N. American Anarcho-syndicalism today

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syndicalist
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Jul 16 2007 13:17
N. American Anarcho-syndicalism today

NOTE: I posted this here: http://libcom.org/forums/anarcho-syndicalism-101/the-relevancy-of-anarcho-syndicalism (at bottom) and perhaps it might well belong on this subject topic.

I'm curious how different anarcho-syndicalists (and those close to anarcho-syndicalism) see their activities and roles today. That is, what sort of organization and what sort of organizational relevancy foots their bill?

In the US and Canadian context, what would an expplicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization mean and do? Given the diversity of activist efforts here in the US/Canada, can an anarcho-syndicalist organization be more like a "especifico" organization? That is, an organization of like minded activists coming together to issue libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles. Or must its sole and defining role be something else or something else?

Catch 22
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Jul 16 2007 14:46

From the original thread.

syndicalistcat wrote:
catch22:
Quote:
I think the focus on especifico tactics can be useful when there are already existing mass campaigns with libertarian potential. However there aren't too many of those around to be honest. Most mass organizations in the US/Canada have been pretty well co-opted and are thoroughly hierarchical. Attempts to democratize and radicalize them seem resource intensive with little return on investment. Especially as many of these groups-eg unions-loose members with every year.

Why do you assume that the espificifista emphasis on presence within, and influence on, mass organizations is limited to the established mass organizations such as mainstream unions? Why wouldn't it be just as necessary to have left-libertarian influence within new mass organizations that we form? even if a mass organization is initiated by left-libertarians, if it is successful at becoming an actual mass organization, it will have a diversity of people with diverse views within it. there is no such thing as an "immaculate conception" that immunizes against conservatizing or bureaucratizing tendencies, or against infiltration by authoritarian left tendencies (tho that danger has shrunk in recent years). WSAers were involved in initiating the formation of an independent union among employees of the University of Tennessee but that union later affiliated to the CWA, even tho WSA members in it argued against this, and has developed a tendency towards oligarchy (executive committee tending to grab more control)

Is there anything written on the independent union you speak of? Sounds interesting.

I think that an attempt to form a specific a-s presence in those groups can be a bit difficult. I'm no platformist and I don't think that we can preserve the purity of mass organizations via explicit a-s ideological groups without creating an elitist clique. I'm more in favor of informal/semi formal networks of militants that can act to put the brakes on "tendency towards oligarchy." But by and large I think that the radicalizing effect of self managed struggle is soured when there's some of group that acts like it has superior politics to other rank and file. It seems very similar to the cadre discipline of the leninists.

I'm also not sure what a specific A-S especifista org would do. I've never actually been in an explicit a-s organization as ASR and WSA are seemingly the only ones that exist in America. ASR is really just an editorial collective of IWWs, and I have no clue what the WSA does outside of CIW solidarity work.

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syndicalistcat
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Jul 16 2007 17:16

catch-22:

Quote:
Is there anything written on the independent union you speak of? Sounds interesting.

there were a couple articles by Chris Pelton in Labor Notes. but i doubt they are online.

Quote:
I think that an attempt to form a specific a-s presence in those groups can be a bit difficult. I'm no platformist and I don't think that we can preserve the purity of mass organizations via explicit a-s ideological groups without creating an elitist clique. I'm more in favor of informal/semi formal networks of militants that can act to put the brakes on "tendency towards oligarchy." But by and large I think that the radicalizing effect of self managed struggle is soured when there's some of group that acts like it has superior politics to other rank and file. It seems very similar to the cadre discipline of the leninists.

but you haven't explained to me what the difference is between the presence of revolutionary activists within a mainstream union and within a mass organization that is left-libertarian initiated or newly formed.

a problem with any informal network is that informality tends to breed informal hierarchy. avoiding concentration of expertise and control into the hands of a few requires constant and systematic efforts to train and mobilize the membership. thus evolution of bureaucracy can't be prevented by purely informal means.

it's true, however, that the more democratic and effective the organization is, the less motivation there will be for members to form a rank and file organization apart from the formal structure of that organization. but this may actually make the specific organization more important. in a mainstream union that has a lot of problems, enough to motivate a rank and file opposition movement, what we should want is for that to be a broad movement, based on some ideas about the kind of organization we want the union to be. by "broad" i mean not just a "fraction" of the specific organization.

so it would seem that there is then room for three levels of organization: specific organizations, the broad rank and file opposition movement, the union organization.

it seems to me that it's inappropriate to speak of an "elitist clique" if the aim of the specific organization is empowerment of the rank and file. there need not be any assumption that one specific organization has all the answers. if we're talking about a libertarian approach to active involvement within a mass organization, then we have in mind methods consistent with the aims. this means speaking up, encouraging people to not be passive in the face of management, but it also means that the ranks control the movement and make the decisions. we have a voice but so does everyone else.

moreover, in my observation differences in level of knowledge, activism and commitment are virtually inevitable in any mass organization that is likely. this in itself holds the danger of bureaucratization because there will be a "spontaneous" tendency for people to rely on the people with the most knowledge and commitment. this was in fact the origin of bureaucracy in the AFL unions in the late 19th century.

in my experience American anarchists all too often operate with naive notions of spontaneity solving all problems or of everyone being automatically all "leaders".

a problem i've seen is that anarchists will sometimes insist that their revolutionary politics has to be in command, so they will refuse to try to build mass organizations or be involved in them because this will be seen as "reformist" -- that's one ultra-left error -- or else they try to build mass organizations they believe will be "pure" because they form them.

but in the present era authentic working class-based mass organizations will tend to reflect the character of the American working class at the present time, but with the possible exception that if people are willing to struggle, that starts with people who are less passive and may not be, in that sense, a perfect "average" of the working class right now.

i think it is necessary to build a social base for left-libertarian ideas within the working class. i can't see how this can happen without organized effort. this includes people working as activists within mass organizations, being a voice for rank and file self-management in those organizations, being a voice for militancy, against discriminatory or other retrograde tendencies. the influence gained has to come from the work that is done in support of a common struggle, not through attempts to aggrandize power.

so i don't understand your "elitist clique" comment. you'll need to explain what that means as i don't understand what your fear is.

the "elitist clique" argument has historically been used to defend the "unitary" theory of organization -- that only mass organization and not a specific organization is needed. in practice this tends to lead some anarcho-syndicalists to create small ideological unions that are largely marginal. this tends to marginalize the anarcho-syndicalists, in my opinion.

