Give up classtivism: Why class struggle is long, boring and hard work

The recent decision by Starbucks to attack its workers’ conditions (cutting paid lunch breaks, sick pay and other work benefits) in response to public pressure to pay its tax bill – public pressure partly generated by direct action organisations like UK Uncut – has highlighted ongoing concerns over the effectiveness of “Tax justice” campaigns and their relationship to class struggle organisation.

The recent decision by Starbucks to attack its workers’ conditions (cutting paid lunch breaks, sick pay and other work benefits) in response to public pressure to pay its tax bill – public pressure partly generated by direct action organisations like UK Uncut – has highlighted ongoing concerns over the effectiveness of “Tax justice” campaigns and their relationship to class struggle organisation. Undoubtedly UK Uncut will continue to incorporate workers’ rights issues into its public actions against the Starbucks chain. What the move highlights, however, is the complete incapacity of these tactics to manifest as useful tools of social struggle (even of basic self-defence) for the workers affected, or indeed the absence of any foresight that differentiates between the actions of the “brand” and the largely powerless and unorganised workers who are employed by it. There is a good analysis concerning this by a member of the Solidarity Federation – “Tax justice, austerity and class struggle” – what is, however, slightly less satisfactory is the way this analysis reflects on another, well respected campaign currently being organised and supported within the UK anarchist movement – the Boycott Workfare Network.

The objectives of the Boycott Workfare Network are simple. The website gives them as the following:

Quote:
“Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare ... We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.”

This is a network that has been most strongly supported by the IWA affiliated Solidarity Federation, but also has had local anarchist groups and Anarchist Federation groups participate. As well as organising ongoing public boycotts of workfare employers (usually in the form of a public protest or “picket” discouraging costumers to frequent the store), the campaign provides information for those on workfare schemes via the website and usually provides information to the workforce during its actions. These two sides of the campaign are not entirely harmonious and throw up certain contradictions that Phil (Libcom blogger “Phil”), at least partly, acknowledges in his article:

Quote:
“pickets against workfare have often explicitly approached staff and promoted the need to organise. The aim is still to disrupt business and threaten profits, but with the rights of workers an explicit part of the agenda it becomes a lot harder to take this out on them.”

Likewise the Boycott Workfare Network secured its own Pyrrhic victory earlier this year when one of the early targets, the health food chain Holland and Barrett, announced it would be pulling out of the workfare scheme only to replace these posts with a salaried apprenticeship scheme. Undoubtedly a victory for the workfare campaign against unpaid work but one which did not secure a standard minimum wage for all employees (National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £2.65 per hour) nor was it a move that the existing campaign was in any real position to fight further on.

It is not our intention here to try and downplay the clear positive affects that the UK Uncut actions and Boycott Workfare campaign have had in terms of both changing employer policy and showing the power of public pressure via direct action over institutional channels (lobbying MPs, collecting petitions etc). Instead, our intention with this article is to clearly point out why, in both cases, these tactics have reached the limits that they have, why it is necessary to consider an alternative framework for judging the success of organisational work and why an organising culture premised principally on the initiation of “actions” and “campaigns” (what we would identify as “activism”) is ill-suited for the patient, complex and hard work of class organising.

What is classtivism?

The economic crisis has, in the last decade, created an entirely new context for social justice struggles. The attacks on the living standards of the working class, the environment and the continued military intervention of imperialist states across the globe are set at a brutal pace. This is while the official trade union movement has sought only greater accommodation and acquiescence within the new austerity regime. The Left has shown itself to be similarly lacking in imagination, adopting the tired and ever failing tactics of electoralism and work within the same shrinking trade unions as the scope of their limited ambition. This is within the larger context of a much deeper collapse of working class culture and identity, which leaves no obvious space for the growth for an alternative, anti-austerity project. In the service sector in particular (the UK’s largest sector of employment), in shops such as Starbucks, Holland and Barrett, Poundland, Tesco, Pizza Hut etc., the idea of an employee culture – let alone an organised working class culture – is laughable.

Within this context the tactics and strategies of activism and activists present a viable alternative to the automatic position of defence and isolation that many of us would be forced to adopt within our workplaces, neighbourhoods and our communities. The notion of going “on the attack” against extremely exploitative schemes like workfare seem an appropriate level of response to the severity of the attacks we are currently coming under. We would likewise hazard that this is the social and political context of other similar “movements” such as Occupy.

What, then, do we mean by “activism”? In simple terms, the idea of bringing together individuals on the basis of their shared ideological goals and beliefs who adopt specific disruptive strategies to pile public pressure (or otherwise “consciousness raise” – we will analyse this particular aspect in greater detail below) around a certain issue. The intention is that this activism will bring about some form of social or political change. Undoubtedly certain aspects of “activism” will be part of and naturally arise within the alternative perspective we later identify – that of movement-building – and it is not our purpose to write off these as tactics completely. Rather we identify activism as problematic, in itself, because it is principally the basis in which social change is seen to be effected. It is the activist and their practice of activism – whether it is a public protest outside a store, chaining oneself to the gates or a sit-down in the manager’s office – that are seen as having the transformative role. There is a theoretical line of cause and effect, in short, between the action (a public picket) and the intended result (the employer’s withdrawal from workfare) irrespective of the internal composition of the action itself.

In the current context – one in which economic issues are very much on the popular agenda –, and especially given the clear ineffectiveness of the labour movement, we have seen a closer merging of the existing strategies, tactics and organisational cultures of activists and disputes around the workplace and social welfare. “Class”, in other words, has been represented as an “issue” in a similar way that fair trade, development, environmental justice or gender and sexuality have been represented within the social justice movements in previous years. Our contention is, of course, that class is not an issue that can be “won”, no less than the environment or gender or sexuality can be – it is the structural basis of capitalist society. It is not the responsibility of ethical and socially responsible individuals to “take up class” should it concern them. A class position is thrust upon us as a result of our role within a capitalist society. The question then is not, initially at least, of the applicability of certain tactics or strategies, but of the role of class, class consciousness and how this informs the forms of action we pursue.

Class consciousness and Organisation

It is not necessary to re-visit here classic communist arguments concerning the socially transformative role of the working class within capitalism or the ultimate need for the re-appropriation of the means of production. It is suffice to say that it is the confidence and capacity of workers to act on their own interests – in our workplaces, our neighbourhoods and communities – against those of the capitalists – our bosses, landlords and the state – that concern us in terms of our need to promote social solidarity and class organisation. Consciousness raising – making workers aware of those interests and their ability to act on them – is, as a result, a central part of this process.

