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Notes on the Midwest Libertarian Conference, May 28-31, 1976, Des Moines, Iowa Part 5 of 5

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Part 1, 2, 3, 4

Evaluation of Midwest Organizing and Communications Conference

We were charged, at the Columbia Conference a year ago, to structure a conference on organization and communication. On evaluation we agreed that our structure for meetings and tasks facilitated this goal. We decided however, that it was a real mistake not to have spent more time Saturday morning, at the first general meeting, going through the agenda for that day. If we had been more thorough we could have explained our ideas on decision-making for the large group meetings. People would have had a better understanding of the tasks to accomplish and could have proposed differences if they had them. We were critical of the people who thought the conference was too bureaucratically structured and did not make any effort to give feedback by mail, beforehand. We also agreed that we should have announced the use of the office equipment to everyone at the first general meeting.

We talked about the way the first workshops on Saturday tended to have Des Moines people for facilitators. Given the level of our preparation and the time we spent working together as a group, it was understandable for this to happen. However, we think that we should have been stronger about refusing to be facilitators and pushed for others to play this role. Read more…

Notes on the Midwest Libertarian Conference, May 28-31, 1976, Des Moines, Iowa Part 4 of 5

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is a story Liz from Madison submitted to Free For All newspaper. It was rejected for publication because it was supposedly not relevant to enough of the readers. Liz says that a lot of the tone in the story reflects her involvement in an internal struggle within Free For All.  A struggle between anarchist and Marxist factions.

I arrived in Des Moines late Friday with an open mind and a relatively uncritical eye. I was looking forward to being with new and different people who share the belief that there is no government like no government, that any and all authority is inherently limiting to an individuals freedom, and that any attempt to control leads inevitably to authoritarianism. Unfortunately, my naive state did not last for long. Read more…

Notes on the Midwest Libertarian Conference, May 28-31, 1976, Des Moines, Iowa Part 3 of 5

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Two of the points of discussion unresolved at the conference were: 1) the criticism I offered but was unable to clarify about the classist nature of our inability to prioritize for action focus major forms of oppression such as class, race and sex and 2) the necessity for ideological unity (by this I mean a basic agreement on the ideas, principles and analysis – or theory – which informs action). I would briefly like to explain my further thinking on these issues since the conference.

The bourgeois ideology of the society in which we live is, in part, a mixture of an extreme individualism – my need over yours – and submerging of the individuality into a consumption orientated mass. It is the remnants of the bourgeois individualism – please don’t confuse with individuality – which I perceived to be operating in our disagreements at the conference. To heighten personal experience and need as the only criteria for determining one’s focus for revolutionary action stems from very individual experience. In general this experience is not that of the working class or poor class, nor is the stance which was issusing from it consistent with the needs of those classes. Read more…

Notes on the Midwest Libertarian Conference, May 28-31, 1976, Des Moines, Iowa Part 2 of 5

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Despite the egoizing, despite our apprehension, we stand on the threshold of coalescing together to form a strong anarchist movement for the first time in 50 years. If we work at it.

We actually agreed on a statement of principles and practice, perhaps a bit too general, but one that reflected all our politics as individuals, and transcends our differences.

It wasn’t easy. We were paranoid of power plays and came close to destroying the tenuous feeling of unity by alienating and making our hosts feel defensive, a step not in keeping with our avowed principles of making and receiving criticism. We compromised.

Comrade Sam Dolgoff’s strong push for studying his set of principles and coming back in a year to adopt them, took the form of a personal argument, as he let the amount of work he put into it get in the way of discussing it. I respect his work and find it a document worthy of consideration. I criticize myself for reciprocating in the argument.

We were paranoid of any mention of Marxist terminology, (the feeling here cannot be attributed to any one person.) This ignores, I believe, a tool we could use, with caution, in explaining the nature of capitalism, in much the same way we have studied Proudhon’s work “What is Property?”. Let us then resolve to guard against vulgar Marxism, but not be afraid of comrades who seek to understand the economic institutions we suffer under.

Some were unprepared for conducting workshops in a useful way, (I was not entirely confident about my teaching abilities).

But we came together and agreed on the roots necessary for the formulation of a social organization. Our principles reflect a decentralizing function, with the strong possibility of federative links. I hope the declaration includes not only process but content as well.

Seeing as how we are to discuss the statement of principles for the next year, I would like to initiate a discussion of the concept of self-management, for the next issue of the bulletin.

Yours for the general strike,

Fred Lappert, Columbis, Ohio

Notes on the Midwest Libertarian Conference, May 28-31, 1976, Des Moines, Iowa Part 1 of 5

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

For short background on this, see: Des Moines Anarchist/Libertarian Socialist Conference in 1976

I just received 9 pages of reportbacks from this conference (Thanks, SM!) I’m going to separate this into 5 parts, which are the 5 different reportbacks.

The conference began with a general meeting to welcome the participants and discuss the agenda for the day. The Des Moines and Ames groups handed out a proposal titled “Principles of Unity”. We then split into workshops of six people to discuss points of the proposal. Each group contained at least one person who had worked on the proposal. In each of our groups there seemed to be much confusion, if not disagreement, over the principles, which seemed to reflect a Marxist influence. Most people in ours and other groups never got past debating the first two points. They were 1. “Members of the organization will strive for ideological unity:, and 2. “Members of the organization hold a dialectical materialist perspective”. Read more…

Des Moines Anarchist/Libertarian Socialist Conference in 1976

December 30, 2010 1 comment

From Anarcho-Syndicalist Review’s Anarchism in America Part 2

Also in 1976 a group of anarchists and libertarian marxists in Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored a “Continental Organizing and Communications Conference” with an eye towards forming a federation of anarchist and Read more…

Categories: Conferences