Once more on the failed transit system fare strike in San Francisco in 2005

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Kevin Keating
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Jun 6 2007 16:17
Once more on the failed transit system fare strike in San Francisco in 2005

By now many libcom.org readers will have seen or read a long document or pamphlet titled, "FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts."

This account of the failed effort to foment a transit system fare strike is largely a fraud. It systematically misrepresents the character of the politics that the pamphlet's authors asserted, or attempted to assert, during the fare strike and during the lead-up to the fare strike.

My response that follows here is from an e-mail I originally sent to a London comrade about this.

The London comrade criticized the "FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts" pamphlet for not criticizing the leftist recuperators in the group called Muni Fare Strike. The people who produced this pamphlet were in the group called Muni Fare Strike during the Muni effort in 2005.

My response was:

"...1. The guys who put out this pamphlet don't make any criticism of the leftist recuperators in their group because they were the leftist recuperators, not just in their group, but in the effort as a whole.

In the fare strike action they acted just like any other ultra-conventional, SF Bay Area leftist culture of failure phenomenon, exactly like a Trot group, in fact, only in this case a Trot group whose communications skills are so feeble that they had to subcontract out the leaflet writing duties to the General Secretary of a one-man Leninist party, this Marc Norton guy.

From the outside at least, Norton appears to have been the one who supplied their group with its fundamental political direction, and given how proprietary Norton was in our meetings about their content-free leaflet he also appears to have been the author of the Muni Fare Strike groups' key piece of propaganda.

Norton is a former Maoist, then was in a pro-Soviet Union, pro-C.P.U.S.A .group in the 1980's called 'Line of March,' and now he's some kind of unaffiliated Lenin-geek of one stripe or another. In various rapidly deteriorating exchanges on libcom.org and anti-politics.net I've demanded that they explain what Norton's politics are; the individual who uses the initials GH in the pamphlet and "Comrade Mobuto" have repeatedly given my question the swerve.

They have never come clean about Norton's politics. There has to be some substantial reason for this.

Now with their "FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005..." pamphlet they are in effect re-writing the history book and airbrushing the photographs, Soviet-Union-kids-schoolbook-style, making their wholly conventional leftist effort and the utter flop that it was look like it was a lot bigger and badder than it turned out to be, and jazzing things up with references to Midnight Notes and council communism and quotes from Guy Debord.

In my experience all this is typical of the individual in this doc who uses the initials GH. GH's middle name should be "corrupted data." The guy is a constant source of what are at very best wild exaggerations. He is consistently not a source of useful, accurate information.

They present the doc without mentioning that four of the people who are telling their stories are members of, or at least nominal members of, GH's Potemkin-Village "group," Insane Dialectical Posse. I used to see this type of thing with Maoists and Trot groups around here back in the 1990's; they accidentally-on-purpose forget to mention their affiliation with one another in public events. Whether this is consciously deceptive or not on the part of the Fare Strike! pamphlet people, it at least smells dishonest.

Beyond the obviously crucial question of simple honesty this is the next most important issue to me. In an essay about the deficiencies of the detective fiction of his day, Dashiell Hammett wrote, for a pistol to be called a revolver, it must have something which revolves. For a class struggle effort to be, as old-timers might put it, on the authentic terrain of communism and not on the terrain of the left of capital, it cannot be just like what leftists do, only done by people who long after the fact will get around to mentioning that they have a window-shoppers' affinity for the ultra-left.

I don't blow my horn about this, both because it would be completely obnoxious, and because the ultimate result of the effort was so dismal and not something I need to take credit for. But I initiated the not-begging-on-the-steps-of-City-Hall part of the resistance to the fare hike, service cuts and austerity measures against drivers, and when I did this I had a conscious strategy for how to go about getting the word out in a big way.

I wanted to:

1. Start with a 'saturation' leafletting of transit system operators; we did do this, the anarcho-kids in the group I was in,

2. Then put posters up at key intersections, etc. That's not because I was trying to re-live illusory past glories, or because I've got some kind of hard-on for posters as such, but simply because in a relatively small city like SF posters have proven to be an effective way to get the word out in the past.

3. And then mass leafletting; leafletting at bus stops, on the busses and so on. That kind of leafletting is crucially neccssary, but only after the ground has been effectively prepared for it.

The only way something like this could take off would be for enthusiasm for a mass self-reduction effort to take on a life of its own and word for it to spread like a house fire. There were steps we could have and should have engaged in, and the guys in the group that produced the Fare Strike! pamphlet -- that's mostly GH, is my guess -- have no track record of ever successfully communicating anything to anybody. They went at their effort in a hapless, chicken with its head cut off manner, and the effort failed, not just in that it didn't take off in a big way -- you can't "organize" that sort of thing, it obeys its own logic, and can only really happen under some mysterious confluence of a number of favorable circumstances -- but they utterly failed to effectively draw attention to the issue, and to all the bigger questions of life under the dictatorship of the market that must ride piggy-back on even the smallest mass agitation effort of this sort.

SF is a small city. With the number of people involved in this there is no excuse for their utter failure to get the message about this out -- other than that they don't know how to communicate a message that will really be heard. This was a perfect marriage of feeble form and feeble content; in the substance of what they had to say and the methods they used to say it they were politically timid in the extreme when they needed to be audacious in the extreme.

The Muni Fare Strike guys didn't know what to say, and they didn't know how to say it, and this is still apparent in their leftist-subjectivity doc.

The subjectivity stuff in their document has a smoke-and-mirrors quality to it; you can't see the forest because there are too many trees in the way, and I think this is also dishonest on their part. Some aspects of what the various participants say here is of some limted interest, but it's no substitute for an analysis of the larger dynamics of which conflicting perpectives came into play in the effort and how the choices that were made ended up affecting the effort as a whole. I tried to supply this in my account, 'Muni Social Strikeout..' found here:

http://www.infoshop.org/myep/muni_social_strikeout.html

My account is of course colored by my own subjectivity and prejudices that I am not even fully cognizant of. Orwell noted this about his own account of his experiences in 'Homage to Catalonia,' and I'm sure I'm not more self-aware of such things than Orwell could be. But to the best of my knowledge I've presented an accurate account of what I saw in this little unsuccessful action. This whole thing could have been a small foot in the door for a larger perspective of antagonism to the existing state of things. Instead it was the same old, same old. It didn't have to be, and the next time around it doesn't have to be that either..."

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Comrade Motopu
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Joined: 27-04-07
Jun 8 2007 02:37

Kevin, sheesh your making another attempt with this crap? Your efforts to smear us since we put out our Fare Strike! pamphlet have failed --as evidenced by the complete absence of even a single person to back you up on the many sites, indymedias, and discussion threads you tailed our pamphlet at. For a rational person, that might be a little clue. Now you’re quoting a comrade in London who supposedly is criticizing us for not condemning the Leftist Leninist coup story you single handedly created? How can anyone argue against an anonymous source that agrees with a fake story you created. You’re attempting to reify your story by endlessly repeating it.

We were open anti-capitalists DURING the Fare Strike as all participants who were there can attest to. Our analysis was much more in touch with the reality of the situation than your totally time-frozen poster campaign based almost solely on your notions of Italy in the 70s (and you even mischaracterized that effort in your writing as we indicate in our pamphlet) and your previous prank effort in the 90s that almost no one participated in.

KK
I also posted this a little while ago on a discussion forum on libcom.org.
By now many libcom.org readers will have seen or read a long document or pamphlet titled, "FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts."

CM: Anyone who participated in the discussion at libcom knows that there was a near universal opposition to KK’s posts there, including many charges that he is a wingnut, and requests that he be banned due to telling lies about the Fare Strike and intentional mischaracterizations about people involved. See for yourself at:
http://libcom.org/forums/history/three-stooges-account-failed-effort-foment-transit-system-fare-strike-san-francisco-2005?page=0#comment-187732

KK:
This account of the failed effort to foment a transit system fare strike is largely a fraud. It systematically misrepresents the character of the politics that the pamphlet's authors asserted, or attempted to assert, during the fare strike and during the lead-up to the fare strike.

CM: There was an exodus away from KK not because he was a principled left-communist in the tradition of Gorter or Pannekoek, but becuase he was engaging in top down Leninist bullying, and substitutionism with regard to the drivers. Kevin has no argument that identifies any real actions by members of Fare Strike in the lead up to the strike. He does not have a critique of our interaction with riders and drivers, because he was simply never there with us due to the fact that he had already been making ad hominem attacks on his fellow strike participants on the internet and at meetings which is exactly why he ended up a one man vanguard by the first day of the strike. That is the real story of his own personal “failure to communicate.”
The other participants carried forth the strike autonomously and openly with their own class struggle politics. Most of the people who had been chafing under Kevin’s attempt to control them and from the constant embarrassment of his delusions about his expertise and authority ended up working with Fare Strike. Since Kevin can’t seem to imagine people functioning without a leader, he created a really dumb story about Marc Norton writing all our literature, and manipulating us like puppets to carry out a social democratic effort at reform.
But that ignores that even Kevin’s model was an attempt at reform through direct action, demanding “no fare hike” through a refusal to pay. He claims that we took the anti-capitalism out of it because one flyer that was democratically put together didn’t focus on the drivers as much as his literature did. But this ignores the fact that our flyers do mention the driver layoffs, and that, at least partially thanks to Kevin’s antics, the drivers had already fallen down as far as joining the fare strike as a group by the time the flyer in question came out.
The Fare Strike could not be structured in a way so as to guarantee a revolutionary outcome. The hope was that by creating an exemplary action with openly anti-capitalist critique, it could first succeed in driving back the fare hike, and then possibly broaden out into other similar resistance, either leading up to a general strike (no one really expected that) or at least into getting a more anti-capitalist critique of social relations into the open. At the very least, the action stood a chance of succeeding as a defensive maneuver to protect us, working class riders of public transportation.
We did not want to be a vanguard imparting the consciousness from outside, and that is a big part of why we could not work with Kevin, who had clearly demonstrated, as explained by those who had to get away from him, the delusion that he was the leader, and that it was the task of the strike to organize the drivers. To this end, he worked at being the choke point between riders and drivers, hand picking who could and who could not go to meetings with drivers. It’s important to note this is not only an attempt to control his fellow fare strike organizers, but to control the drivers. Even after the drivers had indicated to other participants that they were eager to meet with everyone, Kevin lied to people that only two or three people would be allowed, and even gave people false addresses for meetings to keep them out of the loop.

KK:
The London comrade criticized the "FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts" pamphlet for not criticizing the leftist recuperators in the group called Muni Fare Strike. The people who produced this pamphlet were in the group called Muni Fare Strike during the Muni effort in 2005.

CM: Kevin is merely attempting to reify his story about a Leninist leader and a pro-wage labor side kick who supposedly tricked all the Bay Area anarchists into hiding their class struggle politics in exchange for a parliamentarian reformist approach, which is ludicrous on the face of it given the extent of direct action the Fare Strike actually entailed, and the level of open critique of capitalism that went into the face to face time with riders and drivers. Kevin was there on the first day of the strike, I saw and talked to him, and he saw the strike happening first hand, but he never writes about it. Judging from his vitriolic and psuedo-critical posts, I believe he can’t acknowledge the successes of the strike effort because of some inability to give credit to something he did not control.
Many of the people in Fare Strike were involved in the earlier stages of organizing, including GH, Tom W. (independent of the group, but he attended many of our meetings and had valuable input) and at least 8 or 9 others if we count everyone who ended up in the orbit of the Fare Strike group. Many of those people have accounts in our pamphlet. DO NOT believe any claim by Kevin that he “instigated” the Fare Strike. This is a lie.
Kevin,you’ve consistently put out the impression that Fare Strike group rose out of the blue to co-opt your efforts. But as we’ve shown, the Fare Strike meetings and actions represented most of the original group, people who were at the initial public meetings leading up to the idea of a Fare Strike, including those people identifying as Social Strike members. These people engaged in analysis and action, always with the autonomy to use any literature they wanted, and any agitational approach, and to work with whoever they chose, which is why some people were even in touch with you as they worked with Fare Strike, although from what I have heard, those connections are now completely severed due to your unprincipled actions surrounding the fare strike, specifically the lies you have told in your numerous articles about it.
All the members (not all the particpants in the strike) of both groups are anti-capitalist, and most of them are influenced by the left-communist and situationist theory you seem not to grasp (see Max Anger’s embarrassing mess “Go "Beyond the SI" in 10 simple steps” in which he exhibits such a deep misunderstanding of even basic Marxist concepts that he claims “specialized musicians” are in command of the means of production of the music industry--a fundamentally idiotic portrayal of a basic social relation-- http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/78).

KK:
My response was:

"...1. The guys who put out this pamphlet don't make any criticism of the leftist recuperators in their group because they were the leftist recuperators, not just in their group, but in the effort as a whole.

CM: You have not ever shown what we did that could be considered a recuperation. On the other hand, we have clearly outlined the ways in which you acted as an authoritarian vanguardist, and we’ve clearly outlined why principled communist, left-communist, situationist, and anarchist, participants decided to get away from you during the lead up to the strike. The material evidence is the fact that you were a marginal individual by the time the strike started, and that since the strike, no one has come forward to verify a single one of your charges. That’s because your assertions are baseless, attempted reifications of stories you know anti-authoritarians want to hear. The truth doesn’t work, so suddenly it became you versus the Leninist dupes, leftists, and “pro-wage labor” leftists. We have asked for a single shred of evidence that we are pro-wage labor, your only response has been “I don’t have to waste my time answering these chumps” followed by various weird victory dances online about how you “set us straight.” It’s very unconvincing.
We didn’t need you to tell us to be anti-capitalist despite your strange belief that your the only one whose got any theory under his belt.

KK:
In the fare strike action they acted just like any other ultra-conventional, SF Bay Area leftist culture of failure phenomenon, exactly like a Trot group, in fact, only in this case a Trot group whose communications skills are so feeble that they had to subcontract out the leaflet writing duties to the General Secretary of a one-man Leninist party, this Marc Norton guy.

CM: Repeating debunked lies endlessly is one indicator of your opportunism. Your interest is not actually whether the action benefits working class people or the victims of capital, but whether or not it furthers your resume as supposed top dog. It was explained many times in response to your posts that the leaflet was put together by a handful of people, not one “leader” and that the drivers, day laborers, and participants had input into the leaflet, and the various edits it underwent, which was a tool to lay out the basics of the fare strike. It has also been explained that our anti-capitalist theory was out front throughout in our interaction with transit riders and drivers.
And to claim we acted as Trotskyist groups do? I’m sorry, but I do know something about how such groups work. I wrote about it in my “ISOnuts” pamphlet. Our group was totally different. We were a grouping of both Fare Strike and Social Strike groups coordinating with other individuals and community groups who acted autonomously. Unlike a trot group, there was no “line” that had to be adhered to within or outside Fare Strike, and I spent at least half of my time agitating with Social Strike and Anarchist Action members using their literature, not just Fare Strike literature. Can you imagine a trot group like the ISO saying “hey, use the Socialist Worker if you want, or if you just feel like handing out some Council Communist or Situationist stuff, go for it!” No, you can’t hence you charge that we’re “exactly like a Trot group” is beyond absurd, and amounts to an insult to everyone who reads your claims. You think people are that dumb? As usual, you have no clue what you’re talking about.
But our literature was of course not the equivalent of Trot literature. Why? Because it was incorporating the suggestions of all involved. On the other hand, the drivers, day laborers, and others all expressed frustration at your incredibly wordy and pedantic lit. Our main flyer may have been blunted due to the democratic process, but in no way does it represent an effort to hide the class struggle aspects of the whole effort. With four languages on each flyer, it had to be concise, and the face to face time is where deeper conversation arose.
You also say our communication skills are feeble, and yet the most successful aspects of the strike have rightly been traced back to the multi-language outreach to various communities, the best example being the day laborers in the mission, where thousands rode free. That emanated from Fare Strike, not the Kevin Keating Vanguard of One Strike. You point to your effective tactics with the drivers. If they were effective, why did the drivers not agree to a unified fare strike? In fact their feedback about you was largely negative and distrustful. Those drivers that did participate had been in touch with various people in the Fare Strike and Social Strike, including at some point yourself. But there is no way to trace their participation back to your literature, and to somehow blame us for any failure, but this has been a cornerstone of your silly reductionist argument.

KK:
From the outside at least, Norton appears to have been the one who supplied their group with its fundamental political direction, and given how proprietary Norton was in our meetings about their content-free leaflet he also appears to have been the author of the Muni Fare Strike groups' key piece of propaganda.

CM: Thank you for finally admitting you weren’t there and don’t really know what happened. You’ve retreated to using “appears to be” since our numerous debunkings of this lie about one person writing our literature. That’s progress I guess, and shows you now realize you have no case with this garbage, so you try to distance yourself from any culpability in a lie by saying what “appears to be.” It only appears that way if people read nothing but your five or six accounts of the Fare Strike. Again, is anyone that stupid? No.
And you want to talk about proprietary? Your e-mails in which you indicate who can or can’t go to meet with drivers, and that it’s already been decided by you and an inner circle, are now up online and many people have seen them. To this day you claim to have instigated the idea of the strike, totally false, and to therefore “own” the original and pure effort. In this way you can say it was a debacle without taking any blame or being subjected to your own faulty analysis.

KK:
Norton is a former Maoist, then was in a pro-Soviet Union, pro-C.P.U.S.A .group in the 1980's called 'Line of March,' and now he's some kind of unaffiliated Lenin-geek of one stripe or another.

CM: More opportunism of the Leninist variety on your part. Marc was briefly in said group in the mid 80s but was kicked out, something you never mention. But if we refuse to work with people based on their affiliations of 25 years ago, we would be idiots. That would also mean, by your standards, we could not work with you, as you have written you were “a teenage Marxist Leninist” on your own web site!
The glaring hypocrisy already noted is that you yourself were attempting to tightly control access to the drivers through your work with CURRENT AND NOW PRACTICING STALINISTS in the PLP. (Please note that most people in the strike effort worked with these drivers, but YOU are the only one claiming this is a crime, and you are also going directly against your own claims of “never” working with such people in your “Poor the Bad and the Ugly” pamphlet as I’ve noted elsewhere.) You claim this is totally different from our situation. But your charge that Marc controlled our group has been shown to be a lie, and the charge that he wrote our literature also a lie. If your claims were true, where are the disgruntled anarchists coming forward to back up the assertions of a heavily centralized Leninist led group embodying the Trotskyist Leftist tactics and goals you, and no one else, ascribe to us? It’s been two years, and no one has backed your stories yet Kevin. Maybe it’s time to self assess your analysis skills.

KK:
In various rapidly deteriorating exchanges on libcom.org and anti-politics.net I've demanded that they explain what Norton's politics are; the individual who uses the initials GH in the pamphlet and "Comrade Mobuto" have repeatedly given my question the swerve.

CM: That’s false and you know it. Marc is a working class militant and was acting in a principled, non-controlling, and cooperative way with us. He helped bring in the Day Laborers, he helped organize legal defense, and helped contact community groups that aided with the Chinese language flyers. He was not our leader despite his strong contributions, and you only keep coming back to him because of some past life as a momentary Maoist. But your “see what sticks” approach to slandering marc again points out the opportunism over analysis approach that you take. You called Marc a Leninist, then you called him a Trot (he claims to have never read Trotsky), then a Stalinist and finally a Maoist! Now you’ve settled on a nebulous charge of “some kind of” Leninist. You have no clue what you’re talking about, as with the rest of your account with regards to us, which has always relied on throwing out as many cliched charges to see what sticks.

KK:
They have never come clean about Norton's politics. There has to be some substantial reason for this.

CM: We did “come clean” and your framing of this issue is the real obfuscation. You’ve been posting for about a year that we are avoiding your questions, but when I answer everything you charge, point by point, all you say is “he likes to practice typing” without acknowledging what I say. But I’m really glad you made your reckless and unsubstantiated attacks on us, because judging from the wall of ridicule you’ve brought on yourself, those involved in any action or theory influenced by what you claim are your theoretical roots want nothing to do with you. While that is sad, given your propensity to lie about things, I think it’s good that merely seeing you in action is evidence enough. The results have been clear. You even got a thread about you on libcom in which someone said you should just apologize and move on. Unfortunately you have burned your bridges.

KK:
Now with their "FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005..." pamphlet they are in effect rewriting the history book and airbrushing the photographs, Soviet-Union-kids-schoolbook-style, making their wholly conventional leftist effort and the utter flop that it was look like it was a lot bigger and badder than it turned out to be, and jazzing things up with references to Midnight Notes and council communism and quotes from Guy Debord.

CM: This is a vanguardist summation to be sure. You see nothing but failure where the actions of riders and drivers are concerned, merely because the actions were outside of your theoretically rigid control. You totally ignore the entire event in favor of focusing solely on the political aspect, the aspects of leadership and power as seen from your weird and twisted perspective. It’s interesting that not one person has come forward to lament the loss of your supposedly ideologically pure leadership. That’s because you had nothing concrete to offer. Everyone else seems to be offering critiques based on actions on the ground by actual participants. If anyone is engaging in a textbook style approach, clearly it’s you, with your total exclusion of events in favor of a top down “great man of history” approach that even mainstream historians generally agree is too conservative and misleading. In other words, the Fare Strike was not about you. You were there at the first day of the strike, why not write about it? instead you’ve blown up some of your personal relationships, and made the people you don’t like into towering leaders and deceivers. It’s so full of distortions as to be unrecognizable to any references outside your resentment addled personal history.

KK:
In my experience all this is typical of the individual in this doc who uses the initials GH. GH's middle name should be "corrupted data." The guy is a constant source of what are at very best wild exaggerations. He is consistently not a source of useful, accurate information.

CM: I think this is clearly a case of projection. Judging by the responses to your attacks on/writing about us, most people agree. The most curious thing about whatever your personality glitch is, is how oblivious you are to your social surroundings. Who are you writing the above paragraph to? It can only be to people who don’t know anything about you. As you have explained to drinking buddies, you are totally isolated now, and yet you carry on as if there is an army of eager followers awaiting your next poster campaign. It’s odd.

KK:
They present the doc without mentioning that four of the people who are telling their stories are members of, or at least nominal members of, GH's Potemkin-Village "group," Insane Dialectical Posse.

CM: Grasping for straws has become your strong card. The pamphlet is put out as an IDP edition, contains a group conclusion (perhaps a clue that some of us are involved in the group?) and openly explains our connections to each other. You keep trying to smear us with a conspiratorial brush, but it was you that lied to people and sent them to the wrong addresses to keep them from attending meetings with the drivers. It was you that hounded people out of the effort, and you that ended up as a one man vanguard. Again, self assess, self assess, self assess. Please.

KK:
I used to see this type of thing with Maoists and Trot groups around here back in the 1990's; they accidentally-on-purpose forget to mention their affiliation with one another in public events. Whether this is consciously deceptive or not on the part of the Fare Strike! pamphlet people, it at least smells dishonest.

CM: Your really out of touch if you think that stopped in the 90s, but it may indicate your descent into alienation. And Just who were we fooling? I guess I just don’t get this. Your saying a group of friends in the “Insane Dialectical Posse” is an exact equivalent to a stodgy centralized bureaucratic Maoist or Trot group? Ha ha ha ha! That is freakin’ rich. I have to repeat that while most of your attempts at humor fall flat, your serious writing is often quite funny.

KK:
2. Beyond the obviously crucial question of simple honesty this is the next most important issue to me.

CM: Again with the comedy. Honesty is important to you? “Gentlemen we are through the looking-glass.”

