IWA How big?

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Devrim
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Jul 30 2008 22:58
IWA How big?

There was a discussion in the pub today about how big the IWA was. To me some of the numbers discussed sounded unbelievable. I don't want to get into a row with people in the IWA about numbers, or in general, but could anyone make a realistic estimate.

Devrim

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Jul 31 2008 01:15

In the thousands. Perhaps upwards to 20,000 or more, with CNT-AIT, USI, FAU and CNT-F probably being the largest. This would simply be a guess. Of course, each section probably has additional influence beyond its numbers.

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Jul 31 2008 04:51

I think that might be over stating it. I don't know how many members the spanish CNT has, but as far as I'm aware the USI-AIT has less than 100, the FAU has less than 500 and the CNT-F has less than 2,500. I think the numbers in the IWA are made up pretty much exclusively by the CNT-E and the CNT-F. For the record I huge amount of respect for the FAU, the CNT-F and Solfed, the branches of the IWA that I have some familiarity with. I'm not putting down the IWA. Its just that seems kind of high.

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Jul 31 2008 06:59
georgestapleton wrote:
(...) but as far as I'm aware the USI-AIT has less than 100, the FAU has less than 500 and the CNT-F has less than 2,500

I guess you are mismatching some things. The USI-AIT has more than 1.000 members, the Milano health care syndicats alone counts several hundreds. May be you are mismatching the USI-AIT with the so-called "USI-Roma" split. This is mainly one syndicat in the ISTAT statics institute in Roma. They used to be several hundreds in the ISTAT ten years ago, but they lost a lot of their membership. As they are still claiming to be the USI-AIT, it is easy to mismatch them with the Italian IWA section.

Same goes for France. The 2.500 members you are talking of, are those of the CNT-F sector that was pushed out of the IWA (by some people refered to as "CNT-Vignoles". Though I guess in fact they are less. The French IWA section, the CNT-F/AIT, is far smaller in numbers, counting at best in hundreds, but not in thousands.

The third biggest (I should better say smallest) IWA section is the FAU-IWA. Your estimation is somewhat to high in numbers, we still need two years or three until we will be 500.

In general I would qualify the CNT-E and the USI as beeing unions with real implementation on the job-floor, fighting and negotiating lots of conflicts. The FAU is on its way into becoming a union. Others sections still need some time for it. Some do not want to become a union at all but prefer remaining a propaganda group or a "what we can learn from historic FORA"-discussion circle.

syndicalist
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Jul 31 2008 13:45
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Robot:Some do not want to become a union at all but prefer remaining a propaganda group

When WSA was in the IWA we weren't a union, nor did we pretend to be one. We were always a "propaganda group", which was both reflective of our situation and numbers. So there will always be some organizations that, for real and practical reasons, will remain propaganda groups.

George -- as I said "upwards to 20,000". The CNT-AIT has bewteen 8-10,000 members. These are the commonly used figures. So I use this as my base figure. Ok, so we can revise it downwards to may 15,000 but still in the gerenal ballpark.

The real question is: Are the section's gaining influence beyond their numbers? We all would love to be twice our size, but if our influence is expanding and not contracting, well, that is a positive. I would say in the case of, say, the FAU, their numbers have readily been increasing over the years, but so has their influence---at least it appears that way here. I'm sure Robot will correct me if I'm wrong.

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Jul 31 2008 13:52
syndicalist wrote:
The CNT-AIT has bewteen 8-10,000 members.

According to Wiki the CNT has 6,000 members:

Wiki wrote:
National Confederation of Labour
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
Founded 1910
Members 6,000
Country Spain
Affiliation International Workers Association
Key people Fidel Manrique, secretary general
Office location Seville, Spain - Location changes with the secretary general
Website www.cnt.es

My feeling is that this number is probably exaggerated.

Even if we took you figures though. This still seems very wrong.

Quote:
Ok, so we can revise it downwards to may 15,000 but still in the gerenal ballpark.

Where do the other 5,000-7,000 come from?

