AF and nefac

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knightrose
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Dec 7 2006 19:16

Maybe it's just my way of looking at it. I suspect there are quite a number of different views. But I can't really see 200 wobs challenging the TUC.

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madashell
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Dec 7 2006 19:50
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
Are we still talking about Wayne? I dunno, is his soft reading of our position on, say, national liberation really that much different than an AF member who goes off and joins a syndicalist outfit like the IWW? When it comes down to it Wayne is pretty clear that he does not support the ideology of national liberation movements. I would say it is his interpretation of the next line of that position point -- we support working class struggles against political and economic imperialism, racism, genocide and colonization -- where some of our other members might disagree with him. So, does that constitute a break with the organization? I wouldn't think any more so than AFers who are agree with a basic criticism of syndicalism becoming card-carrying wobblies.

First of all, this isn't some sectarian attack on NEFAC, really, I just wanted to clarify that there are (to my knowledge) no AF members who don't agree with our A+Ps. I don't know enough about Wayne, NEFAC or exactly what his views are on national liberation to make any serious comment. So are you saying that this guy doesn't actually disagree with NEFAC's A+Ps?

And if the IWW only allowed syndicalists to join, then they'd be even tinier than they are now.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 7 2006 20:02
madashell wrote:
And if the IWW only allowed syndicalists to join, then they'd be even tinier than they are now.

I wasn't taking issue with the political composition of the membership. I was taking issue with the actual stated objectives of the group, which I believe to be more of a roadblock than a positive step forward for the development of broad-based syndicalist tendencies.

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madashell
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Dec 7 2006 20:06
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
I wasn't taking issue with the political composition of the membership. I was taking issue with the actual stated objectives of the group, which I believe to be more of a roadblock than a positive step forward for the development of broad-based syndicalist tendencies.

I was just trying to make the point that there's no reason you can't agree wit the AF's A+Ps and be a wob.

As it happens, I think you have a valid point. I'm deeply sceptical of the future prospects of the IWW.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 7 2006 20:22
madashell wrote:
Smash Rich Bastards wrote:
I wasn't taking issue with the political composition of the membership. I was taking issue with the actual stated objectives of the group, which I believe to be more of a roadblock than a positive step forward for the development of broad-based syndicalist tendencies.

I was just trying to make the point that there's no reason you can't agree wit the AF's A+Ps and be a wob.

As it happens, I think you have a valid point. I'm deeply sceptical of the future prospects of the IWW.

Hmm... I think we may be talking past each other a bit, and generally in agreement here. I was just trying to make a point that some of the positions held by each of our respective groups are somewhat vague and open for interpretation.

This whole debate started when you said: [...]for a platformist organisation like NEFAC, having a member who doesn't even fully agree with their A+Ps is really fucking odd.

I was arguing that this was not the case, or at least not any more so than someone from your group joining the IWW (ie, its more a case of differing interpretation of specifics rather than disagreement with the fundamentals of the position).

knightrose
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Dec 7 2006 20:29

Isn't it much nicer now we're being friendly? smile

Seriously, I'm guilty of plenty of sniping, but really it serves no useful purpose.

I'd be interested to develop the discussion on organising at work more though.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 7 2006 20:34
knightrose wrote:
Isn't it much nicer now we're being friendly? :)

liberal. wink

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Tacks
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Dec 7 2006 21:07

different fred G.

knightrose
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Dec 7 2006 21:18

Vague? You picked on two of them only. As I understand it, they've evolved over the years, with bits added at times. I know that was the case with the religion one. I'd guess that's the case with the other one you mentioned. The environment one is meant to show we have a 'green' side. What more does it need to say? The religion one is a bit of a compromise, but serves its purpose. In my opinion it should be tougher.
Actually I reckon they all need a rewrite. I personally prefered the old Subversion ones as they were a lot simpler.

syndicalist
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Dec 8 2006 04:56

quote=madashell]And if the IWW only allowed syndicalists to join, then they'd be even tinier than they are now.

