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Anarcho-syndicalist organization?

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syndicalist
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Apr 17 2014 22:00

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
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Mar 6 2015 04:54

bump

s.nappalos
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Mar 28 2015 14:29

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

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plasmatelly
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Mar 28 2015 21:26

Is this a bump of the OP?

syndicalist
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Mar 28 2015 21:31

I'm the OP and yes I bumped it

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plasmatelly
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Mar 28 2015 21:34

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

syndicalist
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Mar 28 2015 22:00

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
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Mar 28 2015 22:17
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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
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Mar 28 2015 22:59

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
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Mar 28 2015 23:05

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
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Mar 28 2015 23:11

Thank you for your declaration Just begin the pile on

MT
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Mar 28 2015 23:18

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
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Mar 28 2015 23:24

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
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Mar 31 2015 04:15

MT wrote:

Quote:
"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:

Quote:
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
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Mar 31 2015 09:16

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
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Mar 31 2015 13:11

Well, I was simply trying to give you background.

syndicalist
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Mar 31 2015 17:39

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
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Mar 31 2015 18:12

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
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Mar 31 2015 19:41
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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
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Mar 31 2015 20:18

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
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Apr 1 2015 00:01

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

syndicalist
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Apr 1 2015 13:12

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
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Apr 1 2015 14:28

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
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Apr 1 2015 15:19

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
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Apr 1 2015 19:21

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
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Apr 3 2015 03:28

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
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Apr 3 2015 07:04

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.

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Apr 3 2015 10:33
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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.

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Apr 3 2015 12:20
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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
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Apr 3 2015 23:16

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.