What do anarchist/libertarian communist movements need in order to grow?

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gypsy
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Jul 3 2010 13:35
What do anarchist/libertarian communist movements need in order to grow?

Any ideas? Or will we always be an irrelevant minority?

Boris Badenov
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Jul 3 2010 15:15
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Some relevance to people's everyday lives.
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JoeMaguire
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Jul 3 2010 16:42

Discipline.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 3 2010 16:54

Is a 'disciplined' libertarian movement going to help me find a job, or help me keep the one I have? Is it going to help me pay the rent? Is it going to keep my kids in school? Is it going to take care of my parents when they're too old to work?

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Choccy
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Jul 3 2010 18:54

to be fair, there are plenty of examples of disciplined coordinated activities successfully result in people keeping their jobs or keep their schools open - obv there are lots of other factors that were at work but there's no point downplaying the successes where disciplined class struggle anarchists were involved wink

gypsy
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Jul 3 2010 19:24

Im not having at go at the achievements of the anarchist movement in the uk. But as we know numbers wise its a tiny movement.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 4 2010 02:45
Choccy wrote:
to be fair, there are plenty of examples of disciplined coordinated activities successfully result in people keeping their jobs or keep their schools open - obv there are lots of other factors that were at work but there's no point downplaying the successes where disciplined class struggle anarchists were involved ;)

I wasn't trying to downplay the usefulness of disciplined action, but putting my interest in anarchism aside, as a worker with no particular interest in any kind of 'political philosophy' those are exactly the types of questions that I'd ask, and I wouldn't be wrong in asking them, because a world without capitalism sounds grand, but in the meantime a wage slave is still a wage slave.
In any case, I thought about Ally's question today, and I think that if history is anything to go by, then it's worth remembering that anarchism was in its heyday (specific historical revolutionary contexts like the SCW and the RR aside) when it helped the struggle of immigrant workers with no guaranteed conditions. This has been a feature that constantly stood out in my readings of anarchist history. Surely given the current situation of migrant workers in Britain, and all over the Western world, this point should be stressed much harder. Illegal migrants are the people most in need of direct action imo.

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JoeMaguire
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Jul 4 2010 06:08
Vlad336 wrote:
Is a 'disciplined' libertarian movement going to help me find a job, or help me keep the one I have? Is it going to help me pay the rent? Is it going to keep my kids in school? Is it going to take care of my parents when they're too old to work?

Bit of a strawman tbh. I was more referring to the fact that giving off the appearance of being poorly organised and unable to co-ordinate meagre activity, will only ever be able to win dossers and the naive to your cause. Elementary things like punctuality, preparation and following up on mandated decisions are a small stepping stone for winning peoples trust.

gypsy
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Jul 4 2010 10:51

More of this organised by afed and solfed should do the trick laugh out loud

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Farce
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Jul 4 2010 14:07
Vlad336 wrote:
In any case, I thought about Ally's question today, and I think that if history is anything to go by, then it's worth remembering that anarchism was in its heyday (specific historical revolutionary contexts like the SCW and the RR aside) when it helped the struggle of immigrant workers with no guaranteed conditions. This has been a feature that constantly stood out in my readings of anarchist history. Surely given the current situation of migrant workers in Britain, and all over the Western world, this point should be stressed much harder. Illegal migrants are the people most in need of direct action imo.

An interesting point. On one hand, what you say is true, on the other it's also the case that anarchists' attitudes to immigration is one of the points - if not the point - where we're most dramatically at odds with 'common sense'. I know some anarchists who've argued that we should abandon migrant solidarity altogether for populist reasons. Obv, I don't agree with that, but I do think we should be aware of the fact that it's a huge stumbling point for a lot of people who're otherwise fairly consistently pro-worker and try to frame our argument as far as possible in terms of how class unity is in our own material interests, rather than in moral terms of what's good for migrants.

More generally, I think we're in a situation where anarchism has the potential to grow - if there's mass resistance to the cuts, and if anarchist militants play a consistent and principled role in it. Obv, there's no guarantee that this'll happen - it's possible that our class is so demoralised and beaten down that most people will just accept the latest wave of attacks without much of a fight, in which case anarchists will be in no position to influence anything, or it's possible that there'll be a mass fightback entirely independent of the anarchist movement, and many anarchists will continue to wank around with stuff like Democracy Village and Chris Knight stunts, and any political capital from the resistance to the tories will go to the BNP or Labour (I would add the left to this list of potential beneficiaries, but to be honest I don't really think British trots are competent enough to help solve capitalism's problems).

gypsy
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Jul 4 2010 14:31
Farce wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
In any case, I thought about Ally's question today, and I think that if history is anything to go by, then it's worth remembering that anarchism was in its heyday (specific historical revolutionary contexts like the SCW and the RR aside) when it helped the struggle of immigrant workers with no guaranteed conditions. This has been a feature that constantly stood out in my readings of anarchist history. Surely given the current situation of migrant workers in Britain, and all over the Western world, this point should be stressed much harder. Illegal migrants are the people most in need of direct action imo.

