Sunday, October 28, 2007

On SCAF-LA Disbanding

On SCAF-LA Disbanding

I want to continue the discussion on the disbanding of
the Los Angeles Chapter of the Southern California Anarchist
Federation. I agree with a lot of what J. has to say, so Ill try not
to repeat the same points. Overall SCAF was a great idea, and Im
dedicated to building a revolutionary movement regionally, in our
communities and internationally. I think there were some problems that
existed in the organization in SCAF, and also have some self-criticism.
I think when we set out to start this organization; it
was JUST open to anybody who called himself or herself an anarchist to
join. One thing we did do though, is have an organization that was
diverse, and made up of oppressed people (in the majority). We did
however have some early squabbles. It was difficult for the people who
made this organization up to find political unity and a praxis to
organize from. We had some basic agreements which included: long term
organizing, building dual power institutions, helping in the process of
community, worker, and student self-organization.

The organization was also politically diverse; there
were people that came from different experiences in organizing, from
socialists, to green anarchists, Trotskyites, Maoists, individualists,
and people who were new to politics altogether. We all wanted to be
part of something different, that we werent being offered by liberals,
reformists, and top-down organizations.

SCAF-LA for the most part, gave us experience in
organizing ourselves, and for a lot of people helped figure out what
they wanted to do politically (and what are some mistakes and victories
we can learn from). None of us were burn out by this organization (at
least the core members werent).

Personally I think that I still want to build a
federation, that has more clear politics and isnt obscure North
American Anarchist politics. I want to organize with people who I DO
see eye to eye with and share common experience. I want to be part of
revolutionary organization. In SCAF-LA I think there was a divide
politically and practically between the people who wanted to be part of
a revolutionary organization and the people who wanted to be part of
another anarchist network. So there was a feeling of a constant tug of
war, of the organization in different directions (and I think I felt
into that as well). At one point I wanted to leave before, because I
did not want to waste my time being part of another activist group
only focused on actions with no clear strategy on fighting for
liberation, just jumping on whatever issue was hot at the moment, and
clear connection to peoples everyday lives.

I think in a revolutionary organization you have to
discipline and dedication from the membership, you have to be open to
challenged and challenge yourself in the process of changing the world.
There has to be a way to integrate new members more efficiently into
organization and to the community without just throwing them into a
collective that has no real strategic aims for the long term. SCAF-LA
didnt have any of these things, and in fact I think people struggled
against it, so this is one of the reasons why it failed.

In any organization who takes it self seriously, or
is serious about taking on the state and capitalism and all oppression,
you need a strategy and you need a praxis. The best way to do this is
collectively with the membership, so that the organization can be owned
collectively. Some members just argued for disconnected individual
actions without any coordination, which defeats the purpose of having a
federation. There was no foundation being built besides the rhetoric
some of the members (myself included in that).
There was no discipline around studying -- and discussion, to actually
formulate some analysis and political unity through. Studying was
included in the structure of SCAF-LA, yet we only had 2 study groups in
the year that we existed.

A revolutionary organization needs to have clear
political positions, even though this might sound rigid, this a
necessary way to outreach to people and let them know what were about
--- rather than just saying Im an anarchist and every person gives a
different definition for the organization.

There were a lot of liberal positions taken by members
regarding things like criticism. We would not call out members who
would take up responsibilities and not follow through. We would even
continue those people to take on more responsibilities and let us down
again and again. Other liberal positions included things around race,
gender, class, and sexuality in fact we never even discussed these
things in how they relate to us. We only talked about these things in
theory. One instance we argued with one of the white members who was
talking about reverse racism and how it was real. Oppressed people
not taking up leadership, within the organization you had white middle
class males attempting to or blatantly positioning themselves in the

I want to continue to grow and develop collectively
people who I trust and have ideas and experiences in common with. I
think that everybody that came out of SCAF-LA will continue to support
each other informally; there are some folks who will continue to
organize and fight for our freedom. This is all want and nothing less.

I dont want to be in an organization that connects me
to other anarchists, I want one that is building, and reflecting,
learning, making mistakes, building collectivity and autonomy and
destroying the system that is killing us while building the world we
dream of. I want to be part of an organization that is integrated and
comes from oppressed communities, is made up of the oppressed
specifically as in people of color, working class people, women, queer
and trans folks (and has support and allies from privileged communities
and people) because the politics will be real and more genuine. I
want to be part of a federation of revolutionary community councils,
where we dont have illusions about the police or the state. Where we
prepare and learn from each other, and train ourselves, and give
ourselves practice in organizing ourselves. Where we fight to retake
our communities, and overthrow imperialism and the neo-colonialism in
our communities. Some of us are already not just talking about that,
but looking to actually organize to make this a reality.

Im fighting for my liberation and looking for comrades and allies who
want to do the same.

Always in struggle until humanity is free,

Joaquin Cienfuegos

No comments: