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Direct action and electoralism

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yeksmesh
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Apr 22 2012 15:20
Direct action and electoralism

Hi,

I am kindoff struggling with turning my views on direct action into a sort of theory that is as coherent as I'd like it to be and seeing that in my experience a discussion is the best way to solve this sort of incoherence I started this thread.

So in regards to direct action I get all the points, direct action lets people take control of their own life and struggles prefiguring a self-managed society, it helps radicalizing people...etc. Which then stands in contrast to electoralism which forces people into passivity in which they just have to cross something off on a ballot, and let the glorious leaders do everything for them, not really the mentality you want to grow when trying to get a self-managed society of the ground.

I get all of this, and agree with it. But I run into problems when converting this analysis into practice.

Lets just take a hypothetical situation: a union is fighting for a wage raise in lets say a fast food restaurant, and they want to achieve this by protesting in front of the restaurant in question and urging customers to go eat somewhere else, this action would be qualified as direct action (and if I am correct similar actions have been done by organizations such as the IWW) but yet they ask alot of people (the potential customers) to do a largely passive action (eating somewhere else), the people conducting the protest are the ones engaging in direct action but they are dependend upon a large number of people who engage in a largely passive action (the potential customer who eats somewhere else).

Lets take a second situation, a union engages in a strike, now in my experience a strike generally is organized by a relatively small group of workers who organize everything and man the picket lines and stuff, the majority of the workers take a largely passive action: staying at home, thus again something that is qualified as direct action (the strike) is dependend upon a large group of people that only have a passive form of engagement, compared to a smaller group which engages in a more active form of engagement.

Similar situations can be found in alot of other actions that could be qualified as direct action, where the succes of the actual action depends largely upon a majority of people taking a mostly passive approach.

Now foward this approach to for example the election of a worker into a business council, this is generally from my understanding not seen as a form of direct action. Now to eliminate any sidelining arguments centering around the concept of power corrupts and it being a representative seperate from the will of the workers...etc. Lets just say that this worker who is put up for election, has signed a letter in which he quits his position as a representative before he actually participates in the election, and when he gets elected he receives a mandate of the things he is supposed to do by the other workers and if cases arise that are not covered by the mandate the decision would be settled by a council meeting of the workers, if the representative doesnt obey the mandate or the will of the workers the letter is sent to the company/union...whatever, and he is relieved from his position, furthermore in the mandate it is included that he'll use his position as a position for the conducting of class struggle and the furthering of direct action, so in this case his election is in general accord with libertarian principles.

Now getting back to the election, which is not seen as direct action, you still have a group of more active organizers whose campaigning faces opposition from management and causes this experience to be very similar with experiences in direct action (thus getting you all the good stuff you get from direct action: self management, radicalization..etc.), now voting is then often regarded as a passive action, but you still include an active core of campaigners the same as in most direct actions, and a large crowd of more passive participants, in this example in the form of voters. How then do you draw the line between electoralism and direct action taking all this into account?

Also before anyone says it, just including everyone in actions is I think kindoff impossible, as you will always have more active core organizers and more passive participants at the sideline. Also you can probably say that the passive roles in direct action are way more active then the passivity voting entails, but then we are already talking about grading passivity, which would lead to the question: how much passivity would you need before you cant speak of direct action anymore? And also what if this voting is conducted in a coordinated campaign of direct action as in the case of the worker in the business council? How do the distinctions between activity and passivity still apply then?

ps: I am sorry about the length of my rant, but seeing that this isnt an article I havent done any of the posting guidelines in relation to the posting of long articles, if I still need to do this just let me know and ill get to it.

ajjohnstone
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Apr 24 2012 05:24

The SPGB who are, in my slightly eccentric interpretation, the parliamentary wing of anarcho-communism does not necessary consider electoralism or voting to be passive, nor to be inherently corrupting.

i have also argued that what is often considered as "direct action" excludes many where physical participation is not an option for them, the sick and the old and full-time carers of dependents. Expressing their will by placing an X on a ballot paper involves them in the process of revolutionary change.

See my blog for my over-view on the issue

http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2012/04/anti-parliamentary-debate.html

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Steven.
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Apr 24 2012 09:17

This is a good question, but it's easy to answer especially if you have any experience with workplace organising.

