Anarchists in australia

88 posts / 0 new
Last post
mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 23 2007 02:57

You make some good points Mark although, to my mind, they get a bit lost in the anger or something. Chill out – everyone on this site is on the same side and we all want to work out the best way to get us beyond the present nightmare of a joke of a social order.

Mark - ”- It's all that simple is it! come on mike! - what about the objective realities of today - such issues as the progress of the employer offensive - intense speedups, longer shifts, low morale discouraging workers getting involved in anticapitalist groupings -the iww or any other group - unless the long range serious work has been done in their workplaces which the iww and leftist sects don't do”

Me: - To my mind a lot of ideas are already floating around and a general unease is growing. All the problems you mention are at the present time being masked by a prevailing prosperity as the trade cycle continues upward. When it turns south is when people will really notice the infrastructure of repression – from workplace to “security” – that has been put in place over the last decade. Then also a lot of the increasing environmental problems such as global worming (first in a list of many) will start to become obvious to even the dullest of boneheads. (I hope very much, of course, that the economy never turns down again and that global warming turns out to be a mistake because both will cause much pain to working people – anyone like to give me odds?) Then we will see the real return of the class war complete with populist/fascist groupings rampant, violent nationalism, pig ignorant politicians cheering them on and the works. Is the IWW ready for this? No. Can we get ready by fewer and fewer of us running about faster and faster to create an illusion of numbers and getting bad tempered and self righteous in the process? No. We will maintain our sense of humour if nothing else. We will increase our output of material as we get the resources to do so. We will organise as the fellow workers come to hand or at least provide the framework so that they can organise themselves. So we will tap into the mood of the people who will recognise in the IWW their authentic voice. As, I believe, we are.

You can have your grandiose vision I can have mine. If it doesn’t turn out that way we in the IWW will already be trying something else.

Look, sorry, but your sounding like some right wing self-help guru. We could change things if only we worked harder and planned better? We really are the undeserving poor aren’t we? Let us get real. We are forty or fifty people out of a national working class of what? Fifteen million? Not all the membership is going to be active at any one time. I suppose we could berate them more but lets not go down that pathway. We really, really, do need to get out of the ghetto. To get to that critical mass. Yes, Mark, I believe it is that easy - the only way we will do that is if people who agree with us join up and help. Even then we will be starting from a long way back but quantity does become quality at certain points even if Uncle Karl did say so. And it is not linear – a doubling of numbers could easily see a quadrupling of output and an extension of ideas and influence much more than that. Such is how feedback loops work.

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 18 2013 22:16

*

@ndy's picture
@ndy
Offline
Joined: 17-03-06
Feb 23 2007 05:54
Quote:
I don't think that Marks' tone has been out of order. He's just making points that I tend to agree with and that unsettles some people. That is, that the current libertarian left, whilst advocates of anarchist theory, do not offer a praxis distingishable from various groups such as the bolshies all the way through to greenpeace - i.e. activism, with all its alienating behaviour and subcultural values. I think the fact that I can even use the term libertarian Left is problematic. We don't have anything in common with the traditional left and should be distancing our selves from it.

Jason,

I don't think Mark's tone has been "out of order" either. On the contrary, his diatribes -- whether viewed in terms of tone, structure, or content -- are remarkably consistent. In fact, he's been saying the same things -- over and over and over and over and over and over and over again -- for at least the last 15 years or so. Thus, while I don't know specifically which points you are in agreement with, from my perspective, the points Mark makes are either banal -- ie, bosses place numerous obstacles in the way of worker's organising -- or kinda bizarre, and based on all kinds of erroneous assumptions about others' views, perspectives, backgrounds, and 'real' interests. I'm not 'unsettled' by Mark's writings, rather bored; and surprised anyone takes them seriously, especially in light of his own 'praxis'.

As for the current libertarian left, its advocacy of anarchist theory, and its resemblance to the political practices of Greenpeace and Bolshevism, you identify the common problem of all these groups and ideologies as being 'activism'... an interesting argument, but how does it relate to radical strategies in the workplace? And what does it have to do with the above?

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 23 2007 07:44

I agree that personalities should be kept out of the discussion as much as possible so that we can look at the issues. If I have been guilty I apologise. When I get moving I tend to adopt a somewhat mocking, (to me) humorous tone and I know it riles some people but I can't seem to stop it. And with some people I know it riles them and I do it deliberately - but not on this site.