The public pickets, protest and actions conducted as part of the Boycott Workfare and UK Uncut actions, as well as playing a more direct disruptive role, are likewise aimed at a broader project of “raising consciousness”. In the case of UK Uncut this has largely been in the form of the “Tax Justice” narrative, something which has unfortunately often been reduced to useless chants of “pay your taxes!” but at a more sophisticated level aims to highlight bourgeois double-standards between a government that seeks to ostracise claimants and benefit cheats for their drain on the public purse, while simultaneously allowing multi-nationals to dodge millions in corporation tax. There is likewise a much more radical under-current that runs through the actions which seeks to challenge the barriers between public and private space, with banks being turned into “direct action libraries” or shop floors into social spaces for music and games. Similarly in the case of Boycott Workfare it was found that many on the placement schemes were completely unaware of their rights or their colleagues failed to understand the implications of the unpaid work. Leaflets, such as this one produced by the Solidarity Federation, intend to inform employees about the nature of the action as a well as encouraging them to get organised.

In all the above cases these are indeed consciousness-raising practices. However for us the issue of consciousness-raising is not just about providing information to workers or even making them aware of their ability to act (e.g. their freedom to join a union or use their legal rights). It is about creating a context of confidence in class action. This is a complex process layered with social, cultural and psychological barriers. There is a qualitative difference between the type of power that the bourgeois class utilises and the forms of attitudes and perspectives that emerge in the course of movement-building. Workers’ power is direct, social and inter-personal. It is based on establishing relationships of trust, solidarity and friendship. Most importantly proletarian consciousness needs to be perpetually re-affirming. As our Fellow Workers at the Recomposition blog have pointed out, people have a tendency to “hot up” and “cool down” when it comes to organising, even long-term and dedicated organisers. Within this context networks of support and solidarity are absolutely essential in ensuring that those who have been worn down or burnt out during the ebbs are able to take back up the mantle during the flows. On a practical level all of the above is incredibly difficult in the context of one-off or sensational actions conducted against employers. Even employees, or workfare claimants, who are sympathetic to the cause, are likely to be scared off of engaging by the fear of repercussions from management or their job centres. From the outside, agitators simply don’t know what conversations will be had between workers for the rest of the day, or during a cigarette break in the afternoon or even the special briefing the manager gives at the end of the day. From the inside, why should workers trust the advice of someone that they had a five minute conversation with and gave them a piece of paper?

The ultimate objective of our organising efforts should be to cultivate organisations that promote workers’ self-organisation. This is a standard by which we ourselves should not be exempt. It is also a responsibility that we should not expect to place on others without carrying through the same risks ourselves. And there are indeed risks.

Tactics – “Organising is about creating a series of friendships”

The actions taken against workfare have 3 key failings: Firstly, they depict the left and activists as outsiders with only power as consumers. Secondly, it enforces a reliance on outside forces for workers. Lastly, it risks driving company and staff closer together.

Activists are part of the working class just as much as factory workers and miners. We all form active parts of capitalism, as consumers and workers, but as workers we create surplus value. Just because we don’t wear overalls doesn’t mean we are excluded from this process. However, protest actions play into the idea that activists are an exterior force. If activists want to get involved in class struggle, they need to develop their own class consciousness as well. It is easy to talk about this as if it is a theoretical concept that the working class needs to develop on a general basis. What developing class consciousness actually means is each of us realising our own position in capitalism – your own, real position as an actor within the process of production, not of the mythical, abstract concept of “the workers.” Until individual activists start to grasp this fundamental role they’re not in much of a position to ask others to.

The working class for far too long has been reliant on exterior forces, political parties, do-gooders, union bureaucrats: We need to do things for ourselves. It is our historic mission to overthrow capitalism and this cannot be achieved by relying on the intervention of charitable types. We have been serviced by unions for decades, succededing only in seeing hard fought reforms vanish and safety nets disappear. At the heart of these errors is the failure to build and sustain a culture of class confidence that has a willingness to defend workers’ interests (and fight for more). Taking steps towards this means abandoning our reliance on outside forces (in whatever form this may come) and looking to the immediate relationships around us as our source of solidarity and support.

Finally, there is the danger that activism will strengthen the reverse relationships – the capitalistic ones between workers and managers and workers and the company. The sentiment that “we are all mates with our manager, why shouldn’t we just talk to them he takes us out for a drink all the time”, for example, forms a continuous barrier to workplace organising. Starbucks Workers’ Union organiser Liberté Locke has described it well as being akin to an abusive relationship – “My body, my rules: a case for rape and domestic violence survivors becoming workplace organisers”. At Pizza Hut, mangers receive bonuses based on the amount of money the store spends. If the manager doesn’t repair broken mopeds, they receive a higher bonus, if they don’t replace safety equipment, such as oven gloves, they receive a higher bonus. These things help the manager as an individual, but make the rest of our working lives more difficult. At the same time, this is hidden by the manager who then acts as a social leader, as everyone’s mate, offering people lifts home, organising the Xmas do etc. As Liberté Locke argues, these abuses are hidden by a friendly exterior and layers of manipulative behaviour. Breaking through that is one of the most difficult things to achieve as an organiser. “Shop pickets” may well do real favours to managers, giving workers in store a false sense of the limitations of their own capacities, reinforcing existing worker-brand identity and the idea of the company as “one big family”.

Friendship must be at the core of solidarity. For our Fellow Workers to take the organising we push seriously they have to trust that we are saying it as a friend and not as a political campaigner. As organisers we must be there when the important conversations happen, and those aren’t the conversations that happen with the activist outside, they are the ones that happen on smoking breaks, while taking a pizza out to the moped, as you mop the floor at the end of the shift or in the pub after work. That is where people express their true feelings, whether that is about the protest outside, or the dick-head manager. Working under capitalism is stressful, isolating and hard, and we need the support of our Fellow Workers as much as everyone else. Class organising is about creating our own spaces of resistance. It is a process of creating a series of friendships.

In short, what we need is a far richer (perhaps a micro-level) understanding of class consciousness to accompany our organising perspectives. We take inspiration from the idea of the “Wobbly Shop” or to “Wobbly the Job”. To “Wobbly the Job” is not just to get people signed up to the union or provoke actions, it’s to foster specific attitudes in that workplace. This can range from anything to the jokes that are made behind the bosses back at break time, to the walk-out you hold during peak operating hours. The point is that this is something that emerges within the culture that organisers create as a result of the real bonds of solidarity and support they have built with their Fellow Workers.

