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

203 posts / 0 new
Last post
Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 20 2007 16:29

Syndicalistcat:

"the leaflet (of the Muni Fare Strike Group) was perfectly okay."

Now, since any dialog with what passes for something to the left of the left in the SF Bay Area must inevitably de-evolve into a dialog of the deaf , I'll save myself keystrokes here and just quote myself:

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

"...Soon after the second town hall meeting another group, called Muni Fare Strike, sprung up like a toadstool, positioned to the immediate political right of Muni Social Strike. It quickly became clear that Muni Fare Strike was going to be just like Muni Social Strike, only with all the radical elements shaved off.

The leaflet that became the main tool for MFS's perspective said nothing about joint action with drivers; this could only undercut the practical effectiveness of the effort and was flat-out politically wrong. An effort like this is all about drivers and riders acting together, against the corporatist division of the wage-earning class into job categories under capitalism. This effort would not fly if the drivers weren't at least passively going along. And mass action like this can never be mostly about the immediate smaller goal -- it must be mostly about the bigger goal; the creation of a mass movement of working people acting around our needs against capitalist social relations, rooted in the everyday life conditions we face in the main problem country of the world.

That means all exploited people together; not just some exploited people balkanized into a sort of sub-identity as an interest group of transit system riders.

The Muni Fare Strike leaflet was bereft of any argument for why Muni riders should engage in an action that doesn't have any precedent in this part of the world. Their leaflet made no effort to pursuade. Being un-persuasive and un-radical in five languages only compounded the political worthlessness of the Muni Fare Strike leaflet. Working people around here need a convincing argument for why they should try something that might get them ticketed or arrested; this isn't Italy or Argentina, there's no collective culture of resistance right now in the US, here people are generally very timid and mystified. From beginning to end nothing Muni Fare Strike did or said articulated any larger opposition to the world of wage labor and the market."

2. Syndicalistcat:

KK: " Large-scale social upheaval cannot be "organized" into being."

What was your aim then? What was the point to the posters you wanted to put up? What was the point to the leafletting of the drivers? What was the point to the leafletting of riders? were you expecting a "large scale social upheaval" or not?"

A small number of people communicate a message effectively -- and that is all they can do. Under the right circumstances this message can take off with a life of its own, and that's what the small number of people in the two, supposedly more direct-action oriented groups needed to do. One or two dozen people cannot button-hole tens of thousands, let alone hundreds of thousands of transit system riders on an individual basis. The idea for this was obviously produced by people with a long track record of keeping their heads low.

Next to no one in San francisco noticed that this supposed mass event was taking place.

Before the "anarchists" punked out wholesale, which in my 25 years of dealing with self-styled anarchists is what they will always do, we did get the leaflet to Muni operators, displayed at the beginning of my article, out to a majority of Muni operators.

None of the individuals involved int he Muni effort had ANY, and I mean absolutely any, experience communicating a mesage effectively to a large number of people. I do. Not a lot , maybe, but more than the rest of them -- and it showed. Syndicalistcat , Mobuto or anyone else can pout about that or cry into their beer about it, but it's how it is, and I'm not going to embrace any false modesty around this just to avoid hurting the precious feelings of people who show no evidence that they are ever going anywhere int he larger world around us with any message they have to say.

It was obvious that the other individuals involved in this thing at its inception had absolutely no experience successfully communicating anything on anything beyond an extremely small scale when Norton proposed his chicken-with-its-head-cut-off plan for individual leafletting. This scheme was the sort of thing that could be expected from Scientologists or UFO nuts; it was clear as glass from the get-go that this would go nowhere if some more effective preperations for it hadn't been done beforehand.

More in a moment...

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 20 2007 17:32

(continued from a previous post:)

3. "The union as a whole had 350 members."

350 people isn't a "mass organization" by any stretch of the imagination!

-- 350 in the same enterprise,

-- working for the same employers,

-- such a relatively small number of people that many of them will have already had sustained, face to face contact with one another prior to the conflict with management,

isn't comparable to a mass action on the scale of the Muni event, potentailly involving more that 100,000 people. This is a different sort of animal altogether.

