Mass revolutionary organisations during periods of class retreat?

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severin
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Dec 29 2007 07:11

I think that you can develop workers assemblies on the basis of any myriad number of issues that develop and you can inject them with a radical critique. I don't think that you have to-or even that you should- wait for overt struggle, I think that there a million reasons right in front of us.

Police brutality. Gentrification. Another frauded election (the next one). A draft. etc.. I think it is a matter of simply upping the sense of urgency whilst generalizing the various grievances. I think that a lot of the shit is just below the surface.

But most here would be afraid that the assemblies would not take on a sufficiently revolutionary character...I personally believe that with the proper density and quality of propaganda, and in the right forums, it will. I think it is a risk that has to be taken.

By whom?

Can't answer that. I know what I would do though. Where i am. In great detail.

A revolutionary organization that merely spouts abstractions and does not plan for these contingencies is irresponsible. Expropriation and defense, and the overt manifestation of worker's power are REAL things, not 'political' things.

hpwombat
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Dec 29 2007 08:36

Though my ideas on this subject are still developing, fenderson was good enough to throw some comments I made on anti-politics together. I think the main point is that quiet resistance exists, thus there is a root base to our agitations. We aren't "waking people up" we are agitating for them to intensify their resistance into visibility and attempting to make the connection that their resistance is significant. Good topic, I'll keep reading.

http://www.geocities.com/fendersen/quiet.htm

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Devrim
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Dec 29 2007 08:57
severin wrote:
I think that you can develop workers assemblies on the basis of any myriad number of issues that develop and you can inject them with a radical critique. I don't think that you have to-or even that you should- wait for overt struggle, I think that there a million reasons right in front of us.

Workers organise mass meetings to control their struggles. You can't just bring them forth out of thin air.

Quote:
By whom?

Can't answer that. I know what I would do though. Where i am. In great detail.

A revolutionary organization that merely spouts abstractions and does not plan for these contingencies is irresponsible. Expropriation and defense, and the overt manifestation of worker's power are REAL things, not 'political' things.

I think at the moment revolutionary organisations are arguing that in strikes workers should hold mass meetings open workers who are members of all unions and none. This is not an abstraction. It is a very concrete issue, which is crucial to the sucess of workers' struggles at the moment.

Devrim

severin
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Dec 29 2007 09:10
Quote:
severin wrote:
I think that you can develop workers assemblies on the basis of any myriad number of issues that develop and you can inject them with a radical critique. I don't think that you have to-or even that you should- wait for overt struggle, I think that there a million reasons right in front of us.

Workers organise mass meetings to control their struggles. You can't just bring them forth out of thin air.

How did '68 start again? Does anyone really know? Provocations by SI supporters at student demonstrations, met with violence by the police? Of course it wasn't that simple, but someone started it.

Quote:
By whom?
Can't answer that. I know what I would do though. Where i am. In great detail.
A revolutionary organization that merely spouts abstractions and does not plan for these contingencies is irresponsible. Expropriation and defense, and the overt manifestation of worker's power are REAL things, not 'political' things.

I think at the moment revolutionary organisations are arguing that in strikes workers should hold mass meetings open workers who are members of all unions and none. This is not an abstraction. It is a very concrete issue, which is crucial to the sucess of workers' struggles at the moment.

I would agree emphatically; especially the involvement of the working class outside of unions, the generalization of struggles as relevant to the whole community;

But where does it go, beyond discussion, beyond 'politics', if there is not tactical planning in place that literally cripples the power of the state and of capital to return things to normal.

Without decisive strategic action, a knowledge of the terrain, a tactical understanding of the forces at capital's disposal, the resources available, etc, these mass struggles are bogged down in endless discussion which tend towards recuperation, or they are trapped in a state of siege if they fail to advance.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 09:53
cantdocartwheels wrote:
People confront the entire nature of work every day they have to sit through 8 hours of it. The point people have repeatedly made (i'm pretty sure i made several posts to this effect in the last thread you didn't bother replying to), is that you want mass revolutionary organisations in a revolution like workers councils yadda yadda yadda, but outisde of the revoluton you don't think they are possible or desireable, hence you are quite clearly creating a mythical divide between revolutionry and non-revolutionary times.

Well those kinds of organisations have only be set up during periods of widespread open class conflict, and I'm not aware of any situations they've been present outside that. Perhaps you'd like to suggest some?

Quote:
This is nonsense, sometimes large elements of spontaneity, some don't, its just plain old reductionist to try and claim that evry organisation should somehow reflect some idealised spontaneous form that leads neatly to communism. For example do you think the current wave of insurrections and workplace and community organisation in south america is the result of sudden spontaneous revolt? If a mass revolutionary organisation engaged in collectively defending its membership, is it wrong for them to do so, should they be waiting for revolutionary times to do so or for the whole working class to follow suit, or sould they completely drop all pretence of being ''political'' and go for apolitical unionism instead?

