The Global Influence Of Platformism Today: Brazil

THE GLOBAL INFLUENCE OF PLATFORMISM TODAY: BRAZIL

NEFAC interviews the Federacao Anarquista Gaucha (FAG)

The Federacao Anarquista Gaucha has been around since
1995, and is named after the "gaucho" region of
southern Brazil, namely in the state of Rio Grande do
Sur where this organization is from. The capital city,
Porto Alegre, is well-known for its annual hosting of
the World Social Forum (WSF). I was in Brazil at last
year's WSF and got to meet a few FAG members, and in
that short amount of time was very impressed with the
organizational work and dedication of the group, who
were simultaneously hosting the Jornadas Anarquistas
Conference during the WSF, and continuing with their
own work. Below is an interview with Luciana, the
FAG's international secretary. Translation by Tony.

- interview by Red Sonja (NEFAC-Boston)

NEFAC: The FAG, in its formation, was influenced by
the Uruguayan FAU, and is currently a part of the SIL
(International Libertarian Solidarity). What anarchist
groups do you work with closely in South America? Has
the SIL been a beneficial international network for
groups in the southern hemisphere? What kind of
solidarity work is necessary from the anarchist groups
in North America and Europe?

FAG: The FAG maintains relations with various
Brazilian and Latin American groups thru the internet
and regular mail with newsletters and bulletins. In
Latin America, we maintain relations more frequently
with OSL from Argentina, CUAC from Chile, the
Libertarian Youth from Bolivia, Indigenes Community
Flores Magon de Oaxaca from Mexico, Quilombo
Libertaria from Bolivia, and of course the FAU in
Uruguay, with whom we have an organic relation.

In Brazil we have a direct relation with Anarchist
Federation Cabocla from Belem do Para (north of Brazil
- Amazonia), Libertarian Struggle from São Paulo,
Student Movement from Mato Grosso do Sul, Libertarian
Construction Goiana from Goiana, Quilombo Cecilia
from Bahia and lots more. All the Brazilians here
mentioned adhere to "specifismo."

To the FAG, the ILS was a big landmark to overcome
sectarianism and begin building solidarity thru some
basic principles shared by both "specifismo" and
anarcho-syndicalism, or through other anarchists and
revolutionaries that are part of ILS. The class
solidarity, direct struggle and intervention in the
social movements represents a big gap where the global
dominant class tries to fragment the revolutionary
will. We have received solidarity from organizations
like SAC (Sweden), Apoyo Mutuo (Spain), the French
section of ILS (Alternative Libertaire, No Pasaran,
OCL), the OSL from Switzerland, and the FAU itself.

We think that the type of support that Latin American
organizations need the most is good structure and
political support in their campaigns for the
liberation of political prisoners and other campaigns
where we can count on international solidarity.
Structurally, every organization in the peripheral
countries has problems: it is a great effort to make a
simple newsletter. Here in Brazil our big need is
without a doubt a printing press.

NEFAC: Does the FAG adhere to "specifismo" like the
FAU in Uruguay? This seems to be a brand of
platformism particular to the southern cone of South
America. Could you elaborate on the differences and
what influence each has in the principles of FAG?

FAG: Today, "specifismo" is more a practice than a
theory. FAU and FAG have tried very hard to build the
definition of the same theory. Before they got to
know platformism, the FAU started to elaborate on
?specifismo.? Not too long ago we got access to the
text of Dielo Trouda, and the first translation was
done to Brazilian Portuguese texts of Russian
anarchists serves as a base, showing the need for
anarchists to organize themselves. To act as
anarchists inside the social movements, maintaining a
distance of discussion and development of politics --
this Malatesta also talks about.