Jason what, in your view, would "a praxis distinguishable from various groups such as the bolshies all the way through to greenpeace" look like? All I have heard is handing out fliers outside bus depots. The Communist Party of Australia were doing that sort of stuff all through the thirties, forties, fifties and half way through the sixties when even their membership got jack of it. I mean there is a reason sections of the left broke of and started counter-culturing and some of that reason was the absolute grimness and griminess of the official left with its cults of workeritis and sacrifice and its authoritarianism and its moral deadness.

Long term strategic planning? Charlie Reeve (IWW organiser & one of the twelve)1915: “The present goal for which they were stressing was the control of transportation and mining, and once they assumed complete control of those industries they could do more good for the workers than Parliament could do in twenty years.” A year later he was in nick and the union was fighting for its life. This is the problem with fixed objectives – circumstances change around you.

To my mind we do not need a new praxis – we need to go back to an older one of revolt (including revolt against work), cultural proletarian autonomy and self-reliance as it was pushed by my union in its glory years. We need to create an attitude “Let labor be scornful, sullen and proud” as Monty Miller put it. We need to give a hope for the future and a way for rebels to assert themselves, collectively and individually, in the here and now. We need to create a situation where such rebellion is supported and nurtured by others of their class. Finally we should be thinking to create a defence mechanism so that the operation can not be would up as easily by the ruling class as it was in 1917. The CNT in Spain survived several periods of illegality equally as brutal or more so.

asn
Offline
Joined: 2-01-07
Feb 23 2007 14:23

"Look, sorry, but your sounding like some right wing self-help guru. We could change things if only we worked harder and planned better? We really are the undeserving poor "aren’t we? Let us get real. We are forty or fifty people out of a national working class of what? Fifteen million? Not all the membership is going to be active at any one time. I suppose we could berate them more but lets not go down that pathway. We really, really, do need to get out of the ghetto. To get to that critical mass. Yes, Mark, I believe it is that easy - the only way we will do that is if people who agree with us join up and help. Even then we will be starting from a long way back but quantity does become quality at certain points even if Uncle Karl did say so. And it is not linear – a doubling of numbers could easily see a quadrupling of output and an extension of ideas and influence much more than that. Such is how feedback loops work.
-
40-50 people who were reliable and consistent and experienced who were ensuring the publication of local editions workplace papers in all states in a strategic sector such as transport would be a great step forward - an extensive readership and network of on the job and off the job activists would develop around such publications - as is occuring with sparks in nsw and the deceased victorian sparks -which despite jason's mythology actually had a significant outside the job involvement as have had all syndicalist industrial publications and movements to my knowledge. As outlined in that article on our website archive "Anarcho-Syndicalism: Catalyst for workers self organisation" and relevant editions of sparks- strategic organising in the form of the sparks project has assisted militants activity in slowing down the employer offensive - preventing moves for resturing of the nsw railways for privatisation in late 1999. If this restructuring had been successful - there would have been a privatisation surge throught the rest of public transport and the public sector in nsw and probably other states
- some thing similar to this happened during the depression with major wage cuts imposed in the NSW railways being generalised throughout australian industry
- it was seen by the Govt/bosses as a soft spot due to the low morale of rail workers following the disastrous outcome of the great strike of 1917. Any evidence contradicting Mike's sect building and churning out of pointless abstract propaganda outlook is totally ignored.

Long term strategic planning? Charlie Reeve (IWW organiser & one of the twelve)1915: “The present goal for which they were stressing was the control of transportation and mining, and once they assumed complete control of those industries they could do more good for the workers than Parliament could do in twenty years.” A year later he was in nick and the union was fighting for its life. This is the problem with fixed objectives – circumstances change around you.

- and circumstances have indeed changed mike - tranport is even more important today in the capitalist economy- due to new strategies of capital - containerisation, just in time, more chain shops and lean production techniques and its ever more important to build a syndicalist movement there - so as to assist syndicalist organising drivers in many different sectors - the bosses and the Howard Govt and most militant workers know how it important it is - witness the 1998 maritime dispute - but not mike, the inhabitant of sect land - and mike, don't transport workers play a critical role in the various imperialist adventures - of the USA today? - without the transport of supplies the wheels of the war machine would soon cease moving.

Jason what, in your view, would "a praxis distinguishable from various groups such as the bolshies all the way through to greenpeace" look like? All I have heard is handing out fliers outside bus depots.

- mike, that's because of your sect inhabitant ignorance perhaps? -
" The Communist Party of Australia were doing that sort of stuff all through the thirties, forties, fifties and half way through the sixties when even their membership got jack of it."

