The Constitution of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC)
- Organizational Principles
- Federal Structures
The Northeastern Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC) is an
organization of revolutionary activists from different resistance movements
who identify with the communist tradition in anarchism. The activity of the
Federation is organized around theoretical development, anarchist propaganda,
and intervention in the struggle of our class, be it automously or by way of
direct involvement in social movements.
The Federation recognizes that to be efficient, an anarchist organization
must adopt a number of organizational principles. The following are those to
which we give special importance.
Many political tendencies are present within anarchism and this is in part
what makes it so rich. Anarchism is not only a question of making the
propaganda of ideas, but of action; practice proves that theoretical and
tactical unity is necessary. While the Federation does not reject the
positive additions that other currents and tendencies have made, both to
class struggle and to anarchism, the Federation identifies with anarchist
communist principles and organizes on the basis of this specific tradition
and program. The document entitled "Aims and Principles" constitutes the
basis of our theoretical and tactical unity.
Because the Federation covers a relatively large geographical territory,
encompassing different languages, cultures, legislatures, and activist
traditions, the principles of theoretical and tactical unity must apply in a
loose manner and can only constitute a general framework guiding member
Anarchists hold that means must determine ends. The Federation organizes
itself according to its ideal of how society as a whole should be organized,
namely in a federalist manner and according to direct democracy principles.
Federalism implies that each local group or individual member keeps their
organizational and political autonomy; local groups and individual members
are the only responsible judges of the way decisions and the general tactical
line of the Federation should be implemented. As long as they respect the
decision and the position taken by the Federation, the members are totally
free to act as they see fit within this framework.
In accepting collective political positions and a determined line of action,
it is evident that each member applies them in his or her political work. It
is also evident that no member may act in the name of NEFAC without Federal
agreement. If we have agreed on work to be done and on a way to do it, we
become responsible, to each other, for its execution. This collective
responsibility is nothing more than the collective method of action.
The Federation recognizes two types of membership - collective and
individual. Because the anarcho-communist vision of society and
revolutionary activity are in essence fundamentally collective, individual
membership can only be seen as a temporary measure. It is the individual's
duty to join or form new groups, and the individual will have all the help of
the Federation to this end.
A member is defined as any group or individual that agrees with the positions and orientations of the Federation, fulfills the member responsibilities, and has had its candidature accepted by a Federation conference. Prior to becoming a member of the Federation, it is expected that the collective or individual will first become a trial member. (See "adhesion process" below).
A Trial Member is any group or individual who agrees with the positions and orientations of the Federation and who wants to become a member. All potential members must go through a trial period. They have the same rights as a supporter (an indicative vote), but the same responsibilities as a member. Trial Member status can be approved by either the general secretariat, or the closest federation member collective.
The trial membership period is for a minimum of 6 months. If a trial member (individual or collective) fails to meet membership responsibilities or apply for membership after 18 months their status is moved to supporter. If a new collective is formed by individuals that are prior federation members, the Trial Member period is 3 months.
A supporter of NEFAC is an individual or collective that agrees with the aims and principles of the federation and wishes to work with and assist the federation but either cannot, or does not wish to, fulfill full member responsibilities and thus is not seeking to become a full member of the federation at this time.
Supporters are expected to pay regular dues and can serve as references for people interested in NEFAC in their region (providing there is not a NEFAC member or trial member in the area). Supporters have access to the various NEFAC email lists as well as the opportunity to attend conferences as observers should they desire to do so. Supporters receive federation publications free of charge and are encouraged, but not required, to take bundle orders for distribution in their region. Supporters are not required to live in the Northeast/US Canada, but can live anywhere in North America. In short, they are sympathizers (or periphery). The process for accepting new supporters is the same as for new trial members. They must be endorsed by their nearest member collective or attend a conference.
Revolutionary politics, not being a hobby but a life choice, requires that
the members of the Federation agree on the following member responsibilities:
- regularly pay the dues fixed by the conference;
- contribute to the collective theoretical development of the Federation
(members are encourage to organize at least one large and open study group or
seminar a year; the Federation pledges to distribute the study material
produced by member groups);
- contribute to the collective anarchist agitation and propaganda of the
Federation, notably by the distribution of agitational and propagandist
material produced by the Federation, and by the regular organization of
lectures and by writing articles for the Federation press (the Federation
pledges to produce agitational and propagandist material and to distribute
the material produced by the groups; the Federation also pledges to organize
a list of available lecturers, lecture subjects and organize propaganda
- intervene in the class struggle, either in an autonomous manner or by an
active presence in the social movements (every member of the Federation is
therefore involved, at one level or another, in the class struggle; while
giving a priority to local intervention, the Federation will organize
international interventionist campaigns in the class struggle);
- participate as individuals, when possible and practical, in at least one
of the Federation's working committees and groups; individuals should also
pledge to coordinate a working committee or assume one of the federal duties
at least once every three years;
- regularly participate in the conference and in the meetings of other
Federation bodies (for its part, the Federation will put in place a system to
equally share the fees asscociated with the organization and the costs
related to participation in these meetings - see article 4a);
- regularly inform the Federation as a whole of the development of your
activity by the means of a short monthly report sent to the discussion list
and a more detailed report every three months;
- mandate one recallable spokesperson from the local group to participate
in the federal council.
If only for security reasons, we cannot accept just any one in the Federation
or in just any way. There are two forms of the adhesion process:
- Collective. Any anarchist group (consisting of at least three active members) that agrees with the position and orientations of the Federation can apply for membership.
To do this, the group must send a written request of adhesion to the General Secretariat, or to the closest Federation member collective. Upon receiving the request, the local collective or General Secretariat will meet with the group and then approve (or not) the application. If the applying group is approved, they are immediately granted trial membership or supporter status, and will be expected to engage in a working relationship with the federation as a whole. At any subsequent conference, provided the required time has lapsed (see 3b), it will then be possible for the group to apply for full membership within the Federation, if they so choose.
- Individual. In general, individuals join member groups of the Federation and every member of these groups is automatically considered a member of the Federation without other formalities. But if this is
impossible, any person who agrees with the positions and orientations of the Federation can still ask to join.
To do this, the individual must send a written request of adhesion to either the General Secretariat or the closest Federation member collective. If his or her request is accepted, the individual will then become a trial member or supporter. At any subsequent conference,provided the required time has lapsed (see 3b), it will then be possible for the individual to apply for full membership within the Federation, if they so choose.
- Local Autonomy. A new collective and/or individual cannot be admitted into the federation if a majority of members in the locality in question oppose said membership. Thus, in localities where there are
already member local unions or collectives, it is these that must sponsor application for membership.
Dues are paid on an individual basis and are based upon a percentage of net income.
-Members/Trial Members: 1% of income per year, with a minimum of $100.
-Members/Trial Members with dependents: 0.5% of income per year, with a minimum of $50.
-Supporters: 0.5% of income per year, with a minimum of $50.
-Supporters with dependents: 0.25% of income per year, with a minimum of $50.
No dues are expected of comrades who face neo-liberal repression (ex: cut off welfare because of refusal of workfare program or for fraud) or are in prison.
Unwaged comrades and comrades who rely on state benefits for a living (i.e. welfare, pension, unemployed insurances, etc.) will pay the minimum.
Any comrade that is more than 3 months behind in his/her dues is deemed to have resigned and is contacted by his or her collective or the closest member collective to see what's up (in time of economic difficulty comrades can ask to be put temporarily on the minimum due regime).
All dues are paid to the local union or to the closest collective. Every 3 months, the local unions and collectives send the total collected funds to the federation treasurer collective of NEFAC that is elected at a federal conference. The treasurer collective is responsible for collecting federal dues and redistributing them. 1/3 of dues go towards a publication fund managed by the groups mandated to edit and distribute our various publications. 1/3 of dues go towards the warchest fund managed by the group mandated to manage this fund. 1/3 of dues go towards a general projects fund managed by the treasurer collective.
When collectives and local unions give their reports at conferences, they must include a financial report of expenditures.
