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The policy of an anarchist organisation
Article published on 15 July 2004
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There have been and are large disagreements within the anarchist movement over how anarchist organisations should formulate policy and whether or not agreed policy should be binding on the members of the organisation. [1]I come from a tradition within anarchism sometimes called ’platformism’. Central to this tradition is the idea that to be effective the anarchist organisation must debate and agree organisational positions and that the members of the organisation should then put this into practise.

It is obvious that if you are going to be involved in struggles as an anarchist organisation (rather then a loose collection of individuals), and you want to have an influence on them that you will then need to all together. To do this you need to agree what it is your fighting for within the struggle and what tactics you think that struggle or movement should be using.

We find the best way of doing this is to start by a process of education and discussion around the issue and then move onto creating written policy that can be debated, amended and if necessary voted on point by point. If you have a look at our ’Position papers’ you will get an idea of the sort of policy this method generates.

The big advantage of this method is that once things are written down in this way it becomes very clear what exactly has been decided. But it should be understood that these positions should never be seen as ’the end’ of a particular debate. They don’t represent perfection but rather the best collective understanding and tactics the organisation could generate at that particular time. They should always be open to further debate and amendment as circumstances and knowledge changes. Although it is a good idea to limit major modifications to national conferences so when there is a lot of disagreement you don’t end up doing nothing but amending position papers!

As well as deciding tactics for particular struggles this way it is also a very good idea to have agreed position papers on the organisations approach to key political/social issues like racism and sexism. Agreeing these general positions will make it far, far easier to rapidly reach agreement about how the organisation should involve itself around specific struggles that arise from these issues.

Finally and perhaps most importantly it’s a good idea to have a constitution that lies down how these positions are drawn up. A general set of perspectives that seeks to describe what the organisation thinks it can do over the next period and how in general it expects a revolutionary transformation of society to occur is also a good idea.

You’ll also want to work out how much agreement you will expect new members to have with the position papers before they join. After some experimentation we have drawn up a brief document that outlines some core points that we think new members must agree with and then we say that they must be willing to implement the strategy in the position papers. This allows for healthy disagreement and debate to exist within the organisation.

Notes :

[1This text is a draft of a very practically orientated manual for anarchists who wish to get organised. It was found at <http://struggle.ws/ap/organise.html> but has apparently disappeared.


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