The Alternative: building class confidence through a movement of organisers

There are natural limits to our political demands in the form of our capacity as consumers, citizens, activists. We only have a finite amount of political capital, special interest, money in our pocket, disruptive capacity, can only be arrested so many times etc. As workers, as proletarians, our demands are limitless. They are only conditioned by the balance of class forces - the power applied on the one hand, by the depth of our class organisation as workers, and on the other, by the power and organisation of the capitalists. It may be possible to transfer cultures of class confidence via activist activity – for example, the international support given to Pizza Hut workers by IWW members and others, or the victory at Office Angels co-ordinated by the Solidarity Federation – but our source of power is still ultimately proletarian subjectivity applied at the point of production and reproduction of capitalism. Support and solidarity actions may be useful, they may even be successful (in terms of winning gains) but they cannot function in isolation and still contain the same limits.

Class struggle is long, boring and hard work. Organising your own community, workplace or neighbourhood is difficult, emotionally taxing work and potentially fraught with all manner of economic and social repercussions. It also means pushing out of your comfort zone, conversing and socialising with people you perhaps wouldn’t normally do on the basis of shared interests, countering all manner of challenging and conservative ideas and behaviour. As we have said above, it also often puts you in a position of isolation and defence – but this is also the reality of the current social and political context. They wouldn’t call it class struggle if it didn’t involve struggling.

Understanding these risks and formulating strategies to overcome them enriches our collective praxis. It forms the basis of a contemporary approach to movement-building. It also means taking your time and building on small victories that are not necessarily glamorous ones. This could be as (seemingly) minor as creating a culture where you are able to discuss problems at work openly. This can easily evolve into supporting one another to take breaks, challenging the decisions of the boss. An organising committee building union density develops through all of these experiences. The important thing is that all these steps map onto a coherent and long-term strategy employed by workplace organisers. It’s not about every penny of pay you win but about the confidence workers feel to fight and keep fighting until we win it all.

Returning specifically to the Boycott Workfare campaign, we do acknowledge certain characteristics that make this issue appear distinct from other forms of class struggle. The government workfare schemes are principally an issue that affects claimants. Although the extent to which it weakens the position of workers in those companies, and also the standards of the labour force generally, does make it an issue of collective interest. In this respect the degree to which targeted and sustained organisation in workfare employers, of all workers, is an alternative route of opposition to the schemes needs to be explored more – whether in the form of salting or finding means of establishing sustainable contact between workers and organisers.

It is true that the unemployed are at a structural disadvantage to the employed workforce - this is the nature of the “industrial reserve army”, keeping a section of the workforce powerless and at a disadvantage so they are ready for the needs of capital as well as acting as a disciplining mechanism on the employed. The unemployed acting as a threat in the case of troublesome workers as well as depressing wages and conditions in the case of high levels of unemployment. Workers are increasingly out of work in the context of the current crisis (particularly young workers and across Europe) so this is a serious issue for class organisations. But we should look to examples such as the South African Shack Dwellers’ Movement, the Unemployed Workers’ Movement in Argentina, and historic (and ongoing) claimants unions and centres. We feel these have been successful at building dual power organisations from the most powerless sections of the class, because they’ve not taken an approach of disempowerment but also because they have employed the basic methods of movement-building discussed above. They represent genuine communities of class confidence developed through weeks, months and even years of patient agitation and organising.

Public pickets are argued to be a way of bringing people on the workfare scheme together (who are otherwise stratified) and politicising the schemes. This is while acknowledging that the conversations in this context were limited and relied heavily on generating a certain degree of public and press interest. But conversations alone are not enough. They raise awareness not consciousness. For this we need to be training and developing a movement of organisers, militants and movement-builders. You still need to walk before you can run, and activism is simply not a means for initiating movements (and can actually be a means of cutting yourself off from those around you). The basics of movement-building – whether these are your work mates, fellow claimants, care-givers, service-users etc. – provide the basis for meaningful opposition to austerity, in immediate terms, and a movement against capitalism for the future.

DP is Northern regional organiser for the Industrial Workers of the World (ERA) and a member of the General Executive Board. He works at Pizza Hut.

CW is a militant in Collective Action and a member of Sheffield (UK) Industrial Workers of the World General Membership Branch. He works in social care.

Posted By

RedAndBlack
Dec 18 2012 23:26

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  • They wouldn’t call it class struggle if it didn’t involve struggling.

    DP and CW

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Comments

Arbeiten
Dec 19 2012 21:30

Yeah some of this is interesting.

I think part of the reason this has had such negative feedback from some SF members is that, for the article to make it's wider points, it appears to fold the differences between UKuncut, Boycott Workfare and SF. Especially the 'classtivism' (my aversion to neologisms is going on overdrive here) critique. It is not at all fair to say that SF deal with class as an 'issue' the same as fair trade (I think this may be a fair criticism of Polly Toynbee sponsored UKuncut however).

I was quite disappointed when I got to the bottom. Ok, yeah. I see some of this criticism. So, what is to be done? well... build a movement of militant organizers in your workplace and with those around you. As Refused points out, sounds a lot like SF....

As JK pointed out a while back, 'claimant' is not a clear category (the kids call it precarious grin). I don't think this article really addresses that at all. 'claimants union' right now feel a little bit like 'GENERAL STRIKE NOW!'. I would like to see this clarion call put into action and wish you the best in your endeavour.

Arbeiten
Dec 19 2012 21:33
RedAndBlack wrote:
The continual references to CA are a little unfair to both CA, who haven't endorsed the text, and DP, who is equally responsible for the views expressed in the article and not a CA member.

You might want to ask them to take down the snide comment they wrote on Twitter about SF then because that looks quite like an endorsement from here wink. Honestly, twitter beef is a bit pathetic...

radicalgraffiti
Dec 19 2012 21:39

i think the claim they we should organise claimants unions rather than attempting to shut down work fair is fucking riduculars. I have to assume the authors have no fucking clue how the work program functions.

Arbeiten
Dec 19 2012 21:46
radicalgraffiti wrote:
I have to assume the authors have no fucking clue how the work program functions.

Well, quite. I see there is no mention of sanctions in the piece. Or any mention of how a claimants union might come about. But if people want to organize one, that's fine by me!

wojtek
Dec 19 2012 22:43

radicalgraffiti, could you expand please?

