Further thoughts on Aotearoa anarchist organisation

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Anarchia
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Aug 26 2007 17:20
Further thoughts on Aotearoa anarchist organisation

This has also been posted on my blog and will probably recieve comments on there, for those interested in following the discussion.

Since I wrote What Is To Be Done? A proposal for an Aotearoa Anarchist-Communist Federation, there’s been some interesting questions raised by other anarchists which I thought I’d post my thoughts about here. Some of the discussion took place in the comments thread of the post on my blog, so if you haven’t already, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read that first. Some discussion also took place on this forum. I’d also like to mention again the email list that has been started for those interested in discussion towards forming an Aotearoa Anarchist-Communist Federation - you can join it by going to http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/aacf.

For simplicities sake, I’m going to divide my thoughts into a few sections:

* Federation or Anarcho-Syndicalist Union?
* Anarchist-Communist or Synthesist?
* Federation or Network?
* The role of local groups

Federation or Anarcho-Syndicalist Union?

One question that has been raised is the question of where the time, energy and enthusiasm of anarchist-communists/class struggle anarchists is best spent. A suggestion that I’ve heard from a couple of people has been that we should be looking to form a union organised along anarcho-syndicalist lines, the thought being that a number of anarchists (especially in Auckland) have put a lot of time into working (both paid and volunteer) with trade unions (predominantly Unite, but also the AWU in Dunedin and others) over the last couple of years, and that if that effort had been put into an anarcho-syndicalist union instead, it may have been much better spent.

There’s two ways I could see this going, if it were to happen. The first is to start an explicitly anarcho-syndicalist union with matching aims & principles that members would agree too. Obviously, the potential membership of such a union would be pretty small - limited to anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists sympathetic to syndicalism. Given the obvious spread (both geographically and in terms of jobs) of those people across Aotearoa, the union would be fairly limited in terms of what it could do - it would be essentially an anarcho-syndicalist propaganda group. If this was to be the option chosen, it would essentially be limiting itself to a smaller membership than an anarchist-communist federation, and a smaller range of activity. Given this, I don’t see any point in doing it.

The more likely option, which (I think, and I may be wrong), is the one that those who suggest this have in mind, is the formation of a union that would not be explicitly anarcho-syndicalist in name, but rather one based on syndicalist ideas. In this model, anarcho-syndicalists would actively go out and attempt to organise worksites. In this, it would be likely to be fairly similar to what was attempted in Dunedin in the last ten years - first with the IWW, and then with the Autonomous Workers Union (AWU).

My main issue with this second model is that it would inevitably end up with much the same division that exist in the mainstream trade unions - that of the “organisers” and the “organised”. If successful, it could potentially use different tactics to those encouraged by trade unions (a greater likelihood of strikes, especially outside of those legally allowed, and sabotage) this would likely lead to crackdowns by the State and employers on the “organised”, while leaving the “organisers” relatively unscathed - there’s a big difference between people engaging in those tactics because they’ve come to the decision that, in a given situation, they’ll be the most effective, and people engaging in those tactics because “thats the way the union works”. On the other hand, if these tactics aren’t used, the new union would amount to little more than Unite without the Maoist and Social-Democrat leadership. In this, it seems to be quite similar to what Socialist Worker are doing with their Solidarity Union. This, in my mind, is where any proposal for a new union based on this second model falls down - it fails to address one of the key problems with trade unions, that of the seperation and hierarchical relationship between organisers and organised.

Anarchist-Communist or Synthesist?

Another question raised by some people has been whether it is desirable to form an explicitly anarchist-communist group, or whether an Aotearoa-wide anarchist federation (or network) is preferable, open to all anarchists. The primary (although by no means only) reason that I’ve heard for the preference of the latter is summed up well in this quote by Omar in the comments thread of the initial proposal - “Only anarchist communists will be involved, meaning smaller numbers than we could get involved in a looser anarchist network.

There is no question that an explicitly anarchist-communist federation would be smaller than an all-encompassing anarchist federation - undoubtedly only a minority of self-proclaimed anarchists in Aotearoa would either describe themselves as anarchist-communists or agree with anarchist-communist aims and principles to a level that would mean they would be willing to join an explicitly anarchist-communist federation. In this case, however, I firmly believe that numbers aren’t everything.