An interesting point. On one hand, what you say is true, on the other it's also the case that anarchists' attitudes to immigration is one of the points - if not the point - where we're most dramatically at odds with 'common sense'. I know some anarchists who've argued that we should abandon migrant solidarity altogether for populist reasons. Obv, I don't agree with that, but I do think we should be aware of the fact that it's a huge stumbling point for a lot of people who're otherwise fairly consistently pro-worker and try to frame our argument as far as possible in terms of how class unity is in our own material interests, rather than in moral terms of what's good for migrants.

Don't most anarchists agree that immigration is used to push down wages? and that the immigrants are not the problem but the capitalists who use them to further exploit the working class. I think we should stand in solidarity with migrant/illegal workers like as vlad points out constituted the backbone of most historic anarchist movements.

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Choccy
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Jul 4 2010 14:38
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
october_lost wrote:
Bit of a strawman tbh. I was more referring to the fact that giving off the appearance of being poorly organised and unable to co-ordinate meagre activity, will only ever be able to win dossers and the naive to your cause. Elementary things like punctuality, preparation and following up on mandated decisions are a small stepping stone for winning peoples trust.

That's a fair point, I'd have probably called that basic organisation rather than discipline though.

Na they're slightly different - organisation is having shit in place, which could be a list of agreed decisions, times for meetings etc etc
Discipline is actually following up on shit; actually turning up on the agreed time/date as opposed to simply agreeing it.

On paper a group can b incredibly organised: timetables, work delegated and recorded blah blah. But if no on does what they've agreed to the organising work is wasted because no one followed through. I've been guilty of this wink

Mike Harman
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Jul 4 2010 14:43

Realise they're not a movement.

gypsy
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Jul 4 2010 14:49
Mike Harman wrote:
Realise they're not a movement.

any other words you suggest i use to replace movement with?

Mike Harman
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Jul 4 2010 15:01

milieu?

gypsy
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Jul 4 2010 15:05
Mike Harman wrote:
milieu?

Can't be bother changing it now, but looked up word in dictionary and perhaps it would have been more appropriate.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 4 2010 15:48
Farce wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
In any case, I thought about Ally's question today, and I think that if history is anything to go by, then it's worth remembering that anarchism was in its heyday (specific historical revolutionary contexts like the SCW and the RR aside) when it helped the struggle of immigrant workers with no guaranteed conditions. This has been a feature that constantly stood out in my readings of anarchist history. Surely given the current situation of migrant workers in Britain, and all over the Western world, this point should be stressed much harder. Illegal migrants are the people most in need of direct action imo.

An interesting point. On one hand, what you say is true, on the other it's also the case that anarchists' attitudes to immigration is one of the points - if not the point - where we're most dramatically at odds with 'common sense'. I know some anarchists who've argued that we should abandon migrant solidarity altogether for populist reasons. Obv, I don't agree with that, but I do think we should be aware of the fact that it's a huge stumbling point for a lot of people who're otherwise fairly consistently pro-worker and try to frame our argument as far as possible in terms of how class unity is in our own material interests, rather than in moral terms of what's good for migrants.

You cannot be pro-worker if you're for only a contingent of the working class, defined thus according to capitalist preconceptions. I don't think anarchists should justify their support for mistreated workers in any way, to anyone. That is the job of bleeding heart leftists. Anarchists should help illegal workers win some basic rights, and that's that. I know this isn't easy to do, and I am not trying to dictate to anyone what they should do as an anarchist, but even if you leave history aside, it's just bleeding obvious that those workers who are in most need of direct action are those with no union representation, with no guaranteed minimum wage or humane working conditions.
That is just one example obviously. Ultimately what is needed is involvement in struggles, not just as propagandists supporting workers in writing and through solidarity visits, but as those who instigate the struggle, who make the workers believe in their power again. May this sounds a bit lofty and heroic, but I don't think it's unrealistic. There was a recent thread on here about how sex workers in Britain are not recognized as workers, and hence have no guaranteed rights. I think you have a huge issue there that anarchists can campaign for.
The budget cuts will probably increase the mood of militancy, but I think it's small concrete struggles that matter ultimately. Marching against the government cuts is nothing very useful ultimately, as anyone (save for THE OUTLAW maybe) who ever marched against war, etc. knows. It is direct action, occupation, solidarity, and yes, a list of demands (especially in the case of illegal/unrecognized workers) that make real advances, both for anarchism as a strategy, and for the working class as a whole. (Sorry if that was a bit rambling, I have to fuck off somewhere).