RedAndBlack
Dec 19 2012 22:45
Arbeiten wrote:
RedAndBlack wrote:
The continual references to CA are a little unfair to both CA, who haven't endorsed the text, and DP, who is equally responsible for the views expressed in the article and not a CA member.

You might want to ask them to take down the snide comment they wrote on Twitter about SF then because that looks quite like an endorsement from here wink. Honestly, twitter beef is a bit pathetic...

Kinda rich considering the pretty nasty accusations that have been thrown around by Solfed members today (both here and far worse on Twitter). Even so I'm not interested in tit-for-tat, I just thought there might be some genuine confusion as to who had actually written this piece. All of which, of course, is a distraction from its actual content.

RedAndBlack
Dec 19 2012 23:00
radicalgraffiti wrote:
i think the claim they we should organise claimants unions rather than attempting to shut down work fair is fucking riduculars. I have to assume the authors have no fucking clue how the work program functions.

If people are going to attempt to engage with the article can they actually engage with the ideas in the article. At the very least you could actually explain the basis of your objection.

It really isn't fair to just take simplified abstractions from parts of the article and then throw it back as if it represents the entire substance of what we are saying. Yes, we do talk about claimants unions and centres as one example of different things that can be pursued. We also talk about salting and more focused workplace action amongst workfare employers. Even so the point is that this is jumping straight back into tactical debates without acknowledging the concern for deeper processes we strenuously outline throughout the course of the article.

To simplify the position as "we don't think you should do X, do Y instead" is not to do justice to our position and this perspective (that there are easy quick remedies in the form of this or that alternative tactic) is, in my view, one of the fundamental issues that impedes the libertarian movement in the UK.

Leaving aside our disagreements on the utility of activism/classtivism for a moment, some commentators have pointed, correctly, to the idea (and perhaps a point of unity in terms of other organisations) of the need to build a movement of organisers and movement-builders. Well let's take a serious and substantive look at that process as a form of praxis. Yes some organisations provide organiser training, the IWW do, so do Solfed, but this represents the bare minimum of work could that be put into this area. This idea needs to be built on substantially more than that. This is the trajectory that the article takes in terms of further debate and discussion, not presenting this or that quick fix to this or that movement or struggle.

radicalgraffiti
Dec 19 2012 23:15
wojtek wrote:
radicalgraffiti, could you expand please?

people on the work program are extremely isolated from each other, they can't withdraw there labour without loosing there benefits, Before they get sent on the work part there ability to interact with other claimants is virtually nil, as appointments are widely spaced and you will rarely see the same person twice except for your advisor. When you are on a placement you may meet other people on work fair but this is extremely temporary making it vary difficult to build relationships, and you are in small isolated groups, so it is really difficult it make contact with other people one work fair.

there is also the fact that the government wants people to quit, and can remove your benefits with no consequence at all.

compared to this, you can go on pickets and disrupt a business income, forcing them to withdraw from the work program, thus making it harder for the work fair providers to find placements, so making the period you have to work for free less (or the period of none work greater) while increasing the likelihood of you getting paid work, for vary like risk, and this also helps build working class solidarity, thus making claments organisation more practical.

Phil
Dec 19 2012 23:17
RedAndBlack wrote:
Yes some organisations provide organiser training, the IWW do, so do Solfed, but this represents the bare minimum of work could that be put into this area. This idea needs to be built on substantially more than that.

SolFed has training. But that's not "it," as far as this area goes. Workfare pickets have encouraged workers to organise and spoken about it in depth. SF have supported agency workers' and other workers' struggles. Practical support on picket lines is standard. And most of us are organising in our own workplaces - both where there's an established union and where the workers are casual/precarious.

Hardly a bare minimum, especially given the numbers and resources of anarcho-syndicalists in the UK.

radicalgraffiti
Dec 19 2012 23:23
RedAndBlack wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
i think the claim they we should organise claimants unions rather than attempting to shut down work fair is fucking riduculars. I have to assume the authors have no fucking clue how the work program functions.

If people are going to attempt to engage with the article can they actually engage with the ideas in the article. At the very least you could actually explain the basis of your objection.

the basis of my objection is what you said makes no sense, you propose things in a completely abstract way, so what if a union of claments would be useful if it existed, to suggest this instead of picketing shops makes no sense, you cant just make a claments union in the current situation, to make one will require years of organisation amongst workers and making friends with people is not going to do.

Dumfries
Dec 20 2012 13:49
radicalgraffiti wrote:
wojtek wrote:
radicalgraffiti, could you expand please?

compared to this, you can go on pickets and disrupt a business income, forcing them to withdraw from the work program, thus making it harder for the work fair providers to find placements, so making the period you have to work for free less (or the period of none work greater) while increasing the likelihood of you getting paid work, for vary like risk, and this also helps build working class solidarity, thus making claments organisation more practical.

May I ask what that working class solidarity looks like? How does this build lasting workplace and/or community militancy or at least facilitate a process towards that. And how does it tie into your long term strategy for creating a counter-power? What is your long term strategy?

The issue here is that achieving these things in the short term are admirable achievements that may create some kind of solidarity (I'm not sure exactly what your definition of that is) and some confidence, but then what? While you've achieved a short term victory, how does that victory then relate to our relationship with the process of production. Because you can't defeat capitalism unless your activity relates directly to the process of production. Unless you are building militancy that seeks to break down capitalist logic and begin a process of communising the products of our labour, then we are not going to move towards a full seizure of the means of production and therefore we cannot create anarchist communism.

All of the class struggle and militancy that we engage with or build has to be critiqued and judged on whether it is building towards that process. If it isn't, then why are we doing it? Your activity might create some short term solution, but does it have a long term benefit towards our objective of building a militant relationship towards the process of production i.e. a recognition of our power within the process of production, communising the products of our labour and ultimately recognising our interest in seizing the means in which those products are produced. Are we community/social activists or are we anarchist communists?

Dumfries
Dec 20 2012 02:18
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
why use classtivisim when you could have just said 'class struggle anarchism'

Oh Jim. I'm not sure if you're joking or not tongue

Harrison
Dec 20 2012 07:55

I'm not going to engage with the substance of the piece as i'm a bit tired at the moment, but i have to clarify a few things.

1) Of the authors, I don't know who CW is, but DP is completely sound, Hull SF have had good relations with him, and he has previously expressed a high degree of respect for SF. So i'd request that SF comrades share a respect for his moral integrity and therefore a respect for the intentions behind this article as a criticism of political tactics and to please not assume that the intention was to polemicise a rival organisation.

