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Anarcho-syndicalists in Britain - SF or IWW?

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Joseph Kay's picture
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Jun 10 2011 00:21
Joseph Kay wrote:
Now I can imagine an argument here about local ballots, no higher body capable of denying a ballot etc, but what's worrying is nobody is making these arguments, or even seeing what the big deal is about jumping in with the state in a rush to be like all the other trade unions.

Just to expand on this, the strategy could be something like: register with the state and get certified, thus being capable of organising lawful industrial action. Then, go to groups of workers who are either non-unionised or being denied a ballot by their union hierarchy (as happens frequently), who can either breakaway or dual card with the IWW and get their ballot that way. There could be something added to the constitution that no officer or committee of the union has the power to deny a ballot request and must authorise it asap, to guard against the exec getting conservative over fears of getting the union sued. Now IMHO that wouldn't be a revolutionary union, but a rank-and-file (industrial) trade union. That doesn't make it a bad thing. And while I would argue such democratic unions tend strongly to bureaucratise despite best intentions, but such an organisation could potentially push things forward and attract some of the most militant sectors of the TUC unions. But like I say, nobody seems to be making this argument, or even recognising potential problems involved in such a legalistic approach (like Vince Cable's threat to just change the law to deal with effective action). And of course whatever the merits of a rank-and-file controlled trade union, it isn't anarcho-syndicalism (the topic of this thread).

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Jun 10 2011 00:40

Addresing some of what honestkaos said,

In the IWW, there are many that do not like these conversations. Or really having any discussions on strategy, tactics or how we operate. A lot of these people think they're being non-ideological. But, in fact, 'shut up and organize' is an ideology itself. One which is probably more undesirable than anything. Without discussing these things, we're doomed to the dark days of the 60s-80s, when nothing was passed on, lessons learned weren't recorded and dismal failures were the norm.

You can't organize without knowing how or why your doing it. And something that considers itself a revolutionary union and talks of anti-capitalism is absolutely fair game when it comes to seeing how their actual activity and actions match up to their rhetoric.

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Jun 10 2011 01:27
Chilli Sauce wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
blackrainbow - it seemed to me you where not engaging with peoples actual arguments

honestkaos - the issue is how to organise

No offense but now I'm inclined to think you're avoiding my question. Can you please quote anguments posted on this thread in which I have failed to engage in "serious debate"

I got to be honest, BR, I do feel like I've asked you some pretty direct questions you haven't answered. I don't want to be that douchebag who list all the unanswered questions on the thread, but....

Name them?

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Jun 10 2011 01:20
radicalgraffiti wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
blackrainbow - it seemed to me you where not engaging with peoples actual arguments

honestkaos - the issue is how to organise

No offense but now I'm inclined to think you're avoiding my question. Can you please quote anguments posted on this thread in which I have failed to engage in "serious debate"

it's more a case of absence of arguments

Now I'm inclined to think you're talking shit. Just what are you arguing?

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Jun 10 2011 01:31
Joseph Kay wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
I think it was unfair of Chilli to pick bits of the letter and draw conclusions

Well, if someone from SolFed was claiming something, and internal documents showed the opposite, quoting them might not be 'right', but it's at least a case of two wrongs. I mean it's highly pertinent to the discussion: would anarcho-syndicalists want to get involved in an attempt to form a union, which from the off seems committed to a legalistic approach, registering with the state etc?

I'm sorry but this is complete bollox. If someone in IWW BIRA used SolFeds internal correspondence in this way, you lot will be in outrage (and rightly so).

