A PROPOSAL for a BRISBANE REGIONAL ANARCHIST SPOKESCOUNCIL
FIRST “trial run” of BRISBANE REGIONAL ANARCHIST SPOKESCOUNCIL MEETING
SUNDAY 26th JUNE — 3PM TO 5PM– at 28 Vulture St, West End
beside Sol Breads and Bus Stop 9 West End State School
SOCIAL – DINNER and DJ FROM 5pm
That anarchists in Brisbane begin consciously forming and naming affinity groups (temporary or permanent depending on individuals). That we (individual anarchists, affinity groups, and larger collectives) begin meeting every quarter (3 months) in a structured Regional Spokescouncil. All individual anarchists, without organisations or affinity groups, are actively encouraged to participate equally in that Spokescouncil.
Brisbane culture (I think) has traditionally worked on various overlapping social circles, which has many benefits. But can make it difficult to communicate outside those circles.
A regular and reliable Spokescouncil allows a publicly visible space for anarchists from different groups and situations to come together, give feedback on what they have been doing, give proposals for what they want to do, and co-ordinate actions and resources. It provides a proto-type to General Assemblies and Federated Assemblies. If we can do this right, we can do something bigger next.
Furthermore it provides the experience and structure for Brisbane anarchists to co-ordinate, and move into, a position of leadership during one-off or spontaneous events. For example, Lady Cintro and Baby Asha earlier this year. As a standing structure, anarchists are then ‘ready to go’ when the time is right. It provides a proto-type for dual powering Reformist or Statist mass organising.
It also means that people need to think in a more focused and strategic way about their (A) politics. This avoids the various ‘liberal poverty tourists’ and random fluff that can, and has derailed good solid actions just because it is ‘popular’. That revolutionary organising isn’t a hobby or ‘cultural experience’.
Details of the POINTS OF UNITY:
# The Spokescouncil is open to participation from people identifying as anarchists, libertarian socialists, libertarian municipalists & social ecologists from the greater Brisbane Region.
# Initially anarchists from Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and other areas of regional Qld or Northern NSW can participate, with the long term expectation to grow local movements and local Spokescouncils.
# That participants from other regions are allowed by Spokescouncil invitation; or request and consensus in meeting. Otherwise those affinity groups or anarchists are to have the position of ‘Observer Status’. It should be remembered that this is a Brisbane Regional Spokescouncil. Participants who are not going to stay in the region should not be able to ‘fly in and fly out’ of the Spokescouncil, without an active connection and responsibility to the region. There will always be exceptions to be dealt with as they arise.
# People who are members of political parties, or do not publicly identify as anarchists, are to be refused participation; with Observer Status by request and consensus in meeting. This is our (anarchist) organising space. Other groups and politics already have their own spaces.
# We should discourage other people using the Spokescouncil to be able to casually ‘drop in to see what the anarchists are up too.’ Either you participate or you don’t.
# The Spokescouncil’s role is to facilitate broader communication and Mutual Aid style co-operation between dispersed anarchist groups or individuals in the Region. It should be a task focused space that’s for getting work done, and connecting people through actions. Socialisation activities can, and should be tied to the event.
# A small ‘organisational collective’ to be delegated by the Spokescouncil to carry out tasks incidental to organising meeting space and promotion of the Spokescouncil. These people are acting as delegates and are recallable at every Spokes by 2/3 majority vote.
# Admin procedures are to be kept to a minimal. Constitutionalism or codification is to be avoided. Meeting process junkies should be kept in line, as should the flippant ‘whatever goes’ ramblings. This is a ‘task space’ we should strive to be efficient with our time in it. Direct Democracy is about taking responsibility for your own behaviour, and not expecting others to manage it for you.
# Individuals are to take responsibility for their own behaviour and language. Inappropriate behaviour or language to be dealt with quickly by facilitator and other participants, with mind to protect the flow of discourse. The Spokecouncil is to be a welcoming and co-operative place for all people to stand as free individuals, inclusive of all forms of gender, ethnicity and history.
# The Spokescouncil should cultivate a degree of ‘professional association’ between people with personal conflicts. Criminal or abusive behaviour is best dealt with by the police at this stage, as the local movement does not have the strength or experience to deal with it ourselves yet.
# The meeting date to be kept as something simple to remember, like midday the first or third Saturday of the month for example. That once it is set, the date doesn’t move or get changed as this just generates unneeded confusion and debate about new dates and times. If it lands on some date that is ‘busy’ say Mothers Day etc, well then people just don’t go. So let’s check the calendar to minimise these possibilities.
# The Spokescouncil ought to be mixed into a broader social event for anarchists. Most of the background work and discussions will happen informally. So we should create social events around the Spokescouncil to facilitate this. For example, 3pm Spokescouncil start with 5pm finish; 5:30 pm Food Not Bombs (FNB) dinner with music or film screening after. But let’s be flexible, lets have fun!
The Brisbane Regional Anarchist Spokescouncil does not …
a) make group proclamations or statements. Individuals or affinity groups speak for themselves only;
b) approve or disapprove an affinity groups actions. Each group is responsible for their own actions, (and therefore the consequences). Critic or feedback may be sort through the Spokescouncil …. and most likely given in social spaces outside the meeting. Everyone has the right to freely co-operate in a spirit of Mutual Aid. No one has the right to demand that others give them energy, resources or time.
c) allow the space to be used for egotistical grandstanding; to carry out personal character assassinations; group therapy for personal issues; or allow the space to be used as a personal conflict airing platform. Any individual engaging in this behaviour is to be asked to leave immediately …. no exceptions. Let’s talk about the idea, not the individual. Let’s make things happen, let’s not bog down in others crap.
WHAT IS A SPOKESCOUNCIL?
“A spokescouncil is a collection of affinity groups and clusters (a collection of affinity groups), who meet together for a common purpose, often civil disobedience. “Spokes” is short for “spokesperson”, selected by each affinity group or cluster to represent them in the spokescouncil”
It is a structured meeting to facilitate communication between affinity groups, collectives and individuals. Communication is focused on getting consensus or sharing information. In this instances this does NOT mean the liberal/protest approach of winning 100% support for a particular position, or your right to individually BLOCK as position for personal reasons. Consensus is about understanding the ‘group mind’ and reaching the best overall outcome. The process is about Direct Democracy, that good open debate reaches the best understanding. There are no binding decisions, no laws, just personal agreements and understandings. But breasking personal agreements usually results in a personal refusal to co-operate in the future.
Affinity groups and Spokescouncil is an old anarchist organising model that was popularised during the Spanish Revolution. It also was the successful working model for many Australian direct action campaigns, including Woomera. An affinity group is basically and small group of friends who develop and work on a common task or project. It is dynamic, self-defining and entirely autonomous. During the Spanish Revolution many militias worked on this model, making them incredibly hard to penetrate by Statist spies.
In a Spokescouncil, each participating Affinity group selects a delegate to speak during the meeting. The delegate is to present the ‘group mind’ of the affinity group, and does not have the power to make decisions on behalf of the affinity group. During a Spokescouncil it is normal protocol for the affinity group to sit behind the delegate, so the delegate can make quick references to the group on topics being discussed.
An individual can be a participant of a number of different affinity groups. But can only be the delegate for one affinity group. You can’t swap delegates during a meeting, unless the whole affinity group wishes to remove them for misrepresenting the group (from which you’d assume they no longer wish to work with them).