A workers' protest we were against

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akai
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Mar 6 2009 22:54
A workers' protest we were against

Today was one of a number of union protests that we did not support - the protest of the military industrial complex workers in Poland. The defense industy workers were protesting, among other things, against cuts in military spending by the government.

The cuts in government spending on military equipment was rather minor compared to other cuts made in the budget this year.

The industry was consolidated through state intervention in 2002 and received a major cash boost from the government starting in 2006. Only one of the consolidated groups is profitable because of selling arms to India and getting contracts in iraq. Other companies depend largely on state orders.

Sorry for the workers who don't have money to live but this is a good example of the kind of state spending we should be against.

MT
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Mar 8 2009 12:26

are you against workers demands or against state spending? is it something speacila or is this logic leading us finally to refusing to support workers in meat industry? just curious because you don't mention even a critical support.

Hungry56
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Mar 9 2009 00:01
Quote:
are you against workers demands

yes

Quote:
or against state spending?

yes

Quote:
is it something speacila

yes

Quote:
or is this logic leading us finally to refusing to support workers in meat industry?

no

Quote:
just curious because you don't mention even a critical support.

critical support for more military spending?

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waslax
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Mar 9 2009 07:40

Yeah, that's pretty strange logic. To me, 'critical support' is a Trotskyist approach to an issue or event. It is a trick, an attempt to have things both ways, to play both sides, to 'support' something, while 'retaining the right to be critical of it.' In reality, you either support something or you don't. If you are critical of it, you don't support it. Of course, you can support something, while having minor criticisms of it. But once you are plain and simple critical of it, you don't support it.

Getting back to the original issue here, the issue or event in question is clearly a union protest in Poland opposing cuts in military spending by the current gov't. It seems clear to me that akai was stating that his or her group was critical of, and thus opposed to, this protest, for obvious reasons.

I see no reason why anyone (other than a Trot) would want to 'critically support' this protest. Because it involves workers? That logic is obviously untenable. Why else would one, then?

And I see no reason whatsoever why the logic involved in akai's group deciding to oppose this protest would lead to refusing to support workers in the meat industry.

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Devrim
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Mar 9 2009 07:53
waslax wrote:
And I see no reason whatsoever why the logic involved in akai's group deciding to oppose this protest would lead to refusing to support workers in the meat industry.

I don't quite get the comments about the meat industry. Is it about environmentalism and BSE or something?

Devrim

MT
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Mar 9 2009 08:21

yes, environmentalism.
as for "critical support", it seems there are different traditions to the content of this term in our countries. and as for the rest, i ask because i am curious what exactly was meant in akai's post and what the whole protest is about.

Ex-temp
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Mar 9 2009 12:03

One thing that might you worth mentioning in the sort of context is that rather than demanding an increase in arms spending, they could demand investments in other types of work.

Right now this could be something like environmental technologies. A good precedent to look at might be the Lucas Aerospace plan - in 1976 arms workers there in the UK came up with an alternate plan for production where they would make medical technologies such as dialysis machines instead of weaponry:
http://libcom.org/history/1976-the-fight-for-useful-work-at-lucas-aerospace

Alderson Warm-Fork
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Mar 9 2009 12:41

"I don't quite get the comments about the meat industry."

The interests of human workers in the meat industry are in conflict with the interests of chickens in the meat industry (not on every point, but on the fate of the industry).

Deezer
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Mar 10 2009 00:04

Chickens in the meat industry do not have "interests", they may have small cages, horrendous lives, burnt off beaks etc. but they do not have "interests". I have never heard a chicken demand the end of the meat industry - though I have actually heard one or two former employees of the meat industry demand just that.

Maybe chickens and humans in the meat industry should be balloted to enable them to express their interests and demands in relation to the meat industry. I mean, this seems fair after all, the chickens vastly outnumber the human workers. They should be able to carry the day no bother.

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Django
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Mar 10 2009 13:21
Ex-temp wrote:
One thing that might you worth mentioning in the sort of context is that rather than demanding an increase in arms spending, they could demand investments in other types of work.

Right now this could be something like environmental technologies. A good precedent to look at might be the Lucas Aerospace plan - in 1976 arms workers there in the UK came up with an alternate plan for production where they would make medical technologies such as dialysis machines instead of weaponry:
http://libcom.org/history/1976-the-fight-for-useful-work-at-lucas-aerospace

This is a good point (it also applies to workers in environmentally damaging industries). We can oppose the demand for increased arms spending, but I don't think workers in these kinds of industries are beyond any kind of support ever.

Theres also the propagandistic element too. It probably applies less in this case, but in struggles of workers we never support (prison officers, police etc) we can certainly make a point of saying that capitalism can't even avoiding fucking its own footsoldiers.

syndicalist
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Mar 10 2009 15:08

I understand where Akai is coming from. But, I really think this rounds out where we should all go. Not the specifics of the "Lucas Plan", but in promoting "conversion" to usueful and non-killing products. This would certainly round out the discussion and make a realisitic effort to reach out to the workers who, mostly, just want employment, in the short term, are concerned about their employment.

Quote:
Ex-temp wrote:

One thing that might you worth mentioning in the sort of context is that rather than demanding an increase in arms spending, they could demand investments in other types of work.
Right now this could be something like environmental technologies. A good precedent to look at might be the Lucas Aerospace plan - in 1976 arms workers there in the UK came up with an alternate plan for production where they would make medical technologies such as dialysis machines instead of weaponry:
http://libcom.org/history/1976-the-fight-for-useful-work-at-lucas-aerospace

Lurch
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Mar 10 2009 16:42

Like MT, I would like to know about the protests you mention.

I read about this one:

http://www.kyivpost.com/world/36951

Was that part of it?

It's often worth asking why union calls this or that protest and, sometimes, to see beyond the way they present the issues.

And it doesn't always have to be an 'either/or' when it comes to defending the interests - the international interests - of the working class, no?

I mean we don't have to fall into 'their' choice of "defend this or that industry" in this or that country or go home and suffer unemployment.

Sure: we're not here to plead for more state spending on arms (or more/less state spending on anything). I agree with your attitude to that.

So the question is posed: if you are 'sorry' for the workers who "don't have enough money to live" as a result of such closures, do we have anything more to say to them other than express our "sorrow"? Do 'we' have another perspective to counter the false choice?

Regarding other contributions: workers could be better involved in making 'green' energy or ensuring other species don't suffer. I would suggest that it's not until a human community is established that we can make real progress on these questions. You certainly can't trust the capitalist class, driven by the profit motive, to make enlightened choices on anything.

NB: to make myself clear: I do not consider the 'Communist Parties' that ruled over much of Eastern Europe to be anything other than representatives of the capitalist class: they can go hang along with Marshal Pidsulski.

akai
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Mar 10 2009 21:53

Well, here's an article: http://www.kyivpost.com/world/36909

I think MT is being cranky here. smile The reference to the meat industry may well relate to the attitude of some anarcho-vegans that workers in any meat industry are murders. My guess is that MT is making a comparison of different examples of workers who may not get sympathy for different reasons.

It's not true that we don't have sympathy for the economic plight these people are in .... it's just that we don't support the calls for increased military spending because we don't agree with the military spending. At the same time, money could be spent in other areas and more jobs created. There have been drastic cuts in the number of employees in many areas funded by the state budget, such as hospitals, schools, etc. The situation is totally drastic. Can you believe that in Warsaw, a city with almost 3 million people, there is only one public emergency room open at night and that on Sunday there is no public hospitals open at all on the whole east side of the city? Completely tragic. Why the hell would I want the state to order more equipment to go on their murderous missions in Afganistan when there are entire neighbourhoods with no places at all in kindergartens, huge portions of cities without emergency life-saving health care?

If we wanted to appeal to the state, you are right, we could at least demand that public money be spent creating useful jobs. Or job training. Or they could take more care to ensure that local workers are given jobs; now there is a great boom in hiring from Asia and, not that I am against foreign workers, but people are clearly being hired because they receive no benefits. There was a recent case of a window making factory (a very large one) which was bought by Czech venture capitalists. They fired 400 Polish workers and hired people from the Phillipines. All around Poland there are similar stories.

But I personally try to avoid calling for any state intervention. In this case though it is reasonable to ask that money be spent in a different way. The problem is, it isn't really cool to go out on a protest like this and say this when people are afraid of losing their jobs. So we didn't go and manifest any signs of disapproval of the workers.

There have in the last year been protests of border guards, security guards and most recently police. There was a discussion about the last police demo since it was held just before the anti-NATO demo in Krakow a couple of weeks ago. Some people wanted to go throw snowballs and heckle the police, some people argued that it's not cool to attack a workers' protest. I wasn't there, but I wouldn't have any moral conflict about heckling the police. The context with the police protest was that they are fighting to keep their rights to very early retirement. Currently, police and military may retire after 15 years on the job. The government wants to change it to 25. The state just did away with early retirement for many categories of workers who do really strenuous work but the police, military and politicians get early retirement. My idea was to demand that the government retire all the police, military and politicians immediately and not hire any new ones. smile

Skips
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Mar 10 2009 22:05

This is very interesting. Its difficult as I always feel solidarity with workers, but I also hate the military industrial complex.

I agree the money should be spent on other sectors. The war in afghanistan is imperialistic to say the least.

MT
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Mar 10 2009 22:33

to akai:

what i meant with meat industry comparison is quite clear, if not then again - there are people who claim to be anarchists but when this case comes to play they suddenly are unsure if they would support workers in meat industry (i wouldn't doubt a second despite my objections to this industry, but hey, why should we then support workers in car or tobacco industry and the list would go on and on and on). i think i don't have to explain their reasons. so that is why i asked if the problem here is "morality" or something related workers class struggle.

someone said you don't support workers demands and you don't support governmnet military spending. perhaps it was not clear but my point was that by government spending workers see the only means how to maintain their jobs. so in such situation we perhaps can come with provocative ideas such as lucas or we can ignore the protest. but perhaps there is also a problem of how i explained myself "the protest we didn't support" because it evoked me something like you were asked to support them but you said fuck off.

and you are lucky that i don't know what "cranky" means, but you are doomed!!! twisted

akai
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Mar 11 2009 05:54

What you bring up is a more difficult question: the question of keeping jobs and surviving in the here and now and the question of what jobs and industries we feel are useful or beneficial. It comes up from time to time. This said, there are lots of people working in awful jobs that would gladly see that work gone off the face of the planet if they had anything else to do. Of course we don't have have these jobs to offer, which means you have to tread carefully with the issue if you bring it up at all.

The other question is that if you don't support an industry and if you are somehow calling for its demise, of course workers will be effected. I think most of us would be against the kind of immense military spending that the US makes and we always criticize the corporations that are making lots of money from these contracts.... and anybody could argue that if X company goes down, a lot of workers will lose jobs. I would be quite happy if people smoked less (or not at all) or if casinos closed down, or if there were fewer cars on the road... and all this means somebody's job. But I wouldn't say "let's save the industry".

A whole other question is that there are loads of useless jobs and we should be cutting them out and lowering everybody's work hours. Gotta probably have a revolution first....smile

MT
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Mar 11 2009 07:03

so you are trying to say what (the practical part)? smile

David in Atlanta
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Mar 12 2009 18:57

If those are mostly jobs at Bumar Group being lost, the world will be better off with a few less heavy machine guns and grenade launchers. Although they have an modular armored vehicle that might be just the item for natural disaster relieve work.
As to the demos, there's no point going to something you're fundamentally in disagreement with unless you have a clear option to offer. Does anyone know if the demos are worker organized or by management?

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waslax
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Mar 13 2009 09:24
David in Atlanta wrote:
Does anyone know if the demos are worker organized or by management?

Based on what akai wrote, the answer is: neither. They are (or it is) union organized.

slothjabber
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Mar 13 2009 11:03
MT wrote:
so you are trying to say what (the practical part)? :)

The practical part seems to be... "how do we express solidarity with workers who a demonstrating against job losses that we know or suspect aren't useful to humanity and will be non-existent after the revolution?"

MT
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Mar 13 2009 11:18

aha, so you mean the reply is a question to discuss.
i would say we should forget about this moralising because we'll end up supporting almost no-one or/and based on very floating criteria.
as i said "...that is why i asked if the problem here is "morality" or something related workers class struggle."

slothjabber
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Mar 13 2009 11:45

I dunno if that is what Akai is saying, but that is how I read it.

I'm not convinced that we should supprt all workers in all struggles - if the struggle is for racially segregated workplaces for instance - but I do think we have to find a way of supporting workers struggling in industries we don't approve of.

akai
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Mar 14 2009 10:32

I don't understand MT's question.

Additionally, a question might also be about "class struggle". The military companies are usually controlled in some way by the state treasury and in this case, is it class against class or working class against the state ... which is controlling the money of the working class? And since it working people should be against the military industrial complex, which predominantly recruits from the poor working class, which disproportionally victimizes the working class and which survives by sucking the tax money of working people out of other essential goods and services which benefit poorer people, the military industry works against the interest of the working class as a whole. So maybe a few people get some benefit from increased military orders and production, but many times more people lose on this.

Yes, the demo was organized by a union - Solidarity.

David in Atlanta
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Mar 14 2009 17:20
waslax wrote:
David in Atlanta wrote:
Does anyone know if the demos are worker organized or by management?

Based on what akai wrote, the answer is: neither. They are (or it is) union organized.

I overlooked that somewhat important little fact. However,......I realize it's a minority position on libcom, but workers and unions are not always contradictory. In the increasingly rare situations where traditional trade and industrial union structures exist, they are still often used as a framework of self organization by and for workers. We all know the limitations of the structures, but they're a valid and pre-existing forum for important yet less than revolutionary demands on capital. Hence, it makes a difference when a union defends an anti-working class, anti-social position such as in this case as to how and by whom the choice was made. I'm interested in hearing if the decision to hold the demos was made by staff and political hacks, by the rank and file factory workers, or some combination thereof. I don't think it would be a principled strategy in any case but it might make some difference to working class revolutionaries thinking about how to react.

akai
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Mar 15 2009 10:40

I can try to find out if the demos were called by the rank and file or the unions, but knowing Solidarity, it was probably called by the unions.