Founding Documents

Four Basic Foundation
Principles of Federation



Every organization has a purpose for existing, and when organizations join together in a league or federation there must be unity of purpose. The unity of purpose within this federation is to build an organization capable of offering long-term, non-partisan support to class war prisoners (PP/POWs).


The fundamental Tactical Unity or Methodology of the ABCF can be found within the “ABCF Guide to PP/POW Support” (in the form of Federation policies of support work). Tactical unity is decided by the Federation Council, which represents the various bodies of the Federation. The purpose of the Federation is the foundation on which the Federation works out its basic and tactical direction. This enables the Federation to exploit all the advantages that come with federating: continuity, accountability, a concentration of efforts, an economy of strength and the ability to respond to needs and circumstances with utmost effectiveness at any time. Tactical unity reduces inconsistencies in the organization that can undermine the Unity of Purpose.

Because the ABCF is a strictly above-ground PP/POW support organization, all activities done in the name of the ABCF, or as an ABCF local, must be legal under the law of the land. Extra-legal activities taken in the name of the ABCF are grounds for expulsion.

Crucially important to maintaining the anarchist integrity of this organization is the fact that locals are freely autonomous to take on whatever initiatives they can to further the Unity of Purpose of the ABCF. So long as these initiatives do not contradict any preexisting agreements (Tactical Unity) that have been made by the ABCF, it is not necessary for all groups to approve of and/or agree with programs, projects or work of other ABCF collectives. To take initiatives that do contradict preexisting agreements can be grounds for expulsion.


When a course of action is decided upon by the Federation, an agreement must be reached as to what is to be done and who will carry out the various tasks needed for the successful completion of the action. Those who take on responsibilities are obligated to complete them, absent a credible reason for failure.

Should a credible reason for failure to complete a task is lacking, or any ABCF member be thought to have violated any of the Four Basic Foundation Principles of the ABCF, the FC has the ability to suspend ABCF members/locals. Grievances may be resolved through the mail. Grievances through the mail will be settled within 6 months. If representation and/or resolution through the mail are insufficient, an ABCF meeting will be called at the end of the 6 months. When possible we will settle grievances in a timely manner using the most accessible form of communication available (phone, email).

Communication within the ABCF is of vital importance. Thus all members should be aware of how the ABCF Constitution and Structure works and how all members can and should pass grievances or observations to the ABCF through the ABCF listserve. The onus is on the member/collective to do this in a non-disruptive way, working through and using proper channels all the time.

The problem of working out tactics is much greater than working out a purpose of unity. The nature of the organization is to coordinate forces toward a common goal. When all arguments for the different tactical proposals have been made, when discussion can not usefully continue, when similar opinions that agree in principle have merged and there still remains an irreducible opposition between the tactics proposed, then the federation must find a way out. And there exist three possibilities.

1) Accept tactical differences and leave everyone to pursue their own tactics. Conclusion: can only be allowed in certain cases on points that are: A. not of crucial importance B. concern local group issues, not national

2) After consulting its constituents, the Federation Council will attempt to sincerely seek consensus on the issue at hand. However, when consensus is impractical or impossible to achieve, the Federation Council will vote on the proposal. If there is a strong objection toward the proposal by one or more delegate on the FC and the proposal conflicts with the statements and by-laws of the Federation, the proposal may be blocked. It is the duty of the acting Facilitator, or the Federation Council as a whole, to then open the floor for discussion until a consensus or vote is made.

When the FC brings a proposal to a vote, a 2/3 majority decision rules. The minority accepting that it will give up its ideas and tactics as far as public activity is concerned while keeping its right to develop its arguments inside the organization- judging that if its opinions accord with reality more closely than the majority then they will eventually prevail by proof of events. This procedure in no way is coercive, it applies because the members of the organization accept it as a rule and the minority accept it as a necessity which allows the tactical proposals accepted put to the test. Conclusion: This is the goal of the Federation in regards to tactical unity (No one will be required as a condition of Federation membership to undertake or participate in an action to which they’re ideologically or otherwise opposed.)

3) When no agreement between majority and minority proves possible on a crucial issue which demands the federation take a position. Conclusion: there is naturally and inevitably a split

Overall Summary of Three Possibilities
In all cases tactical unity is the goal; meaning option two is what is accepted by the federation to manifest and attain on points of tactical unity.
-Option one is an extremely exceptional choice
-Option three is the natural outcome when those in the federation reject the agreed-upon collective action in favor of an action decided personally.


Federalism combines the advantages of centralism with those of autonomous decision-making. It allows members and locals to reach decisions with a view towards common work (Tactical Unity) with a shared goal (Unity of Purpose).

Who and What are Political Prisoners (PP) and Prisoners of War (POW)

Political Prisoner: A person incarcerated for actions carried out in support of legitimate struggles for self-determination* or for opposing the illegal policies of the government or its political subdivisions. (Special International Tribunal on the Violation of Human Rights of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in the United States Prisons and Jails, December 1990)

Prisoner of War: Those combatants struggling against colonial and alien domination and racist regimes captured as prisoners are to be accorded the status of prisoners of war and their treatment should be in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva conventions relative to the treatment of prisoners of war of 12 August 1949 (General Assembly resolution 3103{XXVIII}).

*Self Determination: the right by virtue of which all people’s are entitled freely to determine their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic cooperation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence. (Common Article 1(1) of the International Human Rights Covenants, 1966)

As is evident, these definitions were not our creation. We do take objections to the term “illegal” in the PP definition and know full well that the United States and all capitalist and imperialist governments have now and will always murder, oppress, and/or otherwise deny people the right to self-determination under the guise of and protection of “law.” We also believe that the POW definition lacks recognition for those combatants struggling against institutionalized and “legal” economic and class oppression. However, as accountable members within an international community of activists, we feel it is our responsibility to respect these definitions that were collectively agreed upon at the 1990 Special International Tribunal on the Violation of Human Rights of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in the United States Prisons and Jails. We also feel it is our responsibility to develop our analysis and positions of these objections so as to best articulate them to this international community for acceptance in an appropriate, inclusive forum. Changing these collectively agreed upon definitions, without adequate dialogue between the activists and prisoners affected by these definitions is unaccountable and irresponsible. It would also deny us the opportunity to hear possible objections or possible improvements to our positions.

The Anarchist Black Cross Federation (ABCF) recognizes that there are many who fall into the category of PP/POW, including right-wing militia leaders and white separatists, Lyndon LaRouche and Timothy McVeigh, etc. Because of this, we will further define PP/POWs the ABCF shall support as being “those persons incarcerated as a result of political beliefs or actions consciously undertaken and intended to resist exploitation and oppression, and/or hasten the implementation of an egalitarian, sustainable, ethical, classless society, predicated on self-determination and maximization of all people’s freedom.” (Bill Dunne)

Also, the ABCF recognizes the subjectivity that may arise in evaluating prisoners. Should any prisoner seeking support and/or recognition as a PP/POW be unable to supply documentation as defined in the ABCF Guide to PP/POW Support, our collective judgment will be based on the prisoners overall personal/political history and their overall accountability and responsibility in their action(s). Such an evaluation must still be made based on a factual account or report, not one person’s subjective account or evaluation.