Union Scum?

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Ghost Whistler
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Nov 24 2015 21:08
Union Scum?

Am I alone in reaching a point of frustration with how utterly useless the unions are? I'm not sure what the anarchist position is on the likes of the TUC.

I read of case after depressing case of people bullied by the government's brutal sanction regime. Recently I heard of a 60 year old man, now being cared for by the Church ffs, who had missed a DWP appointment after the sudden passing of his wife. He was sanctioned for 6 weeks and left with nothing at the worst point in his life.

The buck foer this toxic atmosphere at the DWP may stop with scum like the Tories and IDS in particular, but the decisions are made by the people at the ground level, in the office: the adviser dealing with the 'customer', or someone in the office referred to by that adviser.

Some of these people are members of the PCS and yet for years now they have done stuff all. Mark Serwotka talks a good game, speaks out about these issues - and yet his members include people making these decisions.

I fully believe in the concept tof Solidarity, but iu cannot support those who push others into poverty and I cannot see any excuse for this. Frankly if you're happy to starve a bereaved eldery man, then screw you you can starve.

Fair?

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 25 2015 04:21

Well, the thing is, lots of union members can be bastards without the union itself being a bastard. That said PCS, as a union, has supported (tacitly or explicitly) benefits sanctions in the past. There's a libcom blogger - Phil - who's in PCS, who's written about this exact thing: http://libcom.org/blog/its-time-fight-benefit-sanctions-or-without-pcs-2...

As for an anarchist position on the unions, I'd start here:

http://libcom.org/library/unions-introduction

And to toot my own horn, this isn't bad either wink

http://libcom.org/library/better-we-know-ourselves-ruling-class-view-tra...

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 25 2015 12:45

I just cannot help but feel that a line in the sand has to be drawn when people are being pushed into abject penury - not just by the Tories, who must accept responsibility for their part, but by the people working on the frontlines or making these decisions themselves.

I cannot condone this.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 25 2015 14:11

I mean, yes and no. We all prop up capitalism (with its inherent abject penury) every day when we go to work. While some positions - the fucking cops - clearly put one on the wrong side of the class line, I tend to think people at the Job Centre aren't any more complicit than a whole class of public sector workers. Although, of course, they should resist the most destructive elements of their job - as we all should!

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 26 2015 09:13

Right, and I accept there is a foul atmpsphere created by this government toward claimants - more than it's ever been, it seems.

But there are advisers who are making these decisions when they don't have to. I accept there are targets and I accept there are rules that, try as they might, tie their hands (though even that makes me sick), but in most cases it is my understanding that there is discretion. If someone misses an appointment due to bereavement it is only the adviser's chasing of a target that forces the issue. He could choose to do otherwise. I know that's easily said, but again the choice has to be made when it comes to starving people to death surely!

In response solidarity needs to be applied; the union should stand with these people - as the CWU workers have recently in the Bridghewater with a colleague with MS that was bullied by the bosses. THey took wildcat action, they did - IMO - the right thing and they won.

I don't expect them to fight alone, but we can't have this misery going on. It's bad enough that sanctions exist at all.

Sleeper
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Nov 26 2015 19:04

Don't blame those workers still organised in trade unions for the nightmare capitalism has created.

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Ed
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Nov 26 2015 19:30

I get where Ghost Writer is coming from tbh, and I think Phil goes into it in his article which Chilli linked to above, that the PCS as a union is not doing enough to support or to encourage its members to resist benefit sanctions. In part it's prob coz as a union they've not got much interest in fighting for something outside their 'sectional' interest but there's also probably a part of it that's down to their not being much appetite for that kind of fight from the grassroots (itself a symptom of the lack of working-class militancy in general)..

To an extent, it's a problem of Job Centre workers not being organised and militant enough to resist their sanction quotas.. and the only way for them to get to that level is to struggle and, in struggling, to show and receive solidarity from other sections of the class.. a process undermined by the fact that they are so often on the frontline of attacking those other sections!

