Réflexions sur la nouvelle organisation révolutionnaire anarchiste

Ce texte a originellement été publié en marge de l’assemblée publique du 4 décembre 2022 à titre de texte de réflexion dans le processus ayant mené à la fondation de l’Organisation révolutionnaire anarchiste (ORA). Ce processus s’est étalé sur près d’un an et demi et a rassemblée plusieurs dizaines de militant-es autour de comités de réflexion et d’assemblées publiques.

This proposal is a conceptual vision of what this organization could be and do, building on the conversations I participated in and heard about during the last meeting on October 1st. I found that there was a surprising amount of consensus and shared understanding in those conversations about how the organization would fit into and contribute to our existing radical organizing context here. Specifically, how by focusing on being public, open, and actively connecting with many different kinds of people, it would contribute to our movement capacity in ways that are currently missing or underprioritized.

Before talking more about a proposed vision for the organization, I think it is important reflect on our current organizational and political context. I can think of a few radical projects and organizations in Montreal that have lasted for many years, have been public facing in various ways, and have to varying degrees recognized the importance of organizing in a way that brings new people into their struggles. Specificially, I’m thinking of Solidarity Across Borders (SAB), Montréal Antifasciste (MAF), and the CLAC. I support and respect all of these organizations, and I also see the limits they hit in terms of relating openly to new people. All three of them have a primary strategic orientation that they focus on the most consistently and forms the center of their work as an organization. There can also be secondary strategic orientations that come up along the way, but the central focus of activity doesn’t really change. Although all of them recognize the importance of connecting outwardly and bringing in new people, and all have worked on doing this to varying degress, this in itself is not their primary focus. Therefore there is a tradeoff that continually has to be balanced between doing the primary work of the organization, and bringing in new people who can then maybe contribute in some way to that work. This kind of tradeoff is exacerbated by the ways in which some parts of the primary work may be sensitive, or higher stakes, and require some degree of confidence that the people getting involved can be trusted in some basic but important ways.

One of the major advantages I see to creating a public anarchist organization is that it can have its primary focus be on connecting with people and making it easier for them to get involved with and relate to our movements. I want this organization to operate in a way that is actively supporting the work of existing organizations, such as SAB, MAF and CLAC, among others, and being able to focus on the kind of specifically outward-facing work that we all know is important, but don’t always have the time or capacity to focus on when there are always more pressing priorities. And I think the organization will be most effective at doing this if it operates in a way that minimizes the kind of security and sensitivity tradeoffs that make it more difficult to organize in an open and social way. Specifically, I think this means that the organization itself should not be a space for the organizing of actions, or other activities that could currently expect to be criminalized by the state. I think this is an important point, and I will elaborate more on it later.

Reflecting on the discussions from the first meeting, I arrive at three main kinds of activity or goals that this organization could focus on to contribute to the existing movement context. In order to make things less abstract, below each of these three categories I list examples of specific projects that they could include. For the most part these examples are not very detailed, and they are primarily intended illustrate some of the possibilities and get get brainstorming started. If any of these examples were actually going to be considered as a real project, they would need to be defined in much more detail.

Amplification, visibility, discourse


The organization will not be organizing the actions, but we definitely want to be helping spread the calls of those who are, and when it is helpful to do so, taking public positions in support of those actions. Especially for when actions are happening in the context of broader public discussions, it is significant to have a very supportive but not-directly-involved position from which to actively engage in the discussion in a way that the organizers of the action may either not be able to do for security reasons, or may have other priorities that make the public discourse harder to prioritize.

Examples of projects:
– Organizing widely publicized speaking tours of anarchist speakers from important struggles elsewhere in the world.
– Building intentionally towards wider-reaching communications and mobilization infrastructure.
– Creating ongoing spaces for our own internal discussions about when/how to engage in broader social debates in a timely way.