Ah, but what is the IWW doing to help new members becme syndicalists?

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Nate
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Dec 8 2006 05:22

hey Smash,

Given your appeal against sectarian stone throwing about NEFAC, you might be a little more comradely about stuff like this:

Quote:
I think anarcho-communists need to find ways develop a grassroots syndicalism at all levels of the labor process, inside and outside existing unions, etc. Joining the IWW, in my opinion, only serves to limit ones ability to work towards this end.

Remember how you implied that most anti-NEFAC stuff is based on ignorance and distortion? Ditto most anti-IWW stuff, yours included. If the IWW branch in your area is fucked, fair enough. That's like the handful of (ex?)NEFACkers who are union staffers. If you want to maintain that the worst parts of your organization don't represent the whole organization then please extend that same logic and courtesy in considering other organizations. Otherwise you just into the same leftist cannibalism that NEFAC often and unfairly faces.

And yeah, the positions here expressed by some UK wobs ("not a union") are not the dominant positions in the US IWW by any means.

Nate

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Tacks
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Dec 8 2006 05:28
guydebordisdead wrote:
which?

as in, start a different fredaboudit it G.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 8 2006 18:36
Nate wrote:
hey Smash,

Given your appeal against sectarian stone throwing about NEFAC, you might be a little more comradely about stuff like this:

Quote:
I think anarcho-communists need to find ways develop a grassroots syndicalism at all levels of the labor process, inside and outside existing unions, etc. Joining the IWW, in my opinion, only serves to limit ones ability to work towards this end.

Remember how you implied that most anti-NEFAC stuff is based on ignorance and distortion? Ditto most anti-IWW stuff, yours included. If the IWW branch in your area is fucked, fair enough. That's like the handful of (ex?)NEFACkers who are union staffers. If you want to maintain that the worst parts of your organization don't represent the whole organization then please extend that same logic and courtesy in considering other organizations. Otherwise you just into the same leftist cannibalism that NEFAC often and unfairly faces.

And yeah, the positions here expressed by some UK wobs ("not a union") are not the dominant positions in the US IWW by any means.

Nate

I don't think I was being sectarian. At least that wasn't my intention. Just stating my own personal criticisms with the overall strategic vision of the IWW. I think there are alot of solid wobs doing really great work, but that doesn't change my fundemental criticisms. It is the equivilant of someone not agreeing with the need for specific anarchist political organizations as part of a larger revolutionary strategy and criticized NEFAC (or AF, et al) on that basis.

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Nate
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Dec 8 2006 21:28

This is probly a topic for another thread but I'd really like to hear what the overall strategic vision of the IWW is as you perceive it, why you disagree with it, and why you further see it as an obstacle to what you see as the real work that needs doing (and, what is that real work).

There's a difference between "I don't see a need for a group like NEFAC" and "A group like NEFAC is a blockage on what really needs doing." The former allows room to say y'all are making or could make a worthwhile contribution, judged in a radical sense. The latter does not. "Joining the IWW (...) only serves to limit" sounds a lot to me like the latter. Or do I misunderstand you?

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 8 2006 21:55

For years when fellow workers from the IWW in Edmonton have left to go out east I've told them to hook up with NEFAC in Montreal or Toronto. Frankly I find the idea that what NEFAC and the IWW are doing is in any contradiction at all new to me.

In Edmonton the IWW is very much at least partially a network for union millitants in other unions, even if on the side we are trying to build IWW locals. Furthermore from my experience the Boston wobs I have met are quite reliable activists and are running a decent branch. It seems to me that this is more sniping based on the fact that militants are doing work in organisations other than NEFAC and that because of this they are being treated as a rival organisation when there is absolutely no reason for this.

For the record I still consider myself very much a NEFAC supporter, I think you folks are doin g great work. But I just can't swallow the idea that a specifically anarchist organisation somehow fulfills the same role as the IWW does.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 8 2006 21:56

I just realised Nate is right this is best for another topic someone care to start that up?

