Especifismo, Social Insertion and Recent Anarchist Organization

Workermeeting.gif picture by adam_freedom

  A new edition of the “Especifismo Reader: Anarchist Organization and Praxis” has been made publically available. Topping 120 pages, the updated reader includes several newly translated pieces such as the short political statement “Who We Are, What We Want, The Path We Follow” by Coletivo Comunista Anarquismo in Brazil, the article “Anarchist Advances in Uruguay and Brazil” and the “Interview with the Rio de Janeiro Federation” not included in the first edition of the reader,  as well as several excellent though yet to be translated pieces in Spanish. The next steps for this reader are the inclusion of several more pieces by Latin American anarchists and a organization in Mexico, as well as a section of articles called “Towards a North American Especifismo,” with pieces written by North American anarchists influences by the Especifismo Latin American Anarchist tradition. 

  One of the key concepts of the Latin American Anarchist tradition of especifismo is “social insertion.” I admit there is a bit of a funny sound to it, but this is the concept they use to define the relation to mass struggles and movements. To them anarchist involvement in the social struggles must be firmly rooted, argues for anarchist values rather the conversion of movements to “anarchism itself” or a specific political line, and which aims to build popular power (horizontal power and “of the base” I think are similar concepts from Latin American traditions that readers might also be familar with).  

  My friend Nate of What the hell…?  blog takes up the topic with a response/reflection piece after reading several pieces by written by especifist groups as well as my own piece included in the reader above,  “Especifismo: The Anarchist Praxis of Building Popular Movements and Revolutionary Organization in Latin America.” With heaps of comradely respect I feel Nate is missing some of the arguements and the context for the discussion on especifismo and in some part I think he is perhaps pointing out sections of the writings that are unclear and can lend themselves to misinterpretation. Check out his thoughts and my response and I encourage folks to leave comments on his page with their own.

  In fact, Nate is on a bit of a roll as of late. Here’s another discussion posting on contemporary anarchist politics with Nate’s review and comments on the mission statements and points of unity of current anarchist organizations in North America. Even better is that it includes links if you would like to read more. Next, is his piece discussing the importance of mass organizing work, along with a draft an article where he hopes to better lay out his perspectives on this. Finally, he writes reviews/quick responses  to several of the Furious Five Revolutionary Collective, a 2003-2005 Anarchist-Communist collective based out of San Jose, CA that was influenced by the ideas and writings of the Latin American Especifist anarchists. Their writings are archived on this blog

4 Responses

  1. hey brother I wrote a reply over at mine. I’ll take the criticism that I missed the point and am sometimes taking a run at stuff that the articles don’t actually say. Part of that is clumsiness of thought on my part and part of it is clumsiness of writing – what I was trying to do was say “this stuff *could * be taken or mistaken to mean this thing, which is wrong or at least a problem to be concerned about and is found in some anarchist practice, let me adress that problematic idea that people might try to (mis)use this stuff to support.” What I didn’t do a good job of, clearly, is showing that that stuff would not only be a bad idea, it would be a *misunderstanding* of these writings. Sorry for the misunderstanding and miscommunication on my part, I hope it’s still a useful exchange.

    mad love,

  2. No worries comrade, after all it is still useful in the sense of clarifying what are good interpretations of especifismo and what might be misconceptions or poor understanding of the concept.

  3. I really love this article it is insightful as well as instructive.
    However I have a suggestion about the translation. Anarchist Insertion in popular movements I believe may be bad translation.
    A better translation might be Anarchist intervention in popular movements. It makes sense in context, we are becoming involved to have an influence on what happens.

    Intervene: to become involved in something (such as a conflict) in order to have an influence on what happens-that makes sense

    in·ter·vene intransitive verb \ˌin-tər-ˈvēn\
    : to come or occur between two times or events

    : to become involved in something (such as a conflict) in order to have an influence on what happens

    : to happen as an unrelated event that causes a delay or problem

    in·ser·tion (ĭn-sûr′shən)
    1. The act or process of inserting.
    2. Something inserted, as an ornamental strip of lace or embroidery inserted between pieces of fabric.
    3. Anatomy The point or mode of attachment of a skeletal muscle to the bone or other body part that it moves.
    4. Genetics The addition, as by mutation, of one or more nucleotides to a chromosome.

    None of the definitions of insertion work at all. Except “The act or process of inserting” anarchism or anarchists into social movements.

    Anarchists are going into the struggle. However, Anarchists likely were already there in the social movement prior to the formation of the anarchist organization. So the only thing being inserted is the added strategic influence. The influence on movements that comes from studying theory and practicing it. there is an intrinsic influence gained by the meaningful solidarity of a well organized anarchist organization made up of anarchist militants who participate in popular movements.

    To me what is proposed in especifismo is better described as an intervention than an insertion. I may have missed something.

    Thanks for reading and making this reader widely available
    – Anon with Humboldt Grassroots

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