You seem to be just making stuff up to argue with now. I'm in favour of organisation on the basis of politics (and if it gets really big then that's fine obviously). what I'm not in favour of is political organisations trying to substitute themselves for the organisations that actually get thrown up in struggle. This doesn't mean I think workers councils (or strike committees for that matter) are some kind of magical organisation that only appears at certain points - they're simply practical responses to certain situations, and therefore can't be conjured up out of the fevered imaginations of a few commies.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 09:58
severin wrote:
I think what I am detecting is a hierarchy of some kind here...

there are 'revolutionaries' (the chosen ones, with 'good politics')

the 'pro-revolutionaries' (intermediate, apprentice types, not ready for prime-time players)

and

'plain old working class people' (either followers, or an obstruction).

right?

No, the 'pro-revolutionary' formulation, which I think 'Spikey Mike' introduced on here, is designed to recognise that we're in favour of a revolution, but currently not in any position to make one - i.e. only revolutionary actors can really be described as such. Now both 'pro-revolutionaries' and people who weren't actively in favour of revolution before things kicked off, can and have become revolutionaries at certain points - same as some 'pro-revolutionaries' have turned into class collaborationist bastards or massacred striking workers.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 10:14

Sounds like a political organisation to me.

Do you want to try answering this perhaps?

Devrim wrote:
Yes, but back to the point of the thread, there is a reason why we don't have workers' councils, the fact that there are not strike committees, which comes from the fact that there are not mass meetings, which comes from the fact that there is not large scale struggle.

Or should I just assume you don't actually have an answer to the main point of discussion on this thread?

severin
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Dec 29 2007 10:15
revol68 wrote:
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You seem to be just making stuff up to argue with now. I'm in favour of organisation on the basis of politics (and if it gets really big then that's fine obviously). what I'm not in favour of is political organisations trying to substitute themselves for the organisations that actually get thrown up in struggle. This doesn't mean I think workers councils (or strike committees for that matter) are some kind of magical organisation that only appears at certain points - they're simply practical responses to certain situations, and neither are they spontaneous or the product of the imaginations of a few commies who can conjure them up by sheer force of will.

So the same splitting of the political and economic?

What about organisations that are political and economic, that are rooted in economics, in the day to day class struggle and yet maintain a political content, or rather whose politics are developed and defined in relation to pratical struggle. Say a network (or 'union' in the most basic sense of the term ie a combination of workers) of workers who have a basic politic of rejecting contractualism, legalism and other forms of recuperation, who push for the opening up of these struggles to workers assemblies and linking them to other struggles, who argue the necessity of rejecting the "Unions" (with a big U), sectionalism, that acts organs of pratical struggle and political education? Who can act as a pole of attraction within any generalised organs thrown up in struggle (strike committees, assemblies etc) and who aim to be in a position where they can actually kick off and co ordinate struggle on their own terms rather than merely being reactive.

Well that is a kind of organization I could endorse.

But. I don't know how else to frame it without sounding paradoxical, but, an organization that is both 'political' and 'economic', is actually neither, because it supersedes the distinction.

Chucky speaks:

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When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.
severin
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Dec 29 2007 10:46

Then don't frame it as either or both. Just frame it as a revolutionary organisation, make that your definition, as though there were no other. In my mind, there isn't.

A revolutionary organisation must necessarily make that paradox a reality and transcend the distinction. A revolutionary society is not a 'political' or an 'economic' scheme. It is the end of representation, of ideology, and the end of want, of 'economic forces' as alien from or exterior to the human experience. And much more.

Just my 2 cents.

People are tired of politics and economics. Offering them a new/old flavor will get us nowhere.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 10:49
revol68 wrote:
In regards to the organisation i described above being "political", well yes that was my point it is political and economic, it doesn't seperate them in a crude manner, you ain't talking to some denialist wobbly here.

Well perhaps you could explain the differences between what you've outlined and what I myself have in recent threads in this discussion? And maybe show where I've crudely separated the political and economic, and you haven't? Given you're not talking to a denialist wobbly either.

And I think you'll find there've been wildcats in the past four years, in fact the past four months. There have been far less big union-led strikes (i.e. more than 24 hours at a time) a la the late '70s and '80s. The fact there's been not that much of either in the UK recently doesn't invalidate the general point - or the wider observation that where large-scale struggles are occurring at the moment, they're doing so outside the framework of either traditional or 'revolutionary' unions.