If we are looking at seriously moving forward towards an anarchist society, rather than simply consolidating those anarchist projects currently existing, we need to start developing theory and practice oriented towards what we are for, as well as what we are against. A synthesist federation cannot do this, whereas an anarchist-communist federation can (and, by the same token, an eco-anarchist one could for the eco-anarchists in Aotearoa, etc etc). As I said in my original proposal, in synthesist groups, “our agreement is generally limited to what we are against and very broad and vague statements of what we are for, but getting any more specific in this will bring to light the differences between our schools of anarchism.

Of course, being involved in an anarchist-communist federation doesn’t mean that we can’t work with other anarchist (and non-anarchist) groups and individuals where we are in agreement, in specific projects or campaigns, whether the federation as a whole decides it wants to be involved, or individuals from the federation decide they want to. So, just as today, we have (for example) a member of A Space Inside involved in Aotearoa Indymedia or members of The Freedom Shop Collective involved in the 128 Collective, so too could (and likely would) members of an Aotearoa Anarchist-Communist Federation be involved in other groups, in addition to the projects they work on within the Federation itself.

Federation or network?

I’ll start this section off with some definitions, because without knowing what we mean by these two terms, any discussion around them becomes pointless.

A network is a relatively open, comparatively informal method of organisation. Its main purpose would be to aid in communication between different centres, both immediate (eg - conferences or online discussion forums like the old anarchism.org.nz) and non-immediate (eg - via a magazine such as Aotearoa Anarchist). It could be made up of individuals or of explicitly anarchist groups from across Aotearoa (of which there are only 6, by my count - 2 in Auckland, 3 in Wellington and 1 in Christchurch), or of some mix of the two. One would likely become a part of the network simply by contributing to it (attending a conference, writing for a magazine).

A federation is less open, in that it has tighter, more formal, rules around joining (for example, this could be agreeing with a statement of aims and principles, contacting the Federation and contributing to it). It is also more formal in that it would commit itself to regular activities (for instance, annual conferences, a 6-monthly magazine, a pamphlet a year). Like a network, it would serve as a method of enhancing communication between its members in different centres (eg - via email lists, online discussion forums, regular conferences and publications) but it would also serve other purposes like producing propaganda with positions agreed upon by the Federation and acting as a Federation within other groups or in support of specific struggles.

Given the above definitions, I would take a Federation over a Network any day. A Network seems to me to be overkill for the purpose it would serve - if that is all we’re looking for, the status quo can fulfill that function perfectly well. Already, anarchists in Aotearoa have reasonably regular conferences (organised by anarchists in any given centre), a magazine (produced by the Wildcat Collective) and, if the interest was there, anarchism.org.nz could be restarted (a recent attempt to do this floundered due to a lack of interest). It is with a Federation that we could move forward in terms of organisation, of theoretical development and of coordinated activity.

The role of local groups

The last topic I will talk about is the role of local groups in a proposed Federation. Two questions have been raised regarding local groups in an anarchist-communist federation - whether membership will be open to individuals, groups or both, and whether the local groups need to come before the federation or not.

My answers to both of these questions are much the same. As one person put it in the discussion on LibCom, “It would take more effort to form a lasting local group than to form a national federation. By forming a functioning national fed you would be able to pool all the resources and skills of people around the country into one group.” From this national federation, in places where the numbers exist (initially, even at best, this could only be Wellington and Auckland) local groups could be formed, but the reality of the numbers of anarchist-communists and their geographical spread precludes any realistic chance of having local groups come first.

In this, I could see a place for something along the lines of how NEFAC works (see the original post for details) - both individual and collective members, with the aim to have solely collectives, but the recognition that at the present time it may not be possible, and, of course, all possible assistance from the Federation as a whole to those individual members attempting to form collectives.

Convert
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Aug 29 2007 20:06

I dont really see a union type structure being practical. The amount of energy required and the reliance on a decent number of anarchists being in the same city/town would make it a de facto local group.

I think an national federation focused solely on producing quality propaganda would be the most effective strategy. Of course this can evolve in future and take on other roles if the fed was sucessful.

