Anarcho-syndicalist organization?

Submitted by syndicalist on April 20, 2013

I'm curious how different US anarcho-syndicalists (and those closest to anarcho-syndicalism) see their activities and roles today. That is, what sort of organization(s) and what sort of organizational relevancy foot their bill? Or what sort of explicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization would they like to see?

What would an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization mean and do? That is, an organization of like minded militants/activists/organizers coming together around general anarcho-syndicalist principles
to issue topical and other libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles.

What would it look like? How would it function? Given the diversity of activist efforts here in the US/Canada, can an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization be more like a "propaganda" organization? A union? A combo of propaganda and union-like functions? Something else? Or must its sole and defining role be something else?

klas batalo

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Currently I am interested in developing more this general current i.e. anarcho-syndicalism or on the other side of the debate my influences from council communism which both favor political-economic revolutionary organization.

Because of the various initiatives whether they be unions independent or revolutionary, solidarity networks, political organizations as well as blogs/reviews I think the best way forward for developing this current would be through practical rapprochement via some sort of non-sectarian network for exchange of experiences, ideas, etc but one rooted by militants involved in struggle or sharing insights about struggles they were involved in years ago, or helping develop the capacity for folks to do so. So preferally people with experience for now I think would be more useful.

I think the propaganda functions today are better served by the established publishing houses, though certainly blogging and social media allow for a lot more easier syndication that should be made use of. More developing and showing solidarity between individuals work in various initiatives, whether solidarity networks, student syndicalism, transit/tenants unionism, or traditional workplace organizing would be more interesting. I think such a network could serve as a real pole for regrouping militants around those ideas and building a base for anarcho-syndicalist methods and ideas (content) within various initiatives, etc.

This is a lot of speculation though. Anyone have other thoughts?

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm most interested in building militant unions regionally at the moment and working towards something similar to the IWW's founding, a hearty helping of decently sized unions that apparently had developed a radical character associating into a new, radical union. I think we need to have this experience again, fresh.

I think the political org. should mostly group, train and support militants in the building of these unions / bodies of struggle. Also it should do popular education only in as much as there is demand from people radicalised in the struggles that are the fruit of its primary purpose. Internal ed is ok, I just question if its a great use of resources to preach to the choir about politics when it could be work shopping some organizing plan. I think bureaucratically, we should cut the anarchy-syndicalist org way way down. Essentially run trainings, collect and disperse dues monies where needed. Congresses should be big organizer trainings and skill sharing events.

Welp, I've gone nutty now.

Also, I agree with pretty much all of what Klas lined out.

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think there's a lot of work anarchosyndicalists can do and different roles we can play here today in the US. Ultimately I do believe in the need for anarchosyndicalist organizations (that work on workplace and community issues), though that would have to reflect real work amongst the working class that could reflect such a minority organization. To be concrete, in hospitals an anarchist workers organization would have things it could contribute as a minority force. Right now that'd be tough, but we should be building towards it.

I'm an IWW, and in the IWW there's a lot anarchosyndicalists can do to make the IWW better at what it does. We should be contributing to making the organization more active, better organized, and building an anarchosyndicalist practice inside.

Today's there's a number of anarchosyndicalist inspired projects in the US like the IWW, Solnets, revolutionary housing initiatives, transit unions, etc. A network of militants grouped around an anarchosyndicalist practice could help us think through concrete problems in our organizing that we can't solve on our own easily, and help us strategize making our projects more in line with our politics. Anything that could unite people working in different groups they're loyal too, and increase what we're doing and capable of would be a big step forward.

There is a role for developing the thinking around anarchism and anarchosyndicalist as well. Political and popular education do come up when you work with people, and the problem today is that everyone is expected to work everything out alone in isolation, reading online, etc. A project that seeks to support and deepen the understanding and practice of anarchist militants could have a lot of power, especially if it tried to move away from traditional left internal cultures, rhetoric, and means of transmissions. An anarchism that tries to ground itself in today's problems, social relationships, and communication could bring a lot to the table to move forward work that isn't just about bread and butter, but also revolution. Political organization is the harder question in terms of how you bring that together in a way that is functional and grows healthy relationships.

Internationally, we should be building more person-to-person relationships and finding ways to share and support the struggles of others trying out stuff that we are.

redsdisease

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Edit: Just caught that I wrote a response to a different thread.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi, hope you don't mind if I comment here, not being in the US. It is all interesting to read, but I think that this idea is problematic and has been a problematic one in the development of movements in the US:

I think the political org. should mostly group, train and support militants in the building of these unions / bodies of struggle.

This thinking means what: that the union or body of struggle cannot be "political". I think that this very separates anarchosyndicalism from unions, which is sort of nonsense. I mean, this has been the american context of the IWW and anarchosyndicalism in the US: to have a union which is not anarchosyndicalist and then have some anarchosyndicalist org outside it which is not a union but making "propaganda". I just think this formula has been very bad for the development of anarchosyndicalism in the US, although good for the development of the IWW.

And here I think that a lot of anarchosyndicalists are their own worst enemies, because somehow they convince themselves that workers will not join a specifically anarchosyndicalist organization. Well, the US is a right-wing place and it is a challenge, but a lot less right-wing than where I live. And we see that people like our organization. But it all depends if being "political" for you means being political on paper or in action. I think if you apply your politics to real activity, you can openly go for anarchosyndicalism and I suppose that if people were willing to join the IWW, they really would have been willing to join an anarchosyndicalist organization doing the same type of activity also, but one has never been on offer. The only specific anarchosyndicalism on offer has been propaganda groups.

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

akai, i agree with the spirit of what you say, but want to flip it a little. I mean i don't think the issue with the iww is that american workers aren't ready for anarchosyndicalism. The issue is more to me that the iww is an active network of anarchists and others who have a lot of experience in practice of doing workplace work from that perspective. It's a political situation that wouldn't be solved simply by proclaiming a new organization. I mean if a few of us got together and create a new a/s union amongst the minority of conscious a/s iwws, the likelihood is it would be a minority of the a/s people in the iww anyway. You would be in a position of actively competing against other iww locals in some cities with other anarchists doing good work in those cities, losing all the resources and work built up in the iww, and having to start doing that likely with the most ideological folks rather than the best people on the ground.

In theory I'm not opposed to that. I do think we'd be better off with an a/s union, and think revolutionary syndicalism has inherent limitations. But I can't really follow the logic of why it would be better to split with a tiny group of people rather than working to improve the iww.

I agree with the critique of the limitations of a/s propaganda groups. There is work to be done furthering anarchist analysis, education, etc., in general but not necessarily as a means to build up a/s organization. In real terms to build up such a project, I think we're better off with a network of a/s militants building the politics in practice across the different a/s inspired projects.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

-

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Akai,

I don't really think my comment proclaimed that our union organizing / building should be a-political. I suppose I can see why you may of got that impression as I said we should build unions that develop a radical character over time. To explain this I would say that just because you have radicalism on paper (which I'm fine with starting out with) doesn't necessarily mean its practice will be consistent with those aims. Using the unions that went on to form the IWW as an example; The Western Fed. of Miners is a sort of good example of what I'm on about. They adopted explicit revolutionary aims in 1901, pre-dating IWW by a few years.

So yea, saying that the political org now should be focused on gathering militants to build these sorts labor orgs does not equal a proclamation we should be building a-political unions. . .

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

s.nappolos

Totally agree the problem is not fixed with proclaiming a new org, nor is it fixed by removing the ideological @'s from the IWW to build something else.

My question is,

What about folks not affiliated with the IWW engaging in revolutionary union building, why are they in competition with the IWW? What about solidarity?

Agent of the I…

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm a bit confused; I am able to understand what a 'revolutionary union' is as opposed to a 'traditional reformist union', but what is an 'anarcho-syndicalist union'? Is it a union established by anarcho-syndicalists themselves and with an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist platform and membership requirement?

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If you are trying to build revolutionary unions, awesome. I was more implying if you existing a/s militants setting up unions in the same cities with the same people as IWW i don't think that would be an advance if it didn't lead to additional work that wasn't happening at least in the short run.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Agent of the Fifth International

I'm a bit confused; I am able to understand what a 'revolutionary union' is as opposed to a 'traditional reformist union', but what is an 'anarcho-syndicalist union'? Is it a union established by anarcho-syndicalists themselves and with an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist platform and membership requirement?

One could say the later is accurate. Well, to the extent that the members need to be in agreement with the basis, forms and actions of the union's statute's and agreed upon convention/congress agreements. Don't always mean that each and every member has declared themselves for libertarian communism/socialism or has a mature understanding of all the political and ideological in's/out's, but abides by the union's stated role and purpose. Of course, the internal education within the union is to help spread the ideal and sharpen members understanding of a/s and a whole host of other matters.

For explicitly A/S within the IWA concept see: http://libcom.org/library/basic-anarcho-syndicalism
For implicitly A/S-type ideas within the IWW concept see: http://libcom.org/library/direct-unionism-discussion-paper-09052011

For a discussion of the different forms of unionism, please start a different thread :groucho:

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hey, I understand what you are saying - just throwing out the thought.

But can you explain something (because from the way it is worded it is not clear for me): are you saying there are some anarchists in the US involved in revolutionary union building who are not in the IWW? Or that if there were, they wouldn't necessarily be in competition with IWW?

I just am not aware of the revolutionary union building going on, only of propaganda. If there is something, please inform me because I haven't heard of it yet.

Thanks for the clarification.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yea you bet, sorry for being unclear.

There is a micro, local based group that has as its focus work along those lines. Such work is entirely nascent and there are no solid details that you probably wanna know. Let me know if you want PMed what details there are, you seem interested in hearing about it.

I can only really speak to my personal feelings on this, but no, I don't really feel such a project is in competition with the IWW. I'm still confused why that word is being brought up, like really, are all the SolNets that take on workplace fights edging in on IWW territory too? I haven't heard that attitude within or without the IWW.

klas batalo

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with bozemananarchy that if A-S revolutionary unions or groups started up in other cities or sectors most likely it wouldn't be seen as competition. For instance let's say the IWW was doing food and retail but an A-S group started doing taxi driver organizing. Also there are plenty of examples of the trade unions thinking that the IWW doing organizing in the building trades or hospitality or healthcare would be "dividing the class" which I think is bullshit and we do see the IWW still continue to do that work anyway, so I get bozemananarchy lots of twinkle fingers of what should stop an A-S organization from doing that?

Regarding SolNets I have the impression that SeaSol has started to talk about doing internal workplace organizing and that this has actually caused a bit of a rift at least with some Seattle IWW members. Disagreements over approach but also over like "jurisdiction" ... I think S. Nappalos' point though is unfortunate duplication of effort, for things like development of militants, training, other resources, etc... less things like jurisdiction / creeping on some other groups turf.

Now in someways I think the IWW is cool cause it is open enough that left communists, council communists, autonomous marxists can sometimes be found in it... but so can trots, and other authoritarians even though it is mostly an organization of underdeveloped anarcho-syndicalists (this is no dig at those with more experience, IMHO I've just experienced more "anarcho-syndicalists" who are just Chomsky radical liberals who don't have much historical understanding of the current, or commitment to the practice other than being a good card carrying member of the IWW).

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah I wasn't implying there has to be a competition or anything. I was just saying if someone was proposing to split iww locals based on anarchosyndicalism that wouldn't make any sense in practice. Like Klas said.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, the thing about "competition" is a pain in the ass. We have trouble with the mainstream unions. Like this weekend when we put up information about an organizing attempt we were doing, we had reaction within 10 minutes and it was basically the same logic as this "dividing the class" shit, because they think they represent all workers, when in fact they are shit and lots of workers know it. Of course, where possible, it is better to avoid conflict with ones which you could work together with.

About the IWW, it shouldn't think about acting that way, since it tries to set itself up in places with existing anarchosyndicalist unions. I think a good example is in Germany, where there is a heavily Marxist IWW group. It's really small compared to FAU and sort of not necessary (since anybody can join FAU) but there is no problem with it and each does it thing.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Klas and S.nappalos,

About unfortunate duplication of effort. I think folks will have wildly different understandings of the IWW depending on what GMB they come from and what they made of that activity. If the Two Rivers GMB was still alive today, what we're up to would not amount to any duplication of effort at all save perhaps what was a pretty good OT101.

S.nappalos; I hear that comrade, I've never understood the argument to anarchize the IWW or split it. I have this attitude even after my TRGMB experience, which was dominated by loud Trot men. If anything, it made me think the IWW should consider dropping GMB's as a thing, forever. I feel that way mainly because of that specific experience and seeing it all play out like it did. Now I know a lot of good things have come from GMB's as infrastructure and so on, but it really seems that GMB's often act as end goal (at least de facto) for some wobs in their respective towns. I guess I'm just saying, I'd rather IU's occupy the place that GMB's do so that more energy is tossed that way. My issue with the GMB thing goes back all the way to when the wobs first started doing them as a way to maintain a salient org. during really tough times. I think that in itself is a solid reason to move past that, its defeatist and minimally productive towards the IWW's historic ends. With the gains that the IWW has made recently, its great to see the setting of a new course. I believe a founding conference of an IU just happened?

FWIW, I'm not anti-IWW at all.

And also, just to be crystal clear. The group I'm in are not IWW, and I'm the only former wob. There is no established IWW in this town, just some scattered members and a delegate down the road 200 miles.

klas batalo

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes IOC meetings are 100% more useful towards organizing than a GMB meeting any day. I would rather introduce a new worker I organize with to one, than a GMB meeting.

GMBs before Occupy filled I feel sometimes the space as regroupment pole for all class struggle type labor leftists who couldn't find a party or other political group to join. For instance mine has often had loner Trots.

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Akai- I wasn't implying I support the panleftist idea of dissolving into single organizations or things like that. Maybe I should rephrase it; in cities with active existing locals of the iww, anarchists leaving those locals to build to parallel ones in those particular places wouldn't move us forward. I actually do think anarchist unions are steps forward compared to apolitical syndicalist unions or the politicized pro-liberal/capitalist unions. But in practice how to do that is messy and there's not an easy way to do that.

On IUs- I was in portland when we had essentially only IUBs and an industrial district council of IUBs. There's problems there too in that you often end up taking the best organizers and making them replicate administrative roles (secretaries and treasurers) and making fairly arbitrary divisions between militants that could collaborate. Stuff like that would make more sense in a time when there was more open conflicts, layers of militants, etc. Today I think GMBs serve roles and we do better with organizing focused committees that don't try to act like branches. Now in MN I think I know what you're talking about and those folks were a problem. The issue is just that in a time of low levels of struggle isolated individuals can take projects and try to make them their petty activist fiefdoms. At the same time there's a limited life expectancy of those trot experiments. For the time being there's not much incentive for them to do it (though the better we get, the more opportunist elements we attract), and their way of functioning makes it hard for them to suceed in the IWW. i do support building organizations that aren't vulnerable to pointless political frustrations like that, but in the short term its less of a problem than it could be.

I used to blame the structure, but today it seems more like a political question. The CNT for example has mixed locals of community & workplace stuff and then separate workplace structures. The FORA has resistance socities and then separate workplace structures too. To me, we need to define ourselves by our activity and political content, and have structures reflect. Right now I think in the US we won't find ourselves with functioning structures more than groupings like seasol, iww gmbs, workers centers, etc. Even in the large unions here typically there aren't any real functioning shopfloor organizations. It's less a reflection of orientation than of the objective context and the subjectivity of workers here.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I used to blame the structure, but today it seems more like a political question. The CNT for example has mixed locals of community & workplace stuff and then separate workplace structures. The FORA has resistance socities and then separate workplace structures too. To me, we need to define ourselves by our activity and political content, and have structures reflect. Right now I think in the US we won't find ourselves with functioning structures more than groupings like seasol, iww gmbs, workers centers, etc. Even in the large unions here typically there aren't any real functioning shopfloor organizations. It's less a reflection of orientation than of the objective context and the subjectivity of workers here.

Sorry, I'm pretty dense. Can you re-phrase this or something, it seems an important point.

I did understand this though;

To me, we need to define ourselves by our activity and political content, and have structures reflect.

and can say this is actually my whole MO at the moment.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

GMBs before Occupy...

I was hoping you could expand on this Klas?

It's been years since I was in the IWW, but I'm sort of surprised that's there are still these GMB/IUB debates going on. It seems like it's a debate over structure, when I think strategy is where the real debate should be. Anyway, I think s.n covers this all pretty well in post 21.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hmm. . .

I'm not aware if that debate is still going on. I'm just kind of winging on it a couple of years post my involvement.

From what I can see the GMB is a widespread way of organizing in the IWW and I think, after all this time, that it is reflecting strategy to a certain extent, the 'staying alive' strategy to be historically specific. I question if that is a good way of framing our activity in any kind of organization.

redsdisease

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm curious what folks who are posting on this thread think would actually be gained by starting a specifically anarcho-syndicalist group beyond closer adherence to anarcho-syndicalism as an ideology. I think the history of syndicalism shows that just because a group claims adherence to anarcho-syndicalism does not mean that they are particularly revolutionary. Unless there was some major crisis in the IWW, it seems to me that any split from the IWW would be more likely to pull away a small number of ideologues while leaving behind the vast majority of solid organizers regardless of their politics, essentially creating an organization that wouldn't have anything to offer besides polemic (and even that may or may not be better politically than what you can already find within the IWW, I don't have a whole lot of faith in the politics of most US anarcho-syndicalists, IWW or otherwise).

I don't see the IWW as perfect or anything, I just don't think a specifically anarcho-syndicalist organization would be perfect either and I don't understand what it would be able to offer that the IWW or currently existing specific anarchist organizations couldn't beyond being closer to individuals preferred specific ideology.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Right quick......basically this:

redsdisease

...starting a specifically anarcho-syndicalist group beyond closer adherence to anarcho-syndicalism as an ideology. .

Add: With a practice allowing for concerted work inside and outside the IWW, Solnets and social movements.

My long time dream has been to work towards the practice of shopfloor forms of unionism in comrades workplaces. But not intended to be a labor union, but a formation of anarcho-syndicalist militants, which would promote the development of anarcho-syndicalist activity, such as direct workers action and self-managed forms of worker struggle. One that would be flexible enough to be responsive to different levels of activities and different shopfloor and community focuses.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

DP

redsdisease

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

Add: and practice, both within and outside of the IWW.

Do you mind expanding on this a bit when you have a minute? Specifically how this might offer something different than what is found within the IWW or the already existing anarchist organizations (one of which I believe you are a long time member of).

To be clear, I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea of there being a specific anarcho-syndicalist organization in the US, I just don't really understand what it would be able to offer that didn't already exist here (beyond the ideology thing, which I just don't find all that convincing).

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'll come back to your legit questions Red. Pressed for time and want to write something of "value".
In large measure, I'd like to get back to basics. And as I'm no longer active, on the shopfloor or in any real organizing fashion, I'd like to contribute what little I can in areas where I have personal interest and experience.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm curious what folks who are posting on this thread think would actually be gained by starting a specifically anarcho-syndicalist group beyond closer adherence to anarcho-syndicalism as an ideology.

I think its worthwhile to explore different modes of organizing within and without orgs like the IWW. So, I guess whats is to be gained is what can't be seen at present. I should of been clear that my initial response to the OP was really just what an anarcho-syndicalist influenced (amongst other influences) person thought about the more general role of political organization.

I think the history of syndicalism shows that just because a group claims adherence to anarcho-syndicalism does not mean that they are particularly revolutionary. Unless there was some major crisis in the IWW, it seems to me that any split from the IWW would be more likely to pull away a small number of ideologues while leaving behind the vast majority of solid organizers regardless of their politics, essentially creating an organization that wouldn't have anything to offer besides polemic (and even that may or may not be better politically than what you can already find within the IWW, I don't have a whole lot of faith in the politics of most US anarcho-syndicalists, IWW or otherwise).

Absolutely agree with the first bit though that argument could be tossed back at the IWW by simply supplanting anarcho-syndicalsim with radically tinged industrial unionism or whatever it is the IWW is ideologically. I haven't really heard anyone arguing splitting the IWW ideologically on the thread. Not something I'd want anything to do with. However, I think your being kind of ridiculous extrapolating what such an org would have to offer in end and justifying it with some weird "lack of faith" in peoples politics. I think that is all kind of an open book at this point.

I don't see the IWW as perfect or anything, I just don't think a specifically anarcho-syndicalist organization would be perfect either and I don't understand what it would be able to offer that the IWW or currently existing specific anarchist organizations couldn't beyond being closer to individuals preferred specific ideology.

I think your really oversimplifying things here with your suggestion that the MO is moving things closer to a specific ideology. To me, its not the end game nor even part of the process. I'm in a small class struggle anarchist political org. The goal is mass-movement building. It seems folks are positive about letting our practice heavily influence our form. I guess this experience is what "it" has to offer. . .

redsdisease

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bozemananarchy

Absolutely agree with the first bit though that argument could be tossed back at the IWW by simply supplanting anarcho-syndicalism with radically tinged industrial unionism or whatever it is the IWW is ideologically.

I mean, yeah. My main point was just that "anarcho-syndicalism" is a form that doesn't really have a whole lot of content in of itself.

I haven't really heard anyone arguing splitting the IWW ideologically on the thread. Not something I'd want anything to do with. However, I think your being kind of ridiculous extrapolating what such an org would have to offer in end and justifying it with some weird "lack of faith" in peoples politics. I think that is all kind of an open book at this point.

To be honest, I think what happened is that I read this thread somewhat sloppily a couple days ago and then built an argument in my head that was never really explicitly made. It seemed to me like a good chunk of this thread, with all the discussion of duplication of effort, was implicitly about a conceptual new, anarcho-syndicalist union. I believed that since the majority of US anarcho-syndicalists are in the IWW, starting such an organization with more than a handful of people would mean drawing a relatively substantial number of people away from the IWW which I think would be effectively a split from the IWW. But it seems that perhaps nobody was actually advocating that after all.

I think your really oversimplifying things here with your suggestion that the MO is moving things closer to a specific ideology.

From the OP:

what sort of explicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization would they like to see?

maybe ideology is the wrong word to use, perhaps form is better? I just don't see how starting an explicitly A-S organization over what currently exists would actually solve any problems that we (US communists and anarchists) have.

Either way, my main question, and the only one that I really feel might be worth discussing from my post is: what value do those who do favor an explicitly A-S organization (at least a few people have said this on this thread) feel that the A-S form would provide that isn't provided by current groups and organizations.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To be honest, I think what happened is that I read this thread somewhat sloppily a couple days ago and then built an argument in my head that was never really explicitly made. It seemed to me like a good chunk of this thread, with all the discussion of duplication of effort, was implicitly about a conceptual new, anarcho-syndicalist union. I believed that since the majority of US anarcho-syndicalists are in the IWW, starting such an organization with more than a handful of people would mean drawing a relatively substantial number of people away from the IWW which I think would be effectively a split from the IWW. But it seems that perhaps nobody was actually advocating that after all..

I don't really think there has been much research on the anarchist population. I think conjured statistics are kind of a shakey foundation to build an argument on. Counting loud mouths on the internet isn't going to give a clear picture of the situation.

Again, completely uninterested in pooling together the a-s minded folks and launching an a-s org for the sake of having an a-s org. I don't really think concentrating all the ideological a-s folk in a national political org is a way to go about building an a-s or other revolutionary union. I think your right, no one was really advocating that. On the flip, concentrating all the folks who are warm to radical industrial unionism in an org that acts like a political org someplaces and a union in others hasn't seemed like the hot ticket either.

Either way, my main question, and the only one that I really feel might be worth discussing from my post is: what value do those who do favor an explicitly A-S organization (at least a few people have said this on this thread) feel that the A-S form would provide that isn't provided by current groups and organizations.

Well, like you said, US anarchism has its problems. Some with choose to stay in the IWW/@-orgs and get them to do better. Others will choose to start indy projects to experiment with form. I get the strong feeling that your presenting things like, "IWW/@-orgs exist and activity outside them needs justified or your just a splitter. . ." Maybe I'm wrong.

That said, I will bow out of answering your question as I touched on my own reasons earlier, and your asking the specific A-S supporters.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi. I sort of creeped into the discussion here and I suppose it was me that suggested that there is a value to having an explicitly A-S organization. I see the benefits as the following: 1. being a way to radicalize workers movements and to bring the analysis of the role of the state together with anticapitalism, and to highlight the latter 2. to bring forward the idea of anarchosyndicalist organization (methods and goals) so that anarchist ideas are brought into a more practical focus for a wider group of people than now, which is difficult if specific anarchist groups seem to be in space with their issues, but on the more bread-and-butter issues, anarchist hide in some broader coalitions. I think that both would do the american movement a load of good.

I don't agree with your point that anarchosyndicalism does not have content. When I look at well-functioning and developed organizations, I see that they have very deep social content - certainly with much wider social involvement and implication than most anything else. Although admittedly people are far behind on this in some parts of the world, including N. America.

klas batalo

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I haven't really heard anyone arguing splitting the IWW ideologically on the thread. Not something I'd want anything to do with. However, I think your being kind of ridiculous extrapolating what such an org would have to offer in end and justifying it with some weird "lack of faith" in peoples politics.

Exactly! People are talking about developing further an anarcho-syndicalist/communist practice within the IWW and outside of it, not splitting from it, but building an overall current. This gets to this:

My main point was just that "anarcho-syndicalism" is a form that doesn't really have a whole lot of content in of itself.

Actually form and content are related. Most anarcho-syndicalists are also communists, and so have something to bring to the table more than just industrial democracy and the cooperative commonwealth, i.e. direct self-managed struggle without intermediaries and a clear vision of libertarian communism. Most IWW self-described anarcho-syndicalists are underdeveloped politically IMHO and are sorta a mix of Chomskyites/CNT history nerd LARPers. Also anarcho-syndicalist ideology and actual practice don't often overlap. The fact remains that the FWs actually engaged in organizing in the IWW is rather small. Again this leads to something that I think needs more questioning in relation to this:

I believed that since the majority of US anarcho-syndicalists are in the IWW, starting such an organization with more than a handful of people would mean drawing a relatively substantial number of people away from the IWW which I think would be effectively a split from the IWW.

It is not about drawing people away from their mass work, but about developing their practice and the political content. What does it mean that most US anarcho-syndicalists are in the IWW, if they are not actively developing an anarcho-syndicalist practice but just a democratic industrial unionism with an outdated vision of a cooperative commonwealth? Where is the critique of the State? Where is the critique of representational politics (other than a minority within the anarcho-syndicalists/ultra-left of the IWW)? Where is the practice outside of the workplace?

Anarcho-syndicalists had historically much more to say about the world and methods of struggle. I want to challenge people who say they are anarcho-syndicalists to actually act and put forward that type of practice and arguments in a practical way within spaces like the IWW, new independent or A-S union initiatives, solnets, student/youth, tenant, transit, prison organizing, etc.

SO... I guess I would say I am actually for the development of anarcho-syndicalist / communist revolutionary unionist practice, and if not necessarily an organization per se in the traditional sense of the term, at least a network of militants that puts forward such methods of struggle and vision. I also think it is very practical to advocate this to my comrades and FWs in currently existing political organizations and mass work. I think experimenting in ways that can cross all the boundaries in practical sharing of experiences, solidarity, and mass work is a worth while project.

This comes from someone who has spent most of their last few years as a loyal member actively trying to build up regroupment of anarchist political organizations and revolutionary workplace organizing in the IWW.

My long time dream has been to work towards the practice of shopfloor forms of unionism in comrades workplaces. But not intended to be a labor union, but a formation of anarcho-syndicalist militants, which would promote the development of anarcho-syndicalist activity, such as direct workers action and self-managed forms of worker struggle. One that would be flexible enough to be responsive to different levels of activities and different shopfloor and community focuses.

THIS! ... it means moving beyond a propaganda grouping with a pluralist guiding framework for individual intervention by militants towards a project of collective struggle. One that can agitate, educate, and organize on its own and within broader bodies, superseding the mono/dual organizationalist dichotomy.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry, what's LARP?

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Food for thought: what has been the historical experience of anarchosyndicalists inside the IWW in terms of moving it towards anarchosyndicalist organization and politics?

My guess is that if they couldn't manage it was anarchosyndicalism was very big in the world, there could be a problem with doing it in general due to the structure.

Navee

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was always fond of anarcho-syndicalism and used to declare myself an a-s for a long time, especially because of the firm insistence on economic-political organizations. But the problem is in the situation where the "political" aspect is often sacrificed for the benefit of "economic" and "mass movement building" ones. What worth is a "movement" if it is a populist or conservative one and shows no potential for developing a revolutionary political perspective? Is this in line with the social-democratic principle "the movement is everything and the goal is nothing"? It was said that "we should avoid conflicts with the organizations we can work with", but right after it was previously noted that the IWW pretends to represent the workers (the same as every union). "Let`s improve the IWW", right? But why don`t we start improving all other trade-unions? There is a reason why we are not reforming unions. Capitalism has developed precise framework within which unions can function to its benefit, and within which they are exactly that - trade unions. They`re unreformable. Wouldn`t an attempt of reforming unions be more an opportunist line of entrysm, than of a-s?

As I see it, I`m supporting akai`s position here: a-s organizations must find a way to act while preserving their a-s positions. For start, I would propose being more critical of the fetishism of mass character of organizations in such a way which wouldn`t lead to sectarianism. Because such fetish keeps the a-s blind to real mass movements (e.g. occupy, indignados, street assemblies etc.) where I think it can find its main purpose - contesting the bourgeois ideology and leftist mystification and supporting the evolution of class consciousness. I wouldn`t say that we have opened a question of double-efforts, but of lost efforts. I`m not saying that the organising and solidarity networks the a-s are proposing (and achieving in limited moments) are a bad thing, but that in such a way we are just making the every-day life just a bit more comfortable, while, on other hand, the little of solidarity we do achieve is being destroyed by the dominant ideology and capitalist mode of production on an every-day basis. On the other hand, we see the existing mass movements where the workers` are more and more struggling to find the means for breaking with the every-day life of capitalism, opposed to making it more comfortable, which is the same thing we want to achieve as anarchists and communists. I believe that everyone here, myself included, agrees that these movements are of much greater overall significance then anything we`ve ever done. Thus, it would be efforts lost if a minority of revolutionaries would concentrate on trying to reproduce such movements from scratch when they constantly arise in a spontaneous (now this is a word many people are allergic to, but I only mean to explain it as a complex process) manner. Also, the only way anything we do will gain on significance is if we concentrate on such movements, that is, to be a part of the concrete expression of the class. The final battles will not be won under the banner of this or that organization, but under the 'banner' of the proletariat.

A-s should hold to its economic-political principle, but should also try keeping it such, that is, not splitting it into an economic and a political one. Which also means that the loose criteria for membership should be excluded. It was said here that there should be no political criteria for membership, but that people should educate themselves inside the organization. But, who will educate them? The a-s organization is not some kind of abstract magic which turns people into a-s, it, as well as its politics and ideology, is made of people which are organized in it and the ideas they bring in. If there is no political criteria, what keeps it from gradually becoming leftist, populist, or just an ordinary trade-union with rough rhetoric?

klas batalo

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

akai

Food for thought: what has been the historical experience of anarchosyndicalists inside the IWW in terms of moving it towards anarchosyndicalist organization and politics?

My guess is that if they couldn't manage it was anarchosyndicalism was very big in the world, there could be a problem with doing it in general due to the structure.

I think that is all very much an open question. My agitation towards self-described anarcho-syndicalists in the IWW is what are you doing that actually is anarcho-syndicalist? I've met a lot of self-described anarchists in the United States that think it just means being an anarchist who joins unions or organizes in the labor movement, which is a very shallow thing. I mean it is a good newbie reaction probably to the prevalence of utter shittier politics in the US, but once these comrades develop further I want to hear some substance to back it up. To some degree this might be a self-critique. When I joined the IWW in 2007 all my anarchist friends I were meeting were saying they were anarcho-syndicalists. For this I think it meant they were anarchists and in the IWW. That's about it. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started to actually understand what anarcho-syndicalism and anarchist-communism really is.

Also I agree totally with Navee. I think good work will not just replicate economic union work but is also about developing political content in struggles. Also I think criteria are extremely important.

Also what do folks think about this piece in relation to the discussion:

http://gurgaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/#fn8

888

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

akai

think if you apply your politics to real activity, you can openly go for anarchosyndicalism and I suppose that if people were willing to join the IWW, they really would have been willing to join an anarchosyndicalist organization doing the same type of activity also, but one has never been on offer.

Exactly!

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just a quick thanks for all the interesting and thoughtful comments. Some of which I may come back to.

Recognizing that I'm not the most articulate person, I may not have accurately put my thoughts down properly.

Basically, basically I was thinking out loud. Over the past year or so, I've been thinking about anarcho-syndicalism in the US context. And as folks have talked about regroupment of existing
political organizations, I have wondered about what role and place those with a specific anarcho-syndicalist perspective might have or where it fits in, if at all or marginally. Additionally, there's been some sporadic and off list emails, discussions about anarcho-syndicalism. More food for thought. And, like I said previously, as time marches on, how can I best use my own limited time, focus, past experiences and perspectives wisely?

Basically, the question sort was "What would ones dream a/s organization" be? Of course that opens the door to some of the other points/issues/perspectives folks have raised here.

One thing I will say, as diversity of activities and efforts by a/s have varied and will vary,
there will generally need to be a flexible ability to deal with it. Unless, of course, some feel there is only one route to go. I've never been convinced of a singular approach, but this may have more to do with my own experiences then anything else. And, I suppose, we are all shaped by direct experiences. Being off the shopfloor and off the in-the-streets movement for many years now, I am loath to proscribe to others what I myself an unable to do. But will share observations, experiences, thoughts when I can.

In my reflection process I recall a few years back a couple of Libcom threads on a parallel topic on this topic in 2007. Some of the questions from then are still the same (in my mind) as they are today. Here's the links to those earlier conversations:

N. American Anarcho-syndicalism today
NOTE: I posted this here: http://libcom.org/forums/anarcho-syndicalism-101/the-relevancy-of-anarcho-syndicalism (at bottom) and perhaps it might well belong on this subject topic.
I'm curious how different anarcho-syndicalists (and those close to anarcho-syndicalism) see their activities and roles today. That is, what sort of organization and what sort of organizational relevancy foots their bill?

In the US and Canadian context, what would an expplicitly anarcho-syndicalist organization mean and do? Given the diversity of activist efforts here in the US/Canada, can an anarcho-syndicalist organization be more like a "especifico" organization? That is, an organization of like minded activists coming together to issue libertarian literature and help develop and enhance their work in a variety of worker, social and community struggles. Or must its sole and defining role be something else or something else?

[New thread started here:] http://libcom.org/forums/organise/n-american-anarcho-syndicalism-today

Anyway, got to get back to work. Big thanks to all those who share thoughts. And good luck in all of your practical activities.

EDIT: Links to previous discussions are more for historical reasons then anything else.

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Lots of good points. I've been a longtime supporter of the IWA, but personally have had trouble figuring out how build something like that in the North American context. Lately things I've seen with the conservative potential of the left in moments of struggle have brought me back to rethink some of the basics of organizing, and has been leading me to think we need something like an IWA affiliate in the US (along the lines klas laid out). The devil is in the details and I'm weighing things out, but thank others for their thoughts that are helpful here. Just want to second akai and klas' thoughts on anarchosyndicalist organization's potential additions. I'll only add a couple things to supplement their more general points.

I actually do think that a separate anarchosyndicalist organization of struggle would be useful concretely for our work today because:
-the rise of militant reformism backed by radicals in the US
-the plurality of anarchosyndicalist inspired projects
-the lack of resources and direction for anarchosyndicalists that tends to make people go in bad directions over time

-There are anarchosyndicalist inspired projects that are separate and grappling with similar issues that could work together. For instance seasol folks have discussed their difficulty integrating their ideas into their work. Anarchosyndicalists in the IWW as well. There could be a space to experiment, work that out, etc., as anarchosyndicalists. Here I think seasol has a pretty radical approach in trying to address the breadth of working class experience inside and outside the workplace. We should be building anarchosyndicalist organizations that take on the different facets of working class experience like housing, transit, workplace, schools, etc., and can build militants flexibly out of that. I do think workplace struggle is important and that's my main work, but think there's a need to have dialogue across those.

-The rise of militant reformism in the US (seiu-led housing, fight for 15, our walmart) has shown the potential for recuperation and radicals playing conservative roles in struggle. Many of my friends are now openly talking about how ideas are concretely relevant in simple fights, and not just in the big picture. For instance, in my work with taxi drivers I found that pro-electoral sentiments were so strong they would destroy their own victories out of ideological commitment to becoming a legislative force. Some in the IWW have moved to doing ideological work on the shopfloor in struggles (not lecturing, but making our politics concrete). I know seasol is the same. We could be better at it, put our heads together, and do so as a/s since it's tough to do that in groups where there are good sections completely opposed to what we want to do.

-Speaking from experience in the IWW, many come into organizing from anarchism. Many militants have political desires that they have trouble engaging in reformist and neutral syndicalist projects. The usual outcome for this stuff is either to move to apolitical reformist organizing or towards bad politicized activism. An anarchosyndicalist project can help give people tools to stay a revolutionary in their work. In some ways the recomp blog has done some small steps in this direction (as well as others).

Bozeman- on post #22. Sorry if that was dense. I used to think that we could overcome the marginality of anarchist organizing through structural and positional changes. Now I see that the objective situation combined with the ideology most people have play a stronger role in determining what's possible for us to do. Leftist often think if we tinker with tossing elements of our ideas over board we'll attract more workers, which I've found with experience not to be the case. I really don't see any functioning mass organizations in our time period and not because people aren't doing work well. In many ways I see our role as developing people, engaging in fights, and preparing for when the conditions change and the direction of struggle becomes more open (like somewhat happened in occupy, though extremely limited). Part of this is rethinking what success and failure are, and another to rethink the role of ideas and our own activity so that we don't reproduce generations of militants that will be trying to steer workers back into reformists acting militantly during ruptures because they see militancy and hope it will be inherently radical. Hope that's slightly more clear :(

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry just to clarify, but building a US - IWA thing I mean an organization or network doing organizing in workplaces and neighborhoods rather than pro-IWA political organizations. That's a separate discussion, and I do have respect for those attempts although I have different opinions on specific political groups.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

having never been anything but primarily an anarcho-syndicalist (ok, aside from a longhair), I'm always open to having conversations with others who are or considering anarcho-syndicalism.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

having never been anything but primarily an anarcho-syndicalist (ok, aside from a longhair), I'm always open to having conversations with others who are or considering anarcho-syndicalism.

why would some vote "down" something like this? i mean, really. having conversations don't always mean agreement.

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

s.nappalos

Bozeman- on post #22. Sorry if that was dense. I used to think that we could overcome the marginality of anarchist organizing through structural and positional changes. Now I see that the objective situation combined with the ideology most people have play a stronger role in determining what's possible for us to do. Leftist often think if we tinker with tossing elements of our ideas over board we'll attract more workers, which I've found with experience not to be the case. I really don't see any functioning mass organizations in our time period and not because people aren't doing work well. In many ways I see our role as developing people, engaging in fights, and preparing for when the conditions change and the direction of struggle becomes more open (like somewhat happened in occupy, though extremely limited). Part of this is rethinking what success and failure are, and another to rethink the role of ideas and our own activity so that we don't reproduce generations of militants that will be trying to steer workers back into reformists acting militantly during ruptures because they see militancy and hope it will be inherently radical. Hope that's slightly more clear :(

Thanks nappalos, this does clarify things. I'm in agreement with all this, in particular the whole need to avoid steering into militant reform militancy. I actually see that as becoming more of a problem of late.

It makes me wonder where we do need to be aiming or preparing when struggle does become more open?

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A question to N. American anarchosyndicalists. I am curious. As we can see, some strains of alternative syndicalism are highly tied to the state. N. Americans, in my personal opinion, have tended to be clueless about this, since you do not have a strongly developed social democracy. So some part of the anarchist movement relates quite neutrally to social democracy and I suppose it is because it has not seen some people in real power. The question becomes more intellectual and people say things like "well, we are all leftists". Of course this is just some part.

How do N. American anarchosyndicalists envision this question when it comes to cooperation with European movements? Since European anarchosyndicalists tend to stay quite clearly away from the alternative unions created by the social democrats and participating in party and class collaboration. (In the worst case scenarios, unions used to create a political base for parties, financial manipulation of funds of the workers, party and state subsidies, etc.)

I am in particular interested in opinions if anybody is in IWW.

Lugius

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It is even worse in Australia as there is effectively only one union inextricably enmeshed with one political party. I refer to the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Australian Labor Party. All registered unions in Australia are affiliated to the ACTU. Any attempt to break away is mercilessly crushed. The most recent historical examples being the Australian and International Pilots Association in 1989 and the Shearers and Rural Workers' Union in 1994.

The AIPA broke away from the ACTU as a result of a lack of support for their campaign for wage increases and safe operating guarantees. This campaign involved the biggest pilots strike in Australian history. The ALP government ordered the RAAF to use Hercules transport aircraft to fly domestic passengers between Sydney and Melbourne - the most heavily trafficated route. The strike was lost and the AIPA returned to the ACTU.

The SRWU was formed in 1994 by disaffected members of the Australian Workers Union to pursue a claim for penalty rates on weekends (among other things). The AWU sided with the National Farmers Federation against the shearers. The SRWU remains small but independant from the ACTU.

Previous to the 1996 election of the Howard Liberal government only registered unions could run cases in the arbitration commission (since replaced by Fair Work Australia) and registration was impossible without ACTU affiliation. Registered unions in Australia must have their elections run by the Australian Electoral Commission, a statutory authority of the Federal government.

Juan Conatz

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

akai

A question to N. American anarchosyndicalists. I am curious. As we can see, some strains of alternative syndicalism are highly tied to the state. N. Americans, in my personal opinion, have tended to be clueless about this, since you do not have a strongly developed social democracy. So some part of the anarchist movement relates quite neutrally to social democracy and I suppose it is because it has not seen some people in real power. The question becomes more intellectual and people say things like "well, we are all leftists". Of course this is just some part.

How do N. American anarchosyndicalists envision this question when it comes to cooperation with European movements? Since European anarchosyndicalists tend to stay quite clearly away from the alternative unions created by the social democrats and participating in party and class collaboration. (In the worst case scenarios, unions used to create a political base for parties, financial manipulation of funds of the workers, party and state subsidies, etc.)

I am in particular interested in opinions if anybody is in IWW.

What a loaded set of leading questions.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Why? These are very basic questions actually.

If somebody is talking about anarchosyndicalist organizations, they have to discuss their positions towards other, different forms of syndicalism, ranging from the most mainstream unions, to the liberal reformist and social democratic ones. Because, supposedly you will have to explain to people why you are different than those unions and why people should join your organization. If you want to be a functioning union of any kind (as opposed to a propaganda group), you have to be able to explain this to workers.

Lugius

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, a fair and reasonable point. I don't see how the questions are either loaded or leading. As a sidebar, I'm interested to know more about the relationship between the Democrats and the AFL-CIO.

akai

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh, that's a big topic. Maybe it should be on another thread. (Today I was actually thinking about writing some short critical article about the foundings of the AFL and how their politics and strategies differed from the IWPA - I'll send it around when finished.)

klas batalo

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

akai

Why? These are very basic questions actually.

If somebody is talking about anarchosyndicalist organizations, they have to discuss their positions towards other, different forms of syndicalism, ranging from the most mainstream unions, to the liberal reformist and social democratic ones. Because, supposedly you will have to explain to people why you are different than those unions and why people should join your organization. If you want to be a functioning union of any kind (as opposed to a propaganda group), you have to be able to explain this to workers.

I agree. I was just talking to FWs in the IWW in Boston and we were discussing how the IWW often in both recruitment and in the OT101 doesn't often make the case enough for why someone should join and organize for the IWW compared to who knows UE or these new militant reformist things we are seeing from SEIU, Unite-Here, workers centers like ROC United, etc.

Is it because we have revolutionary industrial unionism? Are we syndicalist? Is it cause we are grassroots and democratic? We are more militant? Is it the One Big Union and Cooperative Commonwealth? Do we have a better organizing/salting program?

This is not a dig at the IWW, I'm a proud member, but these are the types of things an anarcho-syndicalist organization, and really any organization has to ask of themselves and explain to others.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm at best a marginal IWW member. So I really don't want to spend too much time on an IWW discussion here.

Briefly, crazy to think about splitting the IWW. That would be most unproductive.

One of the reasons why we set up the WSA in 1984 was to be able to have an organization that could be explicit about its politics and not have to be a/s baited in the IWW like we were (strange as it sounds). But that was many years ago.

It's also impractical to think the IWW will follow any different sort of international course then it is now on.

The IWW will always be a multi-tendency IWW as it has been since 1905. Prolly the best thing that committed anarcho-syndicalists in the IWW can do is engage and push "the" perspective. Some of the better stuff along those lines has been the "Direct Unionist" stuff (always a hat-tip).
And if folks can build their Branch in a manner, fashion and way based on a/s concepts and
ideas, that's a good thing. And if footloose comrades can help build the nacent Food & Resturant Workers Union along libertarian and syndicalist lines, that's a good thing too.

I know not of these Chomsky a/s types Klaus talks about, but Chomsky did write a decent intro to Rocker's re-released "London Years" book. And that's what he does, write.

Akai wrote:

A question to N. American anarchosyndicalists. I am curious. As we can see, some strains of alternative syndicalism are highly tied to the state. N. Americans, in my personal opinion, have tended to be clueless about this, since you do not have a strongly developed social democracy. So some part of the anarchist movement relates quite neutrally to social democracy and I suppose it is because it has not seen some people in real power. The question becomes more intellectual and people say things like "well, we are all leftists". Of course this is just some part.

I'd take this in a somewhat different direction...back home. I think there's some relevancy to the questions in so far as many of the newer struggles of low wage workers are being waged by what is being termed "alternative labor". And large and key swathes of this alternative labor is being recouped and backed by mainstream trade unions...often with a left veneer. So, I think, it's prolly a better and more constructive discussion for north american a/s to have a discussion of this matter/problem. Then it is to discuss the international affairs of a multi-tendencied and international oriented IWW as Akai originally raises.

s.nappalos

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Social democracy- I think it is a problem that the US is unfamiliar with militant forms of reformism in particular. Institutionalized reformism is a different beast as well, but I think in high points of struggle large sections of the left will likely go running into the arms of militant reformists, something which our actions could prevent or encourage. To an extent we've been able to push things forward in certain moments, like with the general strike stuff, but that's one area where anarchosyndicalism has a lot to offer. There isn't a clear discourse or practice distinguishing militant forms of social democracy from revolutionary anarchist struggle though. In the past few years (the crisis...) sections of the anarchist movement have been discussing this, doing experiments in our organizing, etc., to figure out what makes our work say anarchist communist specifically in practice.

Ingersoll

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

akai

If somebody is talking about anarchosyndicalist organizations, they have to discuss their positions towards other, different forms of syndicalism, ranging from the most mainstream unions, to the liberal reformist and social democratic ones.

Shouldn't we, if we are explaining anarchosyndicalism, talk about yellow unions as such instead? I don't think "liberal reformist" and "social democratic" (whatever that means) ones are differing by their relation to the state. By giving the importance to some specific union "strategy", I would say, we are being dragged into engagement with politics. If explaining yellow unions, one shouldn't deal with how much they are instrumentalized by some concrete party or politics, but should start from the fact they are integrated into the state and that this is a consequence of their character as yellow unions, not their current 'line'.

* Of course, I don't have anything against discussions on AFL-CIO etc. but the way it is presented - as something that is relevant for (and especially for) anarchosyndicalists and agitators today.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The thing is though, outside of mass experience with the trade unions, lots of folks (and in this case, with reference to the IWW in particular) do see some of the trade unions, like UE or the ILWU, as 'fighting unions'. On top of this is the fact that militant trade unionism has reappeared on the scene--fast food worker strikes in NYC and Chicago, Wal-Mart workers strikes, and subcontractored warehouse workers strikes. They're even employing the sorts of minority unionism and recognition strikes that many in the IWW have advocated for years.

Then there's the fact that certain elements of the state are trying smash what little remains of the co-option of trade unions into the management structures of capital and the state. And that struggles against that--a la Wisconsin--have had a radicalizing effect on the discourse, if not the consciousness of participants.

So, in that context, yeah, of course these are important differentiations and conversations worth having.

Ingersoll

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not sure which "folks" you mean, but if you (If I understood you correctly) meant IWW supporters I don't see how this - that many people in IWW see UE/ILWU as "fighting unions" - changes anything. There are many militant workers that are members of these or many other unions but doesn't mean anything by itself - if we try to "use" this for agitation we again must deal with everything yellow unions bring with their existance - sectoral and union divisions, leaders and inability to act unofficially.

And just to be clear, I didn't say there are conversations "not worth having" - I was talking about the way these yellow unions are presented (as they have some substantial differences between themselves, while being unable to grasp their essence).

Then there's the fact that certain elements of the state are trying smash what little remains of the co-option of trade unions into the management structures of capital and the state. And that struggles against that--a la Wisconsin--have had a radicalizing effect on the discourse, if not the consciousness of participants.

I'm not sure I know what you mean. Can you post some link, or elaborate on these struggles?

Chilli Sauce

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I guess what I had i mind was the push--in some northern states incidentally--to abolish what limited protections trade unions have historically been granted as part the social democratic class compromise coming out of the New Deal, the Great Depression, and the post-war social settlement.

I think Wisconsin is the classic example--a successful attempt to basically strip public sector unions of any of things like dues checkoff that have been so instrumental in turning them into service organizations. You can see how certain elements of the ruling class, in this day in age, no longer view trade unions as part of the necessary machinery to control class conflict.

Does that make sense?

boozemonarchy

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yup, Chili, and thats exactly what it was. I think a lot of participants viewed it as a more general attack on "the right to organize", though if that is a reality or not I'm not so sure.

But yea, the important part here is the ruling class is happy to show its cards. Even though the big unions have been forged into excellent tools for controlling class conflict, they have reached the end of their usefulness in that regard. I think this speaks to the necessity of leaving them (that is, if your moving into them to organize resistance or some such, not if you just happen to be union) wholesale and trying to build a new collective understanding of syndicalism and let the big old unions collect dust. We really need like a dozen, "See, now that is unionism" moments.

syndicalist

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just a US observation.

From an A/S perspective, without a strategy and long term commitment
to organize.it's hard to go up against or around unions who have
money to spend and full time staff at work doing this stuff...or folks
close to the union salting....this is why some mainstream trade unions
are able to recoup some of the "minority unionism" stuff now (warehouse, fast
food, etc).

This opens up a number of questions. But as I am no longer active on a daily basis,
I'm loath to give advice and tell others what to do. But if I was young, footloose
and committed to shopfloor work, I'd prolly try and get together with IWW folks in the
FRWU and try and devise a way to engage in meaningful concentration. A target company/ies
in a few cities. Same in logistics industry.

But I think the nature of the original posting has prolly played itself out. Thanks for the participation.

EDIT: Hat-tip to the Jimmy Johns Workers and Starbucks Workers Unions for their pioneering work and struggles in the food industry.

syndicalist

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some of us have initiated a North American Anarchist Workers listserv.

The Anarchist Workers listserv is open to militants involved in worker and
labor struggles across North America. We are active as rank and file
members of the IWW, trade unions, workers centers, and other
worker-oriented projects and campaigns.

We have come together to create a space to learn from and share our
experiences in various struggles, promote our perspectives, coordinate
our efforts, where possible and practical, and contribute to building a
revolutionary workers movement.

This will be a Moderated list.

The aim of this list shall be to foster comradely and constructive
discussion. Difference of opinions shall be expressed in a principled manner.

There will be No flaming.

Those who engage in flaming or bad behavior shall be asked to refrain from
same. Should this not cease, further action, including suspension or banning
could be in order.

PM me or Klas for further information.

Harrison

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

s.nappalos

Speaking from experience in the IWW, many come into organizing from anarchism. Many militants have political desires that they have trouble engaging in reformist and neutral syndicalist projects. The usual outcome for this stuff is either to move to apolitical reformist organizing or towards bad politicized activism.

This is an interesting comment, but i'm a little confused by the definition of reformist here? The first mention looks like it refers to 'a campaign to achieve a reform' and the second looks like it refers to carrying out dogwork for the liberal 'social democratic' political current in the workers movement (ie. modern AFL-CIO). bozemananarchy's following reply is also impossible to engage with because of this.

klas batalo

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

yes i believe that is what scott means harrison. basically there are a lot of political activists that are struggle or organizing shy, or that think wrongly or are too skeptical of any movement for immediate gains as being too reformist.

Joseph Kay

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Are you saying that people reason that if 'any work for immediate gains is reformist', they may as well work for well-resourced organisations and/or get paid for doing it, rather than pursuing independent initiatives?

klas batalo

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

no i am saying that i believe scott is talking about total abstentionism, i.e. there is this sorta like huge skepticism within the activist scene here of anything that isn't total revolution.

Joseph Kay

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ok ta

Harrison

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

yes i believe that is what scott means harrison. basically there are a lot of political activists that are struggle or organizing shy, or that think wrongly or are too skeptical of any movement for immediate gains as being too reformist.

Thanks for answering, but I should also point out that you've introduced a third definition of reformism ('not radical enough').

I get that you and scott are using it to describe what a certain tendency (not your own) polemicises social movements with, but what i was trying to get at in my post was whether scott was criticising those activists for then doing something like joining SEIU as salts (ie. carrying out dogwork for liberals), or for being pushed toward extreme apoliticism in their organising for radical political projects.

Nate

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I just read through this thread and I have a lot to say. I think I agree with Redsdisease's points from earlier.

I think anarchosyndicalists in the U.S. don't actually have a lot in common and so a formal organization of anarchosydnicalists that would bring together all anarchosyndicalists in the US based on anarchosyndicalism as the common denominator sounds to me like a mess. Like some of us think the IWW is the place to be, others don't, the @syndicalists in the IWW disagree about what to do, and there's differences in theory (for instance I think Tom Wetzel is a really smart writer who makes important contributions by his writing but I and others disagree with some of his views on coordinator class and stuff like that). And so I think it'd probably be best if there were multiple anarchosyndicalist groupings in the U.S. pursuing different approaches to work out those differences in practice and by more writing. So like different small grouplets pursuing projects, maybe within a common framework that promotes relationships and comradeliness (which would probably need an organizing committee, either formally or informally - Syndicalist I think you've played this role in a huge way within the CSAC/mostly-platformist milieu for years, and others in WSA have done so as well) and maybe an occasional social gathering to promote good will. But nothing more unified/pan-a/s than that.

It might also be good to try to draw a map or make like a field guide to North American anarchosyndicalists.

This won't surprise my friends on here but personally I'm most interested in doing IWW work as an IWW member and I think that's just as valid a version of anarchosydnicalism in practice in the US as other versions (and no more valid a version either, as in, other folk could reasonably pursue other courses of action - this isn't a matter of differences in principle). For anarcho syndicalists in the IWW I think the things to do would be to sort out what in the organization is not in keeping with anarchosydnicalism, if anything, and start working to change that stuff, not by policy changes but by convincing the rest of the membership. I think the IWW could be (and may already be) basically what at least some anarchosyndicalists would want even though it didn't/doesn't identify itself with that vocabulary and those terms. Once that was done (ie, once the IWW became anarchosyndicalist for all intents and purposes) then it'd make sense to ramp up explicit ideological work around the anarchosyndicalist tradition and the terminology and actively advocate for it. That could be done sooner though too, like for instance I think a big push to get all wobs to read Fighting For Ourselves would be productive. Beyond that, the stuff talked about here like popular education etc, I'm more interested in doing this as an IWW member with IWW members. So like an education committee of the IWW bringing together IWW members and interested fellow travelers to talk about and shape the IWW's vision and activity. I think that work could be done with an anarchosydnicalist *content* without the vocabulary of anarchosyndicalism (and like I sorta said it'd be one variant of anarchosyndicalism, I realize others are possible). I'm more interested in that than I am in a body where the common denominator is the anarchosyndicalist tradition and vocabulary because I think that that stuff would fail to capture some important differences between people and would do less to work out the pressing issues the IWW faces.

I also agree that anarchosyndicalist unions and the IWW aren't in competition. If anything I think it'd be better for a/s unions to pop up around the US than an a/s political organization. The a/s unions and IWW could co-exist in constructive ways as long as there was good work done to build relationships and could share experiences. That'd be way, way better IMHO than creating an a/s political organization open to members regardless of their practical home (like drawing from the IWW, solidarity networks, etc).

