Who else does the IWW organise?

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Devrim
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Dec 19 2006 08:19
Who else does the IWW organise?

Now that it has come out the the IWW 'organises' Scottish members of Parliment, and there is also a preacher from America, posting on here, who is an IWW member, I'd like to know if they 'organise' any other shockingly anti-working class 'fellow workers'.

It puts all of the anarcho-syndicalist arguments that we had here a while ago about whether they should organise workers in prisons (not prison officers) to shame.

Devrim

ftony
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Dec 19 2006 08:46

devrim the IWW doesn't 'organise' MSPs, as was very clearly explained on the other thread. they organised the support workers and then two MSPs decided they wanted to join too. and also you know that several of us wobs who were involved in that debate were against their membership so stop shit stirring.

on a more sensible and less childish note, we're very small in the Uk, and currently only have the scottish parliament branch. however, there were big organising drives in recent years that alas did not come to fruition. one was the london bycicle couriers, which even the T&G failed to organise, as well as several other places i don't really know the background to. in the US, the IWW have organised various different types of workplaces in recent years. obviously, there;'s the starbucks branches, of which i think there are around 9 or 10 now in new york. they've also got a couple of hundred san francisco truckers unionised, a recycling company, a few bookshops, a couple of food processing and distribution warehouses, several printing presses, and i can't remember what else off the top of my head.

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Dec 19 2006 09:05
ftony wrote:
devrim the IWW doesn't 'organise' MSPs, as was very clearly explained on the other thread. they organised the support workers and then two MSPs decided they wanted to join too.

But they are members of the IWW.

ftony wrote:
and also you know that several of us wobs who were involved in that debate were against their membership so stop shit stirring.

Are you suggesting here that the fact that you were against it makes it ok? I am sure that workers that you tried to recruit would be quite shocked that you also have Members of Parliment and a priest as members. Is it 'shit stirring' to point out the facts?

Devrim

ftony
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Dec 19 2006 10:29
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Is it 'shit stirring' to point out the facts?

no, it is shit stirring to use one particular detail to paint an entire organisation with a single brush and then use it as ammunition to deliberately cause confrontation.

i thought you conducted yourself rather well in the other threas about the SSP etc, and i respected you for it - your arguments were quite clear and generally well said, even if we do not agree on it all. but you've really let yourself down on this one.

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why can't you be honest the IWW does not exist in the Uk in any meaningful form

revol i've been honest with you. it has some meaningful form but not in terms of a mass fully-functioning union. the iww has been dead in the UK for decades and you expect it to flourish overnight?

fucking hell. i'm not even going to bother with you two any more.

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Dec 19 2006 10:40

ftony, you seem to have willswilde's sensitivity about this. It's a discussion about a political organisation, not a personal attack on you.

I had no idea that MSPs were members as well, that is crazy. How can you think it's "shit-stirring" to debate that? Aren't the MSPs even the bosses of the Party workers, and so would have power to hire and fire?

I don't care about the preacher being a member, depending on the rest of his politics of course, but MSPs?? You can't have a go at Dev for starting a thread just to start "confrontation" if it's about members of parliament in a supposedly revolutionary union - that's a "confrontation" that needs to be had!

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Dec 19 2006 10:44
ftony wrote:
devrim the IWW doesn't 'organise' MSPs, as was very clearly explained on the other thread. they organised the support workers and then two MSPs decided they wanted to join too. and also you know that several of us wobs who were involved in that debate were against their membership so stop shit stirring.

ftony, there's no need to be so defensive.

But don't you see it as a serious problem that in your flagship branch, two of the bosses are members? I'm not trying to undermine the great solidarity work the UK IWW have done, but frankly, I think it says a lot about how seriously your SSP parliament branch takes the IWW. They seem to have joined the IWW as some kind of historical recreation society and now they're trying to use the union as pawns in some sectarian shit fight with Sheridan.

ftony
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Dec 19 2006 11:07
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It's a discussion about a political organisation, not a personal attack on you.

i know, i'm not taking it personally, but the way in which the issue was couched was deliberately confrontational.

this is how dev could have posed the same topic in a much less combattive way:

devrim wrote:
Following the recent debate on the Scottish Parliament and the IWW, i'd like to ask what other people or groups the IWW organise. i'm not happy that they have MSPs or preachers in their ranks, and think that their position in society is anti-worker.

therefore i'd like to know why there are such members in the IWW, seemingly contrary to its principles. i also want to know if there are other instances of the IWW having members in anti-worker positions or positions of authority in society.

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Dec 19 2006 11:10

I doubt you'll find many people on here who are not concerned about the existence of the two MSPs in the parliament branch, and I think you all know that. So with that in mind, it is definitely a shit-stirring thread and you all know it.

The IWW in this country is genuinely trying to get something positive off the ground but yes, we do occasionally make mistakes. But bear in mind, it is not an anarchist organisation, and politically, some things may not be as pure as some might want them to be. That's absolutely no reason for other people on Libcom to behave like a pack of jackals, yet this thread is intended to encourage exactly that kind of response. It's called muckraking.

By the way, there is now a rapidly growing workplace branch at DMU in Leicester.

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Dec 19 2006 11:19

What's purist about not wanting bosses in a union? confused

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Dec 19 2006 11:22
Serge Forward wrote:
I doubt you'll find many people on here who are not concerned about the existence of the two MSPs in the parliament branch, and I think you all know that. So with that in mind, it is definitely a shit-stirring thread and you all know it.

The IWW in this country is genuinely trying to get something positive off the ground but yes, we do occasionally make mistakes. But bear in mind, it is not an anarchist organisation, and politically, some things may not be as pure as some might want them to be. That's absolutely no reason for other people on Libcom to behave like a pack of jackals, yet this thread is intended to encourage exactly that kind of response. It's called muckraking.

By the way, there is now a rapidly growing workplace branch at DMU in Leicester.

Which is great, regardless of any criticisms I have of the IWW, having properly organised, democratic means of workplace organisation in a workplace can only be a good thing. I can't speak for revol, devrim or John., but my intention here certainly isn't to stir up confrontation with the IWW. Besides anything else, you all seem to be bigger than me wink

That said, this isn't an issue of 'political purity', it's a real problem that the IWW is still divided between people who genuinely want to use it as a means of workplace organisation and people who view it as a bit of political kitsch. And it's an even bigger problem that the latter camp appear to have enough of a presence to get their bosses accepted as members.

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Dec 19 2006 11:39

I suppose it's an unfortunate pitfall of control resting at the branch level rather than having some central committee decide everything. So, if a branch chooses to accept certain people into their ranks, then the decision ultimately rests with them rather than with the centre. In addition, the IWW is not a political organisation but is an attempt to set up workplace organisation controlled from below. It aims to be revolutionary in orientation but admittedly, this doesn't happen every time. Personally, I believe this specific case is something that will be eventually resolved. Madashell, I didn't think for one minute that you were being a political hyena. We all know who is playing that role.

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Dec 19 2006 11:41
Serge Forward wrote:
I doubt you'll find many people on here who are not concerned about the existence of the two MSPs in the parliament branch, and I think you all know that. So with that in mind, it is definitely a shit-stirring thread and you all know it.

Again you're being too defensive - I didn't even know about the MSPs, I think it's good it's been brought into the open.

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Dec 19 2006 11:44
Serge Forward wrote:
I suppose it's an unfortunate pitfall of control resting at the branch level rather than having some central committee decide everything. So, if a branch chooses to accept certain people into their ranks, then the decision ultimately rests with them rather than with the centre. In addition, the IWW is not a political organisation but is an attempt to set up workplace organisation controlled from below. It aims to be revolutionary in orientation but admittedly, this doesn't happen every time. Personally, I believe this specific case is something that will be eventually resolved. Madashell, I didn't think for one minute that you were being a political hyena. We all know who is playing that role.

Yes, but if one branch acts in a way that undermines the organisation and acts counter to the most basic principles of the organisation, then surely there is some method for other branches (not some controlling central committee) to tell them to sort themselves out or leave?

Otherwise you haven't got a federal structure, you've got an anti-organisational network.

Theoretically speaking, what if a branch decided by a majority vote that they were all going to cross a picket line at work, because they were offered a bit of extra cash for it?

(I'm not saying that this is the same thing or that this is likely to happen, but you see my point)

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Dec 19 2006 11:50

Defensive, moi? No, it really is a shit-stirring thread, Devrim's use of language in the opening thread implies nothing other than this. He's an English teacher who knows how the language works, and if he'd wanted a proper discussion, he would have couched things in terms less likely to wind up any resident clockwork shit-stirrers.

Actually, on the subject of MSPs, I didn't know about this until fairly recently either.

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Dec 19 2006 11:50
Quote:
I suppose it's an unfortunate pitfall of control resting at the branch level rather than having some central committee decide everything. So, if a branch chooses to accept certain people into their ranks, then the decision ultimately rests with them rather than with the centre. In addition, the IWW is not a political organisation but is an attempt to set up workplace organisation controlled from below.

so pressumably there is no opposition to this from any of the members of the branch who arent MSP's!?

Surely its hardly going to encourage workplace organisation from below if their employers are in the same union.

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Dec 19 2006 12:13

Devrim, we're on the same page as far as MP's but not letting preachers in is the height of sectarianism as far as I'm concerned. The IWW has never had a problem with letting religious folks in, ever hear of Father Haggerty? Ammon Hennasy? Dorothy Day? Hell our current general secretary treasurer is a retired Baptist minister who was who was kicked out of his congregation for being too radical.

Now I'm about as militant as an athiest as they come in my personal life and I think I come by it honestly, I was raised in a devout lutheran 'social gospel' type household. But seriously a lot of the work I do is with people who are christians and consider themselves political radicals (hell I even know a practicing Mormon anarchist) that is their business what I care about is who's side they are on.

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Dec 19 2006 12:21

Many of us in the States were pretty shocked when we heard about the situation with the Parliamentary branch. I don't think people realized that the politicians were in the union too. There is a process for deciding what to do when an individual, branch or a Regional Organizing Committee does something that violates union principles. I think that the decision of the GEB was that they wanted to wait on going through with initiating said process until after the dispute is settled. However, that doesn't stop another branch from filing charges or launching its own investigation. I'm guessing that most folks in the US and Canada just figure that the Brits know what they're doing...

In the US the IWW has approximately 15 contracts. All are for shops with less than 50 workers, the majority are for shops with less than 25 and the industries vary a fair bit. The greatest concentration are probably in recycling plants, the foodstuffs industry and social service/non-profit. There is, however, one television station in Colorado where the workers are represented by the IWW.

The IWW also has two fairly influential an healthy solidarity unions: the Starbucks Workers Union and the Chicago Couriers Union. Both of these don't contractually represent workers but have a fair amount of power on the shop floor and through public campaigns (in the case of Starbucks). The SWU has won, over the course of two years, about a $2 an hour pay increase for Starbucks workers in NYC and another smaller pay raise nationally. They've also won a variety of safety issues and dignity issues. The CCU has won a substantive pay raise at one company for about 100+ workers and numerous small victories.

There have been a few failed efforts at building regional organizations which I've posted about elsewhere.

Overall, the IWW in the US is small but growing. The biggest difference I see between the union now and when I joined in the late 90s is that we are attracting a higher quality membership who are more dedicated to the union and more likely to come from shop floor organizing.

And, for the record, right now I only work part time as a preacher. My congregation has a staff of 1 (me) and I don't have power to hire and fire shit. If I ever do I'll resign. Likewise, if people can point to a place in the IWW constitution that bars clergy please let me know.

Also, I always thought that the whole point of anarchism was freedom of thought and association. Unitarian Universalist congregations are voluntary associations who elect their ministers and hold general assemblies to make major decisions. Someone can initiate a congregational vote to fire my ass at anytime. Given our democratic tradition and structure it is probably not a coincidence that a full 1/3 of the folks Rocker writes about in "Pioneers of American Freedom. Origin of Liberal and Radical Thought in America" had some sort of connection to Unitarianism...

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Dec 19 2006 12:31

Big arse kicking atheist that I am, I do have a bit of a soft spot for unitarians.

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Dec 19 2006 12:34

Shit so "Wobbly Preacher" you're the preacher! I should've guessed I suppose. But yeah if you're not homophobic or sexist or anything then there shouldn't be anything stopping you from being in the IWW. (Something a lot more specific like libcom we'd require a much higher degree of unity and so potential members would have to be atheist mind.)

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Dec 19 2006 14:02

First, I’d like to comment on the accusations that I am shit stirring:

Serge Forward wrote:
No, it really is a shit-stirring thread, Devrim's use of language in the opening thread implies nothing other than this. He's an English teacher who knows how the language works, and if he'd wanted a proper discussion, he would have couched things in terms less likely to wind up any resident clockwork shit-stirrers.

I also enough about discourse to know that people who use arguments like this are generally trying to change the subject.

ftony wrote:
i know, i'm not taking it personally, but the way in which the issue was couched was deliberately confrontational.

this is how dev could have posed the same topic in a much less combattive way:

devrim wrote:
Following the recent debate on the Scottish Parliament and the IWW, i'd like to ask what other people or groups the IWW organise. i'm not happy that they have MSPs or preachers in their ranks, and think that their position in society is anti-worker.

therefore i'd like to know why there are such members in the IWW, seemingly contrary to its principles. i also want to know if there are other instances of the IWW having members in anti-worker positions or positions of authority in society.

Yes, I could have ftony. It wouldn’t have expressed the shock that I felt when I read that two SMPs were actually members, nor would it have ignited such a response. I started a discussion on a discussion board. I didn’t personally abuse anybody, lie, or misrepresent anybody. If this is what you call shit stirring, I will have to accept the charge.

Anyway to get past people’s attempt to divert the discussion to the issue itself.

John. wrote:
You can't have a go at Dev for starting a thread just to start "confrontation" if it's about members of parliament in a supposedly revolutionary union - that's a "confrontation" that needs to be had!

In reply to this Serge argued that the IWW wasn’t an anarchist organisation, but an organisation of workers:

Serge Forward wrote:
But bear in mind, it is not an anarchist organisation, and politically, some things may not be as pure as some might want them to be.

Regardless of any questions about purity, and even the fact that these people are Members of Parliament, they are actually the employers of the people within your own organisation. Surely this contradicts something in the IWW constitution.

I think that the real problem here is the fact that the IWW isn‘t what it pretends to be, a union (at least in the UK, I don‘t have the knowledge to comment on the American version). What it actually is is an alliance of political activists some of whom are probably dedicated to, and serious about building a syndicalism union. Others I suspect are not, and have their own political agenda. To portray it as a union, however, is misleading, and dishonest, and in my opinion is the cause of a lot of these sort of problems.

There has been an attempt by IWW members to pass this off as some sort of isolated mistake:

Serge Forward wrote:
The IWW in this country is genuinely trying to get something positive off the ground but yes, we do occasionally make mistakes.

ftony wrote:
it is shit stirring to use one particular detail to paint an entire organisation with a single brush…

To Serge I would reply that a ‘mistake’ of this kind is a result of the activity of the organisation itself. What I imagine might have happened is that the IWW got so excited about having a real job branch that they suspended all critical faculties in order to let these people in. They didn’t stop to consider any of the implications of this, and didn’t even react when these people invited their own employers into the ‘union’.

At this point I would like to ask Serge whether he honestly believes that the IWW can build a syndicalism union in the UK, or does he just view it as a network of militants. The reason that I ask this is that I think that he knows you can’t set up a syndicalism union by voluntarism alone. I suspect that he knows that if a syndicalism union were to emerge in the UK, it would do so from some struggle, and probably from some split with the TUC unions. While it would be stupid to suggest that there is nothing that syndicalists can do to work towards this, I think that he would realise that a small network of militants proclaiming itself to be a union isn’t it.

To Tony I would ask how we are supposed to judge organisations if not by their actions. Actually, as you probably know I disagree with the entire syndicalist perspective, and would be critical of lots of the IWW’s other activities. This though is beyond belief.

In Turkey there exists a ‘revolutionary syndicalist union’ DİSK (Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Syndicates) which dwarfs the IWW, IWA, and all of the other ‘anarcho-syndicalist unions put together (it has a membership of over 300,000). It was formed as a split from the main ‘yellow union’ confederation about thirty years ago, and has a history of struggle, and of its militants being assassinated. Today, it is as yellow as the ‘yellow unions’, and there is even a scandal about the general secretary siphoning off funds.

As a communist I believe that it is inevitable that union organisations end up being incorporated into the state.

Finally on the point of the priest:

Wobbly Preacher wrote:
And, for the record, right now I only work part time as a preacher. My congregation has a staff of 1 (me) and I don't have power to hire and fire shit. If I ever do I'll resign. Likewise, if people can point to a place in the IWW constitution that bars clergy please let me know.

So on what grounds are you a member of a union, through being a preacher, or from your other job (I didn‘t actually know it was part time when I originally mentioned it.? If it is from your preaching then that just supports my point that the IWW isn’t a union, but a network of militants.

EdmontonWobbly wrote:
Devrim, we're on the same page as far as MP's but not letting preachers in is the height of sectarianism as far as I'm concerned. The IWW has never had a problem with letting religious folks in, ever hear of Father Haggerty? Ammon Hennasy? Dorothy Day? Hell our current general secretary treasurer is a retired Baptist minister who was who was kicked out of his congregation for being too radical.

Now I'm about as militant as an athiest as they come in my personal life and I think I come by it honestly, I was raised in a devout lutheran 'social gospel' type household. But seriously a lot of the work I do is with people who are christians and consider themselves political radicals (hell I even know a practicing Mormon anarchist) that is their business what I care about is who's side they are on.

I am not against working with people who are religious. Last year when I went on strike, it was to defend the job of a colleague, who was quite a devout Muslim.

What my point was, and as I said earlier I didn‘t know it was only part time, is that to me it seemed strange that a ‘union’ is representing these people.

In my opinion either the IWW is a workers organisation, in which case it shouldn’t be organising priests, or it is a political organisation, in which case it shouldn’t admit professional dealers in mystification.

But, as I said, he may be a worker in his other job.

Devrim

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Dec 19 2006 14:46

In the US and Canada the IWW is:

1. A historical reenactment society.
2. A labor solidarity club.
3. A network of workplace miltants who share a common vision.
4. A labor union.

I see no problem with us have all four currents at the same time. I'd estimate that our membership is evenly split between those four tendencies with 4, 2 and 1 being the largest and 3 being the smallest.

Devrim, what makes someone a worker? How is being a preacher different than being a teacher? Aren't both involved in social service? Neither produce anything tangible. I don't own the church and I imagine you don't own the school. On some level both teachers and preachers are "public servants," that is we both work for some sort of collective of entity composed of other people (state and church). I am guessing you have some fairly anti-religious views but I am curious on what basis you can declare me not a worker while claiming that level for yourself.

Also, I joined the IWW as a engineer years before I entered the ministry. I am new to the ministry and may well leave the IWW precisely because of the murky nature of my employment in the next year or so. Haven't decided yet... If I do leave I'd like to join another radical/revolutionary organization of sort and there aren't any in the US I like nearly as much...

petey
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Dec 19 2006 14:51
EdmontonWobbly wrote:
Devrim, we're on the same page as far as MP's but not letting preachers in is the height of sectarianism as far as I'm concerned.

amen, so to speak.

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Dec 19 2006 14:59

The "Unemployed" argument is one that I don't really feel a need to push. It stands well on its own. The IWW has always had unemployed members. We even have a dues category to account for them.

I am actually interested in figuring out the issue at hand, it matters to me. I come to libcom looking for debate and discussion to push me in my thinking and I'd really like Devrim to clarify the differences for me based not on some knee jerk reaction to religion but on my actual situation.

Also, revol68, you clearly know nothing about me nor about my religious association. Plenty of Unitarian Universalists don't believe in God but recognize the need for people to gather in communities for mutual support, exploration of ultimate meaning and to mark the important passages in their lives.

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Dec 19 2006 15:07

Are you British? British Unitarians are generally Christians. US and Canadian are not.

ultimate meaning = what do you think life is about

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Dec 19 2006 15:23
Wobbly Preacher wrote:
Are you British? British Unitarians are generally Christians. US and Canadian are not.

ultimate meaning = what do you think life is about

I think this is for a separate thread...

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Dec 19 2006 15:54
Wobbly Preacher wrote:
Devrim, what makes someone a worker? How is being a preacher different than being a teacher? Aren't both involved in social service? Neither produce anything tangible. I don't own the church and I imagine you don't own the school. On some level both teachers and preachers are "public servants," that is we both work for some sort of collective of entity composed of other people (state and church). I am guessing you have some fairly anti-religious views but I am curious on what basis you can declare me not a worker while claiming that level for yourself.

Yes, I do have anti-religious views. They are actually quite common amongst people who call themselves communists.

This is one of the most bizarre discussions I have ever seen on Libcom. To me to equate priests with teacher is ridiculous.

However, as you did ask I will answer your point. It is all about the relationships to the means of production. I, as a teacher, have an employer who makes a profit from my labour (I work in the private sector, which conveniently avoids lots of complicated arguments about the social wage). I have a community of interests with my fellow workers, and completely opposed interests from my employer. You as a preacher are not only not in this situation but also, as I understand your position actually share a community of interests with your employer, the congregation.

What is the point of somebody in your position being in a 'union'? Are they going to 'represent' you against your congregation? If they democratically decide to remove you, will you go on strike against their decision?

You mentioned that you joined the IWW earlier as an engineer, which is at least understandable.

I would also question the entire social role of priests, but you asked me to 'to clarify the differences for [you] based not on some knee jerk reaction to religion but on [your] actual situation'.

Devrim

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Dec 19 2006 17:13
revol68 wrote:
to me it would suggest that there is some ultimate meaning situated outside human subjectivity, implying some intelligence or teology governing the world or waiting to be embraced.

well,
1: it suggets something outside human subjectivity.
2: intelligence and teleology will be different things;
3: buddhists manage both without a god. but don't ask me how.
4: "govern" may be too strong a word. does human subjectivity "govern" the world? we'd need a definition.

petey
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Dec 19 2006 17:18
Devrim wrote:
What is the point of somebody in your position being in a 'union'? Are they going to 'represent' you against your congregation?

a surprising statement of non-solidarity. are we not in the same position vis-a-vis capital? but i'll be generous and assume your sardonic fit has gotten the better of you and you're just putting words in a wob's mouth, in case that is being generous.

Catch 22
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Dec 19 2006 19:36

Indeed, as someone who personally knows Wobbly Preacher, I can say that he has been involved in organizing at his workplace for a damn long time and puts most of libcom folks to shame by comparison. His employment as a universalist pastor is pretty recent. I fail to see why he should now leave the union. The IWW is about organizing the worker, not the job. We want to build a community of solidarity and struggle, not a rank and file service union. With that sort of attitude we shouldn't allow students like myself in cause I'm not employed. I mean how could I hope to use the union to my benefit?

Besides it’s not like he’s an evangelical televangelist! He’s UU for fucks sake; he’s more like a recallable officer that’s paid a stipend, than a priest in the traditional sense. Not to belittle UUsm, but it really doesn’t operate like a “real” religion.

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Dec 19 2006 19:57
revol68 wrote:
Wobbly Preacher wrote:
Are you British? British Unitarians are generally Christians. US and Canadian are not.

ultimate meaning = what do you think life is about

Well kinda British, lol.

yeah this is a seperate thread, but to me it would suggest that there is some ultimate meaning situated outside human subjectivity, implying some intelligence or teology governing the world or waiting to be embraced.

Anyway that's superflous, more to the point what do you "preach" and do you believe in a high power or cause?

I'll back Wobbly Preacher up here. I work in a Unitarian Universalist church office (what can I say, the pay is good and they offered me full dental). In reality it is a congregation made up mainly of aging peaceniks, Communist Party members, and secular Jews. Most are rabidly atheist, and there is no talk of god here. The Sunday services usually consist of a leftist speaker of some sort who talks about some social justice type issue. Our "congregational director" is a young guy studying to be a UU minister and he identifies as an anarchist.

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Dec 19 2006 20:03
revol68 wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
revol68 wrote:
Wobbly Preacher wrote:
Are you British? British Unitarians are generally Christians. US and Canadian are not.

ultimate meaning = what do you think life is about

Well kinda British, lol.

yeah this is a seperate thread, but to me it would suggest that there is some ultimate meaning situated outside human subjectivity, implying some intelligence or teology governing the world or waiting to be embraced.

Anyway that's superflous, more to the point what do you "preach" and do you believe in a high power or cause?

I'll back Wobbly Preacher up here. I work in a Unitarian Unitarian church office (what can I say, the pay is good and they offered me full dental). In reality it is a congregation made up mainly of aging peaceniks, Communist Party members, and secular Jews. Most are rabidly atheist, and there is no talk of god here. The Sunday services usually consist of a leftist speaker of some sort who talks about some social justice type issue. Our "congregational director" is a young guy studying to be a UU minister and he identifies as an anarchist.

jesus all the boring moralism and hand wringing of religion without any kind of coherent theology or even the promise of an afterlife, I can see the point.

It sounds fucking worse than a radical feminist consciousness raising get together.

Yeah, I don't get it either. I grew up in a Polish Catholic family. Religion without fear and guilt and arcane mysticism just doesn't feel right to me. Plus my atheism requires me to sleep in on Sundays...