Big Flame

1970-1984

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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3 Responses to “POSITION ON INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY (Miscellaneous Big Flame Documents no 4)”

  1. c0mmunard said

    surely the second document should not end after just four pages? it looks like the a) at the bottom of page four should be the first in a series of lettered paragraphs.

  2. archivearchie said

    Thanks for spotting this. It is great to discover that someone is clicking on the links and reading the documents. I have addded to my “to do” list tracking down the original document and rescanning the missing page. For practical reasons, this may take a little while.

  3. archivearchie said

    I’ve now uploaded a new version of the “Towards a New Approach to International Solidarity Work” document, which includes the previously missing last page.

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