Post-Trump North American left trends

Submitted by Mike Harman on April 27, 2018

Splitting this off from a longer thread to reply to it:

Juan Conatz

I'd like to see something written about the effects the Trump campaign and administration has has had on the left. Just off the top of my head I'd say

-Swing to social democrat electoralism as the main influencer and entry point to the radical left

-Polarization between "economistic" and "identity politics" tendencies

-The seeming decline of anarchism as a unique and identifiable segment of the radical left

-Perceived amplification of the stakes translating into more salt the earth tactics towards internal rivals

OliverTwister

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

- Unwillingness to recognize new realities and new possibilities from those who wanted everything to stay the same.

Example: A well-known Libcom poster, in response to a question on Facebook asking "What the hell happened to the IWW?", wrote:

We decided to try and recruit every person who was mad about Trump and just open the flood gates. Now all of the problems of the activist scene are the problems of the iww. Where we were once an island of a bit of sanity we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing.

Nevermind that I have yet to see any example of any new IWW members who are "opposed to workplace organizing" ... This is just one example of the extreme cynicism of those who wanted to maintain the insulation of the IWW from the broader working class (the island imagery is actually very appropriate). Many of them referred to the growth we saw after the election as the "Trump bump", and some of those who were in executive positions at the time actually argued that these new members would fade and we would return to "normal". (This came up when our finance committee projected a budget based on this growth and some of those executives refused to accept the projected surplus - they used this logic to argue that there would not be a surplus. We actually ended up with a higher surplus than had even been projected.)

R Totale

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Am curious about how the Marcyite/tankie/Maoist whateverist trend fits into the "Polarization between "economistic" and "identity politics" tendencies" point - certainly the most prominent UK Young Stalin types I can think of tend to go heavily for the Nagle side of things, but it's my understanding that PSL/WWP types would tend more to the very "woke" side. But I'm open to correction to people who might know more.
Also: - hugely increased media profile of "antifa" and "black bloc", for better or for worse

- is stuff like J20/Georgia last weekend indicative of a broadly increased level of repression, or is it more or less par for the course and what you'd expect from fine US state traditions?

- obviously the class struggle and "the left" are two different things, but the current wave of worker struggles feels exciting/bigger than anything seen in a while. Also this is possibly offtopic, but god the Burgerville recognition thing being apparently an absolute first makes you realise how completely overhyped and stage managed Fight for $15 was - all that fuss and they didn't actually unionise one single location?

Mike Harman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

Swing to social democrat electoralism as the main influencer and entry point to the radical left

This is worth pointing out, the main driver in membership of the DSA (and Jacobin subscriptions) - which I see as the main social democratic entry points, was not the Bernie Sanders campaign, but that Trump won. I think it was an oh-shit moment for a lot of liberals (but also a lot of much more politicised/radical people who weren't in an organisation), so they signed up to the most accessible/present org which was the DSA.

I do though think that this has significantly changed the composition of the DSA, and it includes a lot of anti-electoralist people - question is what happens with the DSA/Jacobin-centred old guard vs. the new membership though. Also whether the DSA medicare-for-all centrally-directed electoralism manages to mobilise a largely paper membership for the Democrats in mid-terms and whatever the fuck happens next year with the presidential primaries starting.

Juan Conatz

Polarization between "economistic" and "identity politics" tendencies

Definitely this, but it's worth pointing out that this is a trend that has happened across political tendencies. So you have intersectional tankies, intersectional social-democrats, intersectional anarchists, economistic anarchists, economistic social-democrats, economistic tankies. I'm not sure just how much this is a response to the Trump election vs. also the way that political discussion has been flattened on twitter and other places - i.e. that there's a lot more direct communication between anarchists, tankies, social democrats that you would not have had 10 or even 5 years ago as well as much wider discussions about 'identity politics' outside radical political circles.

Juan Conatz

-The seeming decline of anarchism as a unique and identifiable segment of the radical left

Have said this elsewhere, but I think a massive part of this is that anti-electoral arguments have been hugely watered down the past 20-30 years, to 'all politicians being the same' vs. a proper critique of the state. With loads of New Right movements across the US and Europe, as well as various more properly socially democratic parties/politicians around, people no longer listen to "they're all the same" as much.

One the other hand, a consistent anti-electoral politics isn't limited only to anarchism, but to (some) branches of Leninist politics as well (although not the main groups like ISO/SWP).

The critique of electoralism here: http://blackrosefed.org/electoral-pursuits-have-veered-us-away-kali-akuno-on-movement-lessons-from-jackson/ - even though it's from someone in favour of municipal socialism, is more robust than a lot of boilerplate 'voting is meaningless' posts in terms of showing how its recuperating energy.

Juan Conatz

Perceived amplification of the stakes translating into more salt the earth tactics towards internal rivals

Not sure what this means?

Mike Harman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Am curious about how the Marcyite/tankie/Maoist whateverist trend fits into the "Polarization between "economistic" and "identity politics" tendencies" point - certainly the most prominent UK Young Stalin types I can think of tend to go heavily for the Nagle side of things, but it's my understanding that PSL/WWP types would tend more to the very "woke" side. But I'm open to correction to people who might know more.

I think this is an accurate summary. Also the Marycites will criticise the crude economism of the right wing social democrat DSA types like Conor Kilpatrick. And this isn't a new situation as far as I know, I think the original Workers World Party was pro gay-rights in the early '70s too.

I'd say though that younger US online Maoists (not even sure which groups they might affiliated) hate the Marcyites, because for example a Maoist would be very critical of modern China as neoliberal, whereas Marcyites will either defend China as a geopolitical counterweight to the US, or some of them go full on Dengist and claim it's actually socialist/communist, that Chinese investment in Africa is some kind of socialist project to increase living standards etc.

Would also make a distinction between a classical Marxist Leninism influenced by late '60s black radicalism, operaismo and similar trends (what I'd call 'Leninist Marxism') vs. the bizarro-Trot/Tankie stuff. This piece talks about that a bit: https://libcom.org/library/where-s-winter-palace-marxist-leninist-trend-united-states

The very, very rapid politicisation that people can go through these days might feed into this? Like 20 years ago you'd have to subscribe to magazines or join a group, and could maybe read a few classic texts online if you knew where to look. Now you have marxists.org, this site, all of twitter, hundreds of facebook groups and reddit so exposure to everything from Marcyite sects to Bordigism is there for people. One the one hand it leads to people associating with very specific tendencies with maybe quite shallow political education, but on the other there's a lot of potential for people to read heterogeneously and not get tied down to shitty groups or isolated in sects (whether social media encourages isolationism is a double edged sword I think).

--

One point that's not been mentioned. There seemed to be a lull in mass protests in response to police killings in the first few months after Trump, but the St Louis protests against the Jason Stockley verdict in autumn 2017, and recent protests against the killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento turn that on its head a bit.

Also there have been some disaffiliations of local branches from Black Lives Matter and BLM Cincinnati which was always independent I think, changed it's name to completely disassociate itself from the national organisation: http://blacklivescincy.com/home/2018/03/28/why-black-lives-matter-cincinnati-is-changing-its-name/ - to me that's an encouraging sign that the obvious recuperation that's been attempted is being rejected by some local groups, and in a way that might be more clear to casual observers who tend to lump everything in as BLM and put Deray or M4BL on the top of it.

Steven.

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike, I think he means that because people see "the left" as being particularly crucial now, lefties are being more vicious in terms of their attacks on other left-wing opponents.

I'm not really that in touch with the American scene so not very sure about the accuracy of this. But I am aware of extremely vicious internal rivalries over prolonged periods of time…

Mike Harman

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

@Steven. thanks that makes sense.

Related to that, do any US people know what's going on with Socialist Alternative and ISO - as far as I can tell they've not made nearly the same capitalisation as the Marcyites or DSA have. ISO posted some very stupid anti-antifa bollocks after Berkeley which came close to badjacketing the black bloc, they just don't seem to be able to adapt at all.

The SWP somewhat collapsed here following the rape apologism scandal and multiple splits - it's still going and still manages to turn up to London demos with hundreds of placards, but also seems quite stagnant otherwise. There are new Trotskyist groups like RS21, which from a distance seem a bit less toxic (and more anti-Labour/electoralism than Plan C for example), although I haven't looked in detail as to what their actual politics are.

syndicalist

4 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Main trend: social democracy in form and action

gram negative

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

MH, you've made a useful observation in the distinction between the weakness of the flimsy 'all politicians are the same' critique of electoral politics vs. a truly anti-state political critique of electoralism. I do agree that social democracy is experiencing an upsurge in the US, but I wouldn't say the anarchist-influenced groups on the American left have necessarily gotten smaller, just that organizations like DSA have mushroomed so suddenly. It is easy to assume that any proposed reforms to the US welfare state are bound to fall due to the material realities of capital, but the more worrying thing for the libertarian left, in my opinion, is if some reforms are successful, if and when higher political offices are won by social democrats.

R. Spourgitis

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not sure what piece of Juan's Mike is quoting from here, but the biggest shift in the radical left in the US that I have seen is the divide between antifa activity, and the perception of a resurgent far right, and electoralism in local and state level. With the vast majority of the anarchist and anti-state radical left falling into the former category.

I think this has been a colossal mistake and misrepresented the danger that out and out fascists actually pose. It has ceded organizing ground and squandered opportunities where people are organizing, be it with pro-immigrant campaigns, pro-labor, or anti-cut to services, etc. I know people say "we can do both," but the reality I see doesn't square with that -- resources and time are limited and people have seemed to decide that the tiny subset of Pepe Nazis are more worthy of their time and effort than really atrocious policies that are coming down from Republicans.

I think the DSA is obviously reaping the benefits of a rise in left wing activism and sentiment with regards to a fairly hard right leaning political leadership in Washington and in a lot of states. SA and ISO haven't been nearly visible that I've seen, and the DSA is active in a ton of places like the Midwest and South that haven't seen much if any organizing, since say Occupy or even decades before. To me that's signficant and while is often very electoral oriented, there is some interesting organizing happening along the lines of the above from chapters.

syndicalist

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I asked one of my 17 year olds why he likes DSA. His reply: "They make sense". Followed up by, how come things I believe in don't make sense. Him: "They do, just not now." So I explored it with him. Basically, my ideas are good ideas about the future. He's not into street battles and he's too young to vote. But he think that the progressive slogans, the health care for all and some other here today stuff makes sense for him. He laughed at one point: "Look at you, your anarchist flags, books, buttons and how you used to look, how far have you gotten?" Me: "Kid, it's a long haul thing." Him: "Can I have the keys to the car to see (his g-friend)?" Me: Love you dude, but we gotta get deep." Him: "Ok, keys, plz."

Hieronymous

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R. Spourgitis

. . . than really atrocious policies that are coming down from Republicans.

This is leaving the Democrats off the hook.

In my lifetime, the worst shit was Carter’s deregulation at the end of his term and Clinton’s workfare and gutting social welfare provisions, many of which had existed since the New Deal (and more damaging than anything Reagan got away with destroying).

If antifa is panic over the rising tide of racist, homo-/trans-phobic, and anti-immigrant attacks, then fear-mongering over the “atrocious policies” of the Republicans, which are indistinguishable from the neoliberal austerity and attacks on the working class of the Democrats, is more akin to the frenzy of chickens running around with their heads cut off.

OliverTwister

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R. Spourgitis

Not sure what piece of Juan's Mike is quoting from here, but the biggest shift in the radical left in the US that I have seen is the divide between antifa activity, and the perception of a resurgent far right, and electoralism in local and state level. With the vast majority of the anarchist and anti-state radical left falling into the former category.

I think this has been a colossal mistake and misrepresented the danger that out and out fascists actually pose. It has ceded organizing ground and squandered opportunities where people are organizing, be it with pro-immigrant campaigns, pro-labor, or anti-cut to services, etc. I know people say "we can do both," but the reality I see doesn't square with that -- resources and time are limited and people have seemed to decide that the tiny subset of Pepe Nazis are more worthy of their time and effort than really atrocious policies that are coming down from Republicans.

I think the DSA is obviously reaping the benefits of a rise in left wing activism and sentiment with regards to a fairly hard right leaning political leadership in Washington and in a lot of states. SA and ISO haven't been nearly visible that I've seen, and the DSA is active in a ton of places like the Midwest and South that haven't seen much if any organizing, since say Occupy or even decades before. To me that's signficant and while is often very electoral oriented, there is some interesting organizing happening along the lines of the above from chapters.

I can only really speak to the specific experience of the IWW in the South, but from what I've seen, everything you're saying is wrong.

There are probably 10 IWW members in North Carolina and Virginia for every 1 there was in 2015, and that is directly attributable to anti-fascist organizing. The successful rout of the Klan's 'victory parade' in Danville VA in December 2016 led to a lot of people joining in NC and VA, and those people have brought in others. They are almost universally involved in organizing at work, supporting IWOC, and doing other organizing in the community. The notion that "resources and time" are limited is a very cadre-style idea of how our organizing ought to look, when really it ought to be based on infectiousness of our ideas.

I've only heard of people claiming a divide between antifascist organizing and other forms of organizing on Facebook, I haven't seen anybody involved in real organizing who claims that, at least if they actually acknowledge the growing threat of fascist groups.

IWW would have reaped the same benefits as DSA if we hadn't had a vocal minority of members who were gaslighting the majority about the current reality in the US. NC and VA are an example of what we could have seen across the US.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Will try to say more on this subject later, but on the specific experience of Southern wobblies, could you say how that's looked in GA this past month or so, since IIRC there's been a mass (wildcat?) strike there and a very harshly repressed anti-nazi mobilisation happening at more or less the same time, which sounds like a pretty ideal test case for understanding the antifa/other stuff dynamic.

R. Spourgitis

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I brought it up because it was surprising to see in a thread titled "Post-Trump North American left trends" there's no mention of antifa and general antifascist / alt-right organizing -- which from what I can tell has been pretty dominant for the radical left.

OliverTwister

I can only really speak to the specific experience of the IWW in the South, but from what I've seen, everything you're saying is wrong.

There are probably 10 IWW members in North Carolina and Virginia for every 1 there was in 2015, and that is directly attributable to anti-fascist organizing. The successful rout of the Klan's 'victory parade' in Danville VA in December 2016 led to a lot of people joining in NC and VA, and those people have brought in others. They are almost universally involved in organizing at work, supporting IWOC, and doing other organizing in the community. The notion that "resources and time" are limited is a very cadre-style idea of how our organizing ought to look, when really it ought to be based on infectiousness of our ideas.

I've only heard of people claiming a divide between antifascist organizing and other forms of organizing on Facebook, I haven't seen anybody involved in real organizing who claims that, at least if they actually acknowledge the growing threat of fascist groups.

I'm not against doing antifascist and anti-racist organizing, and I think there's better and worse examples of it in the last two years for sure. If you are seeing it helping solid organizing outside of the flashy but rare anti-fash mobilizations, good on you.

What I've seen is a fixation that's outside the actual threat posed. In Iowa where there is virtually zero organized far right presence, but Republicans have taken all branches of government since 2016 and a slew of anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion legislation has come down, cutting education funding, slashing if not outright eliminating services for health care, the disabled, DV and SA victim services on and on, there's no question where the real dangers to working people and the most disadvantaged are coming from. It isn't the alt-right or Nazi fascists.

OliverTwister

IWW would have reaped the same benefits as DSA if we hadn't had a vocal minority of members who were gaslighting the majority about the current reality in the US. NC and VA are an example of what we could have seen across the US.

I haven't been a dues paying member for a few years and I only know a little bit about the internal divisions over antifa stuff, so it isn't what I had in mind. My outsider perspective is that those fights are more of a symptom of the debate over leftist energies and priorities. But also I'm not sure what you mean by this, if there were more antifa organizing in more places there would be more IWW akin to DSA? I'm going to have to disagree heartily there if so.

I think the combination of liberal and social democratic leanings mean the DSA is just more poised take in the big influx of people than any version of the IWW would (I happen to think the post-Bernie crowd is pretty big part of the DSA, besides the "oh shit" liberals).

Hieronymous

This is leaving the Democrats off the hook.

In my lifetime, the worst shit was Carter’s deregulation at the end of his term and Clinton’s workfare and gutting social welfare provisions, many of which had existed since the New Deal (and more damaging than anything Reagan got away with destroying).

If antifa is panic over the rising tide of racist, homo-/trans-phobic, and anti-immigrant attacks, then fear-mongering over the “atrocious policies” of the Republicans, which are indistinguishable from the neoliberal austerity and attacks on the working class of the Democrats, is more akin to the frenzy of chickens running around with their heads cut off.

Fair enough. I'm used to saying that because where I'm living, see above. It is a double whammy of Republicans at the federal and state levels fucking people over. I like to point out to people that here when the Democrats and control it was they who started instituting austerity cuts and talking about tax breaks. It's the same policies, just maybe not quite a severe and minus the extra reactionary racist, sexist and xenophobic policies

So yeah, absolutely where Democrats are in power and pulling the same stuff they need opposed too. I am certainly not advocating in favor of shilling for them.

The post election DSA in my area is a thing where there are a lot of people in the state that want to do organizing on housing issues, on immigrant defense work, on policy issues stuff. It does also include people who are for, if not campaigning for Dems, also running DSA's own candidates. My sense is that this split and presence is the case in a lot of places. I'm not sure how it will shake out, but to the extent that solid organizing efforts can occur I think it's something worth being involved with for now and for me.

If people are finding that in their local IWW or whatever else then they should totally do what makes sense in their area. I just I have not seen the kind of interest and energy on the national level in that kind of work that I have for turning out against the far right or doxxing them or whatever. Those things have value but it's limited. Now that the far right is appearing to implode, great victory has been declared -- well I think the danger and strength was overstated. That's not to say there isn't any danger or any need to organize against them, it's just not lining up with what I see as the needed priorities and points for organizing.

To be honest, I haven't followed this site and nor have I been active in organized left politics in a little while, besides finishing a degree while working and having two kids, I've just been flat out disgusted with the state of the left. (My workplace also banned libcom :( ) Watching the cuts happen to the field me and my partner work in -- watching a visible decline in people's quality of life, watching the extra curricular and foreign language programs be cut from my kids' schools, and seeing a shitshow over Milo or Richard Spencer, it hasn't lined up.

Mike Harman

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R. Spourgitis

organizing on housing issues, on immigrant defense work,

I'm not in the US and the only things I know about internal-IWW stuff (or the DSA) are online, but wanted to pick up on this.

Twin Cities IWW-GDC has worked on anti-police stuff a bit: https://twincitiesgdc.org/2017/10/29/the-cops-and-the-politicians-represent-the-same-violent-order-a-statement-from-the-anti-police-terror-working-group/ and a community response to public sexual harassment as an alternative to police: https://twincitiesgdc.org/2017/07/25/local-community-self-defense-action/

I don't see a particular reason why an IWW-GDC couldn't get involved with opposition to ICE raids? It's harder to organise than an anti-fascist counter-demonstration for a publicly advertised event, but there's been some success co-ordinating/publicising immigration raid resistance in the UK for example: http://antiraids.net/

Black Rose Federation did a post (I think they took a bit too much credit for what happened based on other reports) about blocking an ICE raid on a 7-11 in California: http://blackrosefed.org/la-koreatown-fights-back-on-7-11-ice-raids/ - this sort of thing.

Similarly with housing, the DSA communist caucus has been getting involved with tenants unions, but that also doesn't seem incompatible with the IWW (or if not, a solidarity network like seasol).

The impression I've got is that some (most?) of the DSA's housing activism is getting tenants to lobby local politicians for rent controls or similar, which is really the appearance of housing activism funnelled into more electoralism. But there is capacity for collective action against realtors and landlords that does not get sucked into reformism (Brighton Solfed does a lot of this - helping people get stolen deposits back by picketing shop fronts and similar).

There's a risk of housing, anti-ICE and anti-police organising (and anti-fascism sometimes) slipping into reformism (or individual casework), but that risk exists for workplace organising too.

Is there active opposition inside the IWW to getting involved with this sort of stuff in general?

R. Spourgitis

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

The impression I've got is that some (most?) of the DSA's housing activism is getting tenants to lobby local politicians for rent controls or similar, which is really the appearance of housing activism funnelled into more electoralism. But there is capacity for collective action against realtors and landlords that does not get sucked into reformism (Brighton Solfed does a lot of this - helping people get stolen deposits back by picketing shop fronts and similar).

Yeah this is an ongoing discussion where I'm at. There's a DSA chapter in the state doing a renters union that's described as being built in a solidarity network style, and I'm advocating something similar, while others appear more interested in this electoralist direction you're describing (which I agree with your summation). It's pretty new, just a month in the works here, so we'll see. There's actually a statewide conference coming up this weekend so I hope to get a better feel for what others are doing.

Mike Harman

Is there active opposition inside the IWW to getting involved with this sort of stuff in general?

I couldn't say, not being in it for a while, same with Black Rose. But there's no existing presence of them here and any effort to organize a branch or local would be time spent away from where there are already people working on a project.

R Totale

4 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For reference: I don't know anywhere near enough about the DSA to be able to comment myself, but this article gives some info on some of the internal difficulties that have accompanied their recent growth: https://medium.com/@seanmduffy/inwards-and-outwards-dsa-in-conflict-7650b55e226d

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I sympathize a lot with what R. Spourgitis is saying. In Iowa, the regular right wing has taken control of the state and implemented a dizzying array of conventional conservative rollbacks on various rights and services. No fascist right has been necessary or has been meaningfully involved. I suspect its the same in most states where the Democrats have been eviscerated at the state and local level, making many places a one-party GOP ruled area.

In the past, I often argued against or at least engaged in discussion/argument against the centering of antifascist activity within the context of IWW (and the broader left) priorities. However, without a question since 2015 or so there's been a resurgent far right that's pulled the conventional right along with them on a number of key issues. That's where they've been most successful. They've also interfered, online and in real life, in some progressive movements, such as the police precinct occupation in Minneapolis a few years ago, when alt-right types invaded the social media of the movement spreading misinformation and confusion. Some of those idiots showed up to the occupation armed and ended up shooting multiple people. There's a large number of other examples of isolated and a few degrees of separation type stuff with far right lunatics engaging in deadly and violent individual terrorist attacks. And post-Trump, all these desperate entities attempted to coalition build with each other and turn their online and cultural activities, which made inroads we haven't really seen before, into concrete, real life, organizational gains.

So within that context its hard for me to take seriously the people who say, more or less, that we should ignore or not prioritize shutting these attempts down. The time we are in is different. Saying "we should base build" or "do 1-on-1s with coworkers" is just not a satisfactory answer. Those who have been saying variations of that have seen their roles as informal leaders stunningly and drastically reduced. Which is unfortunate, because a growing, organizing, base building movement that also directly confronts the extreme right is really what's needed. I think the DSA is seen by many as exactly that, which is why many, including many with a background in anarchist or communist groups, have been gravitating to that rather than anarchist political organizations or the IWW, which have not really grown in any significant way (particularly compared to the DSA) and may actually be hemorrhaging members.

In general it feels like all efforts I've been involved in since 2008 have been for nothing and we're in this new era with most far left formations in internal disarray, big tent confusion or focused on violent street spectacles. It does feel pretty hopeless. Whether that's an objective look at things or because of increased cynicism after a decade on the radical left, I haven't been able to determine. I find myself drifting towards a mixture of Puerto Rican nationalism, apoliticism and bystander class hatred, which is more or less where I was at before I discovered libcom and online far left stuff and became involved in stuff.

WIth the DSA specifically, what happens when its members start to win office? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a DSA member, just stunned an establishment and incumbent Democratic in a New York primary. There's several other DSA members who have won office. With the some of the local organizing they're doing that's not election focused, what happens when it succeeds? Does it grow the organization? For what? If it doesn't grow the organization, does it go into decline and then people move on to the next thing?

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

WIth the DSA specifically, what happens when its members start to win office? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a DSA member, just stunned an establishment and incumbent Democratic in a New York primary. There's several other DSA members who have won office. With the some of the local organizing they're doing that's not election focused, what happens when it succeeds? Does it grow the organization? For what? If it doesn't grow the organization, does it go into decline and then people move on to the next thing?

The DSA endorsed a District Attorney candidate (but not DSA member), Larry Krasner last year. He just recently charged a trans activist with a felony for burning a blue lives matter flag.

However the New Jersey DSA chapter mobilised a protest against the charges.

Ocasio-Cortez both before and after getting elected has been emphasising she's only interested in reforms to border control, going back to the INS from ICE. DSA members have been a decent chunk of the people at the ICE protests and I would think most of the people at those protests really do mean abolition and not this sleight of hand renaming that the Democrats are trying to turn it into.

Juan Conatz

Which is unfortunate, because a growing, organizing, base building movement that also directly confronts the extreme right is really what's needed. I think the DSA is seen by many as exactly that, which is why many, including many with a background in anarchist or communist groups, have been gravitating to that rather than anarchist political organizations or the IWW

Yeah at least theoretically if you're in a decent DSA local, it can do:

- strike support
- tenant organising / anti-landlord pickets
- picketing of ICE offices, disruption of ICE raids
- arrestee support
- anti-fascism

It makes sense that a single group (or at least co-ordinated set of groups) can do these things - they're mostly defensive, locally based things that are all necessary and when it's external support require similar types of organising and activity (i.e. all of those can involve getting a group of outside supporters to a picket for example).

How this gets reconciled with canvassing for Democrats though is just... wtf... but it's really separate groups of people doing things things mostly, crammed into the same org, and not always in the same local, but some of them are, and there's a national structure that's geared towards electoralism, so I don't know.

Juan Conatz

In general it feels like all efforts I've been involved in since 2008 have been for nothing

This probably won't help that feeling but I know that hundreds of DSA members read libcom pretty regularly.

Agent of the I…

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Since Ocasio-Cortez won the New York primary, the DSA's membership ballooned to over 42,000; I think there has been a 10% increase from the pre primary membership figure. This election has prompted a lot of online discussion on the idea of 'democratic socialism', and many have asked if there is any significant difference between that and 'social democracy'. And I've noticed a lot of hosts of progressive outlets, like the TYT network, have now openly embraced the former.

While it seems to suggest a shift among the Left, the discussions that have taken place reveal that a lot of these folks are under the illusion there is something new and worthwhile to an uncompromising electoralism as distinguished from 'centrist' Democrats. I mean, that's the promise or the appeal of it all. But it's not like people are being duped by these organisations; a lot of young people have gravitated to the DSA as their first ever experience of organising.

It's all rather depressing to watch. And I'm not optimistic about the possibility that their will be an eventual disillusionment that will feed into the growth of libertarian organising.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The time we are in is different. Saying "we should base build" or "do 1-on-1s with coworkers" is just not a satisfactory answer. Those who have been saying variations of that have seen their roles as informal leaders stunningly and drastically reduced. Which is unfortunate, because a growing, organizing, base building movement that also directly confronts the extreme right is really what's needed. I think the DSA is seen by many as exactly that, which is why many, including many with a background in anarchist or communist groups, have been gravitating to that rather than anarchist political organizations or the IWW, which have not really grown in any significant way (particularly compared to the DSA) and may actually be hemorrhaging members.

This is a really important point, or series of points. I say all this as someone who also used to be vocally critical of focusing on the far-right, or indeed of doing too much that would draw us away from actual workplace activity. I was right there among the people who derisively referred to all of that as mere "activism" that we should keep our distance from. Even when the Sister's Camelot strike started I thought it was a little too granola. I know the conservative ideology that was dominant in the union pretty dang well because I was among its most vocal defenders.

One of the most important, and most tragic, parts of all of this (in particular groups like the IWW being eclipsed by the DSA) is that it didn't need to happen like that. To be clear, I don't see the DSA's growth as a bad thing; I do see the IWW's lack of similar growth as a bad thing, a result of some very serious mistakes and just downright awful behavior from leading members.

There were a lot of people who wanted the IWW to adapt to the new reality after the election - or rather, to allow the IWW to adapt itself. I can only speak for myself but I know I didn't have any particular ideas - my perspective was that our trajectory until then wasn't adequate and a lot of people were probably going to want to adapt, so we should make the space for those discussions to happen. Myself and two other members of the executive board immediately asked for an emergency board meeting after the election to talk about what it all meant and how we could open up that space for discussion, but the immediate reaction from the other board members (the more senior ones, by the way) was hostility. This was a trend that would continue and grow over the months after that.

One of the first things we noticed after the election was a huge increase in people joining, both online and in branches. A lot of people clearly saw Trump's election as a reason to get serious about organizing, and they saw the IWW as the vehicle to accomplish that. We tried to talk about how the union could help integrate them and encourage that growth, but the conservative members of the GEB thought there was nothing to talk about, and other members of the dominant conservative clique derisively referred to this as "the Trump bump" and insisted that it would all go away within a few months. Of course, when the union deliberately ignores most of the new people joining because the leadership expects them to leave, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When Juan refers to "those who have been saying that 'we should base build'" having lost their positions as informal leaders, there's more to it - in many ways these folks are part of the clique that has been running the IWW for the last 10+ years. They certainly represented the dominant informal ideology which basically said that the IWW should focus almost exclusively on its own workplace organizing, should not mess with the rest of the labor movement or with other kinds of organizing outside of the workplace. (There's a real legacy to all of this. An older member mentioned his experience trying to organize with the Soldiers of Solidarity around 2008 and the GEB of that time dismissing this as "a UAW campaign" that had nothing to do with the IWW - nearly identical rhetoric and lack of vision as we see 10 years later.)

They didn't just passively lose their positions as informal leaders - they lost them because they actively abused them by gaslighting the rest of the union and actively attempting to sabotage other people's organizing. They weren't just calmly saying that we should continue to focus on one-on-ones, they were panicking that people had a new and broader vision for the union and what it could accomplish. People saw how dangerous they were and stopped trusting them. One member of the executive board (JDD) accused IWOC of being led by a gang and the GDC of being a militia - and his 'right' to say nonsense like this was defended by 3 other members of the Board, who also sabotaged the charges process against JDD and used his vote to form a conservative majority that carried out a bureaucratic coup in March of 2017, and formed a consistent conservative voting bloc with him after that. (The membership eventually vindicated us by voting to expel JDD.)

Another conservative member of the board, who posts online (including on Libcom) as MLN, made it her primary focus to bully and gaslight other members online (which she has been doing to other anarchists for years anyways). To give one example - the IWW bloc at Charlottesville weren't sure if they were "allowed" to be a public IWW bloc and only decided to carry IWW flags at the last minute, because of a relentless campaign on M's part to gaslight members in Minneapolis who had held IWW flags at an anti-fascist event earlier that year. From what I've heard from people there, those IWW flags actually played a huge role in keeping people safe by helping them rally after attacks by the right. If people had actually felt confident to prepare ahead of time as they would have for a local action, who knows what kind of difference that could have made.

Of course this kind of gaslighting was carried out by a good number of formerly influential members. The person who posts on Libcom as EdmontonWobbly gave a great example with his Facebook post about the problem with the IWW being that "[w]e decided to try and recruit every person who was mad about Trump and just open the flood gates. Now all of the problems of the activist scene are the problems of the iww. Where we were once an island of a bit of sanity we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing." With the completely preposterous assertion that most of our new members are opposed to workplace organizing, this was one really good example of the kind of gaslighting that was being carried out against the majority of the membership, and newer members in particular, but it was hardly unique. The folks around the former Recomposition group and the Communist League of Tampa also played a huge role in this.

This gaslighting might have only been being carried out by a small portion of the union, but it was a very influential portion, and the toxic results were pretty far reaching. It seems like there was some level of similar stuff happening in the social democratic left, I've heard of people talk about Jacobin editors taking alt-right positions after the election, but it seems like it was more pronounced in the IWW. I've often wondered whether this was one of the divergences with the DSA when they kept up their growth spurt and we lost ours. I assume that they had the same kind of conservative clique running the show beforehand, but I wonder if the difference is that the leadership was less bitter about making space, or there was a layer of DSA members who were better equipped to fight for that space than we were in the IWW. Juan has previously talked about cycles of leaders getting "pushed out", but there was nothing inevitable about that. People wanted something different and those who had been in leadership were unwilling to let that happen - they fought it every step of the way when they could have just graciously yielded. One of the most important differences to realize is that the conservatives in the union haven't done anything to recruit any noticeable number of new members or build them into leaders, while those of us who have tried to make space for the union to adapt have consistently recruited new members and built them up as leaders.

I definitely think that we've lost some huge opportunities, but I don't think it's all lost. There's still a lot of possibilities for us.

admin full names removed

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Personally I prefer that activists and liberals jumped to DSA first. The IWW is not a political organization of that type and those who try to make it that way and push ambulance chasing of whatever Democrat hot issue / narrative is popular that week is actually what has weakened quality growth, i.e. more union organizers and rank and filers vs left activists. We seem to have retained our Trump Bump, I think there is just a difference in the type of people attracted to our politics vs those stoked on electoralism, and soc dem 101.

I assume you see base builders in the DSA like Refoundation, and outside like the Marxist Center tendency or Black Rose equally conservative then? Jacobin/Momentum are their Center right, and DSA North Star their right wing.

You admit yourself you didn’t have answers, other than vague plans for 10,000 members if I remember correctly. What would your plan look like? In hindsight what would you have liked to see? Or like to see going forward? I ask this genuinely.

Personally I’m for quality over quantity, content over form, and strategic unity over tactical disarray.

Spikymike

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Don't usually see much of interest in the ICC Forums but I noticed jk1921 has made several contributions on the changing nature of left and right 'populism' in the context of the UK, Canada and mainly the USA that are probably relevant to this discussion that I'm not otherwise very familiar with.
See here;
https://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/jk1921/15152/difficulties-bourgeoisie-political-apparatus
Doesn't really draw any clear conclusions as yet which maybe just as well given our common reliance on a lot of second hand sources of information but others might find it sparks some more thoughts?

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In response to comments by OliverTwister and klas batalo: Surely, "antifascism activism builds the organization" and "quality over quantity" are not the only options to trying to figure out how to deal with an increasing number of people interested in the radical left? Seems like a false choice given that behind door one there is activist tail-chasing and behind door two there is selective cadre groupings.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah it's questions like:

- should/could the IWW in a college town help with organising against Generation Identity or similar groups organising on campus via a local GDC (probably yes IMO)

vs.

- should the IWW be fundraising for and organising transport for people to travel cross country to something like the Portland Patriot Prayer protests (probably not IMO)

If this is reduced to anti-fascism vs. not it seems a bit odd. Like even the most extreme 'anti-fascism is the worst product of fascism' positions would still agree with workers organising against local threats from fash.

gram negative

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have to say that I agree with a lot of the criticisms that juan has brought up here and in other threads recently. I don't think that it is the most pressing issue, but thinking of how to relate to both the increasing interest in social change and the rise of popularity in social democracy is something that anarchists and other anti-authoritarians need to figure out, and I haven't really seen any good responses, either 'we need to change nothing' or a turn to electoral politics.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ya can't be everything to every one.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

Ya can't be everything to every one.

What does this even mean?

You have a long history of making short and cryptic posts, especially anything regarding the IWW, or the unions in the ICL over the last two years, but never actually saying what your perspective is.

jolasmo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

Personally I prefer that activists and liberals jumped to DSA first.

This is the kind of attitude that makes me absolutely despair about what remains of the anarchist/libertarian communist movement in the US and elsewhere.

The reality is that "liberals" and "activists" are not simply inherently defective people from whom we must segregate ourselves to preserve our political (or "apolitical") purity: they think the things they do and do the things they do because they have been recruited and organised, formally or otherwise, by political movements that induce them to think and behave in these ways. The IWW had the people's attention, and the opportunity to offer them something better. It failed. But seemingly plenty of wobs prefer it that way, and would rather the IWW continues to be a tiny and largely irrelevant sect as opposed to grappling with the challenges of a new political reality, even if that means reassessing some long established holy truths.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

syndicalist

Ya can't be everything to every one.

What does this even mean?

You have a long history of making short and cryptic posts, especially anything regarding the IWW, or the unions in the ICL over the last two years, but never actually saying what your perspective is.

The message is simple and straight forward, nothing cryptic. If you think the IWW can be "everything to every one" then you will fall into the same pit that others fell into (particularly
during the 1970s-part of 1980s period).

If you would like to write a long critique of me, feel free. In fact, just start a "I hate Syndicalist Fan Club". That would be amusing.

doug

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

* What would winning look like in this context?
* To what extent did the J20 arrests and repression stun the union?
* For a while, it did seem like the IWW members were at the forefront of challenging the alt-right. Did this stop being the case because of the more conservative faction of the union? How could they do that?
* Why are we talking in the past tense? There might have been a spike in interest after Trump got elected but there will be other opportunities.
* Membership growth is only one measurement of success. Where do you think the best organising efforts are happening, or where should they be happening?

FWIW Juan, you’ve done an amazing job contributing to libcom, even if you no longer share the same politics.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doug

Whenever there’s an increase of discontent against the effects of capitalism, left electoralism will grow and will probably grow much faster than something like the IWW. It’s easier, and more accessible to people. Their message is simple and seems achievable. We all know this.

We shouldn't write off folk joining the DSA, just like we shouldn't (not that I've really seen this anyway) write off people joining Momentum and getting behind Corbyn, or left-nationalism in Scotland.

I think this is based on a (slight) misunderstanding of the DSA which took me a while to figure out.

The DSA isn't a political party, and it has no official connection to the Democrats. This is how you end up with the DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus and the DSA Communist Caucus. And various anarchists, Trots, Leninists have joined it without any intention of getting involved in the electoral activity that most/all DSA leadership (national and local) appear to be focused on. I think someone on here described it to me as more like the old Students for a Democratic Society than anything else.

Someone joining Momentum or the SNP is obviously committed to electoral politics (even if they justify it to themselves via some kind of short-term tactical position or whatever), there is a much looser relationship with the DSA.

This means there are a lot of people (let's for argument's sake say high hundreds or low thousands out of 20,000+) who are 1. not electoralist 2. have decided to join an organisation that engages in electoralism for whatever reasons. I think part of this is entryism, part of it maybe lack of other local alternatives to get involved with locally.

I agree that people in the three groups shouldn't be written off, people do change their politics. But the specific issue with the DSA is that people are joining it pragmatically who would have more or less the same criticisms of it as an organisation that all of us on this thread would, but have joined anyway.

i.e. it's not an electoralism vs. syndicalism decision, or a social democracy vs. anarchism decision, or even a reformism vs. revolution decision, it's that the DSA, mostly in spite of its actual politics and orientation, has managed to become a focus of activism (including things like anti-fascism, ICE blockades, tenant organising) in some places.

Where I've seen anarchists joining Labour, it's been accompanied either via some intellectual gymnastics ('scaling up') or brutal realpolitik (harm-reduction least worst-ism compared to May at best, careerism at worst). Plan C's Labour discussions have reflected some of these positions: https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/plan-c-website-launched-check-it-out-17102012. It's represented a shift away from revolutionary politics altogether.

These intellectual gymnastics aren't required to join the DSA, so it's not a case of ideological differences in the general sense, but quite specific questions about things like organising outside the workplace, attitudes to entryism, whether the grassroots of DSA will eventually be able to democratise the local and national structures or whether there'll be a purge of the ultra-lefts by the leadership, whether the greener new membership types will get pulled leftwards by the grassroots or into electoralism for the Democrats by the leadership, whether there's a massive split etc.

If the high hundreds/low thousands non-electoralists who agree with the preamble had joined the IWW instead, then it wouldn't have been a load of electoralists joining, but it probably would have included a lot of people who want to do migrant solidarity, anti-fascism, tenant organising etc.

You can think all those people are wasting their time in the DSA I'd probably agree with you - there are so many massive scandals almost weekly and different factions attacking each other something will probably come to a head soonish. But also I think it's worth having an straightforward as possible discussion about why they've ended up there.

With Momentum in the UK, everything about it is electoralism/Labour focused so unless people leave, they're probably in it because that's what they want to do.

Awesome Dude

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doug

jolasmo

The IWW had the people's attention, and the opportunity to offer them something better. It failed.

IWW outside the US:

I think the situation for the IWW in Britain and Ireland is very different. Here, things are, modestly, more positive. We've seen steady growth, are making inroads into new regions (hello Ireland!), new organising projects are being tried, and a bit more strategic thinking and political education seems to be happening, but not enough.

We also don’t have the same conflict over anti-fascism vs. organising. This might be because the threat is smaller — although it’s still present. There may also be a diversity of activity among the branches. But in general I think we’re able to combine organising efforts with campaigning on a number issues, including anti-fascism.

It’s sad to see fellow Wobs so despondent.

You do realise that the IWW in "Britain and Ireland" has failed to failed to live up to it's historical reputation when compared to the new wave alternative radical unions it gave birth to (through healthly splits imo) a few years ago, i.e. United Voices of the World (UWV) and Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB). Those unions have brilliantly organised amazingly succesful strikes (both wildcat and "legal") more times than the IWW has in 10 years of my membership. The last IWW strike in Britain was John Lewis 7 years ago. The only industrial branch of the IWW in Britain, Cleaners and Allied Industries, almost organised a "legal" strike last year but it was "sabotaged" by the secretary and area organiser (who said it would expose the union to legal difficulties). Union membership growth (which is the business unions relentless occupation) is not the same as advancing workers interests or seeking to win the class war which is the IWWs historic mission.

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is the "abolish ICE" moment a post-Trump NA left trend that anyone has any opinions about?

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Is the "abolish ICE" moment a post-Trump NA left trend that anyone has any opinions about?

This was good on the Democrats attempts to co-opt it: https://libcom.org/news/socialist-case-ins-04072018

Would like to know more about how the actual protests/blockades are going - some of the camps were cleared out this week, but sounded like some groups are continuing to organise, which would be an improvement on the #NoBanNoWall airport protests.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

Personally I prefer that activists and liberals jumped to DSA first. The IWW is not a political organization of that type and those who try to make it that way and push ambulance chasing of whatever Democrat hot issue / narrative is popular that week is actually what has weakened quality growth, i.e. more union organizers and rank and filers vs left activists. We seem to have retained our Trump Bump, I think there is just a difference in the type of people attracted to our politics vs those stoked on electoralism, and soc dem 101.

I assume you see base builders in the DSA like Refoundation, and outside like the Marxist Center tendency or Black Rose equally conservative then? Jacobin/Momentum are their Center right, and DSA North Star their right wing.

One thing I keep coming back to over the past few years is that one of the most important qualities for a revolutionary is modesty, pure and simple. Just knowing how to sit back, shut up, and listen. This is also an important feminist practice.

This is one of the huge differences between the two approaches we've seen in the union. The conservatives have literally tried to shout down and silence anyone who articulates a perspective or practice that isn't theirs, while those of us who've wanted things to open up have deliberately created space for new practices and listened to people with new perspectives.

I find it extremely ironic that you talk despairingly of 'liberals'. In my book there's a couple of ways to define 'liberals'. One relevant one is the contemporary tendency that doesn't see any actual threat from fascism and which defends their free speech, and which sees antifa as the greater threat to stability and civility. This certainly describes Marianne LeNabat's politics.

Another way to describe 'liberalism' is in the more Maoist way, that liberalism describes those who see opportunist and horrible behavior from their supposed comrades and don't challenge them on it. This describes everyone who stood back and watched JDD's behavior without challenging him, and everyone who continues to enable the behavior of people like Marianne - including you. So I'm really curious who you would consider to be the 'liberals' that are somehow being driven to DSA by allowing our officers to gaslight anyone engaged in mass anti-fascist organizing.

It's also astounding to see a real person seriously claiming that something like opposing fascism is a "Democrat hot issue." The Democratic Party is far more obsessed with unmasking antifascists than opposing fascism (something they share with Marianne). Do you actually understand what the democratic party is or does, or is this all just ideological auto-pilot for you?

Almost all of the real people who've joined since the election see no contradiction between engaging in IWOC or GDC activity and organizing at work. In fact there are plenty of people organizing at work right now who joined because they were exposed through IWOC or GDC. But you know that, as do the rest of the conservatives. In fact I'd bet that most of these people are more engaged in organizing at their own workplaces than most of the conservatives are. Kdog has referred to you as "workerists without workers" and I think that's pretty accurate. You just want to maintain some completely artificial separation between 'workplace organizers' and 'activists' because this artificial separation supports your very authoritarian attitude that you (or anyone else) are qualified to determine what the "quality" is that we need to judge over "quantity."

This gets into an insight that a comrade shared with me recently that some kinds of anarchists are more leninist than even the leninists are. You, Marianne, EdmontonWobbly, BR, and others (a small group, but a damagingly influential one) are of the opinion that you can judge what the union should be, should represent, and that you have the right to defend this against the majority of the members. None of you had the courage to bring proposals to Convention defending your positions, presumably because you knew how it'd go if you did. All of the proposals defending our positions passed overwhelmingly. The only thing left to you was to find ways to undermine solidarity behind the scenes.

You admit yourself you didn’t have answers, other than vague plans for 10,000 members if I remember correctly. What would your plan look like? In hindsight what would you have liked to see? Or like to see going forward? I ask this genuinely.

"My plan", such as it was, looked like opening up the conversation to the membership and having a comradely, wide-ranging debate about it. (Really what "my plan" came to was shutting up and listening, and starting to acknowledge my own mistakes.) That is how revolutionary unions need to function if they are going to deal with important questions as they grow and adapt to the world around them. That was what the conservatives couldn't accept.

I would like to see a union which can have open and comradely discussion as it grows and struggles. I think that we're getting to that level, but only after overcoming the conservatives who were toxifying any ability to have these discussions in an open or comradely way. A lot of us were literally afraid to openly discuss anything for fear that the conservatives would notice and wade in to tell us how fucked up we were. (Or do something even more dangerous...)

Personally I’m for quality over quantity, content over form, and strategic unity over tactical disarray.

I don't think that you, or any individual or small group, are qualified to determine what quality, what content, or what strategic unity to prioritize. That is an inherently ultra-authoritarian attitude.

It is up to the union as a whole to determine its priorities for growth, quality, and strategic unity. That's only possible with the culture of open and comradely discussion I mentioned above. Any individual or group that claims these rights for itself is a danger to the overall health of the union.

I have always been in favor of a strong organizing program (workplace and social) as opposed to the 'tactical disarray' of our current organizing but this organizing program, if it will mean anything, must be built through the union collectively discussing, agreeing on, and working out it's collective priorities and strategy to achieve them. It can't just be told what these are (or what they shouldn't be).

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jolasmo

klas batalo

Personally I prefer that activists and liberals jumped to DSA first.

This is the kind of attitude that makes me absolutely despair about what remains of the anarchist/libertarian communist movement in the US and elsewhere.

The reality is that "liberals" and "activists" are not simply inherently defective people from whom we must segregate ourselves to preserve our political (or "apolitical") purity: they think the things they do and do the things they do because they have been recruited and organised, formally or otherwise, by political movements that induce them to think and behave in these ways. The IWW had the people's attention, and the opportunity to offer them something better. It failed. But seemingly plenty of wobs prefer it that way, and would rather the IWW continues to be a tiny and largely irrelevant sect as opposed to grappling with the challenges of a new political reality, even if that means reassessing some long established holy truths.

I just prefer we relate to them and recruit based on class basis. Locally we recruited a bunch of former liberals to the IWW through workplace organizing not through Democrat demos.

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

JDD was terrible and you have no proof I was a defender of his. I hated that guy from the get go.

Also BR folks have no such conspiracy such as you describe, however you and M1 comrades in WRUM certainly persued a boring from within takeover strategy.

I have always been in favor of a strong organizing program (workplace and social) as opposed to the 'tactical disarray' of our current organizing but this organizing program, if it will mean anything, must be built through the union collectively discussing, agreeing on, and working out it's collective priorities and strategy to achieve them. It can't just be told what these are (or what they shouldn't be).

I have absolutely nothing against this and never have. If anything have combatted any such tendencies in groups I’ve been a part of, unlike you all who have pushed your agenda hard.

You really are terribly assuming bad faith and ill will. Fwiw I’m involved with anti fascism in just as flawed ways as I see it practiced by the wobs. Everything is self and collective critique.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

JDD was terrible and you have no proof I was a defender of his. I hated that guy from the get go.

