"Critical Comments in the NEFAC Workplace Position Paper"

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booeyschewy
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Nov 29 2006 21:09
"Critical Comments in the NEFAC Workplace Position Paper"

Have people read and responded to Chris Wright's reply to the workplace position paper?

I just read it, and it has some really interesting and challenging points. That being said I think it is a terrible example of a political article. It is extremely polemical, semantic at times, and has an annoying tone that I've unfortunately come to associate with revolutionaries.

His points about unions, becoming shop stewards, revolution, and self-management stand out to me. I think he has some weak points in his arguments about democracy, ideology, and other forms of hierarchy.

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MJ
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Nov 30 2006 00:25

I know a few of us did -- thanks for linking it here.

booeyschewy
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Nov 30 2006 00:30

I'd be interested checking them out, where could I find them? Thanks!

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MJ
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Nov 30 2006 00:54

Heh, I meant a few of us read it, not responded. He didn't really seem to be talking with us in that piece...

Mike Harman
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Nov 30 2006 00:58

There was some discussion here:

http://libcom.org/forums/organise/nefac-workplace-position-paper

and here:

http://libcom.org/forums/organise/critical-comments-on-the-nefac-workpla...

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MJ
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Nov 30 2006 01:18

Yeah he called us Trotskyists and "dipshits".

rebelworker
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Nov 30 2006 01:37
MJ wrote:
Yeah he called us Trotskyists and "dipshits".

Shit the cats out of the Bag....

...now what are we going to do?

bastarx
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Nov 30 2006 02:04

Disband your dipshit pseudo-Trot gang perhaps.

bastarx
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Nov 30 2006 02:15

Ah Revol how I've missed your insults.

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MJ
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Mar 6 2012 16:36

Mr. Wright also said that "All forms of organization are mediations" and if we can only do away with them we can get back to "organic social life". I guess by that logic disbanding our organization would bring us one step closer to revolution.

I have my personal disagreements with the paper and I would be surprised if anyone in our federation thinks it's perfect, but at least we went through the process of collectively producing a text around which we can compare and contrast our disparate experiences and individual strategies in the struggle, and at least we made it public so others can do the same. This guy's assessment of the result is that we are "retarded" and that we need to read Glaberman and Dauve.

I'm sorry, but most of us live and work almost entirely within capital, and we're not going to destroy it by slipping out one at a time. If your reaction to figuring out that one style of institutional apparatus or another is connected to capital is to kick and scream and say EW GET IT OFF ME and denounce others who don't do the same, good luck. We think that building class struggle is an effective way to fight against capital, and if the conclusion of your series of abstractions is that we should work individually and fight against unions in the hopes of some kind of spontaneous mass paradigm shift, well then you've kind of drifted down on the other side of any decent class struggle that does emerge.

Mr. Wright likes his boss and explains that the guy is merely a "cipher" for capital. That's his prerogative. Continuing down this path we would assume that cops are just "ciphers" for administration and rapists are just "ciphers" for patriarchy. Hey maybe if we click our heels three times and write the best manifesto ever it'll all just go away, we'll have a "spontaneous" citywide mass strike, and through this struggle directly build communism and restore organic social life. Well done! Great Idea!

Back inside history some of us are working together in a group and trying to assess strategies, and we think that given the bleak range of options we have, particularly in the US, it's worth participating in the movement of unions against management. If you haven't noticed, some of the most important organizing going on right now in the US (janitors in Houston and meatpackers in North Carolina, just from this month's news) embraces illegality in unashamedly defending undocumented workers, coming into confrontation with both of the state's linked strategies against immigrants (direct repression and wage depression). Shifts toward organizing citywide and industrywide are promising too, as is the fact that some US unions are at least putting some serious thought into coordinating workers internationally so that we have a framework to act together in rupturing global production lines.

Now sure this is a dynamic that can also rejuvenate the system. Sure class conflict is the motor of development of capital. But to say it can only ever be that is simpering idealism. We happen to think that the political recomposition of the class can also lead to a fundamental break. But it unfortunately won't be "spontaneous"--as a class we have to get to that point where we can make that choice, and then we have to choose to do it. One or the other isn't going to cut it. For the time being people in our federation are going to participate in the labor movement, among other strategies, whether or not some guy on the internet wants to call us retards.

MJ personal capacity

booeyschewy
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Nov 30 2006 05:41

Wow those are some of the worst threads I've read in a long time. Why does everyone have to be such jackasses to each other? Fucking internet.

On his paper- It seems to me like it has some value, but is also really retarded. For one it is totally pedantic and may I say hyperintellectual. It seems like he's focusing on language just to be an ass rather to actually try to understand what you're trying to get across. I found the discussion on 'rank and file' to be plain stupid. It was obvious you were using the term loosely and he was grandstanding.

off the cuff I think there are lots of points i would disagree with, but there is something vital lacking in his article. I think he lacks a real analysis of power (which is common to left communists). The way he handles the sections on democracy and organization I think clearly demonstrate that. He can't comprehend these issues except in the most stripped down and formalistic way possible, and constructs a straw man that way. I'd locate the problem as being that he, as a marxist, accepts the base-super structure distinction (implicitly?) and tries to reduce all to relations of capital. Not seeing the independent force of power leads him astray as well on issues of race and gender.

Some of his points about self-management I think are worth exploring and even potentially friendly to you (and the rest of us anarchists too). Now I doubt any anarchist has ever called for self-management of capital (well maybe mutualists and coop fetishists), but there was a real historical force that was moving that way in the factory seizure movement. On the otherhand in Italy and Japan these seizures also began restructuring production towards human need, but were crushed quickly. A missing component from his analysis of spain was that Spain was at a stage in development where in order to face fascism and isolation they needed to at once modernize the economy. Personally, under those conditions, I sometimes get skeptical as to what was possible except what kind of failure they faced.

Nonetheless I think it would do us anarchists a lot of good to become explicit about how our thinking has advanced. That is we don't merely call for self-management. The economy has changed as he points out. We call for the transformation of production. Yet relations of production isn't all there is to it. There are very real dynamics to how decision making is made. Marxists have missed that point (Veblen and Castiadoris did not). As anarchists we can develop an analysis of both, and formulate our vision of society as being that of transforming the fundamental social relations.

I imagine you all are friendly to this? I'm just curious really, my thoughts have been evolving around these issues recently.

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syndicalistcat
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Nov 30 2006 06:49

well, take for example his fixing on the word "workplace", that NEFAC aims at self-management of the workplace. He assumes that this must be something like a factory, apart from home life and not integrated with, or with links to the community. But that doesn't follow from the use of that word. He's being pedantic.

He talks as if it was only in pre-capitalist society that people produced in their houses as artisans and farmers. But actually the first form of capitalist "workplace" was the home of workers, in the putting out system.

It might have been better for the NEFAC statement to talk about gaining power over the labor process, including things like its location, the way work is organized including the division of labor and so on. But it is a mistake to reject self-management. Self-management is the opposite of what Marx called "alienated labor." Humans have the capacity to foresee what they produce, to imagine it, conceptualize the product of their work activity in advance, to develop tools to make it, to plan out how it is to be produced, and then to actually do the necessary work to fulfill their plans. This is what self-management is, it is something humans have a very basic need for. and not only of productive activity, because humans have the capacity to self-manage their consumption and other aspects of life. To say that the various aspects of life are to be self-managed is to say that people are to have control over their lives, this is opposite of, the negation of, oppression.

t.

booeyschewy
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Nov 30 2006 08:20

indeed. In Asia maybe (estimate) 30% of the factory production is assembled in the home by women. The big brutal strike in Gurgao, India started when these micromanufacturing communities and some other small scale microfactories began a shut down, and it spread to the larger factory.

booeyschewy
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Nov 30 2006 08:27

Oh on your other point. I think the idea (well my non-marxist idea) is not to reject self-management, but point out the limitations of the understanding of self management in history. Specifically that the conception of self-management we inherit from the anarchosyndicalist and council communists was one rooted in age of fairly localized (or centralized production) and relatively skilled work (compared to today). In an era of globalized diffuse production we will need new models. Moreover we can see that one of the limitations of those revolutionary movements were that they were forced up against the limitations of economic and political organization of industrial capital. So it makes sense to be explicit (if it was ambiguous, implicit, or muddled before) that we don't seek just to run our jobs collectively, but we seek to abolish our jobs and create new ones. Otherwise we would fall into managing collectively our own exploitation (as I think many workers co-ops do).

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Nate
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Nov 30 2006 17:31

It's been a long time since I read that NEFAC document. I'd really like to discuss it, on the condition that no namecalling break out. I'll re-read it soon then read Chris's response.

If anyone doesn't know, the paper's online here: http://nefac.net/node/2001

There was also some discussion of the position paper, briefly, in several threads on the autopsy list here:
https://lists.resist.ca/pipermail/aut-op-sy/2005-December/thread.html#47...

and some here:

http://www.anti-politics.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=929&start=15&postdays...

These discussions were of (*ahem*) variable quality.

wangwei
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Dec 1 2006 00:37
Quote:
He talks as if it was only in pre-capitalist society that people produced in their houses as artisans and farmers. But actually the first form of capitalist "workplace" was the home of workers, in the putting out system.

I gotta tell ya t, that's pretty much _Das Capital_ that you're saying. If Wright's a Marxist, maybe he ought to read some Marx.

Quote:
But it is a mistake to reject self-management. Self-management is the opposite of what Marx called "alienated labor.... To say that the various aspects of life are to be self-managed is to say that people are to have control over their lives, this is opposite of, the negation of, oppression"

Right on! The dialectic between contingency and necessity will occur as the workers work to meet their own needs. NEFAC must continue to struggle within the workplace to facilitate the workers meeting their own needs.

Quote:
It's been a long time since I read that NEFAC document. I'd really like to discuss it, on the condition that no namecalling break out. I'll re-read it soon then read Chris's response.

I feel the same way Nate. I read it when it first came out and was very impressed with it, actually talked to one of them NEFACers about it, and would like to have a discussion on it here as well.

Completely off the dome, my first critique was that it did not mention building in the bosses' military. The military is a workplace, and it will be vital revolutionary work to have a revolutionary center within the military.

I found the paper to be a breath of fresh air and pretty good. It showed a good anarchist understanding of power, and was quite material. I like how they took the Makhno poistion that syndicalism is a tactic in the class struggle, but not a principle of class struggle. You could tell that a lot of work went into it.

Once I read this:

Quote:
Do we want a radical re-organization of the workplace? What does that mean? Well, it clearly does not mean abolition of the workplace, otherwise that would be stated. But isn't wanting to abolish the workplace utopian nonsense? Not to communists, it isn't. In fact, "radical re-organization” and "abolition” of the workplace are completely opposed views, utterly incompatible.

I realized that he was a fucking idiot and off of his rocker. As a communist, I don't believe in abolishing the workplace. The workplace will be a community space where the emancipated working class can toil in their own interests.

Quote:
Secondly, this separation of production from reproduction, of wage-labor from unwaged labor, of workplace from home from community is the foundation of the specific form of oppression of women,

WHAT? Is he just making this stuff up? The oppression of women was the catharsis that allowed the formation of the family, and the nucleus of the family was the origin of the entity of the state. It developed tribe -- family -- tribe -- kingdom -- state (I know this is a bit reductionist, but Wright's an idiot) I'll read the rest of his drivel when I find the time.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 11:56

Y'all know he posts on here right?

Quote:
The workplace will be a community space where the emancipated working class can toil in their own interests.

