What is a "mass organisation"?

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ftony
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Dec 14 2007 10:06
John. wrote:
ftony wrote:
agree with this. however i'd still say that it is important to be careful when using political versions of words to people who may not knkow about it. e.g. 'recuperation' is something i've stumbled upon before. it sounds like people are talking about recovering from an illness.

come on ftony stop sitting on the fence - do you think the IWW is a "mass organisation"? on the other thread you implied you didn't, and that only 2 people ever called the IWW that.

you have a funny idea of sitting on the fence. i've never called the IWW a mass organisation, and at the moment i don't think it is because i have the same sort of definition as you. i've already said this explicitly on the other thread. read more carefully.

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cantdocartwheels
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Dec 14 2007 11:05
ftony wrote:
John. wrote:
ftony wrote:
agree with this. however i'd still say that it is important to be careful when using political versions of words to people who may not knkow about it. e.g. 'recuperation' is something i've stumbled upon before. it sounds like people are talking about recovering from an illness.

come on ftony stop sitting on the fence - do you think the IWW is a "mass organisation"? on the other thread you implied you didn't, and that only 2 people ever called the IWW that.

you have a funny idea of sitting on the fence. i've never called the IWW a mass organisation, and at the moment i don't think it is because i have the same sort of definition as you. i've already said this explicitly on the other thread. read more carefully.

So you think dundee was wrong but you didn't explicitly say so till pressed about it, yep you've conc;usively proved that there was n chance you were sitting on the fence there, no chance whatsoever.... roll eyes

ftony
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Dec 14 2007 11:20

the fact is that i had already stated that i didn't think the IWW was a mass organisation before John made the above post. sure, i didn't Speak Out about it until asked. but jesus, get a grip. we're talking about definitions here. but i agree it has broader implications, and implications that need addressing. hence the fact that various people have made the effort, including yourself, to post on this thread.

Mike Harman
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Dec 14 2007 13:10

OK I wrote a long response last night but looks like it got lost If this doesn't make sense then I apologise since I tried to recreate as much as possible from memory and may have missed some important bits that the rest relies on.

Nate wrote:
As for ad hominem, I wasn't intending that as an attack.

Ad hominem isn't just for attacks, it's anything which uses a characteristic of the person making an argument to try to discredit the argument - so if on every thread critical of the IWW you say "but you're not in the IWW" - then you're just trading ad hominems and not dealing with the arguments themselves.

Quote:
To me, a political organization is a group that comes together based on pre-existing shared political ideology, tries to develop that ideology, and maybe to get others who hold it to join or to get others to convert to that ideology.

Let's see:
1. Trying to overthrow the capitalist system
2. Thinking that a good way to do this is build industrial/syndicalist unions
Sounds like an ideology to me. Maybe you've got some different definition of ideology that we all don't know about.

Quote:
Like a propaganda group.

Well some political organisations are propaganda groups (as we'd use the term), but it also refers to many other types of political organisation.
Also wobblies have said on here that some branches are propaganda groups, and the IWW definitely produces propaganda - so even if it does a whole load of other stuff as well, it still comes under your own definition of political organisation.

Quote:
here's what I think about the mass organization stuff. Mass organization is not "big organization." It's an organization that's open to people of various political perspectives that aims to exert power, and aims to grow. At one time I helped build a tenant organization/committees in an apartment building in Chicago that the landlord was converting to condominiums illegally, he was trying to evict people and making the building a crap place to live (loud construction at odd hours, etc). The tenant organization/committee was connected to a tiny neighborhood group, and via that had some ties to fledgling tenant organizaitons/committees in a handful of other buildings. It never fully gelled, but we did beat that one landlord via a rent strike and other stuff. There were _tops_ fifty people involved in that. The active members were more like 10-20. I would call that "a mass organization." I do so not because I'm trying to inflate the numbers or seem all bad ass or whatever. It's just how I use the term "mass organization." As far as I can tell, that's how Dundee uses the term. If that's an idiosyncratic use, fine. If that idiosyncratic use is confusing, then sorry.

