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Suggested readings on organization, strategy and tactics

+2 votes
Hi, i and my friends are thinking about starting an anarchist study group focused especially on questions about how to organize, which strategies and tactics should be used and the like. People/texts that are in my mind include Bakunin, Malatesta, Bonanno and The Coming Insurrection (probably only second part of it). Do you have any other readings that you suggest? Also it would be nice if you can provide texts of the names i listed above, i do not know specific texts about their suggestion on organization, strategy and tactics.
asked Nov 21 by Metalist (820 points)

this is always a little weird, but an interesting text on organization is by starhawk (i don't think of it as pro or con, but it's probably pro). what i remember about it is the delineation of roles in groups of people, in a more interesting way than i'd heard before. it's in truth or dare. i do not promote any other writings by her--just sayin'.

also, obviously autonomous self-organization and anarchist intervention.

2 Answers

+2 votes

I'd recommend a very short and concise article by Giuseppe Ciancabilla called "Against Organization." It presents some important food for thought and I'm sure it would provoke some interesting discussion among your study group. And, because it's so brief, I'll even post the full text of it here, along with the link:


Giuseppe Ciancabilla

Against Organisation

We cannot conceive that anarchists establish points to follow systemically as fixed dogmas. Because, even if a uniformity of views on the general lines of tactics to follow is assumed, these tactics are carried out in a hundred different forms of applications, with a thousand varying particulars.

Therefore, we don’t want tactical programs, and consequently we don’t want organization. Having established the aim, the goal to which we hold, we leave every anarchist free to choose from the means that his sense, his education, his temperament, his fighting spirit suggest to him as best. We don’t form fixed programs and we don’t form small or great parties. But we come together spontaneously, and not with permanent criteria, according to momentary affinities for a specific purpose, and we constantly change these groups as soon as the purpose for which we had associated ceases to be, and other aims and needs arise and develop in us and push us to seek new collaborators, people who think as we do in the specific circumstance.

When any of us no longer preoccupies himself with creating a fictitious movement of individual sympathizers and those weak of conscience, but rather creates an active ferment of ideas that makes one think, like blows from a whip, he often hears his friends respond that for many years they have been accustomed to another method of struggle, or that he is an individualist, or a pure theoretician of anarchism.

It is not true that we are individualists if one tries to define this word in terms of isolating elements, shunning any association within the social community, and supposing that the individual could be sufficient to himself. But ourselves supporting the development of the free initiatives of the individual, where is the anarchist that does not want to be guilty of this kind of individualism? If the anarchist is one who aspires to emancipation from every form of moral and material authority, how could he not agree that the affirmation of one’s individuality, free from all obligations and external authoritarian influence, is utterly benevolent, is the surest indication of anarchist consciousness? Nor are we pure theoreticians because we believe in the efficacy of the idea, more than in that if the individual. How are actions decided, if not through thought? Now, producing and sustaining a movement of ideas is, for us, the most effective means for determining the flow of anarchist actions, both in practical struggle and in the struggle for the realization of the ideal.

We do not oppose the organizers. They will continue, if they like, in their tactic. If, as I think, it will not do any great good, it will not do any great harm either. But it seems to me that they have writhed throwing their cry of alarm and blacklisting us either as savages or as theoretical dreamers.

answered Nov 21 by Matt Dionysus (540 points)
+2 votes

I really appreciated Tom Nomad's book The Master's Tools. It is a bit meta- in terms of that it isn't really addressing speaking to concrete tactics or choices that individuals and groups employ so much as a discursive analysis of tactics and strategy. I haven't read his more recent book Toward an Army of Ghosts yet, but in the intro he describes it as being somewhat a companion text.

Going in an entirely different direction you could look at the often overlooked crimethinc. text Expect Resistance, which is in part a book very similar to Days of War, Nights of Love ​in that it is kind of a primer to crimethinc.'s analysis, but it is also the woven together (semi?)fictional narrative of a bunch of folks who are experimenting with what it means to rebel, come in to conflict, act together, fall apart, etc.

If you can find writing about the Love & Rage network/federation (for example: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/liz-highleyman-love-rage-splits),that is an interesting look at how an attempt at an anarchist organization is born, grows (a bit), and then murders itself. I think there are other accounts of Love and Rage as well (including maybe a partisan book that AK Press put out?). Relatedly, anything you can find on the organizational fractions that developed after: Bring the Ruckus ​(which chose to look at racism/white supremacy as the lynchpin in the US context), NEFAC > Common Struggle ​> ​Black Rose Anarchist Federation ​(which took up the neo-Platformist position).

