The CNT and the IWA, part 2: The crisis in the IWA as seen from the CNT

The CNT and the IWA, part 2: The crisis in the IWA as seen from the CNT

A map showing the IWA's presence in Europe. The sections which favor the refoundation proposal are in green, while those who are opposed or undecided are in red.
A map showing the IWA's presence in Europe. The sections which favor the refoundation proposal are in green, while those who are opposed or undecided are in red.

Continued from Part 1. Originally written by RABIOSO. Translated by Lifelong Wobbly.


Back to the beginning: From the CNT to the IWA

Historically, the IWA never played a relevant role in the history of the workers movement; the only exception, perhaps, was the Spanish Revolution of 1936, in which the CNT played a key role. After its defeat,  the rise of fascism and the second world war brought about the destruction of all of the other sections except one, the Swedish SAC, thanks to Sweden’s neutrality during the war. At first, the SAC stayed true to anarcho-syndicalist principles while the Swedish welfare state was under construction. The loss of members, and a fear of ending up totally marginalized, led the organization to embark on a 180 degree change at its 1942 Congress, in the middle of the war. It formed a part of the machinery of the Swedish welfare state, which supported it financially.

The first step was to accept a role in distributing unemployment funds, like the other unions. They created a fund for this purpose, with the generous  help of the State, which also generously supported the payments. This collaboration, apparently innocuous, has degenerated to the level where they accept police as members and have created a caste of functionaries. A good example of this is Arbetaren, the SAC’s organ, with a distribution of 3,500, which until 2010 had no less than 10 editors on a union salary, thanks to state subsidies, and which ended up criticizing some of the SAC’s own struggles for being  “radical.” To be fair, we should also mention that at its 2009 Congress the SAC radicalized its strategy, but not all the way: the majority of the organization still voted against a ban on cops.

In 1951, the IWA held its 7th Congress, the first after the start of WW2 (the last had been in 1938). At this congress they denounced the SAC’s activities. In 1956, the SAC ceased paying its contributions to the IWA, and in 1959 decided to leave the IWA after an internal referendum. Thus the IWA lost the last union worthy of the name, and became nothing more than a federation of miniscule propaganda groups scattered across the globe, without even the most basic workplace presence. The hardest years of the Cold War were a period of “wandering in the desert” for the anarcho-syndicalist movement, which also suffered various internal splits in the CNT-in-exile, its largest section by far.

The situation changed completely in the 70’s. The economic crisis and the CNT’s resurrection in 1976 cleared the path for the creation of new anarcho-syndicalist organizations: the German FAU, heir of the FAUD, founded in 1976; the Direct Action Movement in the UK (now Solidarity Federation), created in 1979; in 1983 the re-activated USI, the historical Italian section, organized its first congress; and at the end of the 80’s the French CNT-F had its first successes at building a workplace presence. Unfortunately, in a repetition of the myth of Sisyphus, the new organizations suffered similar problems to the ones that the CNT was just beginning to recover from.

A map showing the IWA membership in 20's.
[i]The IWA in the 20's, the swan song of a movement that would soon become history due to internal conflicts and the rise of fascism and bolshevism.


Return to the workplace, and the internal crises of the CNT-F and USI

First came the French CNT, at the start of the 90’s. After successfully starting a branch at COMATEC, a company involved in cleaning the Paris metro, and winning a strike, the CNT-F participated in the union elections in 1991. They did the same in STES, another workplace where they had created a strong branch. The participation in union elections in Paris and its consequences (subsidies, privileges for a caste of functionaries, etc) led to strong tensions in the heart of the organization, which finally split in November of 1992.

The CNT-F split into the CNT-F/Vignoles (Paris), created in a Congress of February 1993 and favoring participation in union elections; and the CNT-F/Burdeos, created in a Congress of 1993, opposed to participation. The division was stark: while Paris had the majority of the members of the old CNT-F, the majority of the branches went over to Burdeos, reproducing France’s structure, with Paris rising high above the rest of the country.

The biggest consequence of the CNT-F’s rupture was a change to the IWA statutes, eliminating the possibility of having two sections in the same country. This was the first change to the statutes since 1922, which says a lot about the organization’s lack of contact with reality for decades. Finally, the XX IWA Congress (Madrid, 1996) decided to expel Vignoles, and Burdeos became the French section. As far as the union elections go, despite assurances from Vignoles that these were exceptional measures, their 2008 Congress decided to make them one of their main tactics for workplace organizing.

Just as the French section had split over questions of organizing strategy, a similar conflict was brewing in Italy. Once again, the context was the beginning of real industrial activity and the need to define a valid strategy for workplace organizing. And once again, as in Spain and then in France, the debate centered around organizing strategy. In the USI’s case, the discussion centered around relations with other Italian rank-and-file unions, especially the COBAS (Rank-and-File Committees).