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 8 2006 23:50
Nate wrote:
This is probly a topic for another thread but I'd really like to hear what the overall strategic vision of the IWW is as you perceive it, why you disagree with it, and why you further see it as an obstacle to what you see as the real work that needs doing (and, what is that real work).

There's a difference between "I don't see a need for a group like NEFAC" and "A group like NEFAC is a blockage on what really needs doing." The former allows room to say y'all are making or could make a worthwhile contribution, judged in a radical sense. The latter does not. "Joining the IWW (...) only serves to limit" sounds a lot to me like the latter. Or do I misunderstand you?

Honestly? In regards to the current level of class struggle in North America, yes I think it is a waste of time and resources to try and build outwardly radical unions like the IWW as an alternative to the existing unions. We live in a period of relative social peace. Most people who join unions do so because unions offer them something that benefits their lives: health care, higher wages, job security, etc. I just don't see loads of people lining up to join a union that does not have a good track record of delivering these things (or critical mass to defend them), and is largely organized around a colorful history and "four hour day" or "abolish the wage system" rhetoric. That's the cold reality of it.

There will be a time when social conditions will change, and more people will be more open to explicitly radical ideas and rhetoric, but unfortunately that's not now. To gain footholds for our ideas now I think we need to be smart about our agitation. If we are going to act effectively as a radicalizing force we need to meet people in struggle (which means being open to working with different unions, or community groups, or the various other social organizations), support them however we can, and find areas where we can bring anarchist ideas to the table in a meaningful way.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 9 2006 00:13
EdmontonWobbly wrote:
For years when fellow workers from the IWW in Edmonton have left to go out east I've told them to hook up with NEFAC in Montreal or Toronto. Frankly I find the idea that what NEFAC and the IWW are doing is in any contradiction at all new to me.

In Edmonton the IWW is very much at least partially a network for union millitants in other unions, even if on the side we are trying to build IWW locals. Furthermore from my experience the Boston wobs I have met are quite reliable activists and are running a decent branch. It seems to me that this is more sniping based on the fact that militants are doing work in organisations other than NEFAC and that because of this they are being treated as a rival organisation when there is absolutely no reason for this.

For the record I still consider myself very much a NEFAC supporter, I think you folks are doin g great work. But I just can't swallow the idea that a specifically anarchist organisation somehow fulfills the same role as the IWW does.

Trust me, there is no rivalry. I honestly have no idea what the local wobs are up to, or who is even active in their group these days. I think I saw something about a public showing of a Joe Hill movie recently, but that's about it. We have always existed in completely autonomous orbits here.

I never implied that specific anarchist groups serve the same role as the IWW. They don't. That was my point. I don't think it is effective for unions to organize around radical politics. I think they should organize around social and economic issues and develop class consciousness and industrial strength on that basis. This is my basic criticism of the IWW.

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rat
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Dec 9 2006 00:48
Quote:
We live in a period of relative social peace.

Could the downturn in the American economy lead to a future resurgence in the class conflict over there?

Or will an American recession further undermine working class confidence?

I ask these questions as I imagine similar scenarios playing out in the U.K. in the next 2—5 years.

Is watching the situation in North America is like waiting for the next instalment here?

Could the UK see a return to the good ol’ days of open class warfare in the next few years if the ‘wage-price spiral’ gains pace?

Daniel.

East London.

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Nate
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Dec 9 2006 22:09

hey SRB,
You've changed your argument a bit, which is nice. You were saying "IWW=obstacle" but are now saying "IWW=inefficient use or waste of time". That's at least a little better. I'm not trying to convince you to join, but I'm sure you can see why I disagree with this, as someone who puts a fair amount of time into the IWW.

I also disagree with you on this:
"Most people who join unions do so because unions offer them something that benefits their lives: health care, higher wages, job security, etc."