- its little industrial newsheets played a valuable role in assisting workers struggles on the job - see "the relevant essay in a "A Few Rough Reds" the absence of such sheets in many industries since the demise of the CPA must be seen as contributing to the success of the employer offensive (a phenomena according to your earlier comments you've never heard of!) -one such publication - the "Hoist" played an important role in the emergence of the rank and file movement in the NSW BLF in the 1950's which subsequently took a syndicalist direction leading to spectacular workers control actions like the green bans, workins - see "Green Bans, Red Union" by the Burgman sisters and Paul True's "Rolling the Right" on the 1950's and 1960's.

I mean there is a reason sections of the left broke of and started counter-culturing and some of that reason was the absolute grimness and griminess of the official left with its cults of workeritis and sacrifice and its authoritarianism and its moral deadness.

- Tom O'Lincoln's "Into the Mainstream" focuses a bit of light on the destalination process
in the Communist Party - and the associated ferment - which had expression in the form of a workers control and self management push particularly in the case of the NSW BLF - however a social democratic tendency became predominant - with the support of most CPA union officials and there was a successful counter attack by employers in certain sectors like in the nsw building industry in the mid 1970's -eventually this social democratic grouping - was successful in gettingthe party dissolved and many of them have gone on to do real skulduggery for the rightwing alp machine in nsw for example - all this contributed to the decline of outside the job organisation to support on the job activity
and the low morale and disarray of militants -
today the ASN has taken over from the CPA in many respects in sectors like the railways/buses/wharves
but heavily emphasising grass roots control, democratic unionism and direct action
incidently there is a few ex-CPA members in the sparks network -
- this is I think is a more accurate analysis than mike's rubbish about militants moving to the counter culture
mark

-

mikabill
Offline
Joined: 28-01-07
Feb 24 2007 02:04

i just spent ages writing a comment to loose it because i wasnt logged in but the jist of it was the anarchist movement in Australia but esp Adelaide is non existent with contact details bouncing or not answered. what a pity with a movement that seems to answer lifes questions.

bill

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 24 2007 03:50

i just spent ages writing a comment to loose it because i wasnt logged in but the jist of it was the anarchist movement in Australia but esp Adelaide is non existent with contact details bouncing or not answered.

They're probably just avoiding Green Party people. You weren't sending how to vote cards were you? :wink:

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 24 2007 04:01
Quote:
@ndy: As for the current libertarian left, its advocacy of anarchist theory, and its resemblance to the political practices of Greenpeace and Bolshevism, you identify the common problem of all these groups and ideologies as being 'activism'... an interesting argument, but how does it relate to radical strategies in the workplace? And what does it have to do with the above?

It was mainly addressed at Mike's comments quoted below for clarity, which I think are a little problematic and needs further discussion. Another time maybe? And also Mark's comments that the IWW is percieved by most as another leftist sect, which I agree is a problem to be over come.

It relates to radical strategies in the workplace coz if a group runs from, say, something pointless like protesting Dick Cheney's visit to saying "workers unite", people think to themselves "leftist dickheads".

Quote:
Mike wrote: I also find in Mark's position an implied suggestion that people engaging in various types of one issue campaigns - green issues, peace issues, human rights, refugees and the rest - are also somewhat tainted. (Please excuse if this is not intended.) To me this is an absolutely suicidal position for a movement such as ours. All these issues, properly looked at, are at their roots class issues. It is quite correct that people should try to mitigate these things through other organisations and voluntary associations - the more such the better.

I Also recently saw the latest newsletter from the MACG. I was a little disappointed because in my mind it was practically indistinguishable from any Bolshie or left labor literature.

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 24 2007 04:12
mikeX342055 wrote:
Jason what, in your view, would "a praxis distinguishable from various groups such as the bolshies all the way through to greenpeace" look like? All I have heard is handing out fliers outside bus depots. The Communist Party of Australia were doing that sort of stuff all through the thirties, forties, fifties and half way through the sixties when even their membership got jack of it. I mean there is a reason sections of the left broke of and started counter-culturing and some of that reason was the absolute grimness and griminess of the official left with its cults of workeritis and sacrifice and its authoritarianism and its moral deadness.

Dual card network of militants is cool. (Like I said a few times, I see IWW and ASN as complimentary and have pointed out a few times that I thought Mark was a bit harsh.) When I was in Bris IWW, however, we were involved in anti-globalist, anti-WTO protests. That ain't cool.