Well like I said, google disagress. Mass organisation is a term almost exclusively used by politicos - and it usually refers to the mass parties, or their subjugate organisations or unions - to me it brings to mind the Communist Parties in the '30s, the Communist Youth (and for that matter fascist youth organisations), the CIO in it's heyday, and yes groups I have some respect for like the old IWW, KAPD etc.

If my workplace goes on wildcat next week, and we have mass meetings and a strike committee and the rest, is it a mass organisation? It wouldn't have any political qualifications about who was in it, but it'd most likely be isolated both within our much larger employer and the sector. If an employer-wide and sector-wide organisation/network developed out of assemblies etc. then I'd probably call that a "unitary organisation" since that's a term which describes that form of organisation quite accurately (and excludes both unions and political parties). If you had some kind of federation of thousands of 50-person strong tenant organisations, I might call that a mass-organisation - but not one on it's own, no.

I should say, that I think the IWW recognising itself as a political organisation and acting as such would be good thingTM - but I don't think that's ever going to happen on an organisational level.

On the other thread, you said:

Nate wrote:
And if we're going to quibble over words, then surely "anarchism," "communism," "libertarian," and probably "revolution" have as much or more baggage as "union." We're happy to redefine those words for our own purposes. Why can't we just do the same with "union"?

Well I'm quite happy to leave all or some of those words to the nutcases and gangsters who've used them in the past and claim them now. However, pretty much everyone in their day to day lives comes across and knows what a union is (less so now, but a still a lot more than your other terms). Also I'm not aware of anarchist/communist/libertarian/revolutionary groups registering with the government before they can call themselves such, or any of them negotiating the price of their members' labour to employers, or signing contracts. Unions have a particular social and legal role that those other words don't, and the IWW appears to be actively trying to fulfil those roles (competing directly with other unions for members in some places, registration etc) - so you can't say "it's a union but not a union" you have to say "it's a union but it's different" in those circumstances.

In other words I pretty much agree with Oliver here:

OliverTwister wrote:
I also think it could be [snip useful [snip] for militant workers to have a permanent link of their struggles which is not a 'union'. [...] a fighting workplace organization which has no illusions about being a 'union', ie the sort of thing that Martin Glaberman and Stan Weir hinted at

In other words something that:
1. recognises that it is organised on a political basis due to shared ideology
2. recognises that it is a minority within the working class, and therefore
3. does not attempt to represent workers but instead pushes for certain forms and content within struggles - and recognises that the forms of organisation that are thrown up are often assembly based (i.e. unitary) if and when things begin to push outside union control or start without it.

I don't think the IWW is ever going to turn into that though since it's clear the vast majority of members want it to be a union and/or think it already is one.

You said:

Nate wrote:
Oliver, I don't think the term "union" confuses anyone but politicos.

Well that's precisely the issue here. Clearly there's confusion in the IWW about what it is or isn't - that's especially clear in the UK (considering you have people who consider themselves ultra-left and anti-union in it and want it to be a 'network of militants', then Dundee who wants to drop all the historical baggage and make it a "socialist anti-partnership fighitng union" and calls it a "mass organisation" along with the national secretary). I don't think either tendency will get what they want from the IWW, but certainly they currently co-exist (and it looks similar in the US).

Nate wrote:
periodization of all unionism since the 70s is awfully neat.

Actually he said in the past 70 years, so since c.1937.

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Steven.
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Dec 14 2007 14:43
John. wrote:
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Not really at all.

If I was trying to recruit the 'man on the street' to a mass organization I'd avoid the term altogether. Its not particularly self-explanatory - in fact even far left politicos don't agree on its meaning. I'd simply say it was an organization open to anyone who wanted to fight X (to give a concrete example X was the Water Tax during that campaign).

right, so even though you basically agreeing with our sentiment, you're arguing against us, using insults, and slagging off the entire discussion forum, because you don't like some of us. Brilliant. You truly are a shining example for people who want serious discussion.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Whats with this 'don't like some of us' rhetoric - I gave up replying to one one person I actually don't like months ago. I've no particular feelings in that regard towards the rest of you, most of whom I've never even met.

