Capital Blight - Grist's Ben Adler Throws the Working Class Under the Bus.

By x344543 - January 12, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Recently grist.org climate writer Ben Adler wrote an article, Hey, protester, leave those Google buses alone, excoriating anti-gentrification protesters for organizing a blockade of a private charter bus, contracted by Google, in protest of that company's contribution to the ongoing gentrification of the precious few remaining working class neighborhoods in San Francisco.

In the article, Adler made the rather glib argument that the protesters were ignoring the needs of the Earth, "because", he argued,

Driving in one’s own private car is far more elitist than sharing a bus with one’s coworkers. It is also vastly worse for the environment. The buses take cars off the road. Fewer cars mean less traffic, and less idling in traffic, which is especially polluting.

I'm sorry, but this has to be one of the most asinine articles Grist ever published, and it's wrong on so many levels.

First of all, to accuse those residents who are protesting very real economic threats to their ability to keep living in San Francisco with "class antagonism" is the height of accusing the victims with commuting the crimes. Capitalist economics, by nature, are institutionalized class antagonism of the working class by the employing class, and this is no different. If this were the mid 1850s, the author may very well have been accusing the abolitionists with stirring up "race hatred".

Secondly, it's highly ironic that Grist would be now defending Google, when they, themselves have rightfully called them out for organizing a fundraiser for climate change denying Senator Jim Inhofe (R, Oklahoma).

Thirdly, Adler makes a nonsensical argument that gentrification is "good for the environment", an argument which is contradicted by Adler's own previously published article, Pushing Poor People to the Suburbs is Bad for the Environment.

Indeed it is. Gentrification is a form of capitalist oppression which not only does not deliver on its own promises, it harms workers, people of color, and the environment. In fact, Gentrification is another form of colonialism.

To Wrench Or Not To Wrench: Another IWW EUC Member's Opinion

Above: IWW Member and ELF arsonist Marie Mason with her Sabo-tabby

By X343464 - November 22, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

As one of the founders of the IWW EUC, I think we should not condemn nor condone arson or insurrectionary ecology. In our provisions we state:

Redefining Green Anarchism - That Dreaded "I" Word

By Steve Ongerth - December 31, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The IWW (and green syndicalists) want to replace capitalism with "One Big (earth destroying) Factory", or so the story goes among some self-described radicals who would so quickly dismiss us.

To say the IWW has an I-dentity crises would be the mother of all understatements. For half a century, we Wobblies have struggled to disabuse people of the widely believed--though completely erroneous--notion that the "I" in "IWW" stands for "International". No, we're not the "International Workers of the World," we're the Industrial Workers of the World.

It would be a major digression to explain how the "International" mislabeling came about. We're not really certain even we know, and that is not actually the heart of the matter I wish to address. Thanks to recent scholarship and a spate of really good books about the One Big Union, perhaps resulting from the IWW's centenary in 2005, people are finally getting the actual "I-dentity" of our first initial right (finally). Of course, this carries with it a new set of I-dentity problems.

For many people, The word "industrial" conjures up images of a factory, with scenes from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle or other exposés of satanic mills vividly dominating those visions. Along with that notion, the horrors of Fordist factory regimentation of the worst sort enter their minds, and not without good reason.

As someone who actually worked in a factory (a steel processing warehouse in Fremont, California to be precise) albeit briefly (five months during the late spring and summer of 1997), I can attest to the veracity of what it's like to work in one of them. It's anything but paradise--though of course--I was working under capitalist economic conditions and the business union that allegedly "represented" me was a more than willing collaborator to them.

The machines were loud and dusty--not to mention greasy (lubricated with whale fat, no less!), the facility fraught with dangers, and the work rules stiffly regimented. Although there was a good deal of safety training (in fact we had weekly, hour-long meetings), it was still very much a death trap. No doubt the union, in this case, ILWU Local 6, had much to do with the token safety measures, but in spite of the union, the place was a deeply alienating work environment.

The minds of my fellow workers had been deeply and thoroughly colonized. Most of them were quite reactionary, and--being a male dominated work environment, deeply sexist and homophobic. They saw the union as an outside agency, and (rightfully) criticized it for its class collaborationism (if the myriad examples of graffiti decrying "Local Sux" evident throughout the grounds was any indication). However, such sentiments were no doubt welcomed or even tacitly encouraged by the bosses, and a year or two after I was "laid off" under somewhat questionable grounds, the union was busted when the facility relocated to Stockton, California.

