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IWW, First International, etc

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Nate's picture
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Dec 8 2006 22:22
IWW, First International, etc

hey all,

Some IWW related history questions. First, Rocker says in Anarchosyndicalism that that "[w]hat chiefly distinguished the I.W.W. from the European Syndicalists was its strongly defined Marxist views," which Rocker contrasts to the influence upon European Syndicalists of "the libertarian wing of the First International," by which I assume Rocker means Bakunin and co. I know very little about that era, can someone recommend something to me on the 1st international? Also, anyone know anything about these strongly defined marxist views being referenced? In particular, is any of it written down? I've looked at reprtins of the Industrial Union Bulletin from 1907 and it's full of marxist stuff, but I don't know that it was part of any official union position.

Second, anyone know about the origin of the term "industrial unionism"? Everybody in the early IWW used it.

Also, in the founding convention there was a resolution made to enter into relations with an existing "international bureau of those industrial unions which are based on the class struggle, with headquarters in Berlin." Anyone know what this is referring to?

Thanks.

Nate

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Dec 9 2006 00:24

Fellow Worker,

I'll ask around my branch.

Solidarity,
x357997

syndicalist
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Dec 9 2006 02:24

It's my understanding (and I'm going from memory here)Rocker's comments were based on much of the IWWs Premable comes from--I believe--Marx's "Wages, Prices,Profits" (or something like that. A longstanding anarchist critique of the the IWW vision of workers management was that it was a bit centralist in orientation.

Also, the founding participants ideologies and organizations which they came from. All of the early IWWs heavies were maxists or one sort or another. Aside from the spat with Daniel DeLeon (SLP)there was a split in the SP over the question of direct versus political action. Creeping (municipal) socialism or revolution.

Again from memory, after the 1908 international anarchist conference the syndicalists organized some sort of correspondence bureau. I believe Alexander Shapiro and Max Beginski were part of that. A formal Syndicalist Bureau came together, I believe, in 1913. In 1913 a syndicalist declartion was issued after a conference in London. No formal syndicalist international was organized until 1922.

---mitch

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Dec 9 2006 03:45
syndicalist wrote:
It's my understanding (and I'm going from memory here)Rocker's comments were based on much of the IWWs Premable comes from--I believe--Marx's "Wages, Prices,Profits" (or something like that. A longstanding anarchist critique of the the IWW vision of workers management was that it was a bit centralist in orientation.

The IWW has and is always going though structural changes. Some centralizing and some decentralizing. Branches have alot of autonomy. The structure and politics of each branch heavily depends on its active participants. Today I'd have to say the IWW is very decentralized.

syndicalist wrote:
Also, the founding participants ideologies and organizations which they came from. All of the early IWWs heavies were maxists or one sort or another.

Not true.

Solidarity,
x357997

syndicalist
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Dec 9 2006 04:16

Without getting into how the IWW functions today, it has been my historical understanding that anarchist cricitisms existed of Father Haggerty's "Wheel" and the centralist tendency of Haywood and others prior to WWI. I believe the ciricisms or, rather, Rocker's attempt to differentiate beween pre-WWI syndicalism and pre-WWI IWW was based on publised IWW materials.

That said, I recognize that what the documents say and what the current practices are dramatically differ from the past.
This was said in the context of a historical question.

In regards to the wether or not most of the founding heavies were marxists was not meant as a dig. Many of the union delegates were nominally members or supporters of one of the exisiting socialist parties.

"In Red November, Black November Culture and Community in the Industrial Workers of the World", Salvatore Salerno has an interesting take on the IWW and how the IWW was always anarchistic. Which I would also share that view.

Again, I was trying to be historical, not provocative.
If I am wrong, ok, please, by all means, factually advise.