Boris Badenov
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Jul 4 2010 15:52

Btw, if anyone's interested, here's a text I uploaded recently on how anarcho-syndicalism was able to make real advances and grow in Britain before the First World War, with particular reference to the catering industry. I think the points the author raises, despite their age, are all basically still valid today.
http://libcom.org/history/dare-be-daniel-wilf-mccartney

Spikymike
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Jul 4 2010 17:08

I think that....to grow into a 'movement' from the current status of a minority milieu needs:

1. An extensive and deep crisis of the capitalist economy at a world level.

2. A growing working class resistance to the effects of this crisis accross the globe, ( for which the existing organisations within the milieu are mostly unable and unlikely to contribute significantly).

3. A politics cleansed of all the dross of 'leftism' and 'liberalism' .

4. A rejection of vanguardist and elitist organisational forms.

In the meantime an expanding, open, non-sectarian, non-dogmatic discussion and co-operation amongst those who might reasonably be considered as constituting the pro-revolutionary milieu.

TragicTravisty
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Jul 7 2010 03:21

the only thing that will help anarchism and the left as a whole grow is crisis... fortunately, one is coming.

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888
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Jul 7 2010 05:04
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Some relevance to people's everyday lives
Vlad wrote:
Ultimately what is needed is involvement in struggles, not just as propagandists supporting workers in writing and through solidarity visits, but as those who instigate the struggle, who make the workers believe in their power again.

I honestly think (and sorry if I sound a bit like a broken record) that the best way to start doing this for local anarchist groups in the US, UK and similar areas is to to adapt organising techniques similar to those used by SeaSol. This is in my eyes a vast untapped area of easy* organising potential around immediate issues that are relevant to all workers, anarchists included. Winning a few small fights of this kind will provide an immediate boost in confidence, experience, mobilising capacity and popularity from which to build.

TragicTravesty wrote:
the only thing that will help anarchism and the left as a whole grow is crisis... fortunately, one is coming.

There is still a vast amount of room for growth even without a crisis.

*It's still a lot of work, but compared to succeeding in many other potential areas of activity such as organising workplaces or anti-war campaigns, etc. it's very easy.

no1
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Jul 7 2010 09:30
888 wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Some relevance to people's everyday lives
Vlad wrote:
Ultimately what is needed is involvement in struggles, not just as propagandists supporting workers in writing and through solidarity visits, but as those who instigate the struggle, who make the workers believe in their power again.

I honestly think (and sorry if I sound a bit like a broken record) that the best way to start doing this for local anarchist groups in the US, UK and similar areas is to to adapt organising techniques similar to those used by SeaSol. This is in my eyes a vast untapped area of easy* organising potential around immediate issues that are relevant to all workers, anarchists included. Winning a few small fights of this kind will provide an immediate boost in confidence, experience, mobilising capacity and popularity from which to build.

I agree. What I like about it is that instead of making the case for self-organisation, direct action, solidarity in the abstract, you can just ask people to come along to a picket. Though clearly it's not appropriate for all workplaces/landlords and there are problematic aspects to it (especially if it's too much about individual case work and not enough about collectivising grievances), I hope that it can serve to build up a culture of struggle by involving a larger number of workers, who then go on to apply the basic ideas in other places.
Brighton Solfed are starting to do Seasol-type stuff now.

gypsy
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Jul 7 2010 09:50
888 wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Some relevance to people's everyday lives
Vlad wrote:
Ultimately what is needed is involvement in struggles, not just as propagandists supporting workers in writing and through solidarity visits, but as those who instigate the struggle, who make the workers believe in their power again.

I honestly think (and sorry if I sound a bit like a broken record) that the best way to start doing this for local anarchist groups in the US, UK and similar areas is to to adapt organising techniques similar to those used by SeaSol. This is in my eyes a vast untapped area of easy* organising potential around immediate issues that are relevant to all workers, anarchists included. Winning a few small fights of this kind will provide an immediate boost in confidence, experience, mobilising capacity and popularity from which to build.