If there's "toil" there's no emancipation, and communism is about the abolition of classes. I think you should read what you write before you start calling other people "fucking idiot".

wangwei
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Dec 1 2006 14:10
Quote:
If there's "toil" there's no emancipation

uhm, no. Toil is work. The ending of work is not the goal of the emancipation of labor, but the actual sensuos fulfilment of fruits of labor are. When you work for yourselves, your world, your society, to meet both your needs and society, then that is emancipation.

Quote:
communism is about the abolition of classes

no shit sherlock. The only "class" will be the working class, all those who work to build the society that all benefit from and have their needs met through. Yup, that's the classless society of communism. All are free, and all workers.

As far as "fucking idiot" maybe I shouldn't have shot from the hip so hard, but man, his stuff is ridiculous. Not as ludicrous as a Crimethinc. pamphlet, but nearly so.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 17:12
wangwei wrote:
All are free, and all workers.

Infants? The infirm?
o

revol68 wrote:
but anyway the proletarait abolishes itself and abolishes the division between work and the rest of our lives.

Yep, so not toil then.

Quote:
I'm still not too keen on the idea that we abolish "all work" as it brings to mind utopian bollox where no one ever does anything they'd maybe rather not.

Well I think much more time would be spent on trying to eliminate the jobs no-one likes via automation etc. Toilet cleaning not being high on most companies' R&D budget.

wangwei
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Dec 1 2006 17:45
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Infants? The infirm?

Yes, infants and the infirm. Infants will toil to suckle enough sustenance to grow. The infirm will have thier needs met as workers who toiled for the working class, and will toil to the best of their capacity -- "from each according to ability, and to each according to need." will be the fundamental principle of a communist world.

Quote:
god this is semantic bullshit.

Yup.

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I think toil generally means useless capitalist work.

Yes, but it specifically means work of any type. Any time tht you struggle to accomplish any task, you must toil to do so. The words "toil" work" and others are particular aspects of the same basic generality.

Quote:
Yep, so not toil then.

NO, that would still be toil. If you want to keep playing the word game, then by all means carry on.

Quote:
get arseholes like Bob Black making anti work the central aspect of revolution.

I agree rev, and this juxtaposing of the objective skews the dialectic of revolution away from the emancipation of the toilers by the toilers themselves through seizing control of their own lives into some utopian fantasy of a society where nobody works.

I think NEFAC does a good job infusing the understanding that the goal is the working class seizing control of the ways and means of production, with themselves being included as the ultimate means of production.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 17:51
wangwei wrote:
Quote:
I think toil generally means useless capitalist work.

Yes, but it specifically means work of any type. Any time tht you struggle to accomplish any task, you must toil to do so. The words "toil" work" and others are particular aspects of the same basic generality.

Why would people be "struggling to accomplish any task"? There's plenty of jobs that people enjoy, are good at, find easy etc. and struggling suggests they're unsuited to it. If production is along rational lines according to need, then no-one should be struggling at necessary tasks, since they'd either be doing work they enjoy, or if it's menial/boring then at least made easier via technology.

Quote:
NO, that would still be toil. If you want to keep playing the word game, then by all means carry on.

If you want to keep twisting words beyond any semblance of their meaning, go ahead.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 21:46

revol, ffs read my fucking posts. You whinge enough when other people misrepresent yours.

me wrote:
no-one should be struggling at necessary tasks

In other words if you're talking about coercion, which you were...

Quote:
utopian bollox no one ever does anything they'd maybe rather not.

...I think it'd be fucking stupid to coerce people into doing things they're no good at and don't like, since there'll be plenty of people who either like it or are good at it, and therefore wouldn't "struggle" at it, or other people who'd find a way to make it either 1. easier 2. less boring.

It doesn't mean people won't find things hard or struggle at them - like if they take up mountain climbing or trombone or whatever, but I think it's a fucking step backwards to describe necessary tasks in a post-revolutionary society as "toil" - since I'd hope the day to day shit that's necessary for human survival would be completely transformed.