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Devrim
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Dec 29 2007 10:59
severin wrote:
How did '68 start again? Does anyone really know? Provocations by SI supporters at student demonstrations, met with violence by the police? Of course it wasn't that simple, but someone started it.

I think that everyone knows that the SI's actions have been exaggerated to a ridiculous extent.

Devrim

severin
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Dec 29 2007 11:03
Devrim wrote:
severin wrote:
How did '68 start again? Does anyone really know? Provocations by SI supporters at student demonstrations, met with violence by the police? Of course it wasn't that simple, but someone started it.

I think that everyone knows that the SI's actions have been exaggerated to a ridiculous extent.

Devrim

Certainly, and by themselves most of all. Notice the question marks, dude.

But. How did it start? Assemblies sprang up in its wake all over the place, 10 million on strike.

Some fuse was lit, and all that pent up, repressed energy unleashed.

severin
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Dec 29 2007 11:06
revol68 wrote:
severin wrote:
Then don't frame it as either or both. Just frame it as a revolutionary organisation, make that your definition, as though there were no other. In my mind, there isn't.

A revolutionary organisation must necessarily make that paradox a reality and transcend the distinction. A revolutionary society is not a 'political' or an 'economic' scheme. It is the end of representation, of ideology, and the end of want, of 'economic forces' as alien from or exterior to the human experience. And much more.

see this is exactly why i don't disregard the two terms, I think that whilst they can't be crudely seperated they can't simply be conflated either, they are at once attracted and repelled by each other, it's a paradox that can't be simply closed, otherwise one ends up spouting essentialist nonsese about the end of 'ideology' , as if a post revolutionary society won't throw up it's own politics, have it's own forms of alienations, as if we will join the alpha and omega.

It is a political and economic organisation, even in denying a crude seperation of the two we find ourselves explaining it in terms of them both.

Must we? Or is that merely a failure of language on our part?

WTF is 'essentialist' nonsense? Ok well maybe not the end of ideology but the end of it as a ruling force.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 11:07
revol68 wrote:
So the point of the thread is to engage in tautology? There are no organs of struggle because there is little in the way of collective struggle? No shit sherlock, that's some penetrating insight.

Well given that we have people on here, representing one of the larger pro-revolutionary groups in both the UK and US arguing that there's a way to escape this 'tautology' I think it's a pretty fucking valid point to be honest. Not to mention the representatives of far larger groups, that don't post on here, but which also attempt to circumvent actual struggle in bulding their organisations.

Or forgetting the IWW, let's look at solfed's stated aims:

Quote:
In the medium term and as an essential forerunner to such a society, SolFed promotes and seeks to initiate anarcho-syndicalist unions.

http://solfed.org.uk/strategy.htm

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That society can only be achieved by working class organisations based on the same principles - revolutionary unions.
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The Solidarity Federation consists of Locals which support the formation of future revolutionary unions
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Revolutionary unionism is based on the class war and holds that all workers must unite in industrial unions
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Direct action is best expressed through the general strike which must, from the point of view of revolutionary unionism, be the prelude to the social revolution.

http://solfed.org.uk/constitution.htm#01b

Now, I know for a fact that plenty of solfed's members don't actually agree with this formulaic shite (or even consider themselves anarcho-syndicalists in some cases) - but the same can be said for some members of the IWW.

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Devrim
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Dec 29 2007 11:08
revol68 wrote:
So the point of the thread is to engage in tautology? There are no organs of struggle because there is little in the way of collective struggle? No shit sherlock, that's some penetrating insight.

It is not 'some penetrating insight'. It is as you say a tautology, and it is quite obviously one.

Why then do we need to keep repeating it? In my opinion it is because there are many who thing that they can build the unitary organs of the class now by an act of will. Dundee is only the most absurd expression of this.

revol68 wrote:
The issue is of course how does struggle develop, how do we work towards seeing those organs come about rather than simply seeing things recuperated by union leaderships and leftist sects. And there have been big struggles (or simulcra of struggles) in the public sector in the past four years and yet we are not seeing a spread of wild cats, strike committees, or heaven help us generalised assemblies, this would suggest that these things don't simply appear.

Yes, we are seeing a return to struggle on an international level. It is as yet on a small scale, not comparable with the 80s let alone the 70s. There have been wildcat strikes, strike committees, and generalised assemblies. This is clear when one takes an international perspective. Of course it is the task of a revolutionary organisation to argue for these things, but they do appear anyway.

Devrim

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 11:09
revol68 wrote:
Quote:
I'm in favour of organisation on the basis of politics (and if it gets really big then that's fine obviously). what I'm not in favour of is political organisations trying to substitute themselves for the organisations that actually get thrown up in struggle.

