Solidarity & Revolutionary Unionism

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Anonymous
Sep 16 2010 18:44
Solidarity & Revolutionary Unionism

I'd be quite interested to hear what people think the differences are, as I'm not convinced they're that big.

nastyned
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Sep 16 2010 19:12

I've heard it said the American IWW's policy of solidarity unionism is close to the SolFed's policy of revolutionary unionism but I'm no expert on either.

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klas batalo
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Sep 16 2010 19:25

i would say this is basically true. but that's personal capacity there. i definitely think of it as so. but yet again i am a US wobbly that reads a lot of libcom.

the iww's minority solidarity unionism is definitely a lot like it. confusing thing though is there are then also some who want to the union to become almost like a red trade union or have a revolutionary syndicalism/OBU fetish. the most exciting stuff though is the solidarity unionism stuff IMHO

some similar old discussion here:
http://www.anarchistblackcat.org/index.php/topic,2916.0.html

prec@riat wrote:
I mean I don't see too much difference between the "informal workplace groups" (discussed by Jean Weir and A.Bonnano in Workers Autonomy), the "faceless resistance" of the hip Swedes, or the "minority unionism" of Alexis Buss or the "solidarity unionism" of Stan Wier/ Staughton Lynd.
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klas batalo
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Sep 16 2010 19:30

I don't really have first hand knowledge and also haven't yet after 3 years being in the IWW gotten the Organizer Training 101 (which has been adopted by SolFed By the way) but yes from an observers stand point yes. Also using the skills I've picked up from learning on my own about using solidarity unionism on the job it eventually led to a potential struggle at my last job, even after I had lost it, where we could have done direct action grievance stuff a la Seasol. edit: the only reason this didn't happen is cause the person with the grievance didn't want to see things through, but they came to me a few months after i left the job saying "hey so could you help me out?"

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klas batalo
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Sep 16 2010 19:59

from what i know of the OT that is probably dead on Tommy Ascaso. i will finally be getting it in a few weeks from one of the JJ's organizers.

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Sep 19 2010 21:53

This is quite an interesting thread and I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more responses. (I'm sending out some PMs...). Sab, i get the feeling it is the same person and i'd also be curious to hear your thoughts. (I had the training with Tommy Ascaso, but I also had the same 101 proper with the same trainer back in the US some years back).

Anyway, to answer the questions. I think it's just a matter of spectrum.

Solidarity unionism (groups of workers actively organized in the workplace--regardless of recognition or majority presence) can be practiced by anyone regardless of politics--revolutionary or otherwise. This is probably the most natural and common form of organization historically.

The IWW believes that once someone is practicing solidarity unionism they should be encouraged to join the union. Some parts of the IWW want to use solidarity unionism to force recognition/representation if they can. (The fact that the mediation inherent to recognition/representation is opposed to solidarity unionism is an idea that is either written off--"wink and nod"--or not explored.)

For SolFed, we organize solidarity unions in our workplaces regardless of our workmates' politics. We never push for recognition or representation and only ask for membership if--through struggle and discussion--our workmates have come to agree with SF's revolutionary aims and principals. That said, some IWW organizers are pretty much exactly in line with SF's approach to organizing.

The practices themselves of solidarity unionism, however, are the same across the board.

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Sep 20 2010 15:23

I think it's probly good to lay out differences in theory and in practice. The IWW is less theoretically developed in terms of official positions. This is in part I think because we're a lot bigger than SolFed (no offense) and because we're a lot more actionist (by which I mean there's a sort of "fight!" first impulse with very little impulse to reflect, as an organization, and no real internal infrastructure to facilitate serious reflection and discussion on vision, values, outcomes, etc -- this all happens, but almost entirely informally; it's a real problem).

In theory, as laid out in the few IWW writings on this (some of which are individual views and not all official views), the IWW sees it as good when workers join up. We try to push membership. In practice, this is rarely made a big deal of and loads of folk don't join who still participate actively in our organizing. As far as I can tell, SolFed in practice looks quite similar. But in theory SolFed seems to not think it's good when workers join up except under specific conditions. (Sorry if I get you wrong, I'm going off what I've read somewhat, which there's a lot by SolFed that I haven't read and want to read, and am mostly going off discussions here on libcom.) It seems to me that the IWW's theoretical position is the better on here, and the IWW falls short of this. We can and should discuss all this further, I'd prefer to start with the theoretical questions about when and why we do/don't want workers to join up. NCWob said that SolFed only ask co-workers to join SolFed "if--through struggle and discussion--our workmates have come to agree with SF's revolutionary aims and principals." This is a bit fuzzy, because "aims and principles" are vague. Everyone who joins the IWW agrees to abide by its constitution, which includes a commitment to our principles as expressed in the Preamble. And when we ask people to join we have a conversation with them about why we want to abolish the wage system. That said, "i want to end capitalism" is a pretty low level of agreement, and one that may not last -- a lot of people end up quitting the IWW after they join. For people who stick around, though, being in an organization that wants to end capitalism, doing work alongside dedicated revolutionaries in a way that builds relationships, we've seen that over time people who stick around develop a higher level of agreement. So part of this is about how high to set the entry bar and is also about seeing membership as a process through which member develop. So far the IWW does surprisingly well on member development like this, mostly because we're still small enough for informality to work well. We need more formal and systematic member education, because as we grow larger the informal stuff will be less and less effective.

I think the dominant view in the IWW is just what NCWob said about SolFed -- "we organize solidarity unions in our workplaces regardless of our workmates' politics." NCWob added that SolFed "never push for recognition or representation." The IWW does sometimes push for recognition and representation. This is partly a matter of the IWW not being as theoretically advanced or as cohesive as SolFed, as I said, in part because it's relatively easy to join the IWW and we're bigger as I said. On this, I'd like to know what SolFedders would do if they built a powerful and active workplace group then got outvoted and the group decided to seek recognition. Would the SFers walk away, stay involved but less enthusiastic, or continue to work hard to fight the boss alongside their co-workers? I ask because we've seen all three scenarios happen in the IWW, each for better and for worse sometimes. This is also part of where some of the diversity of views in the IWW comes from, folk have different experiences of different campaigns. Final thought on this - people are dynamic... we've particularly seen it happen where younger members with no experience of recognition/contractual campaigns come in, fight like hell in nonrepresentational campaigns, and get mixed or losing results. In some cases, people put years into these efforts. Their disappointments lead them to wonder if perhaps there are better routes - the grass might be greener on the other side of the contract - and so they try out other approaches. In my view this is a mistaken response to real failures. How to deal with these mistakes is difficult though - we could just expel those members, which would do a lot of damage but keep us more in agreement. Or we can embrace their tactics uncritically (some people do this without realizing). What most of us have done is try to keep some middle ground - be honest with our expectations of their campaigns but help folk fight as they think they should, in order to keep up relationships with them (because those relationships are a tie to keep them engaged in the IWW and to help them find their way back to the straight and narrow path of proletarian science). I think this makes particular sense because we've seen a lot of our staunchest anti-contractual organizers come out of places where the IWW has had nominal successes with contractual organizing -- if people deviate as a result of failure in noncontractual organizing, we want to keep them involved through the end of that deviation so they get back to noncontractual approaches.