In the early ’90’s, after it had succeeded in becoming a real union, a conflict developed between its three wings (pure unionist, anarchist, and anarcho-syndicalist). The first conflict was with the anarchist wing, which left the organization in the mid-‘90’s after a Congress in Prato Cárnico (Udine). After this  a conflict between the two remaining groups developed around how to interpret an agreement made in 1993 about collaborating with other rank-and-file unions. In February of 1995, the majority of participants at a delegate meeting in Bari approved the establishment of “a federative pact with other unions.” The pure unionist sector (centered in Rome) saw this as a green light for fusing with other groups, which would have led to the dissolution of the USI.

When they realized what the pure unionists were planning, the coordinating bodies and the anarcho-syndicalists convoked another delegate meeting, this time in Milan, which reversed the previous agreement. This was the start of an open conflict between the two sections, which chose different paths. The pure unionists of USI-Rome didn’t take long to show signs of authoritarianism, with the same people remaining in coordinating positions, and they didn’t see any problems working with the fascist union HISNAL. Worse still, they refused to stop calling themselves USI-AIT, leading to confusion which they took advantage of to sabotage any strikes from the anarcho-syndicalist side. Italian law requires unions to communicate strikes to the government if they are to be valid – every time the anarcho-syndicalists called a strike, the pure unionists sent a letter to the government calling it off. At the same time, in 1995 the anarcho-syndicalists reunited with the anarchists who had recently left, and this unified group began calling itself USI-Prato Cárnico or just simply USI-AIT.

The conflicts in the CNT-F and the USI reached their high point in 1995-1996, which made the 1996 IWA Congress fundamental to the future of the organization. Both conflicts were resolved internally by the USI-Rome leaving voluntarily, and by recognizing the CNT-F/Burdeos as the French section. Sadly, the Congress took place in a very emotionally charged atmosphere. This marked the future of the IWA, which began a stage marked by conflicts and internal struggles.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentices

The 1996 Congress, which should have been the start of the IWA’s resurrection, ended up as the starting point for a hellish internal dynamic, and the CNT played a key role. The first step had been taken in the 1984 IWA Congress (Madrid), which approved a motion brought by the CNT – which had just suffered its worst-ever split – that prohibited the IWA sections from having any contact with the SAC. This was because SAC had given financial support to the split group (the future CGT).[ii] The agreement prohibited any “official” contacts, but permitted “unofficial” contacts, opening a dangerous space for interpretation.

The important thing about this agreement is the mental state which it reflects. After suffering splits in its biggest sections, the IWA ended up trusting nobody, like a wounded animal. Trust, the basis of federalism, was replaced by surveillance over member sections and the threat of punishment whenever it seemed useful. An agreement made in the following Congress (Granada, 2000) extended this logic by prohibiting sections from maintaining contacts with organizations in other countries without the approval of the local section, a logic that was more feudal than federal, and which would have important consequences. One important detail to remember is that this agreement was proposed by the NSF, the Norwegian section, which has no workplace presence.

Another important change that began in the 1996 Congress is that “Friends of the IWA” groups, which until then had only been able to participate in meetings by expressing their opinion, began to submit proposals and participate in voting. These groups, dedicated to propaganda and without any union activity, are tend to more dogmatic postures due to their lack of workplace presence. They have a similar mentality to their twins, organizations without union activity but which have nevertheless managed to become members of the IWA, as well as the sections which in the past were real unions but which today are mere fossils without any workplace presence.

Since the IWA makes decisions through voting, and each section has one vote, these phantom unions and groups, closer to the past and the history books than to the reality of workplace struggles, dominate the decision making in practice.

After the crises of the USI and the CNT-F, the ‘90’s saw several other truly surrealist events. One of these was the crisis in the WSA, the section in the US, in which a new local section (Minnesota), created in 1999, dedicated itself to expelling the “lifelong” members, changing the name of the organization and, finally, leaving the IWA at the start of 2002, complaining about its “lack of solidarity,” disappearing shortly thereafter.[iii] After it left, the old members of the IWA in the US reorganized as the WSA and asked to be recognized as a section, which the IWA Secretariat (in Granada) refused. They were then rejected at the IWA congress in 2004, despite the support of the FAU and the USI.

A similar event happened with the Czech section, admitted in the 1996 Congress. Despite its name (Anarcho-syndicalist Federation - FSA), this section was more of an anarchist federation than an anarcho-syndicalist union, as the USI complained in 2005. The FSA focused on attacking the USI and the FAU, two of the biggest IWA sections, while it lacked even the most basic workplace activity. In its 2004 Congress the FSA changed its name to reflect reality, becoming the Federation of Anarchist Groups, and finally in 2007 it voluntarily left the IWA.


Against the USI and the FAU

After the splits in the CNT-F and the USI, a witch hunt broke out inside the IWA. One of its victims was the USI, thanks to its participation in a union representation body (the RSU – Reppresentazione Sindicale Unitaria). After 2002, this became a chief topic in IWA discussions, and there was a growing clamor to expel the USI in the name of a supposed “orthodoxy.”  The fact that the Russian and Czech sections were most vocal for expulsion, while having no workplace presence, led the USI in 2005 to denounce the disastrous consequences of accepting anarchist groups as IWA sections. The discussion about the USI’s participation in the RSU ended after the Manchester Congress (2006), where the majority accepted that it was in line with the IWA statutes. Around this time, the Czech FSA abandoned the organization and became the anarchist federation that it had always been.

