Big Flame


Archive for June, 2010

POSITION ON INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY (Miscellaneous Big Flame Documents no 4)

Posted by archivearchie on June 24, 2010

This post is the fourth in an occasional series. This site already contains a large number of documents produced by Big Flame or its members. Most can be found in the 30 posts in Episodes in Big Flame History. Each post contains links to documents which relate to its theme. Links to the same documents are also listed on the website’s  Publications page, this time sorted by type – pamphlets, journals, newspaper, internal documents.

This series aims to add to these documents by making available others I find interesting which didn’t fit with any of the post themes, were overlooked when the posts were written, or a copy was not available to me at the time of the post.

Elsewhere on this site I mentioned that at the 1981 BF conference its approach to international solidarity was extended to Ireland (see the post on Ireland). This post discusses that position, which was adopted at the previous year’s conference.

This is the motion passed in December 1980: International Solidarity Work. The main points are:

  • Support for all national liberation struggles which are anti-imperialist. This support not being conditional on them being struggles for socialism.
  • The right to criticise movements for not advancing the position of workers, women etc. Criticisms to be made within the context of solidarity and an understanding of the history and conditions of the movement.
  • Criticisms after a movement comes to power being made on the basis of a realistic assessment of the possibilities open to it.
  • In certain circumstances (not specified in the motion) not making criticisms or other facts public.

A document printed in pre-Conference bulletins help clarify the discussions within Big Flame:  Towards a New Approach to International Solidarity Work (1980 Conference Bulletin). This document:

  • Argues that the traditional left approach to solidarity glorifies movements before they come to power and totally denounces them afterwards.
  • Counterposes a moral or human rights approach to solidarity(appealing to people’s good nature) with a materialist one (which seeks to identify the interdependency of struggles i.e. how international struggles fit in with workers in Britain’s own struggles against capital).
  • Seeks a position between total subservience to the positions of the leaders of liberation movement to arrogantly lecturing them on the “correct line” with little knowledge of the struggle.

In many ways it is easier to establish general principle than to know how to apply them in specific situations. In a later post in this series I will return to these issues in the context of a discussion of a specific struggle.

Archive Archie

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Posted by archivearchie on June 9, 2010

In an earlier post I drew attention to a couple of websites which, like this one, documented the activities of a political organisation – the Sojourner Truth Organization in the USA. This led to an interesting series of comments where sites for other groups were mentioned. In this post I want to draw attention to some sites which reflect on another aspect of the politics of the period – student protest.

I have found two websites (and would be very interested to hear about more). They are:

An Emotional Involvement which covers the March 1970 occupation of Senate House at Liverpool University.

Essex 68 which covers the events at Essex University in 1968, particularly the occupation in May.

Both websites are an interesting mixture of documents and photos from the period and modern reflections back on the events. Both held reunions to bring together some of those involved.

I would also like to mention what I think is the best book about student protest of the 1960s and 1970s: Ronald Fraser 1968: A Student Generation in Revolt (London: Chatto and Windus, 1988). It is based on hundreds of interviews with activists – not just in the UK but also from Europe and the USA. Tapes and transcripts of the interviews were donated to the British Library in London, and most are available for public access (although one person who went on to became a Government Minister did withdraw his interview!).

Incidentally, both the websites include reflections (and the book an interview) with people who were later members of Big Flame.

Archive Archie

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