KK:
In an essay about the deficiencies of the detective fiction of his day, Dashiell Hammett wrote, for a pistol to be called a revolver, it must have something which revolves. For a class struggle effort to be, as old-timers might put it, on the authentic terrain of communism and not on the terrain of the left of capital, it cannot be just like what leftists do, only done by people who long after the fact will get around to mentioning that they have a window-shoppers' affinity for the ultra-left.

CM: In Herman Gorter’s “Open Letter to Comrade Lenin” he points out that Lenin’s tactics amount to opportunism because he is telling Western Europe to rely on tactics (he believed erroneously) “worked” for Russia. Lenin was asking for participation on Trade Unions and parliaments to build a bigger support base for the Bolsheviks, not out of a knowledgeable assessment of what could work for the working class in said countries. Similarly, when we see an egomaniac engaging in slander to denounce forces that refused to follow his bungling authoritarian leadership, we can be sure it is a case of opportunism, not genuinely considered analysis, and that it is meant to build a case for his own leadership rather than focusing on assessing the facts at hand. Kevin’s tactics succeeded, but they succeeded only in alienating every single group and individual he came in contact with.

Rather than admit the utter bankruptcy of his approach he abstracts things out to fit into cliched stories about Leninist dupes versus the ultra-left hero so he can make Fare Strike 2005 into the Russian Revolution, and anyone who disagrees with him is a liberal or a Leninist. He assumes by claiming the mantle of Left Communist, he won’t actually need to provide any evidence for his charges, because they fit the story all anti-Bolshevik communists (including us) know by heart. This is the very definition of reification. KK “owns” the Social Strike, and “owns” the position of the ultra-leftist, seen as values rather than meaningful concepts, and this is supposed to mandate that we disregard his actions, vanguardist in the extreme, to believe that the material reality mirrors the abstract story which is bolstered by his claims of ideological ownership of a pure line. The tell is that he can’t back up his stories with any material reality.

I agree with Kevin that we should judge people by how they act in the real world, beyond just their rhetoric. If a person lies to comrades during and after the action, he should be avoided. If a person claims a prank 15 years ago was a substantial action, or puts a joke flyer about a Leninist in his “actions” column when he self-promotes and denounces others for never doing “real actions,” he should not be taken seriously. If a person acts as a choke point between fellow participants and others involved in an action without clearly stating what he is doing, this really is something that can be compared to current Leninist groups such as the ISO with their fraction groups and manipulation of front groups who are made to act out pre planned actions and led to believe they are self-managing. In short, if someone claims the mantle of Makhno, but acts like Lenin, he should be called on it. I believe this has happened to KK already, but like a man in a hollywood movie who has been sliced to ribbons by an expert swordsman and is unaware, he continues acting as if nothing happened as others look on in horror as he literally falls to pieces.

KK:
3. I don't blow my horn about this, both because it would be completely obnoxious, and because the ultimate result of the effort was so dismal and not something I need (???) to take credit for. But I initiated the not-begging-on-the-steps-of-City-Hall part of the resistance to the fare hike, service cuts and austerity measures against drivers, and when I did this I had a conscious strategy for how to go about getting the word out in a big way.

CM: You are blowing your own horn and you are lying about this. There were others involved in earlier fare strike activity in the Bay Area who were there from the beginning of this action and who actually saw it through. There were people discussing and working on plans for a Fare Strike before KK brought it up at one or another meeting. Trying to take credit for coming up with this idea is a new low for the belief in the BIG LIE for a big ego. None of the others who helped plan the Fare Strike were calling for reformist begging at city hall as you claim. There was a march to city hall, more than 70 days after the Strike started, after it was already over, and many went in solidarity with the Day Laborers who planned that march. You know that already, but you keep attributing it to us, and claiming this sums up our politics. Why? Because you can’t offer a real critique.
The difference between the 2005 effort and the one in the 90s which you really did lead is that the 2005 one actually happened, with some small successes and much self-generated exemplary action by riders, drivers, and organizers, even though it ultimately failed.

KK:
I wanted to:
1. Start with a 'saturation' leafletting of transit system operators; we did do this, the anarcho-kids in the group I was in,

CM: Being in contact with the drivers took place throughout the entire effort, not only at the beginning, and not only by you and some followers as you seem to imply here. Your efforts should, by your own standards, I guess be deemed a failure (debacle perhaps) as the result was no unified driver participation in the Fare Strike, and the ousting of two drivers from the union. You have yet to own up to your failed efforts in regard to your literature. I only say this because I’m applying your standards, when judging us, to your actions, asking for consistency. What you ALWAYS OMIT is that many in the Fare Strike group rode busses, flyered drivers, spoke with them, and that we also had a far more successful outreach to different communities with leaflets in four languages, and the help of the day laborers, the strongest presence of the entire strike. Your conspiratorial behavior with regard to the anarchists and other participants, including Lamia and Ehssan, who you personally hounded out as “anarcho-scenesters” but now claim to not have known about that, was another reason for the collapse of this phase of work. This has been clearly shown on numerous threads on the net.

KK:
2. Then put posters up at key intersections, etc. That's not because I was trying to re-live illusory past glories, or because I've got some kind of hard-on for posters as such, but simply because in a relatively small city like SF posters have proven to be an effective way to get the word out in the past.

CM: Where is that proof? Your 90s effort never went off. There is no way to credit the massive participation in the 2005 Fare Strike to your poster campaign which fell apart and was replaced by the more face to face direct outreach around the city. Human to human outreach seems to have brought more than a one way lesson with no one there could have. Posters are fine, as part of an effort, but you fell down on the other parts regarding riders. Fare Strike talked to riders and drivers, in a sustained way leading up to the strike. Again, numerous examples have been elaborated online.

KK:
3. And then mass leafletting; leafletting at bus stops, on the busses and so on. That kind of leafletting is crucially neccssary, but only after the ground has been effectively prepared for it.

CM: But the ground was not effectively prepared, largely due to you as Tom W. has pointed out. You alienated groups, individuals, participants, and drivers with your constant shit talking and attacks on anyone not willing to centralize your propaganda tools. Here I do see a direct line to the type of behavior I witnessed in the Trot front group I challenged at SF State. You have the whole thing backwards if you think you’re the anti-trot here. When things really started shaping up was when your disruptive (as opposed to critical) self centered presence was successfully avoided. This was done by those around you who fled, not by some conspiratorial Leninist/Trot/Maoist/Stalinist/unaffiliated group or person as you have muddleheadedly tried to suggest. The amazing thing is that you still can’t see what your actual participation amounted to. Outside your skull, there is a consensus--the results of which are apparent in the materially actual exodus from you by those around you.

KK:
The only way something like this could take off would be for enthusiasm for a mass self-reduction effort to take on a life of its own and word for it to spread like a house fire. There were steps we could have and should have engaged in, and the guys in the group that produced the Fare Strike! pamphlet -- that's mostly GH, is my guess -- have no track record of ever successfully communicating anything to anybody.

CM: Again you simply dismiss peoples’ efforts and what they say about themselves, favoring instead your “guess” about someone you personally have bad history with. We differ from you in that we offered a realist view of the successes of the strike rather than giving into a self-loathing claim of “debacle” and projection of anger mainly over lost friendships onto a disingenuous account of an event. As Tom W. stated: “Fare Strike Happened.” Nothing you say out of your personal defeatism can erase the unprecedented level of participation in such an action in recent San Francisco history.
At the BASTARD conference we offered an open forum, participatory critique and brainstorming, based on the accounts of people from not only our Fare Strike, but people from other Fare Strikes in the US and outside the US and the attendees had a lot of valuable and thoughtful input. To me this was actually productive and preferable to a one man myth making machine bent on destroying people personally and negating every aspect of an event he can’t take credit for.