4. "A member of IDP has informed me via private email that he wrote the original draft of the Fare Strike leaflet, and Marc and others had various suggestions, and Marc did the formatting..."

Again, read my post above. Marc Norton acted in a wholly proprietary manner about the content-poor leaflet, ADMANTLY INSISTING THAT THE MUNI FARE STRIKE GROUP LEAFLET WOULD NOT ADDRESS MUNI DRIVERS.

If this 'member of IDP' is GH, and you are gullible enough to take what he says at face value after all of what you have been told about him, then you need to put serious thought into buying a certain bridge I own in Brooklyn, syndicalistcat.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 20 2007 18:04

On the Muni Fare Strike group's piss-poor leaflet again:

I have to agree that the question of individaul authorship is of secondary or lesser importance to the clear, consicous choice to ignore the employees of the transit system in the Muni Fare Strike group's leaflet.

This was one among a series of significant steps by which The Party for Moderate Reform Within the Bounds of the Law shaved off whatever subversive potential the city-wide Muni action had. And to borrow from Marx in his Thesis on Feurbach, subjective intentions aren't the thing that matters most.

Again, I've known the particular "member of IDP" that I believe syndicalistcat refers to here for about 14 years, and in the past this guy couldn't never even come up with a leaflet. And repeated experience with him proves as well that if this guy tells you the sky is blue, go to the window and look for yourself.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 20 2007 18:47

OliverTwister wrote:
Your posts make so much sense when you're not insulting people...

take that for what it's worth.

KK writes,

You're right.

Comrade Motopu's picture
Comrade Motopu
Offline
Joined: 27-04-07
Jun 20 2007 23:42

Hi Syndicalistcat,
I was considering how to go forward. Here is a non “prolixy” response.

I entered the fare strike and was interested in the organization that the fare strike group had. I did not have any interest in joining a riders’ union, but I was never opposed to working along side people who did want one, and would have tried to work with anyone had they formed one so long as my not being a member would not have prohibited me.

You say that the people in Social Strike were not at our meetings and did not work with us, but I think this may only be a report of what you saw at the meetings you were at? Not sure. Simply put-- Chris and Ian from Social strike did work and plan with us, attend meetings, contribute literature and strategy. Dee and Farhan did work with us, and they were the people I worked the most with as far as outreach time. Farhan is on the early email lists as “evidence” The day of, I was in touch with many of these people. There were others too. I just offer a few as proof.

I don’t want to argue “against” you on the issue of the riders’ union because I was never opposed to it on principle. I was interested in working in the most non-mediated, direct action, self organized way possible, and I thought the Fare Strike group was a good place to do that. I disagree with you that it was an example of the “tyranny of structurelessness” but I admit it was not perfect. This is a big topic, and I would appreciate if you wouldn’t keep saying “you utterly miss the point” if I don’t address the specific issue in your mind, which I find to be a bit condescending. If we were having a face to face conversation we could draw out a fluid dialogue, this is more limited. I was only trying to respond to what I felt I was directly involved with regarding what you posted.

I don’t think it is accurate to compare the actions of the fare strike group to certain other individuals. Lumping us all together under some label gets in the way of assessing the actual event of the fare strike, and seems too reductionist to me. If the difference was really only that “we’re more polite” we would not have been able to work with all the different groups we did. I completely understand that you’re trying to get at underlying ideology as shaping various groups’ actions, but given that the actions of the group and the individual you compare were so different (and I’m not talking about the fake rhetoric and bluster, but the actual actions), it doesn’t work to group us together. In the “contest” over whether this other person is a good source for analysis or honest information on the strike itself, I feel satisfied that we’ve knocked him off his self-righteous pedestal, and at least provided, through our pamphlet, more information for people to consider, even if they do appreciate some of his critique.

I am interested in your continued posting and writing on the issue of a riders’ union. I’m glad your articles are directly linked in our online pamphlet, even if our approaches are very different.