(Where do you work by the way? I'm not prying, this could just help me relate any future answers/clarifications to you more directly)

Basically, a worker is sitting on a works council, in example you specify, won't be able to get anything for workers which will cost employers money. This is because employers don't just give extra money to employees (or do things which will cost them money like reduce hours without reducing pay, or improve conditions). Regardless of the motives of the employers, this is enforced under capitalism by the profit motive. Whereby companies must make as much profit as possible as quickly as possible, or else they will go bust will be taken over by companies which do.

Therefore your worker sitting on the council will never be able to achieve anything anyway, so what's the point in trying? Not to mention that all the effort expended getting someone elected could be better spent trying to organise at the grassroots. And even more significantly radicals attempting to get people elected to these bodies legitimises these bodies as things which can help working class people. Which they cannot.

Their role a safety valve to divert workers anger into harmless channels which don't affect profits.

The only way workers could get improved conditions would be by organising collectively and either taking threatening to take some kind of collective action which would harm the profit making of the employer.

On Parliamentary electoralism pretty much the same arguments apply.

For works councils in particular there is a good, detailed critique of them here:
http://libcom.org/library/out-frying-pan-critical-look-works-councils

yeksmesh
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Apr 24 2012 13:20
ajjohnstone wrote:
The SPGB who are, in my slightly eccentric interpretation, the parliamentary wing of anarcho-communism does not necessary consider electoralism or voting to be passive, nor to be inherently corrupting.

i have also argued that what is often considered as "direct action" excludes many where physical participation is not an option for them, the sick and the old and full-time carers of dependents. Expressing their will by placing an X on a ballot paper involves them in the process of revolutionary change.

See my blog for my over-view on the issue

http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2012/04/anti-parliamentary-debate.html

Il read it when I got some time.

Steven. wrote:
This is a good question, but it's easy to answer especially if you have any experience with workplace organising.

(Where do you work by the way? I'm not prying, this could just help me relate any future answers/clarifications to you more directly)

Yeah I still study (always akward to talk about syndicalism and workplace organizing when you dont actually work) in Belgium.

Quote:
Basically, a worker is sitting on a works council, in example you specify, won't be able to get anything for workers which will cost employers money. This is because employers don't just give extra money to employees (or do things which will cost them money like reduce hours without reducing pay, or improve conditions). Regardless of the motives of the employers, this is enforced under capitalism by the profit motive. Whereby companies must make as much profit as possible as quickly as possible, or else they will go bust will be taken over by companies which do.

This would just as well apply to direct actions, thus making any attempts by workers to get better living conditions, short of revolution, futile according to you. Unless you are trying to say that a worker on a works council alone hasnt got enough sway to actually improve working conditions, in that case I said in my opening rant that the hypothetical elected worker uses his position as a position to conduct direct action from, in coordination with other workers (should have specified that). Which leads me to the next point. The usefullness of these organs differs alot from country to country, now I dont know how it is in the UK. But if I understand Belgian labour regulations correctly, people elected on work councils and the equivalent of your stewarts have the potential to sabotage alot of actions by management and are in positions to advance direct action. Something I have also heard quite a bit from people involved in them.

Quote:
And even more significantly radicals attempting to get people elected to these bodies legitimises these bodies as things which can help working class people. Which they cannot.

I also dont see these bodies as actual bodies for the emancipation of the working class, I simply inquired on the notion of voting as somehow more passive then certain direct actions. And I pointed to how these bodies could be used as a means to amplify and strengthen direct action, not that these bodies are seperate entities which can emancipate the working class by themselves.

yeksmesh
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Apr 29 2012 15:45

Ok I think I could have put my question in a bit shorter and clearer fashion, so I'l try again.

The doubt I have in regards to electoralism is that I havent found a way to refute it based on principle, instead of based on pratical usefullness which is heavily based on locality and thus doesnt provide a general, global rebutal for all localities (even though opposition against electoralism is applied in a general, global way by most organisations), when this electoralism is applied in such a way that it views direct action as the central aspect of the class struggle and thus that electoralism is just a way to facilitate direct action and not a way to emancipate the working class.

The only counter argument I have heard against this kind of reasoning, is that history shows that organisations that practice this sort of electoralism, where direct action is emphasised and parliamentary action is only used as a complement to direct action, always devolve into purely parliamentary organisations. The point with this argument is that it can be countered in a number of ways.