KK:
They went at their effort in a hapless, chicken with its head cut off manner, and the effort failed, not just in that it didn't take off in a big way -- you can't "organize" that sort of thing, it obeys its own logic, and can only really happen under some mysterious confluence of a number of favorable circumstances --

CM: Wow, you “appear” to be giving mystical/mysterious factors more weight than any attempt at analysis, and this does fit with your lack substantial writing on the strike itself. Now you’re also complaining about us allegedly wanting “organize” things, but you constantly wanted to control aspects, from the literature and tactics, to who could meet with drivers, to claiming we did not successfully “organize” the drivers, to demanding an ideological line from participants. As we have made clear all along, driver participation would come from the drivers themselves, not from an outside substitution or vanguard leadership. We were willing to work with drivers, but you keep claiming we failed to instigate their participation, directly contradicting your fresh claim that these things can’t be controlled or organized. I hope you can see, that as with your claims about drivers political affiliation as compared to Marc Norton’s “Maoism”, you’re engaging in duplicitous and muddled analysis and portrayal here, shifting your position as it suits the needs of your argument.

KK:
but they utterly failed to effectively draw attention to the issue, and to all the bigger questions of life under the dictatorship of the market that must ride piggy-back on even the smallest mass agitation effort of this sort.

CM: This is an absolutely condescending portrayal of what riders and drivers, and the participants in Fare Strike and Social Strike had to say for themselves. Many riders believed public transpo should be free, and they talked about their experiences as workers and what they had seen happening to San Francisco over the years with gentrification and diminishing livability for the working class, and yes they were pissed. This was the content of the discussions/agitation that the anarchists/left commies/ etc. partook in with the face to face time we all engaged in, not only with riders, but with drivers. Do you expect anyone to believe that you had a monopoly on such critique? All this shows is your consistent underestimation of the working class (“no one participated” “the effort was nothing more than a debacle” “they are all leftists” “they all failed” “they don’t think about class struggle” etc.) and the others around you who were putting in genuinely and openly anti-capitalist efforts around the strike, while simultaneously LISTENING to what riders and drivers said, without demanding they use the correct Marxist terminology to describe their place in the social relations. Your insistence on a specific line, worded correctly really IS a direct similarity to the International Socialist Organization’s insistence that people “support the [Iraqi] resistance” or be labeled liberals. You can’t even see that, as Tom W. pointed out, you were hounding everyone to adhere to an ideologically pure line. We were making our critiques clear, and welcoming participation by those who had some inkling of the broader market/commodity/capitalist issues affecting city infrastructure and life, and who were willing to challenge the authority of the state to extract yet more surplus labor from them in the form of cash payment, even if they didn’t word it that way.
We believe action can inform theory, not just the other way round, which seems to be your position.

KK:
SF is a small city. With the number of people involved in this there is no excuse for their utter failure to get the message about this out -- other than that they don't know how to communicate a message that will really be heard. This was a perfect marriage of feeble form and feeble content; in the substance of what they had to say and the methods they used to say it they were politically timid in the extreme when they needed to be audacious in the extreme.

CM: So wrong on every count. Our outreach was openly anti-capitalist, far more widespread than yours, with far more autonomy exercised by the participants once your influence was escaped. Anyone who was actually there saw the genuine openness with which Fare Strike and Social Strike members talked to riders and drivers. Is there anyone out there lame enough to believe people in anarchist action or Social Strike would hit the streets with a pledge to tone down any anti-capitalist or working class aspects of the struggle in supposed allegiance to the dictates of some Leninist? That’s what you’re asking people to believe. You’re delusional if you think people will buy this garbage, and each step in your argument is based on a pillar of sand, lie upon lie upon lie. The fact that the outreach was done with groups consisting of Fare Strike and Social Strike makes it self-evident that no one was trying to take out any critique of capital. You have not provided a single incident, outreach conversation, or face to face where this is alleged to happen, and yet you’ve been pushing this for two years now.

KK:
The Muni Fare Strike guys didn't know what to say, and they didn't know how to say it, and this is still apparent in their leftist-subjectivity doc.

CM: You have not addressed anything in our doc.
Our outreach had a far greater effect than anything you did around transit in the 90s, or 2005, our message was anti-capitalist, and we were effective as far as it went given our mistakes and limitations of the situation. To attempt to blame us entirely for the failure of the Strike to escalate beyond what it did become is nothing more than sour grapes on your part, and the wish to destroy something you couldn’t control. Unless an interesting and useful event has your mug plastered across it, it can’t have really mattered.

KK:
4. The subjectivity stuff in their document has a smoke-and-mirrors quality to it; you can't see the forest because there are too many trees in the way,

CM: We provide a historical background which more accurately lays out some of the concepts than your writings do. We outline what groups were involved and in what capacity, many accounts of the lead up to the strike, many accounts of first day, and accounts of the weeks after that. We left any mention of you out because you had already saturated cyberspace with a pack of vainglorious fabrications about individuals based on what you now admit are merely “appearances” in your own mind. Could anything be more mystical, less analytical, and less materially grounded? We provide a group conclusion weighing what worked against what could have been done differently and we offer our direct experience and analysis to people who might improve on what we did. Your “non-subjective” portrayal offers a bizarre tale of groups of down-syndrome (your words) liberals all following a charismatic leader. The biggest failure according to you is that you were not that leader. But the actions of the participants were far in advance of your theoretical purity, from which you construct a safe bubble to hurl the charge “we would have won if they did what I said.”

KK:
and I think this is also dishonest on their part. Some aspects of what the various participants say here is of some limted interest, but it's no substitute for an analysis of the larger dynamics of which conflicting perpectives came into play in the effort and how the choices that were made ended up affecting the effort as a whole.

CM: I think you still have not read our pamphlet. It contains inner political conflicts in BART and Muni, the various community groups and their stances that were against the fare hikes, the principles from which our group operated, it has a historical look at transit issues in the US and the Bay Area and what this means to the working class, descriptions of tactics of outreach, accounts of events in the fare strike and reactions from riders and drivers, descriptions of other fare strikes and contacts from our group and theirs, self critiques on what worked--what our role as “organizers/participants” was, and much more.
The major flaw in your assertion that we did not address conflicting perspectives and how choices affected the effort is that you expect people to make those analyses based on misinformation coming from one source: you. I know readers can determine that determining the value of one or another tactic based on faulty information about our group being a Leninist front would amount to absolutely nothing of any value, and would in fact be counter-productive. What your really saying is that unless we agree to your framework, there can be no analysis of the conflicting approaches.
There were liberal groups opposing fare hikes, but they were not behind a Fare Strike in any unified way.

KK:
My account is of course colored by my own subjectivity and prejudices that I am not even fully cognizant of. Orwell noted this about his own account of his experiences in 'Homage to Catalonia,' and I'm sure I'm not more self-aware of such things than Orwell could be. But to the best of my knowledge I've presented an accurate account of what I saw in this little unsuccessful action. This whole thing could have been a small foot in the door for a larger perspective of antagonism to the existing state of things. Instead it was the same old, same old. It didn't have to be, and the next time around it doesn't have to be that either..."

CM: Yes, and as you told a friend of mine, your writing is “better than Marx” if only comparable to Orwell, who you grant a slight edge over your stellar position in the ultra-left canon. Is this sudden dose of humility, admitting that Orwell was perhaps a slightly better writer than you, supposed to erase years of baseless attacks, psuedo-analysis, and intentional repetition of slanders you knew to be false? Again, I have to point out, whatever receptive audience you’re playing to in your head vanished a long time ago due to your total lack of honesty in dealing with others.
I agree that there was some same old same old in the strike, but all the participants realized that and made a beeline from the main Leninist element in the effort once it became clear.

http://libcom.org/library/fare-strike-san-francisco-2005

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Jun 8 2007 02:48

Are you guys insane?

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jef costello
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Jun 8 2007 03:18
thugarchist wrote:
Are you guys insane?

I'm really hoping that they're both the same guy

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Jun 8 2007 03:29

KK has spent a lot of time spreading calumny about me and my friends. I know it's boring but if a few months go by and he reintroduces the same lies in a new forum I feel the need to respond because there will be some who have not seen the lies before, and take them seriously without a reality check. I have found that after challenging his lies, people tend to side more with us, or at least realize he is nuts.

Notice that our pamphlet was about the Fare Strike. His writings are mostly about us, or strawman representations of us, the evil Leninist pro-wage-labor reformists he charges us, without any evidence, of being.

It's fine if people critique us, we did make mistakes, but his psuedo critique is mostly coming from his failed friendships and is directed only at those who don't do what he says, or whom he sees as competition for his leadership status.