The Treasurer collective is currently Roundhouse (NEFAC-Baltimore).
- Resignation: any member who chooses not to fulfill the member
respoinsabilities for more than three consecutive months is believed to have
resigned. The member will be contacted by the federal executive to be
informed that if he or she does not rectify the situation within a set period
of time, he or she will lose member status. Members can also signify their
resignation from the Federation by writing, however dues will not be
reimbursed. It is up to each group, if only to adjust its level of dues, to
inform the federal executive of any resignations.
- Expulsion: any member who breaks, in a serious way, with the minimal activist
ethic or breaks the contract that unites Federation members by actions that
go against Federation principles, can be expelled. The process is the same as
with adhesion, that is, the facts are brought to the attention of the
coordination committee, which issues a suspension motion. An expulsion motion
will be sent to the next conference; the motion must explain the reason why
the expulsion is required. The member can then come and defend his or her
point at the conference, and a decision will be made. Any member of the
forces of repression, any collaborator with the forces of repression, any
person who joins the Federation with hostile motives, will automatically be
expelled without any other formality. In such a case, the person will still
be free to come and explain him or herself to a conference and ask again to
join the Federation if they judge that the coordination committee or the
group that asked for their expulsion was wrong in doing so. It is up to the
groups to define their means of expulsion.
The Federation's working principles are direct democracy and federalism.
This means that every decision is taken after debate at a conference, by a
vote when necessary (on the principle of 'one member, one vote') and by
consensus most of the time.
Every decision made in a conference is final, immediately applicable, and
binding to the Federation membership. Only a new conference can reverse a
decision made that way. Every working policy and way of functioning of the
organization is adopted at conferences and therefore applies to all.
Anarchists know too well that the presence of a majority and a minority does
not necessarily mean that the majority is right and the minority wrong.
That's why any anarchist organization should favor a process that permits a
minority that, while still being bound to decisions taken by the
organization, defends it's point of view to the organization even if this
viewpoint has been overruled in a conference. In our case, the internal
bulletin and the electronic discussion list exist precisely to this end. In
any case, an anarchist organization must promote an environment where
sectarianism is discouraged and dialogue is encouraged, an environment where
the atmosphere of true camaraderie reigns.
The highest decision making body of the Federation is the conference, which is composed of every members and trial members of the Federation, its supporters, and the observers invited to the conference. During the conference, only the members have the right to vote and to present some propositions. The trial members and supporters have the right to speak, and an indicative right to vote and will not be excluded in case of a closed meeting. A quorum of 50% of all the members + 1 is necessary to be a decision-making conference (this rule applies to all the bodies of the Federation). Only members current with dues may vote --as individuals or by proxy-- and count toward quorum.
The conference discusses our activities in relation to current circumstances. The conference opens with a detailed report of the activity of each committee of the Federation and of each member group. There are two type of NEFAC conferences: one held in January or February that focus on internal organization and theoretical development and the other to be held in August or September that focus on our intervention in the struggle of our class and our plan of action.
The conference meets at least once a year in a place determined by the
previous conference. The process to organize a conference is as follows:
It is up to the local members to organize the conference, propose a location and a date, see that we have an adequate room, food, place to stay and so on. They should prepare an agenda that will be send for Federation Council approval. They should also collect proposals and reports from members, have them translated and provide a conference booklet to all.
Holding regular conferences generates various fees, which can be relatively high and can eventually discourage participation in these meetings. That's why the Federation adopts the following way to share the fees. First, registration fees will be charged to all participants to cover the costs of the organizing committee (production of documents, renting of rooms, food, etc.). Then, at the end of the conference, participants will share the traveling cost; that is, they will add all of their bills and will divide them by the number of people. The goal is to share the costs in an egalitarian manner so that it doesn't cost more to those who live farther away from the meeting place. Of course we expect everyone to organize to reduce costs to a minimum!