As a PS, you can read the Minutes of the Founding Convention of the IWW at:
http://marxists.org/history/usa/unions/iww/1905/convention/index.htm

pgh2a
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Dec 9 2006 04:19
Nate wrote:

Also, in the founding convention there was a resolution made to enter into relations with an existing "international bureau of those industrial unions which are based on the class struggle, with headquarters in Berlin." Anyone know what this is referring to?

Hey Nate,

Fancy seeing you here.

There is an article on the IWW's relations with other labor and political Internationals in an article by Wayne Thorpe, "The IWW & the Search for an International Policy, 1905-1935," Anarcho-Syndicalist Review #42/3, pp. 13-18 (Winter 2006).

The bureau to which the minutes of the founding convention refer, was the International Secretariat of National Trade Union Centers (ISNTUC), "administered by Carl Legien." The article states that the ISNTUC was dominated by social democratic unions, but did not require a pledge of political action. Its most radical affiliate was the CGT of France. Thorpe cites this as evidence that the IWW's founders did not envision the union as a labor international in and of itself. It's a very interesting article. You should check it out.

Mike Harman
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Dec 9 2006 08:16

Nate - First International you'll find some stuff here:
http://libcom.org/library/international-working-mens-association-iwma

booeyschewy
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Dec 9 2006 22:01

Sadly true I think. I have a friend who turned to the dark side and joined a marxist party with roots in that early IWW history. There is a close history between the 'impossibilists' and the IWW (As well as Canadian One Big Union movement). The impossibilists today have their heirs in the World Socialist Party bit. Many of the founders of the IWW were members of the (impossibilist) canadian socialist party and fraternal American organizations. That being said the geneology of the IWW has two main sources: American working class experience, and this broader marxist ideology. It's worth saying though that before bolshevism anarchist and left marxists often worked together and shared many perspectives. Anarchist participation in the founding of the IWW has been over stated though, and really was often a slur against the marxists outside of notable exceptions like lucy parsons.

So in that sense I think Rocker was right. The IWW began I think as an economistic marxist project that addressed concrete experiences of working class struggle in the american context, but rapidly evolved to take on it's own life. As state socialists got tossed from it or as they split to join the CP or business unions, the anarchism of it's practice and ideology started to condense.

There was back then a distinct marxist syndicalist tendency it is worth noting (in the biography of carlo tresca it talks about this, he came to anarchocommunism via socialism--marxist syndicalism--anarchism), which interacted with the broader syndicalist movement but retained it's own practice. The Carlo Tresca books is good at showing the complex relationships between the Italian socialist syndicalists, insurrectionary anarchists, anarchosyndicalists, and the IWW in the US during the 10s. Interesting stuff.

I think that ASR issue is really good on showing how ideas about internationals evolved within the IWW, even though I think they end up pushing a line of intra-national unionism.

Personally I think a lot of the union literature and structure from that era reflects marxist baggage to be jettisoned. Much of it made sense in the time it was based in, but is untenable given the evolution of capital and the state. That being said making that a priority doesn't make sense from an organizing perspective.

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Dec 10 2006 05:42

hi Booey,
What's the title of the Tresca book? I'd love to read more about that. And what does impossibilism mean? FWIW I don't see the marxist stuff as baggage to be jettisoned, nor do I see marxism and anarchism as incompatible - I think there's a false dichotomy often posed between the two, which also falsely equates and flattens both into easily comparable things. I'm also not convinced there's been any evolution of capital or state such that the marxist account of capitalism doesn't work. The parts that were right when Marx wrote are right now. The parts that are wrong now (the philosophy of history stuff) were never right. To say otherwise would actually be totally compatible with a very orthodox marxist thesis, though one taken to a really odd conclusion. (That's what I think Negri's recent work does, for instance.)
cheers,
Nate

petey
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Dec 10 2006 09:16
booeyschewy wrote:
I have a friend who turned to the dark side and joined a marxist party with roots in that early IWW history.

would this be the SLP, or the WSM? i'd like to hear of your friend's observations, if it is one of these parties.

booeyschewy
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Dec 10 2006 20:44

He joined the World Socialist Party US
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Socialist_Party_of_the_United_States

The book is Carlo Tresca: Portrait of A Rebel

It is interesting though written from a non-anarchist perspective. It's also pretty expensive.