And while its good you have come around to my point of view on this

Damn you can be a tool. I haven't "come around to your point of view." If you define "mass organisation" so it can be a tiny group then of course you can call the IWW it. But that you wouldn't describe it as such to people shows that you don't think it's a good description.

Quote:
please don't pretend this was your motivation at the start of this thread. Its rather transparent this was yet another one of your 'belittle Dundee' posts.

No it wasn't. This description of the IWW is something I've seen come up a few times now, and I think it's misleading. What you and some others seem to forget is that it's not just the 500 or so regular users reading here, the site and forums are read by tens of thousands of people a month, so I do think people should use more the same language as that aimed at the 'man on the street.'

Quote:
Finally I wasn't slagging off the forum, just observing that it was pretty useless for serious discussion. On the other hand its very good at being a gang of mates slagging each other off as is proven by its narrow but dedicated fan base - myself included. Its like infoshop in the good ole days before Chuck0 moderated it to death - repulsive but also fascinating and obviously addictive. Its quite clear that a number of people who disagree with the politics of the site still get a lot of entertainment from it.

I think a lot of this impression is due to the type of threads you post on. A lot of discussions are very useful, but I've not seen many contributions from you on them, like the post workers dispute, public sector wage struggles, workplace issues, etc.

Nate wrote:
But it's really had not to read some of y'all's posts (like John's) as implying that using the term "mass organization" is dishonest (or out of touch with reality, like we think we're bigger and more important than we really are). Like when John says that some UK wobs "claim" the IWW is a mass organization. That implication of dishonesty/delusionalness makes me irritable. Is that _not_ what some of you are implying?

Nate - before this discussion I honestly had no idea that anyone used the term "mass organisation" for anything other than an organisation with masses of people in. So I was confused. Most other people who would see or hear a wobbly describe the IWW as such would also interpret it as I did, so when they learned the real picture they may well think the first person was being dishonest.

Anyway, like I said I don't think you fit your own description as "mass organisation" because like others have said, it seems clear you're a political group, albeit one that lets people who don't agree with the politics join - presumably because the politicos still run the show. I don't think that's a good thing either.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 14 2007 18:37
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
[And no SRB, no anarchist liberalism but unfortunately the need to point out that the class struggle is actually based on our bread and butter concerns and not the desire for political activists to lead every gathering of a few people with summat to moan about whether or not they are organising on what some people have referred to in the past as "the terrain of class struggle".

Sounds like anarcho-liberalism to me. If you don't think having an organized means of bringing anarchist ideas to larger struggles and movements is worthwhile why exactly are you in an explicitly anarchist political group again?

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Devrim
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Dec 14 2007 21:09
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Sounds like anarcho-liberalism to me. If you don't think having an organized means of bringing anarchist ideas to larger struggles and movements is worthwhile why exactly are you in an explicitly anarchist political group again?

What I think that they are saying is that you have to decide which struggles are on a class basis, not just throw yourself into any struggle because there is a struggle.

Devrim

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 14 2007 21:27
Devrim wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Sounds like anarcho-liberalism to me. If you don't think having an organized means of bringing anarchist ideas to larger struggles and movements is worthwhile why exactly are you in an explicitly anarchist political group again?

What I think that they are saying is that you have to decide which struggles are on a class basis, not just throw yourself into any struggle because there is a struggle.

Devrim

So the proletarian camp generally avoids struggles for civil rights, gender or sexual equality, reproductive freedom, environmentalism, and any number of other struggles with no distinct class basis?

(I don't think that's actually what he was saying, btw)

Mike Harman
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Dec 14 2007 21:37

Smash Rich Bastards: so you don't think any of what you just mentioned can have a class basis then? Ever?

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Nate
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Dec 14 2007 21:58

Catch, I misread OT's post about the 70s/70 yrs thing. Thanks for ... umm... catching that. One thing - I don't think my argument was an ad hominem. I was saying I think you don't have evidence for the claim you made. That's what I meant by pointing you that you're not an IWW member - I don't think you're in a place to know the IWW very well, so I don't think you have the evidence to back up your claims about the nature of the IWW. You haven't provided much either. I then suggested, I think, that you _may_ have evidence for some of your claims but they apply to some parts of the IWW rather than all parts of the IWW. I don't intend that as hostile, really I don't. I just don't think what you're saying applies as broadly as you seem to think it does. That said, I think you're probably right that there are branches of the IWW that function more like what I'd call a political organization than like what I'd call a mass organization. More on that in a bit.