One of the blowhards from NEFAC, Nick Phoebus wrote a position statement ​As Far as Organization Goes, We are Platformists​, which I can't create a hyperlink to right now, but lives here: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/nicolas-phebus-as-far-as-organization-goes-we-are-platformists. This was super instructive to me as an early-20something anarchist who tended green but who had many friends who were a bit more reddish. It ain't a good read, but it has some historic consequence.

Speaking of... the Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communistsby the Dielo Truda group (Makhno, etc.) is probably worth being familiar with, as it still is something that informs many left-anarchists (Anarkismo, and Black Rose AF are the particular ones that come to mind). If you want to spice it up, since the Platform itself is boring A-F (and I don't mean anarchist federation, but I *could*), I would also read the exchanges between Makhno and Malatesta, who opposed the Platform. You might also enjoy discussing Bob Black's more modern review/critique of the Platform: Wooden Shoes or Platform Shoes? 

Here are some other things that might be interesting (or extremely not interesting):

The Anarchist Organization: Why it is Failing ​by Graham Purchase (an informative take on a neo-Kropotkinite from the 1990's)
Against Organizationalism by Jason McQuinn (as well as his other writing on Post-Left Anarchism)
Workers' Organizations​ by Luigi Galleani (again, for some reason hyperlinking the title isn't working, so here: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/luigi-galleani-workers-organizations)

answered Nov 23 by ingrate (20,420 points)
edited Nov 23 by ingrate

SPROUT DISTRO is an anarchist zine distro (distributor) and publisher based in the occupied territory currently known as Grand Rapids, Michigan in the United States.

We distribute zines as a way of contributing to the increased proliferation of anarchist projects and resistance. To that end, we make all the zines we carry available as PDFs for folks to download, print, and distribute themselves.

We primarily distribute zines via this website and in person at zine fests, book fairs, and other such events. We also do a small amount of mail order in order to send zines to places where folks don’t otherwise have access to them.

ADDRESS to Sprout Distro's "Organization Catalogue": https://www.sproutdistro.com/catalog/zines/organizing/


"Friendship as a Form of Life"

ADDRESS: https://www.dropbox.com/s/wtr6uj00j2n3sgk/Friendship%20as%20a%20Form%20of%20Life%20%28Read%29.pdf

HOW I GOT THERE: http://friendship-as-a-form-of-life.tumblr.com/

LARGER MAP: https://ruinsofcapital.noblogs.org/

"Organizing Social Spaces as if Social Relations Matter" - Cindy Milstein

ADDRESS: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/cindy-milstein-organizing-social-spaces-as-if-social-relations-matter

"From Autonomous Space Towards Liberated Space: Some Points for Discussion and Debate" -anon

ADDRESS: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anonymous-from-autonomous-space-towards-liberated-space-some-points-for-discussion-and-debate

"Deny Anarchic Spaces and Places: An Anarchist Critique of Mosaic-Statist Metageography" -Xavier Oliveras González

ADDRESS: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/xavier-oliveras-gonzalez-deny-anarchic-spaces-and-places-an-anarchist-critique-of-mosaic-statis

OTHER ON-LINE DIY-PRINT DISTROs (for your nerd-play):

Anarchist History Nerd Brigade is a small publishing effort dedicated to anarchist history, primarily in the North American context. We publish zines and other documents pertaining to anarchist history with a particular interest in post-1970 history.

ADDRESS: https://anarchisthistory.noblogs.org/

oplopanax publishing: "Formatting pamphlets so people don’t have to read everything on the internet."

ADDRESS: https://oplopanaxpublishing.wordpress.com/

Anarres Press is an all-volunteer anarchist small press in Seattle, named out of admiration for writer Ursula K. Le Guin. We print seditious materials.

ADDRESS: https://anarrespress.wordpress.com/

No Borders: Louisville's Radical Lending Library

ADDRESS: http://imaginenoborders.org/zines/

Subversion Press "With this blog we aim to spread texts written by various people which we think worth reading. We claim no credit for the content of these zines, merely the cover designs and formatting. We encourage others to print these texts and distribute them freely."

ADDRESS: https://subversionpress.wordpress.com/

Opaque Editions: "To name this project OPAQUE is to recognize the imperative of shedding every last misunderstanding that so-called leftism has implanted within anarchist thought and practice."

ADDRESS: https://opaqueeditions.wordpress.com/

Mounting Bedlam Distro "Riots. Rebellion. Revolts. Reclamation. Anarchy. Total Freedom. WE DISTRO RAD SHIT IN GUELPH ONTARIO" 

ADDRESS #1: https://mountingbedlamdistro.wordpress.com/zines/

ADDRESS #2: https://mountingbedlamdistro.wordpress.com/zines-from-turtle-island-and-beyond/


Cool Project!

I also think that Queer Ultraviolence might be a good book to engage with.