2) as far as i have been able to gauge, the prevalent attitude in SF has been critical continuation of the workfare pickets (ie. to maintain the momentum, but to seriously discuss how we have gone about it). i believe the H&B victory to have been good for the organisation and a small class victory, but not so much for raising the level of general class militancy / injecting our methods.

3) Hull SF has an unemployed member and contacts, and are in the initial stages of convening an unemployed workers group. (there is no way the authors could have known this as it has not been public).

4) There is little chance that DP or CW could have known about SF's internal criticisms of the workfare campaign. we have no members in Sheffield. also there is less pub enabled discussion for them to connect with the larger milieu, hence the need to publish a political interaction. i know this as i am in Hull SF during semester time, but North London SF outside that. the northern cities are like islands of anarchy, whilst london and brighton is like anarchy soup.

5) We generally have political and tactical differences with BW, and are not formally involved in the network, but cooperate a great deal alongside.

RedAndBlack
Dec 20 2012 09:08
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Lumping UK Uncut, Boycott Workfare and SF's 'End unpaid work' campaign into one broad category isn't really helpful either. You ignore the very real differences between all three to just make the point that they've all used action at the point of consumption rather than at action at the point of production, by workers themselves.

This is a fair criticism I think (someone else said it earlier but I can't find the post) and perhaps we should have been clearer in the differences between the organisations. Even so you are right that there is a commonality in that these actions are aimed at the sphere of consumption and our analysis is relevant in that sense in that these are the practices that we are proposing class struggle organisers "give up", irrespective of whether they are doing organising work elsewhere (in fact, often because of given the conflictual nature of the two tactics and the contradictory messages they send - do we have power as workers or consumers? is our power inside the shop or outside it? etc.)

radicalgraffitti wrote:
people on the work program are extremely isolated from each other, they can't withdraw there labour without loosing there benefits, Before they get sent on the work part there ability to interact with other claimants is virtually nil, as appointments are widely spaced and you will rarely see the same person twice except for your advisor. When you are on a placement you may meet other people on work fair but this is extremely temporary making it vary difficult to build relationships, and you are in small isolated groups, so it is really difficult it make contact with other people one work fair.

there is also the fact that the government wants people to quit, and can remove your benefits with no consequence at all.

compared to this, you can go on pickets and disrupt a business income, forcing them to withdraw from the work program, thus making it harder for the work fair providers to find placements, so making the period you have to work for free less (or the period of none work greater) while increasing the likelihood of you getting paid work, for vary like risk, and this also helps build working class solidarity, thus making claments organisation more practical.

This reads like you haven't read the article at all.

There are certainly practical problems to organising claimants but they are by no means impassable if you are taking a long-term and committed approach to organising. If you ask me you are more likely to gain more traction forming a dialogue with people who could be put on workfare programmes through sustained and regular agitation at job centres than one-off pickets outside shops. If this fails then, ok, let's try and understand why this failed because ultimately that lesson is more important because it is a serious obstacle to forming a movement.

And yes, there are consequences. The state could take your money away. A boss could also fire you for organising. "they wouldn't call it class struggle if it didn't involve struggling". The point is we find ways of engaging with these risks while trying to minimise their impact through collective solidarity and support.

The above also assumes that your above strategy will be successful. I don't think it will be. Companies like HandB and charities may be shamed into withdrawing from the workfare programme but I doubt that TESCO or Poundland have similar concerns on impact on income or their public image. It'll begin to hit the various limits that we outline in the article.

radicalgraffitii wrote:
helps build working class solidarity, thus making claments organisation more practical.

and this doesn't follow for exactly the reasons that we outlined in the article. You haven't proved that worker solidarity can win concessions, you have proved that the concerted effort of a national network of activists can win concessions with a sustained campaign of activism. It doesn't create a new context for class consciousness (as you seem to be suggesting) between claimants or workers. You haven't created a new context for confidence in class action (more activist actions perhaps) on a "macro" or "micro" level, i.e. in the immediate context of those workplaces. And as you correctly acknowledge you then have to build the actual class orientated organisation after anyway (essentially what you should have been concentrating on in the first place).

no1
Dec 20 2012 09:47
RedAndBlack wrote:
these actions are aimed at the sphere of consumption and our analysis is relevant in that sense in that these are the practices that we are proposing class struggle organisers "give up", irrespective of whether they are doing organising work elsewhere (in fact, often because of given the conflictual nature of the two tactics and the contradictory messages they send - do we have power as workers or consumers? is our power inside the shop or outside it? etc.)

The thing is that SolFed never thought of the 'end unpaid work' campaign in terms of consumer power or something like that but of economic disruption. Although boycotts are an age-old anarcho-syndicalist tactic, the lost sales from us turning away customers from Holland & Barrett will have been pretty minor. Instead, pickets massively pissed off store managers by undermining their control of 'their' shop, and we always start pickets by talking to staff, usually giving them a letter (which at least in theory could lead to workplace organising). More importantly it threatened a £6 million PR campaign H&B had just launched. That PR campaign tried to convince customers that their staff were really well trained to give advice (important for them as they compete with cheaper supermarkets) - a message that's completely destroyed once people realise they have a massive proportion of 'staff' on workfare (and a reason they switched to the apprentice scheme). This was supplemented by several communications blockades to heigthen disruption.
Talking to customers and passersby is obviously important too - but not so much because of lost sales, but because it's a way of talking about things like solidarity (and acting accordingly). It's also an opportunity to talk to unemployed people and a lot of retail workers - potentially a way to start those unemployed unions and workplace organising in retail which of course we'd like to do.

RedAndBlack wrote:
There are certainly practical problems to organising claimants but they are by no means impassable if you are taking a long-term and committed approach to organising. If you ask me you are more likely to gain more traction forming a dialogue with people who could be put on workfare programmes through sustained and regular agitation at job centres than one-off pickets outside shops. If this fails then, ok, let's try and understand why this failed because ultimately that lesson is more important because it is a serious obstacle to forming a movement.

I'm not sure why you think we haven't done that - we have, and it didn't really work. I've spent hours and hours leafleting at the local job centre with a result of nothing at all usually. Which is why we've started doing things like the workfare campaign (a great strategic advantage of organising against workfare, and reason why we started this, is that it can unite workers in and out of jobs - decreasing the isolation of the unemployed that makes them so reluctant to get organised).

Spikymike
Dec 20 2012 11:25

Good to see some more sensible dialogue emmerging out of this on all sides.