This and other posts give a certain tone of either/or, I was simply pointing out that there can be "political" (with a small p) organs that are also organs of struggle, that look to produce and co ordinate their own struggles whilst at the same time always looking to open them up.

So political, based on political agreement then?

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Devrim
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Dec 29 2007 11:17
Revol68 wrote:
Yes but these wild cats have by and large failed to spread or link up, it's not nice to admit but the struggle in the public sector has been ineffectual and disjointed. From what i see the large scale struggles aren't so much being carried on outside the framework of the traditional unions but rather in a kind of within and inspite of way,

I think this is typical of the current level of struggle, nothing to be surprised about.

Revol68 wrote:
here is a generalised dissillusion with the unions and a willingness to say walk out but there is little in the way of building alternative organs for generalising the struggles, we aren't seeing outright rejection and clashes with the Unions so much as shuffling, dragging feet and under the breath curses.

Again, it is a tautology, but when workers start to build their own organs of struggle, we will be at a more intense level of struggle.

Devrim

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Steven.
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Dec 29 2007 11:24
severin wrote:
Devrim wrote:
severin wrote:
How did '68 start again? Does anyone really know? Provocations by SI supporters at student demonstrations, met with violence by the police? Of course it wasn't that simple, but someone started it.

I think that everyone knows that the SI's actions have been exaggerated to a ridiculous extent.

Devrim

Certainly, and by themselves most of all. Notice the question marks, dude.

But. How did it start? Assemblies sprang up in its wake all over the place, 10 million on strike.

Some fuse was lit, and all that pent up, repressed energy unleashed.

severin, most of those 10 million workers had already recently been having strikes, occupations and assemblies. In the UK in 2008 for example, you won't be able to kick off mass workplace occupation by some twatty students printing some leaflets. This is because people are not used to holding assemblies and occupying their workplaces. This is because we are not living in a period of mass struggle (I think this is a more useful term than "revolutionary period")

As for "revolutionary organisations" existing during periods of low struggle, or defeat, of course it depends how you define "revolutionary". If like catch and devrim you say it's the organisations which will actually make the revolution - the workers councils - then obviously they can't. If you think it means a political organisation that wants revolution ("pro-revolutionary") then of course they can.

severin wrote:
Revol said:
Quote:
I called you a trot because you hold the working class can never produce a revolutionary mass movement (note not a majority one) outside of revolutionary times, which is a simple minded tautology that only works for people like the ICC because of their decadence theory.

This is an expression that troubles me. I see this sort of thought here a lot.

I mentioned earlier that I never said this. Even apart from that, it is a ridiculous statement. If there was a mass revolutionary movement, then that would be by definition a "revolutionary time".

cantdocartwheels wrote:
People confront the entire nature of work every day they have to sit through 8 hours of it. The point people have repeatedly made (i'm pretty sure i made several posts to this effect in the last thread you didn't bother replying to), is that you want mass revolutionary organisations in a revolution like workers councils yadda yadda yadda, but outisde of the revoluton you don't think they are possible or desireable, hence you are quite clearly creating a mythical divide between revolutionry and non-revolutionary times.

If you could give examples of these workers councils which have existed in periods of low class struggle I would like to hear of them, as this would prove your point, and demonstrate that we're talking in "myths".

Quote:
Quote:
severin wrote:
What exactly are these mythical 'revolutionary times'? Are they the times when working class people happen to be blessed with the same arcane knowledge, the same theoretical understanding as the 'revolutionaries'?

If you look at any of the major insurrections - there was also some very rapid self-education that went along alongside them and because of them. This also happens on a much smaller scale as well.

This is nonsense, sometimes large elements of spontaneity, some don't, its just plain old reductionist to try and claim that evry organisation should somehow reflect some idealised spontaneous form that leads neatly to communism.

"Reductionist"? Are you just using philosophy student swearwords here?

Quote:
For example do you think the current wave of insurrections and workplace and community organisation in south america is the result of sudden spontaneous revolt?

This is a silly question, of course he doesn't.

Quote:
If a mass revolutionary organisation engaged in collectively defending its membership, is it wrong for them to do so, should they be waiting for revolutionary times to do so or for the whole working class to follow suit, or sould they completely drop all pretence of being ''political'' and go for apolitical unionism instead?

Who is this question directed at? catch has never said anything which would relate to this even slightly. Maybe you should reserve your scorn and dismissive tone for arguments which you have understood?

What Devrim stated is just obvious:

Quote:
Devrim wrote:

Yes, but back to the point of the thread, there is a reason why we don't have workers' councils, the fact that there are not strike committees, which comes from the fact that there are not mass meetings, which comes from the fact that there is not large scale struggle.

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cantdocartwheels
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Dec 29 2007 11:29
Mike Harman wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
People confront the entire nature of work every day they have to sit through 8 hours of it. The point people have repeatedly made (i'm pretty sure i made several posts to this effect in the last thread you didn't bother replying to), is that you want mass revolutionary organisations in a revolution like workers councils yadda yadda yadda, but outisde of the revoluton you don't think they are possible or desireable, hence you are quite clearly creating a mythical divide between revolutionry and non-revolutionary times.

Well those kinds of organisations have only be set up during periods of widespread open class conflict, and I'm not aware of any situations they've been present outside that. Perhaps you'd like to suggest some?

So are mass revolutionary organisations only ''set up'' in ''revolutionary times'' or in ''times of open class conflict'' (two entirely different things i might add) or does the mass revolutionary organisation consisting as it does of sections of the organised working class create this mystical revolutionary period?
Since we're on the subject of the IWW, would imagine the IWW as it existed in 1905 (rather than the syndicalism-lite 2007 version) would constitute a mass revolutionary organisation no? It wasn't set up in the middle of a revolution though.

Quote:
You seem to be just making stuff up to argue with now. I'm in favour of organisation on the basis of politics (and if it gets really big then that's fine obviously). what I'm not in favour of is political organisations trying to substitute themselves for the organisations that actually get thrown up in struggle.

So if a political organisation gets big enough to collectively defend its members in the workplace from management or the official union breaucracy should it do so?

Quote:
As for "revolutionary organisations" existing during periods of low struggle, or defeat, of course it depends how you define "revolutionary". If like catch and devrim you say it's the organisations which will actually make the revolution - the workers councils - then obviously they can't. If you think it means a political organisation that wants revolution ("pro-revolutionary") then of course they can.

While there is admittedly bound to be major differences, putting it like this makes it look like theres no overlap. Surely ''the revolution'' is the social change of everyday life and the use of communist praxis rather than a set period of historical events. I mean any organisation that wants revolution is going to make it, and any organisation that makes revolution is gong to have to want it surely?
I don't think i'm intelectual enough to express what i'm trying to say clearly here, i just think its a bit of an odd line to draw between two types of organisation is all. For exampole while the CNT did have the problem that to a certain extent is going to plague any revolution, it thought it would run society as the CNT, but that didn't stop it ''making revolution'' in terms of collectivisation and workers self management of industries where it could.

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Steven.
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Dec 29 2007 11:39

(Also I did another post above before your reply to catch)

cantdocartwheels wrote:
So if a political organisation gets big enough to collectively defend its members in the workplace from management or the official union breaucracy should it do so?

No, the assembly of workers at the workplace (that the pro-revolutionary organisation can argue for and help set up) should do this. It's not the job of communists as communists to negotiate with bosses.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
Since we're on the subject of the IWW, would imagine the IWW as it existed in 1905 (rather than the syndicalism-lite 2007 version) would constitute a mass revolutionary organisation no? It wasn't set up in the middle of a revolution though.

The late 19th and early 20th century US was a time of mass struggle and unrest. There were huge armed insurrections of thousands of workers, pitched battles with guns, dynamite and even planes, general strikes and some workers councils. There is not in the US or UK today.

revol68 wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
revol68 wrote:
Quote:
I'm in favour of organisation on the basis of politics (and if it gets really big then that's fine obviously). what I'm not in favour of is political organisations trying to substitute themselves for the organisations that actually get thrown up in struggle.

This and other posts give a certain tone of either/or, I was simply pointing out that there can be "political" (with a small p) organs that are also organs of struggle, that look to produce and co ordinate their own struggles whilst at the same time always looking to open them up.

So political, based on political agreement then?

well you have to agree with the basic aims and principles, yes but it's also an organ based in practical struggle, say a combination of workers with a common outlook and shared praxis ie rejection of contractualism, legalism, recuperative works councils a commitment to direct action and revolutionary perspective. A combination of workers that doesn't simply seek to put out pamphlets about why a revolutionary perspective is good to have but a group whose praxis proves itself, who attract workers not from simple rhetoric but because it demonstatres the relevance of a revolutionary approach.

Right so a political organisation then. Well done roll eyes

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 11:53
revol68 wrote:
Yes but these wild cats have by and large failed to spread or link up, it's not nice to admit but the struggle in the public sector has been ineffectual and disjointed.

It may not be nice to admit but I've said the same thing enough times.