Class struggle: it's a messy business sad

Sleeper
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Nov 26 2015 19:47

As anarchists we look to those involved in the situation to self organise and manage things for themselves so we should be looking to help and support unemployed people in 'claimants unions' or whatever forms of struggle they wish to undertake for themselves. What I won't do is criticise other working class people or expect them to 'manage' claimants in a nicer way within the social/economic system we have at the moment.

Sleeper
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Nov 26 2015 19:48

smile

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 08:55
Fai1937 wrote:
Don't blame those workers still organised in trade unions for the nightmare capitalism has created.

I blame the workers that are making the decision to consciously push people into poverty, regardless of whether they are in a union.

I fully accept they didn't create capitalism, but the bottom line is that people have died because of decisions like this. Surely there has to be a line in the sand?

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 09:06
Fai1937 wrote:
As anarchists we look to those involved in the situation to self organise and manage things for themselves so we should be looking to help and support unemployed people in 'claimants unions' or whatever forms of struggle they wish to undertake for themselves. What I won't do is criticise other working class people or expect them to 'manage' claimants in a nicer way within the social/economic system we have at the moment.

A lot of these decisions are not necessary and they have to be resisted because, as we have seen, the alternative is that people suffer and die. I understand what you are saying, but the cost is too great.

I don't expect these people to do it alone either, I have made that clear. Nor do I think all of them are guilty. But some members of the PCS are among those making these decisions and those affected are being blasted to pieces; a 60yo recently bereaved man left with only the church to help him? FFS this is 21st century Britain not the middle ages. I cannot support this.

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Auld-bod
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Nov 27 2015 12:03

A problem with drawing lines in the sand is the tide turns in approximately six hours, so lines have to be continually redrawn.
Similarly, a problem with any ‘straight line’ morality is that, in practice, a moral course of action is relative to time and place.
As an example: historically ‘thou shall not kill’ was gospel until the Roman Emperor became a Christian. Then bingo! The ‘just war’ was invented to defend the Christian state and started a whole set of qualifications to the commandment. As an anarchist it’s better to judge things politically and morally on a case by case basis, rather than drawing hard (and imaginary) lines on (shifting) sand.

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Noah Fence
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Nov 27 2015 12:34
Quote:
As an anarchist it’s better to judge things politically and morally on a case by case basis, rather than drawing hard (and imaginary) lines on (shifting) sand.

Couldn't agree more Auld Bod although many posters insist that there is no moral aspect to lib com at all. However, as they're clearly wrong on this there is no need for us to give the idiots any consideration here.

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 13:41
Auld-bod wrote:
A problem with drawing lines in the sand is the tide turns in approximately six hours, so lines have to be continually redrawn.
Similarly, a problem with any ‘straight line’ morality is that, in practice, a moral course of action is relative to time and place.
As an example: historically ‘thou shall not kill’ was gospel until the Roman Emperor became a Christian. Then bingo! The ‘just war’ was invented to defend the Christian state and started a whole set of qualifications to the commandment. As an anarchist it’s better to judge things politically and morally on a case by case basis, rather than drawing hard (and imaginary) lines on (shifting) sand.

Do you really think that attitude applies to benefit sanctions?

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 13:42
Webby wrote:
Quote:
As an anarchist it’s better to judge things politically and morally on a case by case basis, rather than drawing hard (and imaginary) lines on (shifting) sand.

Couldn't agree more Auld Bod although many posters insist that there is no moral aspect to lib com at all. However, as they're clearly wrong on this there is no need for us to give the idiots any consideration here.

Idiots?

Is that directed at me?

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Noah Fence
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Nov 27 2015 14:39
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Is that directed at me?

No, it was being supportive of you, as you seem to feel there is an element of morality to anarchist politics, as do I. It was also a (hopefully) comedic dig at an ongoing disagreement between libcommers.

Why did you think it was aimed at you???

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 14:51
Webby wrote:
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Is that directed at me?

