Insurrectionary anarchism in Sweden

One interesting thing about the Swedish movement is its rather unusual relationship with insurrectionary anarchism. In most of the English speaking world there is very little love lost between insurrectionary anarchists and more class struggle oriented anarchists, and libertarian socialists. While insurrectionary anarchists might commit to class politics on an ideological level, in practice they are more often to be found penning obscurely worded calls to action against yet another elite summit, or disappearing into the night after some ‘direct action’ against storefronts. Not so in Sweden. When Swedish people talk about insurrectionary anarchism, they usually associate it with workplace struggle, often incorporating some of Kampa Tillsammans’ ideas about Faceless Resistance. What’s more unusual is that many of the same people who are interested in these ideas are also members of SAC, and these ideas have played a role in SAC’s recent re-invigoration.

This peculiar set of circumstances is primarily the work of a small collective called Batko (Batko refers to Nestor Makhno’s nickname, ‘Father’). Batko publish a magazine called Dissident, and have so far put out three issues. The first dealt with platformism, the second introduced insurrectionary anarchism, and the third, er, has something to do with death. Each of these texts contained translations of relevant texts together with some pieces by Batko members.

Batko derive a number of principles from insurrectionary anarchism that form the basis of their approach:

1) permanent conflictuality, that the struggle should never turn to mediation, bargaining or compromise, 2) autonomy and self-activity; that the struggle should be carried out without representatives and “specialists”, and 3) organisation as attack; that the organisation should be used as a tool in the attack against state and capital and not be a goal in itself.”

What is interesting is that all of these principles tie in to recent syndicalist practice in Sweden. The emphasis on conflict as an organising principle is characteristic of many recent actions, and in fact has received significant criticism within the movement.

The critique of representatives and specialists has been applied to the re-organisation of the SAC. The roles of the Ombudsmen as official mediators within SAC have been removed, as part of a broad effort to give workers more power and control over their own disputes. This has been encouraged by the internal magazine Syndikalisten, which has given increased space for reports on local conflicts and disputes.

The critique of organisation as a goal in itself chimes with the new opposition to ‘organisational chauvinism’ within SAC. In practice this means supporting workers struggles regardless of the organisational affiliation of the workers, even if SAC have only one member within a workplace they will still support the workers’ conflicts. Their interest is not in acquiring more members but in supporting the class struggle.

The focus on informal organisation also chimes with Kampa Tillsammans’ discussions of Faceless Resistance. For Kampa Tillsammans, class conflict is more usually expressed through the informal activities of workers within a workplace then through the formal structures of unions. This form of organisation is fluid, consisting of workers thrown together in a specific section of the workplace, or on a specific shift, and tends to be unmediated, because it strives towards direct, small scale goals.

Of course, I don’t mean to imply that the influence of the insurrectionary approach is confined to the SAC, but that’s what I know most about at this stage. Hopefully the comrades from Batko can provide some more info on the influences of their ideas. I suspect that they have also helped to set the agenda for some of the work in Motarbeteren.

Batko also wear a far heavier Marxist influence than most insurrectionist anarchists, they are very influenced by Dauve, and also by Camatte. This is not very surprising, one of the members of Batko, Marcel, was formerly a member of the Swedish left-communist journal Riff Raff. This influence can be seen in the ways in which they discuss history and class composition, particularly in the interview with Sasha from Killing King Abacus. Whereas Sasha argues that the drive towards insurrection has always been present and relevant, Batko argue that this drive is made particularly relevant in the current stage of capitalism where formal subsumption has given way to real subsumption. These are Marxist concepts which refer to the relationship between reproduction of labour and the wage. Under formal subsumption capital pays a wage for labour processes that originate outside of capital, while under real subsumption these processes are re-organised inside of capital itself. Marx’s point about the re-organisation of labour was given a twist by Negri who began discussing the real vs formal subsumption of society. The point of this twist is to imply that all social processes have been re-organised within a capitalist logic, i.e. that all parts of society serve capital in some way,  and I think that it is in this second sense that Batko use the term.

This analysis of real subsumption leads Batko to a two pronged view of the revolutionary process (or communisation as they call it). On the hand, struggle takes place ‘inside’ capital, through a vast array of forms that reject or challenge the capitalist logic such as strikes, riots, sabotage, riots etc. On the other hand, communisation also involves the creation of spaces ‘outside’ capital that provide a glimpse of a post revolutionary society. It’s not at all clear what they mean by this ‘outside’, and Batko do not attempt to unpack it much in their material that has been translated thus far.

As I understand it, the process of communisation is very much the theme of the third volume of Dissident, but unfortunately, none of this material has been translated to English. In fact, unlike the first two collections, the articles in Dissident 3 are largely culled from the Swedish movement, including many original pieces. This suggests that in Dissident 3, Batko have begun to find their own voice, rather than relying on analyses of other currents, but for the moment at least, what they’re saying is lost to us.

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~ by swedishzine on July 18, 2009.

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