Regarding handing out flyers: I hate it and think its pointless. Mark seemed to be coming from the angle of soliciting people's input and facilitating distribution in a heavily monitored workplace. I can't argue with that. Of course anyone outside an industry attempting to organise said industry should be put against a wall. It seems to me the ASN approach is one of facilitation rather than organisation and I'm keen to find out more.

Quote:
To my mind we do not need a new praxis – we need to go back to an older one

Fuckin A. That's what I was trying to say. The fact is we're in a period of low class conflict so there's a vacuum being filled by liberal activists. We gotta distance ourselves from this and strategise for the near future when the latest employer offensive creates a backlash.

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 24 2007 04:30

And finally, to end a long day with a new format that gives me a headache:

I never said the following:

Quote:
sparks in nsw and the deceased victorian sparks -which despite jason's mythology actually had a significant outside the job involvement as have had all syndicalist industrial publications and movements to my knowledge.

I think you got the wrong guy there. No hard feelings if it was an honest mistake. I know how tiresome it is cutting and pasting all over the show.

mikabill
Offline
Joined: 28-01-07
Feb 24 2007 06:06

anarchist-interested-australia No i wasnt Jason but have to agree on the new format
bill

asn
Offline
Joined: 2-01-07
Feb 24 2007 10:21

just a few points re jason's point
re "heavily monitored workplaces" - that's certainly the case - one militant in the railways some years back reported suddenly discovering that he'd been "followed around" by investigators for a year! interviewing everyone he spoke to and that even his home had been "illegally" broken into by the cops due to his militant activity -
the rail bosses have of course enormous resources and state connections for this sort of thing
- also the rightwing alp machine which is often interwoven with the bosses, the union hierarchy and a layer of bosses stooges on the job throughout the railways and the buses also plays a key role in monitoring - militants and having them harassed and setup for the sack - particularly in the railways "this layer" is interconnected with a criminal network involving the bosses and is engaged in massive corruption.
- a militant at one bus depot during the leadup to finalising an enterprise agreement some years back- reported being followed literally every where he went by bosses stooges - in other workplaces - the situation isn't so repressive
- additionally there is special legislation outlawing the distro of "unauthorised" publications in the railways
- in sept 1999 references to this legislation was pinned up throughout the railways to intimidate militants issuing and distro of leaflets to counter preprivatisation restructuring
- cctvs are also used for targeting individual workers- at central station in sydney - there are more cctvs than workers
-
mark

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 25 2007 09:57

As just about always I speak only for myself not the IWW where, as in any healthy organisation, opinions differ about many things.

Jason I think the sad fact is that whatever we do a significant majority of our class are going to think "dickhead". That is just the way things are these conservative times. If we waited until with had unanimity of approval from the class before we did anything we would be sitting around a long time. Some people might think it weird that a person could go from protesting an American warmonger to trying to organise workers. On the other hand others might think it rather an odd situation that you could care so passionately about the conditions of bus drivers and not care about the 600 000 or so, mostly of our class, killed in Iraq or the thousand or so kids (all from our class) dieing just about every day for lack of clean drinking water in third world countries while the filth tries to privatise water ownership and supply. To me it is all one struggle. I am pretty open about how people choose to engage in it or set their own priorities. They are big enough to make up their own minds. In fact we should insist that they do. The union is there to give their efforts more effect by linking them up in solidarity one with another - not to try and tell them how to think and behave. Not in any way denying that the workplace organisation is the key to change and the thing that will turn the world upside down. Just don't like to see any fellow workers narrowing themselves.

To say "I am more authentically working class than you because I have handed out leaflets outside a bus depo while all you have done is engaged in middle class protests" comes across as incredibly self-righteous. (Unless the protesters really are from the ruling class of course.) I am not saying it is self-righteous I am saying it comes across that way. It sounds like a power play - like someone setting themselves higher up on some ladder of ideological purity and thereby gaining the right to look down upon fellow workers and comrades and designate them some inferior place in the scheme of things. Workers suffered much from tendencies with this sort of puritanical outlook during the last century and should be on their guard.

Workers should certainly be on the lookout to avoid sects of every description.

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 26 2007 00:12

I can't believe you care so much about the Iraqis, what with all the hunger and rapes in the Darfur, etc, etc, etc ....

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 26 2007 11:48

Fair point.

Except "our" (by which of course I mean their) country did participate pretty much as one of three that invaded and conquered another peoples. It was our taxes used and our passivity that allowed it to happen. To me that sort of creates an extra connection.

Are you saying that because there is a greater atrocity somewhere else it is phoney to protest against a smaller one? If that is the case we should all drop things like working conditions and transport workers and concentrate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo probably.

