Does the IWW have a future in these islands?

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Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Jan 24 2012 22:54
Serge Forward wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I think the problem is when non-revolutionaries join a revolutionary organisation and begin doing non-revolutionary things.

And that's the big paradox, the contradiction inherent in all revolutionary industrial unionism, revolutionary or anarcho syndicalism.

In non-revolutionary times, I guess we have to make our choice: either we aim for a mass industrial union that contains all sorts, politicised or not, revolutionists and reformists, or you go for a more politically coherent organisation that only allows revolutionaries/anarchists or what have you to join... otherwise, it's something in between with all the associated problems.

Of course, in revolutionary times, the politicised leaderships can often lag behind the formerly 'less politicised' rank and file or leaderships just fuck things up... the Spanish revolution being an example. Another paradox!

That doesn't mean we can't make something workable but we shouldn't be surprised at the difficulty of our task.

Still, we do our best.

Serge and AD, I think you both raise relevant points and my responses to both of you will probably overlap.

Serge, I'm going to pick up on your second paragraph here. Namely, I don't think those are the only choices. SF's strategy (and of course I'm biased here), I think makes the most sense: you create and maintain a politically coherent organisation, but you don't try to carry out struggle in the name of that organisation. Of course your members will try to facilitate struggles and will hopefully lead struggles.

So say you have you have 10 members in a workplace of 100 and a dispute creeps up. Obviously your members organise to keep the struggle under the control of all workers and push for the most militant line. Struggle creates the space to begin having deeper conversations about class, capitalism, the state, etc. Once the dispute dies down, hopefully you'll have a few new politicised workers who will join in looking to develop new disputes to further that process.

It's about engaging with non-revolutionary workmates in militant (and pre-revolutionary and even revolutionary struggles) struggles. But that's not the same thing as having people that take militant and radical actions alongside holding reformist views in your revolutionary organisation.

I mean, shit, in London SF we have a great relationship with the cleaners (one of our members became the de facto translator for a while during the recent occupation, another one of our members has been helping them organise long before they were in the IWW). We go to their pickets and offer them solidarity when we can. However, we don't try to recruit them--and even if they weren't in the IWW we wouldn't try to until they started expressing anarcho-syndicalist ideas. They're impressively self-organised. We support that and we'll support the bits of their self-organisation which we feel are compatible with our politics and hopefully deepen our relationship with them. However, that doesn't mean just because they've pulled off some awesome wildcats, that they're suddenly revolutionaries (as evidenced by the Parliament meeting).

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 24 2012 23:10
Awesome Dude wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I think the problem is when non-revolutionaries join a revolutionary organisation and begin doing non-revolutionary things.

Thing is who decides who is "revolutionary" and what "revolutionary action" looks like? The cleaners have wildcated more times than any other group of workers in recent BiRA IWW history. For me thats more revolutionary than all the self-described revolutionary activists desperately clinging onto their theoretical (theological) works.

I view the process of a class in itself emerging into a class for itself involving dynamic interchanges between action and consciousness. The cleaners may hold reactionary views (many are conservative catholics) but the militant collective actions they took over the past few months have transformed their class consciousness. I would say some are now more "revolutionary" than some self identified "revolutionaries" because they are more willing to attack the present social arragement using direct methods (wildcat withdrawal of labour power).

The question for me is "what is revolutionary organisation"? I don't think it constitutes permanent organisations with "revolutionary" positions. Rather it is the actual struggle (direct conflict, e.g. wildcat) that is "revolutionary" organisation. The question then arises, do the working class need to build organisations who's task is to reflect, clarify and draw lessons from such movements? What should they consist of and what is their role in the struggle or should be...if any?

All interesting questions and, I should note, that you'll often hear me banging on about how oftentimes "action precedes consciousness"

I agree with you that "the process of a class in itself emerging into a class for itself involving dynamic interchanges between action and consciousness." I think that's really well put. But, I want my revolutionary organisation to be made up of people who both attempt to undertake revolutionary activity and have revolutionary politics (or, at the very least, agree to abide by the revolutionary aims and principals).

This is because as I said before (and this is especially true outside of point of high class conflict), revolutionary organisations that don't have a high enough political bar can easily become victims of their own success. Let's say a lot of workers join the IWW because they want a democratic, fighting union but those workers aren't revolutionaries. Then you've created a tension between the preamble and internal democracy. Workers may wildcat--and that's fucking great--but they may also believe in electing a leftist government or that immigrants are damaging the labour market or that all we need is better regulation of industry.

I guess the point of all this is, again, that although I agree with you on the dialectic between conciousness and action, I think it makes a lot more sense to (1) support workers in their own self-organisation and (2) wait until that conciousness is developed and expressed before asking them to join your revolutionary organisation.

Also, mate, on things like this:

Quote:
I would say some are now more "revolutionary" than some self identified "revolutionaries" because they are more willing to attack the present social arragement using direct methods (wildcat withdrawal of labour power).

They are fighting for a recognition agreement. If that's the case, they haven't made a revolutionary break with present social arrangements.

That doesn't mean, however, that their struggle isn't militant or inspirational or that's there's not a tonne of good things in it which revolutionaries should support.

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plasmatelly
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Jan 26 2012 18:29

serge wrote -

Quote:
that's the big paradox, the contradiction inherent in all revolutionary industrial unionism, revolutionary or anarcho syndicalism.

I don't see a paradox mate, unless you mean we aren't dealing with a homogeneous party of anarchists

Quote:
In non-revolutionary times, I guess we have to make our choice: either we aim for a mass industrial union that contains all sorts, politicised or not, revolutionists and reformists, or you go for a more politically coherent organisation that only allows revolutionaries/anarchists or what have you to join... otherwise, it's something in between with all the associated problems.

I agree - that's why I plump for the formation of a mass organisation set on anarchist lines that deals with the political and economic (anarcho-syndicalism) as opposed to a political grouping of anarchists that can only offer support at best or vanguard-ism at worse.

Quote:
Of course, in revolutionary times, the politicised leaderships can often lag behind the formerly 'less politicised' rank and file or leaderships just fuck things up... the Spanish revolution being an example. Another paradox!

Too right - imo that was the failing of the cnt membership for allowing committees and cliques to form that could steer the organisation to it's eventual conclusion. Anarcho-syndicalism says nothing about creating leaders to sell out the masses. Incidently, there was that gadgy in the Ukraine who was a leader who flew in the face of his followers - it's a problem that flies in the face of the best written theory.

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 4 2012 17:16

AD, Serge, I'm not gonna lie, I'm a bit disappoint you didn't get back to me [/dejected]