Devrim

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Jul 31 2008 14:40

In regards to Wiki, not sure where they got that number. I usually take Wiki figures and some of the other things said on it with somewhat a grain of salt.

The numbers which I posted were from a CNT-AIT comrade who I asked this question of some months ago. I'm not sure if there was a similiar discussion here or elsewhere, but I emailed him in reponse to that other discussion.

Look, I really am not going to go round and round on this as I have no dog in this race, for sure.As I originally posted, "This would simply be a guess." If my numbers are off, what are we talking about 12-13,000 members? Another few thousand additional sympatheizers? Still within the "upwards to" figures. It is still probably the largest organized specifically libertarian syndicalist (or anarcho-syndicalist depending on who you're talking to) tendency today.

What where the pub numbers being thrown about?

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Jul 31 2008 14:41
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What where the pub numbers being thrown about?

We reckoned between 4,500 and 6,500 basically depending on how big the CNT is.

I think outside the CNT they almost certainly have less than 2,000.

Quote:
Another few thousand additional sympatheizers?

I am actually talking about members as we heard some, what we thought, were outrageously high claims.

Devrim

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Jul 31 2008 14:44

Gotcha. Fair enough. Perhaps we're both right and split the CNT difference. groucho I suspect no one but the CNT-AIT organizational secretary really
knows the exact figures.

gwry
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Jul 31 2008 18:07

Size has always been a touchy subject in the post 1977 IWA. You were immediately regarded with suspicion ,if you asked at conference, how large a particular organisation was. The NSF in Norway has beeen an enormously influential group within the IWA,seemingly existing souly to slag off the SAC and moreover, anyone who tried to findout anything about the SAC. While there were grounds for saying that the SAC had moved away from classical revolutionary syndicalism, it was still an example of a large libertarian workers movement existing in the very bowls of a prosperous social democratic nation, and as such deserved due attention. I have never heard of any figure given for NSF membership in the 31 years of its existence, and indeed have only heard of 6-7 names connected to it. Nor have I heard of it doing anything in Norway which could be regarded as basic activity, ie; holding public meetings, picketing or even erecting a website. Yet they have repeatedly been central in internal IWA disputes, calling for expulsion after expulsion of sections who have chosen to operate according to the particular national context in which they find themselves.

The problem with the IWA has always been the existence of small propaganda groups having equal status with actual functioning unions. Meltzer saw this in the 1970's, and called, in Black Flag, for a two tier membership.It is a shame that the IWA hasn't capitalised upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the demise of social democracy. Having a jesuit like attitude towards internal descent will only ensure that the once great internantional, will remain miniscule. The growth of the FAU in recent years points in a more hopeful direction, one which the rest of the IWA could learn from, that is of course if they don't decide to expel the German section.

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Jul 31 2008 20:18
robot wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
(...) but as far as I'm aware the USI-AIT has less than 100, the FAU has less than 500 and the CNT-F has less than 2,500

I guess you are mismatching some things. The USI-AIT has more than 1.000 members, the Milano health care syndicats alone counts several hundreds. May be you are mismatching the USI-AIT with the so-called "USI-Roma" split. This is mainly one syndicat in the ISTAT statics institute in Roma. They used to be several hundreds in the ISTAT ten years ago, but they lost a lot of their membership. As they are still claiming to be the USI-AIT, it is easy to mismatch them with the Italian IWA section.

Same goes for France. The 2.500 members you are talking of, are those of the CNT-F sector that was pushed out of the IWA (by some people refered to as "CNT-Vignoles". Though I guess in fact they are less. The French IWA section, the CNT-F/AIT, is far smaller in numbers, counting at best in hundreds, but not in thousands.

The third biggest (I should better say smallest) IWA section is the FAU-IWA. Your estimation is somewhat to high in numbers, we still need two years or three until we will be 500.

In general I would qualify the CNT-E and the USI as beeing unions with real implementation on the job-floor, fighting and negotiating lots of conflicts. The FAU is on its way into becoming a union. Others sections still need some time for it. Some do not want to become a union at all but prefer remaining a propaganda group or a "what we can learn from historic FORA"-discussion circle.

yeah this post is about right. As for the Spanish CNT I've heard it's membership at between 3 to 5000, when I was in Spain a couple of years ago. I believe this was even before the Barcelona split. I don't know if that split is now over...

