- Category: Federations
- Published on Saturday, 04 May 2013 10:37
- Written by French Anarchist Federation
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Umbrella organization of various groups, the Anarchist Federation must operate in linking all these entities, whether groups or adhérents and individuels. Defined in the "Basic Principles", so there are federal structures and, therefore, "federal operations". It is good to review and clarify here as it is true that the mere reading of our associative pact is not enough to grasp all the subtleties. Often partial knowledge or complete ignorance of our Federal modes lead to misunderstandings, sources of sterile confrontation and paralysis. The Anarchist Federation has its share of responsibility in this difficulty to understand the rules of the game allowing militants to feel comfortable and fully enjoy the benefits offered by the organization. Indeed, our learning modes is most often on the job and through oral tradition. Address the issues of federal operations thus appeared in the eyes of the organization, as a logical necessity and rational when the desire that drives us is the qualitative and quantitative development of AF.
Prior to review and explain the "federal operations," it is necessary to specify the approach used. By "federal operations" we mean any operation that goes beyond the local. That is to say, we are not interested here in the operating of groups and members and individuels locally. After a brief reminder of what characterizes our organization, we will consider successively the roles of each secretariat and the monthly meetings of secretaries. This first part concerns permanent federal structures of the organization. We then examine the operation mode of the annual meeting of the FA, not forgetting to mention the question of preparation, including through the Internal Bulletin (BI). The purpose of this second part will be a federal 'seasonal' structure from the Federation. Finally, we will discuss in the third part some questions because they have have an impact on federal operations having their place in this work. These include discussions on regional unions (UR) as well as decision-making meetings between conventions.
The Anarchist Federation is a group of political militants organized on the principle of open federalism (ie free association) which guarantees to groups and individuels the greatest autonomy to allow pluralism of ideas and actions through an associations pact that we call our "Basic Principles" (see below). This is our tool of struggle that must be functional and rational, we reject any effect of fetishism organization. Therefore no hierarchy in our heads! It belongs to every militant to advance our organization. We do not recognize the division leader / executing, effective participation of activists in collective structures of the organization is an ethical principle of solidarity. These federal structures are: Le Monde Libertaire (weekly newspaper), Radio Libertaire in Paris and on the Internet, les Edtions du Monde Libertaire (Publishing House) and the library Publico also in Paris. Apart from these federal works, groups also have local bookstores, often publish journals and leading their own activities at the local level
The functioning of the Federation
The congress is held every year, it decides to conduct campaigns, the public positions and lines of action for the coming year. The congress appoints all secretaries and other federal officials. The rule in taken decisions is that of unanimity which involves debates until their term to lead to a consensus.
A coordinating committee, the Committee on Relations (CR), meets monthly all officials appointed by the Congress in order to share information, suggestions, proposals that may be submitted by a group or an individual, without other right of those who compose it, than any other militant who present proposals, suggestions, information. At least three times in the year that elapses between two conferences, the meeting is formally extended to representatives of groups, it becomes an extended Relations Committee (ERC), with the aim of exchanging views, to initiate discussions to coordinate activities concerning the entire organization. This is also an opportunity to ensure proper compliance with mandates from Congress to federal.
A number of secretariats role is to ensure the proper functioning of the Federation and his works, secretaries have no political power, or they are mandated to carry out specific mandates and are individually accountable. The Congress, is the sovereign body of the Federation. A Secretary General (SG) is responsible for holding the regular coordination committee (Relations Committee - CR) between the Interior secretaries Relations (IR), External Relations (ER), International Relations (INR) and the Federal Treasury (TF) as well as those who have the burden of the radio, the archives and the editions of the FA, the administrators and members of the editorial board of the World Libertarian (CRML) are also involved.
The World Libertarian bookstore is federally managed by administrators also appointed by the Congress. An editorial committee is responsible for the development of the newspaper, it's also composed of members appointed by the Congress. An Internal Bulletin (BI) connects "horizontal" tools and internal debates.
The FA has no claim to be enlightened vanguard, a political vision being contrary to our principles. Our organization does not pretend to be at the head of social struggles, its activists are fighting for self-determination, self-organizing struggles by those who takes them, they are also fighting against all forms of recovery by politicians. The FA is a set of activists coming together to develop activities, specifically anarchists, most effective and constructive as possible. Participation in social struggles is necessary because without them there will be no emancipation possible.