TragicTravesty wrote:
the only thing that will help anarchism and the left as a whole grow is crisis... fortunately, one is coming.

There is still a vast amount of room for growth even without a crisis.

*It's still a lot of work, but compared to succeeding in many other potential areas of activity such as organising workplaces or anti-war campaigns, etc. it's very easy.

Thanks I saw the seasol videos you's posted and looks like seasol are doing some fine work.

fort-da game
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Jul 7 2010 11:21
no1 wrote:
What I like about it is that instead of making the case for self-organisation, direct action, solidarity in the abstract, you can just ask people to come along to a picket. Though clearly it's not appropriate for all workplaces/landlords and there are problematic aspects to it (especially if it's too much about individual case work and not enough about collectivising grievances), I hope that it can serve to build up a culture of struggle by involving a larger number of workers, who then go on to apply the basic ideas in other places.
Brighton Solfed are starting to do Seasol-type stuff now.

But it doesn't answer the question of the growth of anarchist and communist movements. It merely reiterates the workings of a model. Unless that is, the solution proposed by this model is to remove all reference to such politics and focus entirely on radical unionism. The fact that radical unionism has fallen into such a state of disrepair and must constantly be 're-discovered' like it was something new only indicates its lack of penetration into people's lives and the ineffectiveness of its strategy beyond token 'campaigns'.

Seasol seems to conform to a social activist type front group (in this case for the IWW). It is run by those with a higher level of political awareness than what is on public display – this awareness is recast at a level even below that of a 'minimum definition' in order to appeal to a public it thinks will not stomach its real intentions. The social activism model takes on and engages 'ordinary' people's struggles on their 'ordinary' terms as a form of service provision which these other 'ordinary' people consume without having to engage the political background. The trouble with engaging with people on their own terms is that it reproduces a primal scene (of victims and externalised oppressors and where the reproductive role of the working class in the social relation is not engaged) and in which the possibility of consciousness plays no part. As soon as an individual gains political insight, they are no longer a 'worker', they no longer are 'ordinary' and immediately become rivals (as consciousness is always divergent), perhaps also worthy of contempt if they perceive flaws in the logic of the for-public consumption model. It is important in their self-explanation for some reason that seasol are not lawyers or social workers, this seems to be some sort of code for 'no ulterior motive' – but at some point the question of total social transformation will have to make an appearance otherwise the struggles themselves become an aspect of the general social relation.

Without an explicit politics (and even with it) my understanding of the 'seasol' type approach is that it doesn't often last much beyond 5 years before it factionalises along precisely those lines that have been suppressed.

The suggestions put forward by spikeymike are more to the point of this thread.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 7 2010 15:53
fort-da game wrote:

But it doesn't answer the question of the growth of anarchist and communist movements. It merely reiterates the workings of a model. Unless that is, the solution proposed by this model is to remove all reference to such politics and focus entirely on radical unionism. The fact that radical unionism has fallen into such a state of disrepair and must constantly be 're-discovered' like it was something new only indicates its lack of penetration into people's lives and the ineffectiveness of its strategy beyond token 'campaigns'.

So because "radical unionism" (I guess a gibe at revolutionary syndicalism) has been brutally crushed by the state in the past, and because it is no longer a movement of the working class today, that proves it is inadequate and useless outside "token campaigns" (whatever that means)? I guess by this logic, communism is dead and buried, because if something is not popular in a capitalist society, it must not work to begin with.

Quote:
The suggestions put forward by spikeymike are more to the point of this thread.

Which one in particular? That it takes a crisis for a global revolutionary movement to emerge? Patently false. The majority of the global working class (which includes the rural toilers) already live in a state of woeful deprivation, and as long as this is the case, as long as they have no "token campaigns" to help them win some basic rights from the capitalist state, they will remain resigned. I think Rudolf Rocker spoke volumes when, after witnessing the outrageous inhumanity of the Victorian slum, he said "There is a pitch of material and spiritual degradation from which a man can no longer rise. Those who have been born into misery and never knew a better state are rarely able to resist and revolt." Hoping the crisis will make capitalism implode and usher in the revolution is not to the point, and is certainly not what anarchists should be doing. The crisis won't do anything except make our lives worse. That is it. And if the failed strategy of "radical unionism" can reverse that process even a tiny bit, then it is something communists should embrace. Politics should not be hidden, I agree, but neither should they be trumpeted at the expense of actual militancy. There is no question of total social transformation as long as there is a question of what will I live on this week.

________________________________________________________

Also, regarding the issue of migrant workers and unrecognized sex workers, does anyone else agree that these are two vital problems of the working class that anarchists should engage with, beyond just saying "yeah, they should have rights"?

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jef costello
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Jul 7 2010 16:15
Vlad336 wrote:
Also, regarding the issue of migrant workers and unrecognized sex workers, does anyone else agree that these are two vital problems of the working class that anarchists should engage with, beyond just saying "yeah, they should have rights"?

Are they vital? To be honest I think that the struggles you get involved in are as much by chance as anything else. If someone happens to work in one place, or knows someone who works/live in a particular place.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 7 2010 16:20
jef costello wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Also, regarding the issue of migrant workers and unrecognized sex workers, does anyone else agree that these are two vital problems of the working class that anarchists should engage with, beyond just saying "yeah, they should have rights"?

Are they vital? To be honest I think that the struggles you get involved in are as much by chance as anything else. If someone happens to work in one place, or knows someone who works/live in a particular place.

I don't think this is the best approach in this case, precisely because it is much harder for workers with no rights, and with no experience of struggle, to all of a sudden organize themselves. Solidarity doesn't just mean stumbling into a conflict because hey, it's right there. It means extending support to fellow workers who need it (especially those who need it the most IMO).

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Jul 7 2010 16:32
Vlad336 wrote:
I don't think this is the best approach in this case, precisely because it is much harder for workers with no rights, and with no experience of struggle, to all of a sudden organize themselves. Solidarity doesn't just mean stumbling into a conflict because hey, it's right there. It means extending support to fellow workers who need it (especially those who need it the most IMO).

I think it takes a fairly well-organised and disciplined organisation to go out and find groups and make a difference like this. Not that that makes it wrong or a bad strategy.

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osobo
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Jul 7 2010 17:17
fdg wrote:
radical unionism has fallen into such a state of disrepair and must constantly be 're-discovered' like it was something new

you hit the nail on the head. it always irritates me when people reproduce without a pang such banalities:

Quote:
what is needed is involvement in struggles, not just as propagandists supporting workers in writing and through solidarity visits, but as those who instigate the struggle, who make the workers believe in their power again
Quote:
Some relevance to people's everyday lives

it sounds like a typical managerial spell the only purpose of which is to make crowd nod before the speaker: "our country must move towards an innovative way of development to become truly competitive"
"deepening into the struggle" will not bring you to the desirable state of successful libertarian communist movement because it is vital component of this current impotent movement - and experience of all such efforts only proves it.

Boris Badenov
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Jul 7 2010 17:30
kotob wrote:
Quote:
Some relevance to people's everyday lives

it sounds like a typical managerial spell the only purpose of which is to make crowd nod before the speaker: "our country must move towards an innovative way of development to become truly competitive"
"deepening into the struggle" will not bring you to the desirable state of successful libertarian communist movement because it is vital component of this current impotent movement - and experience of all such efforts only proves it.

No one is talking about "our country" moving anywhere. That is a really lame strawman. Syndicalism did not just fail, it was destroyed by the state; anyone with even a cursory knowledge of 20th century labour history knows that. The fact that is not a mass movement today has more to do with the success of capital, in the latter part of the century, in obscuring the class nature of society and neutralizing opposition through "social programs," than with its supposed uselessness. It really is naive, to put it nicely, to claim that since class struggle has not brought about communism yet, it must be useless. I guess we're all better off just talking Dauve and shit like that on libcom and patting each other on the back because we're like PRO-REVOLUTIONARIES, MAN. Well fuck that. Anarchism will continue to remain nothing more than stamp-collecting until, as said above by Tommy Ascaso, it manages to have an actual, material, concrete impact on the lives of workers.

gypsy
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Jul 7 2010 17:58
Vlad336 wrote:
jef costello wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Also, regarding the issue of migrant workers and unrecognized sex workers, does anyone else agree that these are two vital problems of the working class that anarchists should engage with, beyond just saying "yeah, they should have rights"?

Are they vital? To be honest I think that the struggles you get involved in are as much by chance as anything else. If someone happens to work in one place, or knows someone who works/live in a particular place.

I don't think this is the best approach in this case, precisely because it is much harder for workers with no rights, and with no experience of struggle, to all of a sudden organize themselves. Solidarity doesn't just mean stumbling into a conflict because hey, it's right there. It means extending support to fellow workers who need it (especially those who need it the most IMO).

I think your right that sex workers are indeed especially in need of support and help. But helping them organise and other solidarity work to help them in their struggles is very complicated and dangerous with regards to pimps etc. However I do think we should help them as they are amoung the most vulnerable people in society.