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 10 2011 01:38
Juan Conatz wrote:
Addresing some of what honestkaos said,

In the IWW, there are many that do not like these conversations. Or really having any discussions on strategy, tactics or how we operate. A lot of these people think they're being non-ideological. But, in fact, 'shut up and organize' is an ideology itself.

this, but i would say that those who push the line of shut up and organise are using it as cover for changes and strategy which have no defence, such as registering with the state, and which are certain to fuck up the iww's ability to organise

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Jun 10 2011 02:05
radicalgraffiti wrote:
Juan Conatz wrote:
Addresing some of what honestkaos said,

In the IWW, there are many that do not like these conversations. Or really having any discussions on strategy, tactics or how we operate. A lot of these people think they're being non-ideological. But, in fact, 'shut up and organize' is an ideology itself.

this, but i would say that those who push the line of shut up and organise are using it as cover for changes and strategy which have no defence, such as registering with the state, and which are certain to fuck up the iww's ability to organise

What the fuck that got to do with my question? I've argued with JK that I dont think organising legal shop floors or registering with the state (something the Spanish CNT and North American IWW has done) is going to change the supposedly 'revolutionary' nature of (anarcho) syndicalism or its ability to organise (regroupment of pro-revolutionaries at the point of production).

So I ask again. Can you please quote arguments posted on this thread in which I have failed to engage in "serious debate" ?

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Jun 10 2011 02:04

double post

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Jun 10 2011 02:05
blackrainbow wrote:
I'm sorry but this is complete bollox. If someone in IWW BIRA used SolFeds internal correspondence in this way, you lot will be in outrage (and rightly so).

If SolFed members were saying something publically which was contradicted by internal documents we'd only have ourselves to blame if someone published them and embarrassed us. I'm not saying it's right (it may even be unconstitutional), but it's a sort of 'two wrongs don't make a right' scenario if that's the case. But surely it makes sense to avoid this situation by just being open and honest about these things?

I mean we're not talking about sensitive internal info here, just broad strategy and direction. And I reiterate, whatever approach the IWW takes we'll act in solidarity with workers in struggle, whether in the IWW, mainstream unions or no union. But it's easier to work out how we can work together if we can work out what the IWW is trying to do/be in the UK, and therefore the overlaps and differences in approach. This does seem pretty enigmatic - you told Chilli Sauce he was out of touch, so then when he quoted contemporary internal documents you told him that source was off limits...

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Jun 10 2011 02:10
Joseph Kay wrote:
If SolFed members were saying something publically which was contradicted by internal documents we'd only have ourselves to blame if someone published them and embarrassed us. I'm not saying it's right (it may even be unconstitutional), but it's a sort of 'two wrongs don't make a right' scenario if that's the case. But surely it makes sense to avoid this situation by just being open and honest about these things?

It was not embarrasing. Chilli quoted selected parts of the internal communique. Have you read it in full?

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Jun 10 2011 02:11
blackrainbow wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
Juan Conatz wrote:
Addresing some of what honestkaos said,

In the IWW, there are many that do not like these conversations. Or really having any discussions on strategy, tactics or how we operate. A lot of these people think they're being non-ideological. But, in fact, 'shut up and organize' is an ideology itself.

this, but i would say that those who push the line of shut up and organise are using it as cover for changes and strategy which have no defence, such as registering with the state, and which are certain to fuck up the iww's ability to organise

What the fuck that got to do with my question? I've argued with JK that I dont think organising legal shop floors or registering with the state (something the Spanish CNT and North American IWW has done) is going to change the supposedly 'revolutionary' nature of (anarcho) syndicalism or its ability to organise (regroupment of pro-revolutionaries at the point of production).

So I ask again. Can you please quote arguments posted on this thread in which I have failed to engage in "serious debate" ?

im not responding to you fuck off

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Jun 10 2011 02:11

Besides how does it "contradict" whats been said in public?

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Jun 10 2011 02:15
radicalgraffiti wrote:
those who push the line of shut up and organise are using it as cover for changes and strategy which have no defence, such as registering with the state, and which are certain to fuck up the iww's ability to organise

I can't speak to the UK but this seems questionable to me. Ultimately all of this is speculative. Sound logical arguments about how doing XYZ guarantees marginalization (one argument against SolFed and US IWW noncontractual organizing) or doing ABC guarantees co-optation are well and good but we don't actually know what the historical processes will look like. The best tests of these ideas are in practice and after the positive hypotheses are laid out (and they basically are in the UK) folk should go on and see what happens. That seems to be what's basically going on between the two groups except for the odd spat which is caused -- or at least the heatedness to it is caused -- largely by tics of vocabulary (all players using evaluative terms which place themselves on the leftest end of the spectrum and their conversation partners to their right). It's noteworthy how rarely these disagreements get posed in ways that are agreed on by all parties - there's clearly disagreement, and there's a second order disagreement about what exactly the disagreement is.