In case of emergency or if one-third of the members petition for it, the
federal executive must call a special conference. A call is then sent to all
members and sympathizers; this call must be composed of a text explaining the
reason for the special conference and an agenda that has only one item, the
reason for the call. This call must be sent 14 days before the date of the
special conference. If this delay is too long (in case of a declaration of
war or a coup d'etat for example), it is also possible to call, within 72
hours, a meeting of mandated group delegates who, in this exceptional
circumstance, have full power, but whose decision must be ratified at a
latter normal conference.
In order for a proposal to be accepted at the federal level, it must come with a collective, individual, or group of individuals (depending on the nature and scope of the proposal) responsible for overseeing and monitoring the progress, and eventual completion, of said proposal (or a pre-vote volunteer). It is they that are to be held accountable for the effective realization of a passed proposal. Members, trial members, and supporters can all be responsible for overseeing and monitoring the progress, and eventual completion of a proposal.
The federation council is composed of a single recallable mandated spokesperson from each member group. The federation council exists to make administrative and executive decisions between conferences. Decisions may be made by spokespersons representing a quorum of members of the federation, and tallying votes on a one member/one vote basis.
The federation council is an ongoing discussion, through whatever communication means are available (internet, postal mail, telephone, etc.) Each member group must mandate one recallable spokesperson to participate in the Federal Council.
When necessary, the Federation conference creates working committees and mandates comrades for the realization of special projects. These committees are bound by the same rules as other purely executive committees and the delegations, namely that comrades be given clear mandates and that the comrades who perform these mandates are revocable at any moment. Without making it a formal rule, the Federation favors the rotation of tasks.
There are number of permanent working committees among which the French and English General Secretariat (basically a clearing house responsible for operating a P.O. Box, opening the mail and answering it), an International Secretariat and the various Editorial Brigades who put out our publications.
The Federation strives to create Local NEFAC Unions in locales where more than one supporter and/or member collective is in existence.
In cities where there are 2 collectives or 1 collective plus 5 individuals (supporters and members) there must be a local union formed. The Local Union exists primarily as a means of coordinating all NEFAC activity within a city or locale and to facilitate better communication between NEFAC collectives. As such, the Local Union has no independent decision-making power within the Federation.
The Local Union is an official NEFAC organ, and is therefore open on a permanent basis only to NEFAC members and supporters, though individuals not associated with NEFAC may participate in Local Unions in a mutual observation period consisting of up to 4 meetings. This trial period is intended for individuals who have a strong desire to work with the Federation, but would like to see the internal workings first hand before committing, as well as being a means for NEFAC members to decide if the individual is someone they are able to effectively work with in a Federation context. Every NEFAC member in the same city must be a member of the local union. Participation in the local union is mandatory for NEFAC members with certain exceptions: for personal reasons and to address historical racial and sexual oppression. If a collective chooses to work autonomously, it nevertheless must send one delegate to LU meetings. However, the Federation maintains that participation should always ideally be on a collective basis, and therefore, individual members and supporters should not view the Local Union as a substitute to forming a new collective.
Local Unions can endorse supporter collectives but only conferences can grant full membership in the federation to a collective. A Local Union can grant NEFAC membership to an individual in that Local Union. In regions where a Local Union exists, all new supporter collectives must apply for adhesion via the Local Union. A Local Union can suspend a member of that Local Union for serious reasons until the next conference.
To ensure good internal communication, the Federation maintain a number of internal electronic discussion lists. The Electronic Discussion Lists are closed lists, available only to official members and supporters of the Federation. Observers may be allowed onto the Lists on a case by case basis. The aims of these tools are to ensure a lively and constant debate, and to forward information to members. To this end, members and supporter groups should distribute, on a monthly basis, a short report of their activity and, on a three-month basis, a more detailed one.
Because the Federation is composed of members from both French-speaking and English-speaking communities, all the official documents of the Federation, all the proposals and pre-conference material must be available in both languages. It is up to each group to distribute the information in the appropriate language. The dues paid by each language community must be used to generate propaganda in the language of the local population.
Each General Secretariat is responsible for maintaining a list of individuals and groups who wish to be "Friends of NEFAC." This list is intended to keep interested parties up-to-date on the public workings of the Federation. An edited list will also be made available to member collectives of Friends in their local area.