John, I'm happy to chalk it up to a misunderstanding and I apologize if I got harsh for no reason or whatever. I can see how w/ the definition y'all have it'd look like some IWW members were saying weird or dodgy stuff. I don't think that was anyone's intent. As for us being a political organization, I'll get back you on that - like I said, I use that term differently too.

I think this whole discussion will be more productive if we disentangle arguments over what words to use from other issues. I've already said how I use the terms "mass organization." Some people have said what they mean by "mass organization," different from how I (and I think Dundee too) use it, those folk use the term to mean basically "great big organization." I have little interest at all in arguing about what the definition of this or that term should be, like "my definition of 'mass organization' is better than yours, you shouldn't define the term that way." I don't think that's going to accomplish much and I'm happy to pick another set of terms for the purposes of this discussion. That said, I'm not entirely clear on how others use the term "political organization."

Catch, on this -

Mike Harman wrote:
Nate wrote:
To me, a political organization is a group that comes together based on pre-existing shared political ideology, tries to develop that ideology, and maybe to get others who hold it to join or to get others to convert to that ideology.

Let's see:
1. Trying to overthrow the capitalist system
2. Thinking that a good way to do this is build industrial/syndicalist unions
Sounds like an ideology to me. Maybe you've got some different definition of ideology that we all don't know about.

Like a propaganda group.

I can see I wasn't very clear. I think the misunderstanding is partly that, and it's partly that you aren't familiar with the same parts of the IWW I am. Here's what happens in my branch and the branches in the US I'm most familiar with (or maybe I should say - in the type of organizing I'm part of and the people I know best and work with most in the IWW, and the type of organizing I would like to see replace pretty much everything else anyone in the IWW does). We talk to workers about their experiences at work - either our own coworkers or people in other workplaces. We help get them pissed off about their job and help get them to think about taking effective collective action to make their jobs somewhat better. We help them come up with a plan to talk to other people in this same way, and then to come up with a plan to carry out the action effectively. At some point we talk to them about joining the organization, but that's not the first priority nor is it the first thing we do. Whenever it comes up, we always talk to people about the preamble and what it means to us. People can join if they want to even if they're not sure about the preamble. We urge people to take their time and think it over, but also to join if they want to. We don't push beliefs tests and stuff.

The important bit here to me, is that our contact with people and people's interest in joining does not come from them already having clear beliefs in the preamble or something like it. Our contact with them and their interest in joining comes from their interest in the work we're doing, which they're part of, because it wins things. People don't join us because they want to abolish capitalism, at least not consciously.

So, that's why I think of us as a mass organization as I have understood the term, like the tenant organization I mentioned. People join us based on relationships we build with them, those relationships are based on actions which advance their interests as workers. Building the IWW (at least through organizing) does not happen through identifying people who already share our ideology. (That's a super common mistake that new IWW organizers make - they look around and go "this coworker is radical, they'll want to join" instead of looking at people's issues as workers. In my experience that approach doesn't succeed very often, not as often as the approach based on workplace issues.)

That's different from what I see as a political organization. The way I have understood the term, a political organization is a group of people who come together based on prior ideological affinity. Like WSA (that's why I joined WSA, because I want to be around people whose politics I share). People join groups like that because they do consciously want the abolition of capitalism and so on.

Does that make sense? (Not, "do you think this is a good idea for us to pursue" because maybe you don't, but does the distinction make sense.)