Much of the arguments also seem to rest primarily on criticisms of other folk's practice and negative arguments for they're own (this happens in the US all the time - 'solidarity unionist' folk mostly have arguments for their views because of what their views are not -- we're not for contract! etc -- while contractualists basically do the same -- without contracts we can't sustain etc -- none of which articulates the actual positives of our actual practice in all its mixed-ness)

blackrainbow wrote:
I dont think organising legal shop floors or registering with the state (something the Spanish CNT and North American IWW has done) is going to change the supposedly 'revolutionary' nature of (anarcho) syndicalism or its ability to organise (regroupment of pro-revolutionaries at the point of production).
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Jun 10 2011 02:13
radicalgraffiti wrote:
im not responding to you fuck off

Ok then.

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Jun 10 2011 02:16
radicalgraffiti wrote:
im not responding to you fuck off

LOL. I am 12 and what is this?

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Jun 10 2011 02:37
Nate wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
im not responding to you fuck off

LOL. I am 12 and what is this?

The comrades are to be forgiven. Its around 3am in the morning in the UK and some of them must be responding after a heavy night of intoxication...well I am anyway!

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 10 2011 11:41

Yes i was drunk
I'm not sure if i can find quotes of stuff you haven't responded to blackrainbow, i don't really feel like rereading the entire thread right now.

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Jun 10 2011 14:30
Nate wrote:
Ultimately all of this is speculative.

Well, only in the most literal sense that we're discussing potentials and pitfalls that have, for the most part, yet to happen. But on the other hand, i don't think you can just ignore the long history of radical unions becoming reformist, bureaucratic and class collaborationist, and the realities of labour law and what acceptance by the state means for revolutionaries. And for SolFed's part, at least three generations of militants have been involved in the discussions leading to this approach, as well as the organisational experience in various things (rank-and-file networks, independent unions, mass meetings) from SWF to DAM to SolFed over half a century.

And of course some of this is happening today, so isn't speculative at all. The IWW has no-strike contracts, which make a mockery of the preamble (how can you sign that if you believe you have nothing in common with the boss?). In the Sheffield Cinema, apparently some sections were trying to put a brake on things for fear of being sued - although blackrainbow is most likely correct to point out no mechanisms exist at present beyond persuasion for such conservatism to be imposed. These are real problems that occur in organising today. 'Shut up and organise' would suggest there's no problem with these. There was a similar ambivilence to the Scottish MSPs debacle.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fucks up. SolFed will too. But i'd like to think we'll recognise the problems and try and learn from them (which is what our current strategy represents the culmination of so far). For SolFed's part we're trying to publish more about our approach and experiences (the new Workmates pamphlet, plus forthcoming stuff on organising and theory/practice of anarcho-syndicalism), cos we're not just dealing with hypotheticals either but trying to distil best practice from our organising efforts.

Now i've tried to play devils advocate and make an argument for the approach IWW BIRA is taking. But that's the thing: I'm having to make the argument. Blackrainbow's taken the stance that since the IWW will never in his opinion be a functioning union, none of this matters. I'm not convinced - nor do i think counting on a strategy to fail is a good strategy! Other people have seemed hostile to the very idea of any kind of tactical/strategic discussion in itself. I think Juan Conatz summed it up: refusing to consider history, learn from past successes and failures etc isn't 'non-ideological' pragmatism - it's completely self-defeating and just means they'll be more of the same mistakes made, needlessly.

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Jun 10 2011 14:51
radicalgraffiti wrote:
Yes i was drunk
I'm not sure if i can find quotes of stuff you haven't responded to blackrainbow, i don't really feel like rereading the entire thread right now.

