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The Anarchist Organisation

category brazil/guyana/suriname/fguiana | anarchist movement | policy statement author Monday February 13, 2012 16:36author by Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro - FARJ Report this post to the editors


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In this text we have sometimes discussed the specific anarchist organisation and our expectations in relation to it. As we have earlier defined, its objective is “to build the popular organisation and influence it, giving it the desired character, and to reach libertarian socialism by means of the social revolution”. Further, we understand this as the political level of activity.



If [the revolutionary] lacks the guiding idea of their action,
they will not be anything other than a ship without a compass.

Ricardo Flores Magón

An anarchist organisation must be based, in my opinion,
on full autonomy, on full independence,
and, therefore, on the full responsibility of individuals and groups;
free agreement between those who believe it to be useful to unite in order to co-operate
with a common end; a moral duty to keep to the commitments accepted and not to
do anything that contradicts the accepted programme.

Errico Malatesta


In this text we have sometimes discussed the specific anarchist organisation and our expectations in relation to it. As we have earlier defined, its objective is “to build the popular organisation and influence it, giving it the desired character, and to reach libertarian socialism by means of the social revolution”. Further, we understand this as the political level of activity.

The specific anarchist organisation is the grouping of anarchist individuals who, through their own will and free agreement, work together with well-defined objectives. For this it uses forms and means in order that these objectives are achieved, or that, at least, it proceeds towards them. Thus, we can consider the anarchist organisation as "[...] the set of individuals who have a common objective and strive to achieve it; it is natural that they understand each other, join their forces, share the work and take all measures suitable for this task "[110]. Through the anarchist organisation anarchists articulate themselves at the political and ideological level, in order to put into practice revolutionary politics and to devise the means – the way of working – that should point to the final objectives: social revolution and libertarian socialism. This political practice, which seeks the final objectives, should be carried out

creating an organisation that can fulfil the tasks of anarchism, not only in times of preparing the social revolution, but also afterwards. Such an organisation must unite all the revolutionary forces of anarchism and immediately concern itself with the preparation of the masses for the social revolution and with the struggle for the realisation of the anarchist society. [111]
This organisation is founded on fraternal agreements, both for its internal functioning as for its external action – without having relations of domination, exploitation or alienation in its midst – which constitute a libertarian organisation. The function of the specific anarchist organisation is to co-ordinate, converge and permanently increase the social force of anarchist militant activities, providing a tool for solid and consistent struggle, which is a fundamental means for the pursuit of the final objectives. Therefore,
[...] it is necessary to unite and to organise: first to discuss, then to gather the means for the revolution, and finally, to form an organic whole that, armed with its means and strengthened by its union can, when the historical moment is sounded, sweep all the aberrations and all the tyrannies of the world away [...]. The organisation is a means to differentiate yourself, of detailing a programme of ideas and established methods, a type of uniting banner to embark in combat knowing those with whom you can count and having become aware of the force at one’s disposal. [112]
To constitute this tool of solid and consistent combat, it is essential that the anarchist organisation has well-determined strategic-tactical and political lines – which occur through theoretical and ideological unity, and the unity of strategy and tactics. This organisation of well-defined lines joins the anarchists at the political and ideological level, and develops their political practice at the social level – which characterises an organisation of active minority, seeing as though the social level is always much larger than the political level. This political practice takes shape when the anarchist organisation of active minority performs social work in the midst of the class struggle, seeking social insertion which takes shape from the moment that the anarchist organisation manages to influence the social movements with which it works. Properly organised as an active minority, the anarchists constitute a much larger social force in the realisation of social work and have a greater chance of having social insertion. Besides social work and insertion, the specific anarchist organisation performs other activities: the production and reproduction of theory, anarchist propaganda, political education, conception and implementation of strategy, political and social relations and resource management. So we can say that the activities of the specific anarchist organisation are:

- Social Work and Insertion
- Production and Reproduction of Theory
- Anarchist Propaganda
- Political Education
- Conception and Implementation of Strategy
- Social and Political Relations
Resource Management

These activities can be performed in a more or less public way, always taking into account the social context in which it [the organisation] operates. We say more or less public because we believe that "one should do publicly what it is agreed that everyone should know, and secretly that which it is agreed should be hidden" [113]. In times of less repression the anarchist organisation operates publicly, performing the greatest propaganda possible and trying to attract the largest number of people. In times of increased repression, if, "for example, a government forbids us to speak, to print, to meet, to associate, and we do not have the strength to rebel openly, we would try to speak, to print, to meet and to associate clandestinely "[114].

