Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Is it possible to have a "federation" of affinity groups?

+4 votes
As in, is it possible for informal organizations to collaborate on a semi-formal basis?

I generally support the insurrectionist rejection of formal organization, but I've been thinking about groups like RAAN and Anti-Racist Action/Antifa which seem to operate on this model.

This is also the basis of certain street gangs or crews, although they can be more hierarchical or organized depending on the group in question.

Can anyone identify some pros and cons in this sort of grouping? Is it worth exploring further? Does this fit within the "traditional"/"organizationalist" tendency, the insurrectionist tendency, or somewhere else altogether?
asked May 31, 2012 by anonymous

3 Answers

+2 votes
Yes, this actually has happened, in Spain, prior to the Civil War and Anarchist Revolution in 1936. In 1927, a nation-wide network of affinity groups federated into a single nation-wide federation, the Federacion Anarquista Iberica (FAI), or "Iberian Anarchist Federation. At its peak during the Spanish Civil war, the FAI claimed over 20,000 members throughout Spain, organized into local affinity groups. In fact, the term "affinity group" was coined by the FAI anarchists, as the "grupos afinidados".
answered Jul 5, 2012 by BlackGoat138 (160 points)
0 votes
Agreed with BlackGoat...

The FAI was totally a loose network by today's standards and barely had any unity documents other than like one piece which had a general agreement on the goal of libertarian communism. Each autonomous affinity group was more like "collectives" you see today which each had a different name. This is actually the way old school more decentralized federalism has worked in the USA too, with groups in the 70s like the Social Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and the Anarchist Communist Federation.
answered Jul 6, 2012 by sabotage (670 points)
0 votes
The Informal Anarchist Federation uses a similar model that your question suggests.  The interpretation of federation has gotten a bad reputation because of several attempts to make highly organized anarchist federations has occurred.  Often many use "network" instead of "federation" to describe clusters of affinity groups united in some manner.

Your question is underlined with a desire for collaboration on a semi-formal basis.  Perhaps you want to see these affinity groups not just have unity through shared documents, but perhaps also annual meetings, shared strategies or something along that manner?  Certainly anything is possible.  How affinity group is defined in the late 20th century make come initially from Spain, as suggested, but the resurgence of use comes from Up Against the Wall Motherfucker, which defines the affinity group as a street gang with analysis.

What seems to help define an affinity group is analysis of what is going on and by acting on that analysis.  If an affinity group's point of view is compatible enough with other affinity group's points of view, then the ability to become a federation might be there.

The platform, when removed of its old analysis and taken only for its reasons of unity has: theoretical and tactical unity leading to the creation of a federation.  The point on collective responsibility is more about recognizing that individual actions done in the name of the group reflects how the group is perceived, so should be done responsibly.

This part of the platform need not be reserved to the ideology of platformist anarchist communism.  One could take these points and apply them to synthesis federations, insurrectionary anarchist federations, syndicalist federations and so on.

Like platformists would point out also, the theoretic unity and tactical unity need not be tightly defined.  An insurrectionary anarchist federation may call for:

- Our enemy is the network of domination as Defined by Wolfi Landstreicher in "Network of Domination".

- To overcome this network of domination, we embrace anarchist projectuality as defined by Wolfi Landstreicher.  We will not submit to calls for intermediate gains.  We will not work with political organizations.

- We support the tactics of flyposting, graffiti, vandalism and communiques to spread our message.

- While we give solidarity to those that use more extreme tactics, we do not endorse it.  Arson and murder are not the tactics of our federation.

- We refuse to work with unions.  At work we form workplace committees or workplace fractions that aim to subvert the relationships of workers to work.  We are in favor of work abolition.

- In the neighborhood, we refuse to work with government agencies.  We will form neighborhood associations or neighborhood fractions that refuse dialogue with the government and law enforcement.  We support the formation of municipal assemblies made up of neighborhood associations or fractions that agree to such.  

- We support building and space occupations.  We support the homeless and itinerants that occupy our municipals and beyond.  They are part of our neighborhoods and can participate or refuse to as any others.