I'm getting bored by this thread anyway. There's only one post I retracted a statement and promised to write a reply to. I'll get back to some of the points raised by JK later on.

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Jun 10 2011 15:26
Joseph Kay wrote:
And of course some of this is happening today, so isn't speculative at all. The IWW has no-strike contracts, which make a mockery of the preamble (how can you sign that if you believe you have nothing in common with the boss?). In the Sheffield Cinema, apparently some sections were trying to put a brake on things for fear of being sued - although blackrainbow is most likely correct to point out no mechanisms exist at present beyond persuasion for such conservatism to be imposed. These are real problems that occur in organising today. 'Shut up and organise' would suggest there's no problem with these. There was a similar ambivilence to the Scottish MSPs debacle.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fucks up. SolFed will too. But i'd like to think we'll recognise the problems and try and learn from them (which is what our current strategy represents the culmination of so far). For SolFed's part we're trying to publish more about our approach and experiences (the new Workmates pamphlet, plus forthcoming stuff on organising and theory/practice of anarcho-syndicalism), cos we're not just dealing with hypotheticals either but trying to distil best practice from our organising efforts.

The problem JK as I have articulated before on another thread is that the SolFed approach whilst good on paper has never really been 'tested' in a real world situation like the Sheffield Cinema. So whilst the criticism is wellcome, there are no proofs that the revolutionary union/network model advocated by some SolFed members would have been of any concrete use to the workers in struggle.

Joseph Kay wrote:
Now i've tried to play devils advocate and make an argument for the approach IWW BIRA is taking. But that's the thing: I'm having to make the argument. Blackrainbow's taken the stance that since the IWW will never in his opinion be a functioning union, none of this matters.

I've also argued that it would be very unlikely for SolFed to substantiate its Industrial Networks for the very same reason i.e. the business trade unions in Britain have a virtual monopoly on organised Labour in Industries that are strategically important to capital and its state and will continue to do so because of the important structural role they play in the sale of labour power and the substantial state funding and backing for their activities.

Joseph Kay wrote:
I'm not convinced - nor do i think counting on a strategy to fail is a good strategy! Other people have seemed hostile to the very idea of any kind of tactical/strategic discussion in itself. I think Juan Conatz summed it up: refusing to consider history, learn from past successes and failures etc isn't 'non-ideological' pragmatism - it's completely self-defeating and just means they'll be more of the same mistakes made, needlessly.

But from my POV, SolFed is also "counting on a strategy to fail". My reasons for being in the IWW is not that I think one day all workers will be assembled in One Big Union and then take over industry by means of general strike and implement Industrial democracy. History has proven it to be a strategic dead end. And unlike some anarcho-syndicalists I dont think there will be a phenomena described by SolFed as a revolutionary union which will be decisive in helping to bring about the revolution (i.e. the struggle to establish the exclusive exercise of power through workers councils). IMO syndicalist and anarcho-syndicalist unions are useful for regrouping militants (with clear revolutionist perspectives, moving in that direction or otherwise) at the point of production and then acting as a limited platform to propagandise for the revolutionary overthrow of the wages system.

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Jun 10 2011 16:14
blackrainbow wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
I think it was unfair of Chilli to pick bits of the letter and draw conclusions

Well, if someone from SolFed was claiming something, and internal documents showed the opposite, quoting them might not be 'right', but it's at least a case of two wrongs. I mean it's highly pertinent to the discussion: would anarcho-syndicalists want to get involved in an attempt to form a union, which from the off seems committed to a legalistic approach, registering with the state etc?

I'm sorry but this is complete bollox. If someone in IWW BIRA used SolFeds internal correspondence in this way, you lot will be in outrage (and rightly so).

Oh, come on BR. This was hardly a private document that had anything confidential in it. What secret campaign was outed? Is any one's name even mentioned? Have I tipped off the bosses to a big upcoming action or some strategy the IWW was keeping secret in order to lead a big offensive?

Dude, it was mundane details that simply backed up what has been conveyed on this thread a dozen times already--not to mention what's said by dozens of other UK IWW members in public meetings and online forums all the time.