In this work, which varies according to the social context, the specific anarchist organisation must always defend the interests of the exploited classes, because we understand it as a political expression of these interests. For us, the ideas of anarchism

[...] are nothing if not the purest and most faithful expression of popular instincts. If they do not correspond with these instincts they are false; and, to the extent that they are false, will be rejected by the people. But if these ideas are an honest expression of the instincts, if they represent the true thought of the people, they will quickly penetrate the spirit of the revolting multitudes; and as long as these ideas encounter the way of the popular spirit, will advance quickly to their full realisation. [115]
The specific anarchist organisation, understood as a political expression of the interests of the exploited classes, does not act on their behalf and never places itself above them. It does not replace the organisation of the exploited classes, but gives anarchists the chance to put themselves at their service.

In this political practice of placing itself at the service of the exploited classes the anarchist organisation is guided by a Charter of Principles. The principles are the ethical propositions and notions, both non-negotiable, that guide all political practice, providing models for anarchist action. "The assumption of consistency with these principles is what determines ideological authenticity pertaining to anarchism." [116] In our case, the Charter of Principles of 2003 [117] defines nine principles: freedom, ethics and values, federalism, self-management, internationalism, direct action, class struggle, political practice and social insertion, and mutual aid.

In first place we assert the principle of freedom, affirming that "the struggle for freedom precedes anarchy." Like Bakunin thought, we hold that "individual freedom [...] can only find its ultimate expression in collective freedom", and we reject, therefore, the individualist proposals of anarchism. The pursuit of libertarian socialism is thus the incessant struggle for freedom. Another principle absolutely central for us is that of ethics and values which causes us to base all of our practice on the anarchist ethic, which is a "non-negotiable militant commitment." Through ethics, among other things, we advocate the consistency between means and ends and mutual respect.

We assert federalism and self-management as principles of non-hierarchical and decentralised organisation, sustained by mutual aid and free association, assuming the premise of the IWA that everyone has rights and duties. Beyond this, it is these principles that will guide the management of the future society at all levels: economic, political and social management, performed by the workers themselves. Emphasising the need for struggles to be self-managed we affirm that "even if living with the current outdated system, [self-management] gives potential to the transformations that point towards an egalitarian society."

By asserting internationalism we highlight the international character of struggles and the need for us to associate ourselves by class affinities and not those of nationality. The exploited of one country must see in the exploited of another a companion of the struggle, and not an enemy. Internationalism is opposed to nationalism and the exaltation of the state, as they represent a sense of superiority over other countries and peoples, and reinforce ethnocentrism and prejudice – the first steps towards xenophobia. Everyone, regardless of their nationality, is equal and should be free.

Direct action is posited as a principle founded on horizontalism and encourages the protagonism of workers, opposing representative democracy which, as we have already stated, alienates politically. Direct action puts the people in front of their own decisions and actions, "linking workers and the oppressed to the centre of political action."

In addition, we choose to base ourselves on class struggle, defining ourselves as a workers organisation of workers that defend the exploited, and fight for the extinction of class society and for the creation of a society in which slaves and masters no longer exist. Therefore, we recognise and give precedence to the class struggle. For us, there is a central need to combat the evils of capitalism head on, and for this it is essential to fight alongside the exploited, where the consequences of class society become more clear and evident.

The principle of political practice and social insertion reinforces the idea that it is only with the exploited classes that anarchism is able to flourish. Therefore, the anarchist organisation should seek to relate to all forms of popular struggle, regardless of where they may be taking place. We affirm that the interaction of the anarchist organisation with any manifestation "in the social, cultural, peasant, trade union, student, community, environmental camps etc., as long as inserted into the context of struggles for freedom," contemplates the concretisation of this principle.