What action did you take to get rid of him? What support did you give to his victims? What did you do when those of us who did support his victims and take action against him were targeted and harassed? What did you do when the three conservative members of the board sabotaged the charges process against him and used his vote to form a conservative voting majority?

Also BR folks have no such conspiracy such as you describe, however you and M1 comrades in WRUM certainly persued a boring from within takeover strategy.

There's a misunderstanding - by 'br' I was referring to a former prominent member with those initials. I like and respect Black Rose.

I'm not a member of M1, because I'm not an anarchist.

You've got WRUM backwards - it was formed by people who came together around a shared practice in the union and that's how it's grown. We expelled one person for continual authoritarian behavior within the union and towards comrades. That's the opposite of a pre-existing group all joining something in order to take it over.

I have always been in favor of a strong organizing program (workplace and social) as opposed to the 'tactical disarray' of our current organizing but this organizing program, if it will mean anything, must be built through the union collectively discussing, agreeing on, and working out it's collective priorities and strategy to achieve them. It can't just be told what these are (or what they shouldn't be).

I have absolutely nothing against this and never have. If anything have combatted any such tendencies in groups I’ve been a part of, unlike you all who have pushed your agenda hard.

We've promoted a certain vision, but a big component of it has been that the union should have open and broad debate about whatever it needs to, and we've done everything we can to open that debate rather than silence it. There's nothing wrong with 'pushing an agenda' in the abstract as long as it's not being done by manipulating, silencing, bullying, or emotionally abusing, as has been done to us by the conservatives in the union. We should have a culture where everyone is able to 'push an agenda' openly and honestly, and in comradely ways. Anyways, the stuff that we argued for was approved overwhelmingly by the union's membership at both Convention and Referendum. So it isn't like we've been 'pushing' some external 'agenda' - the things we argue for are clearly pretty popular with the broader union.

You really are terribly assuming bad faith and ill will. Fwiw I’m involved with anti fascism in just as flawed ways as I see it practiced by the wobs. Everything is self and collective critique.

Maybe. You did say pretty bluntly that you're glad that more people didn't join the IWW just because you think you're capable of judging them in the abstract. I think that's a pretty conservative and authoritarian attitude.

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

During the time of the JDD stuff I was a bit pre-occupied kicking out local abusers. I also avoided the GEB lists to focus more on ODB type things and trying to save the local IWW and get it oriented towards organizing.

Fair enough in regards the WRUM stuff and pushing agendas. My big thing there is folks should be obviously doing work as wobs. Good to here about the ethics internal to the caucus.

I do think you come off a bit conspiratorial. You were really close to all that though, so I'm not comfortable assessing it all. Just seemed like people felt constantly under threat of being accused of being reactionaries for sticking to basic IWW politics.

On the last point, I just don't think we should be recruiting people based on activism. We should be an organizing union, not a union that focuses on activism detached from building organization. Most of mainstream labor just tries to turn out some rank and file to help them militantly lobby, etc. (Maybe I'm just talking from local experience) but I just see our role as different.

If people are liberal activists but they actually wanna build a union at work, then cool. Better than some anarchist activist who just wants to chase ambulances all day.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

Just seemed like people felt constantly under threat of being accused of being reactionaries for sticking to basic IWW politics.

On the last point, I just don't think we should be recruiting people based on activism. We should be an organizing union, not a union that focuses on activism detached from building organization. Most of mainstream labor just tries to turn out some rank and file to help them militantly lobby, etc. (Maybe I'm just talking from local experience) but I just see our role as different.

If people are liberal activists but they actually wanna build a union at work, then cool. Better than some anarchist activist who just wants to chase ambulances all day.

I'd like to understand this better, specifically what you mean by ambulance chasing. I don't like the term 'ambulance chasing' at all, but let's assume it's a stand-in for 'mobilising around protests without a long term strategy or any real organisation'.

If I think over the past 18 months, two of the bigger things in the US have been the #NoBanNoWall airport protests last year, and the Occupy ICE stuff this year). There were variations in militancy between all these, from fairly liberal protests outside an airport, to actually disrupting the normal functioning of an airport, the NYC taxi strike in support, or this year blockading ICE car parks to prevent people going to work and vans leaving etc. Both were in response to news stories, the muslim ban and child separation at the border.

Generally I think both the airport protests and the ICE blockades were very good things, in the sense that they marked a change from set piece protests to actually disrupting the state and capital accumulation. Equally though, they were mass mobilisations and don't yet reflect ongoing organising against and disruption of immigration enforcement.

I've seen occasional US examples of resisting specific immigration raids - again these are often spontaneous, but co-ordinating information about them can maybe help normalise that kind of resistance. Or individual support of workers when they have to deal with ICE, here's an example from the US, that IWW members were involved with: https://itsgoingdown.org/utica-ny-iww-community-groups-mobilize-halt-deportation/ A UK example of longer term organising would be the anti-raids network: http://antiraids.net/ - it publicises times when people resist immigration enforcement agents, and they publish information on how to do so, bust cards, sometimes run stalls in areas that get targeted, things like that.

For an example of 'ambulance chasing', Socialist Alternative co-opting an airport protest in Seattle maybe works as an example.

If you'll excuse one more UK example. Burger chain 'Byron Burgers' organised a fake training session in London, to which only immigrant workers were invited, for the specific purpose of allowing immigration officers to raid it. . At least 25 workers were deported. There were then mass protests against the chain shutting down some outlets temporarily.

There's a whole range of activity in the above, from trot hijacking of protests, to individual case-work stuff, to blockades, to solidarity strikes.

If we look at 'basic IWW politics', then IWW members were deported all the time in the early years. There are several cases from 1917-1921 and it was a major factor in destroying the union as a functioning organisation: https://libcom.org/history/database-repression-iww-1906-1920

This ranges from IWW members being arrested during strikes, with several released, except the ones who got deported, to something like the Jerome and Bisbee deportations where hundreds of miners were deported in cattle cars at once: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisbee_Deportation

And then a lot of early strikes were also riots, insurrections, and relied on outside support, from unemployed workers, other towns, different workplaces etc.

So you have immigration enforcement operating in two ways. 1. As one of the state's most effective ways of repressing militants, since it can completely remove people from the country without them needing to do anything illegal 2. As having a chilling effect on any workplace or tenant organising in the first place, because employers and landlords can call ICE to have employees or tenants arrested, just because they don't like them let alone going on strike.

If you think any organising against immigration enforcement is 'ambulance chasing' then OliverTwister's charge of conservatism seems pretty accurate frankly and it puts you at odds with the history of the IWW.

If you think there is lots of anti-ICE stuff which is liberal, opportunistic, not really co-ordinated, then obviously that's there is plenty of that, but not sure how it's different to Fight for 15 being an outsourced NGO where the bosses sexually harass their workers and fire them for unionising. There's no strict inside/outside the workplace dichotomy.

Klas Batalo

Most of mainstream labor just tries to turn out some rank and file to help them militantly lobby, etc.

Burgerville looks like a genuine organising effort, three day strike etc., but this didn't stop Bernie Sanders inviting Burgerville workers to a campaign stop.

Roar Mag

During a recent rally in Portland, Oregon, the Portland Association of Teachers, Black Lives Matter Portland, Portland Jobs With Justice joined the BVWU, and others, who spoke about the inspiration these workers promised for the rest of the community. The rally moved to a Southeast Portland Burgerville location, where workers came in to announce their formation to the management. Supporters streamed in by the dozens to voice their support for the union. At the same time, a delegation led by two of the organizing Burgerville workers went into the franchise’s corporate office in Vancouver, Washington. Here leaders from SEIU Local 503, Unite HERE! Local 8, and several ministers spoke out about the low-wages and trying working conditions at Burgerville, which, ironically, is a company that has a reputation for its local focus.
...
As the Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign returned to Oregon in advance of the May 17 primary election, Burgerville workers were invited to speak and share their story of organizing on the job.

“The Burgerville Workers Union is a perfect example of the type of political revolution that we need,” said Sanders in a public statement. “People coming together and demanding real change to improve the lives of working people.”

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I mean mobilizing around activist, usually Democratic media determined single issues, not organizing around the issues of a directly-affected base.

Active Revolution

Activism — An activist is a person who is responsible to a defined issue and who helps address that issue through mobilizing a base of people to take collective action. Activists are accountable to themselves as moral actors on a specific issue. Democratic structures are a utilitarian consequence of activities designed to win on the defined issue.

Advocacy — An advocate is a person who is responsible to a defined issue and who helps address that issue through collective action that uses the instruments of democracy to establish and implement laws and policies that will create a just and equitable society.

Organizing — An organizer is a person who is responsible to a defined constituency and who helps build that constituency through leadership development, collective action and the development of democratic structures.

For example these two "progressive" left media outlets capture a good sense of what the local activist and lobbyist left is like where I live:

RI Future / are the Progressive Democrats
Uprise RI / slightly more grassroots NGO Left

I certainly think we should organize around what our members want to organize around, and also have solidarity with struggles outside our experience, but we need to make collective decisions about that, and as syndicalist said earlier you can't just do everything. There are people in the IWW who definitely want the IWW to be able to do everything in the movement. The one big activist org. The way I see it is we are a puny mostly activist union that has a few small shop campaigns and not enough industrial organizing at all. We are still mostly trapped in small campaigns, and that's when we are at our best in regards organizing i.e. Burgerville, Stardust, etc then the rest of the political leftists who join the union want to do pretty much everything other than union organizing. It's the same feature as to why the activist left who joins DSA try to use it for all sorts of pet projects, as another user mentioned. I just don't think it's conservative to relatively keep to your stated mission and goals. If you want to do environmental campaigning do it with an environmental movement organization. If you want to focus on anti-racism / hate join one of the many collectives or networks that do anti-fascist organizing and have been doing it for longer. Fwiw I agree with the mass antifa criticism of most of that activism, but I just don't think we actually apply it to ourselves. If you aren't building a working class base with your work, you are not organizing.

doug

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

I just don't think it's conservative to relatively keep to your stated mission and goals.

It depends how this is interpreted. A major part of our activity should be using the organising model to build a base in workplaces, exploiting grievances, finding informal leaders, and scaling up. But the IWW's mission is to organise the class against capitalism, and as Mike's already pointed out that means we have to act outside of the workplace. All the examples listed - the environment, anti-racism, anti-fascism, not to mention tenants, carers, the unemployed etc. - could be carried out based on an 'activist' mobilising model, or they could be genuinely tied in with the union's broader organising approach. (Jane McAlevey also talks about a healthy mix of 'organising' and some 'mobilising', as well as 'workplace' and 'community' in successful mass unionising.)

People who want to focus on the former things don't necessarily have to distract from the latter, but could add to the union.

Based on the numbers we have, we do need to have specific priorities and not dissipate our energy. But it rings alarm bells to see these things lopped off from our mission and goals.

Awesome Dude

You do realise that the IWW in "Britain and Ireland" has failed to failed to live up to it's historical reputation when compared to the new wave alternative radical unions it gave birth to (through healthly splits imo) a few years ago, i.e. United Voices of the World (UWV) and Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB). Those unions have brilliantly organised amazingly succesful strikes (both wildcat and "legal") more times than the IWW has in 10 years of my membership. The last IWW strike in Britain was John Lewis 7 years ago.

I've been in the union for a while, so yes I've seen plenty of ups and downs - including the cleaners split. It was disappointing at the time, but perhaps the approach was unsustainable at the time. The stuff IWGB and UVW have then gone on to do is impressive and we should be learning from them. Nonetheless, I want to build a revolutionary union, with the politics and range of activity that entails, and with a presence across the country. That's why I'm in the IWW.

We might not have called a strike recently, but usually there's a lot that needs to be done before that's on the cards and members are doing it. And just recently, we've been winning small victories from Glasgow to Manchester to Plymouth. More hope and less doom!

(If anyone wants to discuss this more we should probably start a new thread.)

Ed

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doug

We might not have called a strike recently, but usually there's a lot that needs to be done before that's on the cards and members are doing it. And just recently, we've been winning small victories from Glasgow to Manchester to Plymouth. More hope and less doom!

(If anyone wants to discuss this more we should probably start a new thread.)

I would definitely want to discuss this in more detail and would love to hear about UK Wobs' victories, however small. So yeah, feel free to start a new thread!

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I just think we need priorities.

I saw the GDC in Grand Rapuds share anti circumscision propaganda last night.

Some folks in the union think it can be anything we want it to be. It’s the same additive people take to DSA, and used to take with Occupy.

Strategy means focus.

There is a really tendency to want to do anything but build unionism through workplace committees. Unionism is hard so people try to find short cuts.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

I just think we need priorities.

I saw the GDC in Grand Rapuds share anti circumscision propaganda last night.

Some folks in the union think it can be anything we want it to be. It’s the same additive people take to DSA, and used to take with Occupy.

Strategy means focus.

There is a really tendency to want to do anything but build unionism through workplace committees. Unionism is hard so people try to find short cuts.

The newest member of my branch joined because they went to an anti-fascist rally (that we had co-sponsored) and were complaining about their conditions at work there and someone told them they should join the IWW. Now they're about to go to an OT 101. This is basically our first real possible organizing campaign in years (aside from the bus drivers), and not for lack of trying.

Maybe it's something about who's joining in the South, which is most of who I see, but I see person after person joining because of anti-fascist activity or through IWOC and then beginning to organize at work. It's been a huge part of our growth in the last 2 years down here, from having almost nothing to actually having a good number of branches engaged in multiple kinds of organizing. I always hear about this bogeyman of new members who join and are opposed to workplace organizing, but nobody has ever been able to point to this as any real tendency.

You say there's a tendency that opposes organizing, so you need to point it out with more than just one Facebook post. FWIW, WRUM's program begins by talking about organizing and almost all of our members are actively organizing either at our workplaces or intimately involved with others, so we're not the tendency you're thinking of here.

That said I do think there's a tendency that talks a lot about organizing, but just wants to manage how other people do theirs.

(It's possible there are a couple of individual members with weird ideas, but that's true with anything. There's some individual members who think the alt-right is made up by the democratic party, and no doubt others with other weird ideas.)

The tenant organizing at Stony Brook apartments in Florida has been making waves recently. Its Going Down and Chapo Trap House both covered it. There's organizing happening at another complex managed by the same company in my city, they got in touch with organizers at Stony Brook because they heard about the call-in campaign and now both locations are coordinating. The organizing at Stony Brook took off in large part due to a tenant's union started by the DSA in that city. Are those the kind of "activists" "chasing the democratic party" that you're so relieved to be repelling from the IWW?

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is the IWW a union or a political organization or something else? This has been a weird balance never actually resolved or addressed in some ways.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

I just think we need priorities.

I saw the GDC in Grand Rapuds share anti circumscision propaganda last night.

They wrote a leaflet?

Handed stuff out in a shopping mall?

RTd a tweet?

Shared something on facebook?

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

I think someone on here described it to me as more like the old Students for a Democratic Society than anything else.

I think that was me, although I heard it from someone else. The most recent Jacobin has a piece on the old SDS, with lessons that I'm sure are primarily directed towards members of the DSA.

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In regards to broader trends of a new layer of politicized people, I see klas expresses some views which seem common, if not widespread. A kind of suspicion of these people. I'm not convinced one can really make too many tangible generalizations about these people. So, yes, tens of thousands of new people joined DSA since 2015. DSA before this had been known to be basically an aspiring political organization that aimed to push the Democratic Party to social democratic positions. I'm not sure the majority of new people in that organization joined with that understanding. Like Mike has mentioned, there's such a wide variety of activities, factions, priorities and interests within the group. So, in one area, a group might be entirely working on getting a member elected to city council. In other places, it is different. For example, in the town where I grew up, there is a DSA chapter. I believe it is the first explicitly socialist organization that has existed here since the pre-World War I era. Most of their activity, other than participating in the few small protests there, is building a tenant union and doing solidarity network type stuff. That isn't much different than the average new IWW branch (or a lot of IWA/ex-IWA groups for that matter). So I really don't think its safe to assume that this new large group of politicized people are only or entirely interested in electoralism or single issue stuff. I have a hard time understanding why these people should be treated with an extra dose of suspicion compared to people who have come to radical organizations in the past through other stuff (Occupy, BLM, self-study of Spanish Revolution on the internet).

Really, this suspicion has less to do with the specifics of these people but more about how they may come in. These disputes are about who gets to set the parameters and expectations of entry. Will they adapt to established precedent or change the dynamics to the point where the existing leadership (formal or informal) lose their power? I'm not describing anything new, its essentially founder's syndrome. Every group probably suffers from this at some point, particularly when faced with a large surge in new members. From what I've seen with the DSA, this question has been a concern, but it didn't blow up like it did in the IWW. I'm not sure why that is, but I suspect that the established leadership of the DSA were older, been in that position for years and never not been in that position. For the IWW, the (former at this point, tbh) established leadership were much younger, been in that position for less than a decade and been dominated before by a previous generation of leadership. So in the DSA, you see older leadership that doesn't like some of the changes, but is excited about the possibilities of the explosive growth and is willing to stick around in a lesser role to see what happens. In the IWW, there was much less of that and way more hostility over these prospects.

With DSA, this explosive growth has revealed all sorts of contradictions about the organization. How long can people who are into electoralism and anti-electoralism exist in the same org without extreme decentralization and maintaining of lots of local autonomy? Maybe it all breaks apart bitterly in the end, and folks like klas were wise to be cautious.

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is really embarrassing and not something that has ever happened to me on here, but when trying to reply to doug's post (#32) I hit edit instead and ended up altering his comment permanently before I realized what I had done. Really, really sorry for that.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

With DSA, this explosive growth has revealed all sorts of contradictions about the organization. How long can people who are into electoralism and anti-electoralism exist in the same org without extreme decentralization and maintaining of lots of local autonomy? Maybe it all breaks apart bitterly in the end, and folks like klas were wise to be cautious.

But would that be worse in the end than the kind of bitterness they’ve already caused while trying to prevent that growth?

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

With DSA, this explosive growth has revealed all sorts of contradictions about the organization. How long can people who are into electoralism and anti-electoralism exist in the same org without extreme decentralization and maintaining of lots of local autonomy? Maybe it all breaks apart bitterly in the end, and folks like klas were wise to be cautious.

But would that be worse in the end than the kind of bitterness they’ve already caused while trying to prevent that growth?

This is a good point - obv, I can't predict the future, but it definitely seems plausible to me that the DSA might be headed for one or more painful splits, and that the experience will be distressing for those who go through it, *and* that the DSA will still come out the other side better and stronger than it was in 2015/early 2016, and that the general project of democratic socialism will definitely be better off as a result of whatever emerges, just as the broad project of rank-and-file workplace organisation in the UK is better off for having the IWGB/UVW/CAIWU, even if those people aren't wobs. Does that make sense?

Jim

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Yeah it's questions like:

- should/could the IWW in a college town help with organising against Generation Identity or similar groups organising on campus via a local GDC (probably yes IMO)

vs.

- should the IWW be fundraising for and organising transport for people to travel cross country to something like the Portland Patriot Prayer protests (probably not IMO)

If this is reduced to anti-fascism vs. not it seems a bit odd. Like even the most extreme 'anti-fascism is the worst product of fascism' positions would still agree with workers organising against local threats from fash.

I don't really understand where you're coming from with this. One of the big problems with things like the Portland Patriot Prayer protests (or Berkeley, or Charlottesville etc.) has been that the far-right have been mobilising from a wider geographical pool than anti-fascists. As one of the few left organisations organised across North America, the IWW should definitely be organising transport across the country for people to support large mobilisations.

Hieronymous

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

There is a really tendency to want to do anything but build unionism through workplace committees. Unionism is hard so people try to find short cuts.

Fellow worker, you might benefit from a book called No Shortcuts with brilliant case studies of successful class struggle.

And “build unionism through workplace committees” is so goddamn painfully narrow. We build class struggle by organizing from our positions within the class, which doesn’t involve living in a hermetically sealed bubble limited to the workplace (although it is the main locus of exploitation), and is affected by all the social relations of capital. Open your mind and your ass will follow, as an old Motown classic advised.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jim

I don't really understand where you're coming from with this. One of the big problems with things like the Portland Patriot Prayer protests (or Berkeley, or Charlottesville etc.) has been that the far-right have been mobilising from a wider geographical pool than anti-fascists. As one of the few left organisations organised across North America, the IWW should definitely be organising transport across the country for people to support large mobilisations.

In the UK it absolutely makes sense to get people from London or Sussex to Kent or Leeds, or Birmingham to Cardiff. 10-20 quid per person and a handful of hours on a coach each way.

I just do not see how you could organise significant numbers of people to get from Los Angeles to Houston or from Boston to San Francisco. There's only commercial flights, which you're not going to get a big bulk discount on, or if you were able to hire a coach you're talking a full day or more of travel each way for some distances. So you're talking about days of travel and/or tens of thousands of dollars. 100 people at $400 a pop for flights is $40,000 and you've managed to increase turnout by one hundred at one rally.

Boston to New York sort of distances (what is it 4-5 hours?) might make sense - in some states that'd be within the same state and it's fine by road.

While fash have managed large mobilisations in some places, in Boston they were outnumbered ~40k to a few hundred. Overall regardless of what else happens, massively outnumbering both the fash and cops is good, but at those numbers it's literally people who are treating it as a walk around mostly.

Organising local transport from cities 1-5 hours away seems like a much more effective use of time and cash than shipping IWW members around the country and it'd potentially bring people into local/regional networks. Doing national travel (in the US) feels like reproducing summit-hopping dynamics.

Steven.

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, Jim, not only is that not what a revolutionary union should be focused on, but it doesn't recognise the reality of life in the US, which isn't really like a single country but is more like a continent. The distance from New York to LA is similar to the distance from London to Baghdad

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Yeah, Jim, not only is that not what a revolutionary union should be focused on, but it doesn't recognise the reality of life in the US, which isn't really like a single country but is more like a continent. The distance from New York to LA is similar to the distance from London to Baghdad

I'm not sure where this idea even came from. Nobody in the IWW has ever tried to do that.

The closest thing would be that there has been some limited regional coordination about things like Charlottesville. But that was mostly from the states bordering Virginia. It's a far cry from the idea of flying people from all over the country to Portland.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

OliverTwister

With DSA, this explosive growth has revealed all sorts of contradictions about the organization. How long can people who are into electoralism and anti-electoralism exist in the same org without extreme decentralization and maintaining of lots of local autonomy? Maybe it all breaks apart bitterly in the end, and folks like klas were wise to be cautious.

But would that be worse in the end than the kind of bitterness they’ve already caused while trying to prevent that growth?

This is a good point - obv, I can't predict the future, but it definitely seems plausible to me that the DSA might be headed for one or more painful splits, and that the experience will be distressing for those who go through it, *and* that the DSA will still come out the other side better and stronger than it was in 2015/early 2016, and that the general project of democratic socialism will definitely be better off as a result of whatever emerges, just as the broad project of rank-and-file workplace organisation in the UK is better off for having the IWGB/UVW/CAIWU, even if those people aren't wobs. Does that make sense?

So I've been thinking about this a lot since last night, and I think there's one really, really important difference between this possibility for the DSA and a similar hypothetical possibility for the IWW:

DSA: From our perspective, there is a huge political contradiction between electoral work and the more radical organizing that some people are doing through the DSA. It seems likely (though not inevitable) that this contradiction will come to a head in some way, and that could look like going in different directions (amicably or not). Or it could look uglier, like a purge. Either way, I think you're right, the overall profile of "democratic socialism" or even just "socialism" as a valid political identity and identifier has grown massively and that will have ripples even if the organized form can't contain it. I think you're also right to point to the existence of the splits from the UK IWW as overall a good thing that raises the profile and possibility of revolutionary unionism (or at least non-politically oriented rank and file militant unionism) in the UK.

IWW: Here's the difference - there's no clear contradiction between organizing militant unions at work, organizing prisoners (and it's an important political point here that prisons *are* workplaces), and organizing militant community organizations a la "Community Self Defense". Someone can very easily be pulled in through one kind of work and end up doing the other two - and in fact we've seen many concrete examples where this has been the case. I haven't seen anyone come in through IWOC or GDC organizing and then argue against organizing at work (although they might argue against the workplace-exclusive chauvinism of the conservatives, which is a very different thing).