Quote:
From what i see the large scale struggles aren't so much being carried on outside the framework of the traditional unions but rather in a kind of within and inspite of way, there is a generalised dissillusion with the unions and a willingness to say walk out but there is little in the way of building alternative organs for generalising the struggles, we aren't seeing outright rejection and clashes with the Unions so much as shuffling, dragging feet and under the breath curses.

Re-reading my post I see this wasn't clear - "where" was meant in the geographical sense. I agree in the case of the UK and some others. However where there are massive struggles - Egypt, Bangladesh etc. - this is clearly not the case, which was the point I was trying to make.

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Dec 29 2007 12:19
John. wrote:
(Also I did another post above before your reply to catch)
cantdocartwheels wrote:
So if a political organisation gets big enough to collectively defend its members in the workplace from management or the official union breaucracy should it do so?

No, the assembly of workers at the workplace (that the pro-revolutionary organisation can argue for and help set up) should do this. It's not the job of communists as communists to negotiate with bosses.

So basically the anarcho-syndicalist union collectively organises the production of propaganda calling for a public assembly of all the workers in the workplace, well this i generally agree with where appropriate however i don't see how you figure this makes the anarcho-syndicalist union entirely seperate from the assembly, even if has a majority in the organisation or a majority in terms of influence. If this anarcho syndicalist union has a majority in terms of influence then the propaganda it will put out around the campaign will be syndicalist propaganda no? It will no doubt mention the politics of the organisation prominently, if it didn't do so it would effectively amount to the revolutionary organisation dissolving its wider politics into apolitical trade unionism.

Also to be honest i have to agree with revol coz i find the idea that you have to call workers assemblies before doing anything a bit too forumlaic, approriate probably in large workplaces but pretty much a bizarre apporach to smaller ones, if your talking about retail like say as revol mentions, maccy d's, i don't see why you have to call some sort of assembly before doing anything, you can organise a go slow without calling a formal assembly. If anythig for all the talk of spontaneity, your putting forward a far more rigid model of a ''mass revolutionary organisation'' than i would think was realsitic to be honest.

Quote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Since we're on the subject of the IWW, would imagine the IWW as it existed in 1905 (rather than the syndicalism-lite 2007 version) would constitute a mass revolutionary organisation no? It wasn't set up in the middle of a revolution though.

The late 19th and early 20th century US was a time of mass struggle and unrest. There were huge armed insurrections of thousands of workers, pitched battles with guns, dynamite and even planes, general strikes and some workers councils. There is not in the US or UK today.

Of course its not the US or UK today, what kind of an arguement is that? No-one except some loon like dundee is actually advocating claiming that theres a mass organisation in britian in 2007, everyone whose sane advocates that the most realistic course of action now given our tiny denisty is aiming for workplace networks inside or outside official unions i don't think i see that much actual disagreement on that, but its an entirely different matter to just rule out mass revolutionary organisations for the future and smply say, ''oh they'll never happen, they're 100% a thing of the past'' i mean seriously its just crystal ball reductionism. I mean sure you might be right, we might never have a mass ''pro-revolutionary'' organisation in britian or the US ever (though personally i don't rank our chances of achieving much very highly if we don't have at least an organisation or two of this nature) but on the other hand you could be wrong.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 12:22
revol68 wrote:
well you have to agree with the basic aims and principles, yes but it's also an organ based in practical struggle, say a combination of workers with a common outlook and shared praxis ie rejection of contractualism, legalism, recuperative works councils a commitment to direct action and revolutionary perspective. A combination of workers that doesn't simply seek to put out pamphlets about why a revolutionary perspective is good to have but a group whose praxis proves itself, who attract workers not from simple rhetoric but because it demonstatres the relevance of a revolutionary approach.

And where have I argued against such a thing?

Here's roughly what I think an organisation could start out doing in the very short term:

1. Allow 'pro-revolutionaries' to share first-hand experiences on workplace (and other) activity - there's been a few decent threads on here recently in that direction, but it's very little. Also writing those experiences up for publication (again, odd bits on here, stuff like Hamburgers and Value).
2. Provide help for people to impact on the direction of disputes they're close to (at their own workplaces mainly, but also at other people's if it's significant). i.e. Dispatch, agency workers leaflet type stuff. Production and distribution of such.
3. Discuss and circulate information about struggles which we're not directly involved with but have close proximity to - i.e. what Khawaga's done with Egypt or EdmontonWobbly with Canadian post/oil strikes
4. Analysis and circulation of struggles that are more remote, trying to forge direct links with workers involved in those struggles if possible.

What it shouldn't do:
1. pretend to be a union
2. try to lead to the formation of a union

This is on the basis that any such group would have a likely ratio of 1:40 or 6:6000 in any particular workplace - and on my own experiences of organising at work when the people I was working with most closely would've had no truck whatsoever with any half-reasonable set of A&Ps.