Skraeling
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Sep 2 2007 11:44

I think a union is practical in the current environment, but not sure about its desirability. I mean, in certain cities, like Dunedin and Christchurch, Unite has next to no presence, and certain workers aren't really covered by any any union yet want to join one cos they are being screwed. So there is a need for a union, and a vacuum exists for one. It would be hard to compete in Auckland and maybe Wellington with Unite tho. In Chch and Dndn It would be relatively easy to set up a union there and get a few dozen members quite quick. We found that with the AWU.

I think the main problem with alternative unions is not so much a hierarchical divide between organisers and organised. The main problem in my experience in the current NZ context is the question of registering or not. You need to register as an official union in order to get all sorts of benefits, esp. access to worksites. Otherwise capitalists can simply shut you out of worksite access. But by registering, you get dragged into the system, and capitalists can take you to court, threaten you with fines for acting in "bad faith" under the ERA, etc. "Bad faith" could seemingly mean anything. This was the major prob in my opinion with the AWU. We got dragged into the legal system and spent most of our time defending charges thrown at us by capitalists in court and in mediation. At one stage, we had i think over 100,000 bucks of fines against us. So the capitalists attempted to stop us organising workplaces by tying us down in court. Just a ball and chain designed to thwart us organising. Only the big unions who could hire lawyers could really defend these charges.

So the point is: even if there wasn't a hierarchical divide between workers and organisers in an alternative union, and it really was a democratic union run by the rank and file with instantly recallable delegates, the negotiation process and the legal process of taking out personal grievances thru mediation and so on, and keeping the union act in good faith, means that a divide would be created perhaps inevitably between the negotiators and the rank and file.

I think it's more practical to set up something that is not registered with the govt. That way you've got heaps of freedom to do much more stuff. Means you can do strikes whenever, not just during negotiations etc. And illegal stuff. So you can take on the vicious employment laws and are not encumbered by the legal system and the threat of being deregistered and having all your funds stolen.

Maybe a non-registered union could be set up? But then you have the disadvantage of not being allowed worksite access and you would find it really hard to grow to negotiate contracts with bosses.

So i think its more practical to set up a community support group, or an unofficial/informal workplace resistance group, or a support network a bit like UnionSolidarity in Vic, Aussie or ideally the Paris Solidarity Group. Of course, this is not necessarily some ultra-leffist anti-union thing, this could act in solidarity or unison with official unions, to complement them rather than subvert them (by subverting union leaderships isn't a bad idea).

So overall i personally aren't super keen on a fed. whose main aim would be to produce quality propaganda. i wouldn't be against it tho cos certainly, better quality and more focussed material would be an improvement on the current kinda sad state of anarchism in NZ. But for me the key would be trying to do something practical in the workplace in the community, not just propaganda. ie. its your orientation with working class struggle that's important. i get put off by the word propaganda cos it seems like people are trying to convert those ignorant unwashed workers to a beautiful idea, to bring an idea to the masses, to speak to them and direct them. Maybe i just dislike the term propaganda. Its the other way round: its what can we learn from workers, not teach them ie. what can we learn from the recent working class struggles like supersize my pay, the supermarket lockout, the cleaners etc? and how can anarchists and others counteract the machinations of union bureaucrats in these struggles? these are the questions that need to be discussed i reckon.

