Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Platform - 2pm Sunday 11 April

We're going to be discussing 'Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists' at LARC*

In 1926 a group of exiled Russian anarchists in France, the Dielo Trouda group (Workers' Cause), published the 'Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists' or The Platform as its often referred to. It arose not from some academic study but from their experiences in the 1917 Russian revolution. They had taken part in the overthrow of the old ruling class, had been part of the blossoming of workers' and peasants' self- management, had shared the widespread optimism about a new world of socialism and freedom . . . and had seen its bloody replacement by State Capitalism and a centralist party dictatorship. What should revolutionaries learn from the Russian Revolution, how should they organise....


For an historic introduction to the text visit here and for the text visit here.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Live Working or Die Fighting, Sun 2PM - 21 March @ LARC

The book situates current globalisation of the third world alongside the early pangs of worker struggles across Europe in 19th century, so it’s ideal to understand the impact of classical radical ideas on the contemporary.


The book in its entirety is worth discussing but the intention is to deal with the early chapters due to time restraints, so we will be looking at
1. 'Rise like lions' – China/Peterloo Massacre
2. 'Everything connected with beauty' – India/Lyon Silk Weavers Revolt
3. 'This is the dawn...' - Nigeria/Paris Commune
7. 'Totally ignorant labourers' – India/Shanghai commune

Monday, 22 February 2010

Karl Marx's - Value, Price and Profit

We are going to be discussing Karl Marxs economic work 'Value, Price & Profit'. There should be tea, biscuits and possibly cake aswell.

Value price and profit was originally a speech delivered by Karl Marx at the First International on June 20 and 27, 1865. On April 4, 1865, John Weston, an influential member of the General Council and English trade union’ rep, proposed that the General Council should discuss the following questions:

Can everyone’s social and material prospects be improved by wage increases?
Do the efforts of the trade unions to secure increases have a harmful effect on other branches of industry?

Weston answered no to the first question and yes to the second, Marx had other ideas...

The piece can be found at and a reading guide at the same site

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Rudolf Rocker's - Anarchosyndicalism

Sunday 7th Feb. 2pm @ London Action Resource Centre

We will be discussing Rudolf Rocker's classic seminal work Anarcho-Syndicalism. All welcome. Come and discuss the relevant book and its ideas in a friendly open environment.

For more information on Rocker please see,

A collection of his English works can be seen at,

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Anarchism & Anarcho-Syndicalism

Public Talk on Rudolf Rocker

When and Where

Wednesday 27th January

7.30 pm @ The Lucas Arms

245, Grays Inn Road



Martin H-Solidarity Federation

Born in Germany, Rocker was a bookbinder and socialist. He later became an anarcho-syndicalist and moved to London where he became a leading figure in the Jewish anarchist movement and one of syndicalism’s key theorists.

In place of the capitalist economic order, Anarchists would have a free association of all productive forces based upon cooperative labour, which would have for its sole purpose the satisfying of the necessary requirements of every member of society”

Rocker: Anarchism and Anarcho-syndicalism

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Jan- Feb Programme

Sun 17th Jan 2pm @ LARC:

Give Up Activism, The Tyranny of Structurelessness & Hierarchy, structure and consensus within activist groups
Three texts written in different contexts that examine some of the basic ideas of organising and the way in which we approach capitalism not as an external object but as a social relationship that is part of our everyday lives.

Wed 27th January 7.30pm @ Lucas Arms: Public Meeting
Presentation on Rocker and discussion on ideas for the future regarding books and films.

Sun 7th Feb 2pm @ LARC: Rudolf Rocker: Anarcho-Syndicalism
Born in Germany, Rocker was a bookbinder and socialist. He later became an anarcho-syndicalist and moved to London where he became a leading figure in the Jewish anarchist movement and one of syndicalism’s key theorists.

Sun 28th Feb 2pm @LARC: Karl Marx: Value Price and Profit
Here Marx outlines his economic approach to wages and capital in response to a letter written to him by John Weston questioning the logic of strikes and wage increases.


Reading and disussion sessions: LARC (London Action Resource Centre): 62 Fieldgate St, Whitechapel, London E1 1ES

Public meeting: The Lucas Arms 245, Grays Inn Road, WC1X 8QZ
Hierarchy, structure and consensus within activist groups

The issue of hierarchy is difficult to approach as we must firstly identify what is meant by the term ‘hierarchy’ and secondly, what type of organisation structure will ensure neither a formal nor informal hierarchy can develop to dominate the group. Hierarchy is a power inequity. When one individual, or a number of people operating as an ‘elite’, control the decision making process of the group or are not directly recallable to the group, the hierarchy is clearly identifiable. Hierarchy, however, is not always so obvious. Hierarchy operates on a number of levels; not only must we recognise and respond to hierarchy within activist groups, we must also recognise and respond to the impacts a hierarchical society has upon activist groups. This brings us to the issues of ‘consensus’ decision-making processes.