IMHO creating an a/s political organization would create other problems at least for the IWW (though there still might be good relationships) because IWW members who are also in political organization tend to take one kind of work to the IWW and another kind to their political organization, when in my opinion the whole point of a/s stuff is to have what SolFed calls a political-economic organization. I don't want to repeat debates some of us have had on here about CSAC groups and the IWW as I think the positions are well defined and we'll just rehearse those argument again. I only want to say that I think the same problem would happen if the political organization's ideology is a/s instead of platformist or whatever. Maybe there's other reasons to do that despite the effects on the IWW. I'm open to that, it's a matter of what people's priorities are and I think this is something reasonable people can differ on.

So I think it'd be better to have a proliferation of a/s political-economic organizations in the U.S. rather than a/s political organizations alongside other fighting organizations whose members would then de facto do less political work in their fighting organizations.

akai

Food for thought: what has been the historical experience of anarchosyndicalists inside the IWW in terms of moving it towards anarchosyndicalist organization and politics?

Well recently the IWW's passed a constitutional amendment banning no strike clauses and has had some major ideological debate on contracts, which in part helped influence that amendment's passing. Some self-identified a/s people played big roles in that (and others opposed it, because in their view a/s is compatible with contracts and whatnot; FWIW I'm personally not interested in the debate about whether or not contracts are in keeping with a/s principles so much as I was interested in the debates over whether or not contracts are a good idea). I'd also say that some people played important roles in that who have politics that are basically identical with that of a/s but they don't identify with that tradition or speak that vocabulary. As in, the content's the same despite the trappings.
That aside, some of us have also written various pieces published in the Industrial Worker that try to analyze and criticize the role of the state and labor law. That's in line with what you're asking, I think. So I see some steps forward. And there's our training program which has improved the quality of the organizing and had an important democratizing effect, and we've worked hard to share that training in a comradely and internationalist fashion with groups around the world, like with SolFed. So that seems to me to be moving the IWW in that direction. I feel like a small handful of us have gotten a lot done in improving the IWW and the existing political organizations have contributed very little to that and mostly have been a distraction. As such I think further efforts on political organization will mostly also be a distraction (at least for the purposes of building and improving the IWW, again people could reasonably have other purposes and priorities). I also think that part of why we haven't gotten further on this stuff politically in the IWW is that it's taken a lot of work to build basic competency and to share skills in a democratic way.

klas batalo

Most IWW self-described anarcho-syndicalists are underdeveloped politically IMHO and are sorta a mix of Chomskyites/CNT history nerd LARPers (...)
It is not about drawing people away from their mass work, but about developing their practice and the political content. What does it mean that most US anarcho-syndicalists are in the IWW, if they are not actively developing an anarcho-syndicalist practice but just a democratic industrial unionism with an outdated vision of a cooperative commonwealth? Where is the critique of the State? Where is the critique of representational politics (other than a minority within the anarcho-syndicalists/ultra-left of the IWW)? Where is the practice outside of the workplace?

Why not then work on getting IWW members together to talk about this stuff, based on the common values and vocabularies that IWW members have, and in a way that improves the content of those values and vocabularies? This sort of gets back to the thing about how there are different practical versions of a/s in the US, I'm sort of advocating for one version of this for and among IWW members. I do think there's good stuff that could be done based on the lowest common denominator being "we're anarchosyndicalists" but as I've probly made clear I think that there's important limits to that. Especially if it's doing the same old political organization thing again (instead of political-economic organization) just with a/s politics as the official ideology.

syndicalist

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At some point I'd like to come back to this. Just squeezed in other areas at the moment.

I will say that I'm prolly of the opinion that folks pursuing anarcho-syndicalism will prolly not be in one organization. But folks should find ways to have open lines of communication and cooperation.
Coordination around campaigns can be useful as well.

Nate wrote, in regard to relation building and communications:

Syndicalist I think you've played this role in a huge way within the CSAC/mostly-platformist milieu for years....

Just for clarification. First, a thank you.

When we (WSA) started to reach out to folks back around 2007, there weren't many anarcho-syndicalists to reach out to. Most of the folks who were active and pro-class struggle anarchist were engaged in specific class struggle anarchist organizations or close to ideas then a lot more in vogue (such as platformism, them especifismo and now, to a limited extent, it seems anarcho-syndicalism). "Trust me", if there were folks out there who considered themselves anarcho-syndicalists, we would have made the effort to reach them. I can assure you of that. But there really weren't, not to any extent that they wanted to be reached outside of what they personally might have been engaged in.

I guess the point is, while the stresses and strains of stuff make relation building hard (actually harder to hold together), an aim is to always build those relationships. Because we are not an island unto ourselves (mush as we often like to think that way).

On the other stuff, for the time being, I'll just agree to disagree with some of the CSA stuff & the political-economic stuff. I've respect for the IWW and a/s folks who care to be active in the IWW and they should build the "content" of a/s.

Well, signing off for now.

syndicalistcat

8 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When I think about my ideal of a libertarian syndicalist specific org, I think of it as having two roles:

1. As organizers, in mass organizing projects, via concentration of effort to be more effective
2. As a center of popular education.

In practice it has been very hard to have an organization of this kind in the U.S. because there are so few militants, and few committed working collectively on such projects. By organizers in a mass organizing project, I have in mind several things. One would be building an actual base union in a workplace, or a small class union with a set of base unions, independent of the business unions. I don't think of such unions as using the language of "anarchosyndicalism." that's not going to happen in USA. Rather, I think in terms of the three features I take to be defining for libertarian revolutionary unionism:

1. Grassroots worker control of the union, reliance on direct collective struggle
2. A solidarity orientation, seeing the union as part of a fight of the working class against the dominating classes...class unionism.
3. A recognition that labor (with nature) creates all value & that the capitalists are thus an unnecessary, exploiting class, and some concept of the working class liberation requiring the taking over of direct collective management of industry, eliminating the power of boss classes over us.

At this point in time the IWW's limited vision is fine as a basis for mass organizing. I think the extent of the vision really depends on what is feasible given the current level of consciousness in the class. I don't agree with the SolFed minority union concept, even if in fact unions at present may need to exist as minority organizations (as some in USA do). I think that the power to make headway & pushback against employers to any significant degree, apart from small concessions, means we have to aim to build the grassroots union to a majority force. I suppose that some people might say that I'm proposing to adapt to current consciousness by leaving out elements of a full anarcho-syndicalist vision, in order to strive for a majority unionism. In reply I'd say we have no choice but to do this to some extent, and to push the envelope along the way, to test how far revolutionary libertarian ideas can be accepted and find some way to affect practice.

Another possibility would be building an independent "extra-union" committee in a context where a business union is recognized by the employer. A third possibility might be building a tenants union or maybe a solidarity union that took up both landlord fights & outside fights in regard to employers, as workers centers & solnets do.

The other aspect of the organizational role would be popular education. One-off organizer trainings from time to time are totally inadequate for this. People need more extended study where they learn how to theorize their experience, through things like learning basic radical economics, some revolutionary history & theory. This could take a variety of forms, including a reading circle. Part of the purpose here would be formation of revolutionary militants, and also formation of organizers. My model here would be the Spanish Ateneo tradition which has also existed at times in Latin America. Part of my idea about how this would work might be bringing people who have knowledge in some area to lead discussions in this center, in addition to things like reading circles or on-going organizer training.

Finally, there is one other role I could see for such a specific org, and this would be producing some local mass oriented publication, whether print or webzine, to provide favorable publicity in cases of struggles, to mobilize popular support, to take sides in defense of militant rank & file elements in things like internal conflicts against the bureaucracy in business unions, and to provide very accessible pieces on bits of radical analysis on topics that are real to the local population.

I know there are those who argue that a specific org simply becomes the focus of radical politics for militants & thus they are less likely to inject radical politics into the mass org. This is how Leninist groups tend to work, but they start from a position that revolution is brought about by the specific org, the party. We don't have that view. As I have defined my ideal specific org, the aim is just the opposite. the aim is precisely to organize mass orgs and organize in them for the kind of direction & way of working that we favor.

It's mistaken to talk about this being whether unions are to be "political" or not. Any union has a politics. They generally tend to be political-economic orgs. Rather, the issue for us is the kind of politics the union has, and this includes how it is run...is it based on participation, direct struggle, independent of parties & bureaucracies, built so as to encourage & facilitate participation & control by members? And so on.

I think the IWW's self-definition as a union has tended to lead it to focus on the workplace, tho there have been some cases of other focuses, such as the enviro area. but I think it's not likely the IWW is going to become a center of tenant organizing for example. I don't see why all mass struggles have to be organized thru the worker union.

Another way of looking at this would be to think in terms of alliances that should exist between the union and mass struggles & social movement orgs apart from the union. The CGT & CNT in Spain both have some involvement in environmentalism, and ally with Ecologists in Action, which seems to be a more direct action oriented enviro group there. Both unions have had links to squatter groups, and possibly squat collectives associated with the union. In the earlier era of anarcho-syndicalism, there was some history of that sort, like the Renters Union in Vera Cruz Mexico affiliated to the CGT in the '20s. Jose Luis Carretero's article Siete tesis para un movimiento en el centro del tormento (anarkismo.net/article/24149) discusses this issue of how much can be taken on by a worker union, in the context of contemporary Spanish anarcho-syndicalism.

I think that the ability of a revolutionary libertarian union to maintain its approach & its radical spirit depends on having some way to train & form active worker members so that they are inclined to continue the union's grassroots democratic character & its critical stance towards the employers & union bureaucracies & politicians & state. So you could say, I suppose, that the union, if it has the resources, should have its own worker's school. In the case of the CNT in Spain in the '30s they relied on the Ateneos, which were independent of the union. There were at least 100 of these in Barcelona in the '30s. They were independent membership organizations.

klas batalo

8 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i'm not just saying this cause we're in the same organization, but also from my experience that i'd pretty much agree with your framework here.

one thing regarding the whole minority/mass distinction, solfed's conception, etc...

just wondering, couldn't there be room for the anarcho-syndicalist minority to eventually win over the various independent libertarian revolutionary grassroots solidarity class unions (say that three times fast) to anarcho-syndicalism and anti-statist methods as they become more and more mass entities? thus organically growing the size of the anarcho-syndicalist minority within society?

i mean i actually think history speaks to the fact that revolutionary syndicalism of a libertarian anarchistic bent can thrive even if on a small scale in the united states, look at the IWW, though again you are probably right at least historically that the a-s label may not have taken off huge... but surely now we are at a point where there is a large anarcho-syndicalist majority within that organization and maybe later down the line it could be won to anti-statist positions and methods, etc.

this being said I do think some places could have success organizing as an anarcho-syndicalist minority union...but mostly depends on the composition and age of the workforce...

anyway if SolFed call the revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist minority a union and we call it a political organization i really don't see much difference theoretically if both are engaged in the same sorta strategy.

syndicalistcat

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

the word "anarcho-syndicalism" only got sort of entrenched in the movement in the '30s I think. I mean, what is the difference between anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary, libertarian, self-managed, horizontal, class unionism that aims at workers management of industries & expropriation of the dominating classes? I think a revolutionary union movement also needs to fight against all forms of oppression, and thus should be feminist & anti-racist. But I don't expect a full understanding of all these aspects to develop overnight. Especially not in an era when struggle is often at low level (especially in USA) or episodic. I'm not a member of IWW so I'm not sure to what extent members understand the critique of the business unions. Altho it is true USA doesn't have a social-democratic party, the Democratic Party has played an analogous role for the union bureaucracy here. As they gave up the struggle over control of the workplace, and reject direct action that falls outside the narrow legally allowed limits, they always point people to electoral politics as the solution...voting for the Democrats. But this does not have a lot of traction with many working class people in USA. Rate of abstention is quite a bit higher in USA than in Europe or Australia. So how the anti-statism inherent in revolutionary unionism is to be understood is something that needs to be thought out, as far as how to approach this in USA. In other words, I think it is true to say that people who go along with IWW are likely to go along with anarcho-syndicalism, de facto at any rate. But what would that mean exactly, for the IWW to be anarcho-syndicalist?

At present there are some local initiatives that anarcho-syndicalists in USA are involved in that are not part of IWW, such as SeaSol or Lansing Workers Center. There are also class fights that take place outside the workplace, such as around housing & transit, as Scott mentioned earlier. I think a radical base union could be built with a basically revolutionary, libertarian character apart from the IWW. So I think the problem with limiting anarcho-syndicalist organization to simply work in the IWW for example would leave a lack of connections....people working in diverse areas. And how does a revolultionary union relate to the struggles against various forms of oppression of a non-class character? Not saying it can't. I'm saying this is an open question. IWW can't quite take in all the possible areas of organizing. Maybe it's okay that there is this lack of connection. But it would be useful for there to be an organization that tries to think about the range of contexts of struggle.

If you look at the history of the labor movement in the USA, unionism has only grown in periods of large-scale strikes & insurgency, and all kinds of new organizations were created, new people became active. The bureaucratic business unions can't bring this about because it would require people breaking out of the currently limited legal framework, violating court injunctions, sympathy actions (which are technically illegal in USA altho they happen occasionally). I think in a period like that the IWW would be likely to grow, but so would other organizations.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i think a healthy way of looking at anarcho-syndicalism would be to look at it as hopefully developing again as a mass movement with a plurality of organizations...so let's say even if the IWW did become basically anarcho-syndicalist in orientation, but alongside libertarian base unions of such an orientation, or solidarity networks, or other workers social centers and public popular spaces for education, and so on... this is how the movement as a movement existed historically and there will probably not just be one or two single organizations... but I do think attempts towards more explicit AS should be tried...and discussions between militants and such organizations could be further promoted.

s.nappalos

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In Miami IWW we're throwing out wide nets and have taken the orientation to organize around the experience of capitalism in general including struggles around neighborhood, housing, immigration, gender, etc. There's no reason that can't happen, and housing stuff has happened in IWW branches in recent history.

syndicalistcat

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

nate, I'm not sure why you think this:

So I think it'd be better to have a proliferation of a/s political-economic organizations in the U.S. rather than a/s political organizations alongside other fighting organizations whose members would then de facto do less political work in their fighting organizations.

if the aim of the libertarian political org is to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character, it seems to me that would be likely to increase the political character of the mass org. Nor is it clear that all political activity that is useful to do has to occur in a single organization.

For example there are reasons why there are distinct women's organizations. In the past anarcho-syndicalists sometimes said that was "divisive". that's what CNT leaders said in regard to Mujeres Libres in '30s.

Not sure why an Ateneo type center has to be a project of a political-economic mass org.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't want to speak for Nate but I'm sure that what he was referring to is the emphasis, very present in the US scene at the moment, of forming anarchist political organizations with "unity of theory and tactics" which will somehow bring the right ideas to the mass organizations. Central to the underlying theory here is that "mass organizations" should be emptied of any revolutionary political content because then all they are is political organizations pretending to be otherwise. I've even heard (ahem) a WSA member talk publically about how we can make a neat division of labor between the IWW (mass organization) and the WSA (specific organization).

Your example of Mujeres Libres is a good one. In the basic platformist/especifista schematic, at least as it gets interpreted in the US, it was a mistake from the start to form a mass organization for anarchist women, it should have been a mass women's organization to which a properly oriented anarchist organization gave the correct ideas.

I know for myself, and I believe for Nate and others who are critical of this need to divide everything into mass and specific organizations, we are happy to be a bit more pluralistic.

syndicalistcat

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Central to the underlying theory here is that "mass organizations" should be emptied of any revolutionary political content because then all they are is political organizations pretending to be otherwise.

This is certainly not "central" to what *I* was suggesting, since what I was suggesting was just the reverse. Here is what I said above:

I know there are those who argue that a specific org simply becomes the focus of radical politics for militants & thus they are less likely to inject radical politics into the mass org. This is how Leninist groups tend to work, but they start from a position that revolution is brought about by the specific org, the party. We don't have that view. As I have defined my ideal specific org, the aim is just the opposite. the aim is precisely to organize mass orgs and organize in them for the kind of direction & way of working that we favor.

s.nappalos

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Personally I think the most pressing question is what you do with less than 5 militants in a given area where workers aren't self-initiating struggle. If workers start self-initiating and sustaining their fights or you have more serious concentrations of people that are active in struggles, reliable, can agree and work together amiably, etc., those are different scenarios. In our context I do think that most places are stretched extremely thinly and will have a hard time being able to do too many things at once. In that context I personally think we have to prioritize activity that will sustain and develop people. Organizing immediate issues in the community is foremost alongside cultural and educational work directly tied to that. I do think that work is best done by a unitary anarchosyndicalist union right now. But I also think it's important for there to be a plurality of approaches attempted to experiment, and that shifts in context could radically change both what's possible and expedient.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

nate, I'm not sure why you think this:

So I think it'd be better to have a proliferation of a/s political-economic organizations in the U.S. rather than a/s political organizations alongside other fighting organizations whose members would then de facto do less political work in their fighting organizations.

if the aim of the libertarian political org is to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character, it seems to me that would be likely to increase the political character of the mass org. Nor is it clear that all political activity that is useful to do has to occur in a single organization.

For example there are reasons why there are distinct women's organizations. In the past anarcho-syndicalists sometimes said that was "divisive". that's what CNT leaders said in regard to Mujeres Libres in '30s.

Not sure why an Ateneo type center has to be a project of a political-economic mass org.

not to speak for him but i think nate would probably be open to this idea that there can be multiple types of organizations under the anarcho-syndicalist banner.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Organizing immediate issues in the community is foremost alongside cultural and educational work directly tied to that. I do think that work is best done by a unitary anarchosyndicalist union right now.

Also cause of the whole spread thin with a half dozen to a dozen people thing I do think it makes more sense to do more unitary a-s initiatives right now that try to connect the organizing to the educational and cultural element. These could take on more work as they go, and when it becomes too much work for one organization to handle then there could be reasonable reasons to split off and form a movement division of labor, i.e. I think a-s initiatives should do both community, student, workplace stuff for now within limited capacity but if that work became too much for one org to do then it'd make sense to split it off, but i don't think such struggles are sustained enough at the moment to justify that.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I suspect those US or north american groups that identify with anarcho-syndicalism or other forms of libertarian workerism will continue on their own ways. Which is perfectly fine and best for all. Whatever level of coordination or cooperation folks feels works, everyone should engage as appropriate.

Nate

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalistcat

if the aim of the libertarian political org is to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character, it seems to me that would be likely to increase the political character of the mass org.

I don't understand this. It sounds like you mean this as an objection to what I said but I don't get it so I don't get how it's an objection either.

syndicalistcat

Nor is it clear that all political activity that is useful to do has to occur in a single organization.

I don't think all political activity has to occur in a single organization. I'm for multiple fighting organizations and I'm actually for multiple examples of each kind For instance, I'm for revolutionary unions, revolutionary tenant organizations, revolutionary public transit riders organizations, revolutionary student organizations, revolutionary neighborhood associations, etc, and I'm for there being more than one of each kind in a given place, when that makes sense. I'm also for bundling these together when it makes sense (like a revolutionary tenants and workers organization, say, or a revolutionary students and bus riders organization, etc).

(I'm really for people doing whatever they want, but to the very limited degree anyone cares about my opinion...) what I was trying to say was that all things being equal, in my opinion people should start or join a revolutionary fighting organization, rather than a) start or join a revolutionary propaganda organization or b) start or join a non-revolutionary fighting organization or c) do both a) and b) at the same time. IMHO those three things are what some people on the left do in the US and I think a lot of the groups act/talk like c) is the best choice of all - be in a political org that's a propaganda group and be in a non-revolutionary fighting organization. I get that there are specific situations where each one of these makes sense and I trust people's judgment on that if they're like "this makes sense here we are." If something's going on where someone lives/works, it's cool to be part of it. And I think it makes sense for anarchists who are active in reformist organizations to be in a political organization as well, if they get something out of it. What I *don't* get (or don't agree with) is taking this two organization thing as the default approach/basic model. I'd prefer that the default be that people start or join a revolutionary mass organization in general, with exceptions for local circumstances. Like if someone is in a place where they're not active in some kind of fighting organization and they're basically looking for or creating what little activity there is (like starting a solidarity network, for instance), then they should have that activity be openly revolutionary.

syndicalistcat

Not sure why an Ateneo type center has to be a project of a political-economic mass org.

I don't remember saying that they have to be. I think it can be a valid choice either way and people should do what makes sense to them where they live and work. But I also think that the N American left has way more experience with approaches other than political-economic mass organizations and hasn't experimented much at all with approaches based on political-economic mass orgs, and I'd like there to be more experimenting with these second kind of approaches. So, personally, if someone said to me "we're setting up a community center modeled on the ateneos in Spain" I'd be like "oh, it'll probably end up a lot like an infoshop or a lefty bookstore, that's cool, good luck, I hope it goes well." But if someone was like "we're setting up an educational project within our local solidarity network" I'd be more interested, and if they were like "we're building a network of educational projects within solidarity networks" I'd be even more excited. This is because I think these education bodies are more likely to be rooted in or tied to struggle today, and because I think there's a lot less experimenting with that kind of thing in the US than there is experimenting with setting up lefty community centers in general.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What I *don't* get (or don't agree with) is taking this two organization thing as the default approach/basic model.

+1.

Especially when taking that default means arguing for a revolutionary fighting organization to drop its politics.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You lost me Oliver. I'm not clear what you mean or who that's directed to

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Often times when the default idea is that there can and should be only revolutionary propaganda groups and non-revolutionary fighting organizations, this leads to attempting to pull the revolutionary politics out of the fighting organizations. This was certainly one of the main ideas leading to the CGT split, we've also seen it with current platformists supporting Red & Black coordination groups (and encouraging them to have even less explicit politics) for the same reason.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

Often times when the default idea is that there can and should be only revolutionary propaganda groups and non-revolutionary fighting organizations, this leads to attempting to pull the revolutionary politics out of the fighting organizations. This was certainly one of the main ideas leading to the CGT split, we've also seen it with current platformists supporting Red & Black coordination groups (and encouraging them to have even less explicit politics) for the same reason.

I see. Well, I can't speak from that perspective. And I can't speak for "platformists". But I think you use a pretty broad brush to paint things. There are surely folks within one "fighting organization" ,
that many north american folks on Libcom belong to, who see that "fighting organization" not so much in a revolutionary way either. I mean members of that organization, not the Libcom posters.
After all, raising the crimson flag or the red and black flag alone doesn't make a "fighting organization" revolutionary ....and "fighting" can mean different things.

My point is not to be critical of another organization. Said comradely....Rather, painting things with broad brush strokes on this thread really isn't helpful.

EDIT: I would like to say, while I hear some of what you are saying Oliver, about some platformist. I think some comrades coming out of that tradition or close to it to have actually tried to build links between those "in the tradition" and anarcho-syndicalism. Certainly here in the US. If you read some of the current stuff Klas Ballito and Scott Pinapples have written, they are trying to infuse a certain focus on revolutionary workers organization and against sterile "mass work".
While I may have my own viewpoints, I get what they are trying to do and who they are aiming it at. So, at least for some in the north america, the "standard" "social insertion" without revolutionary ideas and combativity is not a direction they see as appropriate. I give them credit
for trying amongst their peers.

Pennoid

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't want to turn this further into a debate about platformism, I don't fully understand it. I do think having something like a platform is important, or maybe like planks (as lynd suggests) and there is no reason anarchists cannot have one. But they can do so through a single organization, or federation surely.

More relevant to my own perspective, is what Scott brings up; What do isolated militants of like 2-10 do to effectively grow and struggle? It seems we should be doing a combination of seeking out and supporting organic, and cultivating class based rebllion in our cities. It further seems like solnet style "community organizing" (more appropriately class unionism) has potential to build toward workplace orgs. Then again, we may not even see anything like classic workplace orgs, but might see something more geographic just extend itselft further, like solnets. But if that's possible, I don't think it can remain successful or grow, while maintaining it's explicit, simple anti-boss/landlord line and may have to make explicit aspects of it's leftcom or a/s politics.

It's also hard to share the limited resources we have, especially knowledge, experienced organizers, etc.

Uncle Aunty

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Scott Pineapples

Nate

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pennoid

might see something more geographic just extend itselft further, like solnets.

Pennoid

if that's possible, I don't think it can remain successful or grow, while maintaining it's explicit, simple anti-boss/landlord line and may have to make explicit aspects of it's leftcom or a/s politics.

Why do u think that second quote? (not trying to sound curt, just cant really type right now)

Uncle Aunty

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pennoid

More relevant to my own perspective, is what Scott brings up; What do isolated militants of like 2-10 do to effectively grow and struggle? It seems we should be doing a combination of seeking out and supporting organic, and cultivating class based rebllion in our cities.

I would love to have that discussion being in a new city (and country) and not having many relationships with people who seem to be into doing this. One thing I have been learning/telling myself is it's not a race against time or super urgent, and those solid relationships one does have are very valuable and should be invested in for their own sake. I have to run but more discussion on what do with small numbers of people would be great and I will try to contribute more later. It would be nice to have a place to safely share experiences and brainstorm ideas on how to handle it.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Uncle Aunty

Scott Pineapples

I say it lovingly

Uncle Aunty

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I will too from here on out.

Pennoid

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think that the narrowly focused single demand, means they have a clear enough goal to evaluate their possibilty of success and carry it out, but that they also proscribe goals that are more lofty or avoid them altogether. I think that part of carrying on a protracted fight against bosses is seeing that it is possible to win (solnets show this!), but so is a specific longterm vision regarding the specific activity of union organizing, or whatever you want to call it (party building? I'm looking at YOU Bordiga!) Solnets give a great vision for a particular type of activity, identifying a demand and planning to win. I think that's a part of their success, is that it's very clear why it works. But what is "the demand" of a union campaign? Recognition? I hope not! It seems like we have to find the halfway point, in terms of what our goals are, between I want my stolen wages, and I want the wages system supplanted by anarchist/communist social relations.

Qualifications: I know Seasol has been doing reading groups, but I haven't been following it very closely. Success? Also, any other movement toward developing their politics?

Final: I might be in the minority here, but I think Solnet activity is what the IWW or whatever revolutionary grouping (the organic leadership of the class that is the defacto vanguard, lawl) should be doing as a project to interact with and build bonds amongst other working class bozoes in their areas. I don't think they should be front groups, I think that an IWW GMB or whatever could have like a Local Solidarity Committee which would focus on this activity, or it could be the incubator for training new organizers who are convinced by the OT-101: Hands on Experience!

I hope this clarifies my position, Nate!

EDIT: @UncleAunty

Yeah, I think that would be a great discussion. It's hard to try and pull scattered people together to do effective work. I know in my town, we're a group of like 8-15, scattered, georgraphically and politically. We've been doing a reading group pretty steady, and we've all worked on solnet activity in the past, but our time for dealing with that (or mine personally) has been eviscerated. Hopefully this summer we can get back to doing solnet work, we will see.

s.nappalos

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

On study, the problem is that the small group dynamics involved makes study shove people towards stagnation and nasty small group personality issues. Study is crucial, but in my experience when it's not linked to lived activity in people's lives it goes south.

I would de-reify solnets. I think they do great work, but don't think they're different than what a revolutionary union does. If an IWW GMB gets a contact from a fired worker they're doing solnet activity. If a solnet gets a contact from workers in a shop they too are doing that work. In previous years in the IWW I helped create a restaurant organizing initiative where our goal was explicitly not to try and "hold territory", but only struggle around issues and recruit members. We wanted to build networks that could fight around broader issues than the immediate shop. That work continues in Portland and has done a lot to create glimpses of that. That is explicitly happening city-wide and without any attempt to gain recognition, while imposing conditions on capital through networks created outside individuals and shops. That's just one example.

I would broaden it personally. I think anarchosyndicalist initiatives should tackle collective grievances of life against capitalism (housing, neighborhood, transit, workplace, immigration, police/prisons, etc) through direct action & tied to overt anti-systemic aims and objectives that are incorporated into the day-to-day work. Solnets, the IWW, some of the transit strikes, immigration actions trying to block deportations, and anti-eviction organizing all have things to offer there. Mostly its important when there's so few of us not to become depressed or isolated, and to consistently attempt to get our politics to aspects of people's immediate lives. Today is perhaps the best time in ages we've had for that.

redsdisease

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree a lot with s.nappolos. I don't totally see why there needs to be a division of labor between say solidarity networks and revolutionary unions like the IWW. For example, in Portland, to use that city again, there is a relatively large and active IWW branch and a fairly new, but really active solidarity network. The Portland IWW has experience running successful solnet style actions in the recent past and there seems to be a lot of cross-membership. Now, there could be totally excellent reason for PDXSol and the Portland IWW to be separate organizations; perhaps the IWW wasn't interested in focusing on solnet type stuff, or maybe there was worry about lawsuits targeting an organization with more resources like the IWW. However, part of me feels that it may have just been sort of a "that works well in Seattle, lets transpose it over here" mindset, which perhaps doesn't consider ways that the solnet form could build on preexisting organizational structures and create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I'm not trying to shit on people's organizing, I really think both organizations are tremendous and engaging in really interesting organizing. I just wonder if the model of each city having a solidarity network and a revolutionary union which both do different, but related, work is really ideal or is just done out of habit in a sort of radical organization bingo.

On a related note: of interest might be Brighton SolFed's Hospitality Workers, which strikes me as extremely similar to what Scott Nappolos was just talking about in Portland. I don't know any more than what's on their site, but they're apparently a network of hospitality workers that engage in solnet style actions but are part of a revolutionary union (or union initiative, I guess).
http://www.solfed.org.uk/brighton/brighton-hospitality-workers-growing-and-getting-results

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i live in a city where the same people were trying to do the iww, a solnet, and a political group...no it was a dumb idea. at least with the so few people type situation. (not that we didn't learn anything from such experiences)

on the other hand places like the bay, pdx, seattle, tc with large anarchist/left scenes i can see why either for legit practical reasons (time and energy) or why perhaps ideological or personal reasons people would want things separate.

also the debate goes sorta two ways in the solnet world of if they should be pro anarcho-/revolutionary syndicalist or more apolitical than the people in the IWW who want it to be "no politics in the union" so that could be another factor. also solnets for some are possibly a fresh start, whereas some feel the IWW or other groups have baggage.

my position on this is way more like nate's though...i think you should focus on one unitary group until there deserves to be a split in the division of labor (that is of course provided everyone is on the same page politically more or less)

s.nappalos

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Klas, I personally have come to believe those of us in non-left activist or college towns vastly overestimate the context in those others. In the end usually there's the same amount of people willing to do the nitty gritty in NYC, the Bay, Portland, wherever. So unitary org ftw!

R. Spourgitis

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

I can see the point that has been occassionally made by having something separate that's specifically political you draw out and away more needed expressly political militants and discussions from the mass work, I think that's fair. But I don't think IWWs engaged in movement-type work are exempt from that either then. In general, I find the discussions around the political org vs. IWW and/or Solnets to be really reductive and supposing these huge gulfs of activity and approach that on the ground are much muddier.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[url=http://www.marxists.org/archive/malatesta/1925/04/syndic1.htm]Errico Malatesta[/url]

Syndicalism (by which I mean the practical variety and not the theoretical sort, which everyone tailors to their own shape) is by nature reformist. All that can be expected of it is that the reforms it fights for and achieves are of a kind and obtained in such a way that they serve revolutionary education and propaganda and leave the way open for the making of ever greater demands. Any fusion or confusion between the anarchist and revolutionary movement and the syndicalist movement ends either by rendering the union helpless as regards its specific aims or with toning down, falsifying and extinguishing the anarchist spirit.

...In my opinion the anarchists should not want the unions to be anarchist. The anarchists must work among themselves for anarchist ends, as individuals, groups and federations of groups. In the same way as there are, or should be, study and discussion groups, groups for written or spoken propaganda in public, cooperative groups, groups working within factories and workshops, fields, barracks, schools, etc., so they should form groups within the various organisations that wage class war. Naturally the ideal would be for everyone to be anarchist and for all organisations to work anarchically. But it is clear that if that were the case, there would be no need to organise for the struggle against the bosses, because the bosses would no longer exist.

Malatesta's theory of Organizational Dualism is one of the precursors of modern platformist/especifista ideas of separation of mass and political organizations. It is very clear that Malatesta was arguing for anarchists to de-politicize the unions where they had influence. This idea is certainly upheld by Alternative Libertaire, FdCA in Italy, and I believe some of the latin Especifistas. US platformists are more eclectic so I wouldn't paint them all with the same brush.

jolasmo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

Yeah I was somewhat baffled by that as well, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I feel like there's a lot of strawmanning goes on in these types of discussions whilst attempting to define anarcho syndicalism against the platformist "other". Here's what the actual platform actually says:

A degree of anarchist organization of the masses is also required. If this is to be accomplished, we have to operate along two lines: on the one hand, by the selection and grouping of revolutionary worker and peasant forces on the basis of anarchist theory (explicity anarchist organizations) and on the other, on the level of grouping revolutionary workers and peasants on the basis of production and consumption (revolutionary workers' and peasants' production organizations, free workers' and peasants' cooperatives, etc.).

is our opinion that the task of anarchists in the ranks of [the syndicalist] movement consists of developing anarchist ideas within it and of steering it in an anarchist direction, so as to turn it into an active army of the social revolution. It is important to remember that if syndicalism is not given the support of anarchist theory in good time, it will be forced to rely on the ideology of some statist political party.

So going by the platform itself, platformism a) advocates political economic organisations and b) sees the role of Platformist political organisations as one of politicising non-political syndicalist unions. This doesn't seem at all dissimilar from what some posters on here have taken as the role of anarcho-syndicalist political groups i.e. "to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character". It's certainly a far cry from wanting to empty out our "fighting organisations" of any political aspect.

~J.

jolasmo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

It is very clear that Malatesta was arguing for anarchists to de-politicize the unions where they had influence. This idea is certainly upheld by Alternative Libertaire, FdCA in Italy, and I believe some of the latin Especifistas. US platformists are more eclectic so I wouldn't paint them all with the same brush.

Except a) Malatesta wasn't a platformist, and was vocally critical of the platform and it's authors, and b) that's not clear at all: what Malatesta says is that we shouldn't try to politicise unions, which isn't the same thing as wanting to actively depoliticise them.

Also, what possible reading of specifism means striving for the depoliticisation of workers organisations? Everything I've read about specifism and every conversation I've had with specifists suggests precisely the opposite!

~J.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[url=http://www.fdca.it/fdcaen/organization/theory/acqoc/5-2.htm]FdCA[/url]

The feature which best distinguishes Anarchist Communists from all other schools of thought within Anarchism is what we call "organizational dualism". This means that apart from the general organization of the entire proletariat (as outlined in Chapter 1.2, dedicated to Fabbri), there is also the political organization of Anarchist Communists, or, to use the usual terms adopted in the movement's debates, beside the Mass Organization there must also be the Specific Organization.

...

Then there are those Anarchists who deny the need for a Specific Organization. Anarcho-Syndicalists of various types and Revolutionary Syndicalists lay their trust in the spontaneous evolution of the proletarian masses and that accordingly if the labour unions are left alone, sooner or later they will arrive at the decisive clash with the boss class. Malatesta already opposed this idea, held by Monatte, in 1907 at the International Congress of Amsterdam. He clarified how the proletariat's associations for resistance would inevitably slide into reformism, thus blurring sight of the goals. This was the economicism which Lenin pointed out, though he wanted to fight it by instilling class consciousness into the masses from without, but which Anarchist Communists fight by acting as a critical conscience from within. The historically proven decline of all unions which were born revolutionary (starting with Monatte's own CGT), has led some Anarcho-Syndicalists to seek the answer not in political organization, but in the creation of unions which are based on a pre-determined revolutionary idea. In other words, to create unions which are exclusively composed of conscious, revolutionary elements. The result is a strange mix of mass organization and political organization which is basically an organization of anarchists who set themselves up to do union work.

...

For Anarchist Communists these theoretical problems are resolved with organizational dualism, assigning precise tasks and separate functions to the two organizations.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What the organizational dualists always conveniently ignore even while creating strawmen versions of syndicalism (that they "lay their trust in the spontaneous evolution of the proletarian masses and that accordingly if the labour unions are left alone, sooner or later they will arrive at the decisive clash with the boss class") and claiming that there is a "historically proven decline of all unions which were born revolutionary", is the question of who led the charge for CNT integration with the state and disarming of the workers? It wasn't the die-hard syndicalists, it was the leading lights of the FAI.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

By "syndicalist", it is used to simply mean unionist. Does not mean a revolutionary body as we tend to use it.

I dunno, I think alot of this is straw man arguments. And not really sure of the purpose.

s.nappalos

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To be fair back in the early 2000s the whole platformist pure and simple unionism was much more popular, and still is dominant in Europe. Olivertwister's info is likely from back then? I don't hear those arguments much anymore thankfully.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

s.nappalos

To be fair back in the early 2000s the whole platformist pure and simple unionism was much more popular, and still is dominant in Europe. Olivertwister's info is likely from back then? I don't hear those arguments much anymore thankfully.

Here's where the "broad stroke" doesn't work. In the US, there are numbers of "platformists" "especifists", "dual organizationalists" who,more then once said to me something like: " a/s as a tacic with libcom as the goal"

Felix Frost

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

Often times when the default idea is that there can and should be only revolutionary propaganda groups and non-revolutionary fighting organizations, this leads to attempting to pull the revolutionary politics out of the fighting organizations. This was certainly one of the main ideas leading to the CGT split, we've also seen it with current platformists supporting Red & Black coordination groups (and encouraging them to have even less explicit politics) for the same reason.