asn
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Sep 3 2007 13:05

from reading the discussion so far it seems to me the contributors have little idea how in the real world you would help establish mass syndicalist unionism
- why not make a serious study of historical precedents? - how syndicalist movements in various countries actually emerged - some useful works are "Revolutionary Syndicalism: An International Perspective" edited by Marcel Van Der Linden and Wayne Thorpe;
British Syndicalism By Bob Holton; Red Barcelona edited by Angel Smith; The Agony of Modernisation by Benjamin Martin (about the spanish labour movement and particularly the cnt); Red November/Black November by salvatore soldarto (about the emergence of the iww in the usa and how it "really" organised and formed; Carl Levy's article on Italian Syndicalism in For Anarchism edited by Goodway and his book "Gramsci & the Anarchists";
- regarding skaelings points re rego with your industrial relations system - that's seems accurate to me - the blind alley the iww in the USA has got into following this approach since its resurgence in the late 1960's illustrates this point (see relevant book review on our web page www.rebelworker.org )
- his point re solidarity groups - shows the influence of the "Left subculture" and the leftist sects - a receipe for aimless activism, often being outmanoeuvred by the union bureaucracy and being seen as "exotic outsiders" by militant workers and eventually demoralisation and apathy, particularly in today's industrial climate
- he has absolutely nothing to say re strategic industries and facilitating workers self organisation and direct action there - and the role of big successful actions there would have re breaking through the existing industrial relations system restrictions and inspiring, raising morale and assisting workers self organisation in more peripheral areas - and in so doing slow down the employer offensive and generating an expanding syndicalist workers movement
- for a discussion of an australian experience of this type of activity see "'anarcho-syndicalism: catalyst for workers self organisation"
on our web page
- related to this style of activity is the reality in NZ of few serious people from my observations - "those capable of long range sustained activity " and the obvious way to go is precision organising which makes strategic sense -the periphery of not so serious people could help out in small but valuable ways -helping distributing of publications etc - if they flake out - they don't have big responsibilities and can't do too much damage
- on the issue of propaganda there are two types - abstract and concrete - the former is the staple of the left sect - asbolutely useless regarding the revolutionary project - meaningless to militant workers and giving the impression you are another weido left group - but you could "feel good" churning it out - good for finding an excuse for social occasions - another receipe for eventual demoralisation
- the latter - concrete progaganda is of tremendous importance - eg assisting workers who have taken some important direct action which has been covered up or slandered/denigrated by the union bosses/media/govt to alert /explain to workers in other sectors in the same industry about it via a regular workplace publication - your are assisting them to raise their own morale - get their organisation ball rolling -
- on the issue of federation versus network - in the current historical moment in anglo countries - the network seems to me the way to go - a network which selects its own membership - just focusing on practical work which makes strategic sense - as mentioned above a much bigger periphery can develop on the industrial and geographic scales associated with regular publications issued and campaigns conducted
- it avoids adopting left subcultural forms - there is no place for formal structures and rituals associated with federations and aimless activism and positions on every issue under the sun which would turn it into a left sect ( contributed by an influx of left subculturals see below)
- also being very shadowy and self selective - you could make state attacks difficult (particularly important with the growth of "strong states")-if you are engaging in serious work hurting the bosses you have to expect it and prepare for it or takeovers by "left subculturals" due to the swamping by these elements - eg students/middle class elements etc with little experience of the class struggle unconsciously influenced by the stalinist legacy/bourgeois organising styles and identity politics
- - on the issue of "numbers games" - if you read the above literature you would see very small groups sand networks of militants have played a tremendous role in mass syndicalist movements - eg the group of anarcho-syndicalist shop floor militants in turin in 1919-20 mentioned in "Gramsci and the anarchists" - it had a few dozen militants but played a central role in the nation wide factory occupations/workers control actions in italy in 1920 to do all this they had "influence" in key strategic workplaces - not in tiny cafes like starbucks or mcdonalds
- also what's important is what's happening in the broader workers movement and on the job in sectors of importance - if there is to be a revolution - they are the ones to carry it out and certainly not some self proclaimed left group with all sorts of wild pretensions and bizarre antics.
- another issue of critical importance is a "scientific climate" - a climate within the network - free of theologies which are "beyond debate and discussion" eg the various "oppressed" group mythologies in identity politics and the "correct line of the left sect"- only in such a climate characterised by free and intense debate and stimulus to research can strategies relevant to the revolutionary project be developed

mark

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Sep 4 2007 10:24

asn - agreed. Apart from the bits about the importance of workers in strategic industries, while they may have more leverage over the state isn't solidarity more important to achieve a revolutionary situation. If we are dividing up the w/class ourselves are we doing the states/unions/bosses job for them?