I wasn't thinking of the critique of capital stuff as much as the more practical stuff in the IWW. Specifically I think the narrow ideology (that is semi-latent in the IWW literature) of organizing economically alone and the OBU will be sufficient for revolution needs to go. I would also revise the notion of class in IWW literature. I think it fails to account for issues like decision making. These things are more marxist than Marx though if that makes sense.

petey
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Dec 11 2006 02:38

right, WSP, what i meant, thanks.
i'd still like to hear form somebody in the SLP. anybody.

Catch 22
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Dec 11 2006 05:32

A really good article on this was in ASR's "100 years of IWW" issue. It was all about the IWW international policy. The author puts forth a pretty strong argument that the wobs would have joined the IWA if only for the facts that 1. IWW was industrially organized and early syndicalists were about organizing by region and not industry. 2. IWW had too many stray commies arguing for the RILU. So instead the wobs just decided to join neither.

syndicalist
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Dec 11 2006 15:16

True enough, however, the story continues into the 1930s. if you read Fred Thompson's account of the 1934 IWW referendum ("The IWWs first 75 years"), you will see that this vote against affiliation was "political" in nature. That is, the IWA was anti-clerical and for libertarian communism; the IWW left those views to the indivdual. Thompson was a swell guy, but he was a socialist and had his own views of the world. Still, the IWW maintain friendly ties with the IWA and supported the CNT during the social revoution.

Catch 22
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Dec 11 2006 17:25

Where would I get that article? Is it available online?

Anti clericsm was a wobbly practice for a while. "Preacher and the Slave" anyone? Sure there have been wobbly priests and pastors-one of them is in my GMB-but they're not the state apparatus types that the IWA and the IWW dealt with on a regular basis.

Libcommunism is again tied to the Leninist hangers on. The IWW left the question open exactly cause they didn't want to alienate these members.

Has the IWW has ever had poor relations with the IWA. I know they worked with the CNT during the rev, but what about the post war years when the IWW was reconstituting itself?

ftony
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Dec 11 2006 17:43
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Sure there have been wobbly priests and pastors-one of them is in my GMB

yep, there's a british priest i nthe IWW too i think

syndicalist
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Dec 12 2006 14:01
Catch 22 wrote:
Where would I get that article? Is it available online?

Anti clericsm was a wobbly practice for a while. "Preacher and the Slave" anyone? Sure there have been wobbly priests and pastors-one of them is in my GMB-but they're not the state apparatus types that the IWA and the IWW dealt with on a regular basis.

Libcommunism is again tied to the Leninist hangers on. The IWW left the question open exactly cause they didn't want to alienate these members.

Has the IWW has ever had poor relations with the IWA. I know they worked with the CNT during the rev, but what about the post war years when the IWW was reconstituting itself?

I can probably photo copy the materials which I have on the various IWW, IWA affiliation proposals and snailmail them to you. Not sure if the Thompson book (just reissued with update as the First 100 Years) is on line.

The IWW has pretty much always had comradely relations with the IWA. There have been and will be bumps in the road, but this the way things are sometimes.

Not sure what you mean that Libcom. is tied to leninist hanger oners. As I understand it, the question of the IWWW's future society would be one of an "industrial democracy" based on workers control. It would not be "socialism" (marxian) or "libertarian communism" (anarchism). I suspect this is left open for a number of reasons, including the ideological divide (ok a small river in this case) between IWW small "s" socialists and anarchists.

On the question of deciding a workers ideology, I this has been debated to death. On a tactical level, that is on the ground floor of organizing I understand this. But at some point, there has to be internal education to raise the class conciousness of the workers. Or else the union becomes simply a good, clean, militant trade union. It's a tough question, with no easy solution or answer I know. But I think a question that syndicalists (broadly speaking) have to address as we plough through our work.

