About Prairie Struggle
The formation of Prairie Struggle Organization
The project began in autumn of 2011. From the beginning, being influenced by other Canadian Revolutionary Anarchist groups such as Common Cause, North Eastern Federation Of Anarchist Communists (who would eventually become l’Union Communist Libertaire in Canada), along with multiple other groups abroad involved in the Anarkismo Network, Prairie Struggle, although in vain, set out to build a mass revolutionary anarchist organization in the Canadian prairies.
The members who composed the core founding group numbered five; an ex-NEFAC member, an ex-Common Cause supporter along with a student activist and two Prairie Anti-Capitalist Reading group members. Inhabited by the feeling that anarchism in the prairies had become profoundly influenced by Bourgeois ideology, turning its back on Class Struggle to manifest itself as “Lifestyle Anarchism”, it is no surprise that these anarchists gravitated towards Class Struggle Anarchism (libertarian Socialism, Anarchism Communism and anarchist syndicalism). Facing a situation of complete disorganization and bastardization of anarchism in the prairies (specifically Saskatchewan), these militants incorporated platformism into their core group in order to steer, in a common direction, their efforts.
After a few months of discussion and debate, Prairie Struggle announced their existence in winter of 2011. The major focus of the group at first was to network with what was left of class struggle anarchism. From the very beginning there was this feeling within the core group that in order to grow in the prairies, they would have to build a revolutionary organization with a common ideology and structure. This strategy was based on the principle of “if we build it, they will come” which for most members felt like the only possible solution to break the isolation of the local geography. Although this model did rally individuals isolated in Winnipeg, Edmonton and various rural towns, this particular strategy never had traction outside militant circles of already convinced anarchists who felt isolated just as members of Prairie Struggle felt isolated before its creation. Far from building a mass anarchist organization composed of the working class, we were content with building a base of core collectives in the eventuality that these collectives would organize locally, and grow through the struggles they participated in.
In the first year, PSO’s efforts where put towards traveling to various anarchist book fairs and events. PSO put thousands of kilometers on their vehicles during 8h+ drives every month or so to various cities in the prairies. The strategy at first was to appear like the only possible, well-equipped alternative to the current state of disarray the movement faced. Countless debates with primitivists and insurrectionists took place during these excursions, which in hindsight proved to be a spectacular waste of time.
At the beginning of 2012, a General Strike in Quebec was launched by l’ASSE and their allies against a hike in tuition fees. Naturally, this created waves of support, as well as opportunities for PSO to mobilize. Having been in the process of discussing involvement within Unions and the labor movement, PSO, which was sympathetic to Combative Unionism, decided to lead local solidarity in Regina.
For 2+ months, PSO organized ‘pots and pans’ solidarity rallies, conferences and poster campaigns in Regina which at first where very successful, but eventually fizzled out in due course.
After a short assessment of PSO’s actions in support of the Quebec student strike, PSO focused on theoretical development in order to produce a position paper on a specific strategy in regards to labor unions. Although from the outsiders view this would seem a narrow and specific subject to cover even before discussing and developing a general strategy in regards to local agitation, it was natural for its members to gravitate towards such theoretical development due in part to some members being ex-student activists within the CFS and l’ASSE, while others were leaders in their union. The sentiment was that anarchism, although having a rich history of radicalizing social and labor movements, had moved away from such revolutionary activity, going as far as labeling any involvement in and around labor as reformist.
With the coming of summer, the student Strike reanimated the debate among activists in the west of Canada. Aside from accounts produced by IWW Edmonton comrades, and one PSO member who had been involved to some extent in the struggle in Quebec, most information that circulated about the strike and the movement was either misinterpreted or misleading at best. After informal discussions with members of the various anarchist groups in Canada along with various IWW branches, PSO launched a cross Canada speaking tour on the Quebec student movement and Combative Unionism in September 2012. Using Jerome Raza’s testimony and knowledge of the movement to shed some light of how the movement came to be, and what really went on; and with the collaboration of Prairie Struggle, Union Communist Libertaire, Common Cause and the IWW, the PSO delegation visited 16 cities making 18 presentations in 13 days, from Quebec to British Columbia.
During the winter of 2013, PSO set about writing and debating their first position paper, which after the speaking tour became focused on the subject of combative unionism. During the spring, it was released online creating much needed debate and criticism within the anarchist circles. Again through out the summer, PSO continued the theoretical development in regards to this strategy and released a Clarification to the position paper, which clarified the common misinterpretations and debated the value of the strategy further. Also that year, PSO released its first newspaper, Iron Column.
At around the same time, Prairie Struggle Organization was undergoing structural changes. After 2 years of trying to build up a federation in the prairies, involving multiple discussions with a group in Edmonton and In Brandon, which for some time were going nowhere, PSO had considered giving up on the idea of a Prairie Specific federation to opt for proposing to integrate into Common Cause. This was rejected by its membership for reasons that are still vague but most likely due to geography. After more discussions in the spring with a Brandon Group, PSO grew to 2 collectives with a total membership of 10 members/supporters (double-digits baby!!!).
Autumn 2013 was marked by initiatives to restructure and change focus from Regina to the Prairies. With multiple positions being filled, inactivity and lack of direction made PSO what it is today, a few collectives of individuals meeting and chatting sporadically, producing unfocused discussion on theory and action. An attempt had been made during a congress in early 2014 to give direction and structure to Prairie Struggle through online message boards, a new constitution and common campaigns, which are obviously now abandoned.
What went wrong?
Since the beginning, Prairie Struggle was focused around two principle aims which where set by its founding members. The first was to facilitate what felt like a much-needed debate around the identity of anarchism in the prairies.
This helped us to establish that although PSO wanted to initiate the battle of Ideas within what was left of the movement against what it saw as Capitalism's manifestation within the movement through post modernism and identitarianism, it too fell victim to the very thing its was attacking. Prairie Struggle, instead of devoting its time and effort to establishing relationships and practices within the broader working class in movement (those who would be receptive to a combative, democratic, autonomous and class oriented ideology) engaged in a counter-productive activity-- debating with reactionary forces who had already rejected the class struggle nature and history of the movement. We could only establish our aims, principles and ideological orientation so many times before we simply reduced ourselves to a broken record and became identity driven instead of involving Prairie Struggle within the working class or help establish the social movements of tomorrow.
From : LibCom.org
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