Anarchist Federation Forming In Greece … Echoes From Another Time Across The Ocean

Greek Anarchist FederationWe are reprinting the English translation of the text announcing and providing a background to the creation of a federation of anarchist groups in Greece. The comments that follow are my own brief personal reflections on this in the context of a somewhat similar experience I was part of almost forty years ago. There are a lot of discontinuities in anarchism and this is an attempt to make a link. Unfortunately during the writing of these comments, I did not have access to any of the relevant documents, so my comments are based on memory. I apologize in advance to my former comrades for any inaccuracies and I assure them they were not intentional.

In 1978 a number of anarchist groups in Canada and the USA formed the Anarchist Communist Federation of North America (ACF) for short. I was part of the Toronto affiliate at the time, the Toronto Anarchist Group (TAG) which I had joined in 1977. The issue of affiliating with the ACF was brought up by one of the comrades at the time, the late Steve Ellams (who wrote with the pen name of Lazarus Jones) and it had the immediate effect of creating a heated debate along the lines between those who believed that anarchism can only flourish by focusing on development of local activities and seeing involvement in a federation as either sapping energies, a possible bureaucratization of the movement especially when the local groups are either young or not yet strong and those who believed the local groups would benefit and be strengthened by federation, address issues of general concern and provide impetus to resistance through an organized and concerted effort. This debate was never resolved within the group. What ended up happening was that those of us who were for federating pulled out and formed a separate group, the Toronto ACF. And we went on by and large on our different ways.

I was very young at the time and all this was very exciting. To me at least, but I also believe for the other comrades too, there was the sense that we were moving towards something that would have an impact. The newspaper, the North American Anarchist was the main (common) organ of the federation, published in Toronto and distributed throughout North America and in a few places in Europe. It has been a while now, but in Toronto we were probably selling about forty copies in bookstores and additional ones at demonstrations and other events (we use to have a regular “table” at the University of Toronto). At the time, due to personal circumstances, I was more involved in the local group (affiliate) and did not travel to the various conferences in North America, but was present at the conferences in Toronto and in St. Catharines. The two links below give a bit of context to all this and I would like to say that I had met the comrades from the Libertarian Workers Group who were (are) highly honorable and dedicated revolutionaries.

With the demise of the federation around 1982, the Toronto and St. Catherine comrades decided to continue the newspaper as Strike! (for Social Revolution) which continued for another few years until about 1986. Ultimately, there was a sense that “things” were not really moving in any way. Some of us continued our activities by publishing one issue of Autonomy and then we all dispersed onto other things. And then many years later autonomies came to be, but this is another story.

I cannot speak for the other groups in the federation and after with Strike!, but I recall one of the things that I kept thinking at the time for us here in Toronto was that we were stagnating. Despite engaging in organizing locally demonstrations, collaborating with other local groups and generally maintaining an active presence in demonstrations and public events, the local Toronto group seemed unable to break outside past its few members.

The Toronto group tended towards a general anarcho-syndicalism in its approach: basically emphasizing the central role of working class (& student) interpreted in a loose sense (as opposed to a more “workerist” meaning as found in the ultra-left) in the struggle against capitalism and towards revolution.

Despite the ultimate failure of the ACF, the formation of a federation today, under globalized conditions, is I believe something necessary, at the national or regional level but also as a basis for the creation of global organizations of resistance. In retrospect I think what was and is important is maintaining the openness to dialogue among revolutionaries and the various tendencies within anarchism.

The issues that the Greek comrades raise, particularly the substitution of personal relations for political ones, has always been a weakness of post-sixties anarchism. Is it an over-reaction to the formal rigidities of conventional politics, is it a kind of fetishism of the personal, is it because those who join these movements do not thoroughly self-reflect on their own “dysfunctionalities”, something perhaps more pertinent in a movement that depends more than others on the capacity for self-discipline? In some ways, the freedom a participant is able to exercise in unique ways in determining the direction of anarchist groups provides a microcosm of the pitfalls of self-organization of communities on larger scales. I recall we had noticed that informal mechanisms could when not under rigorous self-reflection and attention lead to highly oppressive and excluding practices. All this is to say that play is serious business. But when these aspects are maintained, a federation can give strength to the local group and vice versa, just the opposite can happen.

https://libcom.org/library/declaration-anarchist-communist-federation-north-america-1980

https://libcom.org/library/libertarian-workers-group-resigns-acf

The following translation of the Greek text announcing the formation of the federation is reprinted from the International of Anarchist Federations.

http://www.i-f-a.org/index.php/news/708-founding-congress-of-the-anarchist-federation-in-greece

The original Greek text can be found at

https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1549457/

Founding Congress of the Anarchist Federation in Greece

Translated by Fred-FA

The organizational reconstruction of the anarchist movement in Greece has been very high up in the agenda for quite some time now. Book publishing, political events, discussions and even public debates, over the internet or not, encouraged, on the one hand, a disposition of criticism towards the shortcomings of non-formalism and the current practices of anarchist activists and militants and on the other hand created the will to start addressing this issue in terms that would lead to a better understanding of our views from the whole of the society and more fruitful results for the anarchist movement.