- Failing the growth of such groups, we support municipal assemblies of individuals which aim to achieve what goals that can in their given situation.

Something like that.
answered Jul 7, 2012 by hpwombat (3,910 points)
Your proposal for the platform of an insurrectionary anarchist federation is really laughable. Might I suggest you amend it to begin with "We accept Wolfi Landstreicher as our Lord and Savior"? I wonder how Wolfi would feel about his writing being the definition used in the foundation of a federation with theoretical and tactical unity, and which prohibits its members from using certain tactics!

In any case, thanks for the lolz.
If you actually read my answer, it is obvious I'm giving an example.
I actually read your answer. The example fails because insurrectionary anarchism is incompatible with a federation based on a platform of theoretical and tactical unity. First you mention the Informal Anarchist Federation, then you make an example of an imaginary insurrectionary anarchist federation formed around a platform, and in fact the two are wildly different. You should consider why that is, because the way you portray things would indicate that insurrectionary anarchism is compatible with a formal and structured federation that goes so far as to limit its members' activities, which is an absurdity.
I gave an example of how one can use the platform to make a federation of any tendency.  Your claims are false, since I manufactured a platform for an insurrectionary anarchist platform.  You wish I proposed a structured federation and no where did I mention such a thing was structured.  However, you are caught up in many false things.  Your version of insurrectionary anarchy is not the only form.  Insurrectionary anarchist theory has many decedents and its ascension will see deviations from what you take as insurrectionary anarchy.  You are proposing a control of something you can't control.

If a voluntary group decides to choose their tactical level, that is their decision.  Some will seek no limit, while others may offer a limitation on the tactics they are willing to take responsibility for.  In another imaginary manifesto, I propose the exact opposite of this with no limitation of tactics.  You are a delusional fanboy.
You claim one can use the platform to make a federation of any tendency. I disagree, since there exist tendencies that can be defined by their incompatibility with the platform and the federation.

What is my version of insurrectionary anarchy? What did I say about it? Only that it is necessarily incompatible with the federation with a platform of theoretical and tactical unity. I stand by this point, which you have not refuted.

What are my delusions? What am I a fanboy of?
I disagree with you.  Again, since I *did* make a platform out of insurrectionary anarchy, it is indeed possible.  Therefore I *can* do it.

Your version of insurrectionary anarchy is one that doesn't think it is possible to make an insurrectionary anarchist platform.  You said "The example fails because insurrectionary anarchism is incompatible with a federation based on a platform of theoretical and tactical unity."  This is false by my mere assertion.  I am an insurrectionary anarchist.
Actually the FAI/IRF does have a platform of sorts you can find it at these links and it was the CCF that called for folks to take it up again. The FAI call from 2003 for an insurrectionist international was also in continuation with the call from the 90s by Bonanno for an international.

http://325.nostate.net/?p=1434 - Included is the 2003 FAI "Platform"
http://325.nostate.net/library/escalation1.pdf - This also has it.
http://325.nostate.net/?p=1539 - R.O. CCF Call to Start the FAI/IRF
http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alfredo-m-bonanno-for-an-anti-authoritarian-insurrectionalist-international
I think its kind of weird to call what they said a platform.  I dont think a platform is a series of ideas that distinguish us from others or other groups, but a "positive" vision of ways that people "should" follow to institute some kind of pre-determined and specific world. as to the previous question, saying I'm an insurrectionist and just devised a way to make insurrectionary anarchist platformist, and therefore possible, is kinda like saying im an an-cap, i believe in capitalism, but call myself an anarchist, so therefore there is no contradiction -  and this is a mistake.  Insurrectionary anarchism, refers in some ways to a specific set of ideas, that first and foremost reject platforms, so therefore its not really possible to have a platformist insurrectionary anarchist group/person.  People can willingly do anything, like subvert their freedom for an organization or platform, but just because its voluntary doesnt mean that it is somehow an insurrectionary anarchist whatever
...