Solidarity Network – Supporting grassroots struggles and connecting autonomous struggles in solidarity

Supporters of IOPS, Anti-Capitalist Initiative, Occupy London and others held their third cross-movement assembly this year entitled “Becoming Catalysts for a Radical Social Movement in 2013,” on 19 March at SOAS.

The assembly was well attended by a broad range of people from both organisations and also many independent individuals wishing to find out about, and become engaged in, struggles with social movements. Our conversation focused on community engagement, local assemblies and direct action. Initially, participants involved in various campaigns including Save Leyton Marshes, the Connaught House eviction protest, the Friern Barnet Library and others reported back on their experiences of these campaigns.

Together, we explored lessons learned, possible strengths and weaknesses of different campaigns, their potential, and how they fit into wider revolutionary struggle. Crucially, we explored the importance of beginning campaigns early, when there is still time to sway decisions – rather than constantly trying to firefight.

The people’s assembly model for organising and decision making was discussed. Most participants felt that the people’s assembly model could help to facilitate new forms of social relations and organising. But, it was also pointed out that assemblies may not always be appropriate, for example when working in communities with already established processes of their own. Here, some thought, perhaps introducing participatory / horizontal processes gradually into already existing community forums may be a more conducive way of engaging practically and effectively in grassroots struggles without fetishising certain methods of coming to decisions.

This led to participants questioning what practical outcomes could emerge from the “Becoming Catalysts” assemblies space. After several proposals and much deliberation, we reached strong agreement that the “Becoming Catalysts” assemblies had the potential to bring different groups together, share information on lessons learned, and organise support for local action, among other things. From this, it was suggested that one concrete outcome of the assemblies could be to work towards building a “Solidarity Network” in London.

This proposal received great support. Consensus was reached on the idea of building a “Solidarity Network” in London, together with a wide group of groups, organisations and individuals. We also decided that the next assembly would focus on what exactly such a solidarity network might look like, and the practicalities of how we could make this happen.

We’re excited about the prospect of having a “Solidarity Network” in London so that we can more effectively support grassroots struggles and connect autonomous struggles in solidarity with each other, while having an open space for facilitating discussion and action.

If you’re excited by the prospect of developing a “Solidarity Network” in London, we hope you will join us at the next Becoming Catalysts assembly to be held on Thursday 25 April at from 7pm – 9pm at SOAS! The Facebook event page is available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/555861661103470/?context=create#

You can also post your thoughts and ideas in advance on this blog!

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3 thoughts on “Solidarity Network – Supporting grassroots struggles and connecting autonomous struggles in solidarity

  1. Some comments to enhance discussion at the next meeting on Thursday 25 April at from 7pm – 9pm at SOAS!

    Towards establishing a Solidarity Network in London

    Discussion doc for the next ‘Becoming Catalysts …’ meeting on 25th April, 7pm, SOAS (room to be announced) – Steve Why

    ON 19th March 2013 at SOAS, the ‘Becoming Catalysts for a Radical Social Movement’ (IOPS, Occupy London, Anti-Capitalist Initiative, various anarchists and others) held their third cross-movement assembly this year. These assemblies have been between about 30 and 70 strong. The bulk of participants would describe themselves as revolutionaries of one sort or another.

    The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the setting-up of borough-wide Local Assemblies. After report backs of various struggles across London we finally realised such Assemblies would be largely premature as the current level of social and class struggles had not yet been reached for this to work across London.
    This will eventually happen, but now is neither the time nor place for this to flourish – a process is required that naturally flows with the quantity and quality of struggles. In Greece today, things of course are very different.

    As such, it was enthusiastically and unanimously agreed that our next meeting at SOAS on April ??? would discuss the establishment of a London-wide Solidarity Network focussing on supporting existing struggles. Invites to this meeting will be spread to many other current struggles, activists and existing campaigns. A formal invite has gone out, but as the proposer of this strategy there are several positive dynamics in building such a Solidarity Network that I missed out on because of time limitations.

    So I would like to present several points here to include for the discussion in April.

    1 – The Network should meet monthly at a minimum, be libertarian and anti-hierarchical in structure and method.

    2 – The meetings would be a focal point bringing together many of those interested in solidarity with struggles against the broad range of oppressions, and in linking these struggles. This would be a centre for developing resources, skills, experience, etc.

    3 – The meetings would also be a focal point for delegations from a whole variety of struggles against capitalism to come and be given the floor, where the core Network activists will be able to help organise solidarity, give suggestions, fully respecting the autonomy of those delegations and struggles. Individuals in need would be welcome as no struggle is too small for us to take on.

    4 – Network meetings should set up volunteer open working groups that include experienced members to support specific struggles. Obviously sometimes the whole Network would at times want to focus direct action on certain struggles. Work groups practically supporting specific struggles report back to the monthly meetings.

    5 – Further, there will be an inward flow of those enjoying their specific struggle and our solidarity who will want to stay around and build the Network with us. As such we should develop methods and techniques of struggle that are fun, creative and effective direct action.

    6 – Where there is organic growth of struggles in any area, we should always be ready to help turn local areas or boroughs into their own integrated yet independent Solidarity Networks (or whatever name locals choose) so that we develop networks of skilled, experienced comrades in various areas of London. This is what we mean by ‘becoming catalysts’, the development of revolutionary catalysts, as opposed to ‘leaders’.

    7 – Where whole communities and workplaces and other social struggles flare-up, only then should we encourage the establishment of strong Local Assemblies or Community Councils – because in reality, these are dual-power bodies challenging local government in various arenas. There is a deep world-wide history and rich experience of this process.

    8 – We should build an international solidarity aspect to our work: twinning with Athens perhaps?

    This cross fertilisation and overall step-by-step process of rapid-deep social learning is crucial to developing the skills, experience and the conscious practice of all involved. The Network could also set up a working group on human/worker development which researches into the most modern radical learning processes, versatile informal learning methods, etc.
    Different comrades will want to work in areas they feel passionate about. Personally, within a Solidarity Network I would specialise in backing workers struggles, especially those of shop, bar and service workers in various shopping centres, high streets, malls. These are the places where the consumer side of the working class also congregate – a potential melting-pot of mass struggles. Here is what I term the unseen and unrecognised new proletariat of today; non-unionised, precarious, part-time and abused workers; lots of women and immigrants laden with specific additional oppressions. Each geographical centre can be visualised as one workplace with similar pay, conditions and struggles. Further, such struggles are direct, without the mediation (betrayal) of official union ‘leaders’ subject to the anti-union laws, protecting their inflated salaries, etc. It is the current focus of Croydon Solidarity Federation of which I’m a member.
    We would also support the establishment of Solidarity Networks nationally in all towns and cities. This is the new policy of the Anarchist Federation (of which I am a member too) to spread Solidarity Networks nationally. Let’s try and make London a good example of how this process can be developed in practice. end

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