A few points:

SolFed deserve some credit for taking a self-critical look at their own anti-workfair strategy even if that hasn't always been publicly available on this site. It's my impression that some SolFed practice on this strategy has not always been up to it's own theoretical underpinning but not necessarily for want of trying.

Anarchist inspired and supported consumer boycotts are however wider than this and perhaps more open to criticism. R&B's caution against reading some small victories against the likes of Holland and Barret accross to a wider assault on the capitalist big guns is worth some more thought in anarchist circles. This was a point I made on another thread appealing for such a campaign against the Co-op over it's employment of ATOS (which gathered very little discussion) and was brought up in the thread about problems with a boycott of Amazon.

On the problems of organising the unemployed and fighting benefit cuts there are some useful lessons and some cautions to be taken from the more recent history of our own milieu in the anti-JSA campaigns recorded in a number of debates in the old Subversion magazine and in Aufheben. Certainly my involvement in that brought home to me the difficulties of moving beyond a politically motivated activist approach towards something based on sustained claimant self-organisation.

Contrary to what some other posters have said I think from my own experience that what the text says about 'friendships' or perhaps what we might better describe as 'informal networks' built up over time based on trusted support and solidarity in workplaces are as important as more formal organisation. But.....these are surely only possible in more stable employment sectors which in the UK and Europe are less common these days?

Joe Roe raises some genuine questions for the SolFed and the rest of us about what we think the relationship (if any) really is between the sort of short term, small scale class struggle victories under discussion and the potential for the growth of a genuine anti-capitalist movement. But the SolFed has had a proper go at answering this in their new pamphlet 'Fighting for Ourselves'. I have voiced some limited criticisms of my own in the earlier 'New pamphlet from the SolFed...' thread but I await some proper critical reviews of this pamplet from the organised political groups in our milieu, including CA.

Spikymike
Dec 20 2012 12:36

Sorry double post - still having serious problems with accessing and navigating this site.

radicalgraffiti
Dec 20 2012 12:49

@RedAndBlack

You completely fail to recognise how isolated claimants are for each other, you only think about organising in terms workers with long term stable jobs. It is virtually impossible for claimants to build the kind of relationships with each other that you talk about in the article.

Although you say that activists are workers to you everywhere treat anyone taking part in anyt work fair action as a separate group from claimants.

You say people should agitate outside jobcenters, but people on the work program don't even go to job centres, they are sent to private companies usually for months, before being sent to work placement.

RedAndBlack
Dec 20 2012 14:46
Spikymike wrote:
but I await some proper critical reviews of this pamplet from the organised political groups in our milieu, including CA.

In progress... It's a long (but very worthy) read smile

RedAndBlack
Dec 20 2012 15:01
no1 wrote:
I'm not sure why you think we haven't done that - we have, and it didn't really work. I've spent hours and hours leafleting at the local job centre with a result of nothing at all usually. Which is why we've started doing things like the workfare campaign (a great strategic advantage of organising against workfare, and reason why we started this, is that it can unite workers in and out of jobs - decreasing the isolation of the unemployed that makes them so reluctant to get organised).

If our single aim was to criticise Solfed that would be fair enough. But as I say again, we're talking in broad terms about specific tactics here. Even so I think this raises some important issues that require greater reflection. Most importantly is the kind of strategic escalation into initiating public actions really what is required in the instance that face-to-face outreach and agitation has failed? These aren't just questions for workfare but any campaign that has hit a wall in terms of its ability to mobilise. Something that I have also experienced many times.

I thought this was interesting as well:

noodlehead wrote:
I had an idea to build up anti workfare solidarity networks where we initiate contact with radical claimants by holding infomational stalls at work programme providers, then moving towards taking direct action to ensure that the people that are getting involved in the network don't have to do any unpaid work experience by targetting the specific branches of national businesses or local businesses that are taking them on. I think that getting people involved in this might be easier that with a big national target because the actions will be immedietely in defence of their own interests rather than a more political struggle against workfare in general. And it avoids the activism elements by basing the campaign directly around the members immediate situations rather than a more long term abstract opposition to labour market reform.

The idea would be that if there were multiple claimants going to different companies then they would even be able to participate and avoid discplinary actions by joining the actions against the other employers not the their own.

radicalgraffiti wrote:
@RedAndBlack

You completely fail to recognise how isolated claimants are for each other, you only think about organising in terms workers with long term stable jobs. It is virtually impossible for claimants to build the kind of relationships with each other that you talk about in the article.

More difficult yes, impossible no. I mean the CAPs (Coalition Against Poverty), for example, seemed to have varying degrees of success in this area. They have hit problems but it wasn't impossible to bring together claimants just because they were claimants. You are making a lot of sweeping claims without using a great deal of evidence to back it up.

radicalgraffiti wrote:
Although you say that activists are workers to you everywhere treat anyone taking part in anyt work fair action as a separate group from claimants.

No we are just making the basic distinction between workers as something that a lot of us are and the specific set of workers that need to lead and define a struggle, i.e. the workers in a workplace.

radicalgraffiti wrote:
You say people should agitate outside jobcenters, but people on the work program don't even go to job centres, they are sent to private companies usually for months, before being sent to work placement.

Yes I understand this but this is exactly why a broader perspective needs to be employed. People who are claimants periodically are put on workfare placements so your most stable organising base should be claimants (in general) supplemented by the workers in industries where workfare is being extended.

Joseph Kay
Dec 20 2012 15:20

I've written a long post which I'll post below, but I think it's all quite incidental on account of...

RedAndBlack wrote:
these actions are aimed at the sphere of consumption and our analysis is relevant in that sense in that these are the practices that we are proposing class struggle organisers "give up"

and

RedAndBlack wrote:
the specific set of workers that need to lead and define a struggle, i.e. the workers in a workplace.

This sounds a lot like the main objection here is not to the specific tactics, but the very fact these aren't point-of-production struggles by working class workers who work. Now if that's the argument, I just disagree. Circulation can be a point of struggle, the only one available to those excluded from production, as your own example of the piqueteros shows.

Can you clarify whether the problem is (1) circulation-based struggles per se, or (2) the 'composition' of them? Because you seem to be saying both, but they seem contradictory.

Joseph Kay
Dec 20 2012 15:22
RedAndBlack wrote:
JK, I think it makes more sense if you use the definition of activism actually outlined in the article.

ok, lets take the definition of 'activism' set out in the article:

RedAndBlack wrote:
"an organising culture premised principally on the initiation of “actions” and “campaigns” (what we would identify as “activism”)"

Ok, straight away there's a problem here: in focusing on organising culture, you're focussing on the internal dynamics of groups. Do you have any knowledge of any of these groups' culture?