On this basis, during the last two and a half years many anarchist collectives have chosen to take action in order to solve the aforementioned problem by initiating a series of discussions that would allow them both to reflect and express their opinions on various subjects and, most importantly, to accomplish the arduous task of reaching common ground with other collectives with whom they may not necessarily share a common understanding or have any prior political relations.

We believe that the form and mode of this process, as well as its content and results, contribute to the legacy of the anarchist movement in Greece. Even if the various different political viewpoints and stands on organizational matters within this collective effort did not allow it to remain as one and eventually lead, during the final phase of this process, to its split, the crucial and primary issue, the very reason that this process was initiated in the first place, is still at stake: the need for the organizational reconstruction of the anarchist movement on new foundations.

A necessity that is being emphasized keenly each and every time we discover that our reflexes may render us capable of direct and fast response of the provocations and offensive actions of the state, but our complacency in them dooms our political movement in the dead end of opportunism and the randomness of coincidence.
A necessity that is being emphasized keenly each and every time that our political projects within the context of ongoing struggles, are being downgraded to wooden language, to monotonous repetitive verbal patterns, if they are not integrated into an holistic political position and a coherent political program.

A necessity, finally, that is being emphasized keenly each and every time that personal social relations or dislikes and relations in the form of companionships or rivalries define who cooperates with whom, who associates with whom, to whom do we turn to when confronted with urgent situations, and with whom are we going to cooperate in the end.

All the above, namely opportunism and temporal activism, vagueness and the fragmented nature of our political projects, the stilted ideologization and the substitution of political relations by personal relations, constitute the core of interest of the anarchist collectives that are currently attempting to open a new chapter in the history of the organizational efforts of the anarchist movement in Greece, by forming an anarchist federation.

We do not consider, of course, that conversation and argument between us have made us some sort of experts on all matters concerning organization, nor are we going to claim that we have discovered the organizational remedy for each and every political weakness of the anarchist movement. We are, nevertheless, determined to experiment with new forms of political organization and to try new ways of structuring the practices, the projects and the very presence of anarchists in the social and class struggle.

We are determined to confront the years of inability of producing a strategy for our movement through the creation of a political common ground where our opinions may converge and interact on an equal and functional basis. The federal form of organization may become this field, promoting even further the production of a holistic spearhead speech and providing with more possibilities for the propagation of said political positions in society and the proletariat.

Moreover, we want this federation to constitute the sum of structures and processes that will form a common ground of interaction and cooperation for the anarchist collectives, something that may combat the rationale of temporal understandings between comrades and the occasional resulting informal hierarchies.

Comrades, the contemporary rapid political developments, the changes in the central political scene, the economic, social and political crisis and the negative developments in labor relations and social affairs render the need for our organization in new terms, more effective, more massive and explicitly revolutionary, as imperative as ever.

In the times we live in, the anarchist perspective can and must spread and insert itself to society as the only capable of leading the proletariat to social liberation and class emancipation !

It has become clear now that in the transitional eras and the historical discontinuities we live in, the revolutionary forces of liberation are either organizing, planning and acting in unison, or preparing to perish !

We call the groups and collectives of the anarchist movement to think on these questions that all these years have emerged from the way we operate and to accept our invitationto attend the founding conference of the Anarchist Federation which will be held on 3 and 4 October in Athens.

Athens

Anarchists for the Social Liberation

Anarchist Collective “Fuse” Anarchist Collective “Kathodon”

Anarchist Collective from Nea Filadelphia Anarchist Collective “Rubicon” Void Circle

Thessalonica

Anarchist Collective “Ano Throsko” Libertarian Initiative of Thessalonica

Patras

Libertarian Initiative against Capitalism and the State “No Man’s Land”

Heraklion Crete

Anarchist Collective Oktana

This entry was posted in Commentary, Discussion, News blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.