I think most people who get involved in unions due to workplace organizing do this. That's also true of people who get involved in the IWW via the organization's workplace organizing. (I wouldn't say "the union offers" those gains, though, at least not in our case. That is the case definitely with service unionism, which is all the business unions do. I'd say in our case "the workers win" those benefits.) That's also the direction that I'd like to see the IWW over all keep moving in, away from people joining out of pre-existing ideological agreement and toward people joining out of involvement in workplace action around immediate collective self interested.

In my experience, people who join a union in this context do so not because of a good track record etc but because of a need to change something in their immediate workplace. One may appeal to this or that victory (SEIU and AFSCME use this stuff when they get into jurisdiction fights, saying "we have more healthcare workers" etc), but that doesn't make or break someone's joining. The AFL union organizing model recognizes this too - people join because they are agitated about their immediate workplace issues and they believe that joining the union will change that. That's true, or can be, if "joining" means taking part in collective action at work. It's less true if "joining" means just taking out a membership card.

There are other people who join unions because there's a union at their job and you have to be in it in order to work there. Being a member of one of those unions doesn't mean that one recognizes that the union got those gains, and doesn't mean one is involved in workplace organizing (if one is, it could just as much be organizing against the officials of the union).

I'm not sure that more people come into existing unions from the former than from the latter.

Lastly, I'm not opposed to what you describe (which I assume is something like how NEFAC thinks of its activity?) -

"we need to meet people in struggle, support them however we can, and find areas where we can bring anarchist ideas to the table in a meaningful way."

So basically, wait for a struggle to break out or look for one going on now. Find a way to get involved in it. Develop relationships with participants through being involved. Find a way to discuss explicitly radical ideas with other participants based on those relationships. Awesome. I'm all for it, and I hope NEFAC kicks tons of ass in doing that.

That's different from what I think of the IWW as doing, though, which is trying to work with other workers on their own issues in a way that helps new struggles break out. Then through those struggles people can win material benefits, become radicalized by the experience, and gain skills, abilities, and interest in this kind of work so that they will continue to do this kind of organizing (or, will be more likely to succeed at it when they're part of it) later in life. I don't think this happens very often in the business unions. I think there are structural problems and official interests in the business unions that work to prevent this from happening and that end up combating these kind of results when they do happen in the business unions.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Dec 10 2006 19:16
Nate wrote:
hey SRB,
You've changed your argument a bit, which is nice. You were saying "IWW=obstacle" but are now saying "IWW=inefficient use or waste of time". That's at least a little better. I'm not trying to convince you to join, but I'm sure you can see why I disagree with this, as someone who puts a fair amount of time into the IWW.

Quickly, cuz I gotta run. You're right in pointing out that "obstacle" was a wrong choice of words. I guess I meant more like something of a strategic diversion... which again, isn't said to piss on your group's work. Or even a criticism of the day to day, where I think the wobs can, and do, make a meaningful impact. Just my own personal opinion when it comes to longer term strategic and tactical vision, and where our energy is going as class struggle anarchists. Certainly there are arguments that building up specific political groups are also a diversion for furthering class struggle anarchism, since there is alot of focus on the insular. Even if my own political development has led me to disagree with those criticisms, it is something to think about, and its good to challenge ourselves from time to time.

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Dec 18 2006 16:32

hey since EdWob and me got off topic, I set up a new thread to talk this IWW stuff here. That thread is more about the social peace/nonrevolutionary time thing, rather than about organizational form. That second is a good topic too. I think may already have been discussed a lot here so I'll leave it for now.

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Devrim
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Jan 13 2007 08:36
madashell wrote:
revol68 wrote:
so whens all the IWW members gonna leave?

Being a member of a union doesn't contradict our A+Ps=not a problem.

I'm not an IWW member myself, but I don't see any problem at all with being a member of both organisations.

Madashell, I think that you are simplifying the issue here. I don't think that being an IWW member is against your aims and principles. However, the relationship of some AF members with the IWW is not just one of being members, but one of actively building it as an organisation. There is a difference here.

