Workers' Liberty materials and bulletin for postal strikes starting today

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Volin
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Aug 12 2007 12:19

There's the possibility of putting pressure on politicos and thereby getting them to make reforms in our interest, but doing that through any other means than our own collective effort is entirely compromising. It's the threat of our power which forces concessions, not appealling to anyone.

Dundee_United
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Aug 14 2007 09:09
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lobbying is in direct contradiction with direct action and workering class self organisation.

How in the name of fuck you can claim to be a platformist is beyond me.

This is absolutely mental. Some people will never take more militant action, and for them lobbying is like the extreme end of their political activity. Others will be up for other things. One of the key points about mass campaigns is that you have an amorphous mass of people with different political ideas working together - many of those people's ideas will be dumb. It is however important to keep as much of the political spectrum onside in a mass campaign. Having people whom the authorities can't dismiss as being seditious radicals onside and writing letters and lobbying their MPs while more militant action is also taking place is more likely to lead to popular victories. That's so obvious it's painful. If you don't get that and just want to have purist campaigns solely based on direct action then you're missing that whole point of the 'mass' nature of popular campaigns, and you'll be very unlikely to go anywhere.

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 14 2007 17:29
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Having people whom the authorities can't dismiss as being seditious radicals onside and writing letters and lobbying their MPs while more militant action is also taking place is more likely to lead to popular victories.

More likely? My foot. More likely to have some demoralising non-outcome portrayed as a victory more like. Next you’ll be telling us how mortgaging the country to the U.S. to pay the salaries of middle class public sector bureaucrats and technical “experts” at the end of WWII was a victory for the working class struggle. Defend Council Housing! Defend the NHS! Ha ha. Vote Labour Without Illusions! Good grief.

Mike Harman
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Aug 15 2007 08:19
Dundee_United wrote:

This is absolutely mental. Some people will never take more militant action, and for them lobbying is like the extreme end of their political activity. Others will be up for other things. One of the key points about mass campaigns is that you have an amorphous mass of people with different political ideas working together - many of those people's ideas will be dumb. It is however important to keep as much of the political spectrum onside in a mass campaign. Having people whom the authorities can't dismiss as being seditious radicals onside and writing letters and lobbying their MPs while more militant action is also taking place is more likely to lead to popular victories. That's so obvious it's painful. If you don't get that and just want to have purist campaigns solely based on direct action then you're missing that whole point of the 'mass' nature of popular campaigns, and you'll be very unlikely to go anywhere.

The whole problem with this is your looking at it from the point of view of running campaigns. There are always going to be people who write letters to the prime minister or whatever - probably some postmen have during the recent strikes. Usually they're a tiny minority of the people actually involved in any such dispute though, and it's extremely important that this kind of activity - rallies, petitions etc. isn't allowed to take hold - since all to often it's used to dissipate any kind of effective activity, and has no appreciable effect apart from negative ones in itself. To the extent that these letters might ask for specific concessions they give those making the decisions a line along which they can split any movement down the middle - between those making 'reasonable' demands and those pushing for as much as possible.

I've just been reading about the strikes in Vichuga (which was a full-scale week long insurrection) and Teikovo (more of a mass strike without as much political control at the same time as Vichuga in the same area) - and in both it was things like delegations to Moscow, letters written etc. which marked some of the most serious tactical errors. With letter writing, despite it often going through official channels and completely legal, it opened up individuals to arrests - they'd identified themselves as dissidents without any need for OGPU spies, and consequences were often far harsher than for those taking direct action (violence against scabs, sabotage etc.)

As to delegations etc. the more militant workers would be nominated for them - which'd mean they'd 1. leave the action for a period of time 2. be arrested once they'd left the city. In the case of Teikovo there was a full hunger march by a large number of strikers (i.e. several thousand to the larger industrial centre of Ivanovo. This opened up the opportunity for secondary picketing of striking peat bog workers and peasants (who were in revolt about the same time), which given all the industrial centres in the area were on strike, could've led to a unified full scale insurrection. But they decided to keep it to purely a lobbying march, and were subject to mass arrests by OGPU and Komsomols at the outskirts of the city, individuals exiled to central asia etc. etc.. In this case, to a large extent, the class based action was abandoned, and it was turned into a reformist "campaign" - rather than extending the strike action both in their own town and into other towns and the countryside, they decided not to take too many risks, and all got arrested anyway. Even in Hungary '56 you can see delegations being sent off to delegate with Moscow and just disappearing after a day or two.

Vichuga '32 and Hungary '56 aren't the same as Glasgow '07, but they serve as extreme examples of how openly reformist activity can sabotage genuine class movements - allowing for divide and rule and in general making marginalisation and repression easier rather than harder.

If you're just talking about 'passive support' - the large numbers of people who'll, say, honour a strike but not turn up to picket lines, or those who during revolutions and uprisings didn't really act for either side, but just kept to themselves for the duration - that's an important element, but it's not out and out reformism, just neutrality - and it isn't gained by sending out form letters for people to send off to their MPs. That kind of thing is done by people who are essentially 'activists' of one kind or another anyway, and is about the most individualised and alienated form of protest there is - despite so often being centrally directed.

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Volin
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Aug 15 2007 09:26
Mike Harman wrote:
The whole problem with this is your looking at it from the point of view of running campaigns. There are always going to be people who write letters to the prime minister or whatever - probably some postmen have during the recent strikes.

That's not the best example though. Obviously in a lot of IWW campaigns, like the attempted closing of Crichton university campus, it's suggested that as many people as possible write to those directly responsible for the decision, politicos who could be made to go against it and the media. All of that is just common sense but only a small part of making what would otherwise be an unknown, unopposed process of 'restructuring' into an issue. It's an activisty and isolated act and along with petitioning could easily lead down the road of 'appealing' rather than a clear class opposition. But it's useful in certain instances.

I think 'lobbying' in a manner that validates and justifies the position of those in power (ie. who you're lobbying), as well undermining collective organising - the way reformist groups do, is quite different.

Mike Harman
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Aug 15 2007 11:18
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Obviously in a lot of IWW campaigns, like the attempted closing of Crichton university campus, it's suggested that as many people as possible write to those directly responsible for the decision, politicos who could be made to go against it and the media. All of that is just common sense

Is it? I mean it's not the worst thing that could probably happen, but I don't see it actually doing any good whatsoever. And if it did, it'd be at most provoking something like a 'consultation' etc. i.e. a stay of execution before they do exactly the same thing.