Let's say that the IWW membership had grown 5x in the same period that the DSA's had, and a lot of it was from people coming in through IWOC or GDC organizing. Maybe that doesn't equal 5x the amount of energy going into workplace organizing. (Side note: I'd bet money that it would mean more than that, because it would allow us to slough off the parts of the organization that just go into maintaing an empty shell, a lot more of our members would have come in through some kind of organizing rather than ideological affinity or historical fandom, and a far smaller percent of our membership would be at-large paper members - in general, organizing energy is contagious and sets an example for new members and people on the periphery). Let's even say that some new axis of activity was developed, such as organizing tenant unions or unemployed unions. So if maybe 20% of our current members were actively engaged in workplace organizing, and that dropped to 15% of a total that is 5 times larger, that is still a ton more workplace organizing happening under the banner of the IWW, alongside a bunch of other organizing that almost everyone here would agree is useful. I doubt anyone on here could point to a political contradiction between revolutionary unionism in prisons, in other workplaces, in the community, and among tenants or unemployed - these things all tie together.

The only people who say they can't are the conservatives in the IWW. At which point it becomes pretty plain that they are the spiritual descendants of the DeLeonists who were obsessed with keeping the rabble out.

Steven.

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

Steven.

Yeah, Jim, not only is that not what a revolutionary union should be focused on, but it doesn't recognise the reality of life in the US, which isn't really like a single country but is more like a continent. The distance from New York to LA is similar to the distance from London to Baghdad

I'm not sure where this idea even came from. Nobody in the IWW has ever tried to do that.

that's what Jim said the IWW should be doing a couple of posts up

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

OliverTwister

I'm not sure where this idea even came from. Nobody in the IWW has ever tried to do that.

that's what Jim said the IWW should be doing a couple of posts up

I think it's my fault for trying to give two different examples of anti-fascism (a trans-continental version and a local self-defence version) in the hope that the discussion could move past 'anti-fascism' vs. 'ambulance chasing' vs. 'workplace organising' into more concrete examples of what useful vs. not-useful activity might be. There's often a sense that people are talking past each other in discussions like this, but equally an unwillingness to be specific about exactly what people are opposed to.

Oliver Twister

IWW: Here's the difference - there's no clear contradiction between organizing militant unions at work, organizing prisoners (and it's an important political point here that prisons *are* workplaces),

This is a very important point and it's not just a bit of cleaning or working in the kitchens, but a labour force of around a million people (a third of all incarcerated people, and not sure what that stat was based on) working full time for cents per hour to produce commodities for large companies on contract, and one that has been regularly going on strike in the US.

Now there are liberal versions of anti-prison/anti-police stuff, like the DSA endorsing Larry Krasner for District Attorney on a reform ticket, but that's about as far from the IWW-IWOC as it's possible to get.

Jim

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Organising local transport from cities 1-5 hours away seems like a much more effective use of time and cash than shipping IWW members around the country and it'd potentially bring people into local/regional networks. Doing national travel (in the US) feels like reproducing summit-hopping dynamics.

I'm aware of how big the US is and I'm not suggesting people should regularly be flying en masse across the continent to take part in anti-fascist protests. But my point still stands that anti-fascists need to be matching the areas the far-right are using to mobilise. This is something learnt from years of experience in the UK. The times when we've had problems have been when we've only mobilised with anti-fascists from London, but the far-right groups opposing us have mobilised from London and the wider home counties. This imbalance can give the far-right a numerical advantage they may not otherwise have and means they're more likely to win any confrontations. In most cases, if the left mobilises from the same areas it'll pull enough people to outnumber the far-right and enough people prepared to defend themselves from fascist violence.

Transport can be done from cities more than 5 hours away as well. One thing we've done in the UK is doing half the drive overnight, stopping in a big city where there's networks to host people, and then completed the drive on the morning of the protest. If you're hiring minibuses you can do 10-11 hours of driving assuming you're leaving when people finish work on a Friday and arriving for a demo in the middle of the day on a Saturday. For stuff like Portland it would make sense for places like Seattle, Olympia and Eugene to be sending coaches full of people, while the Bay Area could send minibuses (although I'm not sure there's any big cities between Portland and the Bay Area which could host people overnight, I guess camping could be an option).

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

OliverTwister

Steven.

Yeah, Jim, not only is that not what a revolutionary union should be focused on, but it doesn't recognise the reality of life in the US, which isn't really like a single country but is more like a continent. The distance from New York to LA is similar to the distance from London to Baghdad

I'm not sure where this idea even came from. Nobody in the IWW has ever tried to do that.

that's what Jim said the IWW should be doing a couple of posts up

Yeah I know, I meant I'm not sure where the idea came to him from. I just wanted to be clear that this has not been a proposal inside the IWW.

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

So I've been thinking about this a lot since last night, and I think there's one really, really important difference between this possibility for the DSA and a similar hypothetical possibility for the IWW:..
IWW: Here's the difference - there's no clear contradiction between organizing militant unions at work, organizing prisoners (and it's an important political point here that prisons *are* workplaces), and organizing militant community organizations a la "Community Self Defense". Someone can very easily be pulled in through one kind of work and end up doing the other two - and in fact we've seen many concrete examples where this has been the case. I haven't seen anyone come in through IWOC or GDC organizing and then argue against organizing at work (although they might argue against the workplace-exclusive chauvinism of the conservatives, which is a very different thing).

...I doubt anyone on here could point to a political contradiction between revolutionary unionism in prisons, in other workplaces, in the community, and among tenants or unemployed - these things all tie together.

The only people who say they can't are the conservatives in the IWW. At which point it becomes pretty plain that they are the spiritual descendants of the DeLeonists who were obsessed with keeping the rabble out.

TBH, I think you're understating the difficulties here - like, I'm broadly sympathetic to your case, but how would you characterise the IWW's participation in the J20 protests? I'm guessing you wouldn't say that was a bad thing, but I think even if there's not a "political contradiction", it is the case that doing workplace organising takes lots of energy and resources and headspace, and that doing anti-repression work takes lots of energy and resources and headspace, so I don't know for sure, but I would imagine that those wobs who were J20 defendants, or close to them, probably won't have been putting that much into workplace organising efforts over the last eighteen months or so. I certainly wouldn't want to be getting into any big risky conflicts at work if I'd been in their shoes. Similarly, Corey Long is not, afaik, a wobbly, although I'm sure we can agree that he's the sort of person you might want in a militant community defence org, but if he was, then again I think he and those close to him would've taken up a lot of energy in recent months, and probably not have had a huge amount of energy to put into other projects.
Obv, there's no way to dodge these questions entirely - if you don't do stuff that gets you repressed in DC or Charlottesville or wherever, then you'll still run up against it at Orgreave or Shrewsbury or Bisbee or or Ludlow or wherever - but equally I don't think it's helpful to gloss over how difficult it can be either?

Jim

I'm aware of how big the US is and I'm not suggesting people should regularly be flying en masse across the continent to take part in anti-fascist protests. But my point still stands that anti-fascists need to be matching the areas the far-right are using to mobilise. This is something learnt from years of experience in the UK. The times when we've had problems have been when we've only mobilised with anti-fascists from London, but the far-right groups opposing us have mobilised from London and the wider home counties. This imbalance can give the far-right a numerical advantage they may not otherwise have and means they're more likely to win any confrontations. In most cases, if the left mobilises from the same areas it'll pull enough people to outnumber the far-right and enough people prepared to defend themselves from fascist violence.

TBH, I think that the #1 best thing is always to mobilise more effectively in the local area. Like, yeah, people travelled to go to Liverpool, but even if it had just been purely scousers that day then the national nazi march would still have been completely humiliated, because the local mobilisation was really really good (and also NA were a bit all mouth no trousers). Similarly, that march in Boston in August 2017 wasn't shut down, afaict, by anti-fascists mobilising over a really broad area, but by getting Bostoners to turn out in huge numbers. And I know that "just do a really good job of getting local people to support you" is kind of a non-answer, because there'll be times when that's not possible for whatever reason and you need outside support, but I do kind of think that the goal we should try and work towards should always be "how can we mobilise more effectively in the local area?" over "how can we get more antifa activists to make the journey from Aberdeen or Florida or wherever?"

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think some of you are missing the point when talking about antifascism and the IWW. The debates within (and in public) that happened weren't about shades of activity when it comes to antifascism. It was between a large majority who think that antifascism should be incorporated into the union's main outlooks and between a small minority who did not think the IWW should be involved at all in antifascism.

It was between the Twin Cities GDC's "Unionism and Anti-Fascism" and Wobblies For A Revolutionary Union Movement's "Revolutionary Unionism or White Workerism" on one side. The other side was more dispirate, but could probably be best represented by the Industrial Unionist's "Future of the I.W.W. Part 2: The Structural and Strategic Roots of the Anti-GEB Movement" and Marianne Garneu's "Antifa is liberalism".

These are very different conceptions. They're not just about whether people should be sent 50 miles or 1,000 miles to an alt-right rally. They were about whether antifascist activity is something that should be part of the union's activity, just as important as workplace organizing, and whether they should be done under the IWW's flag, at all.

In the end, membership overwhelmingly approved of the former, so its a settled question at this point, but thought some clarification was needed.

The more interesting aspect for myself is how much of these two broad stances were informed by the post-Trump world we live in now, and how much of this was just the cycle of conflict over leadership that happens in the IWW and would have happened whether or not Trump came along.

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I always hear about this bogeyman of new members who join and are opposed to workplace organizing, but nobody has ever been able to point to this as any real tendency

in my branch they all eventually left, not without creating a bunch of distractions, because it became apparent it wasn’t the organization for them, and none of these types ever tried to go to trainings we encouraged etc they just wanted an activist club to be their political home. our situation looked like what Juan describes here:

That isn't much different than the average new IWW branch (or a lot of IWA/ex-IWA groups for that matter).

on that note, look guys… we are a very small branch, not even enough folks anymore to even send a delegate to convention. we have some folks in our orbit (inactive members) who are working on a proto-student union initiative. we’ve had a GDC before and the folks who did that do some research on the right, but have mostly realized at our size this is a distraction in actual day to day practice, because it takes time away from time spent focused on worker organizing. theoretically if we eventually expand we could do all sorts of non-workplace stuff. we also do IWOC stuff where we can, and put our resources into it. but in my experience you just have to have priorities and most new GMBs are instead of focusing on stuff that could build a base in the class often just end up a left activist club “ideological affinity or historical fandom” when we willy nilly recruit people outside of a context of struggle.

honestly i think what i’m trying to describe is most IWW branches are dealing with newbie problems… not the problems of more long term established branches. and i just see having some priorities as possibly a helpful way to guide such branches. once we get decently good at unionism then we can more systematically try other stuff.

the problem with trying to export models is often groups are not at a ready capacity to actually apply such models. so tons of branches just start doing "community self-defense" cause it's the cool new thing, but are they experienced enough in actually talking to their neighbors or doing one on ones? etc

a similar thing i feel occurred locally for us, when we tried to import the model of the intermediate level (since we were mostly all in a political org too) and all of a sudden we were always looking for a way to have a bunch of extra groups for each level of a struggle. i have eventually argued for collapsing these levels, or at least trying to put most of the projects into the IWW because it's really all the same people, but spread thin with inefficient division of labor.

like say tomorrow your branch was reduced to the size of a small branch 10 or a dozen... would your first thing to start doing be get involved in all sorts of non-union campaigns... certainly members should be encouraged to do whatever activism they want. but you have to accomplish some short term goals. we find it easier to focus. if you start telling folks new to the union actually we do a million things... it just sounds like instant burn out, and like the group is spread thin between a bunch a different projects.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

I think some of you are missing the point when talking about antifascism and the IWW. The debates within (and in public) that happened weren't about shades of activity when it comes to antifascism. It was between a large majority who think that antifascism should be incorporated into the union's main outlooks and between a small minority who did not think the IWW should be involved at all in antifascism.

It was between the Twin Cities GDC's "Unionism and Anti-Fascism" and Wobblies For A Revolutionary Union Movement's "Revolutionary Unionism or White Workerism" on one side. The other side was more dispirate, but could probably be best represented by the Industrial Unionist's "Future of the I.W.W. Part 2: The Structural and Strategic Roots of the Anti-GEB Movement" and Marianne Garneu's "Antifa is liberalism".

These are very different conceptions. They're not just about whether people should be sent 50 miles or 1,000 miles to an alt-right rally. They were about whether antifascist activity is something that should be part of the union's activity, just as important as workplace organizing, and whether they should be done under the IWW's flag, at all.

In the end, membership overwhelmingly approved of the former, so its a settled question at this point, but thought some clarification was needed.

The more interesting aspect for myself is how much of these two broad stances were informed by the post-Trump world we live in now, and how much of this was just the cycle of conflict over leadership that happens in the IWW and would have happened whether or not Trump came along.

I hadn't noticed that IUC article before. Thanks for that. It's interesting to see that, just a few weeks before Convention, they were raising the idea of a purge/forced split of the GDC if it couldn't be brought 'under control':
Industrial Unionist Caucus

– Move the GDC either fully into or fully out of the union – this is the only way to have an honest discussion about the direction that committee takes among the membership of the organization to which it ought to be directly accountable. Connectedly, this requires a conversation about what works and what doesn’t in the GDC, and outlining a functioning legal and direct action defense strategy, beyond the Picket-Training-and-Go-Wild “strategy” which predominates at the moment.

They also got a jab in at the the "Anti-GEB" members of the executive board who didn't just put the membership first by keeping their mouths shut about pretty blatant abuses of power and authority. Reminds me of the one conversation I had with br after the breach where he said that we should have just all resigned quietly without giving any reason, rather than come out with what was going on.

I think your summary is pretty spot on. I also think the question is a decent one - what kind of conflict would have happened without the Trump election? How much of this was just an inevitable struggle (whether that's thought of politically or just in terms of individuals fighting for control)?

Having been at the center of it, and having personally had pretty identical politics and priorities to a lot of the conservatives until shortly before the election, I think it would have played out like this: the conservatives would not have felt threatened by a rising tide of people who wanted something different, nor would myself and the other two "anti-GEB" members of the Board have felt a conflict between loyalty to the membership and the principles of the union vs loyalty to the Board, which eventually caused us to violate the taboo against breaking the "cabinet solidarity" of the Board (which has definitely been a big part of the Board's internal culture in recent years). As it was, myself and one of the other two "Anti-GEB" members had ourselves had a tense relationship until things changed around the election, and I'd been very close with one of the new members of the Board, and initially very excited also to work with Marianne Garneau (both of whom I had recruited to run for the Board).

JDD's harassment campaign had begun well before the election so there were definitely going to still be consequences. However without the groundswell for changes in the union's outlook, the conservatives wouldn't have felt threatened, I think they would have been much more willing to throw him under the bus because they wouldn't have felt like they needed his vote. It's possible that MD would still have tried to protect him though. The remaining 6 board members probably would have continued with a relatively innocuous and forgettable year, perhaps with a 'normal' amount of conflict/tension. The folks in the union who have been wanting to see a more dynamic outlook would still be disorganized and only operating locally. Although that outlook clearly had a majority by the time of Convention, I think that was due to growth, changing political priorities of existing members, and organizing - it's not clear if it would have been a majority outlook if the 2016 election had gone the way it was 'supposed' to go.

In short I think that the conflict was overwhelmingly precipitated by the election and everything around it, and wasn't any kind of inevitable power struggle between older and newer leaders.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

From the Ritual Mag piece
Ritual Mag

For example, a tremendous amount of antifa attention and energy has been devoted to protesting or attempting to shut down (“no-platform”) talks by alt-right figureheads such as Milo Yiannopoulos or Richard Spencer on college campuses. The argument is that this hate-mongering speech has no place in any forum; that it doesn’t merit seeing the light of day, both because its ideas have no merit and because it causes harm. The most specific or acute claim of harm is that these men’s presence (however brief) makes those campuses hostile places for undocumented and trans students, among others.

But the focus on Milo or Spencer and their ilk as individuals obscures what is really the source of those student populations’ vulnerability. If they are able to make a campus inhospitable to some students, it is only because the infrastructure doesn’t exist to protect them in the first place.
...
But does the security and well-being of undocumented students really hinge on a single event, even an inflammatory one? First of all, what is to prevent Milo or anyone else from releasing that info online at any moment?

This reads like Freddie de Boer...

There's a few obvious things wrong with this account:

1. Milo doxxing people at speeches was primarily brought up about people arguing a 'marketplace of ideas'/absolute free speech argument (or that Milo "isn't a white nationalist" so shouldn't be no-platformed). The idea people think that information can't be released online seems very silly and a strawman.

2. There doesn't seem to be any acknowledgement of these events as rallying points for the far right (as opposed to a platform for one speaker), and an example of local fascist organising - i.e. Berkeley college republicans and similar groups using them to recruit.

3. Even on campuses, it ignores things like far-right postering and harassment, or the physical attacks on some students that have happened.

There are kernels of truth in there, like yes the main risk to undocumented students is usually going to be immigration enforcement, but that's a reason to organise against immigration enforcement, it shouldn't just be a gotcha against anti-fascism.

Jim

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

TBH, I think that the #1 best thing is always to mobilise more effectively in the local area. Like, yeah, people travelled to go to Liverpool, but even if it had just been purely scousers that day then the national nazi march would still have been completely humiliated, because the local mobilisation was really really good (and also NA were a bit all mouth no trousers).

This is probably a side point and worth starting another thread if any of us want to discuss in depth, but things in Liverpool would not have gone down the way they did without people from outside the city playing a role in mobilising. The militant anti-fascist group in Liverpool had fallen apart, partly due to far-right pressure, so there initially wasn't a group able to call a militant counter-protest. We leafleted coaches heading from London back to the north west calling for a counter-protest after some generic leftist demo, people outside Liverpool designed, paid for and sent propaganda up to the city. On the day itself if it'd just been locals sorting it the local UAF we marching away from Lime Street station while NA were forming up, it was only because the AFN had called another counter-protest (which was heavily promoted in local media), which meant they got shut down.

Essentially, there's a bit of a false dichotomy here between 'local' and broader here. We rise and fall together as a class, we need to support everybody fighting fascism and provide whatever support we can. Sure we need to mobilise as heavily as we can in our local areas. But it's not just that, we need to support people if they need it, if we allow the far-right to establish themselves in one area, we'll all suffer as a result. We shouldn't be letting fascists emerge just because they're active in other people's local areas.

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

How are we supposed to recruit people? Just any old leftists or activists? Broad recruitment campaigns? Or through organizing?

Nate

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm dispirited and checked so I lack the will and likely the ability to contribute anything meaningful to this conversation. I just came on here to say I think Oliver is out of line to be using people's full real names on here and should go back and edit out all of the multiples places where he does that. If he can't or won't then, if necessary, I can identify those bits for the mods so they can do it for him. If I need to do that, someone please contact me via email or facebook as I'm rarely on here anymore. Thank you.

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not a mod, I don't generally agree with Oliver and maybe I missed a name, but from what I noticed, the 2 full names he used were of those who are very public about their current or former IWW membership. One has appeared in numerous media, including cable news, identified as a member of the IWW and has written for and about the IWW using that name. The other has published numerous texts on radical/social movements, as well as been interviewed by and about the IWW using that name. So far from "out of line", it seems understandable that one would think it was a ok to refer to them publicly by the name they've chosen to publicly associate themselves with an organization. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Oliver's statements about those people border on libel in places outside the United States that have much broader criteria for that so might be a good idea for libcom folks to consider editing those out?

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've removed two full names that I could find and replaced with initials, other posts I scanned only use initials, but it's quite possible I missed one so point it out via a reply to this or a pm if you see one. I agree it's not really an issue where people do political work under those names very openly though.

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

North American left trends: are there any trots left in NA nowadays? Or has the revival of proper social democracy totally killed off the attraction of "doing social democracy halfheartedly while also saying it's bad and we need something else" as a strategy?

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Socialist Alternative has a member on Seattle's City Council: https://itsgoingdown.org/collected-accounts-seatac-muslimban-protest/

It's going down

I want to make sure everyone knows that Kshama Sawant [City Council member] put a lot of people in danger last night. We had all marched into the airport and blocked the exits, we were strong in numbers and most of us were fully prepared to stay the night. The organizers went from group to group telling us that the plan was to stay until the people detained were released. Kshama decided that on her own with a few people from SA [Socialist Alternative, a reformist group] she would end the occupation before the prisoners were released. She did not confer with any of the organizers that have far more experience with organizing, protesting and most of all risk analysis. She lead about 2/3rds of the protest out, onto the street and to the light rail leaving the rest of us at MUCH higher risk for attack and arrest.

ISO is still going. https://socialistworker.org/2017/02/08/making-sense-of-what-happened

Apart from badjacketing anti-fascists at Berkeley and leading people outside of airports, not sure if they're getting up to much else recently (although the ISO's website has regular updates).

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

It was between the Twin Cities GDC's "Unionism and Anti-Fascism" and Wobblies For A Revolutionary Union Movement's "Revolutionary Unionism or White Workerism" on one side. The other side was more dispirate, but could probably be best represented by the Industrial Unionist's "Future of the I.W.W. Part 2: The Structural and Strategic Roots of the Anti-GEB Movement" and Marianne Garneu's "Antifa is liberalism".

I'm not the only one who used the name that Marianne publicly posts under. She has several articles on Libcom under that name as well. I have no idea if it's her legal name, but it's one that she uses extremely publicly. That "Antifa is Liberalism" article was published under that name, for example.

Jimi was expelled from the IWW for harassment and endangerment of members. As Juan pointed out he's also been very public under that name. I think it's fair to use someone's name in that situation, it's something that ought to be known.

I'm extremely conscious not to use any name that people don't already identify with their activism publicly online.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As this is basically a posting about the IWW, I'll throw my uninvited 2 centavos in. The US centric
IWW was at its best form when, during the earlier part of the 2000s, was heavily engaged in a number of workplace campaigns. It seemed much more focused, much shaper and closer to its "historical mission". I'll never be a web (again), but have much respect for all those who have to eat the sand and grit of shop organizing.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Responding to gram negative's comment from here since it seems more appropriate to this thread:

gram negative

honestly, more than anything, i'm impressed on how important libcom is; i didn't realize the site had this cachet until getting this attention recently.

I wouldn't really take the Brooklyn Rail as an example of reach, they've published an article by an endnotes contributor in the same editorial section: https://brooklynrail.org/2016/05/field-notes/black-representation-after-ferguson (which we re-published) so whoever the actual editor of that section at Brooklyn Rail is, they are at least to some extent plugged into the international ultra-left.

Both of the Nagle pieces were read by over 5,000 people each (don't have the exact numbers to hand), for comparison the Chomsky anti-fascism one was read by about 60,000, but a lot of news articles get mid-hundreds. If you do topical-ish blog posts with click bait titles, they get shared a lot on twitter and facebook... Out of about 31k libcom twitter followers probably high hundreds are journos and academics. I think this is a symptom of the 'collapse of the centre' in a lot of mainstream discourse (like Teen Vogue doing intros to Marxism) since 2008 and especially since 2014/15, but it's reflective of an ideological trend (and maybe the paper membership of the DSA) as opposed to class struggle on the ground.

While this article is talking about Tommy Robinson in the UK, it also discusses Trump, Bannon Richard Spencer as different facets of an international far-right movement and the ways anti-fascism isn't well prepared to deal with the non-fascist/electoralist far-right, which relates back to the IWW anti-fascism stuff. https://livesrunning.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/know-your-enemy-the-tommy-robinson-movement-part-1/ Could probably use its own thread maybe.

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Responding to gram negative's comment from here since it seems more appropriate to this thread:

gram negative

honestly, more than anything, i'm impressed on how important libcom is; i didn't realize the site had this cachet until getting this attention recently.

I wouldn't really take the Brooklyn Rail as an example of reach, they've published an article by an endnotes contributor in the same editorial section: https://brooklynrail.org/2016/05/field-notes/black-representation-after-ferguson (which we re-published) so whoever the actual editor of that section at Brooklyn Rail is, they are at least to some extent plugged into the international ultra-left.