For example, gardening is fucking hard work, but loads of people enjoy it. Agricultural labouring can be fucking back breaking and very unpleasant (not that I've done any agricultural labouring). Both are quite capable of producing decent food though, so I'd hope agriculture could be scaled/personalised on the one hand and highly automated for the really heavy work on the other, where it's currently cheaper to use migrant labour.

wangwei
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Dec 1 2006 22:09
Quote:
If you want to keep twisting words beyond any semblance of their meaning, go ahead.

So, you do want to play the word game? Semanticism at its best right here --

Quote:
Why would people be "struggling to accomplish any task"?

Do you chew when you eat and grunt when you shit? Why, isn't that a task that requires struggle?

Do muscles contract when you stand, how about stand and walk, how about a friction or struggle occuring when things are done and a change occurs through it. When learning happens, isn't there a struggle to learn how to read?

So, as revol said

Quote:
I don't want a world without struggle!

because that would be bourgeois idealism. The material reality that we must coexist within will require much struggle, the primary one under communism being the struggle to maintain harmony with the Earth's environment.

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So it is infact you whose playing semantic games and in a manner that restricts the field of meaning in a particularly unhelpful way.

I have to agree.

Quote:
I think it's a fucking step backwards to describe necessary tasks in a post-revolutionary society as "toil" - since I'd hope the day to day shit that's necessary for human survival would be completely transformed.

However you want to describe the "day to day shit" and whatever word you want to use to absract the concrete material reality of struggle and toil is up to you. I'll just go on using simple words and avoid semantic wordplay.

Now, about that NEFAC document that did such a good job, can we discuss that or do you still need to play at some more wordgames?

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 22:11
revol68 wrote:
Quote:
no-one should be struggling at necessary tasks

Catch how does necessary = coercion?

It doesn't. Please quote where I said it does, thanks.

You said this:

Quote:
utopian bollox no one ever does anything they'd maybe rather not.

Which suggests coercion to some extent - whether public opinion or the threat of withdrawl of co-operation.

I'm suggesting that really we ought to be able to go a long way to ensure that if there's a degree of coercion (no matter how soft) in say sewage processing, toilet cleaning, muck spreading, road surfacing or whatever - say a rota and not everyone really wants to do it, then those tasks could be transformed by a high degree of automation so that no one would have to work hard to complete them, to minimise the work involved etc., and therefore they couldn't rightly be called "toil".

Quote:
I'm afraid that breathing and eating are necessary they aren't coercion though.

That's amazing, I see what you've done there! But yet...

wangwei wrote:
Infants will toil to suckle enough sustenance to grow.

Unless they're breast refusing or have some kind of digestive problem, then generally infants fucking love suckling and it'll often be the one thing that'll calm them down or cheer them up. Calling something as natural and easy as breast feeding "toil" is again a complete misuse of the word.

Quote:
So really no issue but the point is that we can still refer to things as toil or struggle without equating doing them coercion

Yes we can, and I didn't equate them in any of my posts so I'm not sure why you're bothering to argue this strawman?

Quote:
So it is infact you whose playing semantic games and in a manner that restricts the field of meaning in a particularly unhelpful way.

Considering you're ascribing arguments to me I've not made I find this a bit rich.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 22:18
wangwei wrote:
Do you chew when you eat and grunt when you shit? Why, isn't that a task that requires struggle?

I like eating and shitting, so no.

Quote:
When learning happens, isn't there a struggle to learn how to read?

Not really, I learned to read when I was three and had exhausted my school library by the time I was seven or eight (i.e. they ran out of books). If anything the struggle was in finding sufficient stimulus at that age - in other words work that was I was suited to, that was appropriate, not the process of learning itself. For someone with say dsylexia it's a very different story (although they're very likely to find other stuff much easier than I do), but then I don't think it'd be that nice to put them on the proof-reading rota.

So, as revol said

Quote:
I don't want a world without struggle!

because that would be bourgeois idealism. The material reality that we must coexist within will require much struggle, the primary one under communism being the struggle to maintain harmony with the Earth's environment.

Quote:
Now, about that NEFAC document that did such a good job, can we discuss that or do you still need to play at some more wordgames?

