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PDFs for printing
It is not uncommon for class struggle libertarians to hear Leninists equate vanguardism with a libertarian militant minority group, such as the Friends of Durruti in libertarian Spain, yet suggest that the libertarian role is simply lacking in strategy. This shows a poor understanding of the militant libertarian alternative to Leninist vanguardism and why we see it as far more desirable and superior. The phrase “militant minority” was created by anarchosyndicalists to refer to working class people who are class conscious and have an informal influence within their workplaces and unions due to being hard-working or being good at public speaking, being politically knowledgeable, etc. Anarchosyndicalists have also used the term “vanguard” to refer to an active, organized and politically-motivated militant minority.
Posted on August 9, 2016
The following post is authored by WSA member JT and originally posted on their blog Rage Against Capital. While this critique does not represent an official position of the WSA, it did find traction and preexisting sentiment among many members. It is posted on Ideas and Action today in the spirit of comradely debate.
If you consider yourself to be on the radical left side of politics, be it Marxist, Anarchist, what have you, you have probably been bombarded for the last year with talk about things like “The PKK” and “The YPG”, or “The YPJ”. These are all part of the Syrian Kurdish movement that has come to power in a few cantons in the middle east, the canton mentioned the most easily being the region of Kobane witch has been a front for the Kurdish fighters against the forces of Islamic State. The reaction the broad left has given this movement is one of intense support. Any statements critical of the movement are immediately attacked. Afed put out an article in December 2014 heavily criticizing the movement which is now taken down. I don’t know why it was, but I think I am not very far off in guessing that people’s response to that article had something to do with it. Articles entitled “DEAR MR.ANARCHIST, YOU AREN’T LISTENING” and “Mr. Anarchist, We need to have a chat about colonialism” came out denouncing all those critical of the Syrian Kurdish movement as those who held positions that furthered colonialism. At the same time, telling any supporters that you are critical of the Syrian Kurdish movement often provokes outright attack or confused “why”s on the part of said supporters. I have written critically about this movement before, none of the original articles are up on my site anymore, however this is not because I was bullied into submission by accusations of helping colonialism. Rather, I felt I could do a more rigorous and more well thought out critique. This will be my official piece on the subject, dealing with it at length, and taking a critical look at it, while responding to supporters’ counter arguments against nay sayers.
Posted on July 30, 2016
Anarchism is the goal, syndicalism is the method. Anarcho-syndicalism is more than just a different kind of unionism. It is a revolutionary movement for the elimination of the capitalist system of social relations. We seek to replace the system of corruption, inequality and greed with a system of true egalitarianism, where no one has the ability to dominate another.
Anarcho-syndicalist methods are not limited to workplace organizing. The same syndicalist structure that promotes member controlled workplace organizations can be applied to other organizations in the community. What we build today will prefigure the free society of tomorrow.
We are building a revolutionary union movement. Organizing is underway in several areas. Membership is open to individuals and existing groups. Join us! Our time is NOW!
Posted on June 15, 2016
In March of 2016, the Worker’s Solidarity Alliance (WSA) introduced the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (ASI), a project to develop a network of anarcho-syndicalist organizations across North America. The purpose of the initiative is to consolidate our strength as syndicalist oriented revolutionaries and to build our capacity to combat the capitalist system.
Over the last month, WSA has reached out to sympathetic organizations and individuals across the country and is, acting as the driving force of the new initiative. Our goal is to build the necessary Organizing Committee needed to undertake the brick-and-mortar effort of launching a substantial anarcho-syndicalist union movement. In that time we’ve received a positive response, and a few operational questions:
While members of WSA may have initiated this project, we do not seek a privileged or commanding role in any subsequent organizing committee for this new revolutionary union movement. We hope for a variety of working-class organizations, from solidarity networks to independent unions and tenants organizations, to eventually join in the ASI project. We envision our role as ideally one organization among many ‘moving the work along’. Specifically, WSA sees itself as an anarcho-syndicalist organization aimed at building local groups of militants who initiate, engage, and act in solidarity with rank-and-file controlled movements in all the various terrains of the class struggle.
Individuals who wish to participate in the ASI project are encouraged to join the WSA to work toward these shared goals.. We will help comrades in their efforts to build anarcho-syndicalist oriented initiatives (solnets, workplace organizations, community unions, etc) in their area. Existing mass working-class organizations and groups of radical workers can affiliate directly to the project as member organizations of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative, whose first task is to organically determine its structure at a founding conference.
For past announcements please see our webzine, Ideas and Action: (http://ideasandaction.info/)
If you are interested in joining the Workers Solidarity Alliance, participating in the ASI, or are curious about things happening near you, please email our Corresponding Secretary:
Posted on April 18, 2016
What is Class Oppression? Who is the Working Class?