So global membership must be around 4 to 7000.

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Aug 1 2008 06:51
Devrim wrote:
According to Wiki the CNT has 6,000 members:
My feeling is that this number is probably exaggerated.

No, it isn't. The more the Spanish CNT got into strikes and industrial action within the past 5 years, the more workers joined them. They have lots of new syndicates and local federations in towns where they had been absent for years. Just to give you one example: Sevilla was a small group with some 30 militants six years ago. Today they are more than 500 and they are into two or more industrial conflicts at the same time. They have no problems mobilizing 500 people or more if they take on the streets to support a local branch during a strike. Same goes for other local federations like Torrelavega, Madrid and Bilbao for instance.

I think there is a pattern in this. The local federations that decided that they must try to get back into the workplaces some years ago have been groing ever since, others with a more ideological focus like the one in Granada, for instance, lost many members. If you want to know how many members the Spanish CNT has, you should ask them. But I guess the 6.000 in Wikipedia are at least not exaggerated.

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Aug 1 2008 04:04

I'm probably the last person on earth to say anything nice about the NSF (post 1999), but they actually did some good work when we first met them (1970s). The NSF, transitioning from a few old members to new members, initiated an "Open Commission on Latin America". This was an anarcho-syndicalist commission in support of anarchists and unionists operating in the underground or imprisioned. During this time nearlly all of latin America & the Southern Cone were under military dictatorships. The NSF work in this commission was good. To an extent we mirrored and tried to coordinate our work, and the work of "Libertarian Aid to Latin American Workers" with the NSF. Same with our work with the underground Polish workers movement.

The post-1977 IWA was one in which there was growth throughout the globe. Here in the US US 20-something year olds were part of the IWA regeneration. As were British DAM, the FAU, french CNT, the USI and the CNT, as well as others.

Salvoechea
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Aug 1 2008 17:22

CNT-E must be around 4500 members. In Spain still there're two CNTs (that split in Barcelona). However, CNT is growing very fast along syndicalist lines. They've grown more than 1000 people over the last year.

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Aug 1 2008 17:36
Salvoechea wrote:
CNT-E must be around 4500 members. In Spain still there're two CNTs (that split in Barcelona). However, CNT is growing very fast along syndicalist lines. They've grown more than 1000 people over the last year.

Comrade, the above number is for "both" CNT's?

syndicalist
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Aug 1 2008 17:37

Deleted by author-- duplicate posting.

martinh
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Aug 3 2008 00:26

Devrim,
You must drink in a funny pub for this to be the topic of conversation wink

CNTe sounds about 5000. I did an interview with a USI member who said they had 1000 dues paying members and 500 in arrears. Overall the IWA doesn't reach 5 figures I think, unless we have a section somewhere who've massively grown but not told anyone.

SolFed is around 50 paying members. I've heard low hundreds for CNTf. Apart from FAU no other section I know of has more than 100 members, though I understand that the COB and FORA have both grown, it is from very low bases so I don't know their current size.

So, the IWA is bigger than you think, but smaller than we'd like it to be smile

Regards,

Martin

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Aug 3 2008 05:33
syndicalist wrote:
Comrade, the above number is for "both" CNT's?

About 10 years ago, shortly after the expulsions in Catalonia, the CNT "Joaquin Costa" represented the majority of syndicates and members in Barcelona.They told me they were about 200 then, whereas the CNT "Plaza Duque de Medinacelli" were only one syndicate. But from what I I have been told, the former (the onces expelled) have constantly lost members over the years. There were several attempts to re-unify the CNT in Barcelona, but they all failed, the reason beeing the mutual personal injuries from the years before and after the expulsion of "Joaquin Costa" by the Catalonia regional federation.

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Aug 3 2008 08:44

syndicalist
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Aug 4 2008 13:46

who's the guy in the photo?