They can be divided into three different categories:
~ Political Secretariats (Internal Relations, External, International, Editorial Board of the ML, programming RL);
~ Financial and Administrative Secretariats (Federal Treasury, administration ML, administration Publico, finance RL, association RL - Edition ML);
~ Secretariats internal (General, Technical and Maintenance RL, History and Archives).
The roles and responsibilities of each of the secretariats are defined in the "Basic Principles" of FA, it is not necessary to copy them here. However, we can extend these definitions by some observations from the experience of the functioning of the organization. We take them in the order they appear in the BP. (Basic Principles)
Its role as coordinator causes to be applied in case of malfunction in the organization. So this is the secretariat that we can contact in case of conflict with other secretaries or even when one wishes to question the Relation Committee to any matter within the operation mode of the organization.
Secretary of Interior Relations (IR)
Responsible for adherence to the FA, the RI secretariat may also be required to manage any exclusions, fortunately rare, but be aware that it can happen. Each case is a unique case and it would be absurd to pretend codify a matter of rules. The only case that is foreseeable is non payment of dues and non-response of mail.
It's a relay function and propose initiatives, the RI secretariat plays an important role in the dynamics of the organization. It must, as such, work closely with the Secretary of Foreign Relations as well as the Editorial Board of the ML (CRML).
Secretary for External Relations (ER)
The Secretariat is the voice of the FA vis-à-vis the world outside. It is therefore in charge of relations with the media as well as the development and making available the propaganda. These activities are meaningful only if they are organized in conjunction with the Internal Relations and taking into account the indications expressed by all the militants, especially during the annual conference.
As for relations with other organizations it goes without saying (but it gets better in writing) that they must be strictly subordinated to the interests of the FA and as the policy has defined.
Secretary for International Relations (INR)
Given the state of the international anarchist movement and that the FA will promote specific anarchism, organized globally, we can say that this is a difficult secretariat. The task is immense and fault by the organization to set priorities and focus specific interventions, than the risk is great to let drown in a flood of information that is difficult to sort and especially to verify. Define a policy of International Relations is at the extent of our ambitions but also in our means it's undoubtedly one of the challenges for the coming years.
Secretary to the Treasury
What to say about this post if it's the precision and intelligence of it's holding that all depends on the financial health of the FA. It is therefore the responsibility of all activists to ensure that the money comes regularly and more thoroughly as possible into the coffers of the organization.
The Secretariat should work closely with the various administrations and with internal and external relations.
Responsible for the smooth running of the works of the Federation, administrators play a crucial role in the organization: without its newspaper, its library and its radio (you can count the Financial Secretary radio among the administrators) the FA would be deprived of its means of communication to the public, which would mean the political death of our current thinking.
Editorial Board (CR)
No respite possible for this secretariat having collective responsibility that must always edit the newspaper every week! Sort, select, create, write, correct items are heavy tasks for these convicts of the anarchist press!
Radio libertarian (RL)
Given the particular nature of this medium, the secretariat is divided into four positions respectively on the editorial aspects (programming), administrative (finance), equipment (technical) and legal (association).
Radio libertarian is unique in that it is beyond the scope of activists and supporters that we receive through our other means of propaganda.
Words fly, writings are publicly available texts and ideas that anarchist thoughts and practices have developed.
Experience in the field of publishing and the development of techniques to help, it is now possible to edit or republish at a lower cost, which has the advantage of making available to the public and activists books at affordable prices without compromising our financial equilibrium and thus our editorial capacity.
Secretariat History and Archives (SHA)
Nothing special to add to this post but it must constantly reminded that groups sends systematically three copies of all their productions to supply the Federal Archives.
Relations Committee (CR)
Monthly Relations Committee
This committee brings together secretaries, is convened once a month by the General Secretary.
Secretaries make their monthly report to expose problems in the execution of their respective mandates. It is also an ideal framework for the necessary coordination between the secretaries. If, ultimately, each secretary is responsible for its position, it is obvious that the Relations Committee can and should be used as a place where every secretary, reporting on its activities, is able to receive and listen to any criticism or suggestions from the other secretaries as also those submitted by non-commissioned members.
Individual responsibility is the rule in the Anarchist Federation, but should not in fact result in autocratic practices in the management of secretariats. This may seem obvious, but experience shows that we do not drift away, volunteer or not, at this level. The mandated must never losing sight of that they should refrain making the exercise of the responsibilities that have been delegated their personal vision of things. This is easier said than done and write.
Indeed, the amount of work required is often quite heavy and secretaries who, like everyone else, are active in their group-work and working to meet their own needs, it's sometimes difficult to take a step back to a proper exercise of responsibilities in an anarchist organization ideologically very demanding in terms of control to the mandated.
Expanded Relations Committee (CRE)
Maturation and growth of the FA led to a systematic use of the so-called extended Relations Committee. This latter is the result of an ordinary Relations Committee meeting with most of all secretaries, but any individual member, groups and delegates wishing to attend are welcome. The conference have spent the decision to combine the three Committees formally to expanded relations between two Congresses, the third systematized since a long time in order to establish proposals for an agenda for the annual reporting/conferences for each secretary. The CRE can be used to refine and implement campaigns decided in the Congress, to discuss and initate actions facing an not envisaged socio-political situation at the conference, and last but not least, the right to control the implementations of mandates given to the secretaries.
Apart from these, purely functional, it is also an opportunity to exchange ideas, start or feeding debates, comparing local practices. On condition that there is not always the same people participating, it can also be for young or old activists being an opportunity to feel physically and virtually concretely what the Federation is.
Finally, it is a time to develop friendly relations which are often critical, especially in difficult times for the proper functioning of the organization.
The Congress of the FA takes place every year. All members in good standing with the Federal Treasury can attend.
Its purpose is:
~ The point of moral and financial situation of the FA and his works;
~ Discuss motions, proposals, studies, presented by groups, individuals or organizations in the FA and to draw the outline of the campaigns carried out during the year, as well as the necessary decisions to the smooth running of the Federation.
This is the definition given by the famous "Basic Principles" of the FA. There is little doubt that if the objectives seem clear enough, the operation of a convention in just two and a half days bringing together the activists of the FA cannot be improvised. Thorough preparation and well-oiled conditions are necessary but are although not sufficient for the success of the convention. We will therefore attempt to describe the operation of a convention as it usually occurs sometimes as it should unfold.
Activists regularly complain about the lack of preparation of the congress, motions proposed at the last moment, not started debates in the Internal Bulletin, etc.. The reasons for dissatisfaction are legion and it is necessary to make efforts for this.
It should be noted, however, that we have made some progress in recent years, in fact the systematic use of pre-conference CRE's can well prepare the ground. This is why we develop a proposal for the agenda. This is the result of a collective examination of issues that are considered necessary to address, depending on social and political events, past or future, and also in terms of debates within the Federation. It is therefore important that the activists are heavily involved in this process.
The usefulness of other CRE pre-conferences is that secretaries are doing their annual report, the objective being that the first part of the convention is not burdened by a series of reports that encumber the time devoted to discussions and decisions.
Nevertheless, the preparation of a good conference is the everyone's business: if there is not a widely shared desire to discuss calmly and function in harmony, the Congress will most likely not be very productive and leave a bitter memory.
After checking the entries by the Secretaries of Treasury and Internal Relations, Congress can begin.
The first thing to do is to identify the "tables". It is in effect for each session to have a president and two assessors, each having to perform a specific task.
The functioning of the "table" determines the smooth running of the session. It is a heavy responsibility and should be prepared.
One of the assessors is responsible for making turns, he or she must register all requests for assistance made in the room. Applicants are expected to identify by a sign, but it remains that in addition to having a good view, it is better to know the names of the groups and a maximum of comrades.
The other assessor has the responsibility to take notes to be used in the preparation of reports of the meeting. There needs to be a high concentration and ability to synthesize remarks well but sometimes it's rambling about.