First the only examples of these kinds of degenerations generally only take place in organisations that were already reformist from the start, and it is thus way too easy to counter this argument by saying that these groups didnt have the ideological base for withstanding the pressure of parliamentarism. (a bit of knee jerk argument as you create a sort of self fulfilling phrophecy: if they fall into parliamentarism they dont have the right ideological base, nevertheless I have seen it used before and I havent really found an adequate way to counter it)

Secondly critiques of electoralism arent only applied to cases for getting people inside parliament, they are also applied to for example workplace elections. Which is a totally different scale then parliamentary elections, and thus the argument wouldnt necessarily apply to this case.

And seeing that people affiliated with the IWA often frequent this forum, an organisation which iirc has kicked out affilitates for participating in workplace elections multiple times. I wouldnt have thought it would have been this hard to get an adequate principled refuting of electoralism.

radicalgraffiti
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Apr 29 2012 15:54
yeksmesh wrote:

The doubt I have in regards to electoralism is that I havent found a way to refute it based on principle, instead of based on pratical usefullness which is heavily based on locality and thus doesnt provide a general, global rebutal for all localities (even though opposition against electoralism is applied in a general, global way by most organisations), when this electoralism is applied in such a way that it views direct action as the central aspect of the class struggle and thus that electoralism is just a way to facilitate direct action and not a way to emancipate the working class.

"principle"?

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Steven.
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Apr 29 2012 15:59
yeksmesh wrote:
Yeah I still study (always akward to talk about syndicalism and workplace organizing when you dont actually work) in Belgium.

okay cool. I don't mean this in a critical way, but perhaps that's why some of this isn't so clear for you.

Quote:
Quote:
Basically, a worker is sitting on a works council, in example you specify, won't be able to get anything for workers which will cost employers money. This is because employers don't just give extra money to employees (or do things which will cost them money like reduce hours without reducing pay, or improve conditions). Regardless of the motives of the employers, this is enforced under capitalism by the profit motive. Whereby companies must make as much profit as possible as quickly as possible, or else they will go bust will be taken over by companies which do.

This would just as well apply to direct actions, thus making any attempts by workers to get better living conditions, short of revolution, futile according to you.

no, it doesn't apply to direct action. Using direct action you disrupt the employers ability to make profits (or at least threaten to you). You have to make it so that it effectively cost less for the employer to meet your demands and not to.

I don't really appreciate your attempts to dismiss my point here by making up straw men. If I didn't think that attempts to improve our working conditions were possible, then why was I on strike on November 30? Why would I have organised collective direct actions and strikes at work?

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Unless you are trying to say that a worker on a works council alone hasnt got enough sway to actually improve working conditions

that is exactly what I'm saying.

Quote:
in that case I said in my opening rant that the hypothetical elected worker uses his position as a position to conduct direct action from, in coordination with other workers (should have specified that)

what does this actually mean? How can you use your position on a works council to conduct direct action?

Sitting on a works council just takes you away from the shop floor, where you actually can organise action. Not only that, but if the works council can't actually get workers anything, then why would you waste time trying to get elected to it? Why wouldn't you just said to workers that only their own direct action could achieve anything?

Quote:
. Which leads me to the next point. The usefullness of these organs differs alot from country to country, now I dont know how it is in the UK. But if I understand Belgian labour regulations correctly, people elected on work councils and the equivalent of your stewarts have the potential to sabotage alot of actions by management and are in positions to advance direct action. Something I have also heard quite a bit from people involved in them.

as I said, how can you "advance direct action" better from being on a works council to being on the shop floor?

Quote:
I also dont see these bodies as actual bodies for the emancipation of the working class, I simply inquired on the notion of voting as somehow more passive then certain direct actions. And I pointed to how these bodies could be used as a means to amplify and strengthen direct action, not that these bodies are seperate entities which can emancipate the working class by themselves.

you have asserted that these bodies "could be used as a means to amplify and strengthen direct action". However you haven't provided any evidence for it.

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Steven.
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Apr 29 2012 16:12
yeksmesh wrote:
The only counter argument I have heard against this kind of reasoning, is that history shows that organisations that practice this sort of electoralism, where direct action is emphasised and parliamentary action is only used as a complement to direct action, always devolve into purely parliamentary organisations. The point with this argument is that it can be countered in a number of ways.

First the only examples of these kinds of degenerations generally only take place in organisations that were already reformist from the start, and it is thus way too easy to counter this argument by saying that these groups didnt have the ideological base for withstanding the pressure of parliamentarism

that's not true. Plenty of revolutionary or anarchist organisations have degenerated following supporting candidates in elections. See the Spanish CNT, for example, which was the world's biggest anarchist union. It supported candidates in a Parliamentary election, then shortly afterwards ended up joining the government itself and undermining a working-class revolution.