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Sep 20 2010 17:22

Wow, that is a monster post Nate, let me see...

Quote:
But in theory SolFed seems to not think it's good when workers join up except under specific conditions. (Sorry if I get you wrong, I'm going off what I've read somewhat, which there's a lot by SolFed that I haven't read and want to read, and am mostly going off discussions here on libcom.) It seems to me that the IWW's theoretical position is the better on here, and the IWW falls short of this.

Perhaps that's my fault as I was quite black and white in my last post, but I don't think I'd assume SolFed is so monolithic in how we approach organizing. I think the stuff you're seeing on Libcom is reflective of a definite and growing tendency within the organization. And I think it's coming from folks who are in locals who are most trying to orientate themselves in an organizing direction.

As for for folks joining up, I'm more than happy for people to join simply because they agree with our principles. When it comes to SolFedders organizing in their workplaces, SF is more than happy to offer support and training to non-revolutionary co-workers. (I'll note that the SF training has a very brief section on the politics of our organization and how they affect the structure of the training). However, when it comes to joining SolFed we certainly set the bar higher than IWW.

Perhaps it's just a matter of time-scale. The IWW believes (and Nate your post seems to back this up) that membership will help members come to agree with the preamble. For SF, we want the politics developed first and then will ask co-workers to join. Personally, I think the SF model is better because it decreases the chances of our organization democratically making non-revolutionary decisions. Personally, if I was organizing in the IWW, i'd still do the same. I wouldn't want to build up a committee in my workplace only to have my co-workers take a vote and decide that my organization (be it SF or IWW) should apply for a labor board election.

Quote:
This is a bit fuzzy, because "aims and principles" are vague.

Ah, perhaps a simple misunderstanding. The A&Ps are pretty much the guiding theoretical document for SF: http://www.direct-action.org.uk/docs/DA-SF-IWA-47.htm#03

Quote:
And when we ask people to join we have a conversation with them about why we want to abolish the wage system. That said, "i want to end capitalism" is a pretty low level of agreement

I mean I hope I'm wrong, but do you think all the JJ workers who've recently gone public are anti-capitalists? Like I said, i hope that's the case, but I'm just not convinced. That doesn't mean radical organizations shouldn't be organizing with them (just the opposite in fact), I just don't know if anti-capitalist organizations should be signing them up.

Quote:
On this, I'd like to know what SolFedders would do if they built a powerful and active workplace group then got outvoted and the group decided to seek recognition. Would the SFers walk away, stay involved but less enthusiastic, or continue to work hard to fight the boss alongside their co-workers?

Well, practically, they couldn't seek recognition through SolFed. We're not registered as a Trade Union, so it's not a
legal possibility.

Should we lose that proverbial vote and our co-workers went for recognition I don't think it would change our approach. We'd continue to agitate for direct action grievances and push for mass assemblies that seek to go beyond the union form and would--I would hope--then have real-life examples to demonstrate the folly of recognition and representation. In those mass assemblies, anarcho-syndicalists would continue to argue for a direct action-based, non-mediative approach.

Anyway, that's all for now. Look forward to hearing your feedback and I'll give that post a re-read tonite and see if I have any more thoughts....

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Sep 20 2010 19:20

Thanks NC. On recognition, that all makes sense. Some of the time this happens in the IWW, where the recognition element is not formally affiliated to the IWW, and sometimes it happens where the IWW is considered the representative body. My mind is not made up about the option to recognition and the IWW. I wish no IWW members ever sought recognition. That's not going to happen any time soon. Sometimes I think we should have an organizational ban on seeking recognition. Right now I'm for allowing it because I think allowing it lets people work out that mistaken trajectory, draw lessons, and stay in the IWW and come back to the correct view. I could imagine a version of what you're saying though, which would allow the same sort of room and avoid the IWW getting mired in recognition matters. I want to think more about this.

On joining, I'm sure it's much messier in practice but the way I think we try for it is that when someone joins we have a frank conversation about the preamble and what it means and what our vision is. In many respects, organizing necessitates this. There are IWW campaigns that have been red-baited out of existence because the organizers tried to soft-pedal the preamble and the employers pushed it - saying to workers "here's what the IWW believes, did you know that?" then people feel lied to or manipulated. We have to be upfront about this stuff because when we're not the boss will be and we're done. So, in general everyone has a conversation about the preamble where they agree with it in some degree. So I wouldn't say "membership will help members come to agree with the preamble." I think the process through which people join can move people, but I think it's safe to say that all or nearly all members agree with the preamble the moment they come to be members. I don't know how much that means, though. "Yes, I want capitalism ended" is such an incredibly low level of agreement that it says little. For some people this is an important advance and I do want to respect that. That's definitely a floor, though, not the ceiling. In my experience, people come in at that floor and they advance a lot politically. As I said, this will get harder/less successful (people will rise less off the floor than they do now, on average) as the IWW grows, unless we take set up some big systematic internal efforts.

I can hear where you're coming from though, there are definitely difficulties that arise from how we go. It seems like one major thing that SF has on us is that y'all maintain a much higher level of agreement. One obvious downside is that you're committing to growing more slowly, which is not always a problem. That aside, I'm saying the IWW has some sort of vision where initial contact and relationship building goes toward a conversation about joining, which clarifies a bit and gets some people to advance a bit, then there's development that happens after membership, development which is informal and not conscious enough but somehow seems to work a fair bit of the time. Struggle together plays a bit role here too, as it does for SF.
What's SF's process for building folk up, in general, as an ideal type? Where is the place and space for conversation about revolutionary vision and values? (Not a hostile question, just so we're clear, internet tone being hard to read and all.)

