AF(UK) an interesting case

Via the God of Libcom I’ve been reading up more on the Anarchist Federation (UK). In Rebel Alliances, the author gives a real good and brief history of the british anarchist movement from the 1800s onward. The AF(UK) arose out of the confluence of left communist and anarchocommunist groups a few decades back. Though they started as platformists they came to reject that framework, although they still support being organized as anarchists in specifically anarchist organizations. What makes them most interesting is their perspective on unions, capitalism, and divisions of the class. 


Since their roots come from the synergism between left communism and anarcho-communism, they have a much more sophisticated perspective on capitalism in its present form, the role of unions in capital, and how class and hierarchy are maintained. Just looking at their Aims and Principles shows some of their insight. They reject unions as they have become integrated within capital and the state, calling instead for workplace resistance groups (which is what wobblies would call solidarity unionism). They have an analysis of race and gender which seems like it is trying to grasp the role they in maintaining capital through divisions in the class, and how the abolishion of those relations requires more than ‘black and white unite and fight’. They also show a nuanced understanding of the ways in which class struggle has receded from the workplace often and atomization in our lives today. I don’t have that much to say right now except that as far as principles and theory goes, they seem like the group that is most close to what I believe. The best thing of theirs (which I have some disagreements with still) is The Role of Revolutionary Organization. I’d be interested in hearing what others have to say about this article and their Aims and Principles.

One critique I have heard of them is that they have had trouble acting strategically (though this is true of the IWW too) in concert, though I think this also has a genesis in the dynamic that exists between them, the WSM (irish platformists), and the solidarity federation (anarchosyndicalist propaganda group). I think they’ve tried to distance themselves from these groups that is, and maybe swung to far the other way? Maybe that’s just speculation.

What I like is that they have been able to develop their thoughts, work with like minded groups (they interact with left marxist groups in England and have solidarity ties all over the world), and push ideas that are often off the radar of most anarchists. I’ve been feeling a similar need myself for a space for political and theoretical development that can reinforce and help be constructive in the work I do, so looking at these models is interesting in my musing about it.  


2 thoughts on “AF(UK) an interesting case

  1. hey chief,

    Thanks for this. I’ll read those docs ASAP, and will read at least some of the Rebal Alliances book over break, a friend from the branch loaned it to me.

    In terms of the trouble acting strategically, I don’t know if this applies to AF or not, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – I think objective conditions underdetermine subjective conditions, such that strategic and organizational responses are not given in analysis. Analysis at best might fix a site or type of site or general principles for acting together, and the underdetermination recurs in regard to the site(s)/principles.

    One problem with this view is that analysis is often the summation of and reflection on activities. In that case, then can the analysis-action/organization relation still be said to be underdetermined? I think so, but I’m not 100%. This may be off topic, but I don’t know that it is – I think that this helps make the criticism less strong (not that you made it in a noncomradely fashion), and also allows a bit of room to still respect the good results occasionally gotten by groups who we disagree with – like say some of the ‘mass work’ that some maoists do – without having to sacrifice any of the disagreement.


  2. interesting. I think it’s on topic. I’d agree that objective and subjective conditions both under-determine one and another. Yet they aren’t independent either though. I like the distinction you make, and i think that vocabulary could let us talk about shading organizations doing good work and good organizations who fail to do good work. It’s like Cornelius and the SI. Socialisme au Barberie had the theory, SI were better marketers.

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