Here is the link to our fare strike pamphlet if anyone has not yet read it:

http://farestrike.org/

farestrike.org

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jun 20 2007 23:54

CM: I shouldn't lump you all together, I agree. I was aware that people in Fare Strike had various viewpoints. I was very well aware of, and approved of, the coordination going on between people in Social Strike and Fare Strike in the last weeks leading up to the fare strike and I pointed this out in the piece i wrote at the time for ZNet. Therefore you are mistaken insofar as you seem to claim that I said otherwise. I was only talking about the claim that the people who stopped being involved in Social Strike went over to Fare Stike. Maybe they did. I don't know. It's not really an important point anyway.

If a group doesn't have a convenor and doesn't have someone to write down decisions and doesn't really have any concept of membership, where is the structure?

I personally think it would be better for Left-libertarian activists to think in terms of long-term commitment to projects/struggles/communities, and building something, rather than in terms of just parachuting into one-off protest actions. Protest actions may be worthwhile, but it is better still to have commitment to build an ongoing movement. The struggle at Muni didn't cease after the fare strike.

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jun 21 2007 00:09

KK:

Quote:
3. "The union as a whole had 350 members."

350 people isn't a "mass organization" by any stretch of the imagination!

-- 350 in the same enterprise,

-- working for the same employers,

-- such a relatively small number of people that many of them will have already had sustained, face to face contact with one another prior to the conflict with management,

isn't comparable to a mass action on the scale of the Muni event, potentailly involving more that 100,000 people. This is a different sort of animal altogether.

A union with 350 members that could carry out a one-week strike and win is a mass organization. "Mass organization" refers to its character, it doesn't mean "massive." an organization that is open to anyone in a workplace who wants to parciipate in a struggle with the employer, and draws in most of the workers, is a mass organization.

And in your last sentence the operative word is "potential." They say that in quantum theory there is a slight probability of all your particles deciding they want to suddenly be over on the other side of the room. that's the sense of "potential" that would make your claim true. for nearly half the entire ridership to participate in this action initiated by groups of activists that entered from out of the blue, with no existing social base, was not very likely. events, including behaviors of people, usually have causes. many people didn't even hear about it. with better preparation over a longer period of time, it might have been possible to increase the turnout.

Comrade Motopu's picture
Comrade Motopu
Offline
Joined: 27-04-07
Jun 21 2007 00:34

I think we all share your critique of the failure to maintain the effort. We could have planned better for "after day one" even given our structure as it was. There is no denying that the first day was the biggest showing of the fare strike. There were reverberations and continued actions/fare striking after that day, but from what I saw, it was much smaller in scope. For what it's worth, we do include this critique in our pamphlet in the conclusions section. We list some of the objective factors that were obstacles for us.

I also think the action itself represents a good effort, an example for the next one, and people can take what lessons they will from the record of analysis (ours, yours, Marc's, the media coverage, the inymedia discussions and debates, and even, if taken in context, the now alienated individual's massive body of mind numbingingly dogmatic, authoritarian, and resentment fueled output, all provide insight).

I do think that most of the people around the fare strike are committed to working class, community, and anti-capitalist struggles in an ongoing way. But I understand you are addressing the structure and form the commitment takes.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 21 2007 16:44

Syndicalistcat"

1. "A union with 350 members that could carry out a one-week strike and win is a mass organization. "Mass organization" refers to its character, it doesn't mean "massive." an organization that is open to anyone in a workplace who wants to parciipate in a struggle with the employer, and draws in most of the workers, is a mass organization."

You have not established in the slightest way how the organization forms and tactics of a very small "mass organization" -- 350 people as a "mass organization" is your characterization, not mine -- or, most importantly, the dynamics that gave rise to it, are applicable to an effort aimed at a vastly larger number of riders and employees of an urban mass transit system.

You have not even begun to address this.

2. "...For nearly half the entire ridership to participate in this action initiated by groups of activists that entered from out of the blue, with no existing social base, was not very likely. events, including behaviors of people, usually have causes."

Again, as I have repeatedly said here, the task of a small group in this situation was mainly, primarily, to communicate the message effectively and hope that large numbers of Muni employees and riders would see this fight as their fight and pick up the ball and run with it.

I'm not trying to be condescending here, but what part of this do you not understand? I don't get what's repeatedly not getting communicated here.

You might learn a little about this by checking out what actually revolutionaries, like the German and Dutch left communists and the Situationists, had to say about this. Maybe Rosa Luxemburg's "The Mass Strike" as well. But you probably won't want to do that.

3. "...many people didn't even hear about it. with better preparation over a longer period of time, it might have been possible to increase the turnout..."

Duuuh! What the fuck do you think I've been saying in all of these posts!? What do you think I repeadly said in my article that began this dialog of the deaf as well? This is completely exasperating.

Sometimes you are unbelievably slow on the uptake.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 21 2007 17:07

There's a big disconnect here:

Syndicalistcat:

"...i called an assembly that was attended by 23 of the 24 employees..."

So, you have a meeting of 23 people, and then next you refer to a "mass organization" of 350 people. Were all or most of these 350 people active in this effort?

You should explain this more clearly, because right now this appears to confirm my impression that "mass organizations" of the type you would like to see among Muni riders are almost always going to be made up of a largely passive majority, and a small core of more active individuals. A set-up like this is going to tend to devolved into a heirarchy akin to what's found with any mainstream capitalist labor brokerage, only since it doesn't arise directly out of a workplace dispute, and given the abysmal level of consciousness among working people in today's US, it will inevitably tend towards work-within-the-system bullshit, like panhandling elected officials on the steps of City Hall.

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jun 21 2007 20:03

KK:

Quote:
So, you have a meeting of 23 people, and then next you refer to a "mass organization" of 350 people. Were all or most of these 350 people active in this effort?

You should explain this more clearly, because right now this appears to confirm my impression that "mass organizations" of the type you would like to see among Muni riders are almost always going to be made up of a largely passive majority, and a small core of more active individuals. A set-up like this is going to tend to devolved into a heirarchy akin to what's found with any mainstream capitalist labor brokerage, only since it doesn't arise directly out of a workplace dispute, and given the abysmal level of consciousness among working people in today's US, it will inevitably tend towards work-within-the-system bullshit, like panhandling elected officials on the steps of City Hall.

Talk about being slow on the uptake! It is you who are slow. The union i described was an organization of teaching assistants and other student academic employees (readers, bibliographers, research assistants). It was organized on a department by department basis. That's because the heads of the various departments were our bosses, and they had sufficient autonomy that conditions or management practices were not uniform. As I explained in plain English, there were 24 student academic employees in my department. The meeting that I called (with two other libertarian socialist colleagues) was attended by 23 of the 24 employees in this one department.

But the union had numerous other departmental organizations that were autonomous and linked together via the shop stewards council. Because the foreign language departments, where the TAs taught the intro courses, were small, we organized them all together in one organization, called the Language Council. That was just one more of the component shop organizations. We had the active, voluntary support of 75 to 95% of the student employees in the various departments. This wasn't the sort of passive union organization where someone just signs a dues checkoff form.

And anyway, I did not propose this as a model for the Muni riders union. I merely gave this as an example of a self-managed union i helped to organize.

You refer to the abysmal level of consciousness among working people today in the USA, but you've never, AFAIK, offered a theory as to how this can change. I offered a theory. Creating self-managed organizations based on participation and people making their own decisions is part of that process. Something you've never understood.

I also said that a Muni riders union would be inevitably a militant minority, because riding the transit system is not as central to people's lives as the place where they work, they don't spend as much time doing it etc, it isn't as feasible to organize the majority into a mass organization.

The bus riders union in L.A. has been a persistent, confrontational pain in the butt to
the management of the transit system in L.A. They have tried to do collective bargaining, over things like new routes, reducing overcrowding, but that hasn't prevented them from mobilizing people into campaigns to jam hearings and get in the faces of the management board. I'm not here presenting the L.A. organization as a model. I'm just indicating what is possible.

I'm not going to argue with you over your dogmatic left-communist anti-unionism. Don't argue with people about their religion, i say.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 21 2007 21:23

-- Syndicalistcat:

1. "Talk about being slow on the uptake! It is you who are slow. The union i described was an organization of teaching assistants and other student academic employees (readers, bibliographers, research assistants). It was organized on a department by department basis. That's because the heads of the various departments were our bosses, and they had sufficient autonomy that conditions or management practices were not uniform. As I explained in plain English, there were 24 student academic employees in my department. The meeting that I called (with two other libertarian socialist colleagues) was attended by 23 of the 24 employees in this one department.