Why exactly should not Australian activists work on global justice issues? Because the people effected are far away or a different colour or something? What exactly is the basis for where you are drawing your lines for including and excluding people from basic solidarity?

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Feb 27 2007 00:31
Quote:
Are you saying that because there is a greater atrocity somewhere else it is phoney to protest against a smaller one?

No. I was attempting to highlight the activist mentality of running from to crisis to crisis, issue to issue, spreading yourself so thin and achieving nothing.

Why the Iraq war? Coz our leaders are engaged in it? I'm not sure anyone would notice if the Aus contingent pulled out, being as it is a symbolic gesture aimed at alliance strengthening. But fair enough, its a proximal issue and let's say for arguments sake a win over the ruling class would be nice for morale, so what do we do about it?

Seems to me that capitalists laugh at protests. I think this avenue's been exhausted and shown to get nil results. Further, It highlights people's powerlessness rather than our stength as the source of the reproduction of this social order. It takes the realm of contest out of the workplace and on to the "streets", so theoretically you could benefit from capitalism but still be involved in anti-war action, since it boils down to asking a certain faction of the bourgoisie to "please be nice". Which sets the stage for the movement to be reformist rather than radical by virtue of its demographic participation, "civil society" no less.

Running from protest to protest seems to me to recreate two situations: a) continual defeat, nil results, low morale and b) a quasi-class of alienating activists who just can't understand why people are so apathetic and don't spend all their spare time at pointless protests.

The simple fact is that the Australian working class is too decomposed and weak to offer any practical assistance to any issue, domestic or international. So:

Quote:
Why exactly should not Australian activists work on global justice issues?

Australian activists should work on global justice, Australian revolutionaries need to focus on class recomposition.

@ndy's picture
@ndy
Offline
Joined: 17-03-06
Feb 27 2007 02:36

Jason wrote :

    It relates to radical strategies in the workplace coz if a group runs from, say, something pointless like protesting Dick Cheney's visit to saying "workers unite", people think to themselves "leftist dickheads".

Uh-huh. Well, I dunno. But: I think that if the IWW or any other radical workers' organisation is to distinguish itself from 'leftist dickheads', then it's gotta act differently. That doesn't mean attending or not attending a protest against Cheney or some other war criminal, but developing the ability to take effective action to improve working conditions. This is difficult enough, especially with a tiny membership base scattered across a number of industries. At the same time, the IWW and other groups need to avoid becoming a mere adjunct to a social democratic labour movement, and doing their dirty work in terms of organising the previously unorganised into the mainstream trade union racket.

Mark wrote :

    40-50 people who... ensur[ed] the publication of local editions [of] workplace papers in all states in a strategic sector such as transport would be a great step forward - an extensive readership and network of on the job and off the job activists would develop around such publications - as is occuring with sparks in nsw and the deceased victorian sparks - which despite jason's mythology actually had a significant [amount of] outside the job involvement as have had all syndicalist industrial publications and movements to my knowledge.

The Victorian edition of Sparks (1987--1991) was produced by 4-5 workplace militants. The NSW edition of Sparks is produced by Mark, who is not employed in transport.

The point is not whether or not workplace publications receive 'outside' support, but whether or not the paper is produced by and for workers in a particular industry (and that's not just wandering around asking 'What's happening? What's happening?'). "None so fitted to break the chains as they who wear them, none so well equipped to decide what is a fetter": pretty fucking elementary.

@ndy's picture
@ndy
Offline
Joined: 17-03-06
Feb 27 2007 02:37

Jason wrote :

    It relates to radical strategies in the workplace coz if a group runs from, say, something pointless like protesting Dick Cheney's visit to saying "workers unite", people think to themselves "leftist dickheads".

Uh-huh. Well, I dunno. But: I think that if the IWW or any other radical workers' organisation is to distinguish itself from 'leftist dickheads', then it's gotta act differently. That doesn't mean attending or not attending a protest against Cheney or some other war criminal, but developing the ability to take effective action to improve working conditions. This is difficult enough, especially with a tiny membership base scattered across a number of industries. At the same time, the IWW and other groups need to avoid becoming a mere adjunct to a social democratic labour movement, and doing their dirty work in terms of organising the previously unorganised into the mainstream trade union racket.

Mark wrote :

    40-50 people who... ensur[ed] the publication of local editions [of] workplace papers in all states in a strategic sector such as transport would be a great step forward - an extensive readership and network of on the job and off the job activists would develop around such publications - as is occuring with sparks in nsw and the deceased victorian sparks - which despite jason's mythology actually had a significant [amount of] outside the job involvement as have had all syndicalist industrial publications and movements to my knowledge.