The FAU, which had opposed the separatist and emotional dynamic from the start, quickly became the punching bag. It refused to see the IWA become a mere forum for debate, without any contact with social struggles, and so it confronted the sterile line promoted by groups without any union activity. At the same time, it never ceased to defend its freedom of action as an organization, rejecting the paranoid line that preferred to see reformist conspiracies against the IWA in every corner. It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, that the most orthodox sector saw the FAU as its main enemy to beat on.

The Spanish section played a shameful role in all of this during José Luis Garcia Rua’s mandate as the IWA general secretary (a post which he’d also held for the CNT).[iv] It was the CNT which asked for the FAU’s expulsion, and due to the CNT’s pressure an agreement was reached giving the secretary executive powers to expel the FAU for the slightest infractions. The supposed conspiracies to create “parallel internationals” have all turned out in time to be hallucinations, divorced from reality, but the agreements preventing sections from working with other groups are still hanging like the sword of Damocles.

For its part, the FAU began discussing whether it would even remain in the IWA after the 1996 Congress. However, the two referendums on the subject (in 2001 and 2005) didn’t reach the majority that the statutes required. The second and last of these took place after the Granada Congress in 2004, which gave the IWA secretary the right to expel the FAU. Although the majority were in favor of leaving, some well-respected members (in Hamburg) announced that they would leave the FAU if that happened, which ended up tipping the scale to stay.

Beginning of the end for a dark age? Participants in the FAU Congress of May 2016, which applauded (textually) the CNT and USI's initiative to refound the IWA.
Beginning of the end for a dark age? Participants in the FAU Congress of May 2016, which applauded (textually) the CNT and USI's initiative to refound the IWA.


Beginning of the end, or end of the beginning?

It’s one of those ironies of history that the CNT is now confronting the IWA over the application of the 2004 agreement – which the CNT had proposed – allowing the secretary to expel the FAU. The current secretariat, in the hands of a miniscule and recently created section that is opposed to the FAU, has decided to use the executive power that it never would have had if the IWA had remained true to federalist principles.

Of course, this isn’t the only reason – this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. There are others: the Polish secretariat refuses to give access to the bank accounts and email to the sub-secretariat named at the last IWA Congress (in Lisbon), which is in the CNT and has been waiting for over a year; the secretariat allowed groups which had been de-federated from the CNT to participate in that same Congress; and the secretariat is demanding that the CNT pay its contributions (which represent 80% of the IWA’s budget) immediately, when it has asked for more time due to having an unexpected bill for 500,000 euros related to an accident.[v]

However, the main reason for the radical change in the CNT’s posture is the internal change since the Cordoba Congress, which put an end to the power of the pseudo-unions. It was logical for the CNT to propose the same in the IWA, but failure was inevitable due to the power of the pseudo-sections: 30 in Poland, 15 in Serbia, 10 in Slovakia, 5 in Russia… with one vote each, the same as the entire CNT. Recognizing that the IWA as it is currently configured is a failed project, the CNT has launched a project to reorganize it, which was immediately supported by the USI and applauded by the FAU. If the only real section left – SolFed in the UK – decides to support this project, the current IWA would become an empty shell in the hands of the Polish ZSP, centered in Eastern Europe, dedicated to promoting splits, as the current secretary is already doing with the CNT.[vi]

[i] I met some members of the “radical” section of the SAC around 2007 and this fits with what they said at the same time. They even had a newspaper called Motarbetaren, “The un-worker”, which was named both as a critique of work and a jab at the paper. More information on the SAC’s “radical” wing can be found here. The Twin Cities IWW also hosted a talk from a long-time SAC member in 2013, who confirmed these problems as well as the SAC’s trajectory of recovering its radical traditions. This and all other endnotes are by the translator.

[ii] I have heard that the SAC at the time offered financial support to both sides, but only the split group accepted it.

[iii] There is a large IWW presence in Minnesota, but as far as I know, nobody has ever come across the people behind this. A great example of a “phantom union.”

[iv] Garcia Rua is sometimes called “the lion of Granada” for his machinations in defense of “orthodoxy” and his viciousness. His protégés are among the tiny group calling the current CNT “reformist” and which may try to split (with the encouragement of the IWA secretary).

[v] The accident happened at the run-down hall of one of the pseudo-unions, who did not insure it because they were too anarchist. The liability ended up falling on the CNT as a whole. This pseudo-union is now part of the “orthodox” group that calls the current CNT “reformist.”

[vi] The IWA held a Congress on the weekend after the Bilbao meeting. The press release already speaks of trying to start new groups in Spain, Italy, and Germany, and states that at the next Congress “the CNT-AIT will be represented by those continuing in its legacy.” [Note: an earlier version of this footnote referred to a vote, but was based on unconfirmed information. This footnote has been edited to reflect that.]