asn
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Sep 4 2007 12:48

certainly solidarity is of vital importance and would play a critical role in the strategy I have sketched - say the solidarity of transport workers won over to syndicalism via the long range precision organising as discussed in the article "anarcho-syndicalism: catalyst for workers self organisation" on our web page via blockades, strikes etc at busy periods such as Xmas would play a critical role in successful organising drives of new syndicalist unions in peripheral areas say department stores, cafes, public service, chain stores, etc - wiping out the existing bureaucratic unions there or organising non-unionised shops. It would largely be a walk over - in stark contrast to today which would be very difficult as in the USA in regard to iww organising drives or impossible in Australia
- there is of course the example of the 1998 maritime dispute in Australia - an industry recognised by all sides - bosses, govt and workers - as of strategic importance - there were mass pickets by the "community" but had there been "solidarity" - in the shape of hitting direct action by workers in other key areas in transport - truckies, railways - there would be absolutely little need for these mass pickets and the wharfies and workers in general would have won a great victory - and turned back the employer offensive - the fact is the wharfies and workers generally had a severe defeat but not as bad as it could be - as there was none of this "industrial solidairty" was forth coming in australia -strategic organising in some of these sectors still had a long way to go and the union hierarchy refused to call mass meetings to discuss solidairty action for the wharfies and workers' morale was too low - militants too disorganised to get big actions going in transport or other key sectors to help the wharfies
- Taking account of the very "slender" existing forces available in NZ, Australia, UK etc for syndicalist organising as I have outlined in my previous post ( a point which I don't think is very contraversial) - priorities have to be set and adopting this strategic organising approach is more sensible than aimless solidarity work or using it to recruit for some leftist sect - if we had huge numbers obviously this focusing of activity wouldn't be so critical
mark

Skraeling
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Sep 6 2007 02:44
asn wrote:
from reading the discussion so far it seems to me the contributors have little idea how in the real world you would help establish mass syndicalist unionism
- why not make a serious study of historical precedents? - how syndicalist movements in various countries actually emerged - some useful works are "Revolutionary Syndicalism: An International Perspective" edited by Marcel Van Der Linden and Wayne Thorpe;
British Syndicalism By Bob Holton; Red Barcelona edited by Angel Smith; The Agony of Modernisation by Benjamin Martin (about the spanish labour movement and particularly the cnt); Red November/Black November by salvatore soldarto (about the emergence of the iww in the usa and how it "really" organised and formed; Carl Levy's article on Italian Syndicalism in For Anarchism edited by Goodway and his book "Gramsci & the Anarchists";

Ah, presumptions presumptions. Your putting me in the wrong box. I'm not a syndicalist nor an anarcho-syndicalist, and i doubt if syndicalist unions can be revolutionary or truly anti-capitalist. And i have studied the syndicalist movement in NZ and in France pretty closely, and read some of the books you mention.

Quote:
- his point re solidarity groups - shows the influence of the "Left subculture" and the leftist sects - a receipe for aimless activism, often being outmanoeuvred by the union bureaucracy and being seen as "exotic outsiders" by militant workers and eventually demoralisation and apathy, particularly in today's industrial climate

ha, ever since if read your stuff you always seem to dismiss a priori anything you don't like -- and that seems to be everything apart from your own projects -- as left subcultural sect building. I find it a bit repetitive. How on earth is a solidarity network left sub-cultural? The type of solidarity network i'm interested in is not one of activists aimlessly wandering around supporting struggles, but a network that is composed of militant workers across a wide variety of industries who are engaged in a wide variety of struggles whose aim it is to help self-organise the activity of workers, assist in workers winning strikes, outmaneouvring union bureaucracies, and take action outside of legal channels ie. it wouldn't just be about solidarity work, but also activity. An example of this would be say, the old Solidarity network in the UK, which had groups in the motor industry.

But you do have a point about the aimless activism, being outmaneouvred by union bureaucrats and being seen as outsiders -- i think all these are real problems, but can be overcome by various methods, and trial and error.

The main reason i think a solidarity network is a good idea in today's current environment is not some recipe for recruiting to a sect, but simply as a way around the tough anti-strike laws in both Aussie and NZ. In NZ strikes are virtually outlawed, so if a non-registered network (or even union) could step in and take "illegal" action and open up space for more self-organised activity it makes sense, as many unions and unionists are frightened to break these shackles and get massive fines. I believe the situation in Aussie is kind of similar, and UnionSolidarity have had some success in circumventing anti-strike and/or anti-solidarity laws (i'm a bit hazy on them tho, not sure exactly what they're about).

Anyway, i don't think that such a network would get off the ground here anyway, as not enuf people are into it and cos the level of struggle is very low.

Quote:
- it avoids adopting left subcultural forms - there is no place for formal structures and rituals associated with federations and aimless activism and positions on every issue under the sun which would turn it into a left sect ( contributed by an influx of left subculturals see below)

hmmm, so you support informal networks, but i would say the primary organisational form of left subcultural groups is the informal social group or loose network, which is kinda sect-like, definitely cliquely, inward-looking and run by informal hierarchies -- that is my experience of the anarchist scene here anyway.