No I'd be happy to discuss the NEFAC document, but pretty much all the discussion on this thread has been ad hominem attacks on Chris Wright rather than dealing with the substance of his arguments.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 22:23

wangwei, here's my initial comments from that first thread. I assume you've read the previous threads we had on this?

Quote:
Steve wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
I don't like the way this paragraph suggests that organising in unions is a requirement for social revolution it quite clearly isn't.

Yeah the revolution will be coming and it will not occur to workers that they should be organising in the workplace to fight capitalism head on. They will simply wait for the anarchists from the local squat to tell them what they should be doing.

It's possible to organise in the workplace without being a member of a union. It's also possible to organise outside the workplace without doing so from a squat (realises a link to broadway market occupation won't work in this particular argument tongue).

Union bureaucrats are quite capable of redirecting revolutionary activity towards strengthening their own position at the bargaining table as mediators of capital. The role of the unions in Russia as they subsumed the factory committees is another example of their limitations. Doesn't mean I think people shouldn't join them or be active in them, but I wouldn't put forward either traditional unions or syndicalist ones as prerequisites to revolution. Some kind of workplace organisation is definitely necessary and it may take the form of a union, but it' might not as well. To be fair, the author of the original article does offer options other than the labor unions later on:

Quote:

Sometimes this struggle formalizes itself into groups of workers that act outside and in opposition to not only the exploiting class, but also the union bureaucracy. Some names that these formations have taken in the past are workers' committees, flying squads, resistance groups, action committees, etc. Other times, this is expressed through unofficial spontaneous collective action, such sit-down-strikes, occupations, slows downs, sabotage, and wildcat strikes utilizing informal networks that exist between workers. What matters is not the name or even the specific organizational form they take, but rather the way that the unmediated class struggle of these workers' formations starts the transformation of the organization of production.

which is better. I don't see why the introduction* says largely the opposite though.

Back to the introduction again:

Quote:
However, as anarchist-communists, we have a particular strategic interest in workplace struggles due to the ability to directly challenge the material interests of the capitalist class

The material interests of the capitalist class can be directly challenged outside the workplace as well. Surplus labour is expropriated through rent, interest, the sale of the means of life as commodities, and an interruption of any of these disrupts the circuit of capital potentially as much as a strike.

If you put workplace struggles at the top of a strategic list due to their "ability to directly challenge the material interests of the capitalist class", then you also have to put the struggles in certain sectors (actual commodity manufacture, resource extraction, agriculture, transport, energy, construction) at the top of your priorities for workplaces struggles - since they have more potential to interrupt capital's circulation than a strike in the service sector.

*(quoted to give the above some context

NEFAC wrote:
Independent rank-and-file tendencies within existing unions, coupled with workplace resistance groups, solidarity networks, and, eventually, workplace assemblies and coordinating councils, provide a glimpse at the kind of self-managed workers movement needed to not only effectively challenge the employers, but also develop the unity and revolutionary class consciousness needed to overthrow the capitalist social order.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 22:34
Quote:
having to do something you'd rather not do is not talking about coercion, I mean i'd rather not have to tidy my room but at some stage i'm going to have to do it, i know it's for the good but i'd still rather not have to do it, it is therefore toil in a sense.

So you think people who talk about "abolishing work" (other than Bob Black) are of the not-tidying-rooms variety? I don't think that's completely fair revol.

Mike Harman
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Dec 1 2006 22:59
revol68 wrote:
eh no, stop trying to conflate points in order to avoid the fact you deliberately misquoted me.

What? The bit I missed out of your quote was the abolish work/Bob Black reference (not to deliberately misquote either, I'm just fucking tired this evening and at least once re-typed rather than mess around with the back button). As an example of what you meant you used tidying your room - conflating that personal discipline with the socially necessary (but unpleasant) tasks I was talking about.

Quote:
The discussion was firstly about the fact that we will stillhave struggle and toil post revolution and that people with by necessity will still have to do shit thats mundane and boring.