Thinking about it now, I want to qualify this re: the nature of the current IWW. All of the above applies to IWW organizing. The reality is, unfortunately in my opinion, IWW members don't just do organizing under the name of the IWW. Some people do stuff more like what I call a political organization. And a lot of people do join us based on pre-existing ideological affinity (that's how I joined, actually). I think a lot of those comrades can and do make real contributions and I certainly don't want to put anyone down or minimize their contribution. The important bit is that in my experience and in my opinion that sort of activity, people joining based on prior ideological affinity and stuff, is not the thing we should count on or try to do as the way to build the IWW. It's not as effective for building the IWW and it makes the IWW less useful, I think. In terms of the planning and strategizing the dominant position in the organization I think is along the lines of what I describe- that the IWW should be (and in some places is, and is at its best when it is) something like what I would call a mass organization. The sections that prioritize the mass organization stuff seem to be doing better - growing and succeeding and so on - more than the other sections, and are the sections that others are looking too. And the people who think this way are the ones putting in the most time to build the organization, I think. Of course, I'm pretty biased.

In a way I think it might be fair to say that the IWW as a whole is something of a hybrid between the types of organization I've been calling "mass" and "political" or contains some sections that act like one and some sections that act like the other. That would be fair. It' would also be fair to point out that this is far from ideal. And I can see how this is confusing and stuff for people who aren't members and how what some of us say to each other on here can be confusing to nonmembers who only know this or that section.

I guess what I'd say is that the vision most people have in the union is more along the lines of what I called a mass organization than a political organization, and the union is slowly heading more and more in that direction (in fits and starts and somewhat unevenly maybe) and has been for several years. But it's a slow process and there's a lot of baggage.

Is that clearer?

All this still leaves aside the matter of whether or not any of this is a good idea, and whether or not it's a good idea to let people join who don't totally agree with the preamble etc, the other thread we're gonna have eventually.

And sorry go on at such length.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 15 2007 01:45
Mike Harman wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards: so you don't think any of what you just mentioned can have a class basis then? Ever?

Of course I do, but its not always a given. Sometimes it requires, oh I dunno, a conscious radical perspective to bring out the class basis in a given struggle.

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2007 01:49
Nate wrote:
I can see I wasn't very clear. I think the misunderstanding is partly that, and it's partly that you aren't familiar with the same parts of the IWW I am. Here's what happens in my branch and the branches in the US I'm most familiar with (or maybe I should say - in the type of organizing I'm part of and the people I know best and work with most in the IWW, and the type of organizing I would like to see replace pretty much everything else anyone in the IWW does). We talk to workers about their experiences at work - either our own coworkers or people in other workplaces. We help get them pissed off about their job and help get them to think about taking effective collective action to make their jobs somewhat better. We help them come up with a plan to talk to other people in this same way, and then to come up with a plan to carry out the action effectively. At some point we talk to them about joining the organization, but that's not the first priority nor is it the first thing we do. Whenever it comes up, we always talk to people about the preamble and what it means to us. People can join if they want to even if they're not sure about the preamble. We urge people to take their time and think it over, but also to join if they want to. We don't push beliefs tests and stuff.

Well, that's still a political organisation - just one with very loose requirements for membership. We both know which road I think that goes down in the end, but that's for the other thread for later I guess.

Nate wrote:
The important bit here to me, is that our contact with people and people's interest in joining does not come from them already having clear beliefs in the preamble or something like it. Our contact with them and their interest in joining comes from their interest in the work we're doing, which they're part of, because it wins things. People don't join us because they want to abolish capitalism, at least not consciously.

Well a lot of people do join the IWW because they want to abolish capitalism - half the AF did within the past couple of years (which'd probably account for 1/4 of the 2006 membership figures as posted by the button). Other wobbly posters on here joined recently and clearly had political 'baggage' before they signed up. Now clearly some members join because they've got something going on at their work and they think it's a possible way to extend/build on that, or because one of you is trying to help them to have something going on at their work, but it's clearly not all. Oliver also suggests that those members, at least in the IWW's biggest branch, with the most job shops, aren't active in the union at all. Now my response to that would not be "but why not? how can we get them more involved?", let alone "finally I've got something to work with!", it would be "what form of organisation can take into account that workers have fuck all interest in being actively involved in unions, of any kind?".

Nate wrote:
So, that's why I think of us as a mass organization as I have understood the term, like the tenant organization I mentioned. People join us based on relationships we build with them, those relationships are based on actions which advance their interests as workers. Building the IWW (at least through organizing) does not happen through identifying people who already share our ideology. [...]