Sorry if it seems insane. There's almost no way to be in proximity to KK without having the negative rep rub off, but I can't let him spread slander without challenging it. We've challenged his lies about an issue he wanted to control. This is why most people just let him say whatever he likes, because once he targets you, getting him to stop is like trying to stop a shitsu on viagra from humping your leg.

CM

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MJ
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Jun 8 2007 03:38
jef costello wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
Are you guys insane?

I'm really hoping that they're both the same guy

posi
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Jun 8 2007 07:06
Comrade Moputu wrote:
calumny

The more of this the better.

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Jun 8 2007 07:15

Mo' putas, can I just suggest that no one in the world cares what Keating thinks? Seriously. 1985 was a long time ago. He's over.

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Jun 8 2007 07:35

Hiya,
I know, my response was real long and that makes me seem weird, I had a big cup of coffee this morning though. It's just that in the past, our group around the Fare Strike had not responded and we had heard from some people outside california that they had heard the Fare Strike was run by Leninists. This was due to Keating's smear campaign. Even at the BASTARD Conference someone had said "we heard you guys were all Marxist-Leninists" and it was just funny because after one hour of talking it was all cleared up. I just fear that since KK doesn't stop with the lies, even after they've been shown to be lies, more people will read his stories and believe them again.
I don't mean to place the Fare Strike above other current events in importance, but I do think it was fine action despite ulitmately failing to achieve its goals.
Thanks for the words of advice though. I appreciate that.
CM

Kevin Keating
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Jun 8 2007 21:00

The effort get together a large-scale, direct action, Italian-style self-reduction effort on Muni, San Francisco's main public transit system, was initiated by the group called Muni Social Strike at a public meeting in San Francisco's Mission District on May 1st, 2005.

Other than me and to the best of my knowledge one other person, everybody else in the group called themselves an anarchist. The anarchists bailed wholesale on the Muni effort around the time of a ridiculous, wholly self-indulgent, subcultural scenesters riot on SF's Valencia Street, coinciding with the anti-G8 demos taking place in Scotland at the beginning of July 2005.

For that point onward, the conventional leftist culture of failure group called Muni Fare Strike took the lead in the Muni effort. It was very much a product of what their politics -- their conventional Bay Area leftist politics -- were all about.

What follows is what needed to happen in the Muni effort, from what I see as an authentic communist perspective -- and what the conventional leftists of the Muni Fare Strike group did instead:

1. From the beginning everybody in Muni Social Strike agreeed that the Muni effort would be an anti-market economy action -- and that we would "disdain to conceal" our aims with this. All the discontent that we hoped would emerge with the supposedly minor inconvenience of a threatened fare hike and other austerity measures would be a foot-in-the-door for voicing a larger antagonism to what market relations do to our lives.

-- No such perspective was ever even faintly present in any of the leaflets or public pronouncements of the Muni Fare Strike group.

They played the game the way capital wanted the game to be played; the fare hike and service cuts were, to them, and this is based on all they said and did, a single issue phenomenon. For them it had no connection to anything else. Take a look at their leaflet and at the Muni Fare Strike web page, if this embarrassment is still up and running.

2. At the public meeting launching the effort, I made a little speech, saying that we must start at the center and work our way outward; this meant that the effort must begin by mass leafletting of Muni operators, by making reaching the operators and forming an alliance betwen employees and riders a central priority, and making the drivers and their concerns the first step in everything that would come after.

Employees of a mass transit system are the most crucial people in a mass effort of this sort.

-- the conventional leftists of the Muni Fare Strike group virtaully ignored the drivers. See the copy of the main leaflet that they distributed, under the subhead, "We're the People's Judean Front -- Not the Front for People's Judea!" here: http://www.infoshop.org/myep/muni_social_strikeout.html

The main leaflet they distributed said nothing about the transit system employees. This not only did nothing to draw transit system employees into the effort, to persuade them to see this fight as their own, to pick up the ball and run with it on their terms; it could only serve to alienate them, and make them think they were going to be hassled or bum-rushed by mobs of riders whose interests they don't automatically understand to be their own.

This was a signal failing on the part of guys who are now frantic to prove their credentials as a "posse" of studious, serious labor scholars.

Also, there is a huge difference between having a political relationship with the only oppositional group among the mass transit system employees in an Italian style 'self-reduction' effort who have dubious politics, or worse that dubious politics, and having a Leninist-Stalinist give political direction to your own effort. The first implies no concession to an organization like Progressive Labor or to its politics. The second one implies that you don't really know what you are doing. And as a matter of fact, the drivers who were members of PL, a woman and her husband, had both at that point either retired or were about to retire

The Lenin-geek from Muni Fare Strike, Marc Norton, made it clear at one of the Muni Social Strike meetings that he had written the content-poor leaflet that the leftist culture of failure group Muni Fare Strike distributed. He was also the person from the Muni Fare Strike group who was repeatedly quoted in the San Francisco Examiner as the spokesperson for their group.

So, does this or does this not make this Leninist the key figure, or a very key figure, of Muni Fare Strike, and an individual with a central voice in its perspectives, and in the strategies or lack of a strategy for getting those perspectives out?

Comrade Mobuto likes to make abig deal about my not knowing which particular flavor of couner-revolutionary Marc Norton is. Is it a surprise that a Leninist is deceitful? Is it a surprise that a deceitful leftist like Mobuto probably knows more about his Leninist comrade than I do -- and won't 'fess up as to his bona fides?

Contrary to Mobuto's lies, I never said that he and his leader "IDP" were Leninists. I said they were conventional Bay Area leftists who appear to have been led bya Leninist. This still stands.

In a meeting of the Muni Social Strike group, Norton refused demands that he re-do the piss-poor Muni Fare Strike group leaflet and come up with a new version including some sort of appeal to the drivers.

At first Norton gave a dog-ate-my-homework excuse, claiming that their wasn't a big enough margin at the bottom of the leaflet to include anything about the employees of the transit system. Apparently he's a grown man who allows his word processing program to make his political judgement calls for him. And he can't remember the old days before desktop publishing, when you would have had to improvise with glue-stick and a scissors at the photocopy machine.

Then after that Norton got all petulant about his rights of authorship, as if his crappy leaflet was 'Guernica' or a Vermeer or something.

Go take a look at the crappy leaflet, and compare it with the leaflet to the drivers, displayed at the opening of the 'Muni Social Strikeout...' doc on the 'Love and Treason' web page. Judge for yourself.

3. There needed to be an intelligent strategy to maximize the effectiveness of what would under the best of circumstances be a very small group of people trying to get a mesage out in a big way to at least many tens of thousands, and hopefully several hundred thousand of wage-slaves riding Muni.

I've outlined how I advocated that this could unfold in the Muni effort in the post above, and in the article that I've linked to above.

-- the conventional leftists did as I said above; haphazard leafletting with a content-poor leaflet that made no effort to persuade anybody of anything.

The predictable result of this was that their message went largely unheard, and almost wholly un-acted upon.

Like it or not, and whether you like me or not, I have some small, limited experience in effectively getting out a subversive message to large numbers of contemporary working people. The people behind the "FARE STRIKE!" pamphlet and their Leninist buddy have absolutely zero experience in doing this. And their perfect score on this wasn't upset by anything they did with the bungled Muni effort of 2005.

4. The effort had to be about asserting a new kind of anti-capitalist/anti-state proletarian politics/anti-politics in this part of the world. This means no Popular-Front-style bullshit, and it means doing an end-run around the ragbag of left-liberal social workers/professional protesters and wannabe appointed or elected government officials on the atrophied left elbow of San Francisco's Democratic Party political machine. These people will naturally glom onto an effort of this sort and turn it into another excuse for a session of liberal panhandling to the powers-that-be on the steps of City Hall.

-- The Muni Fare Strike leftists held a rally at which a number of these groups were invited to speak. I go into a number of ways that this was totally ineffectual in my 'Muni Social Strikeout' piece.