Deezer
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Aug 4 2008 13:56

A well known member of the WSM wink

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 4 2008 13:58
Quote:
Main Entry: trainspotter
Part of Speech: n
Definition: a person who is obsessed with trivia or minority subjects or hobbies, such as collecting trains
Deezer
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Aug 4 2008 14:03
Joseph K. wrote:
Quote:
Main Entry: trainspotter
Part of Speech: n
Definition: a person who is obsessed with trivia or minority subjects or hobbies, such as collecting trains

Yep, that's what I said - a well known member of the WSM.

ftony
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Aug 4 2008 14:06

edit. never mind.

syndicalist
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Aug 4 2008 14:28

Ok, I get the point. Forgrt I asked

syndicalist
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Aug 4 2008 14:30

edited

syndicalist
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Aug 4 2008 14:29

edited

rata
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Aug 4 2008 15:51
gwry wrote:
Size has always been a touchy subject in the post 1977 IWA. You were immediately regarded with suspicion ,if you asked at conference, how large a particular organisation was. The NSF in Norway has beeen an enormously influential group within the IWA,seemingly existing souly to slag off the SAC and moreover, anyone who tried to findout anything about the SAC. While there were grounds for saying that the SAC had moved away from classical revolutionary syndicalism, it was still an example of a large libertarian workers movement existing in the very bowls of a prosperous social democratic nation, and as such deserved due attention. I have never heard of any figure given for NSF membership in the 31 years of its existence, and indeed have only heard of 6-7 names connected to it. Nor have I heard of it doing anything in Norway which could be regarded as basic activity, ie; holding public meetings, picketing or even erecting a website. Yet they have repeatedly been central in internal IWA disputes, calling for expulsion after expulsion of sections who have chosen to operate according to the particular national context in which they find themselves.

The problem with the IWA has always been the existence of small propaganda groups having equal status with actual functioning unions. Meltzer saw this in the 1970's, and called, in Black Flag, for a two tier membership.It is a shame that the IWA hasn't capitalised upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the demise of social democracy. Having a jesuit like attitude towards internal descent will only ensure that the once great internantional, will remain miniscule. The growth of the FAU in recent years points in a more hopeful direction, one which the rest of the IWA could learn from, that is of course if they don't decide to expel the German section.

You are ignorant liar and a fool.

gwry
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Aug 4 2008 16:10

You've just proved my point.

julio27
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Aug 4 2008 23:07

I liked madashell picture and found it very clear, without knowing the term "trainspotter". It sums up the international situation: Waiting for some train being preoccupied with futile things.

What the fuck does it matter to know how many members unions and groups of the IWA may have, if in the world IWA has not enough influence in the class struggle and social movement ?

And what impact do have the so called mass unions with millions of members in some countries, who get nothing - at least in the interest of the workers ?

Besides, when CNT had 2 million members in 1936, how many anarchists were they ? A thousand. Or few thousands ?

To our concern today it should be better trying to be open to all anti-capitalist and anti-state forces in order to increase our influence in this world.

You cannot seriously compare union membership of FAU and CNT or the very different situations in union traditions, the legal frame and conditions (labour laws, union recognition) of Nigeria, Russia or the Scandinavian countries. The difficult task of the organised anarcho-syndicalism around the world is on the one hand to spread out the International in several countries and adapt to the different local situations and traditions of the respective countries, and on the other hand to harmonise each of those systems particular to the several sections of the International. If for one reason or another, it should actually be impossible to harmonise, then at least be tolerant regarding the different union tactics, strategies and cultures or local traditions which might be very different of your owns.

Gwry : Thanks for the hint with Albert Meltzer. Could you explain his idea of a "two tier membership" more precisely ?

Deezer
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Aug 4 2008 23:13

I think Albert was in favour of union sections being full members of the IWA and propaganda groups affiliating as friends of the IWA but its a long time since I read the article, if the relevant one was even by Albert Meltzer (there were other articles on the IWA by 'Peter Principle' in Black Flag). I've always kinda thought some sort of proportional representation would be in more appropriate than two tier membership.