The strike laid the groundwork for much more workers’ organization in the community in subsequent years
Barcelona is the capital of the province of Catalonia in northeastern Spain. In the 1920s Barcelona was the fastest growing city in Europe. Modernization and industrialization were proceeding at a rapid pace. Migrants from nearby regions were flooding into the city to take jobs. The population of Barcelona expanded by 62% during that decade. Adjacent blue-collar suburbs like Hospitalet and Santa Coloma doubled and tripled in population. By the 1930s the province of Catalonia, with about 6 million residents, contained about 70% of the manufacturing capacity of Spain. Barcelona had become Spain’s largest city, with 1.5 mi... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I’m going to talk a bit about the theoretical presuppositions of anarchosyndicalism, and I’m going to make some comparisons with Marxism since both political perspectives claim to base themselves on the class struggle.
Actually they aren’t exactly comparable because Marxism purports to be a complete worldview whereas I would argue that anarchosyndicalism is best understood as merely a revolutionary strategy, or strategic orientation.
The basic idea of anarchosyndicalism is that by developing mass organizations that are self-managed by their participants, particularly organizations rooted in the struggle at the point of production, the working class develops the self-activity, self-confidence, unity, and self-... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The idea is that creating independent state-run economies can cut down the power of the dominant centers of capital and chart an independent course that gives expression to “national self-determination.” National liberation only enhances the power of the local boss class.
Third World Nationalism
In countries with a weak native business class, the tendency during this century has been for the state to be seen by local leaders as a means to pool capital and organize development, as well as providing an avenue to advancement and power for locals with ambition. Given the independence of the local state, state control of the economy is seen as a means to enhance the power of the local elite and reduce the power of foreign c... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Back in April the MTA Board, which runs Muni (the bus and streetcar system in San Francisco) voted to increase the transit fare from $1.25 to $1.50, to cut service on many bus lines, and to lay off about 200 drivers. This Thursday, Sept 1, is when the fare hike is supposed to go into effect. This is the second fare hike in two years. Since 2003 the fare has gone up 50 percent.
Initially there were two groups that started doing organizing against the fare hikes, layoffs, and service cuts. The Coalition for Transit Justice was initiated by organizers who work for some housing nonprofits, such as the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, and they were able to get the endorsement of about 35 community groups in S.F. to oppose the fare hikes & s... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
For May Day, we are presenting the start of a new multipart series around the question ‘How were you radicalized?’ On the radical left, many people often speak of their protest or organizing experiences, almost like old war veterans. But one of the more interesting stories…people’s personal path to radical politics, aren’t always told.
The first part in our series takes us briefly though the ’60s and ’70s and is from Tom Wetzel. Tom’s other writings can be found on his personal website, as well as on ideas & action, a publication by Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA).
I grew up in a blue collar family of auto-didacts. I lived with my grandmother who was a milliner who worked ... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In a polemic against the syndicalists, Antonio Gramsci argued that the syndicalists were wrong in maintaining that unions were capable of being organs of workers’ revolution. He said this confused a marketing organization of labor within capitalism — the trade unions — with an organization for running production in a socialized economy — the workers councils. Because the function of a union is to affect the terms and conditions of the sale of labor to the employers, he argued, it is an organization specific to a capitalist society.
However, if we look at the actual functions of the Turin shop councils, as described in the Shop Stewards’ Program, we find that much of their actual function is the organizat... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
DURING the month of September, 1920, a widespread occupation of Italian factories by their workforces took place, which originated in the auto factories, steel mills and machine tool plants of the metal sector but spread out into many other industries — cotton mills and hosiery firms, lignite mines, tire factories, breweries and distilleries, and steamships and warehouses in the port towns.
But this was not a sit-down strike; the workers continued production with their own in-plant organization. And railway workers, in open defiance of the management of the state-owned railways, shunted freight cars between the factories to enable production to continue. At its height about 600,000 workers were involved.
This movement bl... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
“Consensus” has had a certain popularity as a decision-making method among social change groups since the ’60s, especially within the anti-nuclear movement but also in anarchist and radical feminist circles. I think we can understand why if we consider what sorts of organizations exist in this country. Mass organizations in which the membership directly shape the decisions are hard to find. How often have members been ruled “out of order” at union meetings by an entrenched official? Most leftist political groups also have a top-down concept of organization, as befits their preoccupation with “leadership.”
On the other hand, this sort of alienation and lack of control appears absent in activit... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This is about a successful struggle of bus drivers on Barcelona’s transit system between the fall of 2007 and March of 2008. Unlike the transit workers in Madrid, who had two days off each week, bus drivers in Barcelona were forced to work a six-day week. To gain a victory in their fight for two consecutive “rest days”, the workers organized regular worker assemblies independent of the union bureaucracy and elected their own rank-and-file committee to coordinate the struggle.
The struggle is also interesting in what it reveals about Spain’s collective bargaining system. Under Spanish labor law since the late ‘70s, enterprises with more than 50 workers in a local area must allow workers to collectively ba... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The concept of “union security” or “maintenance of membership” — more commonly called the “union shop” — means that being a union member “in good standing” becomes a condition for continued employment. If you cease to be a member of the union, the company is required to fire you. In the postwar era this is usually implemented by the company simply deducting union dues from one’s paycheck.
“Union security” had long been an idea advocated by “business union” leaders as a way of maintaining their cherished dues income despite the ups and downs of member enthusiasm. Top CIO leaders were certainly as fond of this concept as were their brethren in the... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In September, 2005 several thousand riders of Muni — San Francisco’s city-owned transit system — participated in a mass fare strike, to fight service cuts, layoffs, and the second fare hike in two years. More than five dozen people were actively involved in the organizing. The last action connected with the fare strike was a November 10th protest march, initiated by the organized day laborers. Only about 50 people participated in this march. The disappointing turnout marked an end to the fare strike, which failed to force any concessions from the local government leaders.
Let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves, What principles should we use in organizing?
For those of us who aim at a transformat... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This text is a draft of a very practically orientated manual for anarchists who wish to get organized.
For absolute beginners and isolated individuals (or groups of 2 or 3)
A common experience for people, particularly young people who come to anarchism in the English speaking world is one of isolation. In my own case I came to anarchism through reading ‘Homage to Catalonia’ and then the very few anarchist books I could obtain in my city. These were nearly all liberal academic histories or reprints of texts from the 19th century so for quite a while I was unaware that the anarchist movement still existed. It took me a year to find other individual anarchists and another year to discover there was actually a small anarch... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It’s 9:00 Friday night. The last stragglers from the editorial department have departed. The other typesetter and I have the Bay Guardian building to ourselves. Two piles of manila folders sit on the typesetting machine, to my left. They contain the order slips for classified ads. One pile gradually dwindles as the folders are moved to the other pile, marking my progress. The machine occasionally clanks as it changes type style or size.
“Love is friendship caught fire!” appears at the top of the video screen. Ah, yes. Tire relationships section. This, the fattest of the file folders, should keep my fingers busy for the rest of my 9-10-hour-long shift. When I first began typesetting the classifieds, I found the relat... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In the days leading up to September 1st, more than 50 people were actively organizing for the fare strike, with new groups endorsing the effort in the last week. More than 20,000 leaflets had been distributed and 10,000 stickers were attached to bus shelters and poles throughout the city — in Spanish and Chinese as well as English.
Muni — San Francisco’s city-owned bus and streetcar network — raised its adult cash fare to $1.50 as of September 1st. This is the second hike in two years, representing an increase of 50 percent since 2003. Although organized pressure from community groups forced Muni management to back down on a proposal to raise the monthly pass, many low-income people have a hard time getting to... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Review: Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle by Rafael Uzcategui (See Sharp Press, 2010)
In her essay Latin America & Twenty-First Century Socialism (published as an issue of Monthly Review last year), Marta Harnecker presents a description of “some features” of a decentralized, self-managed socialism based on direct democracy in workplaces and neighborhoods--a picture congenial to libertarian socialists. She also provides an interpretation of the Bolivarian Movement--the movement led by Hugo Chavez--that suggests it is embarked on a transition to this kind of socialism in Venezuela.
Rafael Uzcategui’s book marshalls a lot of evidence to challenge that interpretation. Uzcategui argues that a continuation of... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of an essay on unionism which will be published as a series in the next several issues of the magazine.
This magazine was founded with the aim of advocating a particular viewpoint: The idea that the whole workforce in society has the potential power to create a new society without domination and exploitation, a society where workers directly manage the places where they work and plan the economy’s direction for the common benefit rather than private profit.
Our idea is that this power to change society would be developed through workers organizing a labor movement that was run directly by workers themselves, not controlled by a hierarchy of paid officials. These self-man... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1. A Strategy for Workers Liberation
Capitalism is at its heart an oppressive and exploitative economic system. The core is the class structure, in which the majority are dispossessed of the means of production of goods and services, and must submit to bureaucratic production regimes. These regimes control our labor so as to pump out wealth privately accumulated by the plutocrats at the top of the heap (and paying high salaries to the bureaucratic class of managers and high-end professionals), and backed up by the coercive force of the state. Working people are thus an oppressed class, although it is also internally quite heterogeneous and various sub-groups are oppressed in various diverse ways.
The working class can’t ... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I was attracted to radical politics in the late 1960s/early ‘70s when I was in my twenties. Most of the people who were drawn to serious revolutionary politics back then ended up in Leninist organizations of some sort, if only for a time. Third World revolutions were one influence. Various Marxist-Leninist parties had come to power based on guerrilla struggles, in places like China and Cuba, and this augmented the claim of Leninism that it was “successful” in charting a way to a post-capitalist future.
But it seemed obvious to me that workers did not have power in production in the various Communist countries. They’re subordinated to a managerial hierarchy. Thus, I reasoned, workers must be a subjugated and ex... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Preface by Black Rose Anarchist Federation
In a political moment where the tide of fascism appears to be on the march, looking at past examples can provide inspiration, hope and lessons. In this valuable and lucid long-form essay, veteran writer and activist Tom Wetzel details what George Orwell described when first arriving in anarchist dominated Barcelona as his first time actually seeing “the working class was in the saddle.”
Most critically the essay focuses on the question of working class power and revolutionary vision within the events and specifically from within the anarchist movement in Spain. Often overlooked in many accounts is that the military coup of July 1936 was anticipated by the organized left in... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
January 23, 2021 ; 5:08:21 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :