Informal organisation: Alfredo M. Bonanno 1985

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From Anarchismo, n. 47, 1985

Informal organisation

Alfredo M. Bonanno

First let us distinguish the informal anarchist organisation from the anarchist organisation of synthesis. Considerable clarification will emerge from this distinction.

What is an anarchist organisation of synthesis? It is an organisation based on groups or individuals that are more or less in constant relation with each other, that culminates in periodical congresses. During these open meetings basic theoretical analyses are discussed, a program is prepared and tasks are shared out covering a whole range of interventions in the social field. The organisation thus sets itself up as a point of reference, like an entity that is capable of synthesizing the struggles that are going on in reality of the class clash. The various commissions of this organisational model intervene in different struggles (as single comrades or groups) and, by intervening, give their contribution in first person without however losing site of the theoretical and practical orientation of the organisation as a whole, as decided at the most recent congress.

When this kind of organisation develops itself fully (as happened in Spain in ’36) it begins to dangerously resemble a party. Synthesis becomes control. Of course, in moments of slack, this involution is less visible and might even seem an insult, but at other times it turns out to be more evident.

In substance, in the organisation of synthesis (always specific and anarchist), a nucleus of specialists works out proposals at both the theoretical and ideological level, adapting them as far as possible to the program that is roughly decided upon at the periodic congresses. The shift away from this program can also be considerable (after all, anarchists would never admit to too slavish an adherence to anything), but when this occurs care is taken to return within the shortest possible time to the line previously decided upon.

This organisation’s project is therefore that of being present in various situations: antimilitarism, nuclear power, unions, prisons, ecology, interventions in living areas, unemployment, schools, etc. This presence is either by direct intervention or through participaton in interventions managed by other comrades or organisations (anarchist or not).

It becomes clear that participation aimed at bringing the struggle to within the project of synthesis cannot be autonomous. It cannot really adapt to the conditions of the struggle or collaborate effectively in a clear plan with the other revolutionary forces. Everything must either go through the ideological filter of synthesis or comply with the conditions approved earlier during the congress.This situation, which is not always as rigid as it might seem here, carries the ineliminable tendency of organisations of synthesis to drag struggles to the level of the base, proposing caution and using contrivances aimed at redimensioning any flight forward, any objective that is too open or means that might be dangerous.

For example, if a group belonging to this kind of organisation (of synthesis, but always anarchist and specific) were to adhere to a structure that is struggling, let us say, against repression, it would be forced to consider the actions proposed by this structure in the light of the analyses that had roughly been approved at the congress. The structure would either have to accept these analyses, or the group belonging to the organisation of synthesis would stop its collaboration (if it is in a minority) or impose the expulsion (in fact, even if not with a precise motion) of those proposing different methods of struggle. Some people might not like it, but that is exactly how things work. One might ask oneself why on earth the proposal of the group belonging to the organisation of synthesis must by definition always be more backward, i.e. in the rearguard, or more cautious than others concerning possible actions of attack against the structures of repression and social consensus. Why is that? The answer is simple. The specific anarchist organisation of synthesis, which, as we have seen, culminates in periodic congresses has growth in numbers as its basic aim. It needs an operative force that must grow. Not to infinity exactly, but almost. In the case of the contrary it would not have the capacity to intervene in the various struggles, nor even be able to carry out its own principle task: proceding to synthesis in one single point of reference. Now, an organisation that has growth in members as its main aim must use instruments that guarantee proselytism and pluralism. It cannot take a clear position concerning any specific problem, but must always find a middle way, a political road that upsets the smallest number and turns out to be acceptable to most.

The correct position concerning some problems, particularly repression and prisons, is often the most dangerous, and no group can put the organisation they belong to at risk without first agreeing with the other member groups. But that can only happen in congress, or at least at an extraordinary meeting, and we all know that on such occasions it is always the most moderate opinion that prevails, certainly not the most advanced.

So, ineluctably, the presence of the organisation of synthesis in actual struggles, struggles that reach the essence of the class struggle, turns into a brake and control (often involuntarily, but it is still a question of control).

The informal organisation does not present such problems. Affinity groups and comrades that see themselves in an informal kind of projectuality come together in action, certainly not by adhering to a program that has been fixed at a congress. They realise the project themselves, in their analyses and actions. It can occasionally have a point of reference in a paper or a series of meetings, but only in order to facilitate things, whereas it has nothing to do with congresses and such like.The comrades who recognise themselves in an informal organisation are automatically a part of it. They keep in contact with the other comrades through a paper or by other means, but, more important, they do so by participating in the various actions, demonstrations, encounters, etc., that take place from time to time. The main verification and analysis therefore comes about during moments of struggle. To begin with these might simply be moments of theoretical verification, turning into something more later on.

In an informal organisation there is no question of synthesis. There is no desire to be present in all the different situations and even less to formulate a project that takes the struggles into the depths of a programme that has been approved in advance.

The only constant points of reference are insurrectional methods: in other words self-organisation of struggles, permanent conflictuality and attack.

The battle of Adwa: an Ethiopian victory that ran against the current of colonialism

The Conversation

Ethiopians attend a parade to mark the 123rd anniversary of the battle of Adwa last year. Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu

On the first day of March 124 years ago, traditional warriors, farmers and pastoralists as well as women defeated a well-armed Italian army in the northern town of Adwa in Ethiopia. The outcome of this battle ensured Ethiopia’s independence, making it the only African country never to be colonised. Adwa turned Ethiopia into a symbol of freedom for black people globally. It also led to a change of government in Italy.

The town of Adwa is located in Northern Tigray, closer to the southern border of Eritrea. Yeha, the capital of Ethiopia’s ancient empire from 980-400 BC, and the monastery of Aba Garima, which was founded in the sixth century AD, are located near the town.

The battle between Ethiopia and Italy took place in the mountainous terrain of the area.

Adwa still stands as witness to what ordinary Africans can do when they come together as farmers, pastoralists, women and rural people, workers and artists. They are able to score a decisive victory against global colonialist forces.

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Internationalism in practice – dockers in Italy show the way

Anarchist Communist Group

The Saudi ship Bahri Yanbu has been halted by dockworkers in the Italian port of Genoa.

The ship had previously picked up weapons for the war in Yemen from Antwerp, Belgium, but at Le Havre, France, it was prevented from picking up more arms for the Saudi military after a legal challenge by protesters from a human rights group. Now in Genoa, dock workers, with support from local protesters, have taken direct action and refused to load generators, saying in a statement, “We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen” and they also make the call to “open the port to migrants and close it to arms”.

While we are pleased that the legal challenge in Le Havre successfully prevented the ship from being loaded, we should also remember that the ruling class courts are rarely on the side of justice and the only sure way to prevent mass murder in this and other wars is when workers take direct action and physically prevent or sabotage the ruling class war effort.

This is the true spirit of anti-militarism and working class internationalism and the ACG applauds the dockworkers and their supporters in Genoa. We can only hope that this type of intervention sets an example to other workers also in a position to halt the bosses’ war machine.

International May Day roundup

Anarchist Communist Group

In France there were many large demonstrations in cities and towns, In Paris, there was a march of some 2,000 anarchists on the morning of May 1st. This was followed by the main march with a turnout from the usual unions and left parties, but with also the turnout of both feminists and Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) who are increasingly radicalising. This was met with a massive police presence, who attacked demonstrators with batons and gas.

 Two thousand demonstrated in the centre of Rennes. Several thousands demonstrated at Toulouse, where again demonstrators were attacked with many tear gas grenades by police. There were two thousand demonstrators at Orleans, and between nine to eleven thousand demonstrators at Lyon, with a large anarchist bloc. There was a very large anarchist contingent on the demonstration at Dijon, where two thousand turned out for May Day. A few gas canisters fired by the cops. Two thousand at Cherbourg with an anarchist bloc, ten thousand at Bordeaux and a thousand at Aubenas. On all of these demonstrations, there were turnouts from feminists, climate change campaigners and Gilets Jaunes.

In Colombia, there was a large anarchist presence on the May Day demo in Bogota.

In Chile there were brutal attacks by the police on demonstrators.

In El Salvador, there was a large anarchist bloc on the demo in San Salvador.

There was an anarchist presence on the demonstration in Helsinki, Finland.

In Bangladesh the Anarchosyndicalist Federation organised a large event.

In Sweden twenty anarchists protesting against the government’s plans to clamp down on strikes were brutally arrested.

In Turkey, despite the severe repression there, large numbers of anarchists under red and black flags turned out.

In Bandung in Indonesia, police arrested six hundred anarchists, out of an anarchist bloc of one thousand, stripped them to their underwear and shaved their heads. Elsewhere in Indonesia, police tried to block a large anarchist bloc marching to join the main demonstration, leading to clashes.

In Germany in Berlin, police attacked a demonstration of twenty thousand, who chanted “The streets are ours” and “anticapitalism”.

In Italy, police attacked a demonstration against a transalpine high speed train tunnel.

In Greece there was a 24 hour strike of transport workers, including ferry, tram, train and bus workers.

Anti-Fascism in Italy: Arditi del Popolo

Arditi del Popolo– the first anti-fascist organization (1921-22) from Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement

Founded in Rome at the end of June 1921 from a split in the Associazione Nazionale Arditi d’Italia by the anarchist Argo Secondari. The AdP were a physical response to the action of the fascist squads and were welcomed by all those areas which had been under the hammer of the fascist squads for months. They gained much support from the non-politicised among the working class who saw their actions as a sort of revenge and essential for their survival.

Sections of the AdP were set up in various towns throughout the country, either as new creations or often on the basis of pre- existing groups such as the Lega Proletaria [Proletarian League] (linked to the Partito Socialista Italiana [Italian Socialist Party] and the Partito Comunista d’Italia [Communist Party of Italy]), the paramilitary Arditi Rossi in Trieste, the Figli di Nessuno [Children of No-one] in Genova and Vercelli.

The government of Bonomi was worried about the rise in this phenomenon as a treaty was about to be drawn up between the socialists and the fascists (the so-called “Pacification Pact”). […]

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