But the union had numerous other departmental organizations that were autonomous and linked together via the shop stewards council. Because the foreign language departments, where the TAs taught the intro courses, were small, we organized them all together in one organization, called the Language Council. That was just one more of the component shop organizations. We had the active, voluntary support of 75 to 95% of the student employees in the various departments. This wasn't the sort of passive union organization where someone just signs a dues checkoff form.

And anyway, I did not propose this as a model for the Muni riders union. I merely gave this as an example of a self-managed union i helped to organize."

-- Kevin K:

In short, you are acknowledging that this is not a model for a mass self-reduction movement among riders and drivers of a mass transit system.

2. Syndicalistcat:
"You refer to the abysmal level of consciousness among working people today in the USA, but you've never, AFAIK, offered a theory as to how this can change. I offered a theory. Creating self-managed organizations based on participation and people making their own decisions is part of that process. Something you've never understood."

Kevin K:
this is the worse kind of democretinism, and wholly typical of a 19th century social democrat like Eduard Bernstein's take on reality: "The movement is everything, the goal nothing."

The question of how working people's consciousness is formed and deformed by commodity relations and by a 24 hour a day mass communications apparatus fueled by commodity relations, a wholly totalitarian non-stop barrage of commodity propaganda, never enters into your minimalist conception of how to fight for radical social change.

Again, to repeat myself,

-- this organization syndicalistcat proposes will, both in relation to the overwhelming majority of riders who won't get involved in it, and also within itself, be effectively divided between a passive majoirty and an active minority. It is dishonest and even a fraud to pretend that it isn't going to be like this, and,

-- your cart-before-the-horse take on reality will just result in a "mass democratic organization" that will mostly be a lobby to elected officials to be more responsive to working and poor people's needs. That's often the first step that previously politically disengaged people take in this society. Then, after nothing substantial and enduring results from it, they become disenchanted, go back to inactivity and often presume that because the path of petitioning elected officials led nowhere, nothing else is possible, either. That's what democracy is all about, and that's a key part of why democracy is the best mechanism for guaranteeing that a monopoly of power will remain in the hands of the private sector elite. And ignorant leftists play their own small miserable part in reinforcing illusions around this.

A response against commodity relations is what matters here; it begins by wage-slaves who run the transit system and wage-slaves who use the system taking autonomous action, around their own needs, maintaining the concrete and socially necessary aspect of what's taking place, without using money or market relations to avail themselves of it. This never enters into Syndicalistcat's calculations. His various schema are certainly democratic as shit, but have no actual anti-capitalist, anti-market relations substance to them.

3. Syndicalistcat:

--"I also said that a Muni riders union would be inevitably a militant minority, because riding the transit system is not as central to people's lives as the place where they work, they don't spend as much time doing it etc, it isn't as feasible to organize the majority into a mass organization."

Kevin K:

--A militant minority should be clear to itself and to everybody else that it is a militant minority -- and not pretend to be something other than that. This doesn't grow out of elitism or a need or desire to "organize" or lead others; its a matter of calling a spade a spade, and being honest with oneself as well as with other exploited people.

More shortly...

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 21 2007 22:02

Syndicalistcat:
--- "The bus riders union in L.A. has been a persistent, confrontational pain in the butt to
the management of the transit system in L.A. They have tried to do collective bargaining, over things like new routes, reducing overcrowding, but that hasn't prevented them from mobilizing people into campaigns to jam hearings and get in the faces of the management board. I'm not here presenting the L.A. organization as a model. I'm just indicating what is possible."

Kevin K:
-- Wow. You mean, it's actually possible to channel discontent with ever-declining conditions of life under the dictatorship of the market into venting at public hearings? Gosh, now why didn't I think of that! You sure you're not being too visionary and utopian here, syndicalistcat?

Its nice to see the qualitative difference between you and all the other democrats:

Here we have where democratic ideology must inevitably lead:

-- organizers organizing a "mass democratic" entity of some sort or another to beg elected officials to be responsive to our needs,

-- channeling working class anger away from direct aggression against commodity relations, into an engagement with the bourgeois democratic regime and its decision-making process,

and, last but not least from syndicalistcat,

-- make sure that any discontent with one aspect of life under the dictatorship of market relations remains isolated to that one facet of life, in this case, transit.