That's different from what I see as a political organization. The way I have understood the term, a political organization is a group of people who come together based on prior ideological affinity.

Well I still think that's what the IWW is - but that the core of political people then go out to try to find pissed off workers who are less self-consciously political - something which isn't exclusive to your organisation. The IWW would not exist today were it not for a core of politicos keeping it going - the 'baggage' you refer to later.

Nate wrote:
The reality is, unfortunately in my opinion, IWW members don't just do organizing under the name of the IWW. Some people do stuff more like what I call a political organization. And a lot of people do join us based on pre-existing ideological affinity (that's how I joined, actually). I think a lot of those comrades can and do make real contributions and I certainly don't want to put anyone down or minimize their contribution. The important bit is that in my experience and in my opinion that sort of activity, people joining based on prior ideological affinity and stuff, is not the thing we should count on or try to do as the way to build the IWW. It's not as effective for building the IWW and it makes the IWW less useful, I think. In terms of the planning and strategizing the dominant position in the organization I think is along the lines of what I describe- that the IWW should be (and in some places is, and is at its best when it is) something like what I would call a mass organization. The sections that prioritize the mass organization stuff seem to be doing better - growing and succeeding and so on - more than the other sections, and are the sections that others are looking too. And the people who think this way are the ones putting in the most time to build the organization, I think. Of course, I'm pretty biased.

Well, this makes more sense. You're saying you want it to be a mass organisation, but that at the moment it really isn't - although a few branches have tendencies towards being more like what you want it to be. Now that's a completely honest assessment - one I disagree with in terms of strategy because I don't think it's possible to build big organisations (worth a damn) piece by piece like this, but it's grounded in reality. Saying we are a mass organisation as Dundee did contains quite a lot of self-delusion I think though.

I should make it clear that in regards to your early defense about honesty/dishonesty - I think any deception is primarily on the level of individuals deceiving themselves at the moment, not a conscious attempt to hoodwink workers.

Quote:
All this still leaves aside the matter of whether or not any of this is a good idea, and whether or not it's a good idea to let people join who don't totally agree with the preamble etc, the other thread we're gonna have eventually.

And which I'm looking forward to.

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2007 01:51
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards: so you don't think any of what you just mentioned can have a class basis then? Ever?

Of course I do, but its not always a given.

So maybe, just maybe, we should pick and choose a bit, rather than chuck ourselves head long into every campaign going? It's not as if pro-revolutionaries are under-stretched at the moment.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 15 2007 02:49
Quote:
For now, this whole thing feels to me like a fight over words.

Nate, my friend, you do realize this is Libcom?

jack white
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Dec 15 2007 09:57

no chance of you answering my question Boul?

Deezer
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Dec 15 2007 13:10
jack white wrote:
no chance of you answering my question Boul?

I think if you read back over the intervening posts you'll find your question has been answered. Though to be honest I didn't really think you were asking a question so much as trying to be rhetorical.

Carousel
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Dec 15 2007 15:16
Quote:
For now, this whole thing feels to me like a fight over words.

All philosophical problems are.

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Nate
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Dec 15 2007 21:05
Mike Harman wrote:
Oliver also suggests that those members, at least in the IWW's biggest branch, with the most job shops, aren't active in the union at all. Now my response to that would not be "but why not? how can we get them more involved?", let alone "finally I've got something to work with!", it would be "what form of organisation can take into account that workers have fuck all interest in being actively involved in unions, of any kind?".

Catch, I'm not convinced that the problem is the "form of organization" in the Bay Area GMB. I think a lot of it has to do with other failings other than that form, and I think pinning the trouble on form would serve as an excuse for people do less of the needed work to make the organization function. For instance, (I feel like a jerk saying this, but) I think Oliver could probably stand to put more time into asking and trying to practically answer the two questions you posed. As for "workers have[ing] fuck all interest in being actively involved in unions," I think that's simply a false generalization on your part. Certainly every worker is not sitting around going "god I wish there was some union I could be part of," they're also not sitting around saying "I'm glad there's no stupid union around here to mediate my struggles; if there was then I sure wouldn't be part of it!" There are a whole lot of workers involved in a whole lot of unions. Some of them in the IWW. Not enough, certainly, but that's improving.