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Jun 10 2011 16:28
Quote:
The problem JK as I have articulated before on another thread is that the SolFed approach whilst good on paper has never really been 'tested' in a real world situation like the Sheffield Cinema.

BR, I've addressed this like 5 times before. Our strategy--which we acknowledge is yet to be fully implemented--is based on the actual past experiences of our members (take Workmates for one example). However, the base of our networks--the workplace committees--have had real successes. It's a really stale argument on your behalf and I don't know why you insist on wheeling it out everytime someone is critical of the actions of the UK IWW--not only is it incorrect, but it in no way explains or justifies the actions of the IWW in the Sheffield Cinema case.

I'm in a rush, but I'll try to find some tie do dig out bits I don't think were adequately responded at some later point.

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Jun 10 2011 16:56

Juan: Yes you are correct...even the act of not having an ideology is in itself an ideology.

Ok, it seems like the issue here is how to stay 'anarchist' and have any dealings with the state. Well, you don't have to be a recognized union to be a union..we all know that..but do some unions want union legal status.. yes..the majority do.

In the 1930's the IWW agreed to let each shop decide for itself whether it wanted to seek a contractual agreement with the employer or not; so if the union votes for a contract then the IWW can't tell them no.

I"m not sure how many of the people on here have actually tried to organize anywhere, but there ain't that many anarchists out there. So, if you would like to try and convert all your coworkers into some sort of anarchist philosophy...be my guest. You will only succeed in alienating yourself and your campaign will not go very far. That doesn't mean you don't educate people about anarchist ideals and the benefits of them..it just means you don't begin a campaign with the idea that you are going to end up with 200 (random figure) anarchists after you are finished. I don't think that I'm going to have 1000 (number of workers at my job) carded wobblies if/when the campaign i'm currently involved in succeeds. I"m hoping to have a solid core of wobblies and a lot of people that achieve some sort of understanding about the power of worker solidarity.

So when we talk about is this group 'anarchist' or that group 'anarchist' we really need to be focusing on how the group can actually enter into the everyday lives of their fellow workers , who aren't marxist/anarchist/leftist, and ,in a very pragmatic way, expose their fw's to the actual truth of what it means to be anarchist or marxist...in how we associate and live. That is the victory that we can achieve...taking it from the academic sphere to the shop floor and creating class consciousness in a fw who has no idea that he/she is even working class. Thats where all the difference is made; if we can't do that...we can't do anything.

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Jun 10 2011 17:29
Chilli Sauce wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
Joseph Kay wrote:
blackrainbow wrote:
I think it was unfair of Chilli to pick bits of the letter and draw conclusions

Well, if someone from SolFed was claiming something, and internal documents showed the opposite, quoting them might not be 'right', but it's at least a case of two wrongs. I mean it's highly pertinent to the discussion: would anarcho-syndicalists want to get involved in an attempt to form a union, which from the off seems committed to a legalistic approach, registering with the state etc?

I'm sorry but this is complete bollox. If someone in IWW BIRA used SolFeds internal correspondence in this way, you lot will be in outrage (and rightly so).

Oh, come on BR. This was hardly a private document that had anything confidential in it. What secret campaign was outed? Is any one's name even mentioned? Have I tipped off the bosses to a big upcoming action or some strategy the IWW was keeping secret in order to lead a big offensive?

Dude, it was mundane details that simply backed up what has been conveyed on this thread a dozen times already--not to mention what's said by dozens of other UK IWW members in public meetings and online forums all the time.

Ok Chilli we've thrashed this one out lets stick to the subject matter of the thread and not further derail it.

But just to articulate my thoughts and feelings. In this thread you've already tried to use internal IWW BIRA correspondence to prove a point about an email ,which has turned out not to exist, to all members instructing them to take stage 1 reps course before others. Also I think that selectively quoting from the letter written by one member (even if hes the acting national secretary) and trying to use it as some sort of 'proof' of IWW BIRAs 'devotion' to 'legalities' was unfair. North American IWW as I understand is also a legally registered trade union in some states and there has ,in recent history, been a job branch that signed a 'no strike clause'. So I'm puzzled at why you keep screaming 'reformist' charges at IWW BIRA but fail to see the same 'faults' in other syndicalist organisations you appear to romanticise.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
The problem JK as I have articulated before on another thread is that the SolFed approach whilst good on paper has never really been 'tested' in a real world situation like the Sheffield Cinema.

