The Platform: What's in it?
A guide to 'The
Organisational Platform of the libertarian communists'
The introduction is brief, it describes the poor state of the
anarchist movement and explains why they felt it necessary to
formulate a new approach to organisation. The authors then describe
the following two sections as the "minimum to which it is necessary
and urgent to rally all the militants of the anarchist movement".
These are the basic issues on which they believe it is important to
have agreement, in order to have an organisation which can co-operate
and work together in practice.
This section outlines what they saw as the basic anarchist
beliefs. They look at what is meant by class struggle, what is meant
by anarchism and libertarian communism. They explain why they oppose
the state and centralised authority. The role of the masses and of
anarchists in the social struggle and social revolution is also
explained. They criticise the Bolshevik strategy of obtaining control
of the state. Finally they look at the relationship between anarchism
and the trade unions.
The Constructive Section
This outlines how a future anarchist society would be organised,
they look at how the factories would operate and how food would be
produced. They warn that the revolution will have to be defended, and
talk a little about how this might be done.
The Organisational Section
This is the shortest and most contentious section of The Platform.
Here the authors sketch their idea of how an anarchist organisation
should be structured. They call this the General Union of Anarchists.
By this they seem to mean one umbrella organistion, which is made
up of different groups and individuals. Here we would disagree with
them. We don't believe there will ever be one organisation which
encompasses everything, neither do we see it as necessary. Instead we
envisage the existence of a number of organisations, each internally
unified, each co-operating with each other where possible. This is
what we call the Anarchist movement, it is a much more amorphous and
fluid entity than a General Union of Anarchists.
However, what we do agree on are the fundamental principles by
which any anarchist organisation should operate.
- Theoretical Unity, that there is a commitment to come to
agreement on theory. By theory they don't mean abstract musings on
the meaning of life. By theory they mean the knowledge we have
about how the world operates. Theory answers the question 'why?',
for example 'why is there poverty?' 'why haven't Labour Parties
provided a fairer society?' and so on and so on. By theoretical
unity they mean that members of the organisation must agree on a
certain number of basics. There isn't much an organisation can do
if half their members believe in class struggle and the other half
in making polite appeals to politicians, or one in which some
people believe union struggles are important and others think they
are a waste of time. Of course, not everybody is going to agree
with everybody else on every single point. If there was total
agreement there would be no debate, and our politics would grow
stale and sterile. Accepting this however, there is a common
recognition that it is important to reach as much agreement as
possible, and to translate this agreement into action, to work
together, which brings us to ...
- Tactical Unity, that the members of the organisation agree to
struggle together as an organisation, rather than struggle as
individuals in opposition to each other. So for example in
Ireland, the WSM identified the
anti-water charges campaign (see
R&BR3 for more details) as an issue
of great importance. Once it was prioritised, all of our members
committed themselves to work for the campaign, where possible. The
tactics and potential of the campaign were discussed at length at
our meetings. It became the major focus of our activity.
- Collective Responsibility, by this they mean that each member
will support the decisions made by the collective, and each member
will be part of the collective decision making process. Without
this, any decisions made will be paper decisions only. Through
this the strength of all the individuals that make up the group is
magnified and collectively applied. The Platform doesn't go into
detail about how collective responsibility works in practice.
There are issues it leaves untouched such as the question of
people who oppose the majority view. We would argue that obviously
people who oppose the view of the majority have a right to express
their own views, however in doing so they must make clear that
they don't represent the view of the organisation. If a group of
people within the organisation oppose the majority decision they
have the right to organise and distribute information so that
their arguments can be heard within the organisation as a whole.
Part of our anarchism is the belief that debate and disagreement,
freedom and openness strengthens both the individual and the group
to which she or he belongs.
- Federalism, which they define as "the free agreement of
individuals and organisations to work collectively towards common
This article was originally published as part of
Originally published in Red & Black Revolution