The term “consensus” has arisen to a carte blanche status in the ‘environment movement’. It has primarily gained currency amongst environment groups and associations of ‘identities’ that generally constitute themselves as a ‘network’.

The mythical ideal of consensus decision-making:

In an ideal model of consensus decision-making, positions and decision are reached which are meant to constitute a synthesis of any differences that arise within the group, in other words, a decision with which everyone is happy. In its actual operations, consensus is more often a process of sly conformism which works to assimilate differences of power that exist between people from various backgrounds. It comes as no surprise to find groups that operate on a “consensus” basis are (almost) invariably dominated and led by individuals who occupy special positions of privilege in society: white, straight, middle-class, bourgeois womyn, and more often, in the spirit of patriarchy, men. Participants in consensus groups often have invested interests (and dare I say class interests) in bringing the group to a particular position. For those with particularly strong investments, “achieving consensus” thus becomes a process of convincing others in the group in order to ensure a positive outcome for a certain set of ideas. When these agendas are particularly inflexible or high valued, success can only be achieved through the silencing or marginalisation of opposition. Instead of more voices there are fewer. And having a demonstrated commitment to environmental or other issues is not enough to exempt or excuse anyone from these controlling tendencies.

‘Consensus’ obviously benefits those who are able to argue well and strongly articulate a position; it is people with these expensive skills who are in the best position to convince others of the value of their arguments and thus dominate the group. These situations disadvantage people from less privileged backgrounds who will either become a silent presence or decide to limit their involvement in the group. In this process, issues of gender, class, race and elements of difference are dissent are smoothed out, ensuring the group becomes ever-more homogenous and more able to sustain its own dominant paradigm.

Clearly, not even the fairest structure or the most responsible group is able to overcome problems produced by oppression in industrialised society – power will always circulate. This does not mean we should avoid a critique of the structural models available to us or refuse to engage in discussions about how to organise in a more democratic manner. Environmentalist however, by persisting in a protective valorisation of a certain kind of consensus model, obstruct any moves towards more democratic (less hierarchical) forms of organising.
This valorisation of consensus is accompanied by a demonisation of the term “structure”. Formalised structures are regarded by certain activists as “alienating” and unavoidably “hierarchical”. I for one fail to see how a structure which limits the possibilities for bourgeois environmentalists to engage in uninterrupted expression of their class interests can be considered as ‘hierarchical’ simply because of its formal qualities.

Speaking lists (that enable a prioritisation of those who have spoken least), task allocation, specific delegation rather than assumed delegation, elected facilitators (on a rotational basis), caucuses (as opposed to the offensively elite and informal ‘coffee chats’ between friends who socialise together and who politics have a remarkable resemblance to liberal-pluralism), continued critical examination of current decision making procedures, distribution of authority and discussing formal proposals which are resolved through a process of debate and voting are not hierarchical – they are democratic. Jo Freeman, in her article “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”, outlines the impossibility of a “structureless” group and the undemocratic nature of informal structure:

“A laissez-faire group is about as realistic as a laissez-faire society;… the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can easily be established because the idea of structurelessness (that is exhibited in groups operating on a consensus basis)
does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones.” Freeman

The impossible space of “consensus” decision-making…

The are many difficulties inherent in assuming a critical position such as I have outline: making a criticism is not the best way to go about ingratiating oneself and gaining acceptance within any group; it is certainly one way of going about ensuring one is not regarded as “N.I.C.E.” (Not Insightful or Critical Enough?). The position of the critic is thus often a marginalised one. This is complicated by the common expectation that any criticism should be accompanied by a ready-made set of solutions to one’s own criticisms. From such a marginalised position of unpopularity it is not very easy to feel confidence about making such recommendations. Surely it is the collective responsibility of any group to work together on resolving any evident problems or areas of conflict, not the individual responsibility of any one person to fix things up. It is evident then such an expectation works to undermine the legitimacy of any criticisms that might be made and to make it difficult to offer criticism. Despite this it is crucial such criticisms are made (and acted upon) for the mythical ideal of ‘consensus’ has been a product of the bourgeois class and its flunkies since its inception.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? What is this reformist crap?

Resist, Rebel, Revolt!

Courtesy of the 1994 Black Star crew