Openness, welcoming, training

The organization being very publicly visible means that it is more likely to be an early point of contact for people encountering or paying attention to anarchist movement activity in this city. We want to actively encourage further involvement by providing as many clear and inviting paths as possible for people to learn more, provide support, and participate. This could be both through the activities of the organization iself and its directly affiliated projects, and by directing people towards activities, projects and organizations in our context that are looking for people and support. And of course there is a significant amount of knowledge and skills that need to be shared as part of becoming more involved in movement activity, and one of the primary focuses of the organization should be this kind of political education work.

Examples of projects:
– Providing accessible information about regular events and activities people can show up to and get involved: perhaps through support and amplification of the good work already being done by and/or through hosting of an instance of Mobilizon.
– Developing of workshop resources for priority topics for the integration of new people into movement activities.
– Supporting the organizing of regular events that are specifically oriented towards being welcoming to new people, providing spaces for socialization and connection, and providing information that is relevant for getting involved.
– Collecting information and resources that are useful for people to do their own self-organization, and making these broadly accessible.

Sharing, connecting, relations

In addition to bringing new people into movement activity, this organization could also be well-placed to facilitate, build, and maintain political relations within our movement spaces, as well as outside of them with other communities and movements with whom we can share relations of solidarity. This could include initiatives to facilitate and strengthen connections geographically across regions, inter-generationally between older and younger comrades, and socially across many divides, especially the structural lines of race, class, and colonization which are so foundational for the maintenance of domination in our society.

Examples of projects:
– Connecting with supporters/allies in relevant milieus or communities who may be interested in collaborating to organize an event, or host tables of related organizations/distros in their space during one of their events.
– Organizing participatory events that are specifically intended to be relevant across generational lines, and mobilizing for them in both older and younger networks.
– Supporting mutual aid projects that are politically focused on bringing people together along important social lines.
– Organizing support for those facing political repression in our context (and elsewhere), especially when the repression is happening outside of the context of the major events of organizations that will already offer this kind of support. This could perhaps take the form of an Anarchist Black Cross or anti-repression committee.

As discussed above, I think all of these kinds of public and social projects are important, and often on the backburner compared to other priorities. They are also all activities that are currently outside of the scope of plausible criminalization in our context. However, I also want to state the obvious: that organizing of actions should continue to be a central part of our movement activity! It is actually doing things that directly challenge domination that is ultimately going to be one of the biggest motivating factors for people inside and outside of our movements. This is why so many of our projects are currently prioritizing these kinds of actions, and rightly so. It is exactly this necessary prioritization of action that contributes to our current situation in which all of the important kinds of activities that are less compatible with an action-oriented mode of organizing become harder to do and often less prioritized. A public anarchist organization that does not organize actions can give us a way of dealing with this dilemma by opening up an outward-facing political space that directly supports other organizations, projects and networks in our context. This new organization will be better able to focus on the kind of open activities listed above by making different tradeoffs than other projects and not organizing actions.

Personally, I have stronger opinions about the content of the activities of the organization than I do about its organizational form. In general terms, I think that regular assemblies are a good idea. I think there would need to be some core committees that are dealing with the internal logistics of the organization itself (organizing assemblies, finances, admin tasks, etc). Most of the political work of the organization should probably be done by affiliated sub-projects, which could operate with varying degrees of autonomy from the assemblies depending on the nature of their work. It is possible that there are existing projects that may decide to affiliate themselves with the organization. It is also possible that people have ideas and proposals for initiating action-oriented projects that they see relating well to the activities of the organization. In those cases, for all the reasons outlined above, I think it will be best to rely on informal relations to faciliate for this kind of collaboration without formally joining the organization to those action-oriented projects.

Specific proposals:
– Focus on support existing projects and organizations with overlapping politics
– Do not organize actions or other plausibly criminalized activities
– Focus on doing three main kinds of activities:
– Amplification, visibility, discourse
– Openness, welcoming, training
– Sharing, connecting, relations
– Structured around assemblies, internal committees, and affiliated sub-projects.