- McJobs and Workers -

Now, where are we going?

Posted by: Flint Jones ( IWW, USA ) on August 06, 1998 at 09:45:42:

In Reply to: OK - We'll compromise. How about pink ? posted by The Trolley Dollies on August 03, 1998 at 16:38:27:

DT: May we suggest a compromise ? How about pink ? It's a nice colour.

Hey, I think our fellow workers in the Queer Labor/Pride at Work movement would like that alot. Personally, I prefer the old black flag. Course in my more lucid moments I've been known to espouse Anarchism from time to time. However, by no means are other wobblies anarchists, infact as an organizaiton we reject all affiliation with political parties and anti-political sects. So, there are Anarchists, Communists, Socialists, Greens, Democrats, Libertarians and perhaps even some Republicans in the bunch (Wobblies in the UK, Canada and Australia have their own parties). So partially this has rid us of being controlled by any one political party... but likewise many people have very different ideas of where we should go.

DT: But seriously - all we want to know is how the IWW is going to change the attitudes of the masses. Sure, there are many who recognise the hopelessness of their situation, and want to improve it, but there are also many many more who simply can't be bothered, or are too nervous about the effect of the massive upheaval that "abolishing the wage system" will bring. For the IWW to achieve it's aims it will have to prod a hell of a lot of people into action.

Flint: Well... convincing the masses is usually something political parties do to win electoral politics. I'm much happier just convincing the workers at one place of work the value of unionize. Ofcourse the more you can organizing industrially (across many workplaces, regardless of ownership) the stronger both unions at the shopfloor and unions at larger are... and the more solidarity actions you can take. Like say shutting down all fast food restraunts in a city to bring one restraunt up to the union standard. The idea behind One Big Union, however, does require rather massive support among the workers... the idea? Reach out to them in every medium and show them how to do things for themselves and examples of what others have done. We can't afford radio time, so what we do... we sieze the airwaves and have a good old-fashioned Free Speech Fight in electronic style. The IWW is one of the most wired unions on the web with something like 7 servers online and more coming up. We only print the Industrial Worker monthly currently, but many locals and GMB print their own periodicals.
Other tactics of how to get from where we are to where we want to go (where ever that is... see below) are expounded upon by IWW literature. This ranges from what you can do at just your job (One Big Union), to the vision of nonviolent revolution without political parties(General Strike!). For something of an Anarchist perspective on how we can use unions to get to where we want to go, check out Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism, but I will point out that as an organization the IWW isn't anarcho-syndicalist... atleast thats what the commies keep telling me.

Now, where are we going? Well... "Anywhere but Here!" seems to be a common response. And at the same time, there is a rejection of control of the economy by 5-year plans and The Party as you get in most of the "socialist" States like the former USSR. The amount of time authoritarian communist governments have crushed worker's struggle and undermined worker's control is perhaps more frightening than the amount Capitalists "democracies" have. This doesn't even touch upon mass genocide. So, what were looking for really is that those who do the work, manager it. That those who toil, reap the benfit... and it doesn't go to some boss... be that capitalist boss, party boss or union boss.

Personally I like worker-owned and worker-controlled Co-operatives, like Mondragon before it went "global", and the workers' co-ops in Italy. Or for a long range vision check out Participatory Economics. For short term, trying to get out of our current economic system... you might want to explore LETSystem by thwarting global control over currency. And check out the ideas of a robber baron who saw the light.

These are all just ideas of where we can go, once we are managing our work democratically. Why not just go form up our own co-ops and merely avoid capitalism. Well, its difficult getting the start up capital. You've probably noticed that there is a concentration of wealth among the rich, while increasingly more and more people are dispossed... or what little property they do own has oustanding loans that they'll be paying on until they die. While there has been some great success with the like of Mondragon's Working People's Bank, it is fighting an uphill battle merely to get the funds needed to invest. Sometimes, a union can get lucky and when a company goes belly up, it can take over like Weiler Steel in my old home town of Huntington, WV. Until we get to worker-coops though... we've got to fight to improve our conditions in places we don't have control. If that means a health plan or a wage increase, great... if that means a safety inspector who answers to the union and not the boss, great! Its one step at a time.

Since your in Ireland, DT... you might want to check out the
Worker's Solidarity Movement as they could have great conversations with you that a simple web board posting couldn't answer (no matter how much I write).
The IWW isn't established well in Ireland, but we do have Wobblies organizing in Britian.

I think you should read more of our literature beyond just the Constitution and Preamble. Particularly things that we do practically.
In many ways we are struggling to organize the unorganized worker, and
offer ourselves as an alternative to business unionism.


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