Comments

Rob Ray
Dec 20 2016 16:51
Quote:
Did SolFed vote in favor?

SF debated it at conference but has come to no firm conclusions on the matter and no-one actually put forward anything to vote on afaik. We're de facto still in the IWA, but not through any particular support of ZSP's position.

This isn't an official view, but if I were to characterise the current mood it would err on the side of people preferring to deal with domestic issues and thinking that this has been badly handled all round.

Felix Frost
Dec 21 2016 03:20

I can hardly disagree with the sentiment that this has been badly handled all round.

As far as this article goes, I would agree that it has a number of inaccuracies, and I didn't particularly like the tone of it either, but it's a bit over the top to start complaining about defamation. It's hardly any more defamatory than the countless angry comments that's been thrown back and forth by both sides in the forum threads about this issue here on Libcom. I think everyone involved could use to chill out a bit, and then get back to building their respective organisations, instead of having flame wars on the internet.

Anyway, for those of you who are keeping track of these things, you could add to the list of inaccuracies the membership number given for the NSF in 1922. As far as I know, this was max 3.000, not 20.000 as given in the illustration to the article.

drakeberkman
Dec 21 2016 04:14
akai wrote:
OK, now at least we know the source of the disinformation and, no suprise. The translator, like others on this forum, refer to a forum which is in effect functioning as a propaganda machine and a post written by somebody who was not at the Congress instead of people who were there. (BTW, l cannot publish there because they deleted my user account twice. But l wouldn't want to, since it is a trashier thing than Libcom.)

Two people who were at the Congress tell you it is FALSE information and anybody in the lWA can confirm.

Also, lWA didn't lose 85% of its affiliation, except formally and probably temporarily there is no Section in Spain. But go on believing trolls on ALB ...

akai you're kinda like the Donald Trump of the IWA

akai
Dec 21 2016 13:05

Actually, Felix, probably there are a lot of big mistakes in that map with the numbers. You are correct that the NSF's numbers are wrong and, actually, numbers that l have for NSF are probably among the most reliable for all the lWA at that time since we see 62 local organizations, approx. 3100 members. So thanks for the correction.

l don't want to get too much into that question about the historical numbers since there are wildly different numbers given in source information l have seen. This includes the internal documentation of the lWA in the 1920s, the documentation of the Comintern (because both USl and CNT had their contact with that), the BlSRl bulletin, etc. For example, the bulletin produced after the June conference that preceded the lWA foundation recorded that USl claimed 200,000 members. There were also wildly different numbers for others. And we can take into account that NAS actually split because a majority voted to go to the Comintern instead of lWA. So the pro-lWA faction started NSV and were at their Congress in 1923 8000 people.

lt actually is very hard to change information like this once it gets put out on the internet like this. People will just copy the graphs with wrong information.

But as l said, with some organizations, like CNT, there is wildly different information, especially between the internal lWA documentation and what gets published. l would dare to assume that these numbers, in the case of some larger organizations, were only rough estimates anyway.

l for one agree that it really is best for people to now go about their respective business instead of engaging in dragging out conflicts on the internet. The place to resolve issues are in the respective organizations. However, we unfortunately also have some vicious circle going on, which is a product of the age we live on and the problems of information in this age. lf you have noticed, the disseminator of this article, Oliver, has added to it, insisting on taking on the job of "informing" the world of issues such as lWA votes on particular questions. He defends his method of gathering information, which was listening to a rumor spread by an anonymous person on the internet, who is not in the lWA. When two people who actually are from it, and were at the Congress (including one who recorded the votes and one who sent out the records) say that they are wrong, he defends not changing it by claiming that the remark was on a forum for a few days, and nobody there corrected it.

This is where we can see a real problem. First, the real foolishness of the situation. The fact that people like Oliver spread these things, means l have to waste time to come here and correct it. And if l don't, he (and people who act in the same way) would claim that l (or nobody) did not correct things. When l say it's wrong, he still doesn't eliminate the mistakes, supposing that an anonymous person not in the lWA and not having the information is more reliable than the people actually in lWA.

Nota bene, it's not my job to provide information on internal procedures and voting to people outside the lWA just because they want to use this information for their own purposes. My job was to convey send the list of votes to the membership, which was done a few days ago. Unless some delegates took complete lists of the voting themselves and distributed a report before we did, the membership received this information only a few days ago and thus, even if there were members on that forum, they wouldn't have been in any position to correct the information. And hopefully all understand that it is only the business of each Section if they want to publically say how they voted on any issue or not.

l hope that this is clear and that actually people (especially the two outside agitators putting these topics on Libcom), will stop trying to steer discussion on other people's organization, or create its history, or to misinform people about its decisions or publically speculate about this.

OliverTwister
Dec 21 2016 13:38

The author of the articles is a CNT member, who was also in the IWA at the time the articles were written. Does translation now count as "outside agitation"?