The Victorian edition of Sparks (1987--1991) was produced by 4-5 workplace militants. The NSW edition of Sparks is produced by Mark, who is not employed in transport.

The point is not whether or not workplace publications receive 'outside' support, but whether or not the paper is produced by and for workers in a particular industry (and that's not just wandering around asking 'What's happening? What's happening?'). "None so fitted to break the chains as they who wear them, none so well equipped to decide what is a fetter": pretty fucking elementary.

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 27 2007 10:54

Personally I do not see the harm in participating in protests providing the cause is good. Frankly I do not see the need to constantly differentiate ourselves from this or that as if we were some products on a supermarket shelf. Just find what we know is right in our own hearts and go for it is what I reckon. I believe that Australia and America would still have troops in Viet Nam today if there had not been wide ranging protests, civil unrest and, yes, industrial action against it. Least ways I do not see any reason why not - it fucking hurt them to pull out of that I am sure.

Sure the cappoes laugh at protest when they are small – mostly they are Philistines and have no more idea than their backsides - but protests get to a certain size and some of the people start asking fundamental questions like: "what is it about our system that constantly drags us into these situations?" (Personally I think militarism is much more fundamental to modern capitalism than transportation - but that’s me) and they get a bit bigger again and a lot of other people start to take up the drift and elaborate upon it. It is called radicalisation. Happens a lot. Quite a number of the anarchists my age will have been created by the Vietnam thing. Ten years older and it was "Ban the Bomb"

Even if this was not the case though, even if it had no value to the cause of socialism or anarchism whatsoever, I still think we should be there and pushing if it can bring a tragedy to an end a week earlier than otherwise. We are not apparatchiks after all. We can respond from honest emotion and not be constantly calculating the odds all the time. Sure the workplace is where we need to be if we are to change things so that protests are not necessary any more. Absolutely. But it might take a while to get there and by then number of corpses, mangled bodies and warped minds will have built up somewhat.

As usual my own opinions only.