As the last principle in the Charter mutual aid encourages solidarity in struggle, encouraging the maintenance of fraternal relations with all who truly work for a just and egalitarian world. It encourages effective solidarity among the exploited.

At the moment in which it performs social work the specific anarchist organisation seeks to influence the social movements in a constructive way, with proposals and, at the same time, keep away from them the negative influence of individuals and groups who – instead of defending the interests of the people, encouraging them to be the protagonists of their own emancipation – use them to achieve other objectives. We know that politicians, parties, unions and also other authoritarian organisations and individuals – like the church, drug trafficking etc. – constitute obstacles to the construction of the popular organisation since they penetrate social movements, in the vast majority of cases, seeking to take advantage of the number of people present there to: find support in elections, constitute the base for authoritarian power projects, get money, conquer faiths, open new markets and so on. Authoritarian organisations and individuals do not want to support social movements, but use them to achieve their (the authoritarian organisations’ and individuals’) own objectives, which are not consistent with the objectives of the militants of the social movements – that is, the authoritarians seek to establish a relationship of domination over the social movements.

Any anarchist who has organised or even seen how working in social movements works knows that, if there is not a consistent organisation, capable of giving the necessary strength to the anarchists in the ongoing dispute over political space, the authoritarians become hegemonic and the work of the anarchists is completely lost. The anarchists, by not constituting the necessary social force, offer two possibilities: either they will be used by the authoritarians as workhorses (aka "sleeves") in carrying out their authoritarian power projects, or they will simply be removed. In the first case we speak of anarchists that are not specifically organised and go in the wake of events. When they are not organised, they do not exert the necessary influence to have even a little social force. While they do not interfere much they are allowed in the social movements. In the second case we speak of isolated anarchists who begin to exert some influence, or, in authoritarian understanding, they begin to interfere. In this case they are expelled, removed or vilified. They are literally "bowled over" by the authoritarians. Without the necessary organisation they cannot maintain themselves in the social movements and much less exert the desired influence.

This happens because when there is not a proper organisation of anarchists, it is possible to establish authoritarian, or less libertarian organisations. In addressing the permanent dispute over political space we are not saying that anarchists should fight for the leadership, supervision, or any position of privilege in the social movements. We talk, on the contrary, of the internal struggle that takes place when we want to influence social movements to use libertarian practices.

We believe that there is never a political vacuum, anywhere. Therefore, from the moment we cause our positions to prevail it necessarily means a decrease in the influence of the authoritarians and vice versa. For example, on seeing that some anarchists are struggling for a movement to use direct action and direct democracy, politicians and party devices will be against it, and unless there is a strong organisation of anarchists, with social insertion and the ability to fight for these positions, the authoritarian positions will have greater chances to prosper. When we are properly organised as anarchists we will not lag behind events, but manage to mark our positions and exert our influence in the social movements, going on to have true insertion. It is through the specific anarchist organisation that we can manage to be properly organised for the work we want to perform in the most varying social movements.

The anarchist organisation should be the continuation of our efforts and our propaganda; it must be the libertarian adviser that guides us in our everyday combat action. We can base ourselves on its programme to spread our action in other camps, in all the special organisations of particular struggles into which we can penetrate and take our activity and action: for example, in the trade unions, in anti-militarist societies, in anti-religious and anti-clerical groupings etc. Our special organisation can serve equally as a ground for anarchist concentration (not centralised!), as a field of agreement, of understanding and of the most complete solidarity as possible between us. The more we are united, the smaller will be the danger that we be dragged into incoherence, or that we turn from our impetus for struggle to battles and skirmishes where others who are not at all in agreement with us could tie our hands. [118]
Thus, the anarchist organisation, besides being responsible for its political practice in different camps serves to increase the social force of the anarchists within them. Among the various forces present in these spaces anarchists should stand out and bring to fruition their positions.

This political practice in different camps requires that the anarchist organisation divides itself into fronts, which are the internal groups that carry out social work. Generally, organisations that work with this methodology suggests that three basic fronts are developed: trade union, community and student. Differently, we believe that the fronts should be divided, not according to these pre-stipulated spaces of insertion, but based on the practical work of the organisation. In our understanding there should not be an obligation to develop work in these three fronts and, in addition, there may be other interesting spaces that demand dedicated fronts.

Each organisation should seek spaces more conducive to the development of its social work, and from this practical necessity form its fronts. Thus, if there is work in the student sector, there may be a student front. If there is union work, there may be a trade union front. However, if other work is developed, for example, with rural movements or with urban movements etc., the fronts should follow this division. That is, instead of having only one community front that works with rural and urban social movements, you could create a front of rural movements and another front of urban movements. In this sense, we support a model of dynamic fronts that account for the internal division of the specific anarchist organisation for the practical realisation of social work in the best way possible.

The fronts are responsible, in their respective area of work, for the creation and development of social movements as well as for ensuring that anarchists occupy political space – space that is in permanent dispute – and to exercise due influence in these movements.

In the case of our organisation we initiated social work divided into two fronts. The "community front," which combines the work of management of the Fabio Luz Social Library (Biblioteca Social Fábio Luz - BSFL), of the Centre of Social Culture of Rio de Janeiro (Centro de Cultura Social - CCS-RJ) and its community work, the Marques da Costa Centre for Research (Núcleo de Pesquisa Marques da Costa - NPMC) and of the Ideal Peres Libertarian Study Circle (Círculo de Estudos Libertários Ideal Peres - CELIP). The other was the "occupations front", which was involved with urban occupations and the Internationalist Front of the Homeless (Frente Internacionalista dos Sem-Teto - FIST). With the change in the situation we left FIST, continuing to work with occupations and have gone on to bring together a few occupiers, and many other unemployed in the Movement of Unemployed Workers (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Desempregados - MTD). This movement took on great importance in this front. In this way the "occupations front" was renamed "urban social movements front." Likewise, because we deemed it necessary, we constituted a third front: the "agro-ecological front" (Anarchism and Nature) from practical work in rural social movements, of ecology and agriculture, which began to be developed by the organisation. In this way, we hold that the fronts are adapted to the practical context of work. We illustrate how this works in practice.

SAO being the specific anarchist organisation (divided into fronts A, B and C) and SM the social movements, the SAO is divided internally into the fronts which act, each one, in a determined SM or SM sector. In this case, assuming that the SAO works with three SM, or with three SM sectors, it divides itself for the work in three fronts. Front A works with SMA or with sector A of a determined SM. Front B works with SMB or with sector B of a determined SM, and so on. Giving practical examples: the SAO can be divided into a syndicalist front (A), a community front (B) and a student front (C), and each one of them will act in a SM. Front A will act in the union, front B in the community and C in the student movement. In our case, our SAO is today divided into three fronts: urban social movements (A), community (B) and agro-ecology (Anarchism and Nature) (C). Each of these works in one or more social movements. Front A in the homeless movement and in the MTD, front B in the community movement and front C in the rural movements of ecology and agriculture.

Besides this internal division into fronts, which functions for social work, the specific anarchist organisations uses, both for its internal and external functioning, the logic of what we call "concentric circles" – strongly inspired by the Bakuninist organisational model. The main reason that we adopt this logic of functioning is because, for us, the anarchist organisation needs to preserve different instances of action. These different instances should strengthen its work while at the same time allowing it to bring together prepared militants with a high level of commitment and approximating people sympathetic to the theory or practice of the organisation – who could be more or less prepared and more or less committed. In short, the concentric circles seek to resolve an important paradox: the anarchist organisation needs to be closed enough to have prepared, committed and politically aligned militants, and open enough to draw in new militants.

A large part of the problems that occur in anarchist organisations are caused by them not functioning according to the logic of concentric circles and by not implementing these two instances of action. Should a person who says they are an anarchist and is interested in the work of the organisation be in the organisation, despite not knowing the political line in depth? Should a laymen interested in anarchist ideas be in the organisation? How do you relate to "libertarians" – in the broadest sense of the term – who do not consider themselves anarchists? Should they be in the organisation? And the older members who have already done important work but now want to be close, but not to engage in the permanent activities of the organisation? And those that can only rarely dedicate time for activism? There are many questions. Other problems occur because there are doubts about the implementation of social work. Must the organisation present itself as an anarchist organisation in the social movements? In its social work can it form alliances with other individuals, groups and organisations that are not anarchist? In such a case, what are the common points to advocate? How do you carry out social work in a field with people from different ideologies and maintain an anarchist identity? How do you ensure that anarchism does not lose its identity when in contact with social movements? On this point there are also many questions.

The concentric circles are intended to provide a clear place for each of the militants and sympathisers of the organisation. In addition, they seek to facilitate and strengthen the social work of the anarchist organisation, and finally, establish a channel for the capture of new militants.

In practice the logic of concentric circles is established as follows. Inside the specific anarchist organisation there are only anarchists that, to a greater or lesser extent, are able to elaborate, reproduce and apply the political line of the organisation internally, in the fronts and in public activity. Also, to a greater or lesser extent, militants should be able to assist in the elaboration of the strategic-tactical line of the organisation, as well as having full capacity to reproduce and apply it. Militants assume internal functions in the organisation – be they executive, deliberative or extraordinary – as well as external functions with regards to social work. The functions assumed by the militants within the organisation adhere to self-management and federalism, or to horizontal decisions where all the militants have the same power of voice and of vote and where, in specific cases, there is delegation with imperative mandates. The functions to be performed by the delegates must be very well defined so that they "cannot act on behalf of the association unless the members thereof have explicitly authorised them [to do so]; they should execute only what the members have decided and not dictate the way forward to the association" [119]. Moreover, the functions should be rotated in order to empower everyone and avoid crystallised positions or functions.

The specific anarchist organisation could have only one circle of militants, all of them being in the same instance, or it could have more than one circle – the criteria being collectively defined. For example, this may be the time that a person has been in the organisation or their ability to elaborate the political or tactical-strategic lines. Thus, the newer militants or those with a lesser ability to elaborate the lines may be in a more external (distant) circle, with the more experienced militants with a greater ability for elaborating the lines in another more internal (closer) one. There is not a hierarchy between the circles, but the idea is that the more "inside", or the closer the militant, the better are they able to formulate, understand, reproduce and apply the lines of the organisation. The more "inside" the militant, the greater is their level of commitment and activity. The more a militant offers the organisation, the more is demanded of them by it. It is the militants who decide on their level of commitment and they do or do not participate in the instances of deliberation based on this choice. Thus, the militants decide how much they want to commit and the more they commit, the more they will decide. The less they commit, the less they will decide.

This does not mean that the position of the more committed is of more value than that of the less committed. It means that they participate in different decision-making bodies. For example, those more committed participate with voice and vote in the Congresses, which define the political and strategic lines of the organisation; the less committed do not participate in the Congresses, or only participate as observers, and participate in the monthly assemblies where the tactics and practical applications of the lines are defined.

Thus, inside the specific anarchist organisation you may have one or more circles, which should always be defined by the level of commitment of the militants. In the case of more than one level this must be clear to everyone, and the criteria to change a level must be available to all militants. It is, therefore, the militant who chooses where they want to be.

The next circle, more external and distant from the core of the anarchist organisation, is no longer part of the organisation but has a fundamental importance: the level of supporters. This body, or instance, seeks to group together all people who have ideological affinities with the anarchist organisation. Supporters are responsible for assisting the organisation in its practical work, such as the publishing of pamphlets, periodicals or books; the dissemination of propaganda material; helping in the work of producing theory or of contextual analysis; in the organisation of practical activities for social work: community activities, help in training work, logistical activities, help in organising work, etc. This instance of support is where people who have affinities with the anarchist organisation and its work have contact with other militants, are able to deepen their knowledge of the political line of the organisation, better get to know its activities and deepen their vision of anarchism, etc.

Therefore, the category of support has an important role to help the anarchist organisation put into practice its activities, seeking to bring those interested closer to it. This approximation has as a future objective that some of these supporters will become militants of the organisation. The specific anarchist organisation draws in the greatest possible number of supporters and, through practical work, identifies those interested in joining the organisation and who have an appropriate profile for membership. The proposal for entry into the organisation may be made by the militants of the organisation to the supporter and vice-versa. Although each militant chooses their level of commitment to the organisation and where they want to be, the objective of the anarchist organisation is always to have the greatest number of militants in the more internal circles, with a greater level of commitment.

Let us give a practical example: lets suppose that an organisation has deliberated to work internally with two levels of commitment – or two circles. When the militants are new they enter at the level of "militant" and, when they have been there six months and are prepared and committed militants, move on to the level of "full militant". Let us suppose that this organisation has also resolved to have a level of supporters. The objective of the organisation will be to draw in the greatest possible number of supporters, based on the affinity of each one with the organisation, transferring them to the level of militant and, after six months – once prepared – to the level of full militant. We illustrate how this can work in practice.

SU being the level of supporters, M of militants and FM of full militants, the objective is the flow indicated by the red arrow – to go from SU to M and from M to FM. Those who are interested can follow this flow, and those who are not can stay where they feel better. For example, if a person wants to give sporadic support, and no more than that, they may want to always stay at SU. The issue here is that all a person's will to work should be utilised by the organisation. This is not because a person has little time, or because they prefer to help at a time when it must be rejected, but because inside a specific anarchist organisation there must be room for all those who wish to contribute. "Accomplishments are the criteria for selection that never fail. The aptitude and efficiency of the militants are, fundamentally, measures for the enthusiasm and the application with which they perform their tasks". [120]

The logic of concentric circles requires that each militant and the organisation itself have very well defined rights and duties for each level of commitment. This is because it is not just for someone to make decisions about something with which they will not comply. A supporter who frequents activities once a month and makes sporadic contributions, for example, cannot decide on rules or activities that must be met or carried out daily, as they would be deciding something much more for the other militants than for themselves.

It is a very common practice in libertarian groups that people who make sporadic contributions decide on issues which end up being committed to or carried out by the more permanent members. It is very easy for a militant who appears from time to time to want to set the political line of the organisation, for example, since it is not they who will have to follow this line most of the time.

These are disproportionate forms of decision-making in which one ends up deciding something which others enact. In the model of concentric circles we seek a system of rights and duties in which everyone makes decisions about that which they could and should be committed to afterwards. In this way it is normal for supporters to decide only on that in which they will be involved. In the same way it is normal for militants of the organisation to decide on that which they will carry out. Thus we make decisions and their commitments proportionally and this implies that the organisation has clear criteria for entry, clearly defining who does and does not take part in it, and at what level of commitment the militants are.

An important criteria for entry is that all of the militants who enter the organisation must agree with its political line. For this the anarchist organisation must have theoretical material that expresses this line – in less depth for those who are not yet members of the organisation and in more depth for those who are. When someone is interested in the work of the anarchist organisation, showing interest in approximation, you should make this person a supporter and give them the necessary guidance. As a supporter, knowing the political line in a little more depth and having an affinity for the practical work of the organisation, the person may show interest in joining the organisation or the organisation can express its interest in the supporter becoming a militant. In both cases the supporter should receive permanent guidance from the anarchist organisation, giving to them theoretical material that will deepen their political line. One or more militants who know this line well will discuss doubts, debate and make clarifications with them. Having secured the agreement of the supporter with the political line of the organisation, and with agreement from both parties, the militant is integrated into the organisation. It is important that in the initial period every new militant has the guidance of another older one, who will orient and prepare them for work. In any event, the anarchist organisation always has to concern itself with the training and guidance of the supporters and militants so that this may allow them to change their level of commitment, if they so desire.

This same logic of concentric circles works in social work. Through it the anarchist organisation is articulated to perform social work in the most appropriate and effective way. As we have seen, the anarchist organisation is divided internally into fronts for the performance of practical work. For this there are organisations that prefer to establish direct relations with the social movements, and there are others that prefer to present themselves through an intermediary social organisation, which we could call a grouping of tendency.

Participation in the grouping of tendency implies acceptance of a set of definitions that can be shared by comrades of diverse ideological origins, but which share certain indispensable exclusions (to the reformists, for example) if seeking a minimum level of real operational coherence. (...) The groupings of tendency, co-ordinated with each other and rooted in the most combative of the people (...) are a higher level than the latter [the level of the masses]. [121]
The grouping of tendency puts itself between the social movements and the specific anarchist organisation, bringing together militants of distinct ideologies that have affinity in relation to certain practical questions.

As we have emphasised, there are anarchist organisations that prefer to present themselves directly in the social movements, without the need for the groupings of tendency, and others preferring to present themselves by means of these. In both cases there are positive and negative points and each organisation must determine the best way to act. As the views that we advocate in the social movements are much more practical than theoretical, it may be interesting to work with a grouping of tendency, incorporating people who agree with some or all of the positions that we advocate in the social movements (force, class struggle, autonomy, combativeness, direct action, direct democracy and revolutionary perspective) and that will help us to augment the social force in defence of these positions.

In the same way as in the diagram above, the idea is that the specific anarchist organisation seeks insertion in this intermediate level (grouping of tendency) and through it presents itself, conducting its work in social movements in search of social insertion. Again we illustrate how this works in practice.

SAO being the specific anarchist organisation, GT the grouping of tendency and SM the social movement, there are two flows.

The first – that of the influence of the SAO – seeks to go through the GT and from there to the SM. Let us look at a few practical examples. The anarchist organisation that desires to act in a union may form a grouping of tendency with other activists from the union movement who defend some specific banners (revolutionary perspective, direct action, etc.) and by means of this tendency may influence the union movement, or the union in which it acts. Or the anarchist organisation may choose to work with the landless movement and, for this, brings people who defend similar positions (autonomy, direct democracy, etc.) in the social movement together in a grouping of tendency. By means of this grouping of tendency the specific anarchist organisation acts within the landless movement and, in this way, seeks to influence it.

This form of organisation aims to solve a very common problem that we find in activism. For example, when we know very dedicated activists; revolutionaries that advocate self-management, autonomy, grassroots democracy, direct democracy, etc. and with whom we do not act because they are not anarchists. These activists could work with the anarchists in the groupings of tendency and defend their positions in the social movements together.

The second arrow in the diagram shows the objective of the flow of militants. That is, in this scheme of work the goal is to bring people in the social movements that have practical affinity with the anarchists into the groupings of tendency and, from there, bring those that have ideological affinity closer to the anarchist organisation. In the same way as in the previous diagram, if a militant has great practical affinity with the anarchists, but is not an anarchist, they must be a member of the grouping of tendency and will be fundamental to the performance of social work. If they have ideological affinities they may be closer to or even join the organisation.

The objective of the anarchist organisation is not to turn all activists into anarchists, but to learn to work with each of these activists in the most appropriate way. While having mutual interests the militants may change their positions in the circles (from the social movement to the grouping of tendency or from the grouping of tendency to the anarchist organisation). Without these mutual interests, however, each one acts where they think it more pertinent.

The decision-making process used in the anarchist organisation is an attempt at consensus, using the vote when consensus is not possible. Unlike some libertarian groups and organisations we believe that consensus should not be mandatory. As we mentioned earlier, besides consensus being a very inefficient form of decision-making, becoming unfeasible the more the number of people involved in the decisions increases, it offers the serious problem of giving great power to isolated agents. In an organisation of 20 militants one could block consensus, or even if 19 were in favour of one position and one another, you would have to have a "middle ground" that would consider, in a very disproportionate way, the only dissenter. To give proper efficiency to the decision-making process and not to give too much power to isolated agents, we chose this model of an attempt at consensus, and when this is not possible, the vote. "If it were in the very bosom of the organisation that the disagreement arose, that the division between majority and minority appeared around minor issues, over practical modalities or over special cases [...], then it may occur more or less easily that the minority are inclined to do as the majority." [122] In the case of voting all the militants of the organisation, even those who are outvoted, have an obligation to follow the winning position. This decision-making process is used to establish theoretical and ideological unity and also for strategic and tactical unity. We will return to these later. At this point it is enough to emphasise that for the struggle we want to pursue, we must put an end to dispersion and disorganisation and "the way to overcome this is to create an organisation that [... is based] on the basis of specific theoretical and tactical positions, and that leads us to a firm understanding of how these should be applied in practice" [123].