These groups did nothing to extend the reach of the message of what was at that point being simply described as a fare strike -- and no longer as a joint drivers and riders action.

And involvement of aggressively non-radical groups would have effectively diluted any anti-market, mass collective direct action message that the rally organizers were trying to get out -- luckily, this wasn't a problem, since the Muni Fare Strike group wasn't trying to get out any subversive message of any kind, anyway.

5. An effort that is really about opposition to capitalism is always going to be outside of and against the decision-making apparatus of capitalist democratic society,

-- Muni Fare Strike had a call to vote in the November elections prominently displayed on the first page of their web site.

How "communist" is it to call for proles to vote in bourgeois elections? These people are not in any way a part of the same historical movement as I am, or as I at least the historical movement that I aspire to be part of.

Eight years ago, with a very small revolving circle of people whose connection to me was solely that we occassionally drank beer together, some of us got out a subversive message in a big way around the market-generated housing and social space crisis in one of the few remaining predominantly working class neighborhoods in San Francisco. The posters of the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project helped to frame the issue in class terms. People in my neighborhood who don't neccessarily agree with almost any aspect of how I see things still remember all of this. It had some impact on what was happening in this city at that time. There were in retrospect a number of thigns that I could have done better. But the fundamental methods of communication were sound. If these methods had been used in the Muni effort in 2005 the entire effort might have turned out differently. There is virtually no way that the results could have been any worse.

The group Muni Fare Strike had something like a dozen members -- more if the chronic exaggerations and misrepresentations of Mobuto and his leader "IDP" are believed -- and from what I saw of the one joint meeting between people from what was left of the group I'd been in and the Muni Fare Strike group, they had a superior level of organization to what I got together with the MYEP.

And it didn't matter; they utterly failed to draw attention to the issue at hand. With a relatively good sized group of people, in a very small city where people tend to be slightly more receptive to this sort of thing that in other US cities, they completely failed to draw any attention to the issue at hand, and to the larger social question behind it. They didn't even fucking make the effort to connect the austerity measures on Muni to the larger problem of life under the dictatorship of the market. And now they are fucking lying about it, like the deceitful leftist failures that they are.

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Jun 8 2007 21:06

Spam.

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Jun 8 2007 21:19
Quote:
Eight years ago, with a very small revolving circle of people whose connection to me was solely that we occassionally drank beer together,

You can't even keep drinking buddies?

Kevin Keating
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Jun 8 2007 21:35

"Vote Tuesday
March Thursday"

This can be seen at this link:

http://www.munifarestrike.net/

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Jun 8 2007 21:57

Kevin Keating's rules to live by...

Tips on Making Yuppies Pay

Vandalize their cars: Mercedes, Lexus, Porsche, Jaguar, and anything that your family wouldn't be able to afford.
Throw shit at Yuppies as they drive by, especially if they are on their cell phones.
Don't patronize Yuppie establishments.
If you are sitting with friends near Yuppies, spread rumors about increasing crime in the neighborhood.
Organize your community against developers who help gentrification.
Organize your co-workers against your Yuppie boss.
Work with your neighbors to find out who owns what in your neighborhood
When Yuppies invade it means higher rents, so organize a neighborhood Tenant's Association to keep a lid on rents.
Don't listen to Yuppie radio stations, which includes your local NPR affiliates.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jun 8 2007 22:29
thugarchist wrote:
Kevin Keating's rules to live by...

Tips on Making Yuppies Pay

Vandalize their cars: Mercedes, Lexus, Porsche, Jaguar, and anything that your family wouldn't be able to afford.
Throw shit at Yuppies as they drive by, especially if they are on their cell phones.
Don't patronize Yuppie establishments.
If you are sitting with friends near Yuppies, spread rumors about increasing crime in the neighborhood.
Organize your community against developers who help gentrification.
Organize your co-workers against your Yuppie boss.
Work with your neighbors to find out who owns what in your neighborhood
When Yuppies invade it means higher rents, so organize a neighborhood Tenant's Association to keep a lid on rents.
Don't listen to Yuppie radio stations, which includes your local NPR affiliates.

How awesomely revolutionary. Where do I sign up?

Kevin Keating
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Jun 8 2007 22:50

The individuals from NEFAC never have anything of substance to say on any of these forums -- not even once that I've seen. In this they are a fitting tribute to what NEFAC is all about.

Good luck organizing a late 19th century-style movie theatre popcorn-counter-workers industrial union. And try not to trip over your unlaced Doc Martens when carrying water for capitalist labor brokerage rackets like the AFL-CIO and the SEIU.

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Jun 8 2007 23:01

Damn I wish we could get up to your level!

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Jun 8 2007 23:12

lEft cOMmunIsT reVolUTiOn!!!11

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MJ
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Jun 9 2007 00:21

Holy shit that looks like a new kind of anti-capitalist/anti-state proletarian politics/anti-politics in this part of the world!

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Jun 9 2007 01:16
Quote:
Good luck organizing a late 19th century-style movie theatre popcorn-counter-workers industrial union

As a late 19th century-style movie theatre popcorn-counter-worker, thank you.

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Jun 9 2007 01:20
thugarchist wrote:
lEft cOMmunIsT reVolUTiOn!!!11

That's almost as awesome as those Class War "mug a yuppie" stickers grin

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MJ
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Jun 9 2007 01:34
madashell wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
lEft cOMmunIsT reVolUTiOn!!!11

That's almost as awesome as those Class War "mug a yuppie" stickers grin

Oh man... right here next to my computer (in a terrible pile with antacid tablets and coupons and notepads and vials) there's a stack of ten well-made little "YUPPIES BEWARE - WE'RE WATCHING YOU" stickers I never had the heart to put up.

We are sooooo ungovernable! black bloc roll eyes

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Comrade Motopu
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Jun 9 2007 07:35
Kevin Keating wrote:
"Vote Tuesday
March Thursday"

This can be seen at this link:

http://www.munifarestrike.net/

CM:
Perhaps you missed this small detail?:
"No surprise then that the Thursday march was initiated by the San Francisco Day Labor Program, an organization made up primarily of immigrant workers."
http://www.munifarestrike.net/

Can you tell me why you keep insinuating we organized this march and that it describes our entire theoretical program?

Stop. Think. Ever wonder why the Mexican Bus theme and the Mission starting point? It’s tiresome to have to do your thinking for you.

Many of us in Social Strike and Fare Strike went for the bus ride. It was really fun. We went in solidarity, and to thank them for their efforts in the Fare Strike. Sure it was silly. It was pitch dark by the time we got to City Hall. There was no one around except some other demonstration, I forget what for.

If this disqualifies us as anarchists or left-communist influenced fare strikers, I'll mail in my membership card to whatever address you indicate.

I must say, if this march, 71 days after the strike started, and not initiated by Fare Strike or Social Strike, is your "smoking gun" that our entire strike was centered around reformism, I suggest you think a bit harder and try to come up with a more honest critique. Right now your in the wing nut column, and obviously grasping for straws to dismiss a solid effort you wanted control over but didn't get.

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syndicalistcat
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Jun 9 2007 15:32

CM: You shouldn't be defensive. There's nothing wrong with a march. A march isn't "reformism." A march is a participatory action and if it can get large numbers out in the street demonstrates visible support for a demand.

The march idea was proposed by the Day Laborers but Marc Norton also did some of the organizing work for it. I supported the idea as well. The disappointing turnout -- only about 50 people -- showed the fare strike momentum had dissipated by then. It might have been better to have the march near the beginning of the fare strike.

The main problem with the organizing approach to the fare strike, by both KK and the "anarcho-communists" and "council communists" was their substitutionism. That is, their activist groups controlled the leaflets, the message, the decisions about what to do, and so on. They had no strategy to bring ordinary working class Muni riders into the actual movement. This limited the number of active organizers and undermined the ability to spread the struggle. The reason for this was that KK, the "anarcho-communists" and "council communists" all had this idea that anti-capitalist politics had to be in command. That ignores the fact that what they were proposing was a mass action, and thus an action of the mass of working class Muni riders -- who mostly don't currently have an anti-capitalist consciousness. This fact was recognized by the language of Marc's leaflet which KK objects to.