I've seen this type of ideas with some platformists in Europe (including within the UK IWW), but I don't quite see how it's relevant to the CNT - CGT split. As far as I know, there weren't much Platformist ideas involved on either side of that.

jolasmo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

What the organizational dualists always conveniently ignore even while creating strawmen versions of syndicalism (that they "lay their trust in the spontaneous evolution of the proletarian masses and that accordingly if the labour unions are left alone, sooner or later they will arrive at the decisive clash with the boss class") and claiming that there is a "historically proven decline of all unions which were born revolutionary", is the question of who led the charge for CNT integration with the state and disarming of the workers? It wasn't the die-hard syndicalists, it was the leading lights of the FAI.

The FAI isn't a platformist organisation, so not sure what the relevant of this is really, but in any case, it's not as though the non-FAI syndicalists were any less enthusiastic in pushing the CNT towards collaboration. Arguably the only force in the Spanish anarchist movement at the time to argue a consistently revolutionary line was the FoD. And yeah, platformists of paint a distorted picture of syndicalism as well, for similar reasons: I don't think this excuses the sweeping generalisations and bizarre arguments made about platformism here. I mean, assuming our goal here is to theorise the world as it exists and try to change it, as opposed to point scoring off of rival libertarian tendencies.

~J.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

@FelixFrost:

If you have a chance and can read Spanish I'd recommend Relanzamiento de la CNT. It is a pretty in-depth examination of all of the debates in and around the CNT from the death of Franco to the splits in 79 and 84.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost my copy so I'm going on memory. However in some of the "critical" reviews such as Bicicleta there was a noticable tendency of people arguing for organizational dualism, that the CNT should accept the workplace elections and government funding in order to reach the workers while specifically anarchist organizations could carry on revolutionary anarchist propaganda work.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R. Spourgitis

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

TBH I don't know comrade. I think there is a definitely varying opinions on this. Sure some want a political organization to anarchize the mass movements. Some see the political organization to just make more anarchists and it's role in mass movements as just building them, because they should be apolitical/pluralistic.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jolasmo

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

Yeah I was somewhat baffled by that as well, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I feel like there's a lot of strawmanning goes on in these types of discussions whilst attempting to define anarcho syndicalism against the platformist "other". Here's what the actual platform actually says:

A degree of anarchist organization of the masses is also required. If this is to be accomplished, we have to operate along two lines: on the one hand, by the selection and grouping of revolutionary worker and peasant forces on the basis of anarchist theory (explicity anarchist organizations) and on the other, on the level of grouping revolutionary workers and peasants on the basis of production and consumption (revolutionary workers' and peasants' production organizations, free workers' and peasants' cooperatives, etc.).

is our opinion that the task of anarchists in the ranks of [the syndicalist] movement consists of developing anarchist ideas within it and of steering it in an anarchist direction, so as to turn it into an active army of the social revolution. It is important to remember that if syndicalism is not given the support of anarchist theory in good time, it will be forced to rely on the ideology of some statist political party.

So going by the platform itself, platformism a) advocates political economic organisations and b) sees the role of Platformist political organisations as one of politicising non-political syndicalist unions. This doesn't seem at all dissimilar from what some posters on here have taken as the role of anarcho-syndicalist political groups i.e. "to develop a political-economic org, to develop its political character". It's certainly a far cry from wanting to empty out our "fighting organisations" of any political aspect.

~J.

I agree here, and actually wrote an article about the Anarchism and Syndicalism section of the platform recently. http://libcom.org/library/nestor-makhno-theoretician-anarcho-syndicalism

I think Makhno would have disagreed with Malatesta, Fabbri, and the Especifistas on this point. I think there may be something to this too (but don't want to speculate) in why many times Especifistas in South America distinguish themselves from the few explicit platformist groups in South America.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

s.nappalos

To be fair back in the early 2000s the whole platformist pure and simple unionism was much more popular, and still is dominant in Europe. Olivertwister's info is likely from back then? I don't hear those arguments much anymore thankfully.

I think they are actually starting to become on the minority, though who knows with such things, old habits die hard. Also there is a difference between internal opinion and outward political line that may be behind the leading ideas in the milieu.

R. Spourgitis

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

R. Spourgitis

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

TBH I don't know comrade. I think there is a definitely varying opinions on this. Sure some want a political organization to anarchize the mass movements. Some see the political organization to just make more anarchists and it's role in mass movements as just building them, because they should be apolitical/pluralistic.

Sources, klas? I'm not saying it's never been said anywhere, ever. And I'm certainly not familiar with the discussions and debates from platformists in the US in the early 2000s. I just have yet to see this argument about "de-politicizing" or apolitical mass movements be explicitly made, honestly I can't think of a single example where that position was laid out. Willing to be corrected though.

Other than that, I agree with Jolasmo that pulling quotes and positions from Malatesta and referencing the FAI just doesn't fit with the assertion. And regarding Especifismo, one of its core tenants is to build revolutionary mass movements from within them.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

How about the quote from one of the FdCA's primary documents that references Malatesta's theory of organizational dualism as an antecedent of their own?

How about Liberty and Solidarity, who actively argued as IWW members for the IWW to become less explicitly political, and whose leading light even argued that the CGT in Spain was being held back by it's attachment to its anarchist heritage?

I'm not saying that this is omnipresent with everyone who advocates specific political organizations. What I am saying is that there is a discernable trend for this with anarchists who advocate organizational dualism and strict separation of political and economic organizations.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Olivertwister....... well, we can always cherry pick anything. I mean, there are "reformist" "non-political "trade unionists in the IWW and long time have been. But does that make "the iww" such?
Hardly, but they exist.

For sure, I'm not a platformist or an especifist, though I will take the good from them. As I do from my long held anarcho-syndicalist beliefs. But I at least try and parse things. Even when looking at other groups or unions. Even within organizations locals may reflect different things from their larger organizations. For me, it makes for a more balanced and whole view of what and who I'm looking at. And within the north american context, a whole lot of "assumptions" about platformism, especifism and even anarcho-syndicalism can sort of be put to the side.

I think its just best to raise specific criticisms of whichever organizations and their practices.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R. Spourgitis

klas batalo

R. Spourgitis

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

TBH I don't know comrade. I think there is a definitely varying opinions on this. Sure some want a political organization to anarchize the mass movements. Some see the political organization to just make more anarchists and it's role in mass movements as just building them, because they should be apolitical/pluralistic.

Sources, klas? I'm not saying it's never been said anywhere, ever. And I'm certainly not familiar with the discussions and debates from platformists in the US in the early 2000s. I just have yet to see this argument about "de-politicizing" or apolitical mass movements be explicitly made, honestly I can't think of a single example where that position was laid out. Willing to be corrected though.

Other than that, I agree with Jolasmo that pulling quotes and positions from Malatesta and referencing the FAI just doesn't fit with the assertion. And regarding Especifismo, one of its core tenants is to build revolutionary mass movements from within them.

Also I think it is important to go to the source stuff, so OliverTwister is really sorta on target. If you read the stuff on organizational dualism, and then see how that got translated to the world of Especifismo and not just the americanized reductive version of we should have revolutionaries intervene in social movements (either to build or politicize them), then we can actually talk about the real arguments being made. I think that is how we end up with all this variance, cause some folks take the original texts 100% to heart, and also some of the critics of dual organizationalism are probably more read up on the specifics than the actual practitioners in the US context at least.

R. Spourgitis

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

R. Spourgitis

klas batalo

R. Spourgitis

Just wanted to address something OliverTwister said a few posts back which I don't really agree with. This business of the platformist political organization pushing for "apolitical mass movements" is not something I have ever seen in the US. I don't think it's "central" to the idea of having a political organization at all, unless you can cite specifics that's a weird reading into it. If anything, a lot of our activity and discussion in movement work has been about instilling more revolutionary politics in existing mass things, not less or not at all.

TBH I don't know comrade. I think there is a definitely varying opinions on this. Sure some want a political organization to anarchize the mass movements. Some see the political organization to just make more anarchists and it's role in mass movements as just building them, because they should be apolitical/pluralistic.

Sources, klas? I'm not saying it's never been said anywhere, ever. And I'm certainly not familiar with the discussions and debates from platformists in the US in the early 2000s. I just have yet to see this argument about "de-politicizing" or apolitical mass movements be explicitly made, honestly I can't think of a single example where that position was laid out. Willing to be corrected though.

Other than that, I agree with Jolasmo that pulling quotes and positions from Malatesta and referencing the FAI just doesn't fit with the assertion. And regarding Especifismo, one of its core tenants is to build revolutionary mass movements from within them.

Also I think it is important to go to the source stuff, so OliverTwister is really sorta on target. If you read the stuff on organizational dualism, and then see how that got translated to the world of Especifismo and not just the americanized reductive version of we should have revolutionaries intervene in social movements (either to build or politicize them), then we can actually talk about the real arguments being made. I think that is how we end up with all this variance, cause some folks take the original texts 100% to heart, and also some of the critics of dual organizationalism are probably more read up on the specifics than the actual practitioners in the US context at least.

It's been a while now since I've read my source texts on especifismo (although tbh, I'd like to revisit some of that because I don't recall anything close to advocating depoliticization of mass level), and even longer than that on the dual organizationalism of Malatesta. But even without going back to look stuff up it seems like a funny argument to make that because US platformist/especfista influenced groups don't follow an exact historical line, yours and OliverTwister's statements are accurate because if they/we did, we would have these positions which you are citing are incorrect in the first place.

As far as euro variants of platformism, sure I see what you're both saying. Also, not a scene I follow but having heard and seen enough on here and the old Anarchist Black Cat forum regarding L&S I don't doubt it. But klas, you still haven't cited a single example of contemporary US groups or individuals who are repping said position.

Battlescarred

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To characterise Liberty and Solidarity as with their sordid litle manouevrings inside the British IWW as typical of platformism in general really is the act of a ninny and I say that as someone who has a critical (though far from totally unfriendly) approach to platformism. To say that Platformists/especifists/ or indeed anarchists who argue for an anarchist political organisation like Malatesta seek to actively depoliticise syndicalist unions really -either wilfully or not- misunderstands the whole nature of the anarchist political organisation in relation to mass organisations. Strawmanning indeed.

Felix Frost

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

However in some of the "critical" reviews such as Bicicleta there was a noticable tendency of people arguing for organizational dualism, that the CNT should accept the workplace elections and government funding in order to reach the workers while specifically anarchist organizations could carry on revolutionary anarchist propaganda work.

Well I'm sure there were plenty of people that argued for both these things, but I don't really see them as that closely related. I mean, the reason the CNT rejects workplace elections and government funding isn't that this would hamper their anarchist propaganda work.

In general, I think it's good when syndicalist organisations focus more on workplace struggles and less on spreading abstract anarchist propaganda.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Actually the reason why the CNT rejects workplace elections and State funding is precisely because it goes against their anarchism. And the anarchist approach to workplace organizing

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Felix Frost

OliverTwister

However in some of the "critical" reviews such as Bicicleta there was a noticable tendency of people arguing for organizational dualism, that the CNT should accept the workplace elections and government funding in order to reach the workers while specifically anarchist organizations could carry on revolutionary anarchist propaganda work.

Well I'm sure there were plenty of people that argued for both these things, but I don't really see them as that closely related. I mean, the reason the CNT rejects workplace elections and government funding isn't that this would hamper their anarchist propaganda work.

In general, I think it's good when syndicalist organisations focus more on workplace struggles and less on spreading abstract anarchist propaganda.

Yes but the debate was about what the relationship of revolutionary anarchists to the working class should be. Some argued that it should be direct, that anarchists should act as such within a revolutionary union, while others argued that the union should "go to the workers" through the workplace elections, and that anyways anarchists should be in a specifically anarchist organization which could intervene.

jolasmo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To be honest I think there's some truly incredible mental gymnastics going on here in an effort to pin virtually every reformist tendency within syndicalism on organisational dualism, which I think is in the first place rather unfair, and relies on a reduction of all organisational dualist approaches to a bastardised version of what one Italian anarchist wrote about a century ago, and in the second place, and much more importantly, doesn't actually help us to understand why some revolutionary unions slide into reformism. I think this happens because of structural pressures that face all revolutionary movements (inside or outside of the workplace) which are immediate and inherent to class struggle itself and not the work of some nefarious group of 'platformist' or 'specifist' outsiders plotting to rob the movement of its revolutionary political stance. Now, to be clear, I don't think these strucutral pressures are irresistable, or inevitable, but I do think they exist as a tendency within almost all such organisations and movements and that effectively combatting them requires a deeper understanding of the issues at stake than just pinning the blame on your L&Ses, or your FAIs or whatever.

OliverTwister

How about the quote from one of the FdCA's primary documents that references Malatesta's theory of organizational dualism as an antecedent of their own?

No, it absolutely doesn't say that, and that's the second time you'v e had to really twist these quotes you're using to fit your argument. What it actually does is reference Malatesta's theory of the decline of revolutionary unions:

FdCA

Malatesta already opposed this idea, held by Monatte, in 1907 at the International Congress of Amsterdam. He clarified how the proletariat's associations for resistance would inevitably slide into reformism, thus blurring sight of the goals.

What's more, it goes on to say:

FdCA

This was the economicism which Lenin pointed out, though he wanted to fight it by instilling class consciousness into the masses from without, but which Anarchist Communists fight by acting as a critical conscience from within.

So the reality is, the FdCA are saying pretty much the opposite of what you want them to: that Anarchist Communists should organise within fighting organisations against the slide into 'economism', that is, the depoliticisation of such organisations and movements.

The piece says nothing whatsoever about Malatesta's ideas about organisational dualism, probably because, as I pointed out, they are diametrically opposed to the platformist conception of such.

OliverTwister

How about Liberty and Solidarity, who actively argued as IWW members for the IWW to become less explicitly political, and whose leading light even argued that the CGT in Spain was being held back by it's attachment to its anarchist heritage?

Tbh as Battlescarred pointed out L&S are not a good example of typical platformist practice by any means. Towards the end of its life as an organisation it more or less broke from platformism, and indeed anarchism altogether, and became essentially a syndicalist political group agitating for industrial unionism and working mainly within the IWW. By this point they were pretty harshly critical not only of the CGT's anarchism but of anarchism in general.

OliverTwister

I'm not saying that this is omnipresent with everyone who advocates specific political organizations. What I am saying is that there is a discernable trend for this with anarchists who advocate organizational dualism and strict separation of political and economic organizations.

So not platformists then, who, as I pointed out, don't understand their conception of organisational dualism in terms of a political and an economic organisation but in terms of political-economic organisations and political organisations which work to advance and defend anarchist politics within the former.

klas batalo

If you read the stuff on organizational dualism, and then see how that got translated to the world of Especifismo and not just the americanized reductive version of we should have revolutionaries intervene in social movements (either to build or politicize them), then we can actually talk about the real arguments being made. I think that is how we end up with all this variance, cause some folks take the original texts 100% to heart, and also some of the critics of dual organizationalism are probably more read up on the specifics than the actual practitioners in the US context at least.

So I don't doubt that some US critics of organisational dualism are very well read on the subject, though this thread is not particularly good evidence of that tbh. But it's one thing to have read up on what Malatesta wrote about this stuff a century ago, and another to have an actual critique of the practice of organisational dualism today. What you've written here comes across a bit like "hey, you're doing it wrong, we know because we've read all about this stuff", and frankly it turns my stomach when people make these sorts of supercillious arguments.

Anyways wrapping up, I'm not a diehard supporter of platformism or organisational dualism, but I do think that people are being pretty disingenous with the way these concepts are being deployed within the discussion here.

~J.

Battlescarred

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spot on, Jolasmo!

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This thread is boring. I'll admit that I'm not as engaged with it as I might be, primarily because I just don't really care about platformism.

However, to say

there's some truly incredible mental gymnastics going on here in an effort to pin virtually every reformist tendency within syndicalism on organisational dualism

is over the top. Please point to where I, or anybody, has said anything even close to that. The reactions have basically boiled down to "How dare you say something mean about platformism!"

Do the FdCA quote approvingly of Malatesta's assertion that unions are inherently reformist in their explanation of their own practice of organizational dualism (in the chapter of their program titled "Organizational Dualism")? Not according to Jolasmo.

Does the FdCA say anything like this?

For Anarchist Communists these theoretical problems are resolved with organizational dualism, assigning precise tasks and separate functions to the two organizations.

Not according to Jolasmo.

Rather, "[t]he piece says nothing whatsoever about Malatesta's ideas about organisational dualism, probably because, as I pointed out, they are diametrically opposed to the platformist conception of such." I'll grant that FdCA don't go on in that chapter to elaborate Malatesta's concept, beyond using his assertion that unions are inherently reformist as a basis for their own theory; but I'd like to see where you pointed out that Malatesta's ideas are "diametrically opposed" to platformist ideas. I saw you point out that he debated with Dielo Trouda, fair enough, but please quote any modern platformist group arguing that they are diametrically opposed to Malatesta.

Then there's L&S. They were a member group of Anarkismo.net, they helped put together Anarchist Black Cat IIRC, they called themselves platformist. How dare I reference them as an example of a group which took organizational dualism to an extreme!

Also, this:

So not platformists then, who, as I pointed out, don't understand their conception of organisational dualism in terms of a political and an economic organisation but in terms of political-economic organisations and political organisations which work to advance and defend anarchist politics within the former.

Really, all platformists have this as their conception? Cause the first I'd noticed anyone using those terms was about 3-4 years ago. FdCA don't use those terms. George Fontenis didn't use those terms. Do Common Struggle, or Zabalaza, or any of the other organizations involved in Anarkismo? Again, you're going to have to provide some quotes here.

There's plenty of great discussions about whether reformism is "inherent" to syndicalism or revolutionary movements, or what that even means. There's also really good overviews of contemporary platformism, like this one. I'm not going to recreate that work. But I've heard members of anarchist political organizations say in public meetings things like "We've been talking about how the IWW is an economic organization, and [organization name] can be a political organization to act in it." These ideas come from somewhere, they don't just fall from the air.

I'm not going to bother with this thread more unless there's something really compelling, because it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If this thread is boring then why stir the pot. The thread wasn't meant to be a platform for discussing platforms, of which has little to do with the original topic.

Pennoid

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This thread accidentally a whole bottle of platformism? I'll set it straight!

Edit: In spite of the above joke, the following are quite series questions:

Anyone interested in more practical questions? Like how to overcome small-group dynamics/cliques, how to manage time, how to reduce administrative effort/bureaucracy? What is the role of the social event in organizing? The BBQ, the soccer game, the dance party, the LAN party (Age of Empires II, FTW!!!) etc. How do we deal with informal leaders when a) we are them, b) we are not them.

Battlescarred

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We call it football in Britain not soccer.

Battlescarred

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As I said anyone who uses L&S as a good example of Platformism is a ninny. As Jolasmo says :"Towards the end of its life as an organisation it more or less broke from platformism, and indeed anarchism altogether, and became essentially a syndicalist political group agitating for industrial unionism and working mainly within the IWW. By this point they were pretty harshly critical not only of the CGT's anarchism but of anarchism in general." Indeed they established close links with the Comités Syndicalistes Révolutionnaires in France, extremely hostile to anarchists themselves.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I dunno, some people were fooled by L&S,
Including some smart folks in the IWW. I dunno, they always smelt bad to me. And their syndicali always seemed a bit fake and opportunist Though, in correspondence and on paper, I thought Snowball seemed decent enough. Even if I didn't share their views

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pennoid

This thread accidentally a whole bottle of platformism? I'll set it straight!