On the basis that optimistically there's a few dozen people interested in that kind of activity without pretensions to being something else (but potentially much more than that even given the sorry state of the present situation), I think that's pretty much where we are now. The stuff you mention would come a bit later and is on my 'nice to have' list.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 12:32
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Since we're on the subject of the IWW, would imagine the IWW as it existed in 1905 (rather than the syndicalism-lite 2007 version) would constitute a mass revolutionary organisation no? It wasn't set up in the middle of a revolution though.

1905 marked the beginning of a period of mass struggle which reached it's apex in 1917-21. I agree with John's distinction between 'revolutionary' and 'pro-revolutionary' organisation - I think the IWW, then and now, was the latter - given in the US the class struggle during that period was quite fragmented (if also dramatic) - and didn't threaten class society on the same level as more generalised events in other countries.

Quote:
So if a political organisation gets big enough to collectively defend its members in the workplace from management or the official union breaucracy should it do so?

Again - John. answered this perfectly well. Even if 100% of workers there happened to be members of this revolutionary organisation, then I'd hope they'd have a workplace assembly distinct from the structure of the wider organisation to deal with issue like that. In other words, it'd be the workers' own strength that collectively defended them (and hopefully that would involve spreading struggles beyond individual workplaces, employers and sectors when necessary - which the wider organisation would help with of course). However, like John, I don't think communist organisations should be attempting to 'represent' workers - either at the level of the individual workplace or the class as a whole.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 12:34
revol68 wrote:
Yes it is political but it is also a pratical organ of struggle, a combination/network/union of workers looking to co ordniate practical struggle for concrete gains in and outside workplaces. So yes it has a political content (what doesn't??) but it's terrain is not simply one of political propaganda, it's foundation and driving motor is actual class struggle.

And have either myself or John argued for an organisation whose terrain is "simply one of political propaganda"? No we have not.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 12:38
cantdocartwheels wrote:
So basically the anarcho-syndicalist union

What anarcho-syndicalist union? Who talked about an anarcho-syndicalist union? How you could read this discussion, when both me and John. have argued specifically against setting up any kind of union, and then make this crass underlying assumption is beyond me.

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cantdocartwheels
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Dec 29 2007 12:43
Quote:
Quote:
So if a political organisation gets big enough to collectively defend its members in the workplace from management or the official union breaucracy should it do so?

Again - John. answered this perfectly well. Even if 100% of workers there happened to be members of this revolutionary organisation, then I'd hope they'd have a workplace assembly distinct from the structure of the wider organisation to deal with issue like that. In other words, it'd be the workers' own strength that collectively defended them

As i pointed out above, this may be the correct course of action in large workplaces, however its not always appropriate and also it still doesn't solve the basic problem that the political organisation wouldbe dominant in this organisation and would be putting out propaganda that mentions its organisation.
Also one would imagine members would want to discuss wider politics in campaign literature and so on, or should they dilute their politics into a more apolitical form of trade unionism only concentrating on the ''bread and butter'' issue? I'm not saying you sgouldn't set up workplace assemblies to deal with the issue, i'm just saying that I don't think that creating this simplistic dividing line between what effectively constitutes political and the economic organisationa here is going to solve all your problems.

Mike Harman
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Dec 29 2007 12:49
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it still doesn't solve the basic problem that the political organisation wouldbe dominant in this organisation and would be putting out propaganda that mentions its organisation.

What problem is this? Also I think one of the main roles of a pro-revolutionary organisation should be to argue for the exclusion of organisations (but not their members) from assemblies and similar. This has been an important measure taken in many previous struggles.

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Steven.
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Dec 29 2007 12:50
cantdocartwheels wrote:
John. wrote:
(Also I did another post above before your reply to catch)
cantdocartwheels wrote:
So if a political organisation gets big enough to collectively defend its members in the workplace from management or the official union breaucracy should it do so?

No, the assembly of workers at the workplace (that the pro-revolutionary organisation can argue for and help set up) should do this. It's not the job of communists as communists to negotiate with bosses.

So basically the anarcho-syndicalist union collectively organises the production of propaganda calling for a public assembly of all the workers in the workplace

It doesn't have to just be producing propaganda. That seems like a weird thing to say, which doesn't have much relevance to most real workplace disputes. I mean if this were a real example, a worker is suspended from work, people in the group go round the workplace letting people know and call an stop-work meeting to discuss it and decide what to do. In the meeting people in the group say "let's march on the boss and say re-instate them or we won't return to work." then workers who agree with them go do it.