The only strategy of the anarchists at the beginning to bring in ordinary people were the "town hall meetings" (assemblies). but with no outreach or social base, these events assembled only the anarchist ghetto and a few other radicals.

syndicalist
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Jun 9 2007 16:02

(Full disclosure: TW and I are in the same organization)

As an observer from afar, TW raises important points and criticisms. I never see them addressed by the other transit fare participants. So it'd be interesting to see and hear some constructive discussion on this.

Kevin Keating
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Jun 12 2007 16:32

1: "You shouldn't be defensive. There's nothing wrong with a march. A march isn't "reformism." A march is a participatory action and if it can get large numbers out in the street demonstrates visible support for a demand.
...The disappointing turnout -- only about 50 people -- showed the fare strike momentum had dissipated by then. It might have been better to have the march near the beginning of the fare strike..."

A march to City Hall is a petition to the government, a petition to have your elected representatives be more responisive to your needs as an atomized citizen in a market society. It is part and parcel of what the capitalist democratic order is all about -- it means playing the game the way the people who run the game want the game to be played.

Your typical syndicalist cluelessness in this is not surprising; guys who identify with a historically obsolete strategy for working class resistance to capital just don't get what the power dynamics of contemporary class society are all about.

Most syndicalist guys that I've encountered are also voters.

2: "...substitutionism. That is, their activist groups controlled the leaflets, the message, the decisions about what to do, and so on. They had no strategy to bring ordinary working class Muni riders into the actual movement..."

This point is even more ridiculous; what was I supposed to do, go on a bus at random and cajole a complete stranger into writing the leaflet instead?

Here we see that with the historically obsolete dogma of syndicalism, if you scrape a layer of red and black paint off of the syndicalist in question, underneath you'll usually find a bourgeois democrat.

And action of this kind , in fact any mass class struggle action, is always ineviatbly initiated by one person, or by a few people, or a by a large group of people -- but it always starts with a minority. That's not the product of a desire to lead or manipulate or "organize" others, that's simply the dynamic of these things, and there's nothing inherently subsitutionist about seeing this, either.

An overwhelming majority of mass transit system riders, atomized, exploited people perpetually awask in the propaganda of commodities, are never going to magically and with total spontanaity and in overwhelming majority percentages going to launch a mass self-reduction effort, or and other kind of mass action. This is strictly a fantasy for democrats.

Look at the article posted by Tom Wetzel on the 2005 failed transit system fare strike; there is next to no actual analysis of what happened; all you'll find is Tom's bourgeois democratic catechism about some nebulous, fantasyland, mass transit system riders organization.

Outside of a period of protracted mass upheaval, this "democratic bus riders union,"or whatever its partisans choose to call it, would be, either:

1. Made up of the same number of people, the exact same individuals, in fact, as the people involved in the Muni Social Strike and Muni Fare Strike groups. And in that case it would be a laughable fiction to pretend it was something other than this,

2. Or, it would be a single-issue group existing primariliy to lobby elected officials. Any potential the effort would have to tap into a more widespread discontentment with the dictatorship of the market and help this spread in other factes of dialy life would be dissipated by this type of effort.

It would be just like another union -- maybe minus the bureaucracy, and also minus any subversive potential, or any potential to contribute to anything bigger and badder that some empty ritual panhandling on the steps of City Hall.

Kevin Keating
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Jun 12 2007 16:46

Also, typical of a labor union level of consciousness, what we see with syndicalistcat's critique is that the issue of wage-earners needs in this context is related to as strictly a corporatist, narrow, sectional struggle involving mass transit in isolation from all the other aspects of how working people are dispossessed and exploited in modern commodity society.

No syndicalist group in North America -- the rump-version of the IWW, the WSA, NEFAC -- has ever attempted to get together something like this. They can't -- they are terminally hobbled by their historically obsolete dogma, left over from a hundred years ago, the time of the dawn of industrializtion and the no-longer existing era of the big factory and the classical workers movement.

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madashell
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Jun 12 2007 18:18
Quote:
A march to City Hall is a petition to the government

No, it isn't. I honestly don't know what to say other than that you're clearly, obviously, catastrophically wrong.

A march can be a petition to the government, it can also be a public demonstration of the level of support that an existing campaign has.

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syndicalistcat
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Jun 12 2007 19:23

KK:

Quote:
Also, typical of a labor union level of consciousness, what we see with syndicalistcat's critique is that the issue of wage-earners needs in this context is related to as strictly a corporatist, narrow, sectional struggle involving mass transit in isolation from all the other aspects of how working people are dispossessed and exploited in modern commodity society.

Actually not. What I pointed out was it was necessary to extend the organizing by linking up with other community organizations. These other organizations are rooted in different communities and have a variety of areas they struggle around, such as tenant groups, women's groups. Three of the groups who supported the strike were: the day laborers organization, Mujeres Activas, St. Peters Housing Comm. these are all rooted in the immigrant Latino community but work around different areas. Kevin ignored groups like this (when he doesn't insult them). Who is being "narrowly sectoral"?

A mass organization can provide an organizational framework in which activists rooted in these working class communities can bring the various other issues that confront people. Just because it organizes people as transit riders doesn't mean it has to be narrowly sectoral in its consciousness.

KK:

Quote:
And action of this kind , in fact any mass class struggle action, is always ineviatbly initiated by one person, or by a few people, or a by a large group of people -- but it always starts with a minority. That's not the product of a desire to lead or manipulate or "organize" others, that's simply the dynamic of these things, and there's nothing inherently subsitutionist about seeing this, either.

Of course. There's an organizing committee. But you can either think of that as the people who will continue to make the decisions, based on revolutionary anti-capitalist politics being in command -- the view of KK and seemingly also some of the "anarcho-communists" and "council communists" -- or you can think of their charge as that of bringing in more people, of actually organizing, that is, creating a mass organization, so that more people can be activated, and they can then become new organizers to spread the struggle further. In reality KK is not opposed in his analysis to broadening participation -- this was how he tried to portray the town hall meetings in his analysis. Except that was a completely false picture of those meetings.

KK's rhetorical putdowns like "bourgeois democrat" (funny term for a mass organization of working class people) and the like is just blowing smoke.

Kevin Keating
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Jun 12 2007 20:48

The "community organizations" syndicalistcat makes cooing noises over are essentially social-worker types and wannabe appointed and/or elected officials on the atrophied left elbow of San Francisco's Burton-Brown Democratic Party political machine.

Any real enemies of capitalism -- got that, real enemies of capitalism -- will attempt to help set into play a dynamic that does an end-run around these political panhandlers and renders these clowns unable to recuperate the effort.

Bourgeois democrat is sounding more and more accurate here.

syndicalistcat:

""bourgeois democrat" (funny term for a mass organization of working class people) "

Your gross historical ignorance is appaling; every social democratic, Stalinist, Peronist and left-nationalist party in the world in the past 100 years has been a 'mass organization(s) of working class people.'

For that matter, the Armed Forces of most of the world's nations are "mass organizations of working people" -- working people organized for capital.

The question of the actual content of these "mass organizations" never comes into play with the ultra-democrat ideology of syndicalistcat.

Any "mass organization" of working people under the present-day circumstances in the US is, one, not going to be a mass organziation; many people might be moved to ride the bus without paying, but very few are going to come to any meetings to help get it going. And, two, a completely atomized contemporary proletariat, with no culture of its own outside of the culture of commodity relations and the totalitarian domination of the propaganda of commodities is just going to be about petitioning the capitalist state to be more responsive to our needs. It isn't in the slightest way going to help bring into being a new type of social dynamic, outside of and against market relations -- which, to emphasize, syndicalistcat wants to keep in place, democratically managed bymass workers organizations, of course -- and outside of and against the political and ideological mechanisms of capitalist rule.

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MJ
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Jun 12 2007 21:04

Dude, you already used the "atrophied left elbow of San Francisco's [...]Democratic Party political machine" line in this thread!

Maybe you should get one of those little compartmentalized-by-day containers like old people put their vitamins and meds in...