Syndicalistcat:
"I'm not going to argue with you over your dogmatic left-communist anti-unionism. Don't argue with people about their religion, i say."

Once a democrat, always a democrat, in your case, at least.

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jun 21 2007 22:18

Actually the bus riders union tries to tie their struggle to other issues that directly relate to their members. They also did carry out a fare strike, in 1998, called the "No Seat No Fare" campaign, which did force the MTA to back down on its proposal to raise fares. They were thus more successful than the S.F. 2005 fare strike on that occasion. They've forced the MTA buy hundreds of additional buses and improve the level of service. Thus they also do direct action. It's just that they rely on a variety of tactics.

Ultraleftists like KK can always find reasons to criticize any real movement because, given the actually existing consciousness of people, and the actually existing balance of forces, movements are likely to be contradictory and imperfect in various ways. But KK's conception of class struggle just doesn't relate to the reality here on planet earth.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 21 2007 22:41

1. My, but you suddenly have a mighty high opinion of a group that you yourself told me on a number of occassions was run in a top-down, totally heirarchical manner by leftover New Left Stalinists, a kind of Jonestown for bus riders, minus the Kool-Aid,

2. And, according to you, even by your own bullshit democratic standards the LA Bus Riders Union isn't democratic; you said the LA Bus Riders Union is run by a Central Committee that "consults'" the membership, and then makes all the decisions unilaterally.

3. I attempt to fight for communism, not for capitalist democracy. That's the big difference between you and me.

-- Syndicalistcat is not out to attack commodity relations -- that's clear.

-- Syndicalistcat is out to engage in the same old tired-assed liberal begging and groveling as other protest ghetto leftists.

If your politics are just going to be left-liberal hogwash anyway I'd go ahead and join the Green Party; unlike in stinky-anarchism-land at least you might meet some hot-looking women there,

-- Syndicalistcat has no larger vision of how one aspect of discontent with life under the commodity-form can and must sprerad to other aspects of social life.

As he said in the stupid anarchiod group we were in 24 years ago, "I'm a syndicalist, not a communist."

And when exactly have you initiated anything since the early 1970's, a third of a century ago? Your song and dance routine is a lot of empty anarcho-liberal talk. There is no hint of antagonism to capitalist social relations in your democratic ideological dreck.

My real actions, which take place, or at least aspire to take place, on a communist social terrain, have been infinitely more "realistic," of more immdiate relevance and more real than you sitting on your hands endlessly blathering on about your inane democratic fantasies.

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jun 21 2007 22:57

KK:

Quote:
1. My, but you suddenly have a mighty high opinion of a group that you yourself told me on a number of occassions was run in a top-down, totally heirarchical manner by leftover New Left Stalinists, a kind of Jonestown for bus riders, minus the Kool-Aid,

2. And, according to you, even by your own bullshit democratic standards the LA Bus Riders Union isn't democratic; you said the LA Bus Riders Union is run by a Central Committee that "consults'" the membership, and then makes all the decisions unilaterally.

That is not what I told you, but this is an example of how you distort things. The bus riders union has monthly general membership meetings. The meeting I attended there were 50 to 70 members present. The membership elects 7 of the 12 members of the Planning Committee. The Planning Committee is the steering committee of the organization.

Five of the members of the planning committee are the staff organizers, who are hired by the Strategy Center. The Strategy Center is upfront about this relationship to the bus riders union. On their website they refer to it as a project of theirs. The actual dynamics of the bus riders union are an interaction between the straregy center and its staff, and the membership base who they have organized. I do disagree with this relationship because i think the staff members should be hired by, and accountable to, the membership of the bus riders union itself. But my objection is precisely that this relationship is undemocratic. And maybe the Leninist backgrounds of some of the Strategy Center folks gets in the way of them seeing this as a problem.

But you would regard this as the dominant thing about the bus riders union, which means you'd ignore the positive benefits they've achieved or the mass consciousness raising they've done, or the fact that they are a channel for a mass struggle. As I said, you can't handle contradictory realities. Your comment here also shows how your politics relies heavily on rumor-mongering.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 21 2007 23:11

This is bullshit. You said it was run by Stalinists, and that the Central Committee, or whatever name they hide the reality behind, call all the shots.

And what about what I said about how you aren't for mass action against commodity relations?

syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
Offline
Joined: 2-11-06
Jun 22 2007 00:41

Kevin, your Leninist-baiting is a red-herring. It's irrelevan to the
point you are ostensibly responding to. This is what I said:

Quote:
The bus riders union in L.A. has been a persistent, confrontational pain in the butt to the management of the transit system in L.A. They have tried to do collective bargaining, over things like new routes, reducing overcrowding, but that hasn't prevented them from mobilizing people into campaigns to jam hearings and get in the faces of the management board. I'm not here presenting the L.A. organization as a model. I'm just indicating what is possible....
Actually the bus riders union tries to tie their struggle to other issues that directly relate to their members. They also did carry out a fare strike, in 1998, called the "No Seat No Fare" campaign, which did force the MTA to back down on its proposal to raise fares. They were thus more successful than the S.F. 2005 fare strike on that occasion. They've forced the MTA buy hundreds of additional buses and improve the level of service. Thus they also do direct action. It's just that they rely on a variety of tactics.

My point here is about the possibilities of a mass organization of transit riders. The relationship of this organization to the Strategy Center, the specific politics of the organizers, and the exact organizational structure are completely separate issues. Those issues are not relevant to the point I'm making here. That's because a mass riders union could also accomplish a similar level of support and impact with an organizational structure more like what I would prefer, and whose organizers have politics more like my own.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 22 2007 02:53

Your democratic hobbyhorse, in effect a union of political panhandlers, is no different from the beg-the-Man dreck seen with Cabbages for Transit Justice -- what you are talking about is absolutely devoid of subversive, anti-market content.

What about the market economy, comrade?

What you are talking about, like the other leftists in the bungled fare strike effort, is the same old stuff that's been tried and failed for ages around here, and plenty of other places as well. What I am talking about is something altogether new and different. See the beginning of my 'Muni Social Strikeout' doc to understand this clearer.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 22 2007 21:00

I think Syndicalistcat's perspective is indistinguishable from that of Cabbages for Transit Justice -- oh, opps, excuse me, 'Coalition for Transit Justice;' left-liberal whinners going cap-in-hand to ask our elected officials to be more responsive to our needs.

And since he has no desire to contribute to any anti-market economy large-scale collective direct action, he attempts to claim that;

1. Nothing of the kind is possible in any case, and,

2. Under no circumstances should such an effort be attempted.

Kevin Keating
Offline
Joined: 8-10-06
Jun 22 2007 21:55

I agree with what Catch posted on a different thread, and that it applies here;

"...I do think a 'network of militants', for communists to discuss workplace (and other class issues), with the potential for co-ordinated publications and activity, but without pretensions to eventually becoming a union, would be a good thing.

"...Revolutionary organisations will be the assemblies/councils whatever - and will spring up during times of heightened class struggle - they'll supercede both minority groupings and any unions/othe mass organisations that might exist before them, and are likely to have to fend off and actively oppose those organisations if they're to succeed (as they've generally failed to in the past where even given a chance - cf. factory committees in Russia). Obviously existing organisations and informal social groupings will persist as loci within mass assemblies either through design, or through personal ties as much as anything else. On a positive note this might allow for some kind of wider communication of communists and possibly the formation of some kind of shared literature to combat that which will definitely be produced by others. But the extent that communists should have a role 'as organisations', or 'as communists' within such assemblies should be to argue the case for workers controlling their own struggles and defending their organisations from recuperation or marginalisation. That's badly worded, but a revolution will only be successful to the extent that previous forms of organisation are superceeded, rendered irrelevant, or if necessary smashed.

Obviously if there was massive repression or things began to wind down, then organised groups would be necessary to take up the slack in allowing for communication and more long-term strategic attempts, or documenting and analysing failures and successes for future attempts..."

MJ's picture
MJ
Offline
Joined: 5-01-06
Jun 23 2007 05:08

Oh shit you called them cabbages!