You and MT have posted on here hundreds of times about this topic. I have posted less than 5 times on the topic, prior to putting up these translations. There are basically no fluent English speakers who have been able to present the perspective of CNT members on how and why they arrived at this situation and took the steps they did. This article seemed to me like a good representation of that perspective, so I translated it to make it available for non-Spanish speakers.

Also, on the subject of misinformation about other organizations:

Quote:
Simple example: in lWW, your union doesn't pay the dues, it is not in good standing and effectively out. l believe the officers of lWW decide it.

Anyone in the IWW would know that this is nonsense, and totally unrelated to how things work.

akai
Dec 21 2016 14:11

The official text of the CNT actually started the whole discussion on Libcom and was at least written by an elected representative. Further, there have been enough CNT members here participating. But, all clear.

l don't mean to make false statements, so if l am incorrect, l will stand corrected. Used to be more or less that way that charters were given and taken away in accordance with the bylaws. lf it is different in lWW, my apologies, l shouldn't have used it as an example. But the point still stands and that was that in many, if not most, organizations it is normal that members deciding not to pay membership fees are not considered members anymore. Do not know how things have evolved in the lWW, but used to be that individual members who don't pay lose their voting rights (essentially their membership rights) after a couple of months and affiliated organizations too.

OliverTwister
Dec 21 2016 15:53

I've edited the footnote in question on both Libcom and the original blog.

MT
Dec 21 2016 18:16

It is nice that you edited the footnotes. So what about consciously spreading dozens of incorrect information in the original text? Oh, CNT member wrote it, so the lies are worth it... Let's see what comes next.

Lugius
Dec 22 2016 13:35

Ragnar wrote:

Quote:
akai said:
"Also, lWA didn't lose 85% of its affiliation, except formally and probably temporarily there is no Section in Spain. But go on believing trolls on ALB .."
true, is more, maybe 90%:

A) CNT 6000, FAU 800, USI 1000.Total 7800.

B) SP 50, ZSP 200, SF 250, KRAS 5, ASI 15, NSF 10, ASF 30, PA 10, COB 30, FORA 100, CNTF 30. Total 730 and i´m so generous.

Before AIT/IWA was: 8530. The 90% of this one is 7677 and 95% is 8103.

Surely expelling to the FORA by participated in the Conference of Barakaldo and as soon as finished the process of the new international (that not is called AIT/IWA) any section more is will go. Also that the Spanish proAIT not exceed the 300...

The figure you give for the ASF is does reach even 50% of the actual total. Your figures are either out of date or you're making them up. I love mathematics.

I'll take your figures and render them on a per capita basis by population of country measured in cm/P where cm = claimed number of members (your figures) and P - population in millions (using 'countries by population on wikipedia)

A) CNT 128, FAU 10, USI 17 - 7800 out of 189.6 million

B) SP 5, ZSP 5, SF 4, KRAS <1, ASI 2, NSF 2, ASF 1, PA 2, COB <1, FORA 2, CNTF <1
- 730 out of 620.2 million

So using your figures (which we have already established are inaccurate) and rendering them on a per capita basis it looks even worse. The Exiter sections average about 41 per million compared to the remaining IWA sections of about 1. But if you look at the total population of the countries represented, the potential is three times greater than the Exiter countries. The number of countries represented by IWA sections is 11, the Exiters represent only three.

So as an 'International' the Exiters fail to make their case as they are confined to a small part of the world. The IWA is far more 'International' and spread across a much greater area.

If you applied this to the IWW, who claim to be 'of the world' the per capita figure would be <1.

What a joke these numbers are! Every one of these organisations are tiny in relative terms. They are important to the Exiters as they are desperate for some justification for their claim to 're-found' the IWA or, if you will, create another 'international'. A csae for which they have failed to make.

But as you have guessed some numbers, allow me to do the same based on what I understand - my guess is as good as yours.

A) CNT 2500*, FAU 600, USI 900.Total 4000.

B) SP 50, ZSP 200, SF 250, KRAS 5, ASI 15, NSF 10, ASF 65, PA 10, COB 30, FORA 100, CNTF 30. Total 755

Ratio: your figures - 7800/730 (10.7 to 1) my figures 4000/755 (5.3 to 1)

So in the absence of any verifiable proof it is all mere speculation. Does might make right?

*this figure is for the CNT, not CNT-AIT.

Lugius
Dec 22 2016 04:04

It's also worth noting that this article doesn't acknowledge the ASF at all nor does it mention the RRU, the now-defunct Japanese section of the IWA. This is further evidence of the Eurocentrism of the CNT. It mirrors the Anglocentrism of the IWW. International much?

Here is a list of the top ten countries in the world by population (in millions);

1. China 1,381
2. India 1,310
3. USA 325
4. Indonesia 261
5. Brazil 207
6. Pakistan 195
7. Nigeria 187
8. Bangladesh 162
9. Russia 147
10. Japan 127

6 out of 10 are in Asia, only one in Europe.

Lugius
Dec 22 2016 06:32
Quote:
It’s one of those ironies of history that the CNT is now confronting the IWA over the application of the 2004 agreement – which the CNT had proposed – allowing the secretary to expel the FAU. The current secretariat, in the hands of a miniscule and recently created section that is opposed to the FAU, has decided to use the executive power that it never would have had if the IWA had remained true to federalist principles.