Mike Harman wrote:
the core of political people then go out to try to find pissed off workers who are less self-consciously political - something which isn't exclusive to your organisation. The IWW would not exist today were it not for a core of politicos keeping it going

Hmm. I don't know. I'm not sure I would say that the organizers in the union are a "core of political people." A lot are, sure, but not everyone. I would actually say that the more someone is a politico the less likely they are to be actively involved in organizing. I think the habits politicos tend to have tend to get in the way of a lot of the needed work.

Like, if I met two IWW members I'd never met before, one of which joined cuz he had some sort of communist point of view and one of which joined cuz he was a pissed off worker, I'd bet the latter is more likely to end up making an important contribution to the union. And is more likely to stick around. (When that _doesn't_ happen for pissed off workers it's because something went wrong, either something we can't control like the boss's response or because of a mistake that someone in the IWW made).

And some of those pissed off workers then go on to become committed to and involved in keeping the union going and spreading it. One may end up on the General Executive Board, depending on the election results. He's been around long enough and now views the world in such a way that maybe he counts as a "politico." I'm not sure, though. There are definitely people in my branch who are involved because they're pissed off workers, and their involvement consists in getting other workers pissed off in order to get them involved in organizing. That stuff is not run by politicos. It's run by those workers. I'm pretty heavily involved some of that stuff in my branch. I don't "run it" though, and my political perspective doesn't really have much to do with my activity (I think people could have a number of other political perspectives than what I have and still do pretty similar stuff).

And in some cases it works the other way - people come in as politicos then someone agitates them about their own workplace and then they start to act more like other pissed off workers. One difficulty that politicos sometimes have in this transition is admitting that knowing a lot about Marx or Bakunin or whatever doesn't really mean that one has any idea how to actually do stuff about problems. (That was my experience, anyway.)

Mike Harman wrote:
you want it to be a mass organisation, but that at the moment it really isn't - although a few branches have tendencies towards being more like what you want it to be.

One qualifier: I think this is fair about the IWW as a whole. I do think that parts of the IWW operate more or less as mass organizations. There's a lot of autonomy between sections, for better and for worse. There's also too much fragmentation and isolation between sections, which has no positive side. That has improved notably in the 3 or 4 years I've been a member, through a number of efforts. We still have a long way to go. I think that improvement comes in part out of the push towards the mass organization perspective and has in part facilitated that push.

Thanks for clarifying that you're not implying that any of us are trying to trick workers.

One final thing, sorry if I hijacked the thread and made it exclusively about the IWW. That one's big on my mind cuz it takes up so much of my time. I'd really like to hear from others about their experiences with mass organizations and trying to build them. And Catch, I'll have more time soon then let's hammer out that other line of discussion, so I can set you straight, back onto the road of sound proletarian science based on the principles of dialectical materialism. wink

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Bubbles
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Dec 15 2007 21:33
Mike Harman wrote:
Well the IWW is clearly a political group

we are a union with politics.

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2007 21:59
x357997 wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Well the IWW is clearly a political group

we are a union with politics.

And is a union a group?

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2007 22:14
Nate wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Oliver also suggests that those members, at least in the IWW's biggest branch, with the most job shops, aren't active in the union at all. Now my response to that would not be "but why not? how can we get them more involved?", let alone "finally I've got something to work with!", it would be "what form of organisation can take into account that workers have fuck all interest in being actively involved in unions, of any kind?".

Catch, I'm not convinced that the problem is the "form of organization" in the Bay Area GMB.

Actually form of organisation is about three steps ahead of what I was thinking. I think political activity, and analysis, has to take into account the very much different conditions that we operate in now - and should start from an analysis of those conditions. However I look at either recent years or a much longer view, trying to build a radical union piece by piece, worker by worker, (or at all) doesn't jump out at me as a good idea.

Quote:
As for "workers have[ing] fuck all interest in being actively involved in unions," I think that's simply a false generalization on your part. Certainly every worker is not sitting around going "god I wish there was some union I could be part of," they're also not sitting around saying "I'm glad there's no stupid union around here to mediate my struggles; if there was then I sure wouldn't be part of it!"