No, it was being supportive of you, as you seem to feel there is an element of morality to anarchist politics, as do I. It was also a (hopefully) comedic dig at an ongoing disagreement between libcommers.

Why did you think it was aimed at you???

I've endured a lot of crap discussing politics on the net over the years and also time spent on Urban75 which is popular among anarchist/left people. Not assuming you're familiar with it, i've no idea how many people are, but i found a lot of the people on there authoritarian and bullying, and thtat was one of the only places i've ever found to discuss these ideas. I live in Toryshire and the politics round here are a joke.

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Noah Fence
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Nov 27 2015 15:04

Ah. Well, I'm not aware of that but I do think there is an occasional element of authoritarianism on Libcom. In general though, Libcom is a pretty friendly place. That said, when I arrived here I was handed out some real good ass kickings as well as a lot of patient explanations. To be fair, the ass kickings were generally well deserved!
It takes a while to get the culture around here but it's worth it - Libcom is the best anarchist site I've encountered by a country mile. Humour plays a big part in that.
So, where is Toryshire?

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 15:13
Webby wrote:
Ah. Well, I'm not aware of that but I do think there is an occasional element of authoritarianism on Libcom. In general though, Libcom is a pretty friendly place. That said, when I arrived here I was handed out some real good ass kickings as well as a lot of patient explanations. To be fair, the ass kickings were generally well deserved!
It takes a while to get the culture around here but it's worth it - Libcom is the best anarchist site I've encountered by a country mile. Humour plays a big part in that.
So, where is Toryshire?

Toryshire is Somerset.

A particular slice of middle england. Our MP, a tory, won with almost 50% of the vote. He told me prior to the election (I just happened to see him while i was walking home from the shop on the monday before the election and afterward i put a sign on the door saying No Tories Please) that he was 'quietly horrified' by foodbanks/sanctions. Doesn't do much about them though.

Bristol is the nearest city, and seems progressive, but it's far enough away to be difficult (ie expensive) to get to.

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Noah Fence
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Nov 27 2015 15:48

Right, I spend a lot of time in Frome and sometimes work in the Bath area. Tories don't bother me so much - it's fucking liberals that really do my nut in!

I went to the Anarchist Book Fair in Bristol this year. Pretty good if you like vegan cupcakes(I don't) but otherwise it was a bit lacking.
I don't think geography is really so relevant as there are dickheads everywhere. I mean, Frome is a really fun place with loads going on with art, music etc but it's just so fucking smugly liberal and insular. I would describe the politics there as Farmers Market Corbynism. There are not enough Tories in the entire world to piss me off as much as these bastards!

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Auld-bod
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Nov 27 2015 15:49

Ghost Whistler #14
‘Do you really think that attitude applies to benefit sanctions?’

Good question.
On principle I’m against benefit sanctions, though I’m also against the need for benefits!
However given the society we live in many people require them. It is therefore necessary to distribute the benefits.
Is this the fault of the workers who are employed in this task? I think not. Never having been forced into this type of work I am extremely reluctant to condemn everyone who is stuck in that form of drudgery. Wage slavery necessitates many people doing hateful things, though on a strictly personal level there are several jobs I would never stoop to – being a policeman, or a military beast, to name but two. If I had small children who relied on me and I could find no other work, well that may be a different story.

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Noah Fence
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Nov 27 2015 15:59

Lol! I can just see it - 'ello 'ello 'ello, what's going on 'ere then?
Auld Bod, you'd be such a nice cop it would be a pleasure to get nicked by you.

Fleur
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Nov 27 2015 16:10

Being a member of a union is not necessarily a reflection of someone's political opinions. For most people it's often just a means of getting legal representation, contract negotiations etc.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 27 2015 16:11
Quote:
A problem with drawing lines in the sand is the tide turns in approximately six hours, so lines have to be continually redrawn.

Auld, you got a way with words, my friend!

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 17:18
Webby wrote:
Right, I spend a lot of time in Frome and sometimes work in the Bath area. Tories don't bother me so much - it's fucking liberals that really do my nut in!