Catch 22
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Jul 16 2007 20:22

I'm no fan of spontaneity. If I was I'd be some kind of council communist or left communist. I think that people certainly need to be trained to self manage struggle, otherwise they on old habit deffer to those most active, staff etc. In mass organizations the only way to perpetuate a revolutionary direction is to promote self management and direct action. Do we need a sepecific organization to do this? I think it depends. In organizations like the IWW I think that continued focus on internal education, utilization of direct action and leadership development from the shop floor can provide this function.

However if this emphasis begins to err or if you have an organization that is democratic but isn't self managed to begin with-ex your independant workers union-I thnik a broad organization to promote the principles of self management is important. For example, in new SDS, its been revealed that a certain Stalinist group decided to join en mass with their cadres ala the PLP 40 years ago. The response has been a general ostracism of Stalinists within much of the organization and their total loss of legitimacy. Yet their total defeat can only be ensured through the promotion of democracy and decentralization of SDS. This aim isn't something that invites specific organization but the broad demands of the rank and file you speak of. Thus there is room for specific organization if only for the promotion of broad libertarian aims.

By "Elitist cliques" I mean groups that form ideological caucuses in mass organizations in order to provide the mass with "correct" views. These groups are nothing more than generators of dogmatism. You may argue that the means of these organizations will be to empower others, I'm unsure whether those means will get corrupted in the morass of "advanced politics." For while I certainly don't expect the workers to spontaneously struggle for liberation, I don't think that specific orgs with pure politics will somehow keep things on track. These groups aren't made of superhumans, they're made up of the same kind of folks that mass organizations are made of. They may even have the effect of retarding struggle if they feel its not going in the "correct" way.

There are also the practical day to day problems with things like this. Specific organization invites a proliferation of other factions and grouplets. Before long every tendency has some sort of organization behind it. New members no longer feel like they're joining a mass organization with a unitary struggle, but a conglomeration of sects with confusing arguments on arcane subjects. Moreover as the experienced members are typically the members of these organizations you create a disconnect whereby new members with politics still in form, are either fought for as numbers in the faction fight, or ignored because their concerns are too petty for the "big" revolutionaries.

As for the problems of pure unitary groups vs. specific groups in mass organizations.

I don't think I fall within either category. I believe that it is necessary to have basic specific organization to promote the principles of direct action and self management in mass organizations that are practicing those principles or have the potential. I really don't care if the mass organization is "reformist." The point is to promote struggle as a radicalizing force. When it comes to mass organizations like the AFL and CTW unions I'm not sure what should be done. I've never worked in unionized shop so I don't know what organization is needed for syndicalists to promote self managed struggle. I'm all for pushing the unions towards more radical aims, but the task seems rather gargantuan. I think time is better spent working with mass groups that directly promote struggle or come close to it.

Randy
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Jul 16 2007 22:59
Catch 22 wrote:
...I don't think that specific orgs with pure politics will somehow keep things on track. These groups aren't made of superhumans, they're made up of the same kind of folks that mass organizations are made of. They may even have the effect of retarding struggle if they feel its not going in the "correct" way.

Catch, seems to me that you are missing the point of specific orgs. They are needed not to give a home to a better grade of militant, but rather they are a social body with a different set of aims, revolutionary aims, that a union can't have (given its need to attend to wage and benefit concerns of the membership). Sometimes short term gains and long term rev. goals coincide, but not always. (Example: staying out on strike another week would help our long range struggle goals, but the folks are getting hungry so we better accept the most recent offer).

Quote:
...I believe that it is necessary to have basic specific organization to promote the principles of direct action and self management in mass organizations that are practicing those principles or have the potential. I really don't care if the mass organization is "reformist." The point is to promote struggle as a radicalizing force....

I agree completely.

Quote:
I think time is better spent working with mass groups (other than unions) that directly promote struggle or come close to it.

Such as?

syndicalist
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Jul 17 2007 04:50

Interesting.... I would ask Catch, where would the common space for anarcho-syndicalists to meet and talk shop, so to speak? One that is as specifically anarcho-syndicalist. Is not some formal organization needed? Even Sam Dolgoff, a very dedicated IWW member, believed in specific anarchist organization.

I guess one of the questions which comes to my mind is, aside from the above, is what's the difference between an anarcho-syndicalist "propaganda" group and a non-union a/s organization? Does an a/s propaganda group not serve the same function as an a/ group that works in mass movements (workers,social,community) that issues libertarian literature and arges a certain viewpoint? I would agree that how the work is carried out and how positions are articulated are important.

I would also not suggest that the concept of "especifico" be totally transfered to the quesion raised. Rather, what sort of constructive a/s organization is meaningful that takes in the reality of the many diverse activities of today's libertarian workers in N.A.?

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Jul 17 2007 07:04

Mitch, I like the idea of an a/s group as a way for folk to reflect on and improve their own work wherever it is. Like I have disagreements with Duke and with Chuck Hendricks but I could learn things from them too and that's gonna be more productive for me than rehashing disagreements. Or like I'm not super interested in things like New Directions or TDU whatever but I think people those settings could be good to learn from too. I think in some respects for the short term bracketing questions of strategy (which unions etc) and focusing on sharing and mastering effective tactics would be very useful. Like you said, for people to "develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles." Another way to put this is the a/s group as a sort of ongoing workshop for people to improve their effectiveness in practice and formulate the best anarchist moves in their current environment. That would bracket out issues like "IWW or not, IWA or not," etc. Those debates are totally important but I think they're going to be more productive later on down the road after the group knew each other better and there was a relationships and trust and a culture of discussion etc built up. That is, the a/s group as workshop could lay the groundwork for a more strategically cohesive group in the future wherease pushing for that cohesion initially would probably cause fractious debate and result in smaller organizatios.

I'm less interested in putting out propaganda as a group but I think there is a role for that too.