Last thing, again not hostile but I do mean this as a criticism: why presume the JJ's workers are not anti-capitalist? One scenario is that the workers joining an anti-capitalist organization know what they're doing and are anti-capitalists, at least temporarily (and as I said, I don't think "anti-capitalism" is particularly deep and it's in no way a sufficient perspective). That is, it's possible that these workers really do want capitalism ended - they're mostly young, low paid, with a lot of members who are racialized minorities. Those are populations that get the short end of capitalism. Another possibility is that the workers are being misled. You know us well enough that I'm sure you don't think that. Another is that the workers are just sort of going along, either because they don't understand or because they think that this is an important opportunity and so they're agreeing to speak the terms of the IWW out of a self interest. Given that this is all speculative anyway, why pick the third instead of the first? I know you don't think workers are dumb, so what gives? It's pretty clear that you're suggesting that folks agreement with the IWW preamble is not a very deep one, I've suggested that agreement with the preamble is itself not a very deep thing and that it's not necessarily permanent (I know for sure that I can't be the only person here on Libcom who has a checkered ideological history -- people sometimes change their minds and move on to other views and positions) but I've also suggested that this agreement is real on the part of these workers currently. Can you clarify further where you're coming from here? Thanks.

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Sep 20 2010 20:30

Thanks Nate. None of that came across as hostile at all, sorry if I anything I said (or say) comes across as short-sighted or presumptive.

Quote:
There are IWW campaigns that have been red-baited out of existence because the organizers tried to soft-pedal the preamble and the employers pushed it - saying to workers "here's what the IWW believes, did you know that?" then people feel lied to or manipulated. We have to be upfront about this stuff because when we're not the boss will be and we're done.

Couple things here. Red-baiting is not as large an issue in the UK. In fact, in the five or so times we've given our training and had the "How will the boss respond to organizing" question, no one has yet volunteered red-baiting as an answer. Doesn't mean it won't happen in the future, but on the whole the UK doesn't have the red-baiting tradition of the US.

More to the point, I'm not in any way suggesting that we (IWW or SF) hide our politics, but I think pushing for membership later actually allows us to be more open. Like I said, the SF training is open to any pissed-off workers and we begin it with a very brief discussion of "Anarcho-Syndicalism and the unions" and "A/S and leadership", which culminate in a discussion of our revolutionary outlook. We then tell attendees it doesn't matter if they agree with these principles or not, they're only there to explain why our training is set up the way it and that, regardless, we still want to help them organize.

Quote:
It seems like one major thing that SF has on us is that y'all maintain a much higher level of agreement. One obvious downside is that you're committing to growing more slowly, which is not always a problem.

I don't know, tho, I guess it's a matter of how we view growth. SF wants to see the growth of struggle and we don't pretend that SF, as it stands now, will be the vehicle for that. However, we'd love if SF was the standard go-to organization for pissed off workers. We'd love to have 10,000 workers involved in SF-organized campaigns. If we got 10,000 members out of that, all the better, but facilitating struggle is the goal first and foremost.

Quote:
What's SF's process for building folk up, in general, as an ideal type? Where is the place and space for conversation about revolutionary vision and values?

I guess the easy answer is struggle. However, in practical terms of how we use the opportunities opened by struggle to develop political consciousness, well, we've got a long way to go....

Quote:
It's pretty clear that you're suggesting that folks agreement with the IWW preamble is not a very deep one, I've suggested that agreement with the preamble is itself not a very deep thing and that it's not necessarily permanent

I don't know about that. I think the IWW, at its best, will attract workers precisely because it's successful and that's the worry. So I don't thinks it's a matter of agreement, but of expediency.

As to the JJ workers, I hope that didn't come across as offensive. I know the Twin Cities Branch (including yourself and some of your closest comrades) have put a lot of really important work into that. However, haven't they decided to go NLRB? I mean, one could still, theoretically, be anti-capitalist and be willing to pragmatically engage with the NLRB. However, "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common" clearly necessitates an opposition to the state labor-relations system.

So it's fantastic if the JJ workers all identify as anti-capitalist and I hope they do, but the willingness to take the trade-union path seems to indicate otherwise. That said, that struggle is amazing and deserves the support of all us anti-capitalists around the world red n black star

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Sep 20 2010 21:03

Interesting conversation. Especially as I'm in a group where some members want it to be as broad as possible for militant workers and tenants to join, but I'm worried that no specific statement of revolutionary politics anywhere (except "Ultimately, we want to build collective power so that people can run the world without bosses or landlords." - which took some arguing to get added) will eventually lead to reformist deviation.

I want to add a policy that says we'll never get involved in electoral politics, hire full time staff, accept grants from the state and a few other things. Just as a back up in case anyone wants to do this in the future... any suggestions as to how to word this and what to include? Obviously if a reformist majority was determined enough in the future they could get around this but it would make it harder and such a tendency might not even nucleate with this clause in existence.

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Sep 20 2010 21:19

I mean, I've had a pretty rough experience with Trade Unions, broad left groups, and apolitical syndicalist organizations in the past year or so, so I'm biased. For what it's worth, I prefer an organization, like SolFed, that's has quite open politics but is expressly willing to engage (including training, support, and strategizing) with workers who do not identify as revolutionaries.

Also in those rough experiences I've come away with a much more 'build up the class' as opposed to a 'build up the organization' (including the OBU!) mentality. Membership is a lot less important to me than it used to be, so instead of worrying about constitutional clauses I'd personally be trying to build up a politically coherent organization that's fully capable of organizing with workers/tenants/students who don't share the politics but are up for struggle.

Edit: sorry if that came across as grumpy. Please keep us informed how things develop:-)

martinh
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Sep 20 2010 22:18
888 wrote:
Interesting conversation. Especially as I'm in a group where some members want it to be as broad as possible for militant workers and tenants to join, but I'm worried that no specific statement of revolutionary politics anywhere (except "Ultimately, we want to build collective power so that people can run the world without bosses or landlords." - which took some arguing to get added) will eventually lead to reformist deviation.

I think the thing to remember here is organisations should be judged by what they do rather than what they say they'll do. The National Union of Railworkers had a revolutionary constitution (and some of it may well still be there in the RMT) but it didn't mean they were revolutionary. While I think it's important to state your politics, it's no guarantee that you won't head off down some other route.

Regards,

Martin

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Sep 20 2010 23:54
martinh wrote:
While I think it's important to state your politics, it's no guarantee that you won't head off down some other route.

indeed, in fact the whole strength of a structural critique of the unions as being discussed on the 'why do we lose' thread is that it stresses if the most right-on bunch of libertarian communists were to take on a certain role then their ideas wouldn't mean shit (an extreme case being 'anarchist' union leaders, like the old John Turner example).

