What is a Resistance Society?

srneuquenResistance Societies are not well known in the English speaking world, though they were among the most important building blocks and experiences in South American anarchism; arguably in its time the largest and most well developed anarchist movement in the World. The history of Resistance Societies draws from 1st International days when unions and sharp political and economic divisions had not yet been carved out. In countries like Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, anarchist formed Resistance Societies to coordinate their local struggles against capitalists and the State. There were Resistance Societies for tenants struggles, women’s struggles, and coordinating different workers associations. This text is from the present day FORA about Resistance Societies today and their role within FORA. Below is my translation of a text from the Rosario Resistance Society of the FORA. 

The Practices of the Movement of the FORA: Concerning the Resistance Societies

What is a Resistance Society?

Resistance Society designates the first nucleuses of proletarians and associated revolutionaries of the last century; workers and artisans who sought complete autonomy and independence from the relations of the State, bosses, and Capital.

Through the years the objective of the Resistance Societies were to concretize a community of effective struggle within the bosom of the proletariat by sister organizations of men and women in every locality where Capital imposes its inhuman conditions of existence.

The Resistance Society is a historic organization that has a character of federalism and direct action. It’s not the same as a doctrinaire group nor a union. It’s not an anarchist organization, nor a syndicalist organization; instead a natural organization of the proletariat.

All authentic proletarian organization is constantly besieged by the conditions of existence imposed by Capital. It’s not because of sectarianism that it struggles against capitalist exploitation, but because it is Capital itself that has everything under its control.

For us, the goal for this type of association is to generate, through propaganda, the self-formation and struggle to influence the men and women that compose the social machinery in order to destroy the authoritarian, political, legal, moral, religious, and economic foundations they impose on us from birth.

Inside and Outside of the Federation

The definition of Resistance Society has been connected to distinct practices of craft associations and also to aspects of anarchism itself.

We want to say, with this, that there has existed Resistance Societies inside and outside of the FORA and, for this, there’s not necessarily today only one way to explain the mode of struggle, fundamental doctrines, and objectives that were fought for by these first organizations we name.

Nevertheless with those entities [the FORA aligned Resistance Societies] that we accepted in the Pact of Solidarity of the FORA[1], also called the Federal Pact, we assume certain accords in common for practices necessary to win social liberation.

Through the more than 100 years within the breast of the Federation men and women have fed the ideal of liberty and social justice called anarchist communism; social and economic practices that the FORA defends in its principles.

There have been radical changes in the social, economic, and political context since the founding of our organization in the previous century; not one change, but thousands. Despite this (although some things have been changed while others merely masked) the State, law, morality, and property continue to be chains that perpetuate the social order.

Resistance Societies and Struggle in the Present

When we speak of the unions we don’t refer to this or that power feud or those entities whose own characteristics strive for positions neutrality or combativity against the incumbent government. The parties and unions are of Capital.

Our critique of unionism isn’t that it only has a concrete limitation around its representative form, power, or bargaining that it can have. The current union model imposes by law and force an effort to corral all the working class in a misleading and castrating dynamic.[2]

The opposition to the present union model, which doesn’t develop due to its own dynamic of the struggle- to take one example, the overflowing union bureaucracy-, should be encouraged through a profound and continuing propaganda in the sense of abstaining from any part of the union games. Our suggestion to compañeros is that our practices should take the initiative of struggling against the conditions of life and not following those imposed from above.

Let us strengthen our convictions knowing that there’s no redemption or salvation beyond each of us coordinating and strengthening the struggle. We shouldn’t seek from without what we have within.

Long live anarchy. Long live the FORA .


[1] The Solidarity Pact refers to the principles of membership and affiliation of the FORA instated with the IV congress of the FORA where anarchist communism was adopted as the aim of the FORA, and its basic politics were first laid out. Throughout the southern cone of Latin America anarchist workers organizations were formed by local anarchist trade associations and Resistance Societies affiliating and federating. The Resistance Societies pre-date the FORA, and not all were FORA members.

[2] Argentina’s labor law has been defined for recent memory by a corporatist approach which the Peronists mixed fascist and leftist models, and which consequently gutted the Argentinian labor movement. At this time nearly all unions except the official union federation are technically illegal, and unrecognized strikes and actions carry brutal repression.

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