I would like to make some comments about points raised in the article 'Anarchist Organization' in the previous Bulletin. In this article, the writer illustrates three types of anarchist organization which are perhaps now possible in Australia. These are: -
1. Local interest groups;
2. Regional or state bodies;
3. A national federation
Crucial to the existence of any anarchist organization is, of course, the local groups, and I believe that these should be based on common occupation, or perhaps locality, and not merely on a professed "interest in anarchism". The more a local group is divorced from everyday living, the more such a group becomes both in reality and appearance, a "separate organization". This belief leaves me open to the criticism that I am opposed to anarchists organizing as anarchists. However I am concerned that anarchist groups should not take on even the appearance (if not the reality) of being like leftist vanguard parties.
There is of course a need for anarchists to meet, exchange ideas and perhaps engage in propaganda and produce magazines and this can be done (as suggested in the article) at the regional or state level. The organisation at this level should be based on individuals and its functions are well set out by the article. These regional or state conferences must be very careful of their propaganda role, as they are not based on any economic or social unit in society, except inasmuch as a meeting of individual anarchists is a social unit.
With respect to a national organisation, there are two concepts of what this could be: -
1. A federation of local groups.
2. An extension of the regional groups.
I agree with the article that the essential task of any national group is to aid communications between groups and individuals within and without Australia, so that it could federate local groups and incorporate any other individuals whose only contact with the movement is through a regional group. Since the national body is not a policy making or directive body, there should be no conflict between 'activist' and 'armchair' anarchists. Anyway, most members of regional bodies would not be making decisions that would bind individuals or groups. However these conferences should always be fruitful in bringing anarchists together where they can exchange ideas. A national group should not take on an independent, activist role, unless perhaps it is restricted to an organisation of local federated bodies.
My concern in writing this article is that anarchists should not be primarily involved in anarchist organisations, but should organise into groups where there is a common interest, eg libertarian rank and file groups within unions. By doing this, hopefully, anarchists will not be regarded as merely another leftist sect waiting for the day when they can set up a 'dictatorship of the proletariat'.
FAAB No 2, Nov-Dec 1974