Nate wrote:
But in theory SolFed seems to not think it's good when workers join up except under specific conditions. (...) For people who stick around, though, being in an organization that wants to end capitalism, doing work alongside dedicated revolutionaries in a way that builds relationships, we've seen that over time people who stick around develop a higher level of agreement. So part of this is about how high to set the entry bar

the point is if people join who aren't committed to anarcho-syndicailst methods and ideas, then federal democracy will mean they sooner or later do things contrary to anarcho-syndicalism (there's plenty of examples of this happening). As a comrade put it in a critique of 'Strategy & Struggle';

An SFer wrote:
The aim of anarcho-syndicalism is to build militant workplace organization but from a clear revolutionary perspective. It fully realizes that conditions in society may vary and as such the possibility of organizing class struggle. But no matter what the conditions anarcho-syndicalism argues that militant workplace organization cannot be achieved by political grouping organizing outside of the workplace. Organisation in the workplace will have to be built by the revolutionary union that involves itself in the day-to-day struggle of workers. But the aim of anarcho-syndicalism is not to enroll every worker into the revolutionary union but rather to organize mass meeting at which the union argues for militant action. The mass meeting is not the anarcho-syndicalist union but a democratic means of organizing. The union is made up of workers committed to the methods and ideas of anarcho-syndicalism.

In such a situation, the mass meeting (or committee) may well decide to do something dodgy, such as (to take an IWA hot potato) join a works council. the advantage of this approach is by not collapsing the union into the mass meeting/committee/workforce, there's still an organised revolutionary presence in the workplace capable of continuing a direct action approach as much as possible, and hopefully able to influence the other workers when the collaboration subsequently favours the boss. in short, a revolutionary union can only be made up of revolutionary workers, whereas solidarity unionism can be practiced by anyone regardless of organisational membership. thus a revolutionary union can practice solidarity unionism to organise conflicts beyond its membership, simultaneously providing the practical propaganda to influence and develop new revolutionary militants in the struggle.

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Sep 21 2010 01:25

hey NC, no offense taken, I hope the same is true for you. On anticapitalism and anti-representation, I share your view but when you say the former "clearly necessitates" the latter, this is no way obvious to people who don't share our views. Part of the question here is about how much of a floor there should be, I think, as well as about what the process should be moving people up from that floor and how membership figures in that process.

About building the class vs building the organization, again no disrespect and I hope I'm not being grumpy here (I've got a monster headache just now), but I don't know what that actually means in practice. I think there are very few if any people, certainly few on the left, who would say "we will build the organization at the expense of the class." I'd like to see this fleshed out more in practice. Again no disrespect intended but I think "we focus on the class" can be an excuse for not building the organization. Maybe we're ultimately on the same page here - I suspect so, but I'd like to hear more.

Final quibble, I don't think much about people being attracted to the IWW. In my experience, no one's attracted to the IWW or anything else, except for a handful of already politicized people who are not generally attracted to engaging in real workplace struggle. Generally what we do is a lot of slow patient outreach that brings people in, and work to make workplace struggle (admittedly of a fairly low/tame level compared to historical high points) into a real plausible thing for them, and to then make it attractive so that people become longterm troublemakers who in turn try to bring others in and so on. I *wish* people were attracted, but that's not at all something I've experienced.

888, language like you suggest sounds good. I strongly suggest that after that that your group also write a position paper that spells out the reasoning clearly.

JK, I wrote this post offline, just saw yours, will get back to you later, no time at the moment and the computer's intensifying my headache. Good point and very thought provoking.

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Sep 21 2010 06:00
Joseph Kay wrote:
the point is if people join who aren't committed to anarcho-syndicailst methods and ideas, then federal democracy will mean they sooner or later do things contrary to anarcho-syndicalism (there's plenty of examples of this happening).

Yes, but we also have to take into account the possibility that the ideas of politically uncommitted workers will come closer to anarcho-syndicalism through the struggle and the anarchist influence around them. To what extent is it joining then radicalisation, and to what extent is it radicalisation then joining, that is the correct strategy? The obvious answer is a bit of both, but that doesn't shed much light...

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Sep 21 2010 03:23

If I may, I think it's not always what you say, but the content of how you go about your work, how things are organized, folks brought in and the general building of libertarian structure and spirit.

I think it was Martin who recalled how the NUR had some revolutionary rethoric in its Constitution. Here in the US the former Amalgamated Clothing Workers did as well. Yet they practiced class collaboration all the way. That's not an excuse not to have good politics and say good things, but rethoirc alone doesn't always guarantee results.

888, I believe SeaSol's attempt to do an educational around the Piquetaros in terms of devoloping what I call the "libertarian spirit" and practical workshops can help to delevop the content and spirit. Perhaps through practical workshops (I think Nate, you call them trainings) and educationals on self-activity can help to move some of the practice and level of discussion (and intro of more explicit ideas) forward.

While I am no longer active on the shopfloor or direct stuff, I think by coming off heavy with the rethoric doesn't always work. Perhaps a bit more stuble and nuanced way of introducing the ideas, spirit and content of anarcho-syndicalism-workerism-class struggle anarchism (your choice) may also work.

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Sep 21 2010 06:09

I'm aware that the proposed clauses that I may try to introduce won't have that much real effect, our practical way of working is far more important, and they could always be overturned with enough effort, but they might discourage people from seeing SeaSol as a vehicle for something that it isn't, and make it harder for them to change it into that (not that these people have even appeared yet, but it'd be better to introduce these rules before they do...)

We need more practical workshops, I think. We've done a couple of short ones within the SeaSol meetings in the past. No One Is Illegal has apparently had some success by putting on public events with a speaker as well as a practical training focus (on immigration law, or ...?). Any ideas what subjects would be good? Tenant rights, worker rights, seem like two obvious ones (yet I didn't think of them until just now) but we shouldn't stay within the orbit of laws...

(Sorry this is deviating quite far from the original thread topic)

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Sep 21 2010 13:14
888 wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
the point is if people join who aren't committed to anarcho-syndicailst methods and ideas, then federal democracy will mean they sooner or later do things contrary to anarcho-syndicalism (there's plenty of examples of this happening).

Yes, but we also have to take into account the possibility that the ideas of politically uncommitted workers will come closer to anarcho-syndicalism through the struggle and the anarchist influence around them. To what extent is it joining then radicalisation, and to what extent is it radicalisation then joining, that is the correct strategy? The obvious answer is a bit of both, but that doesn't shed much light...