Libcom's critique of electoralism which we wrote a few years ago is here:
http://libcom.org/thought/manifesto/introduction/index.php

Quote:
We are in favour of collective, mass action. There is nothing more isolated, atomised and individualistic than voting in elections. It is the act of one person in a box by themselves, the total opposite of collective struggle. The individual is alone before, during and after the act of voting. Indeed, unlike direct action, which, by its very nature, throws up new forms of organisation in order to manage and co-ordinate the struggle, voting creates no alternative organs of workers’ self-management; nor can it, as it is not based on nor does it create collective action or organisation. It simply empowers an individual (the elected representative) to act on behalf of a collection of other individuals (the voters). This will hinder collective organisation and action as the voters expect their representative to act and fight for them - as if they did not, they would not vote for them in the first place!

In other words, the idea that socialists standing for elections somehow prepares working class people for a new world is simply wrong. Utilising the state, standing in elections, only prepares people for following leaders - it does not encourage the self-activity, self-organisation, direct action and mass struggle required to build a better society. Moreover, use of elections has a corrupting effect on those who use it. The history of radicals using elections has been a long one of betrayal and the transformation of revolutionary parties into reformist ones. Thus using the existing state ensures that the division at the heart of existing society (namely a few who govern and the many who obey) is reproduced in the movements trying to abolish it. It boils down to handing effective leadership to special people, to "leaders," just when the situation requires working people to solve their own problems and take matters into their own hands. Only the struggle for freedom can be the school for freedom, and by placing power into the hands of leaders, utilising the existing state ensures that socialism is postponed rather than prepared for.

yeksmesh
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Apr 29 2012 17:12
radicalgraffiti wrote:
"principle"?

As in refuting electoralism in general, universal way as an unsuitable tactic for the advancement of class struggle. Compared to refuting electoralism based on the local conditions of the (often) country you are in, which is strongly dependend on local legislation.

Steven. wrote:
no, it doesn't apply to direct action. Using direct action you disrupt the employers ability to make profits (or at least threaten to you). You have to make it so that it effectively cost less for the employer to meet your demands and not to.

I don't really appreciate your attempts to dismiss my point here by making up straw men. If I didn't think that attempts to improve our working conditions were possible, then why was on strike on November 30? Why would I have organised collective direct actions and strikes at work?

Right, I thought that you were advancing some sort of impossibilist position. I apologise for the misunderstanding.

Quote:
what does this actually mean? How can you use your position on a works council to conduct direct action?

Sitting on a works council just takes you away from the shop floor, where you actually can organise action. Not only that, but if the works council can't actually get workers anything, then why would you waste time trying to get elected to it? Why wouldn't you just said to workers that only their own direct action could achieve anything?

as I said, how can you "advance direct action" better from being on a works council to being on the shop floor?

you have asserted that these bodies "could be used as a means to amplify and strengthen direct action". However you haven't provided any evidence for it.

Well first you seem to assume that there is to be a choice between organising on the shop floor and having someone elected or on a council. Unless off course I understand workplace organising wrongly in the sense that I view it as the work of a group of organisers who divide tasks somewhat among eachother, with maybe not all of them spending all their time on the shop floor, with maybe some of them coordinating solidarity with people outside of the workplace. But as I said I might view this wrongly, as workplace organising might be such a huge task that organising anything other then the shopfloor by people inside that workplace is out of the question?

Secondly, in regards to the actual use of certain elected workers. I'l dive into the actual legislation later, but from things I have heard from people that have actually been in these organs, they for example have to sign certain executive documents by the management, if they dont this blocks management from doing certain actions iirc actions in relation to labour, wages...etc. and I know how someone I know was actually locked up in his workplace by management for not signing such an act, only letting him out if he signed it, now if he had been more militant and in contact with a network on the work floor this could just as well have led to direct actions and maybe even a strike. Also elected workers also have the right to ask up information in relation to the companies financial conditions, safety records...etc, and use this information to get inspection on the managements tail. Another anecdote I have heard is how an elected worker was able to prevent management from doing anything to prevent a strike by following legislation that is unreasonable in practice (in this case they were having a meeting without having members of all unions present), thereby declaring the meeting null and void including all the anti-strike actions that were in it, forcing the management to redo the entire procedure by which time the strike was already well into motion thus making their actions obsolete.

