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

What Would a Relevant Anarchist Politics Look Like?

ArgentinaMayDay.jpg picture by adam_freedom Workers and popular organizations connected to the anarchist movement rally on May Day 2009 in a public square in Argentina.

  What would an anarchist politics look like that spoke to the needs of today’s realities and to today’s movements? How can revolutionaries apply the values of anarchism to an understanding of building mass movements from below, an understanding of power, a vision of a future society with the understanding of the organization needed to reach it, coupled with a strong analysis of race, patriarchy, gender and issues of queer liberation?

 OvertownMiami.jpg picture by adam_freedom Miami Autonomy & Solidarity (MAS, pronounced like the word “más” in Spanish) is a small organization of revolutionaries based out of the fourth largest metropolitan areas in the US. While Miami is a hub of international trade and finance, it’s also the third poorest city in the US and with a majority immigrant and people of color population (nearly 60% were born outside the US). Much like the US/Mexico border, Miami is a city where the third and first world grate against each other. Interestingly, similar to the rest of the US South, the city lacks much of an established left as would other large metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, Chicago and the Bay Area.

The organization has been in a process of formation, study and debate for over a year prior to announcing themselves publicly in mid-May 2009. While there are certainly a number of well spoken and excellent individual thinkers in the anarchist milieu, MAS’s Points of Unity below represents one of the best collectively written organizational statements of anarchist politics in North America to this date in my opinion. A recommended read.

2018 Update: In 2013 Miami Autonomy and Solidarity merged into what became Black Rose Anarchist Federation

Miami Autonomy & Solidarity Points of Unity

  Miami Autonomy & Solidarity is an organization of people whom have come together for the purpose of developing a revolutionary organization that works within social movements, as well as on the revolutionary level with the ultimate goal of contributing to an autonomous popular class movement of the oppressed that will overthrow capitalism and the state, as well as ending all forms of oppression.  

Role of the Specific Revolutionary Organization

Our specific revolutionary organization is a group founded on and working towards theoretical and strategic unity, as well as tactical coordination amongst its members. These organizational principles serve to strengthen our efficiency and effectiveness in developing our ideas and strategies within the broader working class movement. It must be stated that the need for such a group arises out of the practical struggles of the working class to transform itself into a revolutionary class capable of overthrowing capitalism and the state; as well as building society along egalitarian, self-managed, and directly democratic lines.

Through our specific revolutionary organization we seek to contribute to the theoretical development of revolutionary social struggles. We engage in the creation of media that communicates the views and political line of the organization, and we directly participate in struggles based on a common strategic program and coordinated activity. The political organization helps keep a historical memory of struggle and ongoing organizational strategic assessments of struggle in mass movements . We strive to retain experiences of success and failures in order to strengthen the social struggle.

However, unlike some political parties that try to use social movements as a tool to develop their own power, our organization’s relation to the social movement’s is reversed: our organization is a tool of our members and sympathizers within the social movement used to contribute towards the power of the social movements through the development of the autonomous consciousness, capacity, and solidarity of these movements.   We never seek to dominate, impose upon, manipulate, command or control the movements we’re a part of.  Rather we seek to participate as equals within the struggle, offering our ideas and methods as short and long term proposals for the movements towards liberation.  Continue reading

Thoughts on ‘Which Way Is Left?’ by FRSO

April 10, 2009 Note: Right-wing bloggers  quote and link this article in their attempt to attack individual members of some of the left-wing organizations discussed below. This blog condemns these shameful acts of McCarthy-esque red-baiting and in no way supports them.

Below are some thoughts on what seems to be a minor upstart today in third-world Maoism drawing inspiration from the New Communist Movement. Here I offer some thoughts on this through commentary on the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the now defunct Bay Area-based STORM. I close with a few thoughts on an November 3, 2007 forum FRSO held to discuss their recently released “Which Way Is Left?” pamplet. Also see the link for the audio panel at the 2007 US World Social Forum held in Atlanta, GA which featured former or current members of these orgs. -AW

Download a PDF of “Which Way Is Left?”

US Social Forum Panel on Revolutionary Strategy ~>lin


Perhaps an interesting development on the left is a flare up of discussion and effort on the part of those on the left who identify as revolutionaries and Marxist, yet are independent of the traditional left parties such as Communist Party-USA, the New Communist Movement (NCM) [1] or the fractured family of Trotskyist parties that descend from the Socialist Workers Party. Many are late 20’s to early 30’s activists involved in recent bursts of social movements over the last decade and include many people of color. I don’t see it as a large discussion, but it certainly has the ears of certain layers of radical activists across the country who feeling stronger affinity and interest in revolutionary politics, though who don’t identify with any particular strand of revolutionary politics specifically.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad [2] (or just FRSO for short, not to be confused with a more hard-line split several years ago FRSO- Fight Back! based largely in the Mid-west) is maybe the only organization that managed to catch a certain layer of these folks into their ranks. To give an example of this, if you remember following the break up of Love and Rage Anarchist Federation in 1998,[3] a small group emerged called Fire by Night Organizing Committee. This included members of L&R who were part of the working class student organizing at SUNY and after criticizing anarchism[4] wound up merging into FRSO. The politics of the group are a sort of “Mao-light” if you will. They have origins in a merger between several NCM groups, but have adopted a more pluralistic set of politics which draw from Gramsci, Fanon and feminism among others. Like many Maoists they carry a more nuanced perspective on popular organizing then much of the Marxist left, but their main emphasis is the process they call Left Refoundation, whereby left socialist organizations build political and practical unity in an effort to reach a future merger into a larger party formation or umbrella type organization (they are open to where the process might take them).

Continue reading

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