It's an interesting point. I think the idea among anarcho-syndicalists who accept the minority union position would be that we should be radicalising/arguing our case outside of the union. (Easier said than done, perhaps) The emphasis, as ncwob put it, is on the class not the organisation. Even if they don't overtly become revolutionaries there's more of a chance of having some influence in this direction without basing our strategy on everyone joining us. The union should still have broad enough membership criteria but if we're to avoid a dilution of its politics its needs to have a very clear political position (not just a radical preamble) and on-going 'internal education'. Folks should be further radicalised once becoming members but that's not the main focus, because we'd already expect them to have agreed with the a&ps.

Edit: btw, I still think there's a place for less politically-controlled organising or networking - at work but especially in the community. Besides making sure nobody tries to take over etc., it doesn't turn into a place for 'activists' only or a talking-shop (i.e. that it's democratic and effective), contact with militants in other types of struggle and making revolutionary arguments should also be encouraged, even in what's ostensibly an apolitical newtork. But you'd have a better idea of how do that...

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Sep 21 2010 18:49
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We need more practical workshops, I think. We've done a couple of short ones within the SeaSol meetings in the past. No One Is Illegal has apparently had some success by putting on public events with a speaker as well as a practical training focus (on immigration law, or ...?). Any ideas what subjects would be good? Tenant rights, worker rights, seem like two obvious ones (yet I didn't think of them until just now) but we shouldn't stay within the orbit of laws...

This is still quite legalistic, but since I've started working here in the UK I've found there's a need for some really specific workers' rights training. For example, none of my co-workers even know about our right to "Time Off In Lieu" if we work outside our contracted hours, never mind how to go about enforcing this. As radicals, we can then include a bit about the struggle to achieve this right and how only vigilance (backed up by direct or the threat of it) keeps bosses following these laws.

As to other practical stuff, roleplays on how to approach co-tenants about getting a meeting together, chairing skills, graphics/layout for newsletters, leaflets, pamphlets, etc....

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Sep 21 2010 19:23
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About building the class vs building the organization...but I don't know what that actually means in practice. I think there are very few if any people, certainly few on the left, who would say "we will build the organization at the expense of the class." I'd like to see this fleshed out more in practice. Again no disrespect intended but I think "we focus on the class" can be an excuse for not building the organization. Maybe we're ultimately on the same page here - I suspect so, but I'd like to hear more.

Nate, I'm pretty sure that most of the time we're on the same paragraph and usually the same sentence cool Anyway, I've had some personal disappointment over the last year with an organization I'd previously held a lot of faith in, so I'm slightly bitter. Also, since coming to the UK I've had my first real experiences with Trade Unions and "the Left" and they've left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. So that's where my cynicism is derived from.

As for class v. organization I think the direction we're pushing SolFed is should help us do both. Our goal, first and foremost, is to encourage struggle and builds the skills, confidence, and combativeness of the class. We do this by offering really practical stuff to pissed off workers (and that hopefully includes our own workmates). So this is where the trainings come in, leaflets like this,
and public meetings (although we haven't had one of them yet). I do think this will grow our membership, but more importantly I hope it will impart those skills within the class at large.

Also, whether some on the left would rather build their organization over the class, they may not say that, but I've dealt with Trots too many times to see that very thing happen in practice... Just recently my wife was involved in an unemployed workers group that was sponsored by a Trades Council but pretty independent. Within the first few meetings the SWP showed up and were trying to get the group to affiliate to the SWP front group the "Right to Work Campaign". My wife's not involved anymore and she did manage to fend off that little bit of entryism, but they did manage to convince the London-based group to fundraise to send a representative up to bloody Birmingham for a RTW conference. That's money that could be better spent, ya know, helping claimants in London. Talk about organization before the class.....

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Sep 21 2010 20:23
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About union shop, in my view a requirement to join the union to work there encourages bad dynamics. Keeping unions voluntary associations tied to a vision of fighting management is better in my view.

About the IWW as "bizarre patchwork" I think for a lot of us the idea is that we support people in struggle even if we disagree. I don't mean this as a prolier-than-thou kind of thing, I mean that we know other IWW members and care about them and yeah some of them have ideas I don't like but when they're fighting their bosse even in ways I think are dumb or worse, I still feel compelled to offer some kind of support. And plus there are better and worse times to criticize. Over all, in the 6 or so years I've been a member, stuff has improved immensely. Considered as a dynamic thing, as a changing pool of people who are on a trajectory, the IWW gets better and better. Major problems remain and for every advance there's a backward step because ever advance brings new problems and often people respond to problems by retrogression or by some other relatively rightwing response to that problem. But again over the tendency is good and in my view some the very things that make the IWW more of a "patchwork" than I would like help contribute to the positive developments. There's also a practical problem of what would we do other than tolerate those differences?

For example, some of the people who are more pro- recognition and contracts are people who have failed at noncontractual/nonrecognition organizing and lack experience of recognition and contracts (about 90% of the US working class lacks such experience, unionization's at about 10% here on average and is even lower if we consider only the private sector and if we consider workers under 40 or 30, which is by far who is in the IWW). We can allow them the room to experiment in response to their new interest in contract and recognition, we can try to change their minds in better and worse ways (to my mind "better ways" require the freedom to try out their bad ideas, worse ways restrict their options and berate them), or we can kick people out. I don't see any other options. Also, people often cross-participate: people work on a contractual campaign in their own work and volunteer time on a noncontractual campaign elsewhere. It's all very messy.

Some of our most anti- contract and anti- recognition people came up out of attempts to win recognition that failed, and the staunchest anti-recognition/anti-contract people came up out of attempts that succeeded and thus quickly revealed the limits of that approach, that the IWW can't avoid those dynamics simply because we're revolutionaries. So I think allowing the 'patchwork' is ultimately productive. Of course I wish everyone came around to correct (ie, my) views and that the improvement dynamics were more linear (no retrogression ever) and were faster. But they're not. If people don't have the patience for this (and it IS very frustrating) then I'm glad you're not in the IWW, you'd just be annoyed and would probably only worsen things -- generally getting annoyed and lecturing at people only makes the people lectured behave even worse. (I say this having done it more than once.) So some of this is a matter of picking our battles, and also recognizing that sometimes we can win a battle against contracts etc but do so in ways that position us worse in the war against contracts: if we're dicks we can shut down any given conversation were involved in, which can help prevent bad moves. But if we're dicks after a while we start to be shut out of conversations and then we have no influence at all.

I don't know what R.U.G. means but I know a lot of wobblies in the Pac NW and I don't think there's any active SPUSA presence that matters. I know a few wobblies who are in the SPUSA, I don't see it having any influence. If anything, the IWW improves those people and they take better skills back to the SPUSA. This is generally true of people from political groups who join the IWW in my not so humble opinion - their political groups benefit as much as or more than the IWW benefits.