Also again this is in regards to specific local conditions and legislation, what I am looking for is a bunch of universal arguments against electoralism that is used to advance direct action. Something the existing arguments havent to my knowledge been able to accomplish.

yeksmesh
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Apr 29 2012 17:20
Steven. wrote:
that's not true. Plenty of revolutionary or anarchist organisations have degenerated following supporting candidates in elections. See the Spanish CNT, for example, which was the world's biggest anarchist union. It supported candidates in a Parliamentary election, then shortly afterwards ended up joining the government itself and undermining a working-class revolution.

Good point, but didnt the CNT already support certain elections before the civil war? And wasnt the strategy where they chose to collaborate with the governement decided before they actually got people inside the governement?

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Steven.
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Apr 29 2012 17:47
yeksmesh wrote:
Steven. wrote:
that's not true. Plenty of revolutionary or anarchist organisations have degenerated following supporting candidates in elections. See the Spanish CNT, for example, which was the world's biggest anarchist union. It supported candidates in a Parliamentary election, then shortly afterwards ended up joining the government itself and undermining a working-class revolution.

Good point, but didnt the CNT already support certain elections before the civil war? And wasnt the strategy where they chose to collaborate with the governement decided before they actually got people inside the governement?

yes - and that's the point. While joining the government, or even supporting voting for one, was completely contrary to the aims of the organisation, after they had already compromised by supporting candidates in the election prior to the Civil War, the organisation continued to degenerate and make more compromises.

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 29 2012 18:21
yeksmesh wrote:

Also again this is in regards to specific local conditions and legislation, what I am looking for is a bunch of universal arguments against electoralism that is used to advance direct action. Something the existing arguments havent to my knowledge been able to accomplish.

There aren';t universal arguements for these things though, just general guidelines we try to work by. For example, in terms of tenants associations, the role of elected officials can vary greatly from area to area or estate to estate, the same goes for unions as the role of elected shop stewards is going to eb different in different workplaces..It would be impossible to come up with some sort of catch all theory to encompasss our approach to elections and democracy within all the myriad of workplace, community and/or campaigning organisations.

Generally speaking some but not all anarchists tend to be against work councils not because of the idea of electioralism but because works councils are generally more likely to work solely on a social partnership basis than unions (eg how can we make the workplace more efficient and how can we work better with management) and as steven says will generally not be able to challenge the employer with direct action.

Our criticisms of taking part in parliamentary elections (including regional/local ones) would be somewhat different and/or more pronouned because the issues it involves are decidedly wider, the time it takes from us is longer, the distance between it and our every day lives is greater and the gap between it and our ideals is a far wider chasm.

yeksmesh
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Apr 29 2012 18:34
Steven. wrote:
yes - and that's the point. While joining the government, or even supporting voting for one, was completely contrary to the aims of the organisation, after they had already compromised by supporting candidates in the election prior to the Civil War, the organisation continued to degenerate and make more compromises.

Ok point conceded, also the anti-electoralist article you gave me is quite good because it includes more historical examples and explanations towards getting radical parties in parliament, something other articles often just refer to vaguely.

Still I think the argument in regards to electoralism on a smaller scale, specifically in relation to workplace elections isnt really cleared up.

ps: Do you by any chance know of some trot parties/parties trots would align with that degenerated based on elections? As I have some trots I am arguing with, and I havent been able to find much information in that regard.

yeksmesh
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Apr 29 2012 18:37
cantdocartwheels wrote:
There aren';t universal arguements for these things though, just general guidelines we try to work by. For example, in terms of tenants associations, the role of elected officials can vary greatly from area to area or estate to estate, the same goes for unions as the role of elected shop stewards is going to eb different in different workplaces..It would be impossible to come up with some sort of catch all theory to encompasss our approach to elections and democracy within all the myriad of workplace, community and/or campaigning organisations.

Generally speaking some but not all anarchists tend to be against work councils not because of the idea of electioralism but because works councils are generally more likely to work solely on a social partnership basis than unions (eg how can we make the workplace more efficient and how can we work better with management) and as steven says will generally not be able to challenge the employer with direct action.

Our criticisms of taking part in parliamentary elections (including regional/local ones) would be somewhat different and/or more pronouned because the issues it involves are decidedly wider, the time it takes from us is longer, the distance between it and our every day lives is greater and the gap between it and our ideals is a far wider chasm.

Ok, but then why do organisations like the IWA seem to kick every organisation out that participates in workplace elections? Or am I not understanding the finer points of this debate?

