The IWW - a good idea? Practical?

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OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
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Mar 28 2006 19:49

This is from an email I wrote recently:

Quote:
Real internationalism means building/recognizing a community of struggle. This is important because if a) the AIT continues strangling itself, and b) the IWW continues on its trend and becomes a mid-sized, sustainable revolutionary union in the US/canada, UK, and possibly even Oz, it seems that dialogue might naturally begin to occur with other AS/revolutionary syndicalist unions about regrouping around the IWW to create a revolutionary syndicalist international (or as we've always argued for, an OBU).

I believe Crutch said earlier that there were more workers in non-AIT syndicalist unions that in AIT ones - I'd be willing to bet that the CGT or SAC alone have more workers than the entire AIT, and all of the sizable AIT groups outside of Spain are on the verge of disaffiliating. However they are all national organizations, while the IWW is (more theoretically than practically) an international revolutionary syndicalist union, which has a legacy even longer than that of the AIT - regrouping around the IWW seems like it would be a much more attractive possibility than creating a new international, and though it would require structural modification it would be starting from a tried-and-true structure.

However if this is going to be a possibility it's going to require building a community of struggle with workers and their organizations in other parts of the world. If BIROC is able to work with the FESAL/FESAL-E group that'd be a great start; the same is true if we can actually unite in struggles with the FAT. This is pretty much the opposite of making it our practice to establish IWW branches in these countries and try to raid members; though I see nothing wrong with inviting workers in these countries to become members as long as we are building a real community of struggle.

martinh
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Mar 28 2006 23:42
OliverTwister wrote:

I believe Crutch said earlier that there were more workers in non-AIT syndicalist unions that in AIT ones - I'd be willing to bet that the CGT or SAC alone have more workers than the entire AIT, and all of the sizable AIT groups outside of Spain are on the verge of disaffiliating. However they are all national organizations, while the IWW is (more theoretically than practically) an international revolutionary syndicalist union, which has a legacy even longer than that of the AIT - regrouping around the IWW seems like it would be a much more attractive possibility than creating a new international, and though it would require structural modification it would be starting from a tried-and-true structure.

Personally I think groups should work together where their interests coincide. The CGT and SAC do have more workers alone than the AIT - but that's not the point, it's what those workers do that matters and is the issue between the AIT and the CGT or SAC.

Imagining that half a dozen European unions with roots in the working class in their country are going to join what is effectively a US union with a radically different history to them is wishful thinking at best. While I've seen a fair bit of that in the IWW over the last 20 odd years, it's still an important organisation and could do with learning a bit more about the situation outside North America in order to better work with other groups. Additionally, workers' conditions and rights are significantly worse in North America than they are in Europe and a lot of the things that motivate workers in Europe (for example teh CPE in France at the moment, or defending public health in the UK) have no equivalent.

Quote:
This is pretty much the opposite of making it our practice to establish IWW branches in these countries and try to raid members; though I see nothing wrong with inviting workers in these countries to become members as long as we are building a real community of struggle.

Joining the IWW outside of the 4 big white anglophone countries at the moment is about associating with the history and the idea, but means very little. The IWW has particular resonances because of its history - other countries have a different history and are likely to express it in different ways. This might change, but it came to nothing before in Poland because it ended up with a load of leftists using it as an excuse to attack the Polish anarchist federation. It does also beg the question of when the governing bodies of the IWW ever leave north America?

Regards,

Martin

gentle revolutionary
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Mar 29 2006 14:49
martinh wrote:
the IWW ... could do with learning a bit more about the situation outside North America in order to better work with other groups.

We currently have a very active International Solidarity Comission which is doing that, and increasing communication with other base unions.

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Steven.
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Joined: 27-06-06
Mar 29 2006 15:27
revol68 wrote:
joe i can't believe you are seriously twisting Steves tongue in cheek comment like that.

And the CGT is not libertarian communist

Doesn't it declare its goals as libertarian communist?

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Y
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Dec 29 2007 14:00
knightrose wrote:
I'm a NUT, but I've been thinking of joining the IWW, too.
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Anyone got any thoughts on the value of the IWW?

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The wages system lies at the heart of the capitalist system. Any union of workers who are not consciously striving to abolish wage-labour may get better wages and working conditions, but they won't change the fundamental power relations which flow from the fact that wage workers don't get to own or control the social product of their labour. Wealth is power and you create the wealth and contract to give the lion's share to your employers. Think of it this way, if your boss were to hire you for your standard market price (your wage) and they offered you a kind of royalty percentage on the goods and services which you produced and were sold, you'd start to get a notion of what kind of wealth you were creating and by extension what kind of power you give up when you market yourself for mere wages.

The value of the IWW is that you can join with other workers who see the need to cut the Gordian Knot which is the wages system of slavery. If everybody who saw this need were to get a friend or two of theirs to see it and join in the One Big Union, we'd have the four hour day with no cut in pay by this time next New Year's Eve.

jonnylocks
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Joined: 13-07-07
Jan 18 2008 12:07
Y wrote:
The value of the IWW is that you can join with other workers who see the need to cut the Gordian Knot which is the wages system of slavery. If everybody who saw this need were to get a friend or two of theirs to see it and join in the One Big Union, we'd have the four hour day with no cut in pay by this time next New Year's Eve.

Naa.. by that time the NLRB filings will have been reviewed and hopefully you'll get some back pay and the option to be reinstated to the shitty job you were fired from in '07. Take that Gordian Knot!!