Good luck in 2007 folks!

---mitch

Dundee_United
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Dec 13 2006 05:22
Quote:
what does impossibilism mean?

They were the radical faction in the second international. Heavily linked to De Leonists etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossibilism

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Dec 14 2006 01:44

Thanks

kc
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Dec 27 2006 19:06

Nate,

Quote:
First, Rocker says in Anarchosyndicalism that that "[w]hat chiefly distinguished the I.W.W. from the European Syndicalists was its strongly defined Marxist views,"

May be Rocker wrote this because of IWW documents, writers and speakers wink or because of his experience with the involvement and propaganda of the IWW in Germany in 1919 and the early twenties.
Beside the socialdemocratic union ADGB there was the "Freie Vereinigung deutscher Gewerkschaften" (FVdG ~ free association of german unions) which affiliated with some small council communist ("unionist") unions to the FAUD(S). At the end of 1919 these "unionist" unions left the FAUD and became a part of the new AAUD (Allgemeine Arbeiter Union / General Workers Union Germany) which was tight to the KAPD (Communist Workers Party Germany).
The AAUD and the "unionist" ideas was supported with propaganda material, newspapers and mony from the IWW HQ in Chicago.

syndicalist
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Dec 28 2006 14:00

Robot,i didn't know about the IWW connection the AUUD before. Interesting. Is there any source on this that I can read (english or german)?

Was the AUUD connection originally thru George Hardy of the IWW? Hardy later went back to UK and became a CP offical. Hardy also pushed for IWW affiliation to the bolshevik dominated Red Interbational of Labor Unions (RILU).
--mitch

Also on background, I previously wrote:
Sat, 09/12/2006 - 03:24
It's my understanding (and I'm going from memory here)Rocker's comments were based on much of the IWWs Premable comes from--I believe--Marx's "Wages, Prices,Profits" (or something like that. A longstanding anarchist critique of the the IWW vision of workers management was that it was a bit centralist in orientation.

Also, the founding participants ideologies and organizations which they came from. All of the early IWWs heavies were maxists or one sort or another. Aside from the spat with Daniel DeLeon (SLP)there was a split in the SP over the question of direct versus political action. Creeping (municipal) socialism or revolution.

kc
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Dec 28 2006 19:28
Quote:
i didn't know about the IWW connection the AUUD before. Interesting. Is there any source on this that I can read (english or german)?

syndicalist, may I can answer.
There are some informations about the connection between the IWW and AAUD in the book "Syndikalismus und Linkskommunismus von 1918-1923" (History and sociology of the FAUD(S), AAUD and KAPD) by Hans Manfred Bock, published by Wolfgang Abendroth (1969).
Bock wrote about direct propaganda by the IWW in the migrant habors Bremerhaven and Hamburg. The Bremerhaven AAUD had "Industrial Workers of the World" as subtitle of their name.

He also reported about Fritz Wolffheim and an other guy named Laufenberg which had been sympathisers or members of the IWW and published flyers in the "Kommunistische Arbeiter Zeitung" (KAZ 8/1919) where they invited the german workers to join the AAUD, the "german organisation of the 'Association of the Industrial Workers of the World'." This calls was signed (and may be paid) by the IWW.

In 1919 too a german-american, Karl Dannenberg, a long-time member of the IWW and a representative of the IWW minority tendency, tried to organize a IWW branch in Braunschweig (old police documents said) "with a lot of money".

From 1920 the history of the AAU is a story of splits...
and may be that's the background of the tighter connections between IWW and FAUD.

syndicalist
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Dec 29 2006 04:55

Thanks kc.

He must be the guy who wrote "Karl Marx, the man and his work, and The constructive elements of socialism; three lectures and two essays" (New York, "The Radical Review", 1918). The late US libertarian socialist Frank Giard implied that Dannenberg was a DeLeonist in describing this article. Nevertheless... he went over with Hardy and the bolsheviks.

pgh2a
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Dec 30 2006 03:16

Yes, very interesting info. I had been aware of an IWW branch of IU 510 (Marine Transport Workers) in Stettin, Germany ca. 1929-1933, but that's it. Hardy, I believe, decided to take a little trip to Russia on the union's dime, around 1920-21. He was gone for some time, missing the Convention, and ended-up being expelled from the union shortly thereafter. The GEB vacillated back and forth on the issue of what level of support to give the Comintern and Profintern, and the IWW rank-and-file seemed range from moderate reservation to outright contempt for the Bolsheviki and revolutionary [sic] Russian state (though there were groups within the union pushing for affiliation through the early 1920s).

Now, as for relations between the IWW and IWMA (IWA-AIT), which touches on Nate's questions about influences on the union and the way members perceived their union and its role in the world, there is that recent article in ASR #42/43 by Wayne Thorpe, "The IWW & the Search for an International Policy, 1905-1935." However, if you are looking for a more detailed version, especially as it relates to correspondence between Rocker, Souchy, and Joseph Wagner and others in the IWW, you might want to take a look at something I just discovered in the Industrial Worker -- a series of articles by Joseph Wagner on the IWW and its international relations (from around January 1929).

I didn't have the time to read or copy it, but it does seem to go into great detail about relations with the IWMA, and also a bit of controversy surrounding statements made by the IWMA about the "Emergency Program" or EP group, which split from the IWW. Supposedly, the statement came from the IWMA Secretariat, and so it could be disavowed by the rest of the organization. I'd have to read more to get all the details. Might make for a good write-up at some point.

I want to add that any Communist portrayal of the IWW should be taken with a grain or two of salt. First the IWW was asked to affiliate with the Profintern, and then, the Comintern reversed itself, and found that "dual unionism" was not proper in the US, and that the IWW should dissolve itself. After that, the Communists within the IWW spread all sorts of rumours, and are blamed for causing much harm to the union and attempting to destroy it from without and within.

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Dec 30 2006 08:38

I know "Comintern" but what's "Profintern"? I recently read a bit of Left Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder and it confirmed my "fuck Lenin" attitude. His disses on the IWW in the pamphlet, aside from being distortions and lies, are pretty awful given the attacks the union was enduring at the time.

Catch 22
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Dec 30 2006 09:06

Profintern was comintern for unions IRC. It was also known as RILU Red International of Labor Unions.

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Juan Conatz
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Nov 2 2012 03:05
pghwob wrote:
Now, as for relations between the IWW and IWMA (IWA-AIT), which touches on Nate's questions about influences on the union and the way members perceived their union and its role in the world, there is that recent article in ASR #42/43 by Wayne Thorpe, "The IWW & the Search for an International Policy, 1905-1935." However, if you are looking for a more detailed version, especially as it relates to correspondence between Rocker, Souchy, and Joseph Wagner and others in the IWW, you might want to take a look at something I just discovered in the Industrial Worker -- a series of articles by Joseph Wagner on the IWW and its international relations (from around January 1929).

I didn't have the time to read or copy it, but it does seem to go into great detail about relations with the IWMA, and also a bit of controversy surrounding statements made by the IWMA about the "Emergency Program" or EP group, which split from the IWW. Supposedly, the statement came from the IWMA Secretariat, and so it could be disavowed by the rest of the organization. I'd have to read more to get all the details. Might make for a good write-up at some point.

Anyone happen to have this in PDF? Curosry search online tells me its not onlint

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Nov 2 2012 11:32

I haven't seen that but his book, which goes up to 1923, is well worth reading if you haven't seen it. http://libcom.org/library/workers-themselves-wayne-thorpe

syndicalist
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Nov 2 2012 13:09

Juan...... I have a hard copy of this.....I can photocopy it and snail mail it to you.....Contact me at syndicalistnyx@ //////////// for mailing info.