Fighting for ourselves: Anarcho-syndicalism and the class struggle - Solidarity Federation

Fighting for ourselves: Anarcho-syndicalism and the class struggle - Solidarity

This excellent book by Solfed aims to recover some of the lost history of the workers' movement, in order to set out a revolutionary strategy for the present conditions. In clear and accessible prose, the book sets out the anarcho-syndicalist criticisms of political parties and trade unions, engages with other radical traditions such as anarchism, syndicalism and dissident Marxisms, explains what anarcho-syndicalism was in the twentieth century, and how it's relevant - indeed, vital - for workers today.

You can buy hard copies of Fighting for ourselves for £6 (including p&p) from Freedom Press (UK - £5 in the shop), and for $10+p&p from Thoughtcrime Ink Books (North America). For other countries please contact Solidarity Federation.

Book information
Publisher: Solidarity Federation and Freedom Press (London, UK)
Publication date: Oct 27, 2012
ISBN: 978-1904491200
Paperback: 124 pages.
Dimensions: 210 x 148 x 8mm

Taken from http://www.selfed.org.uk/read/ffo

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Comments

Jim Clarke
Dec 15 2012 13:23

Great pamphlet!

Here are all the reviews I've seen published so far -

Juan Conatz
Nate Hawthorne
Thurrock Heclker
Adam Ford
Phil Dickens
klas batalo

Oh, and there are some fucking hilarious comments on Anarchist News.

Spikymike
Dec 18 2012 21:04

Good to see this now available on this site so it can get a wider read and hopefully some more serious critical reviews.

Had my say on the other 'New pamphlet...' thread so I wont repeat what I said at various points there, but might have another go if any other points of substance get posted here.

Karetelnik
Jan 18 2013 04:53

Printing "Fighting for Ourselves" at Black Cat Press:

Between Your Teeth
Apr 25 2013 17:22

haven't read it yet, but flagging up the anarchist federation review from the most recent Organise! magazine here:

http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/workplace/365-organise-magazine-80-review-of-solfeds-fighting-for-ourselves-booklet.html

snipfool
May 20 2013 18:47

^User registration re-enabled?

ultraviolet
Aug 4 2013 02:37

Just finished it today. I'll probably start a thread about it at some point, but for now I have just this question:

How does an anarchist-syndicalist union, with an exclusively anarchist-syndicalist membership, gain new members?

There are very few anarchist-syndicalists out there, and those who are will probably gravitate on their own towards such a union. But I'm talking about beyond that.

I'm sure that as the union engages in various struggles, workers will become interested and some want to sign up. But since virtually none of them will be anarchists, what do you do then? Does the union have a series of educational workshops on anarchism for non-anarchists to attend? Or do current members engage would-be members in a series of lengthy political conversations with the hopes of persuading them? Or do they give them a bunch of propaganda to read hoping it will convert them?

There's got to be some sort of intervention to transform non-anarchist militants into anarchist militants. Although it might happen without intervention on occasion, it will be extremely rare. I'm surprised this received absolutely no attention in the book.

What does SolFed do to achieve this? What did FORA do to achieve this?

Chilli Sauce
Aug 4 2013 07:32

Ultra, I'll give it a bosh. At least for SF, the basic requirement to join is that someone is not an anarcho-syndicalist, but that someone will abide by the anarcho-syndicalist principles of the constitution and the A&Ps.

That said, I think the idea (and I'm speaking here from a combination of other conversations with SFers and my personal opinion) is that the anarcho-syndicalist union grows through action. The goal of the union in the workplace is spread struggle as widely as possible (mass meetings, workplace committees, and the like) and as other workers see the effectiveness of A/S methods, they'll be attracted to the union and struggle will open the space for deeper political conversations.

While I think it'd be great to have a majority of members in a given workplace, I think that's pretty unlikely. Rather, the A/S union will form a militant core who always pushes the struggles and seeks to broaden and deepen it as much as possible. And since the union only focuses on the associational function of unionisn, things like recognition and representation (in a word, mediation) won't create a pressure to water down principles to gain members.

So, for example, in my last job I didn't try to organise an SF union. But, for my trusted co-workers, I brought them to an organiser training. And, I had my local run trainings that I thought would be beneficial to some of the problems my co-workers were having at work--temp worker rights training or a legal training on workplace bullying, for example. The focus of these were always practical, but it included some political discussion at the end that included some examples of SF victories in these areas.

I have no idea about the FORA, but does that answer some of your questions?

ultraviolet
Aug 4 2013 16:57

ok, that answers my question. but if this is the way solfed does it, i can foresee solfed losing the plot in a revolutionary situation.

in FFO, it was discussed how workers in england got to the point where they had run up against the limits that capitalism could offer in terms of wage gains, and the bosses literally could not afford to give more (showing the books to prove it), and so the movement fell apart.

if all that's needed to be a member is to accept the use of direct action, but not accepting the vision and goal of an anarchist society, or even the expropriation and self-management of production, then it will probably repeat this history.

i think the only way around this is to make education about anarchism and revolution necessary to membership. this doesn't have to be before they join, but maybe something like they have to go through some educational orientation within the first year of membership.

i'm sure the current membership are sincerely committed to anarchism, but during a revolutionary situation, and in the lead up to it, membership will boom... and the true anarchists in the group will become a minority.

members have to agree to "abide by the anarcho-syndicalist principles of the constitution and the A&Ps" - is there anything in that constitution about revolution, expropriation, self-management, and creating an anarchist society? and even if there is, it's easy for people to make a thin commitment to something in the abstract, that is far away and thus don't ever have to demonstrate any commitment to in practice. for example, the socialist party that salvador allende was leader of when he was president of chile in the early 1970s, it had a constitution that affirmed the party's commitment to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the creation of socialism. but when the opportunity for revolution arose, the party acted as a force of counter-revolution.

sure, a union is not a party. it's goal is not to capture the state. but the point is that people can commit to a constitution in abstract without actually believing the sentiments of that constitution. obviously the members of an anarchist-syndicalist union have to regularly demonstrate their commitment to militant direct action, but this can exist while maintaining zero commitment to revolution.

klas batalo
Aug 4 2013 18:18

i believe they would have to agree to things that are more political than just direct action. this is the dialogue chilli is talking about over these things. this dialogue relationship is important so you don't just get members who are of a paper commitment to the organization.

Picket
Dec 27 2013 02:07

In my reading, commitment to the A&P of SolFed is commitment to revolutionary libertarian communism. I don't understand Chilli's post. (I am not a SolFed member. Though I like their politics.)

[edit: I just fixed my spelling of communism! Sorry for the bump]

Chilli Sauce
Aug 4 2013 20:04
Pikel wrote:
In my reading, commitment to the A&P of SolFed is commitment to revolutionary libertarian communlsm. I don't understand Chilli's post. (I am not a SolFed member. Though I like their politics.)

Can I clarify? Any specific questions?

UV wrote:
it was discussed how workers in england got to the point where they had run up against the limits that capitalism could offer in terms of wage gains, and the bosses literally could not afford to give more (showing the books to prove it), and so the movement fell apart.

To be fair, UV, from what I remember of FFO this was raised in part in relation to the need for a revolutionary perspective. Without it, the class is shit out of luck if capital can prove it can't offer further concessions.

Also, I don't disagree with anything you've laid out, but I'm not sure a higher bar to membership is the answer. (To be honest, SF already has a pretty high bar to membership and, in general, I don't think it's a particularly proselytising organisation). Revolutionary situations are going to be messy in the best of circumstances and I think it'll be far more about the respect anarcho-syndicalists have earned prior to the revolution that will determine how influential our particular politics are within revolution itself.

Of course, we're happy to have internal and external education, but I think the overall goal right now is to become an effective organisation at workplace organisation. If we reach a point where we're good enough at that that we think folks are joining just for the economic benefits, I'd like to think we'd be pretty capable of ramping up the internal education to compensate.

Picket
Aug 4 2013 20:34

Sorry I should have said I don't understand UV's post, or why they interpreted your post in the way they seem to have done.

Although I'm not sure what the difference is between, as you say, "abiding by" the anarcho-syndicalist A&Ps of the SF, and actually being, in some sense at least, an anarcho-syndicalist? What is the difference?

ultraviolet
Aug 5 2013 02:03
Chilli Sauce wrote:
the overall goal right now is to become an effective organisation at workplace organisation. If we reach a point where we're good enough at that that we think folks are joining just for the economic benefits, I'd like to think we'd be pretty capable of ramping up the internal education to compensate.

fair enough. i think this is fine as long as the internal education is ramped up when that point is reached. the only worry is that because internal education for new members has not been part of the solfed culture before that point was reached, that it gets forgotten about and neglected when the need for it later arises. habits (including the habit of not doing something) can be hard to change. not saying this would definitely happen, just something to watch out for down the road.

Pikel wrote:
In my reading, commitment to the A&P of SolFed is commitment to revolutionary libertarian communlsm.

glad to hear it! (and thanks for the link.)

if you're wondering why i'm still concerned despite this being in the constitution, if a union is having lots of success using direct action to win gains, many workers will be attracted for this reason, not the revolutionary content of its constitution. they have to profess agreement with it to become a member, but their agreement might be very thin, virtually non-existent, or based on a confused and problematic understanding. this thin agreement can go unnoticed for years, decades, because the question of revolution is not on the horizon. if a revolutionary situation came, and the majority of members were of this type, the union would be at high risk of behaving in non-revolutionary ways. hence the importance of anarchist education for new members.

my concerns with this have mostly been addressed by chilli's latest post, my one remaining concern is mentioned above.

ultraviolet
Aug 5 2013 02:09

p.s. It was a good book! I'm a better anarchist for having read it. Congrats, SolFed. black star

Joseph Kay
Oct 6 2013 21:35

Shocking revelations that FFO is based on FFVII...

Anarcho-syndicalist role play: beat the bosses to progress.

vicent
Jun 11 2014 11:38

**
p. 93
Further reading
Units 19 and 20 of the SelfEd history of anarcho-syndiclaism cover the ri