Uploaded as part of the Anarchism in Australia project.
Author: Anarres Books
Originally Published: 199
Retrieved from: archive.org copy of anarres.org.au
WHO ARE WE?
We are a small group of friends who are working to eliminate exploitation, domination and the effects of hierarchy on ourselves, our community and nature. To overcome these problems requires changing ourselves and changing community practices and structures. We have chosen to establish a book service as our way of contributing to this process.
Our collective identifies with the ideas of anarchism, as a social and political philosophy. As we understand it, an anarchist society is one in which each person must learn to take responsibility for their own actions and how their actions affect the community.
This requires that we learn alternatives to our customary reliance on hierarchical organisation, such as government, bosses, union officials, and learn to think and act for ourselves, both as individuals and as members of a community. Voluntary cooperation and solidarity would replace competition as the functional basis of society. Skills and resources would be shared on the basis of needs not privileges.
Thus as individuals we join together to work collectively with the following principles and aims:
1. To make anarchist and related material more accessible.
The collective aims to achieve this by:
* running bookstalls.
* importing material from overseas.
* pricing on a not for profit basis.
* collective members donating their time, labour and money.
* providing an outlet for the literature of sympathetic groups.
* offering material by mail order.
2. To run this collective as an example of anarchy in action.
The collective aims to achieve this by:
* working as a small non-heirarchical collective.
* using consensus decision making and other small group maintainence processes.
* working as an affinity group with a shared commitment to each other and the project.
* maintaining a balance between tasks, processes, and group promotion.
* participating and supporting networks where appropriate.
* encouraging interested people to become involved.
Consensus Decision Making
We see consensus as a practical approach to making decisions within our collective. When consensus is reached it means we have a result which all members agree is the best possible in view of the issues and circumstances involved.
For consensus to be reached it is necessary that all participants share some agreement as to underlying fundamental issues, and that they are able to communicate their ideas effectively to each other. In seeking consensus, each person needs to contribute their thoughts in a non-dogmatic and flexible manner so that these thoughts can be woven together to formulate an overall position which respects the essential elements of each person’s thinking.
With consensus the group seeks to resolve disagreements by finding new solutions which participants understand as a new and better way of seeing the question at hand. For those taking part it means the answer changes because the question at hand becomes clearer. The process is thus felt as one of growth rather than one of diminishment or loss.
By using consensus decision making we make a commitment to each other to unlearn the ”territorial” approach to ideas encouraged by society at large. Even after acquiring the skills needed to use consensus it may not always be possible to avoid dissent at all times. Therefore, in some difficult situations it is possible for a person to agree to the group making a decision, but record their dissent from it. While this is a departure from consensus, it is not going as far as voting. Provided that this remains a last resort and is used infrequently, employing this method will not endanger the ongoing consensus of the group.
Consensus Decision Making – Responsibilities of Members
This decision making process requires of all members a responsibility:
1. to put ideas forward clearly and concisely.
2. to carefully listen to and consider all ideas and information.
3. to ensure their own participation in group discussion, decision making and follow through.
4. to encourage, promote and facilitate the participation of other members.
5. to contribute all information including feelings, fears, anxieties, motivations, as well as facts, analysis, synthesis and questions.
6. to respect contributions of all information as outlined above.
7. to consider and respect the feelings and emotions this decision making process may engender.
8. to accept and respond to conflict as a valid part of decision making, and not to avoid it.
9. to respond to conflict openly within the group by addressing its causes constructively.
10. to identify issues and conflicts that don’t directly relate to the group’s purpose and may be disruptive to it.
11. to ensure that these issues and conflicts are not “introduced” to the group.
to bring back to the group, for reconsideration, any decision or agreement that becomes unacceptable.
As we have agreed on a set of responsibilities for decision making, each member:
* accepts and invites support and criticisms in their effort to meet these responsibilities.
* will endeavour to give the support and criticisms required by other members to meet these responsibilities.