The Presidency, finally, is the cornerstone of the building. Its role is to distribute the word ensuring the smooth running of the agenda. He must constantly ensure that we do not deviate from the subject, he should calm things down if necessary and regularly summarized the discussions underway to identify concrete proposals to submit to the judgment of the Congress, he can propose the dismissal of a debate in committee. To complete this task you must have provisions for animation, rigor, strong nerves and a good knowledge of the organization and its operations: beginners beware!
If it is assumed that they have been prepared, it's the responsibility of players to build their interventions aiming to lead to a concrete outcome: drafting or adoption of a motion, providing elements of nature to advance the common reflection on the topic, clear explanations on points sometimes obscure or complex.
This exercise is difficult for very different reasons. The time needed to overcome stage fright, beginners must learn to speak in public, big mouths should avoid monopolizing speech, jerks must be prevented to piss ... All things that make sometimes laborious the debates and certainly the work of the "table" exhausting.
This suppose, again, that there is a collective provided desire to listen and move forward, than it's possible to conduct debates quite constructive that allows us to develop a propaganda in relevant line with the concerns of the oppressed and alienated humanity.
Given what has been said above, discussions sometimes lead to a referral commission. The role of such a committee may be to seek a synthesis between different positions, to shape the amendments to a motion or write one.
The Congress may also decide to set up one or more committees, to work throughout the year to discuss a specific issue, to coordinate a campaign, an event or preparing an international congress.
Apart from this, the're in the FA standing committees, independent of Congress, that leverage the latter to meet, to report on their activities, to propose motions or campaigns as well as any group or militant: so do not confuse them with commissions formed by Congress or the Congress.
The final session of the conference is devoted to what is called the mandatements. To designate the comrades to various positions of responsibility after adopting the mandates and specifying specific tasks to accomplish.
This is undoubtedly the most important meeting in the sense that it specifies what is expected of the commissioned for the coming year. This is sort of a dress rehearsal of what is meant by libertarian running of decision-making and delegation of responsibilities.
The least we can say, reading mandates is that we have a long way to go on that side. Indeed this time of the agenda, so determining the practical point of view as the theoretical point of view, is often treated in emergency and precipitation. Even the regulars are caught in the vortex of a race against the clock, we sometimes lose the sense of reality.
Given the density of the Monday morning meeting, a "commission of mandates" is implemented, which centralizes the various proposals, defines their validity organized by the secretariats and is responsible for tracking redundancies and inconsistencies abound to slip into proposals also often developed in emergency.
Remains to publish the report of Congress and implement the good resolutions that are taken. It will be understood that it is not always easy!
Between two congresses
The Internal Bulletin
This is the preferred mode of debate between two congresses. Published monthly, it allows everyone to be aware of what happens to the FA and to express their views. It is sometimes overlooked by activists who do not bother to use it fully as a tool for internal debate. This is still the best tool available: just have a mailbox and subscribe.
Regional Unions (UR)
Anxious to federalize and to federate and to maximize their activities, many groups have organized themselves into regional unions. A debate is logically switched on the role of the UR in the organization. For the moment, the UR's have no role in the federal organic structure. One observation appears in the debates: UR's covering following the places, very different practices and realities. The question of the role of organic UR is an open question, a subject to practices implemented by activists (in this respect it is important to remember that all activists are not systematic part of a UR).
Meetings to decide between two congresses
The ever greater involvement of the workings militants in federal operations is an undeniable sign of the organizational health, frequently arise the question of the decisions between congresses.
There are no discussions here to answer the question but only to explain how it works today. The collective decision-making body is the FA congress, congresses between two decisions are taken by the federation's mandated within their respective areas of expertise (they are accountable for these decisions to the Congress).
The decision to organize systematically between three CRE conferences reflects the desire to assist the Secretaries in the exercise of their responsibilities and thereby in their decisions.
To conclude and pending further ...
One of the major events in the evolution in the functioning of the federation during the last decade is the presence of a large number of "province" comrades to positions of responsibility. In a country strongly influenced by the Jacobin centralism is demonstrated the ability to overcome contingencies imposed on us from outside.
It is also demonstrated that the FA is not a static organization and is able to adapt its functioning to its growth, which is an assurance for the future of organized anarchism in this country.
Website if French AF : federation-anarchiste.org