This is the greatest lie of this article. It effectively blames the current IWA Secretariat for all the gross abuses of process that the CNT were responsible for. Rather than take responsibility for all the 'crimes' that were perpetrated by the CNT, sorting out the mess they are responsible for, the author conveniently blames the 'Lion of Alambara', a single individual. The 'Lion' was put in that position by the CNT.

The current IWA Secretariat had no choice but to follow the decisions of the IWA Congress as all Congress decisions are binding on all member sections. The author blames the current IWA Secretariat for the exercise of 'executive power' that the CNT attempted to arrogate to itself from 1996. Where was the FAU and the USI then? They went along with it.

At the 1999 Toulouse Plenary, the documents that had already been submitted to the investigation of the ASF mandated by the 1996 Congress were handed directly to the 'Lion' in full view of the FAU and USI delegates whereupon the 'Lion' promised to have them copied and distributed. This didn't happen and the documents were not distributed without the slightest protest from either the FAU or the USI. When are they going to take some responsibility?

At the 2000 Congress, the so-called 'AIT Minnesota' mocked the Bengali garment workers as a 'canoe-paddlers union', the FAU and the USI and every other section sat there and said nothing - much whiteness?

Quote:
However, the main reason for the radical change in the CNT’s posture is the internal change since the Cordoba Congress, which put an end to the power of the pseudo-unions. It was logical for the CNT to propose the same in the IWA, but failure was inevitable due to the power of the pseudo-sections: 30 in Poland, 15 in Serbia, 10 in Slovakia, 5 in Russia… with one vote each, the same as the entire CNT. Recognizing that the IWA as it is currently configured is a failed project, the CNT has launched a project to reorganize it, which was immediately supported by the USI and applauded by the FAU. If the only real section left – SolFed in the UK – decides to support this project, the current IWA would become an empty shell in the hands of the Polish ZSP, centered in Eastern Europe, dedicated to promoting splits, as the current secretary is already doing with the CNT.

Here the big oak trees are complaining the acorns are not big oak trees. The very same CNT, FAU and USI that participated in the Congress decisions to admit these new sections now complain they have the vote. The very same CNT, FAU and USI that complain of the 'executive power' of the current IWA Secretariat now condone and approve of their own 'executive power' to 're-found' the IWA. By what right? By what mandate? Executive power, much?

The proposal to disenfranchise those sections by requiring a minimum number of members was put not once but twice; keep voting til you get it right. Then they initiative a process to recall the IWA Secretariat for no other reason than the IWA Secretariat would not do the bidding of the CNT. This too was rejected. At this point the CNT were free to leave the IWA as was the FAU and USI. Their only other choice was to try and work it out as was the case of the CNT-F and the case of the repeated breach of the agreements by the FAU. Instead they chose to arrogate to themselves the authority to 'refound' the IWA with a new voting system that would ensure the command and control of the CNT. This kind authoritarianism on the part of CNT/FAU/USI must be opposed on principle regardless of the rightness or wrongness of no contact with the SAC or any other issue.

The CNT were quite happy to enlist the help of 'pseudo-sections' like NSF and FSA to disenfranchise first the ASF and then the WSA. No problem then. There's two votes extinguished. But the moment the CNT felt it could no longer exercise its hegemony - major problem that apparently can only be resolved by creating a new international.

The real purpose of this new international is to consolidate the concentration of power in the hands of the CNT (they can hardly admit this) - how is this different in substance from the CNT under the stewardship of the 'Lion'?

The current IWA Secretariat, which includes the first ever woman to be responsible for the office of IWA Secretary, is the first to actually set foot in Asia for the purpose of raising the awareness of anarcho-syndicalism and the IWA in that part of the world. The same part of the world where the overwhelming majority of world's workers actually are. For this, the current IWA Secretariat was condemned by the USI for 'wasting the resources of the IWA'.

The Barakaldo conference made some glib reference to 'building bridges not walls' - with whom exactly? With those who will get on board with them and go along. You got 5,000 members? Wow! What a mass union!

If the CNT/FAU/USI want simply to leave the IWA and create their own international; go for it. No problem. At any rate, the XXVI Congress of the IWA have disaffiliated all three - what else could it do? The IWA can make a decision at the XXVII Congress to accept the applications from Spain and Germany in addition to those from other parts of the world.

It isn't the first time the IWA has suffered a setback before; heard of the Second World War? This is nothing from which the IWA can't recover. And recover it will.

The way is now clear for some real bridge-building and an opportunity to expand, first into Asia and then into Africa. Then can we talk of 'internationals'.

drakeberkman
Dec 22 2016 10:55

It's amazing.

I've made it perfectly clear to everyone that the IWA doesn't matter and that no one cares about them, then Lugius comes along and starts making the same assertion, even strengthening it with numbers and math, yet despite this, they persist on in their posts acting as though anyone cares...