This section of the text is the most important to us.
Today, the "specifismo" covers the following concepts:
Structured anarchist organization in a federal manner,
such as a delegation system and executive proceeding,
functional so that it can be spread in a large
geographic area without the need of assemblies and
frequent meetings; practice and theory directed to
this era and for a place where the organization is
implemented; anarchist organization concentrated to
the Principles of Declaration, Organic Charts and
Strategies directed to the General Strategies. Exact
strategies are the short term objectives of the
organization, and the General Strategies are the long
term objectives. Our action, in conjunction with the
social movements, is balanced to the differences of
political-ideological on a social level.

On the political-ideological level (political groups,
including the FAG) should enhance the social and
popular movements, but without trying to make it
"anarchist", more militant. The social movement
should not have a political ideology, the role should
be to unite and not belong to a political party. In
social movements it is possible to unite militants and
build a unified base, which is not possible in an
ideological level.

Because we know that we are not going to make the
revolution by ourselves, we need be aware that we need
to unite with other political forces without losing
our identity. This identity is the anarchist
organization, and is the avenue by which we want to
build unity with other political forces in the social
movement. The FAG has structures in the nucleuses in
neighborhoods and cities where it acts, and those
nucleuses contain autonomous tactics but not
strategies. The strategy and the work plan are
frequently reevaluated and readjusted within the
analysis of the whole in our Federal Association,
bringing together delegates from each nucleus.

NEFAC: The FAG has developed some relationship with
"rank and file" of the MST (Movemiento Sem Terra -
Brazilian landless movement), a group which is truly a
reflection of Brazil's particular political climate.
In what other ways is FAG trying to put forward an
anarchist agenda and alternative given the particular
situation of Brazil?

FAG: We have contacts with MST but we are not members
of MST. MST is without a doubt the biggest and the
most combative popular movement from Brazil, although,
it is a tool of organization for the farmers. FAG
concentrates its activities in the urban zones of
south Brazil. In the urban zones, the struggle to
bring the workers together has not been accomplished,
like the MST has done in the rural areas. The MST has
tried to create alternatives for the struggles in the
city but has not been able to accomplish this. We
believe that with the big unemployment rate in Brazil,
the oppressed urban class in large part is not
concentrated in factories but rather in small towns,
villages and slums. 70% of our people live with
miserable jobs, what we call "bicos". They are
construction workers, "camels" (street vendors),
trash collectors, maids, security guards, repair
workers, etc. Therefore leaving the majority of the
population away from factories; they work nearby where
they live and start families.

Therefore the FAG acts in their peripheral communities
through what we call "espaos solidairios" (solidarity
territories), the Popular Resistance Committees. These
territories have the mission to bring the people
together to fight for their rights, work for the
community, little by little, discussion and action
will build an understanding of popular power and self
esteem. We live in villages, slums and projects, and
as residents we get other residents for the struggle,
local gatherings, to educate mutually and go for a
drink together.

From the simplest activities to the complicated ones,
we build what we call "tecido social" that today it is
worn out by the fragmentation of the oppressed class.
The committees have the role of speaking and building
relationships not only between the residents but also
between the popular organizations in the region:
Mothers? Clubs, Community Radios, Soccer Clubs,
Cultural Groups, Neighborhood Associations, Unions,
etc. This way we try to form a solidarity group
between all the organizations in the community,
increasing strength mutually in direction of the
struggle.

We also act in Student Associations in Universities,
with a group of students that work in social
movements, and we also intervene in the Independent
Media Center (IMC). We do this in order to give them
more popular character and to make them a truly
popular movement. Also we support local radio
stations, and we avoid just putting bunch of
information over the internet because only 3% of the
population has access. Beyond the work at the social
level, there is also the work on the ideological
level. The FAG holds frequent debates in our
headquarters, and does graffiti, murals, and other
public activities that express our anarchist ideology
and our position against the government.

NEFAC: How does a revolutionary anarchist organization
relate to the social democratic power of the Workers
Party (PT)? This will always be a contradiction
anarchists face: we hope for a growing left movement,
and a general shift left, yet we will simultaneously
be in opposition to these forces which maintain
liberal and/or authoritarian tenets. Does the FAG hope
to be the "thorn in the side" of the PT which provokes
them to move farther Left? Or does the FAG hope to
siphon off the more radical support of the PT into
anarchist ranks?

