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.
That personal, comradely element was always the organization’s strongest suit. The downside was many folks passed in and quickly, would make a stir and then dip out, leaving most of the boring nitty gritty workload to a few hard working members. That however was partly due the org’s quick membership growth coming out of the inter-organization sponsored, class struggle anarchist conferences in New York and Detroit. I joined shortly before the Detroit conference and had the pleasure of attending it myself along with a couple other comrades from the Twin Cities.
While I joined somewhat skeptical (and made a bit of an ass of myself on the listserv, with my naive big headed big ideas), the Detroit conference sold me completely at that time. A number of other folks joined right after the conference due to the good rep the WSA attendees built. The credit for that rep is due to an intentional if informal policy to be on our best comradely behavior. An invaluable lesson I inherited from the experience was that individual members are “the face” of an organization. The impression you create personally is reflected onto the organization. However good or bad a group’s politics may be, individuals make or break the group’s outside reputation and internal solidarity.
The influx from the Class Struggle Anarchist Conference’s proved temporary but, in my opinion reflected a well-earned rep which longer term members have built over many long and sometimes painful years long before I joined. I’m no longer involved in WSA so I can’t speak to what it’s doing currently, but I do know some with some good longstanding folks involved and wish them a hearty comradely greetings and congratulations for pulling through 30 years of the struggle with all it’s ups and downs.