Place And Purpose Of Different Organizations

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Place And Purpose Of Different Organizations
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I have been reading a lot about the various anarcho-syndicalist, anarchist-communist, revolutionary syndicalist, etc organizations and platforms/programmes.


In practice, some of these groups become simply networks of militant and/or revolutionary workers within a given area (one workshop, within one company, in a particular region, in a nation-state, or internationally), not as labor unions (if they call themselves as such) or revolutionary organizations per se.


Many people who have commented online on this type of organization seem to reject it- they don't want their group to be a network of militant workers (with a minority of revolutionary workers), they want it to be a labor union, or a revolutionary organization, etc.


My question is- what does the ICC think about an organization that acts as a network for militant workers? An organization to regroup militant (not necessarily revolutionary) workers seems to me like it would be a beneficial asset to working class struggles, in periods of low or high class struggle. No pretensions of being or trying to be a union or a revolutionary group or party. Small anarcho and revolutionary syndicalist groups seem to act as such in practice, even if they try to be something else on paper or in reality. I think a lot of workers, especially with the economy and political environment as it is today, would be open to joining a group for other disillusioned workers without the baggage of a specific political background/heritage.

A couple of suggestions on workers' organisations

It sounds as if the kind of thing you are thinking of is either what we might term discussion groups, or struggle committees. You can search for these terms on the site, but you might find this article on the former, or this on the latter, interesting as starting points.

Red Hughs
I think the question of

I think the question of organization is extremely important at the moment.

I would say that it is something that is continually falsied by the tendency towards leftism within capitalist society.

So it is extremely important to be very clear about the nature and purpose of the various organizations that appear both consciously and spontaneously.

I would certainly agree that one weakness of syndicalist organization forms is that they see the need to turn informal networks into a formal "union-like" organization. Networks of workers will certainly develop. I am not against them. Indeed, the ability of informal organizations to develop without a formal union is a strong counter-argument to the usual syndicalist arguments. But we don't want to think in terms of disproving the syndicalist - rather, we need to think about being effective in propagating communism.

So, I think that the "task" of the "most advanced" tendencies of the proletariat is to make our politics as clear as possible, as accessible as possible, and as widely distributed as possible. 

Especially, my experience has been once you are talking about people who don't share a common workplace, who are mostly brought together by their own radicalism, "informality" can be a code or excuse for compromising with various leftist tendencies - even among very radical and aware groups.

I would also add that I beleive that in the current climate, there is something like a critical mass of still-small groups who are fairly clear that they seek communism. Given this, I think that clarifying positions and relations is especially imporant.

While the terms "democratic" and "socialist" certainly seem archaic - for me, of people, I think Lenin's argument concerning praxis is good here;  "It cannot be too strongly maintained that... that the Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat." (and believe-you-me, Lenin isn't someone I usually quote).

(editted to remove gratuitious spaces at the end...)




 I agree with Red's emphasis on clarification but I think that Devoration's concern is also valid - ie the possibility of creating links that would allow militant workers to have a more immediate intervention in the struggle (which is not in contradiction with the idea of discussing the overall goals of the movement...). I think it would be a major step forward if some of the 'anarcho-syndicalist' groups abandoned the idea of forming 'revolutionary unions', which we see as a utopian project, developed a deeper understanding of the union form and focused their activity on developing assemblies and similar forms more appropriate to today's conditions. Of course this would require a major rethink of their historical traditions, so would not happen overnight At the same time many of these groups do in practice emphasise the necessity for workers to take direct control of the struggle and this provides the basis for collaboration with left communists.

Indeed. In practice, from

Indeed. In practice, from what is available in their press and on their websites, groups like Solidarity Federation are doing exactly that- linking worker-militants into organizations based on geography that support the creation of assemblies as the mechanism for workers to take direct control of their struggles. Though some say they are for the creation of an anarcho-syndicalist union in the future. Some members at Libcom define an anarcho-syndicalist union not much differently than left communists define a shop committee combined with a revolutionary organization- and also support the formation of worker's councils.


It seems like the baggage of each tendency within the workers movement erects barriers that ought not to exist, since in practice many 'conflicting' tendencies support the same thing, and act in a similar manner to get there.

Red Hughs
Hmm, I am more skeptical and


I am more skeptical and see the divide between communists and syndicalists as wider.

I will certainly admit that communists and anarcho-syndicalist could be plausibly be argued to aiming for something like the same thing in the their "day to day organizing".

But however, I would argue that the next serious challenge to capitalism will not come about through a gradual snowballing of any kind of "day to day organizing". Rather, I think history shows that such upsurges appear in rather sudden waves.

The most recent example was the struggle in Argentina in 2001. Here, factories were important but they were also a struggle which lagged behind the struggles on the street. Moreover, the question with factory struggles very quickly became the question of self-management. As owners abandoned factories, the approach of attempting to keep production going in the still existing capitalist market. And here, I would offer that communists would have an absolutely opposite position to syndicalists.

I would claim that communist would advocate:

1) Destroy the existing state.

2) Centralize production for need. Avoid self-management for the market

3) Centralize the power and control of the working class through mass assemblies.

Oppositely, I would guess that syndicalist would see something like the self-management of an expensive suit factory as "an important step", ignoring the overall of struggle against the state.

Red Hughs
Personally, I would be

Personally, I would be critical of the even those tendencies labelling themselves anti-union communists but frame the struggle as solving involving a gradual development of workplace organizations akin to the "syndicalist scenario".

Spefically, I am friends with folks from Movemente Communiste and they are fine people but they advocate that militant produce propaganda primarily for the paricular industry in which they work. Such sectionalism seems archaic to me in a day-and-age where we proletarians are thrown together more and more as just a huge collection of individuals.



Here is an excerpt from a Libcom Library article on the KAPD/AAUD/AAUD-E:


With the dangers threatening the working class as the Nazis started on the road we know so well today, and with inertia and cowardice of the old and powerful 'working class' organisations, there were moves to unity. In December 1931, the AAUD (having already separated from the KAPD) fused with the AAUD-E. Only a few elements remained in the KAPD, and some from the AAUD-E went into the anarchist ranks (the FAUD). But most of the survivors of the factory organisations were in a new organisation, the KAUD (Kommunistische Arbeiter Union Deutschlands) or the Communist Workers Union of Germany. This expressed in its title the idea that the organisation was no longer a 'general organisation' of the workers, as the AAUD had been at one time. It united all those workers who were declared revolutionaries, consciously communist, but did not claim it united all the workers any longer.


With the change of name, there was a change of conception. Up till then, council communism had only taken note of the 'organised class'. Both the AAUD and the AAUD-E had believed from the beginning that it would be they who would organise the working class, that millions would rally to them. It was an idea close to that of revolutionary syndicalism, which looked forward to seeing all the workers join their unions, then the working class would be an 'organised class'.

Now however, the KAUD urged workers to organise for themselves their own action committees. No longer was the 'organised' class struggle to depend on an organisation formed previously to the struggle. In this new conception, the 'organised class' became the working class struggling under its own leadership.

This change of conception had other consequences. It affected the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, for instance. If the 'organised class' was no longer the exclusive affair of organisations formed before the struggle, those organisations were no longer able to be considered as the organs of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Thus disappeared one of the causes of dissension: whether the KAPD or the AAUD would have to exercise power. It had to be agreed that the dictatorship of the proletariat could not be in the hands of specialised organisations; it would exist in the hands of the class which was in struggle. The task of the new KAUD would amount to communist propaganda, clarifying the objectives of the struggle, urging the working class to struggle, principally by means of the unofficial strike, and showing it where its strengths and weaknesses lay."

It is similar to the kind of organization I described earlier. Though it seems to me that revolutionary workers ought to organize and regroup themselves into a revolutionary organization (which is essentially the role the KAUD and KAPD played)- while 'open' revolutionary-syndicalist groups like AAUD & AAUD-E essentially organized and regrouped a combination of militant workers and revolutionary workers.

Present day examples of such a militant worker organization include the discussion groups like the Manchester Class Struggle Forum (which links militant and revolutionary workers in a given area to engage in debate and discussion regarding class related news, theory, history, etc) and regional struggle groups like the Seattle Solidarity Network (which links militant and revolutionary workers in a given area to engage in flying picket type support, strike support, solidarity actions, demonstrations and direct actions against local bosses, etc).

It is very inspiring to see this kind of activity taking shape.

Black Mass on states

Red Hughs on Sept 30 2010 wrote that in his view communists would advocate destroying the existing state. 

All folk interested in that view might find the views of John Gray relevant, which are in his Penguin paperback of 2008 entitled 'Black Mass'.  There is a copy in my local Public Library, on a Politics shelf, Dewey 320.55.   I will not attempt to regurgitate them on this website.