Lessons from the Air Traffic Controllers’ Strike of 1981

A.E. Martinez

“There are no illegal strikes, just unsuccessful ones.” – PATCO slogan

“There are no illegal strikes, just unsuccessful ones.” – PATCO slogan

August 3rd, 1981: Approximately 13,000 air traffic controllers across the United States declare a strike through their union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers’ Organization (PATCO). Their strike echoed the usual demands of the labor movement: better wages, better working conditions, a shorter workweek, and ultimately a greater voice for workers at work. Indeed, the PATCO strike was hardly remarkable in any way. In our own decade, we have seen public-sector workers walk out several times over grievances basically identical to those of the PATCO workers, whether they were Chicago schoolteachers in 2012, New York City subway workers in 2014, or Philadelphia subway workers again in the same year.
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Posted on August 25, 2014

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The Chinese and American Synthesis

By Mike Kolhoff

It’s been clear that the Chinese and American economies have become closely intertwined since the end of the Cold War. Once arch-enemies, China is now a close trading partner with the United States, able even to influence the content of American motion pictures (re: the remake of “Red Dawn”). A vast distribution network, evidenced most dramatically in the dollar stores, has arisen primarily for cheap Chinese-made consumer goods. Impoverished Americans now buy cheap goods made by equally impoverished Chinese workers. The pauperization of the American working class by neo-liberal policies has meant massive profits for the exporters and importers of these cheap commodities. Continue reading “The Chinese and American Synthesis” »

Posted on August 20, 2014

Incapacity, White Supremacy, and the Destruction of Detroit

By Mike Kolhoff

The destruction of Detroit continues according to the plans of Michigan’s Teapublican-controlled state government. Their racist intentions are obvious. They want to drive out the existing African American population, and replace it with one more to their liking. The recent proposal by Governor Snyder to offer financial incentives to encourage high-tech workers to relocate to Detroit is only the most blatant, while cutting off WATER to thousands of current residents is certainly the most despicable. The parallel to the post-Katrina depopulation of New Orleans is brought to mind; New Orleans, that other major American city with a majority African American population. Continue reading “Incapacity, White Supremacy, and the Destruction of Detroit” »

Posted on June 30, 2014

Evaluating two decades of indigenous resistance in Chiapas – A Reply to Dan La Botz

By Steven Fake

Dan La Botz, a long-time labor activist who has considerable familiarity with Mexican affairs, marked the 20th anniversary of the Zapatista rebellion by penning a reflection on their legacy. His critique reflects his openness to electoral strategies for social change. La Botz is a member of Solidarity, one of the handful of Trotskyist-inspired groups of any visibility in the U.S. His views may be taken as broadly representative of a substantial chunk of the left, particularly Marxists.

In his assessment – “Twenty Years Since the Chiapas Rebellion: The Zapatistas, Their Politics, and Their Impact,” January 13, 2014 – La Botz accuses the Zapatistas of “political abstentionism.” The phrase requires some translation for those not steeped in left historical minutiae. Under this logic, political activity refers only to the electoral realm. One may engage in occupations, sit-ins, or demonstrations, while still being a political abstentionist. Continue reading “Evaluating two decades of indigenous resistance in Chiapas – A Reply to Dan La Botz” »

Posted on June 22, 2014

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Thoughts on SolFed’s anarcho-syndicalism for the 21st century and Especifismo

By Klas Batalo

FARJ's graph on division of labor internal to the revolutionary organization

If you've been following debates in class struggle anarchism the last few years you've most likely encountered the writings of the Solidarity Federation (UK) who've put out excellent pamphlets on anarcho-syndicalist theory and practice with the hope of updating it for the 21st century. The first of these Strategy & Struggle was released by the Brighton local of SolFed in 2009 and created much of a buzz for the organization, especially around the website libcom.org. This is why many anticipated eagerly the release the groups' elaboration and improvement upon many of the ideas in that pamphlet, Fighting for Ourselves, released around this time last year in 2012.

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Posted on September 25, 2013

The Revolutionary Party Is An Oxymoron

By Steven Fake

Kshama Sawant

The campaign of socialist Kshama Sawant for the Seattle City Council continues to attract excitement on the left for her strong showing. A Counterpunch contributor recently called it a "highly significant" development. I wish her well of course. A socialist threat in the city of Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks is indeed heart warming. Hopefully the publicity will introduce some new people to socialism. But electoral campaigns are not a promising strategy for systemic change.

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Posted on September 13, 2013

3 Ways Organizing With Friends Can Lead to Failure

By Brandon Feld


Sitting among a group of college aged friends that all dress and talk in the same way is a recurring scene in activism and organizing groups around the world. In large part, organizing takes the form of a few people trying to rally their friends around a cause. These practices are counterproductive to creating welcoming organizing spaces.

I’ve been in all types: organizations that were started from friendships, groups of people that later became friends after working together (which is better), and most recently a group that I have a few friends in but most of the people I work with I just consider comrades. Meaning once in awhile we go out for beers after a meeting or action but socializing doesn’t go much beyond that. The latter of the three works best to promote a healthy organizational culture. This article will examine the reasons as to how leaning on our friends to take a role in our organizations can become problematic.

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Posted on July 27, 2013

Malatesta and Syndicalism

A note from the translator: "This is a never before translated piece by Lopez Arango, one of the main theorists of the pre-1930 FORA, that goes against Malatesta's ideas on the unions. The prose is filled with flourish and it not straight forward at all. I tried to take liberties to make it more readable in English... It has some really interesting elements in it: focus on the method of struggle, rejection of unions in post-rev society, rejection of anarcho-syndicalism as a concept, clarity of the dynamic of struggle between pre-revolutionary periods and ruptures, etc. The FORA was way ahead of their time."

From the weekly supplement of La Protesta, July 13, 1925

By Emilio López Arango

In a translation of “Pensiero e Volonte” from Rome, an article by Malatesta was published about the relation in theory and fact between anarchism and syndicalism. The aforementioned comrade raised a point of contradiction between those two terms, and explains how the role of the labor movement and activity of anarchists outside and inside of the unions, and in a final note subtlety gathered words written in La Protesta. The article of Malatesta generalizes a problem not yet sufficiently discussed and clarified.

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Posted on May 8, 2012