Joseph Kay
Dec 20 2012 15:22

I also want to comment a bit more on the 'alternatives':

Organising retail workers
Ok, well this is ambitious. Nothing wrong with ambition, but let's think this through. Now, as it happens, there have been some sustained, boring attempts to establish contacts with retail workers and encourage organisation. But putting that aside, this is a really tall order. You're talking about organising a sector that's mostly been unorganised (well, USDAW...), from scratch, with no people on the inside. There's an added difficulty with salting, as (a) it's really hard to find any job at the moment, let alone one for a specific firm, and (b) the whole point is retailers which use workfare are reducing hiring, sometimes to zero. You could sign on and volunteer for work experience, but then you're fucked if they sanction you (unless you get an organisational stipend, which takes us into paid organiser territory).

I'm not sure what I think about salting in this kind of context, but I'm not sure anyone has the resources to launch a drive like that. And even if they do, didn't the Starbucks campaign in the states take like 5 years or so to get established? Now maybe I'm wrong, and you've been salting a retail industrial union for 9 months and it's not public, in which case fair play and I'm sure all anti-workfare types, even the liberals, would support this. But organising cold shops from a standing start with nobody on the inside just doesn't seem viable to me in the kind of timescale that workfare is vulnerable, i.e. while jobs are scarce (though with austerity pushed back to 2017, maybe there's time).

Also, I know it's not just retail, but have limited it to that for the sake of simplicity. There were 350 factory workers in Leicester, who were organised, sacked for going on strike and replaced with workfare. Like I say, I'm obviously not 'against' workers getting organised to fight workfare from the shop floor. I think it would be brilliant. I'm just not convinced it's really that viable (or "hard-headed"), and even if it is, there's no reason to stop doing stuff which has had a tangible impact.

Claimants unions
Again ignoring the fact that some of the groups you're criticising for not trying this, actually are (e.g. Liverpool SF), this seems to miss the point. A claimants union is quite likely to be just a group of unemployed/low wage lefties calling themselves a union. In other words, claimants unions only address the 'compositional' issue if they're able to draw in more people beyond the usual suspects, i.e. they face the exact same problem as pickets, or demonstrations, or worker-claimant activist groups or whatever. Again, I'm not 'against' the idea, it just doesn't seem like much of a breakthrough. Some groups are trying it, and if they have success then those lessons will be taken up and generalised.

There's also an issue here that claimant organising is very different to workplace organising. At work, you can build a committee strategically, there's a finite pool of people with whom you have some relationship (or at least, some pretext to talk to), you can pick who to bring on board at what stage and so on. With claimant organising, it's more or less a self-selecting group of people who turn up, if anyone turns up. And this is pretty important: signing on is really really atomised and depressing, by design. I would love to see this situation overcome by claimant organising, but claimants unions aren't really an answer imho, and put the cart before the horse (i.e. if we knew how to build combative claimants unions with lots of new people involved we'd also know how to organise pickets with lots of new people involved).

Claimants' centres
Once again, putting aside the fact that some of the groups you're criticising do have close links to unemployed centres (afaik ECAP and BBC both do, and both participate in Boycott Workfare Network stuff, and some SF locals have involvement too), I'm not sure this really helps. To my knowledge, said centres aren't hubs of claimant self-activity, but cater through casework and/or cheap/free meals for people who are in a pretty desparate situation. Now, public meetings in places like this might not be a bad idea, but it's not obvious that will attract big swathes of people, or that even if it did, that they'd be able to do much different to disruption in the sphere of circulation (whether blocking roads or shops or whatever - i.e. the only tactics available to those excluded from production.)

Standing outside Job Centres
One more time for a full house, this is something that people have done a lot of, with varying results. It was largely fruitless in Brighton, though I've heard more positive things from elsewhere and it might be worth trying again (if only to wind up job centre management).

~

So to summarise: you're basing your argument on conjecture about the organsing culture of groups you know little about, and offering 'alternatives' that said groups are either already engaged in, or have tried and abandoned as dead-ends. I hope that explains why this 'guys, stop everything you're doing! don't you know class struggle is hard and boring?' schtick comes over as really condescending (even if that's not the intention, which I'm sure it isn't).

I think the only sensible approach is trial and error, then when we find things that work, looking to generalise them. I think it would be really foolish to abandon tactics that are actually having a tangible impact on workfare in favour of any of the above (at least, until any of the above could take the lead). But by all means, if you've had any success doing any of the above, please share it, I'm sure you'll be pushing at an open door.

RedAndBlack
Dec 20 2012 16:48
Joseph Kay wrote:
RedAndBlack wrote:
"an organising culture premised principally on the initiation of “actions” and “campaigns” (what we would identify as “activism”)"

Ok, straight away there's a problem here: in focusing on organising culture, you're focussing on the internal dynamics of groups. Do you have any knowledge of any of these groups' culture?

That's not the definition in the article. If you return to my replies to your posts (or the article itself) you will see the correct definition:

Quote:
What, then, do we mean by “activism”? In simple terms, the idea of bringing together individuals on the basis of their shared ideological goals and beliefs who adopt specific disruptive strategies to pile public pressure (or otherwise “consciousness raise” – we will analyse this particular aspect in greater detail below) around a certain issue. The intention is that this activism will bring about some form of social or political change... There is a theoretical line of cause and effect, in short, between the action (a public picket) and the intended result (the employer’s withdrawal from workfare) irrespective of the internal composition of the action itself.

Once again it's not very helpful to produce lengthy responses to ideas that aren't actually put forward in the article.

Even so, what you have said is premised on the notion that the whole point was to criticise Solfed (or make some form of intervention within Solfed), it simply wasn't.

Joseph Kay wrote:
Can you clarify whether the problem is (1) circulation-based struggles per se, or (2) the 'composition' of them? Because you seem to be saying both, but they seem contradictory.

I think there are weaknesses in (1) that are often unacknowledged by community organisers because of the less perceptive way that capitalist power is exercised in the sphere of circulation than in the workplace. There is also a clear difference between a movement built around, for example, service-users and one built on "consumer power". I think in terms of composition the point was less that they have to be workers, more that they should represent a genuine community mobilised around an issue (part of the problem you have pointed to in terms of claimants unions).