I went to the Anarchist Book Fair in Bristol this year. Pretty good if you like vegan cupcakes(I don't) but otherwise it was a bit lacking.
I don't think geography is really so relevant as there are dickheads everywhere. I mean, Frome is a really fun place with loads going on with art, music etc but it's just so fucking smugly liberal and insular. I would describe the politics there as Farmers Market Corbynism. There are not enough Tories in the entire world to piss me off as much as these bastards!

Surely the tories are worse! they are the ones currently destroying society.

I dont' really understand the attitude toward liberals. What do you mean by Farmers Market Corbynism, I'm not a Labour supporter, and they currently seem hell bent on suicide, but Jeremy isn't that bad is he?

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 27 2015 17:34
Auld-bod wrote:
Ghost Whistler #14
‘Do you really think that attitude applies to benefit sanctions?’

Good question.
On principle I’m against benefit sanctions, though I’m also against the need for benefits!
However given the society we live in many people require them. It is therefore necessary to distribute the benefits.
Is this the fault of the workers who are employed in this task? I think not. Never having been forced into this type of work I am extremely reluctant to condemn everyone who is stuck in that form of drudgery. Wage slavery necessitates many people doing hateful things, though on a strictly personal level there are several jobs I would never stoop to – being a policeman, or a military beast, to name but two. If I had small children who relied on me and I could find no other work, well that may be a different story.

I don't blame the workers for the system.

But those that make this decision, which they could refuse and should be supported in dponig so, surely have to answer for that choice?

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Nov 27 2015 18:16

No, it's not the Tories destroying society, it's capital. Like any government the Tories administer the needs of capital. So our enemy is capital. Sure, Jezza seems to be a nicer guy than Cameron but so what? It really makes no difference. Anyhow, the history of Labour is just as checkered as the Tories. See for yourself;

http://libcom.org/library/arguments-against-jeremy-corbyn-labour-party

As for the problem with liberalism;

Quote:
It gives moral legitimacy to the state. It makes limited forms of dissent and incremental change possible. The liberal class posits itself as the conscience of the nation. It permits us, through its appeal to public virtues and the public good, to define ourselves as a good and noble people. Most importantly, on behalf of the power elite the liberal class serves as bulwarks against radical movements by offering a safety valve for popular frustrations and discontentment by discrediting those who talk of profound structural change. Once this class loses its social and political role then the delicate fabric of a democracy breaks down and the liberal class, along with the values it espouses, becomes an object of ridicule and hatred. The door that has been opened to proto-fascists has been opened by a bankrupt liberalism

The face of liberalism with a bit of Labour bashing thrown in;

http://libcom.org/blog/dear-messrs-webb-lustig%E2%80%A6-01112013

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Nov 27 2015 18:15
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What do you mean by Farmers Market Corbynism

Well, it's a joke again but based on liberal tactics. Post some pro Corbyn sentiment on Facebook stressing the importance of voting, then maybe sign an online petition for a vote of no confidence in the government, then off to the farmers market to buy some organic veg and driving the Volvo home with a self satisfied grin on your face thinking you've done more than your fair share of saving the world.

Ugh.

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 28 2015 09:58
Webby wrote:
No, it's not the Tories destroying society, it's capital. Like any government the Tories administer the needs of capital. So our enemy is capital. Sure, Jezza seems to be a nicer guy than Cameron but so what? It really makes no difference. Anyhow, the history of Labour is just as checkered as the Tories. See for yourself;

http://libcom.org/library/arguments-against-jeremy-corbyn-labour-party

As for the problem with liberalism;

Quote:
It gives moral legitimacy to the state. It makes limited forms of dissent and incremental change possible. The liberal class posits itself as the conscience of the nation. It permits us, through its appeal to public virtues and the public good, to define ourselves as a good and noble people. Most importantly, on behalf of the power elite the liberal class serves as bulwarks against radical movements by offering a safety valve for popular frustrations and discontentment by discrediting those who talk of profound structural change. Once this class loses its social and political role then the delicate fabric of a democracy breaks down and the liberal class, along with the values it espouses, becomes an object of ridicule and hatred. The door that has been opened to proto-fascists has been opened by a bankrupt liberalism

The face of liberalism with a bit of Labour bashing thrown in;

http://libcom.org/blog/dear-messrs-webb-lustig%E2%80%A6-01112013

I liked that article very much. Though i have not participated in direct action/protest myself because of where i live.