FWIW, I think that might be a little bit of an understatement.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

As this is basically a posting about the IWW, I'll throw my uninvited 2 centavos in. The US centric
IWW was at its best form when, during the earlier part of the 2000s, was heavily engaged in a number of workplace campaigns. It seemed much more focused, much shaper and closer to its "historical mission". I'll never be a web (again), but have much respect for all those who have to eat the sand and grit of shop organizing.

You've already thrown your 2 cents in multiple times. As I pointed out before, you have a pattern of saying the same thing over and over without actually engaging with anything anyone says.

Are you referring to the Borders Books campaign that never expanded out of one shop? Or the original Starbucks campaign that was also basically limited to one shop? Or are you referring to the wildcat at JeffBoat, which IWW members were involved in but which didn't get any real support from the wider union and which the union never incorporated as a lesson into it's vision of organizing?

Your implication is that the current IWW is not heavily engaged in a number of workplace campaigns. This is right after we've just become the first fast food union in US history, after multiple real strikes, with a strong presence at multiple Burgerville locations - to give just one example.

Or maybe you're implying that because there's more happening then just "workplace campaigns" that we're less focused...

The historic IWW did not limit itself to just "workplace campaigns", they wanted to build a broad and fighting labor movement that could organize the working class in its entirety to overthrow capitalism. It's sad that someone who has identified with anarcho-syndicalism for so long has such a limited vision of what the "historical mission" of the IWW was.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

It's sad that someone who has identified with anarcho-syndicalism for so long has such a limited vision of what the "historical mission" of the IWW was.

Yup. And it's so sad that damn near 45 years later, the same debates, discussions and not always so pleasant back and forth continue without any clear resolution.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

OliverTwister

It's sad that someone who has identified with anarcho-syndicalism for so long has such a limited vision of what the "historical mission" of the IWW was.

Yup. And it's so sad that damn near 45 years later, the same debates, discussions and not always so pleasant back and forth continue without any clear resolution.

Actually I think a lot of things have been resolved at this point.

The CNT, USI, and FAU have left the sectarians behind who want to use the IWA as a way to police and censor what their comrades do.

The overwhelming majority of the IWW has made it clear that they don't see any contradiction, and in fact a lot of synergy, between workplace and community self-defense organizing.

A lot of older white men have lost their shit about both things.

This has clarified a lot.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Shrug. Whatever you say.

ZJW

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

whoever the actual editor of that section at Brooklyn Rail is, they are at least to some extent plugged into the international ultra-left.

The editor: https://brooklynrail.org/contributor/paul-mattick

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

I saw the GDC in Grand Rapuds share anti circumscision propaganda last night.

I didn't see this, although its worth coming back to this because it's something really common I've seen from you guys, basically that these new people attracted to the IWW through activism and antifascism stuff brings in people with all sorts of weird, scattered politics, some of which has nothing to do with the IWW and some of which is actively opposed...

There's nothing unique about IWW accounts posting weird, contradictory stuff. The Burgerville campaign posted some photo ops with Bernie Sanders if I remember correctly. I believe Stardust campaign had posted some smiling picture with the NYPD, thanking them.

That's just what happens in an organization of thousands of people.

syndicalist

Is the IWW a union or a political organization or something else? This has been a weird balance never actually resolved or addressed in some ways.

I don't understand the very basic nature of this question, considering who is asking it. I'm sure you're well aware that there has always been a tension within revolutionary unionism (anarcho-syndicalism included) between total workplace centrality and outside-the-workplace efforts.

Mike Harman

This reads like Freddie de Boer...

There was for sure crossover between the Jacobin, NY-based, on Twitter alot, antifa skeptic academics and some of the stuff people have been saying in the IWW.

R Totale

North American left trends: are there any trots left in NA nowadays? Or has the revival of proper social democracy totally killed off the attraction of "doing social democracy halfheartedly while also saying it's bad and we need something else" as a strategy?

I assume you mean more whether those organizations have benefited from the last 2 years. Of course they are still around. I don't think they are really players in anything to the extent that they once were though. Does anyone else know?

OliverTwister

I'm not the only one who used the name that Marianne publicly posts under. She has several articles on Libcom under that name as well. I have no idea if it's her legal name, but it's one that she uses extremely publicly. That "Antifa is Liberalism" article was published under that name, for example.

No, that article was under a different name than the one you used. But both names have been used in public association with leftist causes and the IWW.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

The Burgerville campaign posted some photo ops with Bernie Sanders if I remember correctly.

Here it is:
https://www.facebook.com/burgervilleworkersunion/photos/a.945372738922894.1073741829.944025885724246/1255466927913472/?type=3&theater

Juan Conatz

I believe Stardust campaign had posted some smiling picture with the NYPD, thanking them.

Can't watch the video atm to verify the smiling or not bit, but:

Stardust Family United

! Early on during the protest, no less than 13 NYPD police officers did arrive, having received a phone call falsely claiming that we were chaining ourselves to our barricade. It seems our childish heckler- upset that we refuse to be intimidated- threw a tantrum and wasted our city's precious law enforcement resources.

We love the NYPD and are grateful for all they do to keep us and our city safe!

https://www.facebook.com/stardustfamilyunited/videos/last-week-9-members-of/326576167695378/

Juan Conatz

That's just what happens in an organization of thousands of people.

I think you can and should criticise things like this, but cherry-picking some cases and ignoring others to make a point that's just not supported is not good. In this case the idea that workplace organising is somehow immune to co-option vs. other kinds of activity is just not holding up.

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Going back to the DSA, FiveThirtyEight, a popular polling focused site owned by ABC have a weekly podcast. This week they talked about the conflict in the Democratic Party, millennials and socialism, the DSA, etc. It was actually shocking to me to hear a conversation in mainstream media trying to separate 'liberalism' from 'leftism'. I thought they echoed people on this site in pointing out that the DSA/democratic socialists actual programs or policy proposals are not really socialism and have more in common with the old, labor-focused Democratic Party.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/politics-podcast-the-far-left-and-the-democratic-party/?ex_cid=navlink

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The seeming decline of anarchism as a unique and identifiable segment of the radical left

Raising this some more, how are the anarchist political organizations doing? From an outsider's perspective, Black Rose seems to have sort of stalled out. I haven't heard of a lot of new locals or really any activity from them other than their conferences, showing up to protests and posting on FB.

WSA is/was at its lowest point membership-wise. Is that still true?

First of May Anarchist Alliance has seemed to have had some regional growth in places with large IWW/GDC branches.

It doesn't seem too much that anarchism has benefited from the Trump era.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Can someone explain the difference between First of May Anarchist Alliance and Black Rose?

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

Can someone explain the difference between First of May Anarchist Alliance and Black Rose?

Simply put, Black Rose largely comes from the generation of pro-organizational anarchists inspired by platformism and especifismo, while First of May comes from the generation of anarchists inspired by ARA and Love and Rage.

Khawaga

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

IIRC, Black Rose are establishing new locals in Canada now.

klas batalo

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

IIRC, Black Rose are establishing new locals in Canada now.

I'm in BRRN. Pretty sure this is not happening. If so first I've heard of it and I stay pretty up to date.

Khawaga

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fair enough, I heard from a few old comrades they were trying to start a local chapter of BR, but I guess that didn't work out then.

Mike Harman

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

Mike Harman

Can someone explain the difference between First of May Anarchist Alliance and Black Rose?

Simply put, Black Rose largely comes from the generation of pro-organizational anarchists inspired by platformism and especifismo, while First of May comes from the generation of anarchists inspired by ARA and Love and Rage.

OK but didn't some Love and Rage people go on to form NEFAC which then turned into Common Struggle which then merged into Black Rose? Is First of May the people who didn't follow that trajectory then? But I found https://m1aa.org/?page_id=57 which explains it, they don't like Marx, they think Platformists are too similar to trots, they think anarcho-syndicalism is class reductionist etc.

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also, geographically I get the impression May 1st are all in the Midwest and BR/RN are more coastal. I don't think either group are that easy to pigeonhole politically - a few years back M1 came out with some stuff about supporting Ukraine's right to self-determination which seemed kind of yikes to me: http://m1aa.org/?p=997 but I dunno how reflective that is of their approach as a whole.
Other new kids on the block since then, as well as the DSA-LSC, include the Cutting Class network: https://cuttingclass.noblogs.org/about/ and RAM, who seem kind of like an attempt to mix anarchism, apoism/Rojavaism and stuff coming out of the black radical tradition: https://www.revolutionaryabolition.org/about/

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

OK but didn't some Love and Rage people go on to form NEFAC which then turned into Common Struggle which then merged into Black Rose?

I'm not absolutely sure, but I don't think there were any former Love & Rage people involved in the founding of NEFAC. Regardless of whether there were, NEFAC/Common Struggle/Black Rose are all very reflective of pro-organizational American anarchism post-Seattle '99.

Is First of May the people who didn't follow that trajectory then? But I found https://m1aa.org/?page_id=57 which explains it, they don't like Marx, they think Platformists are too similar to trots, they think anarcho-syndicalism is class reductionist etc.

They have idiosyncratic politics that are reflective of their roots in 1990s American anarchism. First of May partially comes out of Solidarity & Defense, which partially came out of the Michigan-Minnesota Affinity Group, which were all former Love & Rage/ARA people (think some of them were in FRAC too).

R Totale

the Cutting Class network: https://cuttingclass.noblogs.org/about/ and RAM, who seem kind of like an attempt to mix anarchism, apoism/Rojavaism and stuff coming out of the black radical tradition: https://www.revolutionaryabolition.org/about/

Never heard of them. TBH, if it isn't posted here I'm not aware of any developments in American anarchism...

R Totale

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

Never heard of them. TBH, if it isn't posted here I'm not aware of any developments in American anarchism...

Fair enough. Fwiw, I think a lot of the most interesting stuff anarchists do doesn't necessarily have red/black flags and circle-As attached - so, "what became of the solidarity network trend?" could be one question worth discussing, and similarly I'd say that up in Canada, Parkdale Organize and the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network seem like really worthwhile class-struggle initiatives that clearly have some substantial anarchist influence.

OliverTwister

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

Mike Harman

OK but didn't some Love and Rage people go on to form NEFAC which then turned into Common Struggle which then merged into Black Rose?

I'm not absolutely sure, but I don't think there were any former Love & Rage people involved in the founding of NEFAC. Regardless of whether there were, NEFAC/Common Struggle/Black Rose are all very reflective of pro-organizational American anarchism post-Seattle '99.

Pretty sure Wayne Price was a founding member of NEFAC, but was definitely involved from very early on if not, and he had been in the RSL that went into Love and Rage.

Speaking of people who write and organize very publicly under their names and where it's never been an issue to mention them by name on this site (including to criticize their political activity or the things they write)...

R. Spourgitis

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

M1 and WSA were both involved in what ended up becoming Black Rose, coming out of the Class Struggle Anarchist Conferences of the late '00s-early '10s. M1 withdrew earlier owing to some political divergences and the sense that these were not being addressed (not incorrectly, as came later), WSA withdrew just shortly before the finalizing conference over what seems in reflection a mixture of personality conflicts and legitimate political differences over founding documents' wording and principles. Having been a part of that and spent a tremendous amount of time in the first two years on the BR organization, I think these were early warning signs of a very loose paper unity. When my local left it was entirely owing to a combination of internal toxic environment and a complete lack of willingness, if not outright hostility, to address different political tendencies, holding members accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, or even to generally foster critical discussion on strategy and politics -- let alone unified actions or messaging. I have yet to see that the organization has gone beyond this, while I'm not in anymore, it really doesn't seem too different than it was, more a loose federation of locals with the semblance of unity on paper.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OliverTwister

Juan Conatz

Mike Harman

OK but didn't some Love and Rage people go on to form NEFAC which then turned into Common Struggle which then merged into Black Rose?

I'm not absolutely sure, but I don't think there were any former Love & Rage people involved in the founding of NEFAC. Regardless of whether there were, NEFAC/Common Struggle/Black Rose are all very reflective of pro-organizational American anarchism post-Seattle '99.

Pretty sure Wayne Price was a founding member of NEFAC, but was definitely involved from very early on if not, and he had been in the RSL that went into Love and Rage.

Speaking of people who write and organize very publicly under their names and where it's never been an issue to mention them by name on this site (including to criticize their political activity or the things they write)...

Without getting into the name game, my understanding of the RSL-L&R-NEFAC-M1-BR trajectory is something like this.

Former RSLers are significant part of L&R. Former RSL/L&R folks who remained active in NYC
went into NEFAC, with one going into BR.. RSL/L&R Detroit into Solidarity & Def/M1, with some former NY/other exRSLers eventually into and out of M1, forming the on-line mag "The Utopian".

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

WSA is/was at its lowest point membership-wise. Is that still true?

Actually WSA stands at 60 heavily paper members. Thus far we have not played any meaningful organizational role in the "resistance". Though individual members are engaged on various levels.WSA has some newer more active members who are seeking to rebuild WSA. Been an up and down road since we first formed in 1984.

syndicalist

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

WSA withdrew just shortly before the finalizing conference over what seems in reflection a mixture of personality conflicts and legitimate political differences over founding documents' wording and principles.

This, in the main, is accurate.

Prolly on the personality part, this got exacerbated towards the end of the process. But not something I didn't see coming. If folks just left the regroupment thing alone, then there may have been some more organic unity reached. Just a shame that, in the end, some relations have taken a hit.

Juan Conatz

4 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ok, well my main point to Mike was that the simplest way to describe the difference between Black Rose and M1 is that the former is more informed by the developments of pro-organizational anarchism in the 2000s while the latter is more informed by those developments in the 1990s. If there's a better way to describe the differences without getting into lengthy quotes, readings etc, have at it.

klas batalo

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And WSA the 80s. ;)

syndicalist

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

And WSA the 80s. ;)

Yup, since 1984, with roots back into the 1970s

Juan Conatz

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Looks like Black Rose just had its 5th annual conference recently.

It's hard to tell how many locals they have or how active they are since the website seems pretty out of date, at least when it comes to posting anything past early 2017 from the locals.

They also just put out this pamphlet: http://blackrosefed.org/will-be-free-libertarian-socialism/

Steven.

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not exactly an anarchist organisation as such, but it seems from a distance like anarchism is a pretty significant current within the pretty explosive (it seems) growth in "antifa" stuff in the US. Also it seems like It's Going Down, the anarchist media outlet, has done very well (with a strong anti-fascist, and general action-ist focus).

klas batalo

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For BRRN the locals on the site are accurate for now. Membership has doubled and more gender / racially diverse vs 5 years ago. I say this having just been at the conference and quite surprised by the change in composition, though there is still a lot of work to do. Most work is being done in the labor and prison sectors, and we are focusing on fostering more development in education and the community.

Greetings to the Argentinian Feminist Movement from Black Rose/Rosa Negra

Juan Conatz

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Not exactly an anarchist organisation as such, but it seems from a distance like anarchism is a pretty significant current within the pretty explosive (it seems) growth in "antifa" stuff in the US. Also it seems like It's Going Down, the anarchist media outlet, has done very well (with a strong anti-fascist, and general action-ist focus).

Yep. Not sure if you've followed the thread much, but R. Spourgitis mentions this and there is also significant discussion about the disputes in the IWW over antifascism, which arguably has some strong lessons/connections to American anarchism.

If I remember correctly, It's Going Down was initially an effort of crudo and people formerly involved in Modesto Anarcho Crew. I assume it has grown beyond that though. I haven't followed them closely due to the 'action-ist' perspective, which, at age 35, doesn't really interest me anymore unsurprisingly.

OliverTwister

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It's Going Down is a good source of news for IWW-related stuff, often much better than IWW.org. The podcast has interviewed members of the Burgerville Workers Union, IWOC, some of us involved around the West Virginia teacher's strike. The IWOC interview also talked about the ICL founding congress in Parma, and they've had folks on from the CNT twice to talk about the Catalan General Strike and then the Feminist General Strike.

R Totale

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, it feels like an interesting shift away from the days of very strong polarization between insurrecto/anti-organisational folks and pro-organisational/"class struggle" people.
Also, took me a while to get my head around this, but there really isn't a US equivalent to UAF/Stand Up to Racism, is there?
Also, this may be just me, but was anyone else kinda disappointed that Olivia Laing's new novel is not actually a deep dive into the world of 2000s California insurrectionism, despite the name?

bastarx

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The Modesto Crew wrote some cool stuff BITD. IGD would be quite good if it wasn't for the pro-Rojava nonsense.

klas batalo

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Black Rose / Rosa Negra 2018 Convention

R Totale

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At the risk of sounding very predictable, I think the upcoming prison strike will be an interesting marker of "post-Trump left trends" in that in many ways it's a repeat of events that happened exactly two years ago, so it'll be a chance to measure how the past two years have affected the strength of a pole that I guess we could broadly define as being at least hostile to current state institutions, if not necessarily the state as such, and focused primarily on mass direct actions/the refusal of work more than on lobbying and electoralism - as far as I can see, this seems to be mainly people from the black liberation/black radical tradition, anarcho/wobbly folks, and then some currents within DSA, but maybe it looks different from other perspectives, I dunno.

Salvoechea

4 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The Anarchism of Blackness
https://roarmag.org/magazine/black-liberation-anti-fascism/

Just curious. Any idea of which is the aprox rate of afroamerican people or POC in the wide anarchist movt in the USA?

R Totale

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A fairly positive look at contemporary NA left trends here: http://libcom.org/blog/angryworkers-go-stateside-visit-us-29082018

EdmontonWobbly

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"We decided to try and recruit every person who was mad about Trump and just open the flood gates. Now all of the problems of the activist scene are the problems of the iww. Where we were once an island of a bit of sanity we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing."

Just for the record this was me again and I stand by this comment. Also acknowledge fully that as of last year I was definitely defending a minority position inside the IWW. I also think that position is gaining ground and closing the gap every month as time goes on. *shrugs* You don't win them all I guess.

Also "the new reality" of mass leftist electoral politics in the USA isn't very new anywhere else. So you may all think this is a big deal right now but some of us have been building our politics with adjacent political parties that claim some sort of socialist politics for quite a while. Most of the world has in fact. Had we adapted to this new reality the way some people wanted us to the way we did in the USA it would mean our traditions wouldn't exist.

Mike Harman

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Edmonton Wobbly

Also "the new reality" of mass leftist electoral politics in the USA isn't very new anywhere else.

Isn't the issue here though that a lot of the people joining DSA (whether it's 1,000 or 10,000 of the new joiners) aren't electoralist but simply joining it because it's the main place to find 'left' people in their area? Then some of the new joiners end up doing strike support or opposing fascist demos in their town, and some of them end up canvassing for 'left' Democrats - but this depends on local groups or even divisions within local groups. The DSA as an organisation funnels people towards electoralism, but this doesn't mean that's the reason people join it. It's quite possible there'll be a massive attrition of membership or an organised split in the next months or years as some of these contradictions play out. There's also not a strict dichotomy between workplace organising and electoralism - Burgerville IWW members posing with Bernie Sanders vs. tenant organisers who don't, for one example.

It really seems a big difference to the UK where a load of anarchists, some of whom had been around for decades, just up and joined the Labour Party as soon as Corbyn got elected leader, and while many people argued Momentum branches would end up getting involved in grassroots organising efforts, that just has not happened.

EdmontonWobbly

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Of course there is no strict dichotomy necessarily between electoralism and workplace organising. Most unions support "left" candidates. For decades in Canada the Communist Party couldn't muster the numbers to hold more than one seat in Parliament but had a strong presence, sometimes even a majority in some cities in city hall. Also yes, lots of Anarchists jump on any electoral prospects because frankly a reprieve from the crushing austerity that is being rolled out across the board is really appealing.

It also isn't unusual to have people involved in other stuff than just electoralism in a left election project. That makes them more effective and bringing everyone in line the closer they get to power, not less effective. This dynamic isn't at all special or unique and it is only a huge game changer because the USA never sees this stuff.

Mike Harman

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EdmontonWobbly

Of course there is no strict dichotomy necessarily between electoralism and workplace organising. Most unions support "left" candidates. For decades in Canada the Communist Party couldn't muster the numbers to hold more than one seat in Parliament but had a strong presence, sometimes even a majority in some cities in city hall. Also yes, lots of Anarchists jump on any electoral prospects because frankly a reprieve from the crushing austerity that is being rolled out across the board is really appealing.

But then there is also activity outside of strict workplace organising which doesn't lead to electoralism. Like organising against landlords or some of the GDC stuff.

EdmontonWobbly

It also isn't unusual to have people involved in other stuff than just electoralism in a left election project. That makes them more effective and bringing everyone in line the closer they get to power, not less effective. This dynamic isn't at all special or unique and it is only a huge game changer because the USA never sees this stuff.

This is very true, but some of the people doing this within the DSA are anti-electoralist at least subjectively.

We can disagree with them joining the DSA, and think that the other activity they're doing objectively allows the DSA electoralists to capitalise on it, even endorsing random liberals like Ocasio-Cortez or Cynthia Nixon (ffs), but I can still recognise that people have joined it who oppose all that bullshit. And it seems odd from there to go 'well actually DSA is the right place for all those people and I'm glad they went there' (apologies if this isn't your stance, but not sure what it is if not), when there's a good chance it's going to horribly burn people out who are generally decent.

OliverTwister

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"We decided to try and recruit every person who was mad about Trump and just open the flood gates. Now all of the problems of the activist scene are the problems of the iww. Where we were once an island of a bit of sanity we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing."

Where exactly are all these phantom people who have overrun the IWW who are "actually opposed to workplace organizing"? I've met a lot of newer members, and they're all super involved with organizing or supporting organizing at work.

EdmontonWobbly

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So on stuff that isn't workplace organising I think there should be radical organisations that do that stuff and in a lot of cases there are groups already that do good work. Black Rose is a good example, Parkdale Organise in Toronto etc. You don't need to have everyone in one organisation doing one thing.

As for DSA I think having something that does electoralism and a bunch of non electoral stuff will see the non electoral stuff crowded out. The NDP here claims to be a social movement organisation, except they order the cops to beat social movements when they get too strong.

As for IWW members who are hostile to workplace organising I was actually basing that comment entirely on screencaps from the internal WRUM discussions. Maybe they weren't representative of the whole but in the discussion I saw they also went unchallenged.

The thing is though over the last year a lot of those people have quit and moved on to the next issue. Because that was what was always going to happen. In ten years we will probably organising their craft brewery.

The reason we didn't explode in growth was because it wasn't our time to do it. We aren't ready yet, we're a mess and it's largely because of these get rich quick schemes and shortcuts. To say we didn't grow because we didn't adopt OT's poorly thought out plan of bandwagon jumping is basically the same as a faith healer saying we didn't get well because we lacked faith.

OliverTwister

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organizing.

As for IWW members who are hostile to workplace organising I was actually basing that comment entirely on screencaps from the internal WRUM discussions.

So being "overrun with people ... who are actually opposed to workplace organizing" actually means that you saw comments from one person (who has since been expelled from the caucus) that you interpret to be hostile to workplace organizing?

This is a great example of the kind of gaslighting and trolling that you and your allies have been subjecting the union to internally. Thanks for taking ownership of it publicly.

ETA: If anyone wonders if WRUM is "actually opposed to workplace organizing", instead of EdmontonWobbly's interpretation of one person's comments in some screenshots, they can check out our program, which was drafted and voted on by the entire caucus. The first point states clearly:

Revolutionary Organizing in the Workplace and Across Industry

We aim to further develop our capacity to support organizing that combines the revolutionary aspirations of the class with immediate fights in the workplace. This includes struggles against racism, sexism, and all of the oppressions which define the specificities of working class experience. Our overall strategy will be built from the flexible and experimental experiences of our organizers, with the encouragement of wide-ranging debate and discussion across the union.

R Totale

4 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This three-part series looks to be really interesting: https://itsgoingdown.org/elections-power-the-dsa-1-the-failure-of-the-left-in-power/

Entdinglichung

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

and now for something completely different: https://themilitant.com/2018/09/22/are-frenzied-liberals-afflicted-with-trump-derangement-syndrome/

Moves by the White House — from Korea to Afghanistan and the Middle East — are aimed at advancing the interests of the ruling rich. But they have unintended results that are good for working people, opening space for political discussion, debate and action by workers to defend their rights and class interests.