FAG: The PT is a very fragmented party. In the social
movements like the MST and MTD (The Unemployment
Movement) there are valuable militants that belong to
PT who are completely disappointed with the course
that the party has taken. However, because they do
not see an alternative yet, they still believe that
the PT can change to the real left. There are also
others who are disappointed and are gathering strength
to build a new workers party with a more revolutionary
character based on Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyism.

In our opinion, the PT is today the official left
party of the country that needs to exist to legitimize
a false and corrupt democracy, was helped by the
Brazilian bourgeois to win the presidential elections.
They are the only political party able to create a
social pact that calms down the social conflicts,
calming down the MST, shutting up the hungry and
miserable without force (at least for the moment). We
can observe this with our long experience of the PT in
the capital of Rio Grande do Sul.

What the PT is able to do is to calm down the social
conflicts with the phrase of "estamos todos
governando" ("We are all governing") and planning
social projects that will quiet down those movements
that are most combative. Misery and unemployment are
still the same, with the disguise that we are all
participating, everything will get better. One way the
PT does this is to participate in bureaucratic
channels of popular participation where the "hungry"
population sits down to dispute a miserable 10% of the
government budget. If the demand is approved by
popular vote, it still has to be approved by the
executive. In turn the executive alleges lack of
funds and rejects the project, postponing the promise
project for three years.

The popular movement from Porto Alegre and the State
as a whole, today is the most lawful and controlled
institution in the country. This is the meaning of the
"conscious citizen" of the PT.

NEFAC: Does the FAG maintain an open forum with other
anarchists in Brazil, especially those who are
detractors of platformist and "especifista" ideas?
How can organized anarchists offer dialogue with those
other anarchist tendencies, hopefully persuading them
to our position, yet maintain an even course in our
organizing work?

FAG: We maintain a relationship with groups and
organizations of "specifismo" which we call FAO (Forum
of Organized Anarchism) that started in Belam do Para¡
in 2002. Before that, we had what we called National
Coordination of the Organized Anarchists but due to
the difficulty of travel and the number of meetings,
was not able to sustain itself.

In fact, we have tried various ways of national
organizing and have not found the best way. Our
country is very big and the price to travel is not
accessible. It is easier for us to go by regions,
like us from Cone Sul, the people from Center West,
East and North, but because there are not many of us
"especifistas" that were able to maintain the work
thru the years, we feel the need to get together.

We also feel the need to have space to meet and
educate people and let groups know our experiences in
case they would like to form anarchist organizations.
For this, the FAO formed which is a once a year event.
We are going to do an FAO Assembly now during the WSF
because it is easier for our "companheiros" from other
states to come to Porto Alegre for free.

Another open space for educating which is open to the
anarchist of all tendencies and also militants with
other ideologies are the 'Jornadas Anarquistas', where
we can expose our work. The opportunity to gather a
large number of people from our country to talk about
FAG , "specifismo" and to create new organiziations
is rare. The Internet has its limitations, therefore
making it hard for our "companheiros" to take
advantage of our accomplishments and learn from
ourmistakes in the same manner that it is hard for us
to take advantage of the experiences of other groups
and organizations.

NEFAC: What kind of contradictions has FAG faced in
dealing with such issues as sexism and racism? Do we
need to have a united class based revolutionary
movement, or is there room for others to organize
separately in class-based anarchism?

FAG: Theoretically, we are building a new concept of
social class. We believe that the struggle for social
class still exists, but the concept that class is
based only on economical level is not a true reality
today, both in Latin America and the rest of the
world.