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Jul 17 2007 15:56

catch-22:

Quote:
By "Elitist cliques" I mean groups that form ideological caucuses in mass organizations in order to provide the mass with "correct" views.

but what left-libertarian specific organization does this? the FAG, a Brazilian especifista group, says that it is not their aim to impose a line on a mass organization they are a part of.

also, your comment seems inconsistent with what you say later:

Quote:
I believe that it is necessary to have basic specific organization to promote the principles of direct action and self management in mass organizations that are practicing those principles or have the potential. I really don't care if the mass organization is "reformist." The point is to promote struggle as a radicalizing force.

this comment i don't understand:

Quote:
When it comes to mass organizations like the AFL and CTW unions I'm not sure what should be done. I've never worked in unionized shop so I don't know what organization is needed for syndicalists to promote self managed struggle. I'm all for pushing the unions towards more radical aims, but the task seems rather gargantuan. I think time is better spent working with mass groups that directly promote struggle or come close to it.

it seems to me we need to have an overall strategic concept that helps to inform our organizing and practical work, and our theoretical ideas should hopefully develop through learning from practice. doing this needs to incorporate experience from all sorts of areas, all sorts of struggles, workplace and community, in AFL or CtW unions or independent worker organizations (IWW, workers centers, independent unions).

you may not have any experience working in AFL or CtW unions and no interest (now) in that area of activity but others will have such experience and this needs to inform our understanding. Nor can the 12 million workers in the AFL and CtW unions be simply ignored, if you want to have a serious revolutionary strategy.

it's also not sufficient to focus only on workplace organizing and ignore struggles in community contexts.

one of the reasons in favor of a specific organization is that people from different experiences can share what they've learned and people can learn from others. People can get advice on what they are doing.

a reason that a "propaganda group" is an inadequate conception of a specific organization is that it doesn't provide for feedback from practice, nor does it allow for how credibility and influence for the ideas flows from people being involved in the mass organizations and struggles in communities.

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Felix Frost
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Jul 17 2007 18:53
syndicalist wrote:
In the US and Canadian context, what would an expplicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization mean and do? Given the diversity of activist efforts here in the US/Canada, can an anarcho-syndicalist organization be more like a "especifico" organization? That is, an organization of like minded activists coming together to issue libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles. Or must its sole and defining role be something else or something else?

While I do think it is a good idea for like minded activists to "come together to issue libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work", I don't see why this should be done in the context of a "especifista" organization. In fact, I don't see it as very important whether this is done by a formal organization or through informal networks, and I fail to see how making formal organizations will solve the problem with informal hierarchies. Also, I don't see any reason why such an organization or network should be restricted to people who use the anarchist label.

syndicalistcat wrote:
the "elitist clique" argument has historically been used to defend the "unitary" theory of organization -- that only mass organization and not a specific organization is needed. in practice this tends to lead some anarcho-syndicalists to create small ideological unions that are largely marginal. this tends to marginalize the anarcho-syndicalists, in my opinion.

I don't think small "unitary" organizations nessesarily marginalizes anarcho-syndicalists, as their role isn't to act as a small trade union that takes care of the interests of their own members, but to advocate workers self-activity, and decision making through mass assemblies rather than bureaucratic union structures.

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Felix Frost
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Jul 17 2007 18:53

(double post)

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Jul 17 2007 20:28

felix:

Quote:
I don't think small "unitary" organizations nessesarily marginalizes anarcho-syndicalists, as their role isn't to act as a small trade union that takes care of the interests of their own members, but to advocate workers self-activity, and decision making through mass assemblies rather than bureaucratic union structures.

in the context of the USA or North America, a "unitary" organization could only be the IWW. i'm not a member of the IWW but i'm not familiar with them advocating worker assembly movements. what i have heard from wobs i know is the idea of the IWW functioning as a network of radical workplace activists, but I'm not familiar with a particular program they would advocate in this role. there are others in the IWW who do advocate the IWW building industrial union of people working in particular industries, as with the food workers union in New York and the Starbucks union. so apparently the IWW is trying to be what you say a unitary organization is not supposed to be.

so your description seems to not reflect the actual situation in North America.

also, what is the program for community struggles? what is the way of addressing non-class based forms of oppression like racism?

Quote:
I fail to see how making formal organizations will solve the problem with informal hierarchies.

through a systematic effort training and education of rank and file workers, and rank and file participants in community organizing, and of involving them. i've never seen this addressed adequately through informal means.

convect
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Jul 17 2007 21:37

Anarcho-syndicalism doesn't make sense to me except as a strategy for some end result, which is vaguely represented by terms like "anarcho-communism" or "council communism." It is a strategy for change in the organization in the economic system, and does not necessarily address other forms of division. Of course, any decent anarcho-syndicalist should simultaneously address other forms of division as best as they can (and in my experience, that has often led to difficult questions about how to deal with sexism or racism or homophobia in a workplace I'm trying to organize, whether to ignore it because We'll Deal With It Later or confront it and alienate the worker).

Anyway, I see anarcho-syndicalism as an essential component for an overarching strategy for changing the basic economic structure of society. All sorts of activities can be collectivized (by which I mean free association, and not forced collectivization, of course!) and anarcho-syndicalism, along with building a network of workers' cooperatives, are how we can collectivize productive work. I'm a big fan of creating as many workers' collectives as we can, as quickly as possible, so that more and more people have an actual choice between working for a boss and working with a collective, but as long as any workers are trapped into working for a boss, anarcho-syndicalist organization will be necessary.

Humblest apologies for lacking the courtesy to actually read what anyone else has said on this thread before posting to it.

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Jul 17 2007 23:22

WSA understands anarcho-syndicalism as a strategy based on developing mass organizations controlled by their members, but since the class struggle spreads out into the community and the working class must address the entire set of issues facing it, including the divisions internal to it, this needs to also include community organization and a labor/community alliance. this isn't an especially new idea for anarcho-syndicalism: consider the 1931 rent strike in Barcelona, which was a community struggle. but the question here isn't about the anarcho-syndicalist strategy but about the possible role that an organization of activists on the basis of a specifically revolutionary viewpoint can play.

Catch 22
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Jul 17 2007 23:52
Randy wrote:
Catch, seems to me that you are missing the point of specific orgs. They are needed not to give a home to a better grade of militant, but rather they are a social body with a different set of aims, revolutionary aims, that a union can't have (given its need to attend to wage and benefit concerns of the membership). Sometimes short term gains and long term rev. goals coincide, but not always. (Example: staying out on strike another week would help our long range struggle goals, but the folks are getting hungry so we better accept the most recent offer).