BR, I've addressed this like 5 times before. Our strategy--which we acknowledge is yet to be fully implemented--is based on the actual past experiences of our members (take Workmates for one example). However, the base of our networks--the workplace committees--have had real successes. It's a really stale argument on your behalf and I don't know why you insist on wheeling it out everytime someone is critical of the actions of the UK IWW--not only is it incorrect, but it in no way explains or justifies the actions of the IWW in the Sheffield Cinema case.

I'm in a rush, but I'll try to find some tie do dig out bits I don't think were adequately responded at some later point.

Sheffield Cinema was an attempt to collectively organise the whole workplace and unionise workers (most of whom had never been in a union) from scratch and was from start to finish an IWW members initiative.Workmates emerged within the setting of the most 'militant' TUC trade union (RMT) had the support of seasoned RMT stewards from the begining and was not a SolFed initiative (this is not to knock it because I thought it was great and have tried to replicate it in my previous workplace) .

What I'm trying to say is that as an organisation you have yet to point to a collective struggle in a workplace in which the SolFed revolutionary union/network model has been tried. If it is now the case that the SolFed approach to organising co
llective struggle in a workplace setting like Sheffield Cinema has been attempted please point out these struggles. Having solidarity pickets (something IWW BIRA has also succesfully done) is not enough to demonstrate the success or failure of that model.

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Jun 11 2011 10:34
honestkaos wrote:
Juan: Yes you are correct...even the act of not having an ideology is in itself an ideology.

Ok, it seems like the issue here is how to stay 'anarchist' and have any dealings with the state. Well, you don't have to be a recognized union to be a union..we all know that..but do some unions want union legal status.. yes..the majority do.

I'm not sure that's the issue. The IWW isn't an anarchist organization (thank god). I think the question is what strategies and tactics are in line with an explicitly revolutionary outlook and outcome. I would tend to agree with some of the criticisms of the UK IWW that taking up representational functions and some incorporation with the state to become a 'legit' trade union is one that is going to have consequences that limit or entirely eliminate any possibility of functioning as a revolutionary union.

Quote:
In the 1930's the IWW agreed to let each shop decide for itself whether it wanted to seek a contractual agreement with the employer or not; so if the union votes for a contract then the IWW can't tell them no.

But, from 1900s until the 1930s (or in other words the heyday of the IWW) contracts had to go through the GEB first and had a number of prohibitions on what was in them. I went to into this a bit in a blog post on here.

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Jun 10 2011 18:17
honestkaos wrote:
So, if you would like to try and convert all your coworkers into some sort of anarchist philosophy...be my guest. You will only succeed in alienating yourself and your campaign will not go very far.

fwiw, SolFed do not say you have to convert all your workmates to anarchism, then organise. far from it. off out now but i'm happy to elaborate later if you're interested. but i think 'rabid anarchist' vs 'legalist trade unionist' is a bit of a false dichotomy!

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Jun 12 2011 12:47

Removed by syndicalist

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Jun 11 2011 03:26
blackrainbow wrote:
North American IWW as I understand is also a legally registered trade union in some states and there has ,in recent history, been a job branch that signed a 'no strike clause'.

Yes. Registered in the US federally (so, across all states, thus required to report to the Dept of Labor and some branches are large enough that they have to file their own reports to the DoL), some shops have contracts with no strike clauses (two shops at least have cotnracts w/ out such clauses, which is very rare in the US). We have a constitional ban on dues check off (not sure this exists in the UK or not, it's how most unions collect dues in the US - boss takes a deduction from paychecks and gives the collected money to the union) and on contract language that would require members to cross a picket line. It's controversial whether or not this makes no strike clauses constitutional (folk argue that they are in cases where the unit under contract includes all non-managerial employees at a company, which sounds about right to me).