MT
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Jun 9 2012 17:08
yeksmesh wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
There aren';t universal arguements for these things though, just general guidelines we try to work by. For example, in terms of tenants associations, the role of elected officials can vary greatly from area to area or estate to estate, the same goes for unions as the role of elected shop stewards is going to eb different in different workplaces..It would be impossible to come up with some sort of catch all theory to encompasss our approach to elections and democracy within all the myriad of workplace, community and/or campaigning organisations.

Generally speaking some but not all anarchists tend to be against work councils not because of the idea of electioralism but because works councils are generally more likely to work solely on a social partnership basis than unions (eg how can we make the workplace more efficient and how can we work better with management) and as steven says will generally not be able to challenge the employer with direct action.

Our criticisms of taking part in parliamentary elections (including regional/local ones) would be somewhat different and/or more pronouned because the issues it involves are decidedly wider, the time it takes from us is longer, the distance between it and our every day lives is greater and the gap between it and our ideals is a far wider chasm.

Ok, but then why do organisations like the IWA seem to kick every organisation out that participates in workplace elections? Or am I not understanding the finer points of this debate?

I think the part in bold gives you the answer;)

MT
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Jun 9 2012 18:16

btw, the point about legislation should be taken more into account by the posters i guess, cos there might be big differences in labour laws/codes across countries.

i believe there are many countries where works councils have certain rights the unions have as well. for example in slovakia, there is a new labour code in effect since september 2011 which allows works councils a right to codecision when there is a union and a works council at one workplace at the same time (this change was agreed by the last right-wing coalition and i think it is obvious what lies behind it:); the new socdem government says some labour code parts will change back to the version before september 2011 but yet is not clear which parts and to what extent). what is interesting is that the law says that in this specific case the unions lost their right for codecision (but kept the right for signing collective agreements).

as for the works council elections, the employer can put his/her candidates and determine several aspects of the election process like deciding on election districts. but most probably this is what is very common across countries.

the differences among countries could be then in the spheres of possible "workers control" (the requirement of codecision being the legal tool one might theoretically use in a non-direct action struggle). in Slovakia that would mean that the union or works council (in the specific case mentioned above) have to give their "yes" in regard to: internal safety regulations, vacation plans, uneven distribution of working time, output rates and so on. otherwise the employer has his/her hands tied, cannot force any changes.

still, the works councils have so much limitations even from the reformist point of view, that for individuals or groups aiming at revolutionary social transformation, they can bring nothing useful. so, if you ask if we can use them in limited or very special occasions, i guess that is up to individual workers, but when it is a practice of pro-revolutionary organization i think either it stops such practice or has no place in the pro-revolutionary milieu. and here i have to agree with cantdocartwheels that you cannot base your arguments on promoting something as 100% universal.

i think that even if you find the few exceptions when the elected representatives stood for what the workers wanted and it brought some meaningful results, you would have a hard time finding electorialism useful for building something that will bring about the long term communist changes. so, if you have arguments with people who are not "politicos" and might have all sorts of hopes in "good leaders", then you always will have problems explaining why electorialism won't work. there is no toolbox you pick a tool from and win all the folks listening to you. with some people it is harder than with other. with some it even may seem impossible not matter how "perfect" arguments and examples you provide (i feel from your posts that you try to reach some kind of perfection).

perhaps people could share how they deal with situations when electorialism vs. direct action is debated. personally i prefer the ones with opposite opinion to convince me, not the other way around cos in such way the debate may reveal many of their own inconsistencies. and you can give a lot of good examples supporting your view in the process.

capricorn
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Jun 17 2012 09:08
yeksmesh wrote:
but didnt the CNT already support certain elections before the civil war?

Yes, they did or at least many CNT members did, in particular they voted for Popular Front candidates in the 1936 elections on the grounds that this political grouping was promising to release anarchist (and other) prisoners jailed for taking part in an earlier insurrection. Which it actually did do after it had won the elections.

What this shows is that, when a movement reaches a certain size, abstentionism is not always the only option. In fact, I'd say that rather than voting for others the thing to do would be to put up its own candidates. I think this is what will happen as, as the CNT example shows, when a movement has reached a size when it can have some influence on the outcome of an election it will be impossible to hold to a dogmatic abstentionist position. Only small groups can stick to this position, precisely because they are small.

In short, I don't think a case can be made out for ruling out electoral participation on principle.