One needn't work in a factory to understand it, though. During the post war boom, enough working class people did work in factories, and their stories have been passed on through family lore. If that isn't enough, there are plenty of accounts of what factory life is like. Consider, for example, Judi Bari's expose of working conditions in the Louisiana-Pacific sawmills of Mendocino County based on the first hand accounts of at least two mill workers.

When some hear that the "I" stands for "industrial", they immediately flash on such nightmare visions and assume that we Wobblies envision that the new society that we hope to build within the shell of the old will look like that! (horrors!!!)

Greening of the IWW: What Happens When We Win?

By Jess Grant - Industrial Worker (August 1989)

The time has come for the IWW to tackle head-on the question of post-industrial production, better known as “What do we do now that we won the General Strike?” We can no longer duck the issue by saying that workers’ committees will decide all that when the time comes. We must firmly put to rest the misconception that Wobblies are factory fetishists by taking a clear stand against the kinds of work that harm our planet or alienate us from our labor. Let us envision a world where the earth and our labor are honored equally.

Assuming that people are naturally inventive and enjoy contributing to their communities, and that people displaced from harmful industries will want to be retrained rather than put out to pasture, then we must find an answer to those who ask, “What will I do if my factory is shut down?” If millions of jobs are lost as the result of decommissioning harmful and unnecessary industries, then conversion to an ecological, self-managed economy will demand an imaginative program of apprenticeship and education.

Labor unions are simply the social manifestation of an instinctive solidarity found among working class people, and the IWW is no exception. Unions were born out of conflict and designed as instruments of class struggle, and from this clash they draw their meaning. But in the absence of struggle, when the boss class has been evicted and the workers are busy redesigning society, unionism becomes irrelevant. As “work” is replaced with “play”, the shell of unionism will wither away and leave in its place an intricate network of freely associating cooperatives. 

That venerable Wobbly institution called Father Hagerty’s Wheel of Fortune, in which the various branches of industry are laid out in diagrammatic detail like a pizza with too many extras, was never meant to describe post-revolutionary society.  It’s a handy guide for understanding how industry (as we know it under capitalism) is organized, and thus how to coordinate our own struggle, but it’s a lousy model for the future. Let’s try to imagine what the wheel would look like if we could depose the boss class and put our lives back in balance with nature.

Every person has a calling, some talent or passion for a particular activity that best expreses that individual. People seem happiest when they have the freedom to pursue that calling. A primary goal of self-managed production, then, is to create this freedom of action. Most callings fit into one of several basic archetypes. It’s these Jungian archetypes, weighted with the power of myth, which will form the basis of our new Wheel of De-Industry.

Climate Politics Must be as Radical as the Climate Crisis

If the climate action movement allows its goals to be shaped by what is permissible in a capitalist economy then it has already failed.

By Simon Butler - Climate and Capitalism, December 8, 2013; used by permission

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It’s wrong to think that we can campaign to stop climate change in the same way we might campaign to end a war. All the evidence says we are well past that stage now. That is, even if by some impossible, magical course of events all carbon pollution on Earth was stopped tomorrow, we’d still be in really, really deep trouble.

So many greenhouse gases have been pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere that we have rushed far past the safe upper limit — the famous 350 parts per million of CO2, the number that climate action group 350.org took for its name.

Today’s level of 400ppm has been enough to trigger the“death spiral” in Arctic sea ice. More than three-quarters of the ice cap’s volume has melted away in the past 30 years.

Along with wrecking the Arctic region’s fragile ecosystem, scientists predict the loss of the ice cap will trigger other events that throw global warming into overdrive. The two biggest of these are the melting of the huge Greenland ice sheet and the release of immense stores of methane gas frozen inside ice-like crystals on the seafloor.

There is alarming evidence that both disastrous events may already be underway.

South Africa’s Untold Tragedy of Neoliberal Apartheid

By Jérôme Roos - Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism, November 12, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Author's Introduction: In light of the recent death of Nelson Mandela, the “father” of post-Apartheid South Africa, I am reposting this excellent reflection by Jérôme E. Roos on a recent trip to the country.  The essay was originally published in Reflections on a Revolution (ROAR) on 12 November 2013.

Twenty years after apartheid, the old freedom fighters of the ANC have come to reproduce the same structures of oppression against which they once arose.

We were driving down the N3 highway on our way back home from the Eastern port city of Durban, passing by the endless lines of improvised shacks that constitute the Katlehong township just outside Johannesburg, when we saw the flashing blue lights of a police car in the distance. As we approached, a horrific scene revealed itself. A local slumdweller, probably somewhere in his thirties, lay dead on the side of the road, his body awkwardly twisted into an impossible position, his eyes still wide open. Some two hundred meters ahead, a car had pulled over on the curb, its driver casually leaning on the vehicle while talking to a policeman. No one had even bothered to cover up the body. This man just lay there like a dead animal — another road kill in endless wave of needlessly extinguished lives.

Every year, more than 14.000 people are killed on the road in South Africa, an average of 38 per day — nearly half of whom are pedestrians. Of the other half, many die as overloaded buses, micro-vans or so-called bakkies crash during the daily commute from the townships to the city to work as waiters, clerks or house maids. Just today, a bus full of commuters slammed into a truck on a narrow and potholed road to Pretoria, killing 29. But in the aggregate, tragedies like these are only numbers in a cold statistical series. The front pages of the country’s newspapers remain splattered with horror stories and graphic photos of brutal killings, as fifty people are murdered daily. Another 770 people die from AIDS every day. A total of 5.7 million, or 18% of South Africans, is HIV/AID infected, the highest infection rate in the world. Needless to say, one of the bloody red lines that runs through the broken social fabric of this heartbreakingly beautiful country is that human life is accorded shockingly little value.

Unifor Calls for National Moratorium on Fracking

Statement from Unifor - Originally posted November 14, 2013

Disclaimer - Unifor is not affiliated with the IWW. This statement is posted here for information purposes only.

Unifor, Canada's largest energy union, is calling for a Canada-wide moratorium on all new oil and gas fracking. Already the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have introduced moratoriums on fracking. Nova Scotia has banned fracking while undertaking a review. Unifor is now pushing for a national moratorium.

Unifor is raising concerns about the safety and environmental risks associated with fracking as well as the lack of informed consent by First Nations about fracking activities on traditional lands.

In the statement unanimously passed by the 25-person Unifor National Executive Board, the union expressed support for the non-violent protest efforts by First Nations to resist fracking activity on their lands. The Unifor National Executive Board is made up of elected representatives  from across the country and a variety of economic sectors, including energy.  

“Unconventional gas fracking has the potential to have catastrophic effects on our environment and economy. The safety risks are also a major concern for our union,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.  “Just because we can carry out this activity does not mean we should. We must enact a national moratorium on fracking activity.”  

Dias also noted that it would be folly for Canada to reorient our entire energy infrastructure around a short-term surge in an unsustainable energy supply.

From the statement:

“Any resource extraction industry in Canada must confront the problem of unresolved aboriginal land claims, and the inadequate economic benefits (including employment opportunities) which have been offered to First Nations communities from resource developments.  This problem is especially acute with fracking because of the widespread land which would be affected by the activity, and the heated, profit-hungry rush which the industry is set to quickly unleash.  Many Canadians share these concerns with the potential economic, social, and environmental damage of an unregulated fracking industry. 

Instead of being guided by short-term swings in prices and profits for private energy producers, Canada’s federal and provincial governments must develop and implement (in cooperation with other stakeholders) a national plan for a stable, sustainable energy industry that respects our social and environmental commitments, and generates lasting wealth for all who live here.”

To read the full statement, please visit:  http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/neb_resolution_on_fracking_nov2013_e.pdf

Canada: Land of the Toxic Lakes

By Richard Mellior, AFSCME Local 444, retired - Facts for Working People, November 27, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

In the aftermath of the crash, polls have indicated that as much as 36% of the US population looks more favorably to socialism, and a recent Pew survey of America's youth between 18 and 29 found that more have a positive view toward Socialism than they do toward Capitalism, Socialism: 49% Capitalism 46%.  While there is no doubt what people mean by socialism varies I think it is fairly accurate to say it means a more egalitarian society, or more accurately, a more just social system.

The problem is that capitalism cannot deliver these goods.  Capitalism is an exploitive system of production in which production or the production of social needs is set in to motion on the basis of profit, on how it can enrich that small minority that own the means of producing human needs and the production process itself. Human needs are secondary as are the needs of the natural world.

Hunger, disease, war, these are the by-products of capitalism.  But so is environmental degradation as land, water, and the natural world is simply there to be exploited regardless of the long-term damage. I read now that Chevron is fighting back against an $18 billion judgment against the company by Judge Nicolas Zambrano in Ecuador. The ruling supported villagers, claims that Texaco had contaminated an oil field in northeastern Ecuador between 1964 and 1992. Texaco was bought by Chevron. Ecuador's Supreme Court has since reduced the amount to $9.5 billion.  Chevron attorneys have accused the US lawyer for the villagers, Steven Donziger, of orchestrating an international criminal conspiracy by using bribery and fraud in Ecuador to secure a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment against the oil company.”

Meanwhile, BP which is responsible for the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has been accused of lying about the amount of the spill and is resisting paying reparations saying claimants who were not harmed are demanding payment.

No amount of court theatrics will stop the catastrophic environmental destruction that will at some point reach a tipping point with vast swathes of the planet becoming uninhabitable. Life on this planet cannot survive the ravages of capitalism forever, or more accurately, a system of production which places profit above all else and in which the means of producing humanity’s needs like energy, are owned by private individuals. We have absolutely no say in how decisions about these issues are made, decisions that have life and death consequences for all of us.

The Ecoterrorist and Me

By David Rovics - Counter Punch, November 25, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

“Pinocchio asked Jiminy Cricket, ‘how do you become fully human?’ Jiminy Cricket said, ‘you develop a conscience, and then follow it.’”

That’s probably not exactly how the dialog went. That of course is from the story of Pinocchio, and I could look it up. The rest I can’t.

Sitting on plastic chairs, around a plastic table, inside a room with thick cement walls and massive, steel doors, was Marie Mason, Peter Werbe, and me. On top of the table was a little bag of peanuts and a bag of very mediocre trail mix. These are the only vegan options available from the vending machines in the room Peter and I were taken to before we were escorted into the visitation room in Marie’s cell block. Nearby sat a sleepy-looking prison guard.

Peter and I were spending the weekend in prison. Marie is in her fifth year of a 22-year sentence at the Carswell federal women’s prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She is being held in a highly repressive, so-called Administration Unit of the facility. She’s not allowed to give interviews, or write anything for publication anywhere. The few people approved to visit her, somewhat bizarrely, include me and Peter, one of the most notorious anarchists of Detroit, sitting at the table with us.

Peter is a journalist – host of a popular Detroit radio talk show, and a long time staff member of the almost half-century old Fifth Estate magazine. I have also dabbled in that profession to some small extent. But no one visiting this prison is allowed to bring a notepad, a writing utensil, a recording device, or anything else other than car keys and a few dollars, which you can spend on the vending machines in the general visitation area. So anything I write here that attempts to represent Marie’s words are my efforts to remember our conversations of several days ago.

Peter and I are both old friends of Marie’s. Our visit includes fond reminiscences shared by these two Michiganders of the Detroit newspaper strike way back when, and of the many concerts of mine that Marie, a talented musician herself, organized over the decades. Such as the one she organized at the Trumbullplex alt-space back in the 90′s, when I first met her, Peter, David Watson and other members of the Detroit anarchist community.

Peter is a member of Marie’s support committee, and he’s been working with other good people on a campaign to get her moved from this prison-within-a-prison back into a somewhat less draconian “general population,” preferably closer to where most of her friends and relatives reside.

Warsaw Climate Talks Go Up in Smoke

By Chris Williams - reprinted by permission from Truthout, November 21, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

"The smell of inaction" is how Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth Mozambique's international program director for climate justice and energy, summed up the atmosphere inside the giant Narodowy Stadium after the first week of the latest round of international climate negotiations, Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as COP 19, taking place Nov 11-22, 2013, in Warsaw.

Given that this is the 19th consecutive year of annual negotiations and with a meaningful global treaty more distant now than it was almost two decades ago, Bhatnagar's olfactory deduction seems likely to be highly accurate.

As the pervasive smell of inaction seeped like a suffocating gas throughout the inside of the conference, outside, the choking effects of coal smoke waft from all corners of a country that obtains 90 percent of its electricity from coal and whose government has pledged to keep it that way until 2060.

As if to emphasize the point, just on the other side of the banks of the Vistula River, a stone's throw from the international climate negotiations, another conference is being held at the Polish Ministry of the Economy. Intent on sending a