I support direct action and protest and abhor the plans to curtail it.

I understand what you are saying, but sometimes I feel that such statements can often alienate those who might identify with a liberal outlook (or what they see as one) who might otherwise be sympathetic to a stronger cause. For this reason I am not entirely against Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, even though I don't get why they persist with a failed group such as Labour nor do i believe they have a chance of surviving the vote for military action against Daesh.

I am by no means an expert on these matters. I grew up in a daily mail reading household and for yeas believed that the newspapers, broadly speaking, told the truth - after all wouldn't they lose sales if they lied to people?

As someone who has been unemployed most of his life I find the issue of welfare/benefits and how people get treated by society/capitalism as a claimant very important. So I care a great deal, as I'm sure we all do, that people are not forced beyond the fringes of society and left to starve. Lines in the sand may well shift over time, but this has to be sacrosanct otherwise we might as well just give up.

Ghost Whistler
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Nov 28 2015 10:01
Webby wrote:
Quote:
What do you mean by Farmers Market Corbynism

Well, it's a joke again but based on liberal tactics. Post some pro Corbyn sentiment on Facebook stressing the importance of voting, then maybe sign an online petition for a vote of no confidence in the government, then off to the farmers market to buy some organic veg and driving the Volvo home with a self satisfied grin on your face thinking you've done more than your fair share of saving the world.

Ugh.

I get what you are saying. But is Corbyn all bad?

I have made comments to the People's Assembly for this kind of attitude as it seems to pervade what could have been a vital group and not just a talking shop.

However on the other hand, when I say i live in Toryshire I'ms aying that I'm a middle class type. I didn't choose that, it's where I was born and raised and where I live. Should I be criticised for being that type? Admittedly I don't go to a Farmers Market grin

I struggle with some of this class stuff. I wasn't born and raised in the inner city, I'm a relatively comfortable white person but even so I utterly object to capitalism and how this society seems to function.

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Noah Fence
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Nov 28 2015 11:43

Hey GW, I still don't think you're getting my point but maybe I'm not being clear.

So, it doesn't matter if Corbyn is all that bad because it's not about individuals, although if you believe that parliamentary politics have any value at all then this statement clearly isn't true for you. Yes, we may pick individuals as a focus of our ire dependant on current events or our own personal prejudices but that's not what it's about at all. Personally, since I first got interested in politics in the early eighties I've found Labour more unpalatable than the Tories. I can't be arsed to go into why that is and anyway, it's just personal prejudice and really means nothing.

Quote:
However on the other hand, when I say i live in Toryshire I'ms aying that I'm a middle class type. I didn't choose that, it's where I was born and raised and where I live. Should I be criticised for being that type? Admittedly I don't go to a Farmers Market

Actually, I do go to my local farmers market, I've nothing against farmers markets at all but in relation to liberalism it becomes symbolic to me. The reason being that part of the problem with liberals is that they think their lifestyle choices contribute to political change. So, if you want some nice grub from the farmers market and you're fortunate enough to afford it, then fill your boots!

As for being criticised for the circumstances you were born into, no, that deserves no criticism at all, i mean Kropotkin was a prince for fucks sake! When we talk about class we are talking about our position within capitalism, are we workers that sell our time and labour for a wage or do we own the means of production and employ workers to exploit the excess value that they create? In this sense there is no middle class.
Anarchism seeks the abolition of class and the abolition of hierarchy. We all get caught up in personal gripes and prejudices but in truth it is about putting principles before personalities.