Lugius
Dec 22 2016 13:38

Five Russian comrades are better than no Russian comrades. All the time every day and twice on Sundays.

OliverTwister
Dec 22 2016 13:51

Lugius, the COB claim to be the reincarnation of the American Continental Association of Workers*, with jurisdiction over all of the Americas. This seems to be part of why they were so upset that the CNT collaborated with the IWW in 2008 and also tried to make contacts in Cuba and Mexico around 2010.

So, if we are weighing "potential", why cut the COB short at just the 207 million who live in Brazil? They claim jurisdiction over all the Americas, so let's give them 1.002 billion. Let's even assume that the estimate of 30 members is too small, we'll multiply it by 5 to keep the same ratio. We'll say that they have 150 members in one country to organize a revolutionary labor movement among more than 1 billion people in dozens of countries, speaking many different languages. Good luck.

*For example, this youtube video claims to be from the COB-ACAT-AIT.

militant-proletarian
Dec 22 2016 20:28
Lugius wrote:

A) CNT 2500*
*this figure is for the CNT, not CNT-AIT.

So are you saying that the "true" CNT-AIT is about 3500 members? You'll be susprised when you learn that the defederated groups have plenty room to meet in a small office.

OliverTwister
Dec 22 2016 18:28
militant-proletarian wrote:
Lugius wrote:

A) CNT 2500*
*this figure is for the CNT, not CNT-AIT.

So are you telling that the "true" CNT-AIT is about 3500 members? You'll be susprised when you learn that the defederated groups have plenty room to meet in a small office.

Yes, but they have so much more potential to grow.

boozemonarchy
Dec 23 2016 12:36
drakeberkman wrote:
It's amazing.

I've made it perfectly clear to everyone that the IWA doesn't matter and that no one cares about them, then Lugius comes along and starts making the same assertion, even strengthening it with numbers and math, yet despite this, they persist on in their posts acting as though anyone cares...

Your 'no one cares' posts have by far been the worst thing on libcom lately in general and also the most childish argumentation to be seriously trotted out for folks to see in a wee bit. But it's not just that - your creepy persistence certainly indicates at least one person cares - like, an inappropriate level of caring. How about shoving the fuck off - would it be that bad to 'not care' somewhere else?

militant-proletarian
Dec 22 2016 20:59
OliverTwister wrote:
militant-proletarian wrote:
Lugius wrote:

A) CNT 2500*
*this figure is for the CNT, not CNT-AIT.

So are you saying that the "true" CNT-AIT is about 3500 members? You'll be susprised when you learn that the defederated groups have plenty room to meet in a small office.

Yes, but they have so much more potential to grow.

Yes, they have much more potential. Actually they've been using that potential to grow for 30 years. The problem of course is their true enemy, the evil CGT and thousands of reformists around, who are waiting for the key moment to attack and take CNT back. That's why these authentic visionary anarchists are so selective when a worker wants to join. He/she has to show he/she is a true revolutionary by passing an exam about "aims, tactics and principles" and "how much he/she hates the CGT and reformism". If they aren't worthy to become a member, it's not a problem: most of workers are conformist simple-minded and deserve what they have.

OliverTwister
Dec 23 2016 04:56

Remember the difference between true militants and mere affiliates!

Some of those workers probably forget they're even paying dues, and cede their power to the CNT's union bureaucracy.

syndicalist
Dec 23 2016 07:09

I gather we have reached the end of the discussion and conversation?

Ragnar
Dec 23 2016 11:36

Ok Akai, i gonna write exactly as your economic inform:

ZSP 122
SolFed 90
ASF 60
CNTf 54 (per two years not pay)
COB 41 (per two years not pay)
FORA in 2010-2013 are 30, later not pay in this two years.
NSF 19
SP 15 (per two years not pay)
KRAS 7
PA 7
ASI (pay 5$€ per year, chip) *i will put as 10 members

Total: 455 member for AIT

Why not join to IFA? sincerely

akai
Dec 23 2016 12:54

Dear Comrades (cause some are on here),
l know you some of you privately keep telling me to read the shit on Libcom, correct the lies, etc. etc. But this is pointless because this whole thread is started in order to spread bullshit and that's the only way it can proceed. So l do not feel like engaging with these people, especially some asswipe who is trying to censor people with obnoxious and, as it turns out, hyprocritical comments. The real discussions must be held elsewhere and not with these people so maybe, as l suggested some days ago, we need to concentrate on our stuff and fuck these people and this place.
There are no arguments that can break concrete, so why bother?

Ragnar
Dec 23 2016 13:08

Honestly, thanks Akai, because you know I'm not lying. And can this go somewhere productive? I do not think so, but if you still continue with the spiral of lies on the internet...
It is better if you stop attacking CNT and stop trying to create tares internally in my union or stop directing cnt´s driven out to go against CNT and break it as you could do in France.

akai
Dec 23 2016 13:19

Bullshit and more bullshit.

Sorry that your union is split but that ain't my fault.