I know that you discussed the IWW at your conference, and I would be very interested in reading a report of the discussion. I, as you know, think that it is a mistake, but I would be genuinely interested in hearing the arguments of comrades like Serge Forward, who are convinced that it is a valid strategy.

I think that often on these boards polemic can take over from a real discussion. If any of the AF/IWW comrades choose to respond to this, I will do my best to avoid this thread getting dragged into that. I would also be interested to hear the arguments by the comrades in the AF against working in the IWW.

A few questions I would like to hear the answer to are;
* What is the nature of the IWW? Is it a union, or a network of militants, or some sort of mixture of both?
*What possibilities do people see for the IWW's development? Do people think that there is the possibility of building a syndicalist union in the UK?
*Would the AF advocating joining a syndicalist union if one, like for example the SAC, existed?

Devrim

knightrose
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Jan 13 2007 19:27
Quote:
A few questions I would like to hear the answer to are;
* What is the nature of the IWW? Is it a union, or a network of militants, or some sort of mixture of both?
*What possibilities do people see for the IWW's development? Do people think that there is the possibility of building a syndicalist union in the UK?
*Would the AF advocating joining a syndicalist union if one, like for example the SAC, existed?

This is my opinion on these three points.
First, I think the IWW is a network of militants. That's why I joined it. Some seem to have delusions of grandeur within it!
Second, there's no chance of building a syndicalist union in the UK.
Third, I don't know enough about SAC to comment. I guess if there was something like it in the UK, my answer to 2 would still hold and also I would know more about it, so I'd have an opinion.

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Devrim
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Jan 17 2007 09:31

Knightrose,

Did you discuss the possibility of building a syndicalist union at your conference? Was your opinion in a majority, or minority? As you know I agree with you, but I think that the question is very relevant in its own right regardless of one's opinion on syndicalism in general.

The third question was a hypothetical one, and not connected to the actually possibilities of such an organisation emerging in the UK. Can I rephrase it to 'would you join a syndicalist union like the SAC, or the CNT-E (I don't want to get involved in the IWA/reformist argument if you lived in a country where one existed?'

Devrim

Battlescarred
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Jan 17 2007 09:39

If it's hypothetical- which it is- is there any point in an answer?

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Devrim
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Jan 17 2007 11:35
Battlescarred wrote:
If it's hypothetical- which it is- is there any point in an answer?

I would say yes. If there weren't, why would the English language, for example, have developed a specific form for dealing with things that are either hypothetical, or unreal.

The reason I would like to know is that I am curious about the thinking behind the AF's conference decisions concerning the IWW.

The anarcho-syndicalists often say that if an anarchosyndicalist union existed, all of these people who criticise them would join. I think that Knightrose is a bit of an old councillist at heart smile, and I am just wondering if he would as he has joined the IWW.

People ask hypothetical questions to try to understand the thinking of others. Of course you are totally free to ignore it.

Devrim

Battlescarred
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Jan 17 2007 12:20

Don't worry, I will.

Spikymike
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Jan 28 2007 15:55

As someone close to the AF (even before it dropped 'communist' from its title)and aware that it has had a promising, but rather inconsistent history in its attitude and practice towards trade unionism, I would also like to see some published account of how the approach to the IWW has developed.

I have been tempted myself to explore the current practice of the IWW (in the absense of anything better at present) as a means of connecting with workplace militants, but my knowledge and experience suggests that this is an unpromising scenario.

I believe Knightrose's dip into this strange pool may have already dissallusioned him - is that the case?

petey
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Jan 28 2007 18:14
Devrim wrote:
A few questions I would like to hear the answer to are;
* What is the nature of the IWW? Is it a union, or a network of militants, or some sort of mixture of both?

haven't we been through this 100 times? perhaps you're not getting the answer you want. i see no problem with "both", though my (limited) expereince is that in NA it's primarily and very much a union.