We have been discussing and seen in practice that the
oppressed class is composed of different factors, not
only economic; social factors, ideologies,
geographical, political, gender, ethnicity, these
factors, or some of these factors combined, define who
is the oppressed and who is the oppressor. In the
social and political level, we believe that a
discussion about gender and ethnicity is absolutely
necessary but we must have a discussion and practice
that does not isolate us within. This way, the
different oppressions are identified, but they should
communicate between themselves and not create more
separation of the people that are already very much
separated by capitalism. This destroys solidarity and
cooperation. Men should discuss and act regarding the
oppression of women. Whites, Indigenous peoples,
Blacks and Asians should coordinate actions about
ethnic discrimination.

NEFAC: Is there any parallel to the Argentine model of
assemblies that could take hold in Brazil in the event
of an economic downturn? And what is FAG's opinion of
anarchist involvement in the Argentine situation?

FAG: It is very possible to have a crisis in Brazil
like in Argentina; it is in our assessment for the new
year. One of our comrades went to Argentina for a
meeting of popular movements and was very impressed
with what is being developed by the people.

The "solidarity spaces" that we try to do here, is
being done there with intent of class independency
(independency from political parties, governments and
business people). At this point they hate the
politicians, including the ones from the left, that
are always expelled from the assemblies, except the
ones that work together with the people. Those who
are not side by side or working daily at the picket
lines and in the solidarity spaces are immediately
expelled and ridiculed.

What the people are building in Argentina is an
example for the other Latin American countries that
are still sleeping like Brazil. We believe that this
situation is an example for any anarchist organization
to use to create a strategy for building a parallel
power. In our opinion, what is missing in Argentina
is a project of popular power, a strategy, so that a
social transformation takes place. There is
spontaneity by the people, but there is not (one or
more) political groups that are able to fight or build
a project to manage the country in every level,
building dual power.

We do not have information of the actions of our
Argentine companheiros in the popular movements from
there, what we have is reports from the social
movements only, but not from the anarchists in these
movements. We would like to know more about the
actions taken, like how the anarchist organization
survives all the social demands, where they are
integrated, if they are building ?popular power?, how
they work with the other leftist movements. We would
like to have all this information because it would be
educational for us as we most likely will go through
similar situations in the near future and we are very
much interested in work at the social level with the
movements where our Argentine companheiros are
integrated.

NEFAC: It has been noted that the World Social Forum
has become increasingly watered down with liberal
politics. The WSF seems both a boon and a hinderance
to FAG as an organization in your home state of Rio
Grande do Sul. How has the group continued to maintain
a level of participation in the Forum? Will there be
another Jornadas Anarquistas in 2003?

FAG: Our criticism towards the WSF is still the same:
it is a propaganda forum for the leftist governments,
where they try to obtain political and structural
support at the international level for their
humanitarian projects of capitalism
(national-development), by using the social movements
as a front for the supposed "democracy and popular
participation". FAG will not participate in any shape
or form in the WSF this year.

We are organizing from the popular organizations where
we are integrated, the Latin American Gathering of
Autonomous Popular Organizations. That will take place
during the WSF, but it is not part of the program or
the structure of the WSF. It is a gathering of
combative organizations that are positioned against
the dependency of the political parties, governments,
and corporations and will discuss the different
actions that we can build from our active locations.
FAG will be present through committees of popular
resistance, student groups, IMC and the Trash
Collectors Movement, these are the social
organizations where we are integrated and are
organizing the Gathering. We have organized
interventions in the World Social Forum Rally with
are own forces that will act in a distinguished
manner, trying to express our criticism to WSF.

We will also have the second edition of the 'Jornadas
Anarquistas' as propaganda of our ideas of organized
anarchism and social integration. In this year's
'Jornadas' we will have the opening of workshops, and
if groups are willing to offer workshops and talk
about their experiences, they will have the
opportunity for this.

Federacao Anarquista Gaucha
Caixa Postal 5036,
CEP 90040-970
Porto Alegre, RS, BRAZIL
fag.poa@terra.com.br
http://www.fag.rg3.net

===================

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