asn
Offline
Joined: 2-01-07
Feb 27 2007 12:29

-re NSW sparks - on the job militants are certainly involved in its "production" via the control of their own articles (workers control!) totally different from the leftist sect or mainstream publications - they use their contributions - to assist them in the class struggle - its of value to them - and their fellow workers and in my previous post I have indicated its put out in very harsh and dangerous conditions - otherwise they wouln't be involved and via involvement they have been assisted in winning some incredibly important victories - defeating restructuring for privatisation of cityrail in sept 1999 and getting together an organised movement in the buses in 2002 despite extreme difficulties.
- the interview format which andy inanely constantly refers to - is just that a format - content should be more seen as workers articles and input from individual readers/supports and groups of readers/supporters on the job - these militants like this format - write their own pieces using this format and its also well recieved on the job - otherwise it would be dropped
- the conditions in which melb sparks was put out were much more favourable in the late 1980's early 1990's- due to militant traditions of vic pt workers - it was the focus of the successful 1969 general strike against the penal provisions involved the gaoling of clarrie oshea etc -
- in contrast due to a range of factors (I have refered to in previous posts) reaching back to 1917 - the conditions in NSW PT were much more harsh - requiring a radically different approach -
- the role of the NSW sparks is to stimulate and assist grass roots activity and organisation - so indeed workers on the job can break out of their chains themselves- a range of sectors where sparks began to focus upon - has seen militants some of whom have been involved in it get a lot more active re establishing their own organised movements in railways, buses, taxis - this organised activity has of course had its problems - should radically more favourable conditions - occur - nsw sparks will no doubt change
- the approach of the sectarian - is to make over generalisations failing to take account of such different histories and particular concrete conditions I have outlined above - and develop associated "rules on correct" activity - which are beyond debate and discussion and anyone breaking such rules is met with a deluge of abuse and demeaning commentary which both andy and mike funnily enough engage in
- the result of such "rules" is the existential life and impudence in regard to the class struggle of the left sect - if what they do isn't pointless - its counter productive
- regarding jason's hopes in the iww
- I think it is a possibility but an extreme long shot even in the context of major upsurge in workers struggle - due to a significant layer of psuedo church goes and elitest left subculturals - given the iww's current small size - Imagine a group of militant workers getting involved in the iww and coming into contact with the grotesque "clowning" in this discussion by such unsavoury elements - naturally they would be alienated. However these sectarians in the iww won't be doing anything against the iww constitution - and can't be expelled en masse - and outside the iww in australia - there is a much wider left subculture of activoids who would be drawn into the iww due to its, to them romantic history, at present
- in regard to the practicalities and dangers of industrial activity by syndicalist militants- informal organisation and thorough vetting - is essential - an open "organising" is of course an open door for bosses stooges and agents of the state -
which in some cases may be very difficult to identify with out contacts amongst the bosses/state/union bosses - these elements naturally would advise the bosses/union officials about planned actions, help engineering setting militants up for the sack, etc - sectarians are oblvious to these concrete realities/ practicalities
- as in the case of the syndicalist style direct action upsurge of the early 20th century - syndicalist unions like the catering workers union which emerged in that period in london - discussed in wilf mcartney's "Dare to to be Daniel" pamphlet would mushroom up - militants from these sectors involved in helping put out sparks type publications would acquire the skills, knowledge of how to evade various ambushes,snares, insights into strategy and access to printing facilities to put out grass roots/sparks style publications in these industries, but in contrast to the london catering workers would have the critical support of syndicalist transport workers who via an asn type network could co-ordinate their organising drives and massively assisting their prospects
- this spin off effect is already happening in nsw in one sector
- but if you are lost in a left sect - you are unlikely to acquire this invaluable experience and knowledge
- so I think jason is incorrect to see the asn just as a network of militants just focused on strategic organising in transport - its a catalyst - which can spread into a whole range of sectors
- in regard to strategic organising as I have outlined - leading to syndicalist sects - becoming mass unions - I'm unaware of any precedents
- in germany in 1918-19 - the syndicalist style massive rank and file upsurge in strategic sectors like ruhr coal mining and steel industries which had nothing to do with a conscious strategy but was due to the outcome of WWI
- did merge with a small syndicalist centre of a few thousand members - known as the localists - a small split from the social democratic union confederation in the late 19th century which progressively took on syndicalist features - but my impression -is that it wasn't a sect like the iww today in australia - in it was core of veteran industrial activists - to form the syndicalist union federation the - FAUD - it rapidly lost most of its strategic base with the decline in the class struggle, splits which joined communist party controlled unions, and those who wanted to be officially recognised by the state for bargaining etc - in a nut shell these workers didn't have much prior experience and knowledge of syndicalist ways and could be easily reabsorbed by orthodox/bureaucratic unionism - so we can't just rely on some big upsurge happening and mass syndicalism being born or if it does it may not last long- see the relevant essay in "Revolutionary Syndicalism" an international perspective by marcel van der linden and wayne thorpe -
- for all these reasons the priority on strategic organising is the way to go
mark

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 28 2007 09:10

No comment.

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Feb 28 2007 09:12

sec·tar·i·an

adjective
Definition:

1. of religious group: relating to or involving relations between religious groups or denominations

2. of single religious group: relating to, involved with, or devoted to a single religious group or denomination

3. dogmatic and intolerant: rigidly adhering to a set of doctrines and intolerant of other views

@ndy's picture
@ndy
Offline
Joined: 17-03-06
Feb 28 2007 15:32

'On the job militants' may well be "involved" in Sparks, but their involvement is seemingly limited to providing the raw material which you, as editor, are responsible for processing. (I've no idea why you write "production": are you implying that the paper is not "produced" by someone?) This may be an improvement on the trade union glossies -- which few read in any case -- but is quite distinct from a zine by and for workers in the industry. (It should also be noted that leftist party publications frequently include contributions from their members.) In a nutshell, absent yourself, no Sparks: and the same goes for Rebel Worker.

As for the "incredible victories" attributable in part to the "production" / production of Sparks -- yes, there was a 24 hour strike of ASU members in September 1999... and bus drivers organised in 2002 (and '03, '04, '05, '06, '07...).

And?

If the format "works", great: on this issue, as on every other issue inre Sparks, I have to take your word for it. As far as I'm aware, its "production" has been completely unremarked upon elsewhere. But after "producing" / producing over 120 issues, over more than 10 years, "what's happening" in terms of anarcho-syndicalists establishing a real presence in the industry? As far as I can tell, despite numerous issues over many years, very little: a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Inre political conditions for tramworkers in Melbourne in the late '80s / early '90s: perhaps; it's another subject. (As is the jailing of Clarrie O'Shea and the national general strike, concentrated in Victoria, which freed him -- but failed to strike out the laws, which are still on the books. And invoking, seemingly at random, and without context, such historical events, is both tedious and typical of your polemical style... such as it is). But again, whether 'favourable' or not, the crucial issue is the active involvement of transport workers themselves -- not only in producing a zine, but in having a visible presence in the industry.