Edit: In spite of the above joke, the following are quite series questions:

Anyone interested in more practical questions? Like how to overcome small-group dynamics/cliques, how to manage time, how to reduce administrative effort/bureaucracy? What is the role of the social event in organizing? The BBQ, the soccer game, the dance party, the LAN party (Age of Empires II, FTW!!!) etc. How do we deal with informal leaders when a) we are them, b) we are not them.

dig this but maybe another thread.

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

okay Jolasmo says basically that FdCA says these should be organizations within the mass organization that fight against economism... i sorta argue this in pointing out that makhno and all in my recent piece were for the anarchization of mass organizations/struggles and eventually for a revolutionary mass organization/movements... so sure, and sorry if i'm annoying by saying a lot of platformists don't read the OGs enough on organizational dualism...but how else do we end up with these weird economistic interpretations??? perhaps the persistence of the dominant leftist groupthink in the west regarding party and class/union? i really don't have the time to cite for R. Spurgetis but there over the last 15 years at least from what I remember in my reading of organizational documents and debates, internal and external a waxing and waning current/tendency of platformists who do hold a we need a political group to work in apolitical ie economic group.

jolasmo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

This thread is boring. I'll admit that I'm not as engaged with it as I might be, primarily because I just don't really care about platformism.

Fair dos, wasn't me who brought it up though.

OliverTwister

However, to say

there's some truly incredible mental gymnastics going on here in an effort to pin virtually every reformist tendency within syndicalism on organisational dualism

is over the top. Please point to where I, or anybody, has said anything even close to that.

Alright, mebbe that was a bit ott, but you did say:

OliverTwister

"who led the charge for CNT integration with the state and disarming of the workers ... It wasn't the die-hard syndicalists, it was the leading lights of the FAI"

and

OliverTwister

Often times when the default idea is that there can and should be only revolutionary propaganda groups and non-revolutionary fighting organizations, this leads to attempting to pull the revolutionary politics out of the fighting organizations. This was certainly one of the main ideas leading to the CGT split

so I feel like a theme is developing there. Maybe I'm reading too much into it though.

OliverTwister

The reactions have basically boiled down to "How dare you say something mean about platformism!"

I actually don't mind people slagging off platformism, just not in this kinda dishonest way that just seems to build it up as a foil to syndicalism. Which is a bit odd, I think.

OliverTwister

Do the FdCA quote approvingly of Malatesta's assertion that unions are inherently reformist in their explanation of their own practice of organizational dualism (in the chapter of their program titled "Organizational Dualism")? Not according to Jolasmo.

Does the FdCA say anything like this?

For Anarchist Communists these theoretical problems are resolved with organizational dualism, assigning precise tasks and separate functions to the two organizations.

Not according to Jolasmo.

Hey, I never denied the FdCA quote Malatesta and believe in organisational dualism, but their conception of organisational dualism is different from Malatesta's in important ways.

OliverTwister

Then there's L&S. They were a member group of Anarkismo.net, they helped put together Anarchist Black Cat IIRC, they called themselves platformist. How dare I reference them as an example of a group which took organizational dualism to an extreme!

Sure. I'm just saying they were a pretty atypical example.

OliverTwister

Also, this:

So not platformists then, who, as I pointed out, don't understand their conception of organisational dualism in terms of a political and an economic organisation but in terms of political-economic organisations and political organisations which work to advance and defend anarchist politics within the former.

Really, all platformists have this as their conception? Cause the first I'd noticed anyone using those terms was about 3-4 years ago. FdCA don't use those terms. George Fontenis didn't use those terms. Do Common Struggle, or Zabalaza, or any of the other organizations involved in Anarkismo? Again, you're going to have to provide some quotes here.

No, you're right, they don't use those terms, but I think the wording of the platform speaks for itself in terms of the actual concepts advanced there:

The Platform

[We advocate] grouping revolutionary workers and peasants on the basis of production and consumption (revolutionary workers' and peasants' production organizations, free workers' and peasants' cooperatives, etc.).

Do they use the phrase 'political-economic organisation'? No. But I think it's pretty clear that that is what they want, even if they don't use the exact jargon that contemporary anarchosyndicalists use.

OliverTwister

There's plenty of great discussions about whether reformism is "inherent" to syndicalism or revolutionary movements, or what that even means. There's also really good overviews of contemporary platformism, like this one.

As an aside, the author of that pamphlet went on to help found the latest attempt at an Anarkismo group in the UK, Collective Action.

~J.

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

I suspect those US or north american groups that identify with anarcho-syndicalism or other forms of libertarian workerism will continue on their own ways. Which is perfectly fine and best for all. Whatever level of coordination or cooperation folks feels works, everyone should engage as appropriate.

Back on point, I suspect this is where North American anarchosyndicalists and libertarian workers are at. Not that I can speak for others. Just an observation

Felix Frost

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

As I said anyone who uses L&S as a good example of Platformism is a ninny. As Jolasmo says :"Towards the end of its life as an organisation it more or less broke from platformism, and indeed anarchism altogether, and became essentially a syndicalist political group agitating for industrial unionism and working mainly within the IWW. By this point they were pretty harshly critical not only of the CGT's anarchism but of anarchism in general." Indeed they established close links with the Comités Syndicalistes Révolutionnaires in France, extremely hostile to anarchists themselves.

This is all true, but then there seems to be a bit of a tradition with platformist groups in the UK abandoning anarchism in favour of dubious leftist ideologies. Both the Anarchist Workers Association from the 70s, and the Anarchist Workers Group from the late 80s, suffered similar fates if I remember correctly.

In any case, there are plenty of other examples of platformists that have been criticising anarcho-syndicalism and arguing against "politicising" unions too much. I appreciate that most current platformists in the US might have other views on this, but this is hardly something that Oliver is just making up.

Felix Frost

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

Actually the reason why the CNT rejects workplace elections and State funding is precisely because it goes against their anarchism. And the anarchist approach to workplace organizing

I would say it's because they take a firm stand against class collaboration, and this isn't something that is specific to anarchism. There are other anarchists who has come to different conclusions on these questions (including a lot of CGT members), despite sharing the same anarchist ideology.

Battlescarred

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry, I'm really not clear what you mean by not wanting to "politicise" unions ( or any other movement for that matter. I'm sure platformists ( not sure how many groups actually stick to such a narrow description these days) want to spread their ideas and their politics inside the bodies they are working in.

Battlescarred

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"This is all true, but then there seems to be a bit of a tradition with platformist groups in the UK abandoning anarchism in favour of dubious leftist ideologies. Both the Anarchist Workers Association from the 70s, and the Anarchist Workers Group from the late 80s, suffered similar fates if I remember correctly."
But L&S were the specific group being cited . Agree about the developments within AWA/LCG and the AWG but L&S represented a qualitatively new phenomenon, I feel

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Felix Frost

syndicalist

Actually the reason why the CNT rejects workplace elections and State funding is precisely because it goes against their anarchism. And the anarchist approach to workplace organizing

I would say it's because they take a firm stand against class collaboration, and this isn't something that is specific to anarchism. There are other anarchists who has come to different conclusions on these questions (including a lot of CGT members), despite sharing the same anarchist ideology.

But they don't share the same ideology. If they did their conclusions would be similar I mean. How many times do leftist trade unionists roll out the ref tethering, only to have a cleaner yet still collaborationist perspective. So I try and measure stuff by their practice, not their speeches or Nay day banners I mean, even at the height of the SACs reformism, Federativs (SAC publishing house )published anarchist and revolutionary syndicalist texts

Joseph Kay

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe it would be more productive not to pose this in absolute terms. Even L&S thought the union should have some politics (some kind of minimal syndicalism). Even the most 'ideological' FORAists don't think workers should have to memorise Kropotkin before joining the union. So the first question is not 'politics y/n?', but 'what politics is appropriate?', to which there probably isn't a single answer. ('Apoliticism' or economism would still make sense tendentially, even if strictly speaking, there's no such thing as an apolitical organisation. I think in practice 'apolitical' tends to mean default 'common sense' politics as opposed to dissident ones, so in a union context, usually social democracy).

This is where I think Marcel van der Linden's distinction between the ideological level, organisational level, and shopfloor level is helpful. As Battlescared (and others) point out, the difference between the CGT and CNT isn't really ideological, at least on the face of it, in that the CGT retains a notional commitment to anarchism, red and black symbolism, built a statue of Durruti in Léon etc. Rather it's to do with how this anarchism manifests (or doesn't) in organisational and shopfloor levels (e.g. the CNT's 'three no's' of works council, liberados/representatives, and state subsidies).

syndicalist

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

"This is all true, but then there seems to be a bit of a tradition with platformist groups in the UK abandoning anarchism in favour of dubious leftist ideologies. Both the Anarchist Workers Association from the 70s, and the Anarchist Workers Group from the late 80s, suffered similar fates if I remember correctly."
But L&S were the specific group being cited . Agree about the developments within AWA/LCG and the AWG but L&S represented a qualitatively new phenomenon, I feel

I'll leave the AWA aside, mainly cause we got lots of informative stuff from them and agreed with the premise of putting organized into organized class struggle anarchism. AWG no sympathy as they were a split from the DAM, who had strong relations with and shared a similar view on the 1980s world

I would agree that L&S represented something a bit more different they really believed that they were cadre and on a mission to do their thing inside the IWW. And elsewhere
They were slick and fooled a bunch of very smart people But they were on ego and power trips
And as much as I may not share the views of many contemporary platform it's it seeped incisors, L&S were clearly different in approach, style and form. This had been my long held observation and view, which prly means little anyway

Like I said earlier, efforts to broad brush things leads to false conclusions, poor efforts to understand each group or situation. And, for me, just says folks are not interested in the dynamic of the work or why a particular situation arises. If we simply say all platform ism is leftism and all anarchosyndicalism leafs to reformism, I think we gain nothing but waste time and space

s.nappalos

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Can one of the mods pull the platform debate to another thread maybe?

klas batalo

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, I really don't wanna have to start another thread, but I'm this close to wanting to start one called "Anarcho-Syndicalism in the US" cause of the drift of this one.

syndicalistcat

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Re CNT & CGT I don't think it is class collaboration that explains CGT's position. If you go back to the origin of this dispute within the CNT itself in early '80s, the problem then was that the wave of strikes run thru workers assemblies during the transition had come to an end, and most workers wanted to control negotiations & struggle but to do so legally. To retain its large following some sections of CNT choose to participate in the enterprise committee elections, but from a position of opposition to them, to be there to guard against sellouts. I don't think that is "class collaboration." I think it is trying to figure out a practical way to fight in an unfavorable labor law framework. Being *more* opposed to this framework, to the point of non-cooperation, may mean a stronger sort of anarchism, and that is the path the CNT has taken.

I think, frankly, that Oliver's arguments are grotesque strawman fallacies. To paint every dual organizational group with the L&S brush is fallacious & offensive to boot. By doing that he makes himself someone who is not worth taking seriously.

OliverTwister

8 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To paint every dual organizational group with the L&S brush is fallacious & offensive to boot.

Yes that's clearly what I did. The rolling eyes emoticon is not generating but this is where I would put it.

Also why do you find L&S offensive? I was opposed to them from the beginning, but they were welcomed into Anarkismo and AnarchistBlackCat (the latter of which I've never interacted with, the former not for 8+ years). Surely if their ideas were so diametrically opposed to everyone else's in that milieu they would have been rejected or asked to leave.

klas batalo

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Michael Schmidt writes: “There is strangely, in the view of myself and Lucien van der Walt, detailed in our book Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, no historically definable “anarchist-communist” current at all. No doubt the WSM in Ireland, the FdCA and others of our tendency would be surprised at this position, but it has a solid grounding in historical fact: that “pure anarchist communists” like Hatta Shuzo of Japan were in fact not anti-syndicalist (merely recognised the limitations of the single, mass organisation without the specific organisation, as did Errico Malatesta and others) and in fact worked within the syndicalist movement to reunite the “anarchist communist” Zenkoku Jiren with the “anarcho-syndicalist” Nihon Jikyo. So if even the “purists” were not anti-syndicalist, and the “anti-organisationists” like Luigi Galleani were in fact organised, albeit on a smaller affinity-group scale, who is it in fact, that is opposed to the mass line approach that the majority of the historical anarchist movement adopted?

“Of the anarchists who can rightfully claim that title by their revolutionary free-communist class orientation, the only ones who reject the mass line are those who believe in the uselessness of reforms, believing that the “revolutionary gymnasium” of union organising etc only saps the workers’ strength through the infection of bourgeois norms, and draws them into fatal compromises with the state, capital and the elitist project (here the ZACF prefers the FdCA’s confidence that revolutionary ideas can infect the class organisations instead). Anarchist-insurrectionists find their solution to class mobilisation in the precipitation of spontaneous and voluntary mass revolt by catalytic deeds. Although this position comes close to some left-communist and some council communist positions, there is nothing inherently un-anarchist about their analysis, although just as the mass line can succumb to reformism, so the insurgent line can succumb to substitutionism.

“However, Lucien and I accepted that in many cases, anarchist insurgency and guerrilla warfare took place not in isolation, but as the defensive arms of mass popular organisations. Here we may give honourable mention to the fighters of the Organización Popular Revolucionaria-33 (OPR-33) in Uruguay which acted in defence of wildcat strikes by the CNT union and other popular mobilisations against neo-fascist repression in 1971-1976, of Resistencia Libertaria (RL) in Argentina which defended worker’s autonomy against the ultra-right which organised the murderous Galtieri military coup in 1976, of the Movimiento Ibérica Libertaria (MIL) which operated underground in Spain against the Francoist dictatorship in 1971-1974, and of the Workers’ Liberation Group (Shagila) of Iraq and Scream of the People (CHK) of Iran which defended the factory soviets (shoras) and grassroots neighbourhood committees (kommitehs) during the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979. A more familiar example to most would be the Los Solidarios group in Spain in the 1920s was not merely running around assassinating people at whim, but that they had been formed by the famed anarcho-syndicalist CNT union federation as a secret, yet official, defensive arm responding to real and deadly repression.

“Other than the anarchist-insurrectionists, there remains only the “classless individualists” who, we of our tendency are all agreed, by denying the social nature of humanity and the necessity for class struggle for socialism-from-below, break with the foundations of anarchism and are thus non-anarchist, while the “philosophical educationists,” where they do not deny the class struggle, are simply poor anarchists in that they have withdrawn from social activism. Thus we say, “anarchist-communism” at base is simply a synonym for what today is often called “social anarchism” and mostly historically adheres to the mass line which includes syndicalist approaches.

“The only further distinction then becomes between “anarcho-syndicalism” that defines specifically as anarchist (such as our comrades of the CNT-France and others), which has the strength of recognising its anarchist roots, but the weakness of not being able to embrace all workers on the basis of economic commonality – because it is a mass organisation trying to be at the same time a specific organisation, and “revolutionary syndicalism” that does not define itself as anarchist (the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World] and others), which has the disadvantage that it will attract reformists and state-socialists into its ranks, but the advantage that it can embrace all workers (although the IWW often also suffers from the conundrum of trying to be sufficient in itself without an affiliated specific anarchist organisation). Other than that, there are also specific organisations that do see syndicalism as inherently reformist and therefore a dead loss, but most are of our tendency which see organisational dualism as crucial. This is the crux of the argument between the International Workers’ Association (IWA) and those of our tendency: the IWA sees syndicalism alone as sufficiently revolutionary because their unions are specifically anarchist, while we believe syndicalism should be non-specific because of the class nature of trade unions, but as a result needs to be allied to specific organisations which provide anarchist content. One of the determining factors in which argument is correct is, crudely, the numbers: the IWA declines while the tendency today represented in the organisations of the anarkismo project and the unaffiliated syndicalist unions, grows.”

I think this quote and the highlighted parts brings out some interesting things related to this thread (and there are also some other interesting parts).

Basically the author(s) here of Black Flame (the platformist tome if you will) argue that the organizational dualist tendency should be focused on having two groups one specific organization that strategically allies itself with an non-specific economic/class/ syndicalist organization a la the IWW, in order to provide it with content. To me it all seems a bit schematic but I can see where people get some of the ideas in this thread.

So no to anarchist syndicates, but yes to anarchists building syndicates and winning them over to anarchism to make them anarchist syndicates?

In retrospect this is incredibly similar to the KAPD/AAUD relationship, and the whole debates there around those organizations after the fact, and the AAUD-E to KAUD development seems really pertinent??? (As much as such things can be 90+ years down the line.

klas batalo

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i.e. should we do

1) specific organization working in revolutionary unions (dual organizationalist strategy as proposed here/FAI-CNT/KAPD-AAUD) ?

2) revolutionary unionism is sufficient (CGT/AAUD-E/IWW) ??

3) fusion of specific content and revolutionary unionist practice (KAUD/anarcho-syndicalist/FORAismo) ???

syndicalistcat

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also why do you find L&S offensive? I was opposed to them from the beginning, but they were welcomed into Anarkismo and AnarchistBlackCat (the latter of which I've never interacted with, the former not for 8+ years). Surely if their ideas were so diametrically opposed to everyone else's in that milieu they would have been rejected or asked to leave.

I'm not a member of an Anarkismo or platformist group so your question is irrelevant.

syndicalistcat

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

to comment on the parts you've highlighted:

but the advantage that it can embrace all workers (although the IWW often also suffers from the conundrum of trying to be sufficient in itself without an affiliated specific anarchist organisation). Other than that, there are also specific organisations that do see syndicalism as inherently reformist and therefore a dead loss, but most are of our tendency which see organisational dualism as crucial. This is the crux of the argument between the International Workers’ Association (IWA) and those of our tendency: the IWA sees syndicalism alone as sufficiently revolutionary because their unions are specifically anarchist, while we believe syndicalism should be non-specific because of the class nature of trade unions, but as a result needs to be allied to specific organisations which provide anarchist content.

the CNT in the revolution in Spain was identified as a specifically "anarchist" union. So what does it mean in saying it is "non-specific"? The anarchists even got the one non-anarchist political tendency in the CNT expelled (the BOC, which became the POUM). There did remain three different anarchist tendencies in the CNT. CNT didn't have a narrow doctrine or "line". But it was still anarcho-syndicalist.

I think one of the issues with the "unions alone" line lies with the non-class forms of oppression as well as forms of class struggle outside the workplace. Is the union really sufficient for this?

There is another issue: The issue of what, for lack of a better word, I'll call autonomism in regard to struggles of oppressed groups. In other words, at various times particular groups have formed organizations to address & organize around their specific oppression, such as Mujeres Libres or a group in USA like Black Workers for Justice, or the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

If you say the One Organization is sufficient unto itself, what about these organizations that develop around the intersection of class & non-class oppression?

Further, there is the problem of the workers in the bureaucratic service agency unions. Perhaps one says the revolutionary union should work as a pressure group or independent worker organization in that context. Maybe. But there is also the possibility of an independent worker organization in that context not aligned with a particular union.