And also sorry, but l guess your internal nightmare is just beginning. Of your own making.

Ragnar
Dec 23 2016 13:33

This is like when you hit someone and then you accuse the other of wanting to hit you. Sections of the AIT has been sticking to CNT and now complain...

Easy, "the internal nightmare" only makes us lose time, if they continue down that road as the SOV Madrid, they will finally be expelled without problem. Remember that they are marginal in CNT

Lugius
Dec 23 2016 22:15

Oliver Twister wrote:

Quote:
So, if we are weighing "potential", why cut the COB short at just the 207 million who live in Brazil? They claim jurisdiction over all the Americas, so let's give them 1.002 billion. Let's even assume that the estimate of 30 members is too small, we'll multiply it by 5 to keep the same ratio. We'll say that they have 150 members in one country to organize a revolutionary labor movement among more than 1 billion people in dozens of countries, speaking many different languages. Good luck.

Thank you for helping to illustrate my point; when you are dealing with such small numbers, assuming some authority on the basis of them is meaningless.

CNT/FAU/USI are attempting to base their authority to 'refound' the IWA on a greater magnitude of membership is no authority at all.

The question remains; what justifies the foundation of a new international? 'Greater numbers' should be excluded from the list of possible answers.

You can hardly cite 'building bridges not walls' when you set out to create a device (a figure chosen arbitrarily) to exclude.

If the IWA is 'too anarchist', then I'd be interested to know exactly why that is thought a problem.

All this talk of 95% this and 95% that is rubbish, in my view. Afterall, Mugabe gets 95% of the vote every time he runs for President.

Lugius
Dec 24 2016 01:48
Quote:
Yes, but they have so much more potential to grow.

Indeed. There has very little effort by the CNT or the FAU or the USI to grow anarcho-syndicalism beyond the Western Hemisphere that I can see.

One IWA affilaite that did make a serious effort was the WSA who reached out to workers in Nigeria and Bangladesh. Not only did they not receive any assistance from larger, better resourced affiliates like CNT/FAU/USI, they were mocked for it. They ought to have been commended for their efforts.

The current IWA Secretariat is the first to address this issue seriously which is one of many reasons why this Secretariat will go down in history as one of the best.

syndicalist
Dec 24 2016 02:26
Quote:
Lugius

One IWA affilaite that did make a serious effort was the WSA who reached out to workers in Nigeria and Bangladesh. Not only did they not receive any assistance from larger, better resourced affiliates ... they were mocked for it. They ought to have been commended for their efforts.

Thank you for recognizing the efforts.

robot
Dec 24 2016 05:15
Lugius wrote:
(...) One IWA affilaite that did make a serious effort was the WSA who reached out to workers in Nigeria and Bangladesh. Not only did they not receive any assistance from larger, better resourced affiliates like CNT/FAU/USI, they were mocked for it. (...)

Though I really did not want to interfere into this totally weired debate about the New Lügius Theorem on irrational numbers, this barefaced lie cannot be left uncommented.

When he is referring to Bangladesh in the context this “one IWA affiliate”, he is talking about the NGWF, a grass-root garment workers federation. The FAU has good relations with the NGWF for more than 20 years now. We did solidarity picketing for the garment workers over here more than once, we took part in campaigns, when the union and its members were menaced. They supported us when the Berlin FAU local union was banned by a courts decision. There are far more than two dozen articles about the Bangladeshi fellow workers on the FAU web site.

But not enough that Lügius tells us barefaced lies. What's more, he forgot about the fact, that a former FAU international secretary back in the 90th was mobed within the IWA because she dared to take part in a conference with unions and leftist organisations in Nepal upon invitation of the NGWF. As we can see it was not the FAU who mocked the fellow workers in the NGWF but Lügius new friends across the Alhambra and at the shores of the Levante, together with their allies in some sections of the IWA. Wasn't it the Lion of the Alhambra, who warned us, that the NGWF was of evil because it was supported by the SAC and about to be converted into the bridgehead of the Swedish nemesis for Asia with the help of “that woman” (his machist qualification of the then FAU international secretary not deserving a name)?

As for Nigeria–maybe Lügius just wants to take a look into the preface of Samuel Mbahs “African Anarchism” and look for the letters “FAU” in it. And if he likes to, I can propably share the information with him, who helped with the translation of that book into German. Or who was amongst the very few in the IWA that met with Samuel or sent protests messages once the Awareness League was menaced.

I don't know in which year Lügius started to be an anarcho-syndicalist activist with international ambitions, nor do I know his intentions for spreading those obvious lies. But even with all those different opinions and quarrels between us, this piece of crap he wrote is just mortifying and dishonorable.

syndicalist
Dec 24 2016 05:43

In terms of the FAU, I would agree with most of what Robot wrote in regards to supporting both the Awareness League and the NGWF. I do not want to weigh in on the other stuff.

That said, and for purely personal reasons (having done a shit load of work, including making initial contacts with AL, NGWF and even the Nepalese GEFONT), I am glad that WSA has finally gotten some recognition for that contribution. That it does not get buried.