I think that's a bit of a false dichotomy. Struggle is a radicalizing force becuase it forces us into conflict with authority. But it also a radicalizing force becuase it is a realization of our own power-our ability to win. There's nothing more revolutionary about staying on strike longer if it means your lose is that much more demoralizing. Long term rev. goals and short term gains always coincide, becuase those revolutionary goals arise as the ultimate consequence of successful struggle. True when we operate within groups that limit the terrain of our demands (AFL, ACORN...) you get a conflict, which is why we should always promote self management and direct action within those groups. But we can't assume that we somehow have a better idea of what revolution is then the consequences of the struggle of the working class.

That make any sense or was I talking out my ass?

Randy wrote:
Quote:
I think time is better spent working with mass groups (other than unions) that directly promote struggle or come close to it.

Such as?

Independent unions, IWW, workers centers, community groups like OCAP or Empower DC, CIW, SDS. They're smaller than your ACORNs, USSAs, or SEIUs but I think they hold great potential.

syndicalist wrote:
Interesting.... I would ask Catch, where would the common space for anarcho-syndicalists to meet and talk shop, so to speak? One that is as specifically anarcho-syndicalist. Is not some formal organization needed? Even Sam Dolgoff, a very dedicated IWW member, believed in specific anarchist organization.

I guess one of the questions which comes to my mind is, aside from the above, is what's the difference between an anarcho-syndicalist "propaganda" group and a non-union a/s organization? Does an a/s propaganda group not serve the same function as an a/ group that works in mass movements (workers,social,community) that issues libertarian literature and arges a certain viewpoint? I would agree that how the work is carried out and how positions are articulated are important.

I would also not suggest that the concept of "especifico" be totally transfered to the quesion raised. Rather, what sort of constructive a/s organization is meaningful that takes in the reality of the many diverse activities of today's libertarian workers in N.A.?

I would agree that we should look to form some sort of anarcho syndicalist talk shop. Though I don't think an organization of any complexity is needed for that. Sounds more like a monthly meetup with a few beers and a pizza. As Nate pointed out, we have a lot of questions and internal differences of strategy. I would think that before we delve into some collective project that we hash out some of these questions. In fact I would be real excited to start that up as soon as possible.

I think that propaganda groups are different because they are "commenting from the sidelines" and don't have members actively putting forth proposals for the struggle. The line is a bit blurry, but it exists.

syndicalistcat wrote:
catch-22:
Quote:
By "Elitist cliques" I mean groups that form ideological caucuses in mass organizations in order to provide the mass with "correct" views.

but what left-libertarian specific organization does this? the FAG, a Brazilian especifista group, says that it is not their aim to impose a line on a mass organization they are a part of.

Indeed, but people aren't perfect. The conditions for a cadre atmosphere arise when you get an isolated group of militants doing this kind of work. The fact that they view their politics as "advanced" and cannot find purity in the mass, seems indicative that this is fertile ground for dogmatism. Or at least what looks like dogmatism to non members. Take NEFAC for example. I have nothing against them, I think they're good comrades. But ask most anarchists in the northeast-including class struggle folk-and the reaction is rather negative. People have a knee jerk reaction when they know that there is a special group that meets alone in order to push its politics on a mass group. It freaks folk out.

syndicalistcat wrote:
also, your comment seems inconsistent with what you say later:
Quote:
I believe that it is necessary to have basic specific organization to promote the principles of direct action and self management in mass organizations that are practicing those principles or have the potential. I really don't care if the mass organization is "reformist." The point is to promote struggle as a radicalizing force.

There's a difference between a broad open group that's promoting direct action and democracy then the "anarcho syndicalist" blady blah group. One is about promoting worker militancy and self activity. The other is about promoting highly specific, possibly dogmatic positions, for the mass organization to take. That skirts awfully close to entryism and cadre activity.

syndicalistcat wrote:
it seems to me we need to have an overall strategic concept that helps to inform our organizing and practical work, and our theoretical ideas should hopefully develop through learning from practice. doing this needs to incorporate experience from all sorts of areas, all sorts of struggles, workplace and community, in AFL or CtW unions or independent worker organizations (IWW, workers centers, independent unions).

you may not have any experience working in AFL or CtW unions and no interest (now) in that area of activity but others will have such experience and this needs to inform our understanding. Nor can the 12 million workers in the AFL and CtW unions be simply ignored, if you want to have a serious revolutionary strategy.

it's also not sufficient to focus only on workplace organizing and ignore struggles in community contexts.

Agreed, I was just suggesting that our strategy should tilt more towards building radical alternatives. Of course if you land a job in a business union shop we should have some sort of praxis in that arena. I just don't think we should be making it our main focus. The same applies to community struggles. We could try and "fix" ACORN or we could try and build a more radical direct action oriented community/tenant organization. I'm more in favor of building that alternative, but I still take part in ACORN campaigns.

I don't think building alternatives is tantamount to "ignoring 12 million workers". Any vibrant self managed struggle will influence the rank and file of the business unions as well as provide ample propaganda to rank and file movements. The militancy of the 30s was heavily influenced by the example initially put forth by the IWW, not the AFL.

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Jul 18 2007 04:01

catch-22:

Quote:
Indeed, but people aren't perfect. The conditions for a cadre atmosphere arise when you get an isolated group of militants doing this kind of work. The fact that they view their politics as "advanced" and cannot find purity in the mass, seems indicative that this is fertile ground for dogmatism.

i think it's necessary to look at what the actual situation is. the actual situation is that within the working class there are very great differences in terms of commitment, consistency, understanding of the institutions we're up against, and vision in regard to the changes being sought, or even having any vision. your comment above seems to be saying that if we ignore these differences they won't exist.

but in reality organizations depend on activists and organizers. we want to create more activists, we want to encourage ordinary folks to be more active, and people do grow and learn through that process. but there is still a distinction between the activist/organizer layer and those not so involved.

i think it is also very easy for isolation to undermine commitment. commitment can't be taken for granted. not being isolated helps to sustain commitment.

how does understanding develop? mass organizations, precisely because they are diverse and focused on whatever level of goal people in the community in struggle feel is winnable now, are unlikely to be the venue for the development of revolutionary strategy and vision today. on the other hand, work in developing strategy and vision needs to be informed by the practical experiences of people today. how is that going to happen without the radical activists being involved in both practical organizing activity, on the one hand, and some organizational venue dedicated specifically to the development and dispersion of revolutionary anti-authoritarian ideas?

maybe your perceptions are due to your involvement in SDS and IWW. those organizations are formed on the basis of radical politics. that's 2,500 people in a country of 300 million. not a cross-section of the working class.

Quote:
One is about promoting worker militancy and self activity. The other is about promoting highly specific, possibly dogmatic positions, for the mass organization to take. That skirts awfully close to entryism and cadre activity.

either you think revolutionary ideas are needed or not. how do they get developed? not being isolated has the advantage there are others with a similar commitment who you can bounce your ideas off of, who have different experiences, and can help to keep you from falling into mistakes. dogmatism is avoided in part through this process of dialogue, but also through practical experience. and through an organization you can gain from the practical experience of others.

the history of the USA suggests that worker self-activity and militancy is not sufficient by itself for the development of revolutionary consciousness. for one thing, militancy and self-activity can be isolated or episodic. the breadth of collective struggle affects the power people develop, and this power is needed to help people develop a sense that more far reaching change is possible. the American working class has a much more violent history of class struggle than most countries in western Europe. but individualism, passivity and escapism are more pronounced here nowadays.

as long as you mention the IWW and the '30s, you should also consider the following question. Given that union membership in the USA grew from 5 million in 1933 to 15 million in 1940, but IWW membership dropped from 20,000 to 2,000, why did that huge labor upsurge pass the IWW by? will another labor upsurge pass the IWW by?

syndicalist
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Jul 18 2007 12:57

Rushing --well, sortof---to work at the moment.

I have no idea how someone can think of a anarcho-syndicalist federation or organization as a "cadre" orgaization.

This could then be the same about anyone who gets together to organize a perspective---particularly a minority viewpoint.Does that mean that the sole activist in a workplace or elsewhere is a cadre becaue they are not in the majority? I mean unless we all exist within majority organizations we will have to find ways to promote ideas, share ideas and sometimes rely on others for help.

Back to yas later.

Jimmy
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Jul 18 2007 14:11

Small point, as Tom has covered pretty much everything.

Quote:
Catch 22
Take NEFAC for example. I have nothing against them, I think they're good comrades. But ask most anarchists in the northeast-including class struggle folk-and the reaction is rather negative. People have a knee jerk reaction when they know that there is a special group that meets alone in order to push its politics on a mass group. It freaks folk out.

The ever Nefarious Nefac. That speaks more about those anarchists than there being anything dodgy about organising to advance one’s perspectives. If others don’t particularly want to sort out their approach in advance that’s their prerogative. It’s naïve to think that others won’t, which makes it all the more important that libertarians do it properly.

What does “push its politics on a mass group” mean in practice? It’s really how this is done that is important. There’s a big difference whether it’s done by open argument and debate or by attempting to overwhelm unorganised section through manipulation or pressure of some sort. Are they constantly trying to get control of a central committee and thereby impose their politics or are they faced with having to persuade people on an issue by issue basis?

In practice, the situation is likely to be much more dynamic than the organised anarchists forcing their line on a broader group. Apart from respecting the independence of the group, the influence is generally two-ways, with the anarchists picking up lots of useful experience along the way.

yab
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Jul 18 2007 20:24
Catch 22 wrote:
I don't think building alternatives is tantamount to "ignoring 12 million workers". Any vibrant self managed struggle will influence the rank and file of the business unions as well as provide ample propaganda to rank and file movements. The militancy of the 30s was heavily influenced by the example initially put forth by the IWW, not the AFL.

I don't think this is true. The IWW was destroyed before the 1930's. The mass movement of the 1930's was influenced by folks to a large degree that left the IWW and started something new. By communists, bu radicals, but not the IWW. There was almost no pick up the IWW membership during this time.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jul 18 2007 23:51
Catch 22 wrote:
Indeed, but people aren't perfect. The conditions for a cadre atmosphere arise when you get an isolated group of militants doing this kind of work. The fact that they view their politics as "advanced" and cannot find purity in the mass, seems indicative that this is fertile ground for dogmatism. Or at least what looks like dogmatism to non members. Take NEFAC for example. I have nothing against them, I think they're good comrades. But ask most anarchists in the northeast-including class struggle folk-and the reaction is rather negative. People have a knee jerk reaction when they know that there is a special group that meets alone in order to push its politics on a mass group. It freaks folk out.

Eh, can't please everyone...

Really though, this is a weak liberal argument, and just speaking for myself, I am not especially interested in winning over any anarchist that actually thinks this way.

Any conscious revolutionary has an agenda (for our group its developing class confidence, autonomous self-organization, a radicalization of struggles, anti-electoralism, direct action, etc... and eventually, social revolution and libertarian communism). If they say they don't, they are lying. Now, moving from this indisputable point of departure, I would think the best way to effectively assert said agenda would be in an conscious, organized, collective manner... which is what serious anarchists, since the time of Bakunin, have always done.

We're not just gonna wake up to a world of anarchists someday. It is going to take years of conscious minorities asserting anarchist ideas and methods of organization within social movements and struggles before we find mass appeal. Sorry, that's reality.

booeyschewy
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Jul 19 2007 01:43

as for organized groups in mass organizations- i think you're right catch that people respond that way, but i'd personally rather have groups openly organizing. The alternative is passive aggressiveness, politicizing retarded things as fronts for ideological/personal battles, covertly moving agendas, etc. I think SRB is right that essentially this already exists, it's just less effective and useful than when people are organized.

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syndicalistcat
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Jul 19 2007 02:34

SRB:

Quote:
Any conscious revolutionary has an agenda (for our group its developing class confidence, autonomous self-organization, a radicalization of struggles, anti-electoralism, direct action, etc... and eventually, social revolution and libertarian communism). If they say they don't, they are lying. Now, moving from this indisputable point of departure, I would think the best way to effectively assert said agenda would be in an conscious, organized, collective manner... which is what serious anarchists, since the time of Bakunin, have always done.

Yep. For our group, the agenda includes developing mass organizations, sustaining or building self-management of those organizations/movements, favoring a strategy of direct collective struggle rather reformist methods of electoral politics/lobbying, encouraging the development of links between different groups, such as labor and community. The emphasis upon self-managed mass organizations is what makes it syndicalist. Class autonomy of a mass organization such as union means rejecting "partnership" or collaborationist conceptions.

We should want to see develop of skills, knowledge, self-confidence in growing numbers of working people. That's not going to happen "spontaneously." That should also be part of our "agenda" in mass organizations.

blackstarbhoy
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Jul 19 2007 02:37
syndicalist wrote:
I'm curious how different anarcho-syndicalists (and those close to anarcho-syndicalism) see their activities and roles today. That is, what sort of organization and what sort of organizational relevancy foots their bill?...
...That is, an organization of like minded activists coming together to issue libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles. Or must its sole and defining role be something else...

considering myself a revolutionary anarchist with sympathies for a/s, i would say that i'm concerned with a couple of things. one is participating in the various movements (labor, social, community) in a way that may help them develop their (our) own goals and approaches outside of the various mechanisms of social control: pushing for participatory politics, direct democracy, transparency, antagonism towards the State (or whatever authority institution were at odds with) and adjoined beauracracies, encouraging a culture of confidence and defiance. these things can and should be done whether on a grand level or in small activities.

but to this end i think specific groups that link up the few of us who have enough common agreement, that gets us communicating and sharing experiences can go along way to informing our individual as well as collective efforts in whatever activity we find ourselves in. being a part of a organization allows us to report back on what we have done and develop some analysis out of our actions, analysis that might assist us in the future. making our efforts known also may help inform the activity of others involved in struggles.

i appreciate WSA, NEFAC and other organized groups. its natural to want to get input and advice from those you feel levels of affinity with. being part of a formal organization or alliance or whatever we might call it, does mean we have certain perspectives, and why shouldnt we? but being a member of such a group does not necessarily imply the notion that "our" programs are the correct ones. they could be in some cases or they might not be in others, i think the aim is to argue for goals and strategy within struggles, while as said before, helping those struggles maintain their transparency and participatory nature. once struggle picks up all varieties of sects will figure out how to make inroads, that is a given. we shouldnt be arguing to ban groups because they are sects, we should be arguing, fighting to broaden debate and maintain the self-activity of movements.

sorry if this is a tad disjointed.

Catch 22
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Jul 19 2007 02:49
syndicalistcat wrote:
i think it's necessary to look at what the actual situation is. the actual situation is that within the working class there are very great differences in terms of commitment, consistency, understanding of the institutions we're up against, and vision in regard to the changes being sought, or even having any vision. your comment above seems to be saying that if we ignore these differences they won't exist.

but in reality organizations depend on activists and organizers. we want to create more activists, we want to encourage ordinary folks to be more active, and people do grow and learn through that process. but there is still a distinction between the activist/organizer layer and those not so involved.

Of course there is a great variance amongst working class. I’ve worked with pretty reactionary folks before in mass campaigns, as well as radicals. The working class is so damn complex and diverse that it’s a bit foolish to think that we’ve distilled the best ideas and that revolution will only be successful following our course of action.

We really aren’t any more advanced than other members of the working class. We just think we are becuase we're more active. And when we begin forming organizations to inform those reactionary masses there is room for dogmatism and there is a high chance that we will piss people off. I’m in favor of groups that promote broad libertarian aims in mass struggle. The minute detail of our long term vision is really better left up to propaganda groups or talk shops.

syndicalistcat wrote:
i think it is also very easy for isolation to undermine commitment. commitment can't be taken for granted. not being isolated helps to sustain commitment. how does understanding develop? mass organizations, precisely because they are diverse and focused on whatever level of goal people in the community in struggle feel is winnable now, are unlikely to be the venue for the development of revolutionary strategy and vision today. on the other hand, work in developing strategy and vision needs to be informed by the practical experiences of people today. how is that going to happen without the radical activists being involved in both practical organizing activity, on the one hand, and some organizational venue dedicated specifically to the development and dispersion of revolutionary anti-authoritarian ideas?

maybe your perceptions are due to your involvement in SDS and IWW. those organizations are formed on the basis of radical politics. that's 2,500 people in a country of 300 million. not a cross-section of the working class.

I’m an anarcho-syndicalist. Last I checked we advocate and create mass organizations with a limitless ceiling of demands. That’s what distinguishes our mass groups from the others; our aim is to keep demanding till we abolish coercive authority. Through that struggle people change and revolutionary consciousness develops.

Why are we so worked up about forming our nice grouplets when we need to start building mass? Waiting for the “proper” level of struggle to come along so that the working class is “ready” for mass syndicalist organization isn’t gonna get us anywhere. If we’re serious we need to start building mass groups that will push the struggle forward. Let’s make those self managed unions and community groups you’ve been talking about S-cat.

That’s why I’m involved with the IWW and SDS, because they’re actually organizing and radicalizing folk. Marginal and small yes, but so was the CNT at one point. I’ve worked in reformist mass campaigns; I think my energies are better here. An inadequate cross section of the working class? Yeah probably, but I’m not exactly sure what an adequate representation of the working class is. I’m just tired of talking about syndicalism without putting that into practice.

syndicalistcat wrote:
the history of the USA suggests that worker self-activity and militancy is not sufficient by itself for the development of revolutionary consciousness. for one thing, militancy and self-activity can be isolated or episodic. the breadth of collective struggle affects the power people develop, and this power is needed to help people develop a sense that more far reaching change is possible. the American working class has a much more violent history of class struggle than most countries in western Europe. but individualism, passivity and escapism are more pronounced here nowadays.

How is militancy and self activity not sufficient? Where do you think these revolutionary ideas came out of? There are but the polished afterthoughts of struggle. If we truly think that anarchism is possible than it’s necessary that anarchist ideas can develop relatively organically. When I was at the USSF the revolution was coming from the lived experiences of “another politics is possible” practitioners, not the anarchist workshop. These folk seemed to distill a pretty good praxis without “specific organization” pushing their politics on these mass organizations.

syndicalistcat wrote:
as long as you mention the IWW and the '30s, you should also consider the following question. Given that union membership in the USA grew from 5 million in 1933 to 15 million in 1940, but IWW membership dropped from 20,000 to 2,000, why did that huge labor upsurge pass the IWW by? will another labor upsurge pass the IWW by?

Maybe because the IWW was marred by the Thompson/ EP split and never really recovered? I know you have some interpretation from the 8,000 pages of IWW history you’ve read so lets hear it.

Catch 22
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Jul 19 2007 02:56
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:

Eh, can't please everyone...

Really though, this is a weak liberal argument, and just speaking for myself, I am not especially interested in winning over any anarchist that actually thinks this way.

Any conscious revolutionary has an agenda (for our group its developing class confidence, autonomous self-organization, a radicalization of struggles, anti-electoralism, direct action, etc... and eventually, social revolution and libertarian communism). If they say they don't, they are lying. Now, moving from this indisputable point of departure, I would think the best way to effectively assert said agenda would be in an conscious, organized, collective manner... which is what serious anarchists, since the time of Bakunin, have always done.

We're not just gonna wake up to a world of anarchists someday. It is going to take years of conscious minorities asserting anarchist ideas and methods of organization within social movements and struggles before we find mass appeal. Sorry, that's reality.

Weak liberal argument? Probably. I'm making this shit up as I go along. Still yall have to admit that many many folk either a) have no idea what you do or b) think all you do is denounce things. Hell, all I know is that you put out a sweet magazine. I don't know for the life of me what sort of mass campaigns you've engaged inside the US, cept for GMAC and the Vermont workers center. That sounded cool.

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syndicalistcat
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Jul 19 2007 03:24

catch22:

Quote:
Any conscious revolutionary has an agenda (for our group its developing class confidence, autonomous self-organization, a radicalization of struggles, anti-electoralism, direct action, etc... and eventually, social revolution and libertarian communism). If they say they don't, they are lying. Now, moving from this indisputable point of departure, I would think the best way to effectively assert said agenda would be in an conscious, organized, collective manner... which is what serious anarchists, since the time of Bakunin, have always done.

but i've found i can't create a mass organization by myself. and not all the mass organizations i've been involved in were set up by left-libertarians with an explicit orientation to being self-managing and so on. it's really helpful if there are others you can work with who have similar politics. here in S.F. we've been involved since the '80s in four organizing efforts i can offhand remember. two were organizing people into AFL unions. one was involvement in the Mission Anti-displacement Coalition, and a fourth is a housing organization that i'm involved in now. only the last is an organization that was initiated by a number of left-libertarians, and it's a struggle to keep a self-management orientation.

Quote:
The working class is so damn complex and diverse that it’s a bit foolish to think that we’ve distilled the best ideas and that revolution will only be successful following our course of action.

this is sort of a strawman argument. it's not necessary for us to claim we have all the answers or the final correct line. We make use of the understanding that we have, the things we think we know. we try to argue for why our ideas make sense. if we don't other ideas will prevail. if we believe in our ideas, then we need to try to put them into practice.

Quote:
Why are we so worked up about forming our nice grouplets when we need to start building mass?

This is a false dichotomy. One of the reasons it is useful to have a political group is so there are people to share the work. I don't know about you but i can't create a mass organization by myself.

there are some situations where the IWW is trying to build genuine mass union organizations as with the restaurant supply warehouses in NYC. but i wouldn't describe the IWW in general as a mass organization rather than a political organization, in terms of who joins it, in my observation. the fact that the IWW attracts anarchists and has a large number of them in it in relation to total membership creates, i suspect, a certain illusion. the illusion that political organization isn't needed.

in the '30s i think a part of the problem was the lack of a libertarian political organization. for example, a number of IWW butchers initiated the Independent Union of All Workers. It was a community-based labor oganization, with each town having a local union of all the workers in that town. the largest group of workers were the meat packing plant workers. but the large numbers and strength of the meat packing workers was used to support smaller groups of more isolated workers as in the retail stores on the "Main Streets". at a certain point the governor of Minnesota agreed to not intervene in a struggle with the national guard if the IUAW would affiliate to a national union. the governor was close to the Communists and the AFL. the Communists wanted to use the IUAW as a chip to advance themselves in the CIO. but joining the CIO meant cutting adrift all the non-packing plant workers as IUAW didn't fit the CIO's industrial jurisdictions. the key architect of the IUAW's strategy was wob Frank Ellis who was in jail at that moment. there was no libertarian political group or caucus in IUAW to counter the pressure to join the CIO. sticking to the IWW itself merely isolated the syndicalists.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jul 19 2007 05:17
Catch 22 wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:

Eh, can't please everyone...

Really though, this is a weak liberal argument, and just speaking for myself, I am not especially interested in winning over any anarchist that actually thinks this way.

Any conscious revolutionary has an agenda (for our group its developing class confidence, autonomous self-organization, a radicalization of struggles, anti-electoralism, direct action, etc... and eventually, social revolution and libertarian communism). If they say they don't, they are lying. Now, moving from this indisputable point of departure, I would think the best way to effectively assert said agenda would be in an conscious, organized, collective manner... which is what serious anarchists, since the time of Bakunin, have always done.

We're not just gonna wake up to a world of anarchists someday. It is going to take years of conscious minorities asserting anarchist ideas and methods of organization within social movements and struggles before we find mass appeal. Sorry, that's reality.

Weak liberal argument? Probably. I'm making this shit up as I go along. Still yall have to admit that many many folk either a) have no idea what you do or b) think all you do is denounce things. Hell, all I know is that you put out a sweet magazine. I don't know for the life of me what sort of mass campaigns you've engaged inside the US, cept for GMAC and the Vermont workers center. That sounded cool.

Ah, hey, sorry about that... probably more hostile than I intended it to come off. I get where you're coming from, and honestly, its the dichotomy between "mass organizing" and "conscious political minority" where I think some of the most useful conversations among anarchists sare to be had. I mean, we're conscious anarchists, and have at least some idea of where (at least in theory) we'd like to see the course of social struggle run... towards revolutionary transformation of society in a libertarian communist direction. I think it would be dishonest to approach struggles and organizing otherwise. But at the same time, there is a pitfall of arrogance and vanguardism (or else, purist abstentionism) that could easily be fallen into. But you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I dunno, I think this is one of the main reasons why we have a magazine... because we want to be honest and have a forum to talk about our experiences, assess them, challenge ourselves, invite criticism, and hopefully work towards developing better praxis, effectively incorporating our politics into the struggles we are involved with, etc. Its a process, and no one has the "correct line" just yet...

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Felix Frost
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Jul 19 2007 09:00
syndicalistcat wrote:
felix:
Quote:
I don't think small "unitary" organizations nessesarily marginalizes anarcho-syndicalists, as their role isn't to act as a small trade union that takes care of the interests of their own members, but to advocate workers self-activity, and decision making through mass assemblies rather than bureaucratic union structures.

in the context of the USA or North America, a "unitary" organization could only be the IWW. i'm not a member of the IWW but i'm not familiar with them advocating worker assembly movements. what i have heard from wobs i know is the idea of the IWW functioning as a network of radical workplace activists, but I'm not familiar with a particular program they would advocate in this role. there are others in the IWW who do advocate the IWW building industrial union of people working in particular industries, as with the food workers union in New York and the Starbucks union. so apparently the IWW is trying to be what you say a unitary organization is not supposed to be.

so your description seems to not reflect the actual situation in North America.

Well, I don't think the IWW have ever claimed to be a "unitary organization", and I personally would think it was a good idea for it to function more like a network of radical workplace activists, rather than a small radical union. Even so, I would imagine that wobblies planning a campaign will try to involve everyone in their workplaces, hold meetings open to all workers, etc, and not just work with paid up IWW members.

syndicalistcat wrote:
also, what is the program for community struggles? what is the way of addressing non-class based forms of oppression like racism?

This is a whole other discussion, but I don't see the need for a specific anarchist organization in order to participate in community struggles or anti-racist work either.

syndicalistcat wrote:
Quote:
I fail to see how making formal organizations will solve the problem with informal hierarchies.

through a systematic effort training and education of rank and file workers, and rank and file participants in community organizing, and of involving them. i've never seen this addressed adequately through informal means.

This is all well and good, but again I would see this as the job of the mass organizations, and not of a specific political organization.

blackstarbhoy
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Jul 19 2007 14:15
syndicalist wrote:
In the US and Canadian context, what would an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization mean and do? Given the diversity of activist efforts here in the US/Canada, can an anarcho-syndicalist organization be more like a "especifico" organization? That is, an organization of like minded activists coming together to issue libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles. Or must its sole and defining role be something else or something else?

how would any future organization of "like minded activists" differ from the role of the WSA? Was the WSA conceived as just such a vehicle (the same could be said kinda for NEFAC except for the emphasis on a/s. though i would think NEFAC's platformist basis gives it an even deeper commitment towards theoretical and strategic unity, beyond any kinda general union of class struggle anarchists. this orientation would in no way prevent a group like NEFAC from participating in another alliance or project)? Why not join WSA

Or do you think an alliance could be made that brings together these class struggle @ forces into a common project?

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Jul 19 2007 16:15

blackstarbhoy: i'm not sure i see any "deeper commitment to theoretical and strategic unity" in NEFAC than in WSA. However, it's possible that NEFAC's stronger groups (collectives) helps. But this is an only accidental difference between WSA and NEFAC, due to WSA's more scattered membership at present.

WSA has a single political perspective codified in the "Where We Stand" statement back in the '80s (we've got a draft of a new version which we're currently discussing).

A part of the reason WSA was formed on the basis of individual membership rather than collective membership was to avoid group chauvinism and separate "lines" developing in groups, which became a roadblock to unity in practice in the ACF of the late '70s, which some of us had been in. On the down side, individual membership has meant that often WSA's membership has been scattered and probably made WSA more vulnterable to the entryist takeover attempt by the Duluth group. It's made me re-think that aspect of how WSA was organized. WSA functioned more like NEFAC around 1990 when we had about four or five branches (which are called "groups" in WSA), and branches were involved in various projects. at that time our equivalent of the NEFAC Federal Council was the National Committee which had regional delegates and officers doing certain functions (Secretary, Treasurer, International Secretary).

We were unfamiliar with Uruguayan "especifista" theory when we formed WSA. We were familiar however with the Italian "dual organization" concept which we do follow in practice. It's just that right now we're re-writing our basic political statement and so we're revisiting these issues. That's why syndicalist posted this question, to get feedback.

blackstarbhoy
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Jul 19 2007 16:36
syndicalistcat wrote:
It's just that right now we're re-writing our basic political statement and so we're revisiting these issues. That's why syndicalist posted this question, to get feedback.

ahhh, that puts the thread in a slightly different context, at least for me. i'm gonna re-read the Where We Stand document. I'll get back later.

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syndicalistcat
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Jul 19 2007 16:40

felix:

Quote:
Well, I don't think the IWW have ever claimed to be a "unitary organization", and I personally would think it was a good idea for it to function more like a network of radical workplace activists, rather than a small radical union. Even so, I would imagine that wobblies planning a campaign will try to involve everyone in their workplaces, hold meetings open to all workers, etc, and not just work with paid up IWW members.

well, i'm not willing to put all the eggs in the IWW basket. your reply essentially leaves "build the IWW" as the be-all and end-all of revolutionary strategy. To me that's a recipe for marginalization. We had that debate with the ASR group. That was probably the main issue in the split in the ACF in 1980. IWW is a marginal group that attracts a high level of anarchists as a percentage of the members. It's not yet shown that it has the ability to break out of its marginalization, tho we support efforts of IWW to build actual unions, as in the restaurant supply warehouse campaign. But it's highly implausible to suppose an entire revolutionary mass movement will be forged out of these IWW efforts.

the past history of labor upsurges in the USA suggests the intiatives for these come from all sorts of sources and emerge all over. a multiplicity of venues of mass struggle is sort of inevitable.

You, on the other hand, would rather the IWW function as a network of radical activists. Well, the fact is, the IWW has no internal consensus on this question, and never has. This debate was going on in the IWW in1908. Yet it isn't coherent to try to combine building actual unions and being a network of radical activists in whatever unions there are.

my observation of the IWA, as a former member, is that the "unitary" idea of combining a revolutionary organization and a mass organization in practice leads to marginalization, splits and sectarianism.

and you provided no answer to my point about the need for radical left-libertarian activists to also be involved in community organization, and to work to develop labor/community links.

You can say that training of members should be a function of mass organizations, but who is going to propose and push for this in mass organizations? Few actual mass organizations in my observation have this orientation, tho a few do. And I'm not sure how good they are at really developing skills and confidence in members to do everything.

the kind of unionism we would advocate for, i hope, would be based on member control, constant training and mobilizing of members, fighting against all forms of discrimination or inequality such as racism, avoiding ideas of "partership" or "common interests" with the employers.

and we should also be able to advocate for this in any unions that exist, whether AFL-CIO, CtW or whatever. and it's helpful if we're not chopped up into isolated individuals while doing this.

There needs to be a place where revolutionaries can come together and share experiences and debate and learn from that, improving their own understanding, and finding people to work together with on projects. This is one of the things we need specific organizations for.