So, I think it is inevitable the revolutionary process & the process of class formation will probably involve a multiplicity of mass organizations & initiatives. I think a revolutionary union would have to approach such organizations for an alliance. So the idea of a social movement alliance with other organizations is something that has to be allowed for. Quite apart from the question of the specific vs mass organization distinction.

There is also the question of how a sizeable revolutionary organization is going to emerge. It's not likely to emerge at present simply by recruitment to the small organizations that exist now. During a period of class formation & much more heightened struggles, in the future, there may emerge radical takeovers of local unions which breakaway, there may be emergence of various new radical independent unions. We should think of the idea of bringing these together into a radical labor federation, outside the business unions.

In this scenario, it's likely a variety of radical influences will exist in these various organizations. If there is to be a specifically libertarian socialist influence here, it seems hard to see how a specific organization is n ot needed. Similarly if we think of the revolutionary process as involving a social movement alliance between unions & other organizations....what about the political influences in those various organizations? How do links develop between militants in different mass organizing situations?

On the other hand, I think a serious problem with anarchist specific organizations is a tendency to be too ideologically narrow. The talk of "ideological unity" tends to suggest this problem. What level of ideological unity? On what basis? So I think there are problems with the concept of the "specific organization". It's sort of ironic because "organized anarchists" have more or less taken this for granted.

Fnordie

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

i.e. should we do

1) specific organization working in revolutionary unions (dual organizationalist strategy as proposed here/FAI-CNT/KAPD-AAUD) ?

2) revolutionary unionism is sufficient (CGT/AAUD-E/IWW) ??

3) fusion of specific content and revolutionary unionist practice (KAUD/anarcho-syndicalist/FORAismo) ???

Can I answer "all of the above"?

syndicalistcat

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fnordie, if you mean, Would it be useful for all three approaches to be tried? I think the answer is "Yes" as long as they are approached in a serious & organized way. Then we can assess the results, and see how things work out. Test each hypothesis.

Fnordie

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, that's basically my position. I also think different strategies are appropriate for different contexts. There might be specific local conditions or levels of struggle in Uruguay that make Especifismo a more viable practice there, and other contingencies in the US that might make "big tent" revolutionary unionism a better option for us.

I'm also generally in favor of both anarchist agitation inside business unions, and of 'apolitical' revolutionary industrial unions, and of anarchosyndicalist unions. These debates make sense in particular either/or instances (CNT vs CGT, etc), but in general I don't think anyone should wed themselves to one particular strategy.

syndicalist

8 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I basically tend to agree with the above two comments by Tom and Fordie

EDIT: And, at this point, is probably the most practical. Given that there's prolly little
anarcho-syndcalist unity. Not said negatively, just that there's a diversity out
and that diversity will continue to exist. Periodic cooperation is certainly
something to work towards. And, perhaps, a free standing north american
discussion forum might facilitate some discussion and cooperation. I dunno
but most folks don't really talk to each other across organizational lines.

syndicalist

7 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bump

s.nappalos

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Perhaps it's more helpful not to speak in general then, but in terms of local specifics? Like what is best where you live.

plasmatelly

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is this a bump of the OP?

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm the OP and yes I bumped it

plasmatelly

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, I realise that - I'm wondering if you want to pursue the discussion from the opening post?

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

yes, of course, that's why I bumped it, unless I'm missing something in the question (always possible).

Basically this is aimed at US folks. Nit to be disrespectful to others. Just trying to be specific in the focus.

At the moment the only declared anarcho-syndicalist organization in the US is the Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA, organized in 1984). Now there are many folks not in the WSA and the question is simply to see if there are other declared and dedicated anarcho-syndicalists who have an interest in advancing anarcho-syndicalism here. It's an open ended question to simply try and get some broader discussion going.

MT

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At the moment the only declared anarcho-syndicalist organization in the US is the Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA, organized in 1984).

Maybe OT, but is it? You never mentioned it in Who We Are; Where We Stand or in your Constitution. There is what I would call an attempt to say it in your FAQ, but I miss the clarity in "Q: Is the WSA itself a union? I thought anarcho-syndicalist organizations were unions." And/Or perhaps I feel that there is a contradiction in what you do as organization (which I consider different to what you do as individual members) and what you "advocate". Normally I would not debate this issue, but when speaking about WSA I never understood the cocnept of your organization. First I thought you are anarchosyndicalist organization, so I read your organization statements to find out that there is no open mention about it. Then I wondered about your relationship towards the IWW (as the closest organization to the anarchosyndicalist one) and in fact about the reason for existance of the WSA, and the conclusion was that it is about individual members working inside IWW (which then even more stresses the questions "why WSA?" + "Where is the anarchosyndicalism?"). So I am really confused about WSA.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MT. I m not going to debate you. It seems like we had this discussion before
You're welcome to your opinion. I think youvarexaround long enough to know WSA history and it's belief in anarchosyndicalism

MT

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Then consider this just as a comment to "the only declared anarcho-syndicalist organization in the US", which I consider incorrect, as the organization does not declare itself as such in its official documents;)

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thank you for your declaration Just begin the pile on

MT

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The initial version of your post where you told me "screw you" was better than this. Anyway, I hope your potential new members will be lucky enough to understand what the WSA is.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My feelings haven't changed from the initial screw you But I try not to be that uncomradely so I changed it. I mean I'm pretty tired of guys like you
Everyone is so smart and correct. And have no idea of anything

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MT wrote:

"I never understood the cocnept of your organization."

Made me think that most of the newer generation have no concept of what it was like 20, 30 plus years ago. One thing that I think gets lost in the post WWII history of anarcho-syndicalism. is its evolution from a mainly mass movement (up to WWII) to a movement composed of smallish "propaganda groups" (post WWII). During some of our formative years (the 1970s/1980s), nearly all IWA affiliates were composed of "propaganda groups" (inc. the German FAU, the DAM, the Norwegin NSF and others). People forget that those of us who helped to rebuild the IWA during this period were not part of a/s unions. Yes, of course there was the Spanish CNT and the French CNT. The Italian USI (as a national federation) didn't reorganize until the very late 1970s.

Adding some context, in the informative Solfed Self-Ed series, they write:

At the fifteenth IWA Congress in 1976, the International was still in dire straits, with only five sections in attendance, two of them operating in exile - the Spanish and Bulgarian sections. However, by 1980, the picture had changed, and the sixteenth Congress was held in a much more optimistic atmosphere. There was renewed interest in anarcho-syndicalism internationally and ten sections attended, including three new ones – from Germany, the US and Australia, and two that had recovered in the intervening years - the Italian and Norwegian sections. In Britain the SWF joined with other groups to form a new organisation, the Direct Action Movement (DAM), which took over as the British IWA section. This congress was also significant in that it was the first since 1936 in which the Spanish CNT was represented by a delegation from within Spain, rather than by the exile organisation.

Well, one of the WSA's predecesors is the American group mention above. That aside, of all those in attendance nearly all of us were "propaganda groups", including some who are now union initiatives.. But all of us were more then simply publishing entities. We were all active participants in many union, workplace and social struggles. we were either too small or not in positions to be unions. That didn't mean we did not see the need for the formation of a revolutionary workers movement. We did, just that various forms and attempts would be made or tried in building such in our home countries. When the WSA was formed in 1984, this is the tradition and role were continued in.

Fast forward to 2015. I guess when you have little to no sense of history, it's easy enough to ask the question MT did. I think we all have tried different things, different approaches and use different and appropriate language for our own situations and lands. The world is not the same as it was 40 years ago. And the world will be different 40 years from now.

For the WSA it has always been about building a revolutionary workers movement that was inclusive of folks engaged in different unions (reformist and iww) and different social struggles.
Anarcho-syndicalism is about building such a movement and we will all find our own ways at trying to achieve that. Well, I'm not the best at writing, but I hope that I have given some insight into our original thinking.

akai

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, although I know the poster is not going to be happy about this, I actually think MT's questions are valid and this is not about any historic context in which the WSA was formed, but just it seems obvious to me that WSA can serve as a case study against the approach that Syndicalist is advocating. I don't think WSA alone could be a case study, but for me it seems quite obvious that if an organization doesn't see itself as an initiative to be an independent union, it will just flounder around and union activity will be done elsewhere. I am absolutely sure there was opportunity, but the IWW took it, not the WSA. Being too much like a personal project than a collective one, being more sensitive and sentimental about the baby than being self-critical and pro-active, attempts to reorganize and go forward don't seem to get too far.

Mind you, I would hope that a new generation of people would get clearer and take a stand, but I am not so optimistic. Many young American activist seem to be infected by the platformist tactics which are also echoed in what WSA was practicing..... even if they from time to time theorized something else. In my opinion, little is clear and a lot of people are very confused about what they expect an anarchosyndicalist organization to do and on another place, calls for an anarchosyndicalist organization are not at all specific and do not identify itself as anything like a union initiative.

So I don't get what people want and my educated guess is that they don't really know either.

None of this is meant to be mean but it is critical of continuing in this manner that hasn't proved to be productive.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, I was simply trying to give you background.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ann, you are welcome to your criticisms and your opinion
But you are clueless on the matter of collectivity

Given that it like pulling teeth to have a convo and given where it usually winds up,
The topic had been started and open. Others are welcome to pick it up if they wish

akai

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes, maybe the internet and written correspondence distorts the picture. Be that as it may, I think that any organization that has been around a long time can be used as a case study. In this particular case, I think that a clearer goal for action is needed, but there are a number of things which prevent the organization from going that way. I suppose a critical assessment is needed to find a way forward.

MT

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anarcho-syndicalism is about building such a movement and we will all find our own ways at trying to achieve that. Well, I'm not the best at writing, but I hope that I have given some insight into our original thinking.

I always thought it is about building own organization (and having a strategy to do so!) which would sooner or later function as unions. Isn't this the core of anarchosyndicalist strategy, of the existence of any organization that declares itself as anarchosyndicalist? If this strategy allows for building and/or helping other class-struggle movements, great. But let's not confuse people over basic facts. Syndicalist, you know, that I really don't like your way of expressing yourself, which many times seems simply like beating about the bush. But I asked things that I have been honestly confused about. If the readers consider what you replied as a real answer, ok. I don't, but who cares, people in US should be into this, not me in Slovakia (in a small organization, btw...). Still, avoiding the topic and using attacks instead just gives the impression that you not only are well aware of the flaws of WSA but do not have the answers to the questions either.

akai

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MT, I agree with your view of anarchosyndicalism. But you have to take into account the fact that the Platformist Revisionist Current of anarchosyndicalism has probably confused a generation of poor souls. So nobody knows what you are talking about.

But speaking as a bit of a dinosaur, there is something of a point to the claims about propaganda groups when WSA was founded over 30 years ago. That said, at the time, the IWW could be seen mainly as a propaganda group and historical society....... but they saw their way to building themselves as a syndical organization. This moment, when some anarchosyndicalists built a propaganda group and other anarchists build a syndical organization that would not be anarchist, was an important point and it hampered the further development of anarchosyndicalism in the US. After that point, the perspective of building a functioning anarchosyndicalist union was not too bright. Basically, there was a window of time when doing that would have been easier....... Now it might be more challenging, but there are possibilities. If we are not allowed to consider the reasons why it isn't happening, then we can just assign this to the category of eternal mystery. Only nobody learns from mysteries.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Perhaps some of the questions about our early thinking have been addressed here: http://libcom.org/forums/north-america/1984-wsa-conference-new-national-libertarian-workers-organization-15052011#comment-555214 For today's comments, scroll down past the articles, but def. read the articles.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ann, I'm not sure I fully agree or completely disagree with your above review
Mainly I don't agree with your historical perspective The closest the WSA ever came to becoming what you call in 2015 an union initiative was in the 1990s. Our problem was we just didn't have enough people to build upon the industrial networks
Mainly an understanding of our conditions by using a cookie model doesn't work And this is always an IWA problem. Not meant as a slag off on the IWA, because I'm against cookie cutter models in general, be it IWA, IWW or anyone else

akai

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, I am very well acquainted with the challenge of getting "enough people". But I am rather convinced that in normal circumstances, getting people can also be connected to the actual activity of the organization.

So, I am wondering how it happened that IWW at some point started to get people. Because I remember when it didn't have people. What was different? That authoritarian leftists are a dominant part and felt more comfortable there? Or that people like the cat?

I mean, don't get me wrong. This ain't no attack ....... a lot of us find ourselves in situations where people do something else and the question is why. Was there a mistake in strategy? Or are people silly or authoritiarns? Or what? I am not being sarcastic about anything, and the silly remark relates to the fact that sometimes people do choose organizations for rather shallow reasons. I am not implying this is necessarily the case here. But since you don't agree and are upset, just maybe tell us what the problem has been to get the WSA functioning better.

And just for the record, I ain't bashing. We have this conversation like every month in my organization, looking at where we are not doing OK or should be doing better.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When you have 300 people many in branches,as opposed to 30-40 scattered across 3000 miles with only a few functioning locals, you can figure out why the discrepancy, in part.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Actually I'm more upset that US folks aren't participating in this convo..
And that y'all even questioning that we are anarchosyndicalists

Perhaps a read of the OP might put the question in context.
It's your right and opinion to feel that WSA is a failure

I'm not sure I get your cat comment. Well, actually I think you making a comment about Tom

s.nappalos

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I would comment more, but think it's getting overly personal and not constructive. I have a hard time finding the energy to engage in online debates these days because attacks and defensiveness are very easy and tend to make everyone depressed frequently.

Sticking to today I think it is harder to build a new anarchosyndicalist union because not only IWW but also solnets some of which are more anarchosyndicalist others which are more neutral combative organizations. It's rare to have overlap (WSA, IWW, Solnet, etc) in one city, each city has its own project often. On the ground context is pretty important here and that varies where you are. I'd support people experimenting and trying to build such and would help in whatever capacity.

akai

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I am sorry if anybody here thinks this got overly personal. It wasn't the intention I had to be unconstructive. But certain questions in general are really important when trying to find a way forward.

What S. says is certainly true enough about the IWW and Solnets. Actually, I tend to like the Solnets, in terms of what they do - and they deal with tenants' issues, which I am deeply involved in and interested in. It's just really worth considering though, why some anarchosyndicalist comrades choose more apolitical organizational forms instead of trying to show that anarchosyndicalism in its more explicit forms can also be attractive to people and work.

We take ourselves as a case in point, because we live in a society that is really conservative --- the extent to conservatism does not compare in the UK or US ---- but still we can find working people all the time that like our ideas and the way we work. So we can make an anarchosyndicalist organization that is not a propaganda group, but one that starts to have a practical application, even if it is on a limited scale.

I especially appreciate the fact that making new anarchosyndicalist organizations and making them function is very hard and is harder in some places than others. Nobody has to convince me of that, or of the fact that there are lots of factors in play. But what sort of gets me about the US is that it is, in my assessment, not a place where an anarchosyndicalist organizaton is not possible. The reason I say that is because there are dozens of people who are interested in the same things as us - but have chosen to go another way.

Every so often I see sort calls for people to join in making anarchosyndicalist organizations in the US, but it doesn't look as if anybody wants to study what has gone wrong in recent attempts with a view towards making a better effort.

This isn't, as I repeat, anything personal, although it's clear that people can take it this way. As a matter of fact, I know at least a half dozen organizations that have problems with development. I think they even have some things in common, but I won't get into that because the thread would get really messy.

In any case, I would wish you luck, but that's not what you need. What you need is a plan and a break with the past ways.

Chilli Sauce

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That authoritarian leftists are a dominant part and felt more comfortable there? Or that people like the cat?

I don't think it's fair to say that authoritarian leftists are a dominant part of the IWW - and certainly not in the US.

That said, I do think history plays a pretty large role here. Most countries where the IWA had a presence at a high point of class struggle in the past still have an IWA presence today. In the US, it was the IWW that built up that tradition of revolutionary unionism. Given that, I'm not surprised that labor radicals looked towards the IWW when seeking to rebuild that tradition. I mean, in all seriousness, I think Howard Zinn's account of the IWW in A People's History is a very large part of why the IWW is still around today.

That said, I do agree that ultimately it's action that determines the success and growth of an organisation, but history plays a large role as well. I know it's a bit pretentious to post it, but...

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past."

I think that's just as true of radical movements as it is of anything else.

OliverTwister

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We take ourselves as a case in point, because we live in a society that is really conservative --- the extent to conservatism does not compare in the UK or US ---- but still we can find working people all the time that like our ideas and the way we work.

There's 1/3 of the country that leftists never think about, south of the Mason-Dixon line. I think the extent of conservatism in a place like Alabama, or most parts of Texas, would shock your standard Pole.

Any revolutionary workers' movement that is serious about organizing in the US, has to be serious about organizing in the South. Most left-wing organizations here have a hard time imagining organizing outside of the kind of cities that have boutique tea shops.

syndicalist

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Scott, it becomes a defensive conversation when folks weave personal snarks into the convo. And when peeps challenge your belief in anarcho-syndicalism. Even when you have been the sole place card holder for decades. That doesn't mean you always will be, it just means that a lot more respect should be given then we get.

That said, we all can learn of mistakes made. I can't ever believe we have said we are perfect.That's never been an issue.

I think there's an element of truth to what Chile wrote, although I may not agree that simply existing is the same as being. But I also don't want to debate the pros and cons of the IWW as an anarcho-syndicalist vehicle. Or an organization of conscious anarcho-syndicalist's. There will always be US anarcho-syndicalist's who will belong to the IWW, while others will not. And while I do not think its a two way street, I have too much respect for whatever positive work IWW folks do to want to even engage in that sort of correct line discussion.

Let me just end by saying that nothing lasts forever.And when things are longer viable they are replaced by something else. That said, let there be no mistake, I will play rock 'em sock 'em to the end until we get the respect that we have earned. If the WSA has run its course, so be it. Until such time, I look forward to engaging with others to find real and meaningful ways to move forward anarcho-syndicalism as anarcho-syndicalists.

akai

7 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, I think history and what I'd call brand recognition have a lot to do with stuff. Sorry if people don't like that word, but there are a couple of organizations I know where the initials carry some long history with it and this makes it very attractive. Sometimes I would say this is even problematic...... but that's another story.

Yeah, these remarks about the American South are interesting. I don't know how much conservatism would shock the average person here --- but I take the point. (I have no idea what's in Alabama these days. BTW, yesterday I saw the film Selma. Was very upset, I remember seeing stuff like this on TV when I was a kid and I told somebody more about this history and when I did, it sort of sunk into my friend's head that this kind of stuff happened not so long ago, and people are still getting murdered all the time by cops....... but really no idea what things are like today.)

So, if people have trouble organizing in places like that, it's the same like around here, where there is trouble organizing in some countries with very capitalistic and conservative approaches. And certainly we can see countries, like next-door Germany, with its super-large concentration of radicals and activity in one or two places and nothing really in most towns.

It's a bit of a degression from the main topic.

klas batalo

5 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Folks should join the WSA and help us build our new Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative if you are so interested.

[email protected]

syndicalist

2 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is a trip to reread