It is important to add, too, that the militants must use common sense at the time of decisions by vote. They should carefully observe the positions of militants who are closest to the issues that are being voted on, as these positions are more important than those who are not close, even though they have the same weight in voting. When voting occurs it can be easy for militants not involved in the issue being voted on to determine what others will have to do. Such situations demand caution and those in which all the members that would carry out what was deliberated on lose the vote, and are obliged to apply what was resolved by others, should be avoided.

Also in relation to decisions, at the time in which they are being taken "there must be a lot of space for all discussions and all points of view must be analysed carefully" [124]. After deliberation, "responsibilities [are divided], the members being formally responsible for their execution," since "the organisation does nothing by itself." Then "all the activities that are deliberated and which are the responsibility of the organisation will have, in one way or another, to be executed by its members" and, for this execution, there is the "need to divide the activities between militants, always looking for a model that distributes these activities well and to avoid the concentration of tasks on the more active or capable members". "From the moment in which a militant assumes one or more tasks for the organisation, he has an obligation to perform them and a great responsibility to the group [...]. It is the relationship of commitment that the militant assumes with the organisation."

Furthermore, we believe it to be relevant and reaffirm, once again, that "self-discipline is the engine of the self-managed organisation" and this also applies to the specific anarchist organisation. Thus, "each one that assumes a responsibility must have sufficient discipline to execute it. Likewise, when the organisation determines a line to follow or something to accomplish, it is individual discipline that will cause what is collectively resolved to be realised." We note:

we also ask for discipline, because, without understanding, without co-ordinating the efforts of each one to a common and simultaneous action, victory is not physically possible. But discipline should not be a servile discipline, a blind devotion to leaders, an obedience to the one who always says not to interfere. Revolutionary discipline is consistent with the ideas accepted, fidelity to commitments assumed, it is to feel obliged to share the work and the risks with struggle comrades. [125]
"We believe that in order for our struggle to bear promising fruit it is fundamental that each of the militants of the organisation have a high degree of commitment, responsibility and self-discipline." [126] "It is will and militant commitment that will cause us to go, day after day, towards the development of the organisation’s activities such that we can overcome the obstacles and pave the way for our long-term objectives." [127] Finally, we should know that "responsibility and organisational discipline should not horrify: they are travel companions of the practice of social anarchism" [128].

This position introduces a relation of co-responsibility between the militants and the organisation, it being that the anarchist organisation "will be responsible for the revolutionary and political activity of each member, the same way as each member will be responsible for the revolutionary and political activity" [129] of the anarchist organisation.


110. Errico Malatesta. "Organisation II." In: Escritos Revolucionários, p. 55.

11. Nestor Makhno. "Our Organisation". In: Anarchy and Organisation. St. Paul, Libertarian Struggle, s / d, p. 31.

112. Luigi Fabbri. "A Organização Anarquista". In: Anarco-Communismo Italiano, pp. 107, 110-111.

113. Errico Malatesta. "La Propaganda Anarquista." Excerpted from Pensiero e Voluntà, January 19, 1925. In: Vernon Richards. Op. p. 171.

114. Ibid. p. 172.

115. Mikhail Bakunin. "Mobilização do Proletariado." In: Conceito de Liberdade, p. 134.

116. FARJ. "Carta de Princípios."

117. Ibid. The quotation marks in the next seven paragraphs refer to this document.

118. Luigi Fabbri. "A Organização Anarquista". In: Anarco-Communismo Italiano, p. 116.

119. Ibid. p. 124.

120. Juan Mechoso. Acción Directa Anarquista: una historia de FAU. Montevideo: Recortes, s / d, p. 199. The quotations marks of the Mechoso book refer to documents of the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU).

121. Ibid. pp. 190, 192.

122. Luigi Fabbri. "A Organização Anarquista". In: Anarco-Communismo Italiano, p. 121.

123. Dielo Trouda. "El Problem de la Organización y la Síntesis notional".

124. FARJ. "Reflections on the commitment ...". The unidentified quotes in this and the next paragraph refers to this article.

125. Errico Malatesta. "Action and Discipline." In: Anarchists, Socialists and Communists, P. 24.

126. FARJ. "Reflections on the commitment ..."

127. Ibid.

128. Nestor Makhno. "On Revolutionary Discipline." In: Organisation and Anarchy, p. 34.

129. Dielo Trouda. "Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists."

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