Yes, there's still be shit that's mundane and boring, but again, again, a lot can be done to ameliorate that. It's different to wangwei's attempt to conflate the basics of human activity (eating and shitting) with toil.

Quote:
It's the kind of shit that leads them to criticise the CNT because they upped production for the front.

Not to derail, but I assume you'd criticise Lenin's enthusiasm for Taylorism, or the setting up of the Vesenka, or war communism right? But a lot of anarchists (not necessarily you) don't apply the same standards to the CNT at all. Having said that I'm still catching up on that CNT thread and haven't got to the Seidman yet, and I'm dying for a beer and a DVD, so let's take this up on that thread when I get to it if you don't mind.

Quote:
Also you are individualising coercion instead of looking at it in a class manner. I have no problem with the class imposing it's own forms of discipline and if that means folks have to do stuff they don't want tough shite.

Considering I've made those same points elsewhere I don't see the argument. My main problem was with wangwei's cavalier attitude to words with quite specific historical meanings, and the generally flippant and highly defensive attitude of most posters on this thread to criticism of what at the time I thought was a pretty poor position paper (and still do).

Blacknred Ned
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Dec 1 2006 23:00

ffs, reading that lot was toil! Did this three-way bun fight have a purpose? Are we nearer now to the new society than we were when you started? Oh, by the way, how many libertarian communists can dance on the head of a pin? No wait, before you answer, bear in mind that I mean a pin lovingly hand-crafted in a post-revolutionary pin workshop.

redtwister
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Dec 4 2006 02:46
rebelworker wrote:
MJ wrote:
Yeah he called us Trotskyists and "dipshits".

Shit the cats out of the Bag....

...now what are we going to do?

Actually, in the text, I said that you had a view of unions and the role of revolutionaries in relation to unions that was not really different from the Leninists and Trotskyists I have known.

I later called certain people dipshits, NOT NEFAC as a whole, if I used to that term (I have no intention of re-reading the whole thread) at all, and it may not even have been said re: NEFAC members, as I seem to remember some bitter arguing with gurrier and Joe Black, who I believe are Irish.

The sad thing is that the rest of these comments are sloppy.

Booey complains that I am pedantic. I was attempting to be precise, which the NEFAC position paper in many places was not. Some of the positions could only be maintained by vagueness or historical mis-representation, IMO. I was also challenging the trade union-populist language of the piece which in an internal, theoretical and practical position paper, indicates a serious failing. This isn't a lealfet at a march or some such, it is a position paper stating guiding principles and needs to be as precise, clear and sharp as possible.

There is another complaint that I am somehow anti-organization, which I find astonishing. I am clearly not anti-organization or individualist. I am against certain kinds of organization and I specifically raised NEFAC's need to clarify for itself, for its own sake, what kind of organization it wanted to be.

My citations of Glaberman and Dauve were not used in a Biblical fashion at all, but as citations of historical experience. You can disagree with the factual content or the theoretical content of those statements, which I used because they admirably summed up the matter, but to try to dismiss me because you read my use of them as Biblical is simply dishonest.

The real point of many those comments I cited was to try and get you to grapple with the fact that simply refurbishing the positions of 1936 doesn't cut it.

Revol, I have no time to play "Who's the Super Communist?" with you, as that is your game and not mine. Go cock fence with someone who has the time and interest in it.

I made some comments on a paper I felt very strongly about because as far as NEFAC goes, I respect it a great deal more than the various Trots and Leninoids who aren't worth the time of day, and to see them waltzing into the same kinds of political positions on workplace politics was and remains disturbing.

Chris

redtwister
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Joined: 21-03-05
Dec 4 2006 02:58
MJ wrote:
Mr. Wright also said that "All forms of organization are mediations" and if we can only do away with them we can get back to "organic social life". I guess by that logic disbanding our organization would bring us one step closer to revolution.