Quote:
on the issue of "numbers games" - if you read the above literature you would see very small groups sand networks of militants have played a tremendous role in mass syndicalist movements - eg the group of anarcho-syndicalist shop floor militants in turin in 1919-20 mentioned in "Gramsci and the anarchists" - it had a few dozen militants but played a central role in the nation wide factory occupations/workers control actions in italy in 1920 to do all this they had "influence" in key strategic workplaces - not in tiny cafes like starbucks or mcdonalds

ah, the old syndicalist belief in the power of the conscious minority. how is this not vanguardist?

and also, just out of interest, what industries apart from the transport one do you see as strategic in Australasia? Would you include farm workers given that both NZ and Aussie have agro-business export economies? (tho the Aust. economy is much more diverse than just agro-business). Do you think any white-collar workers are in a strategic position?

asn
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Sep 6 2007 13:13

Ah, presumptions presumptions. Your putting me in the wrong box. I'm not a syndicalist nor an anarcho-syndicalist, and i doubt if syndicalist unions can be revolutionary or truly anti-capitalist. And i have studied the syndicalist movement in NZ and in France pretty closely, and read some of the books you mention.
- millions of workers and peasants in spain in the 20-30's might disagree with you! - I think you have a lot more reading to do re syndicalist history and if you did, I' m certain you wouldn't come out with such outlandish sweeping statements and we would have a better discussion.
- on the issue of solidarity work - I was looking at the current situation in australia which I believe has strong similarities to that in nz - due to workers low morale etc its very difficult to get hard hitting industrial solidarity going - the case I gave of the 1998 maritime dispute is an excellent example of that -
- what I have sketched (see relevant articles on our web page) is a strategy to change that morale situation - unless you can change that - your talk of a solidarity network like in Britain in the 1970's is a total fantasy
- we are in 2007 you know ! Where the global employer offensive has made quite a bit of progress since the 1970's.
-from my observations in australia and elsewhere a staple of many left subculture inhabitants and sects is helping out on picket lines - they act on the basis of opportunity whether for sect building or simplistic approaches toward the class struggle not strategic insight - currently the solidarity groups in melb and sydney have done some minor useful work -but its not possible to change the situation by such work ie turning the tide against the employer offensive etc
- on the issue of the sect terminology - you are using it from my impressions as a term of slander and in a very broad sense which as criticism to assist in better pursuit on the workers control project is useless - just a way of putting a group down and ridiculing them
- I'm using it in a more precise manner - looking at the existential nature of groups and divorce from the revolutionary project - by means of such criticism I want people to reassess what they are doing to see "outside the box" and do better and take action more appropriate re the revolutionary progect - asn activity as outlined in "anarcho-syndicalism: catalyst for workers' self organisation" in the archives of our webpage www.rebelworker.org
- is very much outward looking assisting workers self organisation in the class struggle always seeking feedback from the grass roots - to compare this serious long range activity to the "swamp" of the anarchist milieu in nz or elsewhere is ridiculous! - read the article - I think its fairly clear
- on the issue of "vanguardism" again your nefarious sloppyness - using the term to slander any serious workplace activism - this is really silly stuff
- in the current situation "vanguardism" often refers to a group and its members resorting to various underhanded practices to manipulate groups/meetings etc to get some mileage of some sort
- syndicalist industrial activity involves something quite different eg assisting ultra democractic processes in the worplace - the holding workplace union meetings to discuss issues when workers consider its important eg to counter the bosses attacks (see state transit newsflash in latest rw july-aug 2007) on our webpage for a report on just this type of activity by a syndicalist activist - common syndicalist activity since the movement began in the 19th Century
- on the issue of the "strategic industries" and the importance of transport- I'm looking at it in the context of a range of factors - as mentioned very limited personel (as discussed in a previous post ) - and resources and how they can best be deployed, issues of ease of distribution of workplace publications, its role in building an expanding movement - helping syndicalist organising drives in other industries, historical precedents which point to the key role of transport workers in generating strike wave movements eg 86/87 and late 1995 public sector strike waves in france, the COBAS in Italy in the 80's etc (I'm not approaching the issue like the arm chair revolutionary or academic who doesn't take account of these factors and whose approach like your's is to me very abstract and I will not be wasting my time in any such abstract discussion )

mark