Joseph Kay wrote:
The IWW has no-strike contracts, which make a mockery of the preamble (how can you sign that if you believe you have nothing in common with the boss?). In the Sheffield Cinema, apparently some sections were trying to put a brake on things for fear of being sued - although blackrainbow is most likely correct to point out no mechanisms exist at present beyond persuasion for such conservatism to be imposed. These are real problems that occur in organising today. 'Shut up and organise' would suggest there's no problem with these. There was a similar ambivilence to the Scottish MSPs debacle.

See this is part of what I was trying to get across. The above is basically/at root phrased as a matter of failing to live up to core principles. I get you and am basically where you're at in terms of the sorts of practice we both favor (though I suspect you have a more deeply felt commitment to those principles than I do). Here's a counter-argument, though: "without contracts you can't build stable institutions and so you remain marginal and ineffective, which makes a mockery of the preamble (how can you remain marginal and ineffective if you believe it's our role to help move forward the working class's historic mission of abolishing capitalism?)" That argument has come basically every time in the IWW when two things happen: a) the contractual vs noncontractual argument comes up and b) it's framed at the level of principle. I think these arguments are basically incommensurable and irresovable once posed in those terms and they quickly become shibboleths. Which is unfortunate because each argument tracks onto real difficulties: each side of that debate expresses some aspect of a vision of building an institution, and each side has a point about the limits of the other side as currently practiced. Contracts etc DO exert a pull that shapes the organizing in problematic ways. Noncontractual etc ('direct unionism') experiences its own pulls in every example I'm familiar with, which is a pull toward dissolution. (My personal answer to this, if anyone cares, is that then we should be open to dissolution and we orient toward developing individuals as revolutionary cadre out of those struggles and try to keep folk networked productively.) But I think in terms of how these conversations tend to play out when one statement expresses simultaneously "here is a violation of core principles" and "here is a limit to the current practice and short-term vision for this model of institution-building" the first drowns out the second and substantive discussion about the second is minimized.

Joseph Kay wrote:
Juan Conatz summed it up: refusing to consider history, learn from past successes and failures etc isn't 'non-ideological' pragmatism - it's completely self-defeating and just means they'll be more of the same mistakes made, needlessly.

Sure. But refusal to discuss is tied to context and to other evaluations. Shibboleths create an air that discourages discussion externally and probably internally because sacrifice the second need - honestly evaluate our activity in relation to our goals, to the limited degree we've formulated clear goals, and in relatiion to our values - to the first need - stay in-group with their people; especially when the in-group feels embattled.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Jun 12 2011 00:02

Honest, if your positng the IWW model v. the SF model, you're proposing a false dichotomy. SF's organizing model is specifically based on creating 'workplace committees' (as outline in the OT 101, in fact, and explicitly so) which are made of SF member(s) and other workplace militants who consciously reach out to workmates to engage them in struggle (and hopefully develop their politics in the process). So, mate, it's a red herring to claim (if that's what you were claiming) that SF, as an anarchist organization, believes we all need to make workmates anarchists before we can effectively engage in struggle.

Quote:
North American IWW as I understand is also a legally registered trade union in some states and there has ,in recent history, been a job branch that signed a 'no strike clause'. So I'm puzzled at why you keep screaming 'reformist' charges at IWW BIRA but fail to see the same 'faults' in other syndicalist organisations you appear to romanticise.

Dude, I was the first one to bring up the US IWW's no-strike clause!

BR, as I've addressed explicitly and directly before, the issue has never been reformism, it's been mediation; so I'm not sure why you keep levelling this charge. In fact, what I've argued is the BIRA should learn from the faults of the US IWW in trying to understand why they ended up signing no-strike contracts. What I've argued is that by buying into the state 'labor-relations regime' and taking on the 'three R's of trade unionism', the IWW will end up acting like a trade union--no strike clauses in the US and, in the UK, warning members against 'unlawful' direct action as this will jeopardize the union.

As for the faults in "other syndicalist organizations", the IWA has a proud history of placing principals before membership numbers--hence why most IWA splits are about engaging with the state (works councils in particular) and trying to learn from (in particular) the mistakes the CNT made when they joined the state.

Honestly, I think you're accusing me of things I never said or implied.

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Awesome Dude
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Jun 12 2011 03:43
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Honest, if your positng the IWW model v. the SF model, you're proposing a false dichotomy. SF's organizing model is specifically based on creating 'workplace committees' (as outline in the OT 101, in fact, and explicitly so) which are made of SF member(s) and other workplace militants who consciously reach out to workmates to engage them in struggle (and hopefully develop their politics in the process).

Ths SF organising model you've just described is imo what most militants are looking to do in workplace settings. That includes IWW BIRA because we have hosted a joint organiser training course with SolFed in London before (this was before your time in London) and have similar approaches to workplace organising. The difference being that we have no problem with workers forming a legally recognised job branch (and are working towards giving workers that option if they want it).

Chilli Sauce wrote:
So, mate, it's a red herring to claim (if that's what you were claiming) that SF, as an anarchist organization, believes we all need to make workmates anarchists before we can effectively engage in struggle.

No. I don't think I've ever claimed or implied that in any of my arguments (though if I did sorry didnt mean to). The problem I have, if it is a problem, with SolFeds Industrial Networks is that you have to be a member of SolFed by joining the nearest local and by extension agree with SolFeds aims&principals and constitution. I understand why SolFed needs to do this for historical (the DAMs branches had problems by being too 'open' to militants with varying methods and ideology) and political reasons (building towards realising an IWA affiliate revolutionary union). But I think this inhibits positive potential growth i.e. AF members joining industrial networks but having the option of not being in a SolFed local (as long as the AFs workplace resistance groups function the same as SolFeds proposed industrial networks and seeing as both groups are politically identical, so in theory, there should be no problems with AF members being in SolFeds industrial networks without having to join a SolFed local).

Chilli Sauce wrote:
BR, as I've addressed explicitly and directly before, the issue has never been reformism, it's been mediation; so I'm not sure why you keep levelling this charge. In fact, what I've argued is the BIRA should learn from the faults of the US IWW in trying to understand why they ended up signing no-strike contracts. What I've argued is that by buying into the state 'labor-relations regime' and taking on the 'three R's of trade unionism', the IWW will end up acting like a trade union--no strike clauses in the US and, in the UK, warning members against 'unlawful' direct action as this will jeopardize the union.

I don't think any IWW BIRA job branch is presently in danger of agreeing to a no-strike contract simply because a lot of workers who have joined recently (or are looking to do so) have the explicit expectation of not being stifled by bureaucracy if they want to organise Industrial action (strikes especially). Though tbf to your concerns any job branch presently has the autonomy to organise themselves in any way they see fit (including agreeing to no-strike clauses) as long as the abide by the constitution. I think a motion to conference changing the constitution including an explicit directory that any Industrial Union or job branch can not sign any contract that precludes the individual and collective withdrawal of labour should be enough.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
As for the faults in "other syndicalist organizations", the IWA has a proud history of placing principals before membership numbers--hence why most IWA splits are about engaging with the state (works councils in particular) and trying to learn from (in particular) the mistakes the CNT made when they joined the state.

Hmmm. In this period in history I don't think it's about "placing principals before membership numbers" because imo there is no prospect of militant rank & file controlled labour organisations having the 'mass' membership following they did in the early 20th century or rapidly growing as a result of diluting their revolutionary aims & principals. I think its more useful to look at whether a workplace organisation that advocates revolution is effective at regrouping militants (that includes helping to develop militants) and acting as a platform to organise and agitate for a more militant working class and propagandise for the abolition of alienated labour.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Honestly, I think you're accusing me of things I never said or implied

Ok Chilli I'm not the biggest fan of online discussions over complicated issues so I suggest after the next SolFed/London IWW GMB meeting we have a comradely chat over a cold beer/ale to clarify things.