By Tom Wetzel
Occupy Wall Street highlighted class inequality in the USA through its talk about the concentration of income and wealth in the hands of "the 1 percent." This does put a bullseye on the ruling class in our society. But much of the talk about class in recent times has focused on income inequality. The idea is that "the 1 percent" are at the top because they have the highest incomes. But this fails to get to the heart of the matter. The existence of different income levels doesn’t explain why there are classes at all. After all, what explains why there are such huge differences in income?
When American union leaders talk about a worker struggle as a “defense of middle class jobs”, you'd think they must lead an organization of lawyers and doctors. Again, this is about income. In the past, unions in some industries were able to use their leverage to secure wage gains that would enable some workers to “lead a middle class lifestyle.”
That way of looking at things is a product of the years of the so-called “class truce” after World War 2. By the ‘40s workers had gained major concessions from the capitalist elite in North America and Western Europe.
Continue reading "What is Class Oppression? Who is the Working Class?"
Modern Slavery and the Triumph of Capitalism, (Part One)
By Mike Kolhoff
“The ideological push for the “science” of free trade has unleashed enormously destructive forces for social and cultural change that have wreaked havoc on the populations of developing countries. Rapid urbanization and restructuring of agricultural activities, upon which people have depended for centuries, has spelled disaster. In rural areas, the loss of common land, combined with the switch to the production of cash crops from subsistence farming, has in effect destroyed people’s livelihoods.”
From: The Economic Foundations of Contemporary Slavery, By Justin Guay , Topical Research Digest, 2014
The extractive power of capitalism has always existed. The ability to extract profit from people, production and resources is necessary for capitalism to function. There was a time when this was accompanied by a sort of creative power of capitalism. Capitalism once built things, even as it extracted profit from people and things. It built electrical power plants, built libraries, built universities and paved roads. These activities were in no way altruistic, they were adjustments, investments made to improve extraction of profit and to prove the superiority of capitalism over any competing system, but they still benefited non-capitalists just the same.
Any creative power capitalism may have once had began to decline in the last half of the 20th century, well after capitalism had faced its greatest crisis: the crisis of over-production and under-consumption that brought on the Great Depression. This crisis continues today, despite World War 2 and despite the invention of consumer capitalism (a wasteful system based on the production and sale of mostly useless things) and the conversion of the wartime propaganda machinery to the peacetime sales machinery. An economy based on selling people things they don’t want, and people buying things they neither want or need, on credit, is an economy treading water.
Continue reading "Modern Slavery and the Triumph of Capitalism, (Part One)"
By Mike Kolhoff
Part of a series commemorating 30 years of WSA
One of my fondest memories of my early days in the WSA was eagerly waiting for the next Discussion Bulletin to arrive in the mail. The DB had reports from comrades around the country on what they were doing, introducing new members, local actions and important news, international reports and letters from the IWA secretariat and other sections. Many phone calls were generated by the DB with questions and congratulations and offers of aid. Really the DB and the phone were the communication system that kept us in touch with the organization.
I miss that, a lot. Our current electronic instantaneous communications seem less substantial sometimes. The immediacy has, for me at least, degraded both the content and tone of our interactions. We have sacrificed thoughtfulness for speed, which isn’t a fair trade.
Continue reading "WSA Memories"
Part of a series commemorating 30 years of WSA
I joined the WSA in 2009 after participating in an anarchist reading group set up by two other WSAers. I was excited by what seemed like a density of good, smart people in the organization and because I was attracted to anarcho-syndicalist politics. While I learned the organization was not as clear-cut anarcho-syndicalist as I'd thought, with regard to the people I was not disappointed. I stuck around as an active member for about three years, even I'd become burned out on political organizations, primarily out of a strong sense of loyalty to the good comrades I'd gotten to know.
Continue reading "Recalling WSA"
Why Consensus Decision-making Won’t Work for Grassroots Unionism
By Tom Wetzel
Syndicalists have always supported a form of direct democracy based on majority rule. Like most American unions, the Industrial Workers of the World officially endorses Robert’s Rules of Order — although some of their smaller branches use a stripped down version called Rusty’s Rules. The point to taking a vote is that it enables an organized group to come to a decision that expresses the collective will, even when there is some disagreement.
This doesn’t mean that all decisions are made by voting. In grassroots organizations based on majority decision-making, it often happens that most decisions are made without taking any vote — especially in smaller meetings. That’s because people are often able to come to agreement just by discussing the issue or proposal.
Continue reading "Why Consensus Decision-making Won’t Work for Grassroots Unionism"