Posts Tagged ‘CNT’


(First off, apologies to our long-term subscribers who were used to regular posts. Ill health, especially long-time insomnia, made regular posts difficult. I finally thought I had a remedy for this after being diagnosed with severe sleep apnea six weeks ago. Unfortunately, I’m among the approximately 20% of sufferers for whom the usual remedy, a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine, does no good. In fact it made the problem worse. I’ll be returning the machine tomorrow, after a month of near torture trying to make it work.

The following comes after several zero-to-four-hour nights of sleep. Please forgive any lapses in logic. Please, and I mean please, check out any assertions from the following — I might make an occasional slight lapse, but overall I think I’m dead on. I’ve undoubtedly missed a lot of things — if you see anything , please point it out.

  • The first thing we need to face is that approximately 25% of the voting public in the US are evangelical theo-fascists, who simply want to impose their warped “morality” on the rest of us; and they enjoy hurting us — they’re sadists;
  • The second thing is that they’re utter hypocrites. They say they’re pro-family, but they support a thug who breaks families apart and causes irreparable harm to child victims, and death to children;
  • They are NOT patriots. While they wrap themselves in the colors, make a spectacle of their supposed patriotism (as at their role-playing ballgames) they betray every decent thing America is supposed to represent: a welcome to all fleeing persecution; freedom of speech; freedom of opportunity; individual freedom to partake or not partake in “patriotic” spectacles;
  • They’re so brainwashed (thanks Fox/State “News” and the Facebook echo chamber) that they don’t even recognize it;
  • To be blunt, for them a day of exercise consists of an afternoon of repeated knee bends and bending over to kiss (Trump’s ample) butt, followed by an evening of goose-stepping, all to the romantic light of very fine people bearing tiki torches;

Beyond that, there are a lot of ugly truths to confront:

  • Real wages peaked in 1972-1973. Productivity per hour has roughly doubled since then;
  • Corporations have exported jobs overseas for decades as long as they could save 25 or 50 cents an hour;
  • Those savings were made real by tax laws favoring overseas “investments”;
  • Rather than understand this and confront their real oppressors, many racist idiots have attacked even more powerless victims than themselves — victims that their corporate overlords set up as scapegoats;
  • Those scape-goating tools are thugs for the corporations — racists who attack scapegoats, and work to empower their own oppressors;
  • And some continue to proudly ruin the environment with smoke-belching trucks while they deny that blatant problems exist;

Then there’s the unspoken problem:

  • Overpopulation is a major cause of ecological problems. Yes, there are ways to make this problem less severe, but it’s a major problem nonetheless;
  • Why even have overpopulation?
  • There are three interconnected reasons:
  • 1. Patriarchal religions encourage overpopulation as a means of increasing revenue/power/adherents;
  • 2. Patriarchal religions encourage overpopulation as a means of female submission (what else can do they do with dozens of kids but take care of them and then seek solace at church?)
  • 3. Overpopulation makes all the above worse, so it produces more and more desperation, and more and more dependence on the “word of God” (and it’s interpreters) — and more and more adherents and “offerings.”

The conventional “good guys” are not the saviors.

  • Since the 1980s, at least, the Democrats have been the “good guy” in the good-guy/bad-guy mugging of the working class while the parasitocratic 1% picked their pockets;
  • Bill Clinton once said “we’re all Republicans” — referring to his corporatist-subservient agenda;
  • After the Republicans crashed the economy in 2008, Barack Obama rescued the banks, but not the millions upon millions of average Americans who lost their jobs and/or homes;
  • He didn’t do shit for ’em (myself included — lost more than half my income in the following year);
  • He did not prosecute a single one of the criminals responsible for the greatest financial crime in world history — not one;
  • He also had pledged “the most open administration in history” and then delivered the least open in history, with vicious persecution of whistle blowers;

Both Republican, Democratic, and social democratic parties have conspired to suppress real, democratic alternative structures that might have solved the above problems/crises:

  • In the 1900s/1910s/1920s the U.S. and state governments outlawed and then imprisoned on a mass scale members of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) who advocated the takeover and management of industry, and elimination of “moralistic” laws, by self-managed unions. Thousands of IWW members languished in prison for years as a result;
  • In 1918-1921, the Bolsheviks hypocritically advocated and then destroyed the self-managed “soviets” in Russia, followed by mass murder of anarchist and other self-management advocates;
  • In the 1930s, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Spanish Falange, destroyed, along with the active complicity of the authoritarian USSR, the most important real alternative to authoritarian organization of society: the CNT (Confederación Nacional Del Trabajo/Federación Anarquista Ibérica), that lasted over two years on a mass scale — including the self-managed operation of the most heavily industrialized region of Spain, Catalonia;
  • In the early 2010s, the authoritarian Obama regime coordinated the suppression of the Occupy Wall Street encampments that had sprung up nation wide; these were self-managed camps, where for the first time in their lives a hell of a lot of people experienced control over their own lives. And Obama and his minions were so frightened that that “contagion” would spread, that they crushed the encampments.