Finally, about the issue of "how is the IWW going to stay revolutionary while remaining open to many people...?" thing, I think that's an important one to talk about and deserves its own thread. I don't have much more time but for now two things. One, this came up at the last of a discussion about platformism a while back --
http://libcom.org/forums/organise/whats-your-quarrel-neo-platformism-06042010?page=4

I feel a bit funny referencing my own comment but I think my long comment in the middle of that page is worth engaging with on this question. In that comment I make the point that SolFed advocates mass meetings of workers, assemblies and so on and that it seems to me that these are subject to the same problem: a mass meeting of workers is not revolutionary unless those workers are.

Two, there's a common hypothetical situation like "You claim to want to be revolutionary and you claim to want to allow any workers to join, but you can only do both of those things if the workers are all revolutionary! what will you do if many non-revolutionary workers flock to the IWW seeking to join up?!" My response to that is to question the question. Folk need to get a whole lot more detailed in that hypothetical. Under what conditions would a great many non-revolutionary workers flock to the IWW? And what is the process that people undergo as they join, and what is the process that people begin after joining? From what all of us have experienced, almost no one comes to us. We work like crazy to get people to join. No one flocks to us, or to any union these days for that matter as far as I know. Then once we join we work on developing and educating members in a variety of ways. (As does SolFed, with their SelfEd program and so on, which I think is quite impressive.) The only situation where I can imagine loads of workers rushing toward us is if they were radicalized. Now that radicalization might not last, it probably wouldn't. And if so, then they'll quit the IWW most likely (this happens on an individual basis a lot, we lose way too many people), though we try to keep people and at the same time try to keep them radical or further radicalize them. (This is part of why I'm not for union shop, union shop would keep those people in but do so in a way that made the IWW worse I think.) Some of our efforts to keep people involves various education efforts, a lot of it involves deliberate relationship building, and some of it involves fighting with bosses, which often radicalizes people though again it's not linear -- advance, retrogress, advance, retrogress, etc. I would imagine the same thing is basically what happens with mass meetings too - loads of workers will come to mass meeting, and the mass meeting will be important when either the workers are lit up about something and/or the mass meeting will influence the workers in a positive way. At least that's what's happened in the few times I've been part of mass meeting kind of things at work.

Interesting post which, to a certain extent, alludes to the direction in which IWW-BIROC is heading. IWW-BIROC is not a 'Union' (mass membership, big business negoiating type) and probably will not end up as a radicalised 'mass union' despite the wild fantasies of a minority of our membership. IWW-BIROC is in reality a network of politicised workers with competing visions of how it should develop a radical alternative to big business unions for rank and file workers. A 'Union', IMO, is a 'mass' body that negotiates the wages and conditions that workers exchange for their collective labour whilst engaged in socialised production. That definition excludes organisations that represent individual workers every now and then (which includes charities, NGO's and coalitions against poverty). Having a few shop floors also is not enough to make an organisation a 'Union'. This would involve having 'systematic' negotiating rights for a critical mass of shop floors within a company and thus having serious capacity to influence the possible collective measures a work force may use in a dispute.

As regards organisational unity and coherence, I'm not a big fan of making it a requirement that workers agree to an extensive set of anarcho-syndicalist aims & principals, before they join an organisation, in the absence of a radicalised workers movement. The development of a genuine collective class consciousness is a process that can only fundamentally take place in blast furnace of class struggle. This is a necessary process that workers must experience that, in my experience, involves countless errors and can not be side stepped (outside and against) by ignoring the contradictions that emerge when workers are developing their collective consciousness and capacity to fight back at workplace disputes and conflicts within the sphere of reproduction. I would rather workers 'joined' us with an explicit commitment to developing their understanding whilst we struggle together and us promising not to chuck them out if they make 'understandable' errors. Radicalised working class militants don't fall from the sky finished products...neither do anarcho-syndicalists and we shouldn't expect groups of workers to turn up knocking on our front door with a comprehensive understanding of methods we promote. As a former comrade once told me, ' a worker joins an organisation twice. The first time thinking s/he knows what s/hes joining. The second time when s/he finally understands what s/he joined'. Anyway I think Paul Mattick in his Reform and Revolution had something interesting to say about class consciousness:

Quote:
But what is class consciousness anyway? Insofar as it merely refers to one’s position in society it is immediately recognizable: the bourgeois knows that he belongs to the ruling class; the worker, that his place is among the ruled; and the social groups in between count themselves in neither of these basic classes. There is no problem so long as the different classes adhere to one and the same ideology, namely, the idea that these class relations are natural relations that will always prevail as a basic characteristic of the human condition. Actually, of course, the material interests of the various classes diverge and lead to social frictions that conflict with the common ideology. The latter is increasingly recognized as the ideology of the ruling class in support of the existing social arrangements and will be rejected as a statement of the inescapable destiny of human society. The ruling ideology is thus bound to succumb to the extension of class consciousness into the ideological sphere. The differences of material interests turn into ideological differences and then into political theories based on the concrete social contradictions. The political theories may be quite rudimentary, because of the complexities of the social issues involved, but they nonetheless constitute a change from mere class consciousness to a comprehension that social arrangements could be different from what they are. We are then on the road from mere class consciousness to a revolutionary class consciousness, which recognizes the ruling ideology as a confidence game and concerns itself with ways and means to alter the existing conditions. If this were not so, no labor movement would have arisen and social development would not be characterized by class struggles

However, just as the presence of the ruling ideology does not suffice to maintain existing social relations, but must in turn be supported by the material forces of the state apparatus, so a counter-ideology will remain just this unless it can produce material forces stronger than those reflected by the ruling ideology. If this is not the case, the quality of the counter-ideology, whether it is merely intuitive or based on scientific considerations, does not matter and neither the intellectual nor the worker can effect a change in the existing social relations. Revolutionaries may or may not be allowed to express their views, depending on the mentality that dominates the ruling class, but under whatever conditions they will not be able to dislodge the ruling class by ideological means. In this respect the ruling class has all the advantage, since with the means of production and the forces of the state it controls instrumentalities for the perpetuation and dissemination of its own ideology. As this condition persists until the actual overthrow of a given social system, revolutions must take place with insufficient ideological preparation. In short, the counter-ideology can triumph only through a revolution that plays the means of production and political power into the hands of the revolutionaries. Until then, revolutionary class consciousness will always be less effective than the ruling ideology.

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Sep 21 2010 20:40

NCWob - I totally get you about some organizations sacrificing the class, this happens a lot, all I meant was that I think no one ever thinks of their activities that way. They all think they put the class first, I'd bet. So I think "put the class first" needs to be demonstrated in practical terms like "we make sure to do all of the following" rather than just "we prioritize the class over the organization."

Also, on building up combativeness, as usual we're on the same paragraph here as you say, but - I've been thinking a lot about this lately. My own view, as you probly know, is that this sort of political work helps radicalize people and build abiltiy and confidence, so there's a larger pool of communists around. I think this is especially important in the US where the level of decomposition is so low (so high? bad, whatever we call it). This gets a bit into the "what do we mean by winning" thing that I tried to raise in the "we lose with the unions" thread and that draft of a piece I out up about direct action. To my mind, right now we win by building more communist militants, full stop. All of that said, I've been thinking a lot about dynamics and time and trajectories vs instances... sorry to be vague. What I mean is, people change and develop, for better and for worse. It seems to me that we really develop communist militants over time, and we retain them (and they continue to improve) over time through a context of relationships, among other things. I tried to lay out how this works in the IWW. As you know our success rate on this is too low (and we really ought to try to track it) but we do have successes on this, the IWW provides a trajectory for people a lot of the time. What that means is that the IWW exists as a space for people at multiple points on a trajectory, some of whom disagree with and dislike where others in the organizations are at on their trajectories. Over all, the tendencies/dynamics are good - things are much improved from five years ago and we can point to specific individuals who have developed a lot. As I said, we need to get a lot more systematic on this and need to get better at knowing what it is we're doing and not doing when we succeed and when we fail at this.

I say all this because I'd like to hear more about how SF deals with and tries to provide this, and this is me stumbling toward an oblique answer to JK's last post. I always worry that these questions will come off as point-scoring, not my intent (I want SF to succeed, really), I hope that's clear. Anyway, it seems to me that what I would consider the most advanced elements of the IWW are pretty close to where SF is at, and we can point to people who are moving more in our direction (as well as people who are unfortunately perhaps moving in worse directions), and the looseness of the IWW over all helps us facilitate this positive movement. But, at any given time, the formation within the IWW which is at SF's level is only ever part of the IWW. There are definitely down-sides to this, but it affords us opportunities too.

It seems to me that the relative closed-ness of SF maintains higher unity, as I said, but I wonder how SF does at providing a similar context for developing people. I know all of this is messy in practice but perhaps you could talk a bit about some anonymized/abstracted success stories you've had, as I've sort of done here, where through struggle co-workers ended up getting to the level of SF membership. Know what I mean?

Here's another way to put it -- there are a few key values/goals implied in this thread.
1. Cohesion of the group in terms of political ideas
2. Development of class at the level of combativeness
3. Radicalization of individuals via both struggle and ideology
4. Greater members of the group, in a way that doesn't sacrifice the class but rather actually helps build things.

It seems to me that SF is better than the IWW on 1. I think we're both doing okay at 2, particularly given that we've both (I think) had to chart a course ourselves without much of a map or meaningful precedents. I think SF is better at this in terms of education for its current members. I think the IWW is doing well at 3 in terms of the result of our organizing. I'd like to hear more about how SF has succeeded at this sometimes, in workplace struggles. The IWW has a lot further to go in terms of specific ideological contents and more formal and systematic member education. I think the IWW is doing pretty well at 4, I can't tell how much this is a priority for SF or how well SF is doing at this.

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Sep 21 2010 20:47
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The development of a genuine collective class consciousness is a process that can only fundamentally take place in blast furnace of class struggle.

Blackrainbow, fuck me, I don't even know if I even agree with this statement, but you, my friend, are a poet.

I do feel like we've devolved the conversation a bit (in a good way), BR what are your thoughts on the original question?

EDIT: Nate, I think you and I were posting at the same time. I'll try to respond more in depth tomorrow. For the time being, however, i'll say that SF is actually quite new to 'outward' organizing so a lot of this is theoretical and we're looking to put a lot of these ideas into practice. So I don't know if I'll be able to answer your questions just yet. In another year, however, there will hopefully be more to go on. Although there is an exciting pamphlet the Brighton branch is working on, due at soon, that may give us some discussion...

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Sep 21 2010 21:00
ncwob wrote:
Quote:
The development of a genuine collective class consciousness is a process that can only fundamentally take place in blast furnace of class struggle.

Blackrainbow, fuck me, I don't even know if I even agree with this statement, but you, my friend, are a poet.

blackrainbow; thing is though, the "blast furnace of class struggle" ≠ paying dues to a formal membership organisation, so the argument is at crossed-purposes to what ncwob's arguing (namely that since radicalisation happens in struggle, there's no reason to sign everyone up at day one, and furthermore there are drawbacks to doing so).

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Sep 21 2010 22:13

That is certainly what I'm arguing, but I'm not sure that's what's BR is arguing. What I took it to mean is that SolFed trying to radicalize non-members or the IWW trying to continue the radicalization process of members, these efforts are only going to have limited success outside of an increased period of struggle. Now that's the bit I don't know if I agree with that (and I think it leaves the question of what creates periods of mass struggle unanswered)...

Nate, I also wanted to quickly reply to something you said in your last post. I think workers will need to make mistakes and for a lot of them radicalization may not occur until they reach the limits of legalism/contractualism/mediation or whatever. However, I'm not comfortable with them making those mistakes in SolFed.* I'd rather have those mistakes made in other organizations, like the trade unions, while the anarcho-syndicalist unions mentioned in the "Winning the Class War" excerpted in JK's post continue to push for direct action grievances and mass assemblies where anarcho-syndicalists argue for unmediated direct action that supercedes the trade union form.

*This is especially pertinent in this discussion as some sections of the IWW don't share the 'mistakes as a lesson in the need for unmediated struggle' philosophy at all. And, in fact, the leadership of those sections have consciously and actively pushed the IWW in a legalistic/contractualist/representative direction. Like I'm said, I'm a bit jaded, but I wouldn't want that to happen to a section of SolFed, so I'd like to limit that possibility as much as possible.

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Sep 22 2010 15:36

Removed.

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Sep 21 2010 23:54

admin - we were explicit, you want to discuss this then start a new thread.

For the topic at hand, most SolFed documents on the topic are very upfront about the utilization of mass/general assemblies of workers as the means to put power back into the hands of workers (from the official unions/bosses).

There are several articles by Alexis Buss called 'The Minority Report' which focus on Solidarity Unionism- in general, solidarity unionism is equated with Nonmajority Unionism as practised by the business unions like UE and CWA.

http://www.iww.org/en/organize/strategy/solidarity.html

Another article about 'Open Source Unionism' is similar:

Quote:
Under open-source unionism, by contrast, unions would welcome members even before they achieved majority status, and stick with them as they fought for it--maybe for a very long time. These "pre-majority" workers would presumably pay reduced dues in the absence of the benefits of collective bargaining, but would otherwise be normal union members. They would gain some of the bread-and-butter benefits of traditional unionism--advice and support on their legal rights, bargaining over wages and working conditions if feasible, protection of pension holdings, political representation, career guidance, access to training and so on. And even in minority positions, they might gain a collective contract for union members, or grow to the point of being able to force a wall-to-wall agreement for all workers in the unit. But under OSU, such an agreement, which is traditionally the singular goal of organizing, would not be the defining criterion for achieving or losing membership. Joining the labor movement would be something you did for a long time, not just an organizational relationship you entered into with a third party upon taking some particular job, to expire when that job expired or changed.

OSU would engage a range of workers in different states of organization rather than discrete majorities of workers in collective-bargaining agreements. There would be traditional employer-specific unions, but there would likely be more cross-employer professional sorts of union formations and more geographically defined ones. Within any of these boundaries, the goal of OSU would not be collective bargaining per se but broader worker influence over the terms and conditions of work and working life. Because OSU unions would typically have less clout inside firms or with particular employers, they would probably be more concerned than traditional unionism with the political and policy environment surrounding their employers and employment settings. They would be more open to alliance with nonlabor forces--community forces of various kinds, constituencies organized around interests not best expressed through work or even class (here think environmental, feminist, diversity or work/family concerns)--that might support them in this work. As a result, labor as a whole would likely have a more pronounced "social" face with OSU than it has today.

Very similar to the minority unions of the UE (such as the old WAGE union: Working At General Electric, and the current public workers unions in WV, VA & SC).

This seems like a major difference in practice and theory between the IWW and SolFed's industrial strategies of unionism. They are similar in many respects, but SF emphasizes general worker assemblies rather than union members lobbying for specific goals on behalf non-member co-workers as the IWW does in the texts linked to above (I'm not saying this is exclusively what every Wobbly thinks/does with solidarity unionism).

Quote:
Mass meetings should be seen as an alternative structure to official union structures that are dominated by full-time bureaucrats. Decisions are made collectively in these assemblies. The work of these assemblies in different workplaces should be co-ordinated by delegate councils.

In the most militants workforces regular mass meetings will be held and this is obviously the ideal we are aiming at. This may not be possible in other workplaces where it will only be possible to organise such meetings when a dispute arises.

http://www.solfed.org.uk/docs/strategy/

Is this an accurate comparison? That in theory, the two ideas are very similar, but the way they are put into practice is very different?

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Sep 22 2010 01:10
Joseph Kay wrote:
[
Nate wrote:
But in theory SolFed seems to not think it's good when workers join up except under specific conditions. (...) For people who stick around, though, being in an organization that wants to end capitalism, doing work alongside dedicated revolutionaries in a way that builds relationships, we've seen that over time people who stick around develop a higher level of agreement. So part of this is about how high to set the entry bar
Joseph Kay wrote:
blackrainbow; thing is though, the "blast furnace of class struggle" ≠ paying dues to a formal membership organisation, so the argument is at crossed-purposes to what ncwob's arguing (namely that since radicalisation happens in struggle, there's no reason to sign everyone up at day one, and furthermore there are drawbacks to doing so).

Hmmm...I think that's a rather disingenuous comrade. I could accuse permanent pro-revolutionary minority political organisations of the committing a similar ‘crime’, that federal democracy in class struggle anarchist organisation ≠ strict adherence to their aims & principals.

Joseph Kay wrote:
the point is if people join who aren't committed to anarcho-syndicailst methods and ideas, then federal democracy will mean they sooner or later do things contrary to anarcho-syndicalism (there's plenty of examples of this happening).

How do you determine their commitment to anarcho-syndicalist methods and ideas? In the here and now, I would argue, one material ‘test’ (by no means definitive) would be the willingness to consistently pay dues you can reasonably afford. Besides the adherence to a set of “class struggle methods and idea(s)” can only really be tested in the "blast furnace of class struggle" .

ncwob wrote:
I think workers will need to make mistakes and for a lot of them radicalization may not occur until they reach the limits of legalism/contractualism/mediation or whatever. However, I'm not comfortable with them making those mistakes in SolFed.* I'd rather have those mistakes made in other organizations, like the trade unions, while the anarcho-syndicalist unions mentioned in the "Winning the Class War" excerpted in JK's post continue to push for direct action grievances and mass assemblies where anarcho-syndicalists argue for unmediated direct action that supercedes the trade union form.

*This is especially pertinent in this discussion as some sections of the IWW don't share the 'mistakes as a lesson in the need for unmediated struggle' philosophy at all. And, in fact, the leadership of those sections have consciously and actively pushed the IWW in a legalistic/contractualist/representative direction. Like I'm said, I'm a bit jaded, but I wouldn't want that to happen to a section of SolFed, so I'd like to limit that possibility as much as possible.

Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood what you’re alluding to, I’d have thought that…

ncwob wrote:
I'd rather have those mistakes made in other organizations, like the trade unions, while the anarcho-syndicalist unions mentioned in the "Winning the Class War" excerpted in JK's post continue to push for direct action grievances and mass assemblies where anarcho-syndicalists argue for unmediated direct action that supercedes the trade union form.

…is very much in the wildcat and ICC outside and against ethos. Which would see the role of revolutionaries engaging in any mediating bodies as ‘soiling the purity’ of their ability to ‘intervene’ with a clear revolutionary perspective‘. In other words, we have the truth and only have to wait until the workers have figured it out after nasty encounters with Trade Unions and Leninist parties? This suggests that there already exists a complete class programme and the workers only have to get on board?

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Sep 22 2010 01:45

A wee bit off topic, but of interest (for folks in the US):

Should Nonmajority Unions Have Right to Bargain?
http://labornotes.org/2010/08/should-nonmajority-unions-have-right-bargain

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Sep 22 2010 02:31
syndicalist wrote:
A wee bit off topic, but of interest (for folks in the US):

Should Nonmajority Unions Have Right to Bargain?
http://labornotes.org/2010/08/should-nonmajority-unions-have-right-bargain

I posted a thread about that article awhile back.

http://libcom.org/forums/theory/nonmajority-union-status-may-change-us-25082010

I think it gets to the core of the difference between SolFed and IWW strategies of solidarity unionism(or whatever you want to call it)- the former with general assemblies and worker-delegates, the latter (for some wobblies) of using nonmajority unions to get union recognition, contracts, etc. Section 7 of the NLRA gives legal protection for both.