But I don't think either one of these form the core of what we are saying. Our case is more simply that it's better to judge things in terms of the immediate effects that they are able to produce in the areas in which actions is taken. Do they produce sustainable models of organisation and/or steps towards bigger movements for the "targets" of those actions?

On a more general basis I'm not really sure I quite understand the recurring objections that the organisations we want will take a long time to build. What is behind this? Because I think fundamentally workfare isn't going to brought down by a few withdrawals from the programme by some participants in the scheme. It's going to require a change in government policy and that means building mass support against both it, and austerity more generally. Yes workfare is moving quickly but so is every other austerity driven policy the government has brought in. All the cuts are coming in at brake-neck speed. Given that the libertarian movement in this country is tiny and hasn't had a perceivable impact on labour struggles in recent history isn't it about time we started to get in it for the long-term?

Joseph Kay
Dec 20 2012 16:44
RedAndBlack wrote:
What, then, do we mean by “activism”? In simple terms, the idea of bringing together individuals on the basis of their shared ideological goals and beliefs who adopt specific disruptive strategies...

Show me a non-ideological goal and I'll show you pure ideology. By this definition, any people coming together to oppose workfare are therefore activists. And indeed, and worker striking for the living wage are activists. Now this is presumably where 'composition' comes in, but it seems like an arbitrary demarcation of legit 'non-ideological' participants and 'activist' 'ideological' ones.

RedAndBlack
Dec 20 2012 16:56
Joseph Kay wrote:
RedAndBlack wrote:
What, then, do we mean by “activism”? In simple terms, the idea of bringing together individuals on the basis of their shared ideological goals and beliefs who adopt specific disruptive strategies...

Show me a non-ideological goal and I'll show you pure ideology. By this definition, any people coming together to oppose workfare are therefore activists. And indeed, and worker striking for the living wage are activists. Now this is presumably where 'composition' comes in, but it seems like an arbitrary demarcation of legit 'non-ideological' participants and 'activist' 'ideological' ones.

I'm not really sure how many times it is possible to point to the same passage. What you have said above is not in line with the definition as given in the article:

Quote:
The intention is that this activism will bring about some form of social or political change. Undoubtedly certain aspects of “activism” will be part of and naturally arise within the alternative perspective we later identify – that of movement-building – and it is not our purpose to write off these as tactics completely. Rather we identify activism as problematic, in itself, because it is principally the basis in which social change is seen to be effected. It is the activist and their practice of activism – whether it is a public protest outside a store, chaining oneself to the gates or a sit-down in the manager’s office – that are seen as having the transformative role. There is a theoretical line of cause and effect, in short, between the action (a public picket) and the intended result (the employer’s withdrawal from workfare) irrespective of the internal composition of the action itself.

If that isn't clear the issue is about how our transformative capacity is understood within our conception of activism > as a group of activists (irrespective of who they are), practising activism. This is distinct from workers utilising their power of transformation as a result of their productive/reproductive role within capitalism.

Cooked
Dec 20 2012 22:35
Quote:
class struggle is long, boring and hard work

Unfortunately this doesn't sound all that great...

As has been mentioned a few times in this thread already the tiny numbers of militants makes lots of ambitious and 'correct' action impossible or difficult. Peoples lives are already full of "long, boring and hard work" and you have to be able to show some serious wins for people beyond the tiny (to small and mostly insane?) core to spend their energy on it. This makes for a difficult equation.

boring hard work => not enough people => no wins

Might it not then make strategic sense to go for some tiny 'victories' on the side? Perhaps just working away on that loooong term is bad strategy? Even better if class struggle could have elements of fun and passion and not that wierd put on lefty type fun.

A close relative of mine said about SAC (one of the most northern locals) that they have sound ideas but he can't stand the people as they are depressing to be around and they haven't got much fun going on. If this wasn't the case he would have been active. Peoples idea of fun does however vary greatly.

If you keep sharpening that stick to poke a hole in capitalism you'll end up sitting there with a stump.

Gotta run so I cant finish this but will post anyway..

Tom de Cleyre
Dec 20 2012 22:41
Quote:
If that isn't clear the issue is about how our transformative capacity is understood within our conception of activism > as a group of activists (irrespective of who they are), practising activism. This is distinct from workers utilising their power of transformation as a result of their productive/reproductive role within capitalism.

wtf?

gypsy
Dec 21 2012 12:53
Joseph Kay wrote:
I also want to comment a bit more on the 'alternatives':

Claimants unions
Again ignoring the fact that some of the groups you're criticising for not trying this, actually are (e.g. Liverpool SF), this seems to miss the point. A claimants union is quite likely to be just a group of unemployed/low wage lefties calling themselves a union. In other words, claimants unions only address the 'compositional' issue if they're able to draw in more people beyond the usual suspects, i.e. they face the exact same problem as pickets, or demonstrations, or worker-claimant activist groups or whatever. Again, I'm not 'against' the idea, it just doesn't seem like much of a breakthrough. Some groups are trying it, and if they have success then those lessons will be taken up and generalised.

There's also an issue here that claimant organising is very different to workplace organising. At work, you can build a committee strategically, there's a finite pool of people with whom you have some relationship (or at least, some pretext to talk to), you can pick who to bring on board at what stage and so on. With claimant organising, it's more or less a self-selecting group of people who turn up, if anyone turns up. And this is pretty important: signing on is really really atomised and depressing, by design. I would love to see this situation overcome by claimant organising, but claimants unions aren't really an answer imho, and put the cart before the horse (i.e. if we knew how to build combative claimants unions with lots of new people involved we'd also know how to organise pickets with lots of new people involved).
.

So you are not against it but they are not the answer? What is then? When organising claimants?

I go along the simple idea of trying to organise where you are. Since I am unemployed I will try to organise with the reserve army of labour who I am signing on alongside. And as you say since signing on is such an atomised and depressive it is imperative we try to make it a more collective issue-even if a claimants union is not successful it is always worth fighting the draconian practices and at times advisors at the jobcentre. Are you saying we should not do anything?

If I get a job I will try to organise with my co-workers. Btw with this thread I think both SF,IWW and CA have made some valid points and criticisms, ego's get in the way as usual. Remember to put your class above your organisation everytime. Merry winterval everyone.

Refused
Dec 21 2012 18:55
RedAndBlack wrote:
On a more general basis I'm not really sure I quite understand the recurring objections that the organisations we want will take a long time to build. What is behind this?

LOL

This an absolutely bizarre interpretation of the comments you've received.