I have my personal disagreements with the paper and I would be surprised if anyone in our federation thinks it's perfect, but at least we went through the process of collectively producing a text around which we can compare and contrast our disparate experiences and individual strategies in the struggle, and at least we made it public so others can do the same. This guy's assessment of the result is that we are "retarded" and that we need to read Glaberman (many of us have--actually there's a NEFAC collective named Punching Out) and Dauve (sad to say, I don't think I'm the only one in the fed who went through that embarassing phase).

I'm sorry, but most of us live and work almost entirely within capital, and we're not going to destroy it by slipping out one at a time. If your reaction to figuring out that one style of institutional apparatus or another is connected to capital is to kick and scream and say EW GET IT OFF ME and denounce others who don't do the same, good luck. We think that building class struggle is an effective way to fight against capital, and if the conclusion of your series of abstractions is that we should work individually and fight against unions in the hopes of some kind of spontaneous mass paradigm shift, well then you've kind of drifted down on the other side of any decent class struggle that does emerge.

Mr. Wright likes his boss and explains that the guy is merely a "cipher" for capital. That's his prerogative. Continuing down this path we would assume that cops are just "ciphers" for administration and rapists are just "ciphers" for patriarchy. Hey maybe if we click our heels three times and write the best manifesto ever it'll all just go away, we'll have a "spontaneous" citywide mass strike, and through this struggle directly build communism and restore organic social life. Well done! Great Idea!

Back inside history some of us are working together in a group and trying to assess strategies, and we think that given the bleak range of options we have, particularly in the US, it's worth participating in the movement of unions against management. If you haven't noticed, some of the most important organizing going on right now in the US (janitors in Houston and meatpackers in North Carolina, just from this month's news) embraces illegality in unashamedly defending undocumented workers, coming into confrontation with both of the state's linked strategies against immigrants (direct repression and wage depression). Shifts toward organizing citywide and industrywide are promising too, as is the fact that some US unions are at least putting some serious thought into coordinating workers internationally so that we have a framework to act together in rupturing global production lines.

Now sure this is a dynamic that can also rejuvenate the system. Sure class conflict is the motor of development of capital. But to say it can only ever be that is simpering idealism. We happen to think that the political recomposition of the class can also lead to a fundamental break. But it unfortunately won't be "spontaneous"--as a class we have to get to that point where we can make that choice, and then we have to choose to do it. One or the other isn't going to cut it. For the time being people in our federation are going to participate in the labor movement, among other strategies, whether or not some guy on the internet wants to call us retards.

MJ personal capacity

This is one of the more indecent bits of fiction I have read in a while.

However, if you believe that the unions are in a movement against management, you obviously missed the role played by the unions in the last, oh, 60 years. The unions were integrated with management until the 1970's, when management decided that the labor-management pact was too expensive. And even then, the unions worked hand-in-glove with capital to downsize, rationalize, and strangle social explosion. I don't know where you were between 1978 and 1996, but I was watching, with increasing dismay, as the unions led the way in muting any kind of militant class struggle.

Where there is some signs of life, I never said don't be a part of it. I just said that the workers need to maintain independence at all times and that the unions cannot be trusted and they have done far more to prove that than not. You have to participate in the class struggle, not be a trade unionist in the (mostly now fictitious) labor movement. If that means being involved in a different kinds of organizing drives, so be it.

And the last paragraph is complete twaddle. Even cph_shawarma, who comes closest to that position, would not agree with what you say. It is a fabrication and misrepresentation.

As for capitalists and ciphers, the point isn't that bosses are good or bad, the point is that capital doesn't need this or that boss and this or that boss is not the issue. Unlike the working class, which has to materially exist, capital can accept management by capitalists, by corporate bureaucracies, by the state, etc. And whether it is capital n the hands of this or that "boss" is irrelevant to the abolition of capital. You want to target a boss by name in a particular struggle, fine. But the problem, from a communist (anarchist or Marxist) perspective, isn't the boss, its capital as a whole.

Unless one of course subscribes to the view that the problem is to abolish the bad managers and replace them with our management of the same labor process, which as I said is implicit in much of the document.

Chris