R Totale

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This looks like a fairly decent take on "the antifa debate": https://communemag.com/anti-anti-antifa/

Spikymike

3 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Edited...Will give it another read later but.... the communemag's view appears to be against the communist position in the previous era and not just now, which makes me skeptical in regard to their understanding of what Fascism amounts to historically and it's claimed rebirth today. Some decent anti-capitalist ideas in the heads of some small antifa groups does not necessarily make them at a practical level any more effective as an opposition to capitalism rather than just some aspects of street level reaction, but then it is maybe a step forward if they recognise ''the limits of antifa identity'' and then move on to reject that identity all together?

klas batalo

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

i'm with spikymike that article was really bad...

it counters the critique with what: grey block?

now don't get me wrong i prefer that tactical method in general but there really was no innovations in thinking or politics that i saw in the article

Mike Harman

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not sure if anyone is following the Marxist Center stuff.

It seems to be mostly Leninists who are extremely frustrated with US sects, i.e. leaning on people like Hal Draper. But also anarchists and anti-state communists to some extent. Quite loose at the moment, but less loose than the DSA in that they all reject the Democrats. Not sure what a good link would be, so no link yet.

R Totale

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Saw the New River Workers' Power lot had joined, which mildly surprised me, but don't really know enough about either to comment that much further.

Spikymike

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I haven't heard of the 'Marxist Centre' in the USA before but borrowed this explanatory link from the spgb which might clarify some points but doesn't promise too much as far as I can see;
https://theleftwind.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/where-does-the-marxist-center-stand-answering-aspersions/
Edit; And I see that Donald Parkinson (ex of the Tampa Communist League) has written up a report of the last Marxist Centre conference here;
https://cosmonaut.blog/2019/01/12/building-revolution-in-the-usa-notes-on-marxist-center-conference-2018/ pushing his usual 'build the mass socialist party' line. The Center itself seem a non to encouraging mixed bag of disparate left groups.

sherbu-kteer

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus has released a strategy statement called 'Dual Power: A Strategy To Build Socialism In Our Time'. I'd be interested to know people's thoughts on it, seems to be better than the platform document they released earlier in the year, but they still appear very reluctant to use the big 'Ⓐ' word...

Spikymike

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well something for everyone is offered up (by the libertarian Socialist Caucus of the DSA) in this extensive list of 'models' popular within the self-identified radical movement and each of them has probably got some benefits as means of survival within the capitalist system for some people, but the retained 'preamble' is just wrong to start with along with the tried and failed strategy of 'building socialism within the shell of capitalism' or ''assembling it piece by piece'' etc. If it had started off with a thorough analysis of what was wrong with the old model of 'welfare state capitalism' from a genuine communist perspective, beyond it's sadness at it being a claimed lost class 'compromise' then the stated opposition to the capitalist economy and state in it's entirety would be more convincing. Of course I'm just repeating my criticism of other proposals on this site for a 'solidarity economy' and in general the errors of 'self management' as promoted by Castoriadis and the old UK Solidarity group. So some good intentions but more hope over reality in this document.

R Totale

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

klas batalo

i'm with spikymike that article was really bad...

it counters the critique with what: grey block?

now don't get me wrong i prefer that tactical method in general but there really was no innovations in thinking or politics that i saw in the article

Went back and had a look at that article, and I don't really understand this response: it counters the critique with 1) pointing out how weak the "antifascism = 1930s popular fronts" argument is, and 2) responds to the claim that antifascists see racism and fascism as being about bad individuals with bad ideas by citing antifa talking about their structural analysis. Like, maybe it doesn't advance any great tactical innovations, but it definitely does take on and rebut the kind of critique advanced by Lucha no Feik and Garneau.

Another thought: maybe this discussion has been had out elsewhere and everyone's tired of it, but are there parallels between the current controversy over whether the IWW should take an antifascist stance or just concentrate on workplace organizing, and the historical debate about whether it should've explicitly opposed WWI or just concentrate on workplace organizing?

OliverTwister

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

klas batalo

i'm with spikymike that article was really bad...

it counters the critique with what: grey block?

now don't get me wrong i prefer that tactical method in general but there really was no innovations in thinking or politics that i saw in the article

Went back and had a look at that article, and I don't really understand this response: it counters the critique with 1) pointing out how weak the "antifascism = 1930s popular fronts" argument is, and 2) responds to the claim that antifascists see racism and fascism as being about bad individuals with bad ideas by citing antifa talking about their structural analysis. Like, maybe it doesn't advance any great tactical innovations, but it definitely does take on and rebut the kind of critique advanced by Lucha no Feik and Garneau.

Another thought: maybe this discussion has been had out elsewhere and everyone's tired of it, but are there parallels between the current controversy over whether the IWW should take an antifascist stance or just concentrate on workplace organizing, and the historical debate about whether it should've explicitly opposed WWI or just concentrate on workplace organizing?

Yes, there are very important parallels. I've had conversations in the past with some of the main anti-antifa people where they said that the IWW should not have opposed conscription. Also, some of us pointed out the parallel last year:

[url=https://revolutionary-iww.org/revolutionary-unionism-white-workerism]Revolutionary Unionism or White Workerism[/url]

One hundred years ago, on August 1, 1917, Frank Little was lynched while organizing copper miners in Butte, Montana. Just one week earlier, at a General Executive Board meeting in Chicago, he was the lone voice calling for the IWW to oppose conscription for World War 1, in line with the 1916 Convention’s anti-war resolution. The rest of the Board refused out of fear of repression, and saying that they should keep focusing on workplace activity. Frank’s last letter before his murder was to “Big Bill” Haywood, the GEB Chair, urging him to have the GEB come out against conscription. As Frank predicted, the repression came anyways, and Big Bill died in exile in Russia.

We are seeing history repeat itself in bizarre, pathetic miniature. As a union, we haven’t adequately acknowledged the reality of increasing state repression and a growing, violent far-right. We haven’t acknowledged the growing possibilities for the IWW to expand as people are attracted to our model – the recent spike in membership is dismissively referred to as a “Trump bump.” We barely responded to the attempted political murder of one of our members in Seattle, or to the mass arrest and felony charges of many of our members at the protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration. More recently, we’ve had nothing to say or do after the racist murders in Portland, despite the Ferguson solidarity motion from our 2014 Convention which commits us to organizing against white supremacy. The IWW has an incredible opportunity to grow and to make itself relevant in this moment, but we are stuck at an impasse and feel paralyzed. How did we get here, and how can we get beyond it?

jolasmo

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We are seeing history repeat itself in bizarre, pathetic miniature.

First time as tragedy etc.

Juan Conatz

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

Another thought: maybe this discussion has been had out elsewhere and everyone's tired of it, but are there parallels between the current controversy over whether the IWW should take an antifascist stance or just concentrate on workplace organizing, and the historical debate about whether it should've explicitly opposed WWI or just concentrate on workplace organizing?

I never thought about it compared to that. I thought it had more in common with the debate over free speech fights. From what I remember, the language that was used by free speech fight detractors was similar to the anti-activist language that users of this site are familiar with.

Spikymike

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The ongoing discussion in this thread around Trump and 'antifa' in the USA and the divergent strategies adopted by various elements of the marxist and anarchist left is addressed better than much else I've seen from an anarchist source here;
https://itsgoingdown.org/diagnostic-of-the-future-a-forecast
It's been mentioned on a couple of other websites and in other threads on this site in it's attempt to get some kind of grip on the underlying changes within the global capitalist order both economically and politically post the 2008 crash and some of the misplaced responses to that within the broader libertarian anarchist and communist milieu. It's a pretty long text but worth a read.

R Totale

3 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yep, Diagnostic of the Future is great, would be good to add it to the library here sometime.

Juan Conatz

3 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I started some discussion in the comments to Capitalist Realism that I thought should probably be brought to this thread.

I brought up how Mark Fisher's 'Vampire Castle' essay is consistently brought up by the very online 'new' Social Democratic Left.

I do think it is just a part of a general trend of 'class reductionism' vs 'identity politics' that has existed for many, many years on the American Left. Just in my time on the left, learning about older members of groups I've been a part of and their experience in Sojourner Truth Organization, it was definitely a thing on the New Left. I believe it has been lost now, but about a decade or so ago, there was serious, lengthy discussion on the Anarchist Black Cat forums between members of Bring the Ruckus and members of various anarchist political organization that approached this topic.

But I suppose this really was amplified and accelerated during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. It's no longer just a marginal leftist conflict, but has also expressed itself within mainstream politics, at least in the Democratic Party. So it is a wider thing, which crosses all left or liberal politics.

Which is why, as Mike Harman has pointed out many times, some 'class reductionists' who happen to be anarchists or communists find themselves in the same corner as some social democrats. Because it isn't really about those labels. It's about whether one believes more or less colorblind universal class gains are the solution or are a better solution to non-class forms of oppression than other things.

When Bernie Sanders supporter and DSA member Douglas Williams, IWW organizer Marianne Garneau and councilist Emanuel Santos all say very similar things in 3 different pieces from 3 different years, it's much more than whoever is more 'radical' or 'conservative' or whatever disparaging label we can come up with. It's more about a tension that has yet to be resolved.

Hieronymous

3 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

When Bernie Sanders supporter and DSA member Douglas Williams, IWW organizer Marianna Garneau and councilist Emanuel Santos all say very similar things in 3 different pieces from 3 different years, it's much more than whoever is more 'radical' or 'conservative' or whatever disparaging label we can come up with. It's more about a tension that has yet to be resolved.

word

Mike Harman

3 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

When Bernie Sanders supporter and DSA member Douglas Williams, IWW organizer Marianna Garneau and councilist Emanuel Santos

The intransigence article cites three different articles by social democrat Adolph Reed in the footnotes as well as name checking him in the main body of the text. Frames the entire thing as Garvey vs. Douglass. The most notable thing though is the complete absence of discussion of the Black Panthers or the Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement/League of Revolutionary Black Workers (or even MLK's support for the Memphis sanitation strike) - are they included in the Garvey/Douglass dichotomy somewhere or excluded from the target? One thing to critique the BPP/DRUM/LRBW quite another to ignore them entirely.

Not that no-one should ever cite social democrats, but when the argument makes the same omissions and conflations it's very unfortunate here.

Spikymike

3 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And still going on of course as in the 'Democrats' and the DSA's 'Post-Trump' election preparations. Some brief 'predictions' and follow-up here;
https://libcom.org/library/what-democracy-looks-internationalist-perspective-statement-us-election
but then Left-communist understanding of what constitutes 'identity politics' is not everyones here!

gram negative

3 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

a lot of the current 'idpol' vs 'class' posturing is cynical posturing by people trying to position their career in professional leftism. the 'pragmatic' social democrats are now the hard-nosed class warriors, waging class-struggle social democracy with a straight face. however, the recipe is the same - somehow reform or at least use the democratic party (ironically the greatest bastion ofthe idpol they so hate) and take over the unions while somehow avoiding the same pattern that generation after generation have found themselves trapped within. old wine, new bottles, etc. don't get me wrong, it is interesting to see a much wider and public discussion of left politics, but i still feel that anarchists and those who are critical of the state are still grappling with how to relate to this upsurge in a positive and novel way. there is a strong current of anti-anarchism to this new wave of social democracy, somewhat justified by the real ineptidude and failures of the past decades, but alo reflectig a recognition that these same irrational dreamers are usually the people who are most involved in actual material mutual aid in the us, as limited as it may be. i personally feel that i am in the desert and my political engagement has shrunk to nearly nil, as i struggle to find a way to intervene to feels actually meaningful.

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mike Harman

The intransigence article cites three different articles by social democrat Adolph Reed in the footnotes as well as name checking him in the main body of the text. Frames the entire thing as Garvey vs. Douglass. The most notable thing though is the complete absence of discussion of the Black Panthers or the Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement/League of Revolutionary Black Workers (or even MLK's support for the Memphis sanitation strike) - are they included in the Garvey/Douglass dichotomy somewhere or excluded from the target? One thing to critique the BPP/DRUM/LRBW quite another to ignore them entirely.

Not that no-one should ever cite social democrats, but when the argument makes the same omissions and conflations it's very unfortunate here.

I think you missed my point. I'm saying those labels are somewhat irrelevant here. Rather than merely revealing some sort of opportunity to say "Aha! Gotcha!" in a debate with the left communist, it reveals that the issue is much wider than these labels. They represent fundamental differences on how one views race and class. Consider the debate in In These Times on reparations for Black American decedents of slaves between Janaé Bonsu, Zaid Jilani/Leighton Woodhouse and William Darity Jr/Kirsten Mullen. Underlying the disagreements are the same things that are happening in anti-ip articles I linked before.

Spikymike

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not easy for those of us in the UK to keep up with the twists and turns of developments in the USA Democrats preparation for the new round of elections and the arguments amongst self-professed 'socialists' in the DSA and others in relation to this, but the spgb's ajj has done a decent job of updating this with some useful linked texts in their discussion thread here:
https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/topic/the-elizabeth-warren-thread/
I suppose the spgb's electoralist approach makes them more interested in some of this than others here.

Mike Harman

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

I think you missed my point. I'm saying those labels are somewhat irrelevant here. Rather than merely revealing some sort of opportunity to say "Aha! Gotcha!" in a debate with the left communist, it reveals that the issue is much wider than these labels. They represent fundamental differences on how one views race and class.

Hmm it might be the same point differently expressed. I think there is a social democratic understanding of class underpinning these debates, which cuts across the actual labels. i.e. an emphasis on the working class as a social grouping within capitalism (via its class consciousness or lack of it), vs. proletarian self-abolition.

People who are technically abolitionist but reproducing this kind of lassallean class analysis despite this, are in my view doing so because they're missing out on an abolitionist perspective on race and gender. A good example of not doing that is this article by Chris Chen https://libcom.org/library/limit-point-capitalist-equality-notes-toward-abolitionist-antiracism-chris-chen

However I do think that the reliance on Reed et all ought to be a wake up call for people doing this given the way he bends history to reach extremely reformist conclusions, which maybe is 'aha gotcha'.

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not quite sure this is the category of 'Post-Trump North American left trends', but it seems a large percentage of people I knew personally in the IWW have left. Some of that could be attributed to the massive turnover rate, of which most left groups are famous for. But I would argue an equal amount could be attributed to the effects of the 2016 election, the debates and conflicts that it pushed to the front. I would assume there will eventually be more pieces like this, explaining why some people moved away from the far left.

https://medium.com/@benji.rants/adjectives-and-nouns-d38285961e13

R Totale

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I imagine it must be tricky to say for sure, but how do you think the org looks like now compared to, say, 2015?
Also would be interested to know what, if anything, people are doing after leaving - I think what happened in London with the UVW and IWGB seems to have turned out pretty well in the end, but don't think there's anything comparable in the US?

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

I imagine it must be tricky to say for sure, but how do you think the org looks like now compared to, say, 2015?

I would say that in the U.S., there's been a massive rise in scattered, individual members in places where the IWW does not have an organized presence. There are a few reasons for this. For example, it's easier than ever to join the IWW online. There also is always something happening, whether it is Charlottesville, the "Right-to-Work" Supreme Court decision, etc. It seems that sometimes people are motivated to join a leftist organization in response to some terrible news event.

While, overall, places with an previous organized IWW presence have somewhat stagnated, with some regional exceptions.

The organization as a whole feels very in flux to me, and the possibilities of major structural changes seem to be inevitable. It's more unclear to me than ever who the 'social leaders' and important people in the organization are. One month, someone who I think is probably one of the most important people has been expelled/discredited the next month as part of some scandal. Some branches are really on the rise, with explosive growth and multiple workplace campaigns in the works. While other long standing branches seem to be on the verge of disintegration due to conflict or key people leaving. It's a confusing time, tbh.

Also would be interested to know what, if anything, people are doing after leaving - I think what happened in London with the UVW and IWGB seems to have turned out pretty well in the end, but don't think there's anything comparable in the US?

UVW and IWGB left as organized groups. There's been nothing comparable here really, besides the Seattle General Defense Committee of the IWW leaving (I think). I was more talking about individuals drifting off, not really saying anything, just walking away...

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Meant simply as a "historical" observation. Not a slag or anything. Sorta a shame actually.

This seems to be a "regular" IWW cycle for as log as Ive been around these past 4 plus decades.. It's a shame in the sense that there was a period in the earlier part of this century the iww people were really finding a balance and a groove. Well, it looked like that from an outsiders point of view.

"The organization as a whole feels very in flux to me, and the possibilities of major structural changes seem to be inevitable. It's more unclear to me than ever who the 'social leaders' and important people in the organization are. One month, someone who I think is probably one of the most important people has been expelled/discredited the next month as part of some scandal."

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist

Meant simply as a "historical" observation. Not a slag or anything. Sorta a shame actually.

This seems to be a "regular" IWW cycle for as log as Ive been around these past 4 plus decades.. It's a shame in the sense that there was a period in the earlier part of this century the iww people were really finding a balance and a groove. Well, it looked like that from an outsiders point of view.

As a student of IWW history, I totally agree. I guess from my perspective it seems unique but it probably isn't. My theory is that it is a cycle that corresponds with who are the leaders within the organization. New leaders oust the old, the new then become the old through complacency, turnover and/or stagnation, and then the cycle repeats itself. I think the rest of the left has variations of this, but even being aware of it doesn't seem to help as far as knowing how to navigate it or successfully ignore it.

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

syndicalist

Meant simply as a "historical" observation. Not a slag or anything. Sorta a shame actually.

This seems to be a "regular" IWW cycle for as log as Ive been around these past 4 plus decades.. It's a shame in the sense that there was a period in the earlier part of this century the iww people were really finding a balance and a groove. Well, it looked like that from an outsiders point of view.

As a student of IWW history, I totally agree. I guess from my perspective it seems unique but it probably isn't. My theory is that it is a cycle that corresponds with who are the leaders within the organization. New leaders oust the old, the new then become the old through complacency, turnover and/or stagnation, and then the cycle repeats itself. I think the rest of the left has variations of this, but even being aware of it doesn't seem to help as far as knowing how to navigate it or successfully ignore it.

Here's what strikes me the most (as an outside observer): Each successive "change", in recent years, comes with real shifts in what the organization seems to be involved in/promotes. I suppose this may be true in other organizations, but hard to say. The thing is (and said comradely and respectfully), the IWW is not a social movement or political organization. It is, as is oft repeated, a union. So the recent shits seem more pronounced, to me at least. That said, stability (for any organization) comes with a constant and stated aim. And folks who seem to want to "stay the course".

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And, of course, each successive core group believes they can “reinvent the wheel. As opposed to learning and integrating the best aspects of history, past practice and so forth. Oft times new cores want to believe they have found the new and right course. And, at times, seemingly push those before then aside in that quest. Learn from mistakes, reject bad and divisive approaches. But incorporate the best of the past and build on both past and new. My experience is folks seem to have a hard time with this sorta integration. Really, it comes down to how much folks at the core want it are willing to find balances and compromises, where they can be found. On the other hand, paper unity for unity sake doesn’t always work either. I’m rambling now. I’ll end it here.

Juan Conatz

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

syndicalist, obviously you've seen this dynamic more than me and I agree with you to a certain extent but think you are speaking on it as someone who has been part of one of these sides (both?) of old and new that you describe and thus have generalizations and stereotypes of the other that someone who was more neutral may not have.

For example, I agree as you call it "new cores" want to believe they have found a "new and right course", but I think everyone underestimates how much of the "new core" was around when the "old core" was in power and just disagrees with the "old core" based on actual experience, sometimes just as much experience than the "old core". Or how the "old core" can be lazy, exclusionary, arrogant and presumptuous of its status as a core at all, which contributes to its downfall and can actually promote a "new core" that is motivated more by an animosity and dislike of the "old core" rather than pronounced differences in outlook.

I don't know, I've never been involved in one of these "core" conflicts or switches as anything more than someone watching on the sidelines.

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

All I’m saying is there is an overall tendency not to find balance
and bridges between old and new. Clearly there will be ideological or personal differences.
My concern, observation and yes participation is the oft inabilities to build a certain continuity
And these observations cut across organizations

syndicalist

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

I don't know, I've never been involved in one of these "core" conflicts or switches as anything more than someone watching on the sidelines.

I suspect in the IWW you have. Not meant in an uncomaredly way. Just an outside observation.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For those following along at home Oliver Twister has left the IWW to avoid several accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Many of his backers in the Twin Cities have left the union as well in light of several allegations of physical and sexual assaults, including threats of physical violence against political opponents.

Lots of the people alleged to have lost their positions of influence as "conservatives", swept aside by a rising tide of radicalism, are continuing to build the union and many workplace campaigns are growing at a healthy rate and have won a few elections for office in the IWW since this time. OT's predictions or even his account of what was happening in the union were greatly exaggerated. We remain committed to the project of revolutionary industrial unionism.

Politics is lively in the union as it always is but we are coming to terms with the extent and degree to which Oliver Twister and others had targeted individuals they disagreeed with in an attempt to intimidate and harass them out of the union- especially women. You can see an example of that early in this thread where OT had his post edited to keep personal names out of it.

In one case OT and his friends in the "wobblies for a revolutionary union movement" caucus outed someone operating under pseudonyms to avoid a domestic violence situation. Trying to frame her as a far right provocateur.

It is exceedingly ironic in light of their means of operating that their own misdeeds came back to haunt so many of them and now WRUM is largely in shambles and can barely present itself as progressive, let alone "revolutionary". This was definitely a depressing episode in the IWW's existence and I really didn't want to write this but felt this thread wouldn't be complete, especially for those outside of North America, without an account of where things ended up in the last few months.

syndicalist

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As with everything, shit catches up with ya. That's all Ive gots to say on OT.

Hieronymous

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EdmontonWobbly

For those following along at home Oliver Twister has left the IWW to avoid several accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Many of his backers in the Twin Cities have left the union as well in light of several allegations of physical and sexual assaults, including threats of physical violence against political opponents.

I want to preface my comment by acknowledging that I've met you, EdmontonWobbly, face-to-face a couple times and you seemed like a decent person. So regarding this post I find it necessary to be blunt: you seem to be relishing -- even gloating -- that someone got sexually assaulted and that threats of violence were being made. Maybe I'm getting old and overly sensitive to this stuff, but I always considered it the role of radicals to try to prevent sexual assaults and defuse the potential for violence among our friends and comrades, in order that we as working class militants might strengthen our unity in the class struggle.

This smacks of point-scoring gossip, where the victims of these conflicts are incidental sidenotes, reduced to mere pawns. I know you might live elsewhere, but EdmontonWobbly did you participate in any kind of restorative justice or accountability process? Or am I judging correctly in seeing this as merely a smear on Oliver?

EdmontonWobbly

This was definitely a depressing episode in the IWW's existence and I really didn't want to write this but felt this thread wouldn't be complete, especially for those outside of North America, without an account of where things ended up in the last few months.

This is an excellent case where you should've trusted your instincts and erred on the side of principle, because it amounts to mere hearsay and isn't really "an account of where things ended up in the last few months." The IWW of late, especially in some regions, has become a toxic cesspool of "anti-oppression" witch hunts that do justice to the traditions of Salem -- and in that sense, the IWW is indistinguishable from the (now-defunct) ISO.

Rather than chronicle a litany of unacceptable behaviors, I'd much rather hear accounts of successful organizing. Or at the very least, hear how proactive attempts are being made to prevent these alleged misdeeds in the future. That is, unless you were actually cheering them on.

fingers malone

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm pretty sure EdmontonWobbly is not relishing what has happened and I think it's reasonable to let other posters know about this.

Mike Harman

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hieronymous

EdmontonWobbly did you participate in any kind of restorative justice or accountability process?

EdmontonWobbly's post suggests that any such process was cut short when OT decided to leave. It would be dodgy to bring up an ongoing accountability process that someone was engaging with in good faith, but when there's no such process possible I'm not sure what people are expected to do.

Hieronymous

The IWW of late, especially in some regions, has become a toxic cesspool of "anti-oppression" witch hunts that do justice to the traditions of Salem -- and in that sense, the IWW is indistinguishable from the (now-defunct) ISO.

Rather than chronicle a litany of unacceptable behaviors, I'd much rather hear accounts of successful organizing.

Accountability for sexual violence within organisations is an example of successful organizing.

The ISO recently collapsed not because of a 'witch hunt' but because it was found to have covered up rape allegations for several years. Unless you think the leading ISO members who covered up the rape allegations were the victims of a witch hunt that's a weird example to bring up.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah I was worried about coming off that way Hierymous, some of what you bring up is a fair thing to say.

I think the IWW has a lot of work to do on how we handle these kinds of accusations and the key thing is that they be applied in an even handed manner and that restorative justice is available to everyone who does these things not just political allies. Right now it isn't and when restorative justice was offered to WRUM people I did say it should also be available to the people WRUM ran out on similar accusations. I also do think we need to be honest with ourselves and our actual capacity and recognise that these processes are a poor substitute for actual counselling and actual therapy by professionals. Also I think the survivors need to be in the drivers seat about who stays and who goes.

A lot of people were hurt in this and I don't want to give the impression that somehow WRUM had a monopoly on sexual violence. Our society as a whole is full of sexism.

However this thread had a lot of accusations and painted a picture for those outside North America and I do think we need to actually have this turn of events and the people who hoenstly were on the business end of what OT did represented.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also though the IWW is growing and while some regions are a mess others are doing very well, particularly things like the Stardust campaign and the Seattle branch. As for the cess pool of anti oppression politics there are clearly two sides to it, our society as a whole has a lot to reckon with as far as sexual assault goes and the left is not outside that. On the other hand if there was one person who felt they were on the side of angles and used with hunts to run people out it was OT.

At some point we will need an even handed way to handle these things and restorative justice is a good idea but it will need to be for everyone not just who we think has been vicitm of a witch hunt.

Hieronymous

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This quote comes to mind:

Nietzsche

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”

Fair enough, EdmontonWobbly.

I think these incidents should be treated with the gravity that the violations deserve. Yet, as you point out, we live in a deeply sexist society and isn't only the bad practices of a few individuals that need to be healed.

I can't help but also think of this quote:

J. Krishnamurti

"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

On the other hand, we need to be clear about what abuse actually is. Harvey Weinstein was a serial abuser. OT was not. He's posted on libcom for over 13 years, and has made notable contributions to the advancement of our class, particularly the intervention he and Juan made in Wisconsin in 2011 -- when the rolling teachers' strike nearly generalized into a statewide mass strike. We wouldn't have had Occupy if there hadn't been the Wisconsin Uprising. I personally think the attacks on public sector workers in Wisconsin bolstered the defensive struggle of teachers in Chicago in 2012. Without teachers struggling there, I don't think would would have had the education workers' strike that shut down schools in all 55 counties of West Virginia last year, which spread to many red states and continues to this day.

On the West Coast of North America, from Seattle to Los Angeles, witch hunts are ongoing, some starting in the IWW and some that began elsewhere have spread to and have paralyzed Wobbly branches. I witnessed one, knowing comrades on both sides of the accusations. I drew parallels to the ISO because the accusations are essentialist ones, having gravitated from anti-oppression politics of college campuses to wider activismist circles. Men are accused of taking up "too much space," but without any context at all. This "space" is never defined. When pressed, one accuser said the alleged perpetrator was "too social" and had "too many friends." I know him and this is a pathetic farce; he's an amazing organizer because he draws people together, build bridges, and creates a network of class struggle militants far and wide. If that's taking too much space, we need more space hogs like him. As I said, I witnessed the whole thing first-hand and it really began with petty and trivial misunderstandings: who was supposed to do tasks for the workplace training, and when the comrade who was delegated that responsibility was too busy at their own job to do it, they were eventually accused of perpetuating "toxic masculine culture" and "abuse." This is a disservice to those who are truly abused, like the victims of Harvey Weinstein.

A remedy would be for everyone to read Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair so that all of us can help defuse and heal conflicts, without them being escalated to accusations of abuse. And if abuse has occurred, finding restorative methods of dealing with it. Every shopfloor militant should learn the skills and develop the organizing tools to prevent and/or diffuse power conflicts among comrades from devolving into abuse, which is where someone exercises power over another.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I dunno H, I am not sure I have the same read on all of this you do. I think right now almost every sector of society is coming to terms with the fact that the bar was set pretty low for consent for a long time. I don't know what you know about the accusations against OT but they were also far past simply taking up too much space. This is a problem we need to address in the IWW and in all other aspects of our lives.

Again though on the subject of witch hunts, public shaming rituals, and personalising political fights I would encourage people to go back in this thread and read what OT does in this thread publicly outing people. He also leaked the personal identity location and history of someone who was operating under an assumed name to avoid an abusive ex which is really only one step beyond what he did in this thread to a woman member of the GEB. This person's identity was then published in an article and circulated by his allies all over the place.

Earlier in this thread he accused several people, by name, of various kinds of abuse, he escalates the argument needlessly, and paints a picture of out of touch bureaucrats who could not change with the times to justify his actions. He brings up every piece of information he can to try and make it abundantly clear he is watching people and is willing to expose them for what he feels they are. If OT was a victim of a witch hunt we need to also accept by his own definition he was a witch.

This kind of attack in as public a forum in as personal a manner as possible is pretty in keeping with the concerns about witch hunts H posts above. He was consumed by his own methods. I agree with you that those methods are a problem but they are also problem when your friends do it.

The only answer is a process that determines what harm was done by whom and has credibility in the eyes of the union membership in addressing and correcting bad behaviour. I agree there and I think restorative justice is a part of that. But that also means we need to be clear when wrong was done and have clear definitions of the standard of conduct. I would put to you that what OT is accused of, with regards to sexual misconduct, is beyond any reasonable definition of misconduct and the law in most jurisdictions libcom readers would be seeing this in.

Again this whole conversation is actually really stressful and I won't blame you for questioning my motives in why I am posting this stuff, anyone reading this thread can see that OT and I had our differences. But I think considering how much OT put out there it is important to set the record straight.

Hieronymous

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK, now it's clearer. I posted on this thread too, and felt -- and still feel -- that it's been more heat than light. It's hard to separate the hyperbole from the reality. But EW, you're right, it's purpose seems to be interpersonal acrimony rather than clarification.

What OT did is definitely awful, but I've only seen the account of the sexual assault that OT himself forwarded to me. None of it was explained further, not that I need to know any more. But the case against him that claims that he made too many convention proposals doesn't seem clear (the "idea dump"). Is that really oppressive and alienating to new members? I always thought IWW meetings were boring and demoralizing because the ones I've attended seemed consumed by everything but shopfloor organizing (e.g., contentious debates about solidarity statements with Venezuela or other things unrelated to the lived experience of the fellow workers attending those meetings). Wasn't OT just being wonky about union policy, having a sincere desire to see it evolve in a particular direction? Which begs the question: was there something in the proposals that was objectionable? Or were there simply too many? If the latter, can't they simply be tabled without the expenditure of any energy on them?

As syndicalist points out, these purges seem to be a regular -- almost seasonal -- part of the the ebb and flow of the organization. My initial reaction was that it was just another faction fight. [irrelevant comment removed]

syndicalist

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've had on-line discussion with OT since the (mid-late) 1990s. They never seemed to have gone smooth. Always a sense of arrogance and entitlement. That;s just my on-line impression and experience. I was unaware (until now) of these other disturbing activities. There are few people in this world who deserve to get the boot. But sometimes if one is not cognizant of their approach, actions and how their negativity his perceived, well, I guess they got no one to blame for "getting the boot."

Hieronymous

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EdmontonWobbly

Also though the IWW is growing and while some regions are a mess others are doing very well, particularly things like [...] the Seattle branch. As for the cess pool of anti oppression politics there are clearly two sides to it . . .

OK, EdmontonWobbly, here I've gotta call bullshit.

In the ultra-left/left communist circles I'm close to, an allegation of a rape that occurred in Seattle -- dating back to 2012 -- has been circulating, recently being spread by some careless fools in New York City. This is entirely unrelated to the ones mentioned in this thread. But since I know the alleged perpetrator, I sought out two comrades in Seattle to ask what happened. Both confirmed that there was no accuser because there never was a rape; they remain personal friends with both parties. Both told me the woman who is the alleged survivor has continuously made clear that it was a consensual relationship, but she had concerns about communication during the time she was being intimate. Since I was on an e-mail thread where I first heard the accusations, I can personally confirm that they were fabricated by a former member of the Seattle IWW branch, who was clearly conflating a political conflict into a false accusation of rape, but also false allegations that there was no accountability process.

During these conversations, my ultra-left comrades confirmed what a toxic cesspool of disinformation and Trump-sympathizing white nationalism the Seattle IWW branch has become. They reminded me that Spencer Sturdevant and Cyan Rose Quinn (the former banned from libcom for his fascistic posts) went from the Seattle IWW branch to become straight-up white nationalists, affiliated with Identity Evropa (here's an account: https://identifyevropa.org/spencer-sturdevant-and-cyan-rose-quinn/).

So my question to you, EdmontonWobbly, is this: how is can the Seattle IWW branch be "doing very well" when it's the breeding ground for COINTEPRO-like disinformation and fascists?

EdmontonWobbly

He also leaked the personal identity location and history of someone who was operating under an assumed name to avoid an abusive ex [...]. This person's identity was then published in an article and circulated by his allies all over the place.

Here it's necessary to call bullshit again. You seem to be alleging that doxxing occurred, right? How can you reveal someone's identity -- even under an "assumed name" -- when under that same name the person has a Wikipedia page and has been quoted in the bourgeois press as a Washington State delegate to the 2016 Republican Convention? And while that same person -- under that exact same name -- is currently in a leadership position (perhaps it's even her "day job") as the Washington "state leader" for a patriotic law-and-order national Republican Party organization founded by a Mormon former CIA agent? Working with him is an obvious fit, since this supposedly doxxed person formerly worked as a military intelligence officer -- according to her Wikipedia page.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah again H I am not sure were on the same page on the interpretation of events and I would encourage you to ask for opinions other than from OT and any quiet supporters they may have left. Just like what OT told you the actual accusations were, and just like what OT did in this very thread to political opponents it is weird seeing so much detailed personal information about various people OT has disagreed with over the years showing up here while also maintaining that OT was the victim of a witch hunt.

Like I said above OT was consumed by his own tactics but the allegations against him are very serious and not at all like what you are recounting about the allegations from Seattle in 2012.

Regardless the Seattle GMB currently has over 150 members and several active campaigns in a number of shops. I have no idea about this case you're talking about and have never heard of it. I do know a lot about their organising but that alone should say something about whether or not it has descended into witch hunts and is consuming itself.

I also think the accusations against the supposed right wing operative which you repeat directly from the articles WRUM members used to try and attack her don't hold up to scrutiny. They actually remind me a lot of the campaign some Left Communists ran against people invovled in Libcom for associating with someone who had distant and tangential relations with law enforcement because of their job:

https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201305/7746/aufhebengate

This person in question was in the military and was very low ranking but had some component of their work as military intelligence. They were also kicked out of the military and faced legal action because of their anti war activism.

But again I want you to compare your own rhetoric about witch hunts above and then look at how far down the rabbit hole we have gotten about various people's personal character. If we are against witch hunts does that mean we are in favour of a proper investigation into wrong doing, due process, and a report made to the membership? I am in favour of that and instead of facing the charges brought against him OT quit the organisation.

But you can't complain about witch hunts and then repeat talking points from a blog that has avoided using any kinds of due process they have access to in order to single out and bully officers that oppose them. WRUM's primary means of operating has been public call outs, shaming and personal attacks.

This is also a long track record of behaviour, especially from OT, where he even singles out women officers (who he encouraged to run but then took poisitons he didn't like) to harass and bully them into backing policy positions he has taken.

Hieronymous

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Again, I call bullshit.

Aufhebengate is about someone I've actually met (but only once, in passing 20 years ago). Due to their academic research being used for police crowd control, I personally wouldn't have anything to do with them again. It got grossly overblown, but it doesn't parallel at all what we're talking about here.

I'd heard repeatedly from West Coast comrades that track white nationalists, who have no connection to OT, about right-wing and fascist infiltration of the left in the Pacific Northwest. One example is the aforementioned Republican operative active in the IWW in Seattle. For fuck's sake, this person can be found with a simple internet search. My talking points are actually taken from Wikipedia, the Stand Up Republic website and Facebook accounts, and mainstream media around the PNW. There's nothing controversial about using Google to look this shit up, so why are you alleging some conspiracy about how I accessed it?

When people smear others with expressions about "a long track record of behaviour" I call bullshit. OT has been on libcom for 13 years. Why didn't you bring up your character appraisal a decade ago? Your unsubstantiated accusations are actually closing down discussion and engaging in intentional defamation, where your political disagreement gets conflated into a charge of abuse. EdmontonWobbly, you as much as anyone are bringing more heat than light. The reason for all this is that there's been a contest for power. You've just weaponized allegations that are mere hearsay, at best, and intentional fabrications, at worst. I highly recommend you read Sarah Shulman's Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair to learn some tools make good faith efforts to resolve disagreements in a principled manner.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So is your problem witch hunts or is your problem who we are calling witches?

lou.rinaldi

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have to say this whole "if he was so bad for so long" is a bad trajectory of thought. It is more or less the line use to excuse sexual assault you hear all the time. Given what H is saying, OT is exhibiting classic behavior for someone accused of SA. It's called DARVO. Deflect, attack, reverse victim and offender. You can read about it here: https://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/defineDARVO.html

Anyways, as a member of the Seattle IWW, I think H's description of the branch is ridiculous. And if people have concerns, the Seattle IWW has repeatedly said people are free to contact them. For what it's worth, the branch is the largest IWW branch in north america. We have multiple workplaces with majority union membership and many more smaller committees. It's a highly functional branch. This whole collection of nonsequitors woven into a narrative about the Seattle IWW being like fascist doesn't hold up to the most basic scrutiny.

Mike Harman

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spencer Sturdevant used to post on libcom as 'kingzog'. This is the main thread I remember where they exposed themselves as a white nationalist: https://libcom.org/forums/news/migrants-sexual-violence-19042016

There's a write-up (also posted at the end of that thread) on Sturdevant here: https://pugetsoundanarchists.org/with-friends-like-these-beacon-hill-white-nationalist-organizers-exposed/

Identity Europa has since rebranded to 'American Identity Movement', Sturdevant also gets a mention here: https://unicornriot.ninja/2019/slouching-towards-the-ethnostate-inside-the-american-identity-movement/

Mike Harman

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EdmontonWobbly

This person in question was in the military and was very low ranking but had some component of their work as military intelligence. They were also kicked out of the military and faced legal action because of their anti war activism.

So I've read the post in question. I think groups need to decide for themselves whether they admit ex-military people and that would depend on both the group and the person, but that doesn't seem to be the main issue here?

It's more widely reported right wing activism like attending the Republican National Convention (2016) (as a Ted Cruz supporter) and working with Stand Up Republic (2018) https://standuprepublic.com/about-us/ - the ex-CIA and RNC connections are right there on their about page. The RNC attendance they had a fundraiser for their attendance, and they were quoted multiple times in multiple major news outlets about the convention. Stand Up Republic promoted them all over social media in 2018.

What's (probably) dodgy about the post is linking this activity to an alias used in the IWW (the one similarity to Aufhebengate). The reason given is access to the IWW membership database being immanent though, which is a bit different to writing for an annual theoretical journal and seems like an actual, urgent, security risk to IWW members, and a case where any questions about stuff like attending the RNC or working with Stand Up Republic you'd think would put a hold on that access.

EdmontonWobbly

If we are against witch hunts does that mean we are in favour of a proper investigation into wrong doing, due process, and a report made to the membership?

If there are serious questions about someone getting into a leadership position with access to a membership database, then there should be a proper internal discussion/investigation before that happens rather than afterwards when it's too late. If that doesn't happen you start to have limited options other than going public somehow. The question then is what is an adequate internal investigation and what is the point at which going public becomes a reasonable course of action (and exactly what information is made public).

Another example is Michael Schmidt. It's very obvious to me that it was reasonable to make his white nationalism public knowledge (and given he publishes under the name Michael Schmidt no question of 'doxxing' as such). However the way that Alexander Reid-Ross did this was incredibly sensationalist and unhelpful ('far right infiltration', then information released over a couple of months in a serialised set of blog posts instead of all at once, no contact with the current incarnation of Zabalaza etc.).

So you'd want groups to have solid accountability processes which are neither used to settle political disputes nor to protect abusers, but going public when those processes are not there or are insufficient can be a reasonable course of action - if the person in question is a danger to others and is being protected by the organisation.

EdmontonWobbly

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The thing is when the member who was formerly armed forces was asked to not have data base access they immediately consented and have not tried to get it since. They complied with the request without much fuss from them. Also worth noting they joined the IWW through an organising campaign on the job and were asked as a matter of course, they could not have sought out the IWW for inflitration in this case. They did not come out of the woodwork and sign up off the street. As for the right wing involvement sure, people did all sorts of I'll advised stuff in the panic over Trump, including some people getting involved to back other right wing opponents in hopes of splitting the vote. Was it a good idea in my opinion? Not really but the story checks out as I worked closely with them giving them advice on their workplace organising and they never hid any of this from me.

OT's way of operating wasn't just to do an end run around an internal investigation in this one case. They used public displays of shaming/exposing people as a regular part of their MO. Look at the posts earlier in this thread where they had to have personal names removed by Libcom admin, they did it to a GEB member that they disagreed with on a vote.

Another example was standing up at the Montreal convention and reading out a very graphic account of a sexual assault to the room, without warning to anyone and against the requests of the chair to sit down, calling out the chair of the GEB (a political opponents on OT's) for complicity in "covering up" this incident after an charges committee investigation determined there was no cover up or wrongdoing.

This was a repeated part of the pattern and I think we need to face up to the fact that OT was the driving force behind several attempts to do exactly what people are now saying he fell victim to. Which begs the question, are we really opposed to these kinds of methods or is it just that someone's friend went down because of them?

Mike Harman

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

EdmontonWobbly

The thing is when the member who was formerly armed forces was asked to not have data base access they immediately consented and have not tried to get it since.
They complied with the request without much fuss from them.

Thanks, that is useful information. Did this happen before or after the post about them went public?

EdmontonWobbly

Also worth noting they joined the IWW through an organising campaign on the job and were asked as a matter of course, they could not have sought out the IWW for inflitration in this case. They did not come out of the woodwork and sign up off the street. As for the right wing involvement sure, people did all sorts of I'll advised stuff in the panic over Trump, including some people getting involved to back other right wing opponents in hopes of splitting the vote. Was it a good idea in my opinion? Not really but the story checks out as I worked closely with them giving them advice on their workplace organising and they never hid any of this from me.

So these are good reasons to not exclude someone from a job branch, but also good reasons not to quickly promote them into regional/national positions.

Also while it might explain 2016 RNC involvement in some kind of extreme lesser-evilism gambit, it doesn't really explain 2018?

Hieronymous

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This thread is really about this:

Juan Conatz

-Perceived amplification of the stakes translating into more salt the earth tactics towards internal rivals

and this:

Steven.

Mike, I think he means that because people see "the left" as being particularly crucial now, lefties are being more vicious in terms of their attacks on other left-wing opponents.

I'm not really that in touch with the American scene so not very sure about the accuracy of this. But I am aware of extremely vicious internal rivalries over prolonged periods of time…

These attacks on the faction represented by OT, whatever their merit, would eventually -- and out of necessity -- need to have been be created . . . and then escalated. Just like had there never been a Jon Bekken, another despot to be dethroned would need to have been created.

This is a faction fight, pure and simple. But aided by all the weaponized abuse accusations that could possibly be summoned to tear down political rivals. Meanwhile the bosses laugh all the way to the bank.

Doesn't it really come down to the IWW vs DSA, antifa vs cadre building, electoralism vs class struggle, wider class-based organizing vs a reductive focus on shopfloor committees, strikes vs organizational recruiting, destitute workers in hollowed rural hinterlands vs graduate students in booming coastal elite cities? Throw into the mix a rather outdated inflexible orthodoxy around organizer trainings (a.k.a. one-size-fits-all) vs an analysis of the massive changes in class composition in order to create industry-specific -- and commensurate -- forms of organizing and education (here think: class struggle efforts like the Awood Center in Minneapolis organizing Somali workers at Amazon fulfillment centers & the Los Angeles-origins of rank-and-filer Uber/Lyft workers creating Rideshare Driver United, which now has gone global). All of which can be further reduced to dueling emphases, cadre vs. class.

Hieronymous

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lou.rinaldi

And if people have concerns, the Seattle IWW has repeatedly said people are free to contact them.

So, a question for the Seattle comrades: is the aforementioned Republican Wobbly still the Stand Up Republic "state leader" for Washington?

Second question: do you think she wanted to share the IWW database with her colleagues in the Republican Party? If not, why did she want it?

lou.rinaldi

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

H, like I said, contact the GMB. I'm not gonna go into it here. All you're doing is trying to deflect from the fact that OT is a sexist abuser. When it came up you literally used the Bill Cosby defense. At this point multiple women have come forward about his behavior and actions. You can't seriously just chalk that up to a "factional dispute". I get that he is your friend. You may want to get better friends.

Mike Harman

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hieronymous

This is a faction fight, pure and simple. But aided by all the weaponized abuse

Could it be that there's a faction fight, and also abuse? Which would make it a bit less 'pure and simple'.

Hieronymous

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lou.rinaldi

When it came up you literally used the Bill Cosby defense.

Literally means, by definition: "word for word."

Bill Cosby feigned victimhood, equating his martyrdom to Emmett Till's. He claimed his accusers and the whole judicial establishment were racists. He claimed consent. He preached a Puritanical anti-drug message, while drugging his victims. His defense lawyers tried to excuse his rapes away by alleging that they were "romantic" affairs. What does any of this have to do with what I wrote? Literally or figuratively?

When it came up, I asked about the process of accountability and mentioned restorative justice. How does that have anything to do with Bill Cosby?

lou.rinaldi

I get that he is your friend.

This is disingenuous. Don't put words in my (or anyone else's) mouth. From what you've written, perhaps you know this person better than I do. They haven't lived in my region for over a decade, so it's not accurate to call him a friend. In this thread posters bleat on and on about "due process," but I've yet to see anything that goes beyond being a smear. A vicious factional fight has escalated to accusations of abuse, as part of a power struggle.

If not, why is it taking place on libcom? And why on this thread? And how is the intent any different than the accusers in Aufhebengate? The post making the revelation was almost gleeful. Is that the proper tone in addressing allegations of sexual abuse?

Ray Jovana

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"This is is an excellent case where you should've trusted your instincts and erred on the side of principle, because it amounts to mere hearsay"

"You've just weaponized allegations that are mere hearsay, at best, and intentional fabrications, at worst."

FYI, it isn't hearsay or a fabrication when you hear it straight from the perpetrator:

"What OT did is definitely awful, but I've only seen the account of the sexual assault that OT himself forwarded to me."

This,on the other hand, is is the definition of hearsay:

"During these conversations, my ultra-left comrades confirmed what a toxic cesspool of disinformation and Trump-sympathizing white nationalism the Seattle IWW branch has become. They reminded me that Spencer Sturdevant and Cyan Rose Quinn (the former banned from libcom for his fascistic posts) went from the Seattle IWW branch to become straight-up white nationalists, affiliated with Identity Evropa"

"how is can the Seattle IWW branch be "doing very well" when it's the breeding ground for COINTEPRO-like disinformation and fascists?"

On Spencer and Cyan, they left the Seattle IWW and SeaSol in 2012. At that point, as I understand it, they were leftists more interested in abstract theory than workplace organizing. From there Spencer spent a few years on LibCom and in some sort of online leftist theory reading group. If you want to find people with insight into their drift to fascism, you might try talking with someone who's had contact with them sometime in the past 7 years.

I'd bet a pint that active Seattle wobs put all together have had no more interaction with Spencer/Cyan over the last 7 years than you have, Hieronymous.

Juan Conatz

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anyone been following the stuff around the DSA Convention? My god its like seeing the 1960s SDS play out in 2019. Fights over basic centralization vs decentralization, innumerable caucuses and factions, procedural nightmares, fake controversies, walking the line between liberalism and leftism but leaning towards the latter, etc. If you've read Kilpatrick Sale's book on SDS, you'll see what I mean.

There's a number of accounts on the Convention. It's hard to really parse the different caucuses and factions as an outsider so its hard to really make sense of the proposals and resolutions. But it seems the caucuses that are most pro-Bernie/electoral politics won out easily over those who are more skeptical of electoral work as a main activity.

sherbu-kteer

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've been struggling to parse it too. I found this report from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung helpful in understanding the internal dynamics and factions of the DSA with regards to the caucus. It has some interesting survey data too. Eg, ~70% of DSA chapters are not involved in campaigning for candidates or ballot initiatives, whilst 48% are engaged in 'mutual aid' (pg. 4). Agree that the more centralist people seem to have won out, but I'm still trying to figure out what was at stake. Like I still don't know what the Build group actually believe or want to do.

Most of the (sparse) mainstream media coverage seems to have focused on the clips of the weird procedural disputes, like the person criticising the speaker for using the word 'guys'. Tucker Carlson had a little feature about that and invited Libcom favourite Angela Nagle on to discuss it with him. From what I can tell that sort of thing was really marginal in the context of the conference as a whole but it's pissed off the 'anti-idpol' people to the point where some of them have formed a new caucus to 'right the ship' and wrest control of the organisation back from the "the professional-managerial stratum, academics, and college-educated millennials". It's always a bit funny to see social democrats complain that their mostly social democratic organisation is too bureaucratic and 'PMC', it's like saying McDonald's has too many hamburgers.

The thing I'm most interested in is how they're going to approach the labour union issue, they passed a "rank-and-file strategy" (I think this is the Kim Moody thing?) at the conference and some branches in particular are really planning to go hard on it: "We will focus our branch resources on recruiting NYC-DSA members to take jobs in these sectors and on developing a strategy for militant, democratic, classwide struggles based in these sectors". It mainly seems to be about pushing for a more activist union leadership. Will be interesting to see how it plays out, and how radical syndicalists (eg IWW, WSA) respond.

comradeEmma

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The critique I've seen of the "rank-and-file" resolution has in general been that it focuses only on just unions. Which is seen as not being enough since unions historically represents the "upper strata" of the working-class.

adri

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is there really a "Rosa Luxemburg foundation" that pushes reformist-leftist politics? And I see on wiki they're the think tank of Die Linke party in Germany.

I'm pretty sure Luxemburg wrote against this type of stuff, if Die Linke's wiki page is anything to go by, in Reform or Revolution (though I guess Richard Wolff's, who has amassed a following with these worker coop ideas, appearance in their Rosa Remix compilation makes more sense now):

The party wants to strengthen anti-trust laws and empower cooperatives to decentralise the economy.

sherbu-kteer

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

All the major German parties have think tanks attached to them oddly enough. The Greens have the Heinrich Böll foundation, SPD Friedrich Ebert, CDU Konrad Adenauer, etc. They're quite well funded too by looks of things, the Green one has a bunch of international offices, while the Rosa Luxemburg one has international offices and also has funded DSA stuff.

comradeEmma

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think it depends on where you draw the line for what is "reformist" politics. From the things I've read it doesn't seem to be pushing a specific line. I think the political groups and unions part of the labor movement in a lot of countries have publications tied to them that is largely independent of their own line. The TUC my union is part of is very close to the Social-democratic party and has a paper called Arbetet, where they have published everything from articles on NUMSA forming their new party Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party, articles by active syndicalists that argued against the social-democrat's proposal on restricting the right to strike, and so on.

syndicalist

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

The thing I'm most interested in is how they're going to approach the labour union issue, they passed a "rank-and-file strategy" (I think this is the Kim Moody thing?) at the conference and some branches in particular are really planning to go hard on it: "We will focus our branch resources on recruiting NYC-DSA members to take jobs in these sectors and on developing a strategy for militant, democratic, classwide struggles based in these sectors". It mainly seems to be about pushing for a more activist union leadership. Will be interesting to see how it plays out, and how radical syndicalists (eg IWW, WSA) respond.

WSA has always rejected a strategy of "boring from within".

W.S.A. believes, in part:

"The type of unionism that we advocate is self-managed by the members, works to spread solidarity and link up with workers in other countries, encourages mass participation, fights against all forms of inequality and discrimination, and rejects any idea of “partnership” or “common interests” with the bosses.

To transform the American labor movement, we support efforts to build new self-managed unions independent of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions in situations where this makes strategic sense. At the same time, we cannot hope to play a role in many workers struggles, to put forth our ideas and our program, if we remain aloof and abstain from them simply because many of them take place within the AFL-CIO or Change to Win unions. So long as workers struggles are organized through these unions, we participate in those unions and their struggles.

We also support the building of autonomous rank-and-file movements in the AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions, independent of the bureaucracy. The sort of rank-and-file opposition movements that we support should not aim at merely electing a different leadership, but should aim at changing the union into a social movement based on mass participation and member control.

For unions to be self-managing, this starts with the importance of the general meetings of the members to make decisions. To prevent the organization becoming dependent on a small number of people, executive committee posts should have term limits. This needs to be combined with a systematic approach to training members in all the tasks needed in running a union.

Full-time paid officials no longer suffer the daily indignities of subordination to the bosses. The often high salaries of union bureaucrats in the USA separate union officials from the conditions of life of union members and encourages officials to look at the union as their personal ticket out of the working class. We believe that the number of paid officials in the labor movement should be kept to a minimum. Local unions should avoid paid officers as much as possible. If workers feel that a paid officer is needed in a particular case, their pay should be limited to the average wage level of the workers. Half-time paid officers are better than full-time because at least the person still works under the bosses part of the time.

Genuine self-management of a union goes beyond the formal structure and also depends on active participation and education of members." ("Unionism", https://workersolidarity.org/about-wsa/where-we-stand/ )

R Totale

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was going to say that I was sure German Wildcat had written about the Rosa Luxemburg foundation, but I might just be thinking of about one line in this article.
Agree it'd be a bit disappointing, although hardly unprecendented, if DSA adopt an industrial strategy that's solely focused on already-unionised sectors and has little or nothing to say about non-unionised ones.

syndicalist

3 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

R Totale

I was going to say that I was sure German Wildcat had written about the Rosa Luxemburg foundation, but I might just be thinking of about one line in this article.
Agree it'd be a bit disappointing, although hardly unprecendented, if DSA adopt an industrial strategy that's solely focused on already-unionised sectors and has little or nothing to say about non-unionised ones.

Well, a question is: what sort of unionism for the unorganized sectors? I think this is key. And also why boring from within a social democratic formation is not a strategy for libertarian workers

sherbu-kteer

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Has anyone else noticed a significant increase in the amount of American leftists being very pro-gun and anti-gun control? I noticed the Industrial Worker posting "armed minorities are harder to oppress" sorta stuff on their Instagram page, and thought it was odd. There's also the growth of the Socialist Rifle Association.

R Totale

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

Has anyone else noticed a significant increase in the amount of American leftists being very pro-gun and anti-gun control? I noticed the Industrial Worker posting "armed minorities are harder to oppress" sorta stuff on their Instagram page, and thought it was odd. There's also the growth of the Socialist Rifle Association.

Have you been paying attention to the stuff that went on in Virginia last month? To me, it [the general trend, not Virginia specifically] seems like a mixture of totally legit, supportable anti-statist stuff, pointing out that there's no legal/police solutions to social problems, and any new gun control legislation will be enforced by the cops and the courts, and so used as one more way to brutally oppress minorities while letting the rich off the hook, etc, combined with other stuff that, from a distance, comes across as "Americans being weird", like posting pictures of their assault rifles on social media as if they were particularly instagram-worthy cupcakes or whatever. And generally speaking, where there's divisive "culture war" issues that split the working class along lines that aren't clearly pro- or anti-oppression, I can see the logic of refusing to line up neatly with either camp but instead trying to split both apart, in practice I imagine it must be quite difficult to relate to both gun owners who want to defend their gun rights and to school kids who don't want to get shot though.
Anyway, I can appreciate a lot of the thinking behind things like last month's intervention into the pro-gun rallies in Virginia, there is some stuff I found troubling though - I think it was in a Final Straw interview with the Red Strings & Maroons guy where he was talking about the proposal to introduce "red flag" laws where if you know someone who you think is unstable and shouldn't be around guns, you can report them, and he was criticising this on the grounds that friends or family members might be making these calls that should only be made by trained mental health professionals. That didn't sound like a particularly great anarchist/anti-authoritarian position to me, but I suppose it is a difficult subject to navigate.

sherbu-kteer

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think the IG post I mentioned was from the Virginia protests, yeah. I agree roughly with what you're saying -- if gun control legislation is ever gonna be implemented it's not gonna be done in an egalitarian manner. And in practice it would be hard to balance these concerns with the very reasonable demands of the kids that did things like wildcat from school in protest over the lax gun laws and their links to school shootings.

I think part of the reason the pro-gun left makes me uncomfortable is the way it is framed in terms of liberal rights (second amendment, property ownership) and an instant equation of guns with freedom. The US working class is one of the most armed in the western world yet it is also one of the most exploited and oppressed, relative to other western democracies. And the most exploited sectors of that class -- black people, Latinos, etc -- show clear majorities in favour of tighter gun control. This poll is from 2010 and was the easiest one I could find through Google but I'm certain I've seen more recent ones backing it up:

I don't envy American radicals trying to deal with this issue -- there's not really any easy solutions or paths forward. American gun culture is a strange beast

R Totale

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer

I think part of the reason the pro-gun left makes me uncomfortable is the way it is framed in terms of liberal rights (second amendment, property ownership) and an instant equation of guns with freedom. The US working class is one of the most armed in the western world yet it is also one of the most exploited and oppressed, relative to other western democracies.

Oh, that has reminded me of something else that always annoys me - I've seen this quote floating round a bit:

which is always presented in this kind of disembodied, "well, if Marx said it it must be true" way, without any consideration as to whether it was meant as an eternal commandment or a response to a specific situation - it seems to be from an 1850 address to the Communist League, in circumstances that might be considered to be a wee bit different to the contemporary US situation.

comradeEmma

2 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think one should underestimate the need for armed organizing, especially in anti-fascist purposes. The police will never defend an organized working-class against the offensives that the capitalists will throw at them, or even the offensives the police themselves will carry out and support. Of course one should not larp like the red guards or brag about shooting at gun ranges like the SRA but having like your own self-defense groups organized in a broader manner is desirable. Which was typical in the early labor movement across Europe and in America during the late 30's, like the union defense groups against the silver shirts in Minnesota. This union guard did not need to enter into any open skirmishes, they scared of the fascists by simply showing of their numbers, discipline and willingness to defend the victories they had won.

In other words I don't think one should just talk about guns, they are simply a tool that can be used in some forms of organizing. There are still Americans old enough to remember Greensboro massacre and I think it should be remembered by the left also.

(It is also worth noting that gun regulation has almost never been against rich(er) whites, it is almost always aimed at like black liberation groups like Black Panther Party.)

Spikymike

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A brief comment on the Biden victory over Sanders and the turn of radical support from the later to the former more recently:
https://anarchistcommunism.org/2020/04/30/noam-chomsky-ex-leaders-of-sds-support-biden/

comradeEmma

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Glad to see that DSA has not caved in to support Biden, following the resolution they passed on the question during their last convention. The debate around creating an independent workers party is very interesting and I hope it turns into something fruitful. This is one of the first times that there has been a large socialist organisation and a labor resurgence at the same time in a pretty long while, as opposed to the other times where people have tried to form labor parties in the US. The section that wants a new party seems pretty centered around the left-wing cacuses and like Bread & Roses. Red Star Cacus in San Francisco wrote this pamphlet on the question. There are still a Democrat-loyal faction dressed up in "labor politics", as shown in this lecture by one leading figure.

Spikymike

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But their 'Workers Party' is mostly still envisaged, at best, as just a Left wing Social Democratic party on the model of the earlier European social democratic parties that made gains in a different historical period to the present.

comradeEmma

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think it depends on what you mean. They are not aiming for copying the programme of the old social-democratic workers parties, or their labor bureaucracy. What I think some cacuses, like Bread & Roses, take influence from is the democratic structure of these old workers parties("freedom in debate, unity in action" as Bebel wrote) and merging socialists and the organized working-class, i.e basing socialist politics on having a base in workers organisations.

To be fair also, the linked pamphlet draws on experiences of CPUSA and other minority cacuses like Collective Power Network have also drawn on the experiences of CPUSA by republishing an old CPUSA organizing handbook.

Spikymike

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There are differing views as between different 'factions' within the DSA it's true and the alternative CPUSA despite the workplace/union militancy of many of it's members is hardly an inspiring model in terms of it's wider politics to put it mildly!

klas batalo

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

the manual mentioned:

https://dsaorganizer.org/2020/03/21/the-communist-party-how-it-works/

though tbh i prefer the manual mentioned in the red star pamphlet because i believe it is reflective of the third period lessons, though certainly right on the cusp of the start of the popular front

https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/cpusa/1935/07/organisers-manual/index.htm

R Totale

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe this is just me, but it seems like not the most interesting conversation to be having at the moment? Are Red Star Caucus involved in TANC?

comradeEmma

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think it is still relevant to the topic of the thread, I haven't seen this debate grow to such "mainstreams" in the left before.

I can't actually find if they have been involved in TANC(I think its primarily Marxist Center people?), most of the recent "mass work" seems to have been supporting local union struggles with the ILWU.

R Totale

2 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh yeah, I wasn't saying you were wrong to post about it, it does fall under "north american left trends", I was just saying that if I was in or around the DSA I wouldn't really find it to be the most interesting thing to be thinking about right now.

R Totale

2 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One North American left trend I'd noticed a bit - it seems like a few IWOC/GDC groups have now set up as independent formations, so Oakland IWOC is now Oakland Abolition & Solidarity, Gainesville IWOC is now Florida Prison Solidarity, London IWOC has become Prisoner Solidarity Network (although it looks like they're still a part of the IWW), the Twin Cities GDC became Workers Defense Alliance and so on. The most fully worked-out statement I've seen of the thinking behind this was from the Oakland folk. Anyone got any thoughts about all this? Is it just a bunch of local factors, and/or the kind of stuff that shouldn't be discussed in public, or are there any lessons to be learned, conclusions to be drawn, etc?

redsdisease

2 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I haven't been involved in IWOC for quite some time, so take everything that I say with a large grain of salt, but I think that there might be two things kind of happening:

-One is that it's relationship to the rest of the IWW has always seemed a little bit tenuous, imo. The local that I was part of had at least as many members from the local ABC chapter as IWW members, and I believe that this dynamic of a mix of IWW members and non-IWW activists is pretty common in IWOC chapters. I think a lot of people questioned whether being part of the IWW had any real benefit for doing the work that that we were doing. I suspect that some folks outside of the IWW were kind of suspicious of the more bureaucratic elements of being part of a membership organization while some people in the IWW were skeptical of IWOC as a whole. I don't want to generalize or blow anything out of proportion, there never any big rifts or to-dos, but it was never a very tight fit either.

-The other is that the immense difficulty of IWOC's primary goal, creating a revolutionary union for prisoners, started to become clear as people engaged in the work more and more. IWOC started in the midst of a fairly remarkable wave of prisoner strikes and uprisings, and as that began to wane, I think it became clear that outside activists had a pretty limited ability to affect events on the inside. Union organizing is difficult; organizing a prisoner's union is much, much more difficult; trying to organize a prisoner's union from the outside by correspondence begins to look a little ridiculous at a certain point. So I think that a lot of IWOC locals started to pare back their goals from organizing a union to doing more basic solidarity work for whatever activities people inside the prison system were engaged in. At that point, if your goal isn't union organizing then your existence as an arm of a union seems to make less sense. It was never explicit, but I feel like that was a large reason that my IWOC chapter folded.

The Oakland IWOC statement seemed to make a lot of sense to me, though I kind of felt like they discounted some of the advantages of being part of a national network. National IWOC was extremely helpful for our group in getting off the ground. I think it's probably a loss for newer or smaller groups to lose connection with really established groups like Oakland or Gainesville IWOC. That said, I'm not sure if it's actually that big of a split so much as a natural and somewhat predictable parting of ways due to different priorities

...or maybe there was some big blow-up behind the scenes, idk.

R Totale

2 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, that all makes sense to me. I guess there is a certain tension baked into IWOC as an organisation that wants to be prisoner-led, vs being one small component of a larger organisation that uses democratic decision-making, and there's not always a neat solution to that. And yeah, I can appreciate that organising a union at work is tough enough, but being in a situation where the boss has almost total control over what gets in and out, and can send troublemakers to indefinite periods of solitary confinement with almost any pretext, is a whole other level of difficulty.

And yeah, I definitely hope that the groups like Oakland and Gainesville continue to maintain good working relationships with those groups that stay members, everything I've seen so far kind of points in that direction but I don't know if I'm missing something too.

Spikymike

1 year 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So I thought this was interesting in it's reflection on what went wrong and where to go now for the broader left in the UK and the USA on the back of the failed Corbynista revolt in the UK Labour Party and the disappointing outcomes for the USA Left/DSA in the failed Sanders challenge to the now Biden victory over Trump. It starts off with a trenchant critique of the disastrous left love affair with the UK Labour Party since it's inception that will be familiar with libcom readers and a plea for anyone with radical or revolutionary politics to steer a different course starting, as it were, from the bottom up, rooted in the everyday class struggle. It refers to the discussions in the USA/DSA 'base-building-strategy' that seem to have overlaps with some of the IWW discussion on this site. There are also cross references to the 'Angry Workers of the World' and to 'Plan C' as well as the more recent small 'base unions', and to the USA and UK 'Marxist Centres'. It's alternative strategy charts an obligatory and convoluted course through a serious of very selective quotes from Lenin and more particularly Trotsky in it's justification.
Despite expectations in the beginning it does not of course end up going full anti-electoral and warns against flirting with Left Communism. Still a recognition of the need to abandon all hopes in the Labour Party as even an effective defence of working class interests and the need to rebuild a more independent class struggle is positive....if it wasn't for the more likely effort here to belatedly salvage something from the existing remnants of the dispersed left wing groups without any serious re-examination of their flawed analysis of modern capitalism and failure to escape reformism. Using the same language of others, whether it be the AWW's 'Letsgetrooted' networking, revolutionary syndicalism, or even Left Communism is something to be at least wary of in all our efforts to reconnect our vision of a genuine alternative to global capitalism with a resurgence of independent class struggle.
Its here: https://cosmonaut.blog/2021/01/29/escaping-the-labour-left-safety-valve-towards-dual-power-in-britain/
I'd be interested in what other libcom readers/posters make of all this?

Battlescarred

1 year 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just more of the same old stale politics , I'm afraid. To place any hope in any of the groups mentioned is beyond belief .RS21, an attempt by ex-SWP members to go back to the early days of the IS, yet still unrelentingly Bolshevik; Anti*Capitalist Resistance, a lash up of two terminally ill groups that have issued out of the fragments of USFI Trotskyism, still stuck up the arse of the Labour Party; Red Fightback, a nasty little split from the Revolutionary Communist Group. To place these next to "a more diffuse extra-parliamentary left including collectives organizing against carceral and border violence, small trade unions representing precarious workers and migrants, and organizations in the autonomist and left-communist traditions like Angry Workers of the World" is absurd. And yes, the failure to fully condone anti-parliamentary and anti-electoralist politics condemns it.

R Totale

1 year 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, the proof is in the pudding I suppose. A lot of the things that writer says I'd broadly agree with, even if I wouldn't use the same Leninist/Trotskyist reference points, but then back in 2015/16 there were Momentum types saying all sorts of things that sounded good about the importance of grassroots workplace and community organising and so on, and we've all seen how that turned out. Didn't realise the UK had a "Marxist Centre" now, but again, it remains to be seen what, if anything, their practical activity will look like.

sherbu-kteer

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Since late 2019, a number of people have resigned from Black Rose/Rosa Negra. Out of the 59 people who left, 33 of them have signed on to this statement:

https://medium.com/@thistlewritingcollective/every-rose-has-its-thorn-74fe04ba04ed

They essentially state that the organisation had a lack of commitment towards applying the feminism they nominally stood for. The main points they give are:

- Soft Power and the Weaponization of Bureaucracy
- Inability to Disagree
- Accountability
- Performative Politics and the Tokenization of Feminist Labor
- Inability to Respond

The conclusion seems to indicate that they're still interested in organised anarchism and will be using their experience in future projects, which makes me hopeful.

Spikymike

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sherbu-kteer, Thanks for this but please include a short introduction rather than post an unidentified link for anything else related to this libcom thread.

sherbu-kteer

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

My bad. Edited in a quick description.

Reddebrek

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike

I'd be interested in what other libcom readers/posters make of all this?

Seems pretty typical of the Cosmo group

I don't know, it seems for lack of a better word to be very studenty in its framing, it puts a lot of faith in quotations and seems to use the fame of the quoted to do the work of the argument for them. And examples of negatives like Lenin on joining the labour party are explained away as mistakes.

For example

‘Marxists, who wish to oppose the present state rather than to manage it loyally, can then only be in partial unity with the loyalist [i.e. reformist] wing of the workers’ movement. We can bloc with them on particular issues. We can and will take membership in parties and organisations they control – and violate their constitutional rules and discipline – in order to fight their politics. But we have to organise ourselves independently of them. That means that we need our own press, finances, leadership committees, conferences, branches and other organisations.’

This is a quote from Macnair and is used as a strategy to adopt, but its literally Militant's entryism logic, the strategy that has failed every time its been tried, and based on the title you'd think the author would be arguing the opposite.

The only to square this I can think of is if the author thinks the problem wasn't the strategy but that the entryiers were too small and weak when they gave it a try, so is suggesting that this independent marxist force should spend its time building up a strong and entrenched independent movement and then start joining Labour and the TUC to give it a go.

Dual power strategy should further address the role of working people’s councils at the district level. The surviving ‘Leninist’ parties in Britain have largely forgotten the need for independent working-class self-organisation capable of displacing the capitalist state machine, amounting to a paradoxical situation of ‘Bolsheviks without soviets’.

The hell does this mean? What strategy? It jumps from saying the revolutionary left needs to do things to acting like this is sufficient to Like base building, Dual power strategy is just jargon repeated because its what these types favourite thinkers said in their best sellers.

This is another recent political trend I've noticed amongst a lot of the new north American left that's popping up elsewhere. They don't know what they actually want, I went back and check and base building and dual power are never explained despite apparently being the most important features of a successful movement.

So they just commit themselves to these strategies that sound impressive when you don't scrutinise them. But when you do just give them even a slight bit of thought they don't make sense. This article doesn't make sense, if you assume they're being genuine at the beginning. It isn't escaping the labour safety valve its sad that they can't replace it with another.

R Totale

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also on that article, of all things that you could possibly criticise the SWP for, saying that they're too obsessed with workers’ self-activity is a very weird one. And looking it up, their source for their criticisms of the SWP appears to be one of the obscure splinters that came out of the break-up of the WRP. What relevance that has to all the article's talk about "shakeup and rethinking within the radical left milieu", "a strategic orientation towards building counter-power and planting deep roots in working-class communities" and so on is anyone's guess.

comradeEmma

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Seems pretty typical of the Cosmo group

That really depends on what you mean by the "cosmo group", the people I have talked to around cosmonaut disagree with the usage of "dual power" and "base building".

Some of the Cosmo group are currently doing preparations for the DSA convention.

R Totale

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That looks a bit - well, a lot - electorally focused to me. Frankly, I'd take vague platitudes about base building over a socialist slate for the House any day.

sherbu-kteer

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Response to aforementioned critique of Black Rose from another former member:

https://twitter.com/WildfiresSunse1/status/1366993605127200769?s=20

Black Badger

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

too bad it's only on twitter

sherbu-kteer

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah it's annoying. Why do people insist on awkwardly spreading a few hundred words of info across many tweets, when you could write a single coherent blog post? Oh well.

There's some responses from supporters of the medium letter to these tweets in the replies.

ajjohnstone

1 year 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

misplaced post - apologies