Quote:
well this i generally agree with where appropriate however i don't see how you figure this makes the anarcho-syndicalist union entirely seperate from the assembly

"anarcho-syndicalist union" - union with anarcho-syndicalists. "assembly" - meeting of as many workers in the place as possible.

You ever had a workplace meeting cantdo? Was it different to your Brighton SolFed meeting?

Quote:
If this anarcho syndicalist union has a majority in terms of influence then the propaganda it will put out around the campaign will be syndicalist propaganda no? It will no doubt mention the politics of the organisation prominently, if it didn't do so it would effectively amount to the revolutionary organisation dissolving its wider politics into apolitical trade unionism.

I don't see what this has to do with what I said.

Quote:
Also to be honest i have to agree with revol coz i find the idea that you have to call workers assemblies before doing anything a bit too forumlaic

Where have I ever said that? FFS taking one example I gave, then saying I claim no one can do anything without workers assemblies roll eyes

You gave an example in a hypothetical situation with a mass revolutionary "union." By the time that would've occured things like workers assemblies would be more commonplace. As a more general example, it's not for you revolutionary group to be the one defending workers somewhere, that should be the task of as many workers there as possible, regardless of their political views. These can be gathered, as I have done at my work, by something as simple as walking round the office calling people to discuss something

Quote:
approriate probably in large workplaces but pretty much a bizarre apporach to smaller ones, if your talking about retail like say as revol mentions, maccy d's, i don't see why you have to call some sort of assembly before doing anything, you can organise a go slow without calling a formal assembly.

Again, this is your straw man, not my argument. Still, if you were doing a go slow you would not just want your union members to do it, would you, you would want as many workers as possible.

Quote:
If anythig for all the talk of spontaneity, your putting forward a far more rigid model of a ''mass revolutionary organisation'' than i would think was realsitic to be honest.

Oh yeah? What's that then? Apart from the one you've just invented in your head. And where have I once mentioned spontaneity?

Quote:
Quote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Since we're on the subject of the IWW, would imagine the IWW as it existed in 1905 (rather than the syndicalism-lite 2007 version) would constitute a mass revolutionary organisation no? It wasn't set up in the middle of a revolution though.

The late 19th and early 20th century US was a time of mass struggle and unrest. There were huge armed insurrections of thousands of workers, pitched battles with guns, dynamite and even planes, general strikes and some workers councils. There is not in the US or UK today.

Of course its not the US or UK today, what kind of an arguement is that?

That was a response to your question, cantdo, as you don't seem to be aware of the historical circumstances around the original IWW.

Quote:
No-one except some loon like dundee is actually advocating claiming that theres a mass organisation in britian in 2007, everyone whose sane advocates that the most realistic course of action now given our tiny denisty is aiming for workplace networks inside or outside official unions i don't think i see that much actual disagreement on that, but its an entirely different matter to just rule out mass revolutionary organisations for the future and smply say, ''oh they'll never happen, they're 100% a thing of the past''

No one has done that you muppet. We've said that it will only happen at times of mass struggle though. Something which you have as yet failed to give any examples of any real organisations that would disprove it. So if we're talking "myths" like I said before - prove it.

Quote:
i mean seriously its just crystal ball reductionism.

Again, it's probably best if you don't use insults you don't understand, it makes you look bad.

Quote:
I mean sure you might be right, we might never have a mass ''pro-revolutionary'' organisation in britian or the US ever

I certainly never said that. Especially not with the distinction ''pro-revolutionary". I do find it impressive how many strawmen views for other people you invent and then attack in your discussions here.

Quote:
(though personally i don't rank our chances of achieving much very highly if we don't have at least an organisation or two of this nature) but on the other hand you could be wrong.

Or you could actually read my posts.

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Steven.
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Dec 29 2007 12:54
Mike Harman wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
So basically the anarcho-syndicalist union

What anarcho-syndicalist union? Who talked about an anarcho-syndicalist union? How you could read this discussion, when both me and John. have argued specifically against setting up any kind of union, and then make this crass underlying assumption is beyond me.

cantdo's using it for his hypothetical example we're discussing.

Mike Harman wrote:
revol68 wrote:
Yes it is political but it is also a pratical organ of struggle, a combination/network/union of workers looking to co ordniate practical struggle for concrete gains in and outside workplaces. So yes it has a political content (what doesn't??) but it's terrain is not simply one of political propaganda, it's foundation and driving motor is actual class struggle.

And have either myself or John argued for an organisation whose terrain is "simply one of political propaganda"? No we have not.

Exactly, this is another strawman. This is pretty funny coming from you considering I'm pretty sure me and catch have been actually involved in more practical struggle than you. Which isn't to attack you, but is to demonstrate that it is a strawman.