This just goes to show how frightened they are — and how much power that we potentially have.

We can self-organize the economy. We can self-organize the world. Don’t mourn, organize.

 

 


Anarchist Cookbook front cover(from The Anarchist Cookbook, by Keith McHenry with Chaz Bufe, Introduction by Chris Hedges, scheduled for October 2015)

 

When Americans think of means to change, labor organizing tends to be well down on the list, if it’s there at all. There are good reasons for this.

There have been no mass membership revolutionary unions in the U.S. for nearly a century, and the only type most Americans are familiar with are the business unions of the AFL-CIO. As “business” implies, these unions are purely in the business of selling their members’ labor. in other words, they serve as bulwarks of capitalism, not challengers to it.

As you’d expect, they’re run along traditional hierarchical lines, often quite undemocratically, with highly paid executives who are out of touch with those they supposedly represent. Also, as you’d expect, many of those executives have been markedly reactionary, two notable examples being former Teamster’s president and Nixon buddy Frank Fitzsimmons, and former AFL-CIO president George Meany, a supporter of the Viet Nam War who was completely indifferent to organizing the unorganized.

Given all this, how did the AFL-CIO become the face of labor? It did so with major assistance from the U.S. government. In the period 1905 through the early 1920s, the AFL faced a radical rival, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). (The CIO emerged in the 1930s and merged with the AFL in 1955.) While the AFL was a federation of craft unions, interested only in its own members’ wages, and always presented itself as being a partner with business–there are photos of AFL founder Samuel Gompers at an elegant dinner with the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce–the IWW was practicing militant unionism, attempting to organize all workers, and had as its goal the elimination of capitalism and a democratically controlled worker takeover of the economy.

The government found this intolerable, and subjected the IWW to continual harrassment (often in the form of mass jailing of its members) in the years prior to World War I.

When Democrat Woodrow Wilson broke his campaign pledge and involved the U.S. in that war, the AFL supported U.S. involvement, and the IWW opposed it. As a result, repression of the IWW intensified, with many IWW members jailed for expressing opposition to the war, and many others jailed for refusing to be conscripted. In the red scare that followed the war, many states passed “criminal syndicalism” laws, which banned unionism of the IWW type. As a result of all this, thousands of IWW members were imprisoned, often for years, during World War I and its aftermath. And the government all but succeeded in totally destroying the IWW. (Today, the IWW survives with perhaps 5,000 members.)

The AFL (and its later partner, the CIO) stepped into this void and emerged as the only kind of union entity most Americans know, or can even conceive of.

The percentage of American workers represented by the AFL-CIO has plummeted from its high point of 34% of nongoverment workers in 1940 to under 7% today. And that percentage is still falling. (Today, the bulk of the AFL-CIO’s members are government workers, with its unions representing over 35% of them.)

Why has the percentage of nongoverment workers fallen so far? AFL-CIO backers would (correctly) point to the laws passed since World War II that hamstring the union movement (notably “right to work” laws and the Taft-Hartley and Sherman Acts–laws which among other things prohibit secondary boycotts and allow the government to order striking workers back to work.) AFL-CIO backers would also point to lack of enforcement of laws protecting workers who try to organize; because of that lack of enforcement, employers have fired organizers with impunity for decades.

But there’s another reason too: the very nature of the business unions (hierarchical, often undemocratic, often corrupt), and beyond that their utter lack of an inspiring vision. Many invite noninvolvement of members–just pay your dues and leave the rest to us. And having no goals beyond selling your members’ work lives for the highest amount you can get simply isn’t inspirational.

So, is labor organizing ineffective as a means to change? Not necessarily. In the 1930s in Spain, revolutionary unionism of the IWW type, as practiced by the anarchist Spanish Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), did lead to a genuine revolution and social transformation in approximately half of Spain, including Catalonia, its major industrial region. That social transformation lasted approximately two years, until it was crushed by the anarchists’  Communist “allies” and the combined military forces of Spanish, Italian, and German fascism. This, however, does not take away from the achievements of the Spanish anarchists. And it provides evidence that revolutionary labor organizing can lead to fundamental political, social, and economic change.

The hallmarks of such organizing are direct democratic  control by members, horizontal structure, decentralization, no paid officials, rotation of all offices, and immediate recallability of all (unpaid) officials. And, importantly, having a motivating vision. That of the CNT was elimination of capitalism, elimination of government, and direct democratic control of the economy by those who work.

In the United States there’s very little such organizing going on at present. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing.