and the state, patriarchy and white supremacy, empire and ecocide – but also a time to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of our movements today. In recent months the world has again been changed by the actions of masses of ordinary people.

more >>
© 2005-2014 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]