In other words, workers' self-organisation.

This is what distinguishes the current edition of Sparks from its predecessor.

    ...the approach of the sectarian... is to make over-generalisations [which fail to] take [into] account... different histories and particular concrete conditions [such as] I have outlined above... and [to instead] develop associated rules on correct activity which are beyond debate and discussion... anyone breaking such rules is met with a deluge of abuse and demeaning commentary which both andy and mike funnily enough engage in...

As usual, you're raving. (Tho' I'm glad that both Mike and I tickle your funny-bone: I didn't realise you even had one.) And when I write that you have a "fetish for workers outside of the transport industry 'organising' workers within it", I mean it.

fetish : An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.

What makes this fetish of yours 'odd' is that you're not actually employed in the transport industry. Instead, you act in a manner typical of the tendencies you deride: a bourgeois (pseudo-)intellectual commanding his (imaginary) troops -- the (transport) workers -- from afar. You provide the 'brains', they provide the 'muscle'. Of course, what's worse is that you're completely unaware of this aspect of your behaviour: hence the repetition (another hallmark of fetishistic behaviour and thinking).

Further, when I write that I find your analysis "tortured" and "bankrupt" I mean that, too.

As for your historical analysis...

*sigh*

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Mar 1 2007 02:44

In response to criticism such as that from Gregg and others in the early part of this thread some of us Wobs have been doing our bit to put a bit more vim and vigour into the Aussie IWW website (http://iww.org.au/). (Well really we knew that it was needed!)

Any criticism, the more constructive the better, or suggestion as to how it could better serve the class and its rebels, is most welcome.

Rest assord you will not just get a "Well, why don't you" although we might think it in our deeper, more private thoughts.

jason's picture
jason
Offline
Joined: 22-07-06
Mar 1 2007 05:17

Thanks Mike. Site looks good.

Otherwise, I think this thread has run out of steam a little. I think everyone's had a fair chance to state where they're coming from so its only gonna be repetition from now on. Talk to yas on other threads.

Jas

mikeX342055
Offline
Joined: 14-02-07
Mar 1 2007 14:08

Look forward to it Jason, @ndy, Gregg, Mark, Bill and the rest of you - in solidarity alone is strength - but it should not be a weak solidarity that hesitates from criticism or hides differences, but should be one that speaks its mind and still, when the need is there, is there for the one in need. Have enjoyed this discussion and meeting you all (again).
salud

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Mar 22 2007 02:56

@ndy, and whoever agrees with him.....I think this business of rediculing Sparks because of Mark's crucial role in it is a task that could safely be left to the enemies of the working class. Surely, Mark's role is to Mark's credit. It would of course be good to have a rank-and-file paper edited by public transport workers. To think that absent that it would be better to have no paper is just fundamentalism.

This business of the workers liberating themselves etc is all very true but it doesn't mean that every workplace is an island. Or even every industry. Apart from anything else "workplace" and "industry" are entities created by capitalism and defined in a capitalist framework. To start by respecting capitalist entities is wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood.

During the Melbourne tram dispute, of in some quarters holy memory, flying pickets were sent out to prevent bus workers and later rail workers from going to work. They hadn't voted to support the trammies in this way, their autonomy was definitely being interfered with. I don't suppose @ndy would criticise the trammies for that....it would be tantamount to blasphemy. But editing a paper in which transport workers have their say is somehow the cardinal sin of "outside interference". This is just nonsense. The root of it as it seems to me is a feeling among many Anarchists that they themselves are only pretend members of the working class. By this logic it was OK for the trammies to send out flying pickets because they were "real" members of the working class.

A classic example has stuck in my mind. When I was a factory worker I distributed a metal industry paper (Mark edited that one too, he was that evil) including at a large rally of mostly factory workers which a number of Anarchists attended. It is was a good issue, perhaps because I had written much of it myself. :-> I asked number of Anarchists present to help me but none did. One later explained (he was a friend of mine and a good bloke, and a member of an ostensibly anarcho-syndicalist group) that he "didn't want to be punched in the face by some working-class stereotype". He actually wrote this on an email list. As if workers came from Mars. He was himself a kitchen hand on half of nothing an hour. But, it seems, not in his own mind a member of the working-class.

There is a lot of this in Australia. Mark's tendency to shrill denunciations (which you could usefully break down a bit , Mark, without loss of cogency) has to be seen against that background.