Yeah, so "fuck all interest" - I didn't say "outside and against".

Quote:
There are a whole lot of workers involved in a whole lot of unions.

And considerably more not.

Nate wrote:
Hmm. I don't know. I'm not sure I would say that the organizers in the union are a "core of political people." A lot are, sure, but not everyone.

Well a lot but not everyone would be a "core" wouldn't it?

Quote:
Thanks for clarifying that you're not implying that any of us are trying to trick workers.

Well I think when people talk about stripping all the bolllocks out of your constitution then that's effectively what they're planning, but no in general I think there's much more self-deception around at the moment (plenty outside the IWW as well of course) than there is outright dishonesty.

Mike Harman
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Dec 15 2007 22:14
x357997 wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
Well the IWW is clearly a political group

we are a union with politics.

And no strike clauses, apparently.

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Dec 15 2007 22:18
Carousel wrote:
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For now, this whole thing feels to me like a fight over words.

All philosophical problems are.

Carousel, thank you for adding nothing of value to yet another thread.

Carousel
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Dec 15 2007 22:45
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Carousel, thank you for adding nothing of value to yet another thread.

Ha ha. And tell us do, what value do you add? You're the one constantly dragging the discussion into the personal sphere with your juvenile Internet vendettas. This is the real problem with your “mass organisations”, they express only an aggregation of the disordered personalities that find a home within the left milieu and, in the final analysis, define it.

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Dec 15 2007 23:02

You're a troll carousel. You're on a libertarian communist website bashing libertarian communism. Incidentally, I'm a Wobbly and a libertarian communist. These forums give me a chance to discuss the direction and character (as well as hear some constructive criticisms) of an organization I'm active in. This particular discussion regards political philosophy and, if the discussion is productive, could lead us to re-consider some aspects of the structure of our organization, a very real word consequence that goes beyond a fight over words. My initial comment was a critique of the fact that many of the discussions on Libcom become semantical. I'm far more interested in pursuing the substantive ones.

This, by the way,

Quote:
This is the real problem with your “mass organisations”, they express only an aggregation of the disordered personalities that find a home within the left milieu and, in the final analysis, define it.

sounds very much like a "juvenile Internet vendetta."

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Dec 15 2007 23:10
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This particular discussion regards political philosophy and, if the discussion is productive, could lead us to re-consider some aspects of the structure of our organization, a very real word consequence that goes beyond a fight over words.

The workers are on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the huge impact of the outcome of the debate.

Quote:
You're a troll carousel.

It’s all in your mind. If you feel baited, it’s because you want to be. Start taking some personal responsibility for your emotions.

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Dec 15 2007 23:15
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The workers are on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the huge impact of the outcome of the debate.

What was your line? A "juvenile internet vendetta"? Anyway, I'm done arguing with you. As I stated, i'm on Libcom to engage in productive discussions and, yes, build a movement workers can relate to and will want to be involved in, not argue with anti-social childish little fool like yourself who is incapable of backing up his arguments with any sort of rational, logic, or argumentation. Go read a book, cause I'm done responding to you.

Carousel
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Dec 15 2007 23:51
Quote:
build a movement workers can relate to and will want to be involved in, not argue with anti-social childish little fool like yourself

There's been no argument, just you delivering a few insults and, in so doing, demonstrating how your organisations are kept in stasis by the marginalised psychologies that make them up. One of life’s little rules of thumb, those most concerned with building movements are the least capable of doing so. As I said earlier, the question facing revolutionaries is not the structure of their organisation, but the tasks the organisation should undertake beyond its own maintenance.

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Dec 16 2007 02:48

roll eyes

jack white
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Dec 16 2007 04:12
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
jack white wrote:
no chance of you answering my question Boul?

I think if you read back over the intervening posts you'll find your question has been answered. Though to be honest I didn't really think you were asking a question so much as trying to be rhetorical.

No, it was a straightforward question. I just want you to clarify what you're saying, just so its not ambigious.

I'm guessing the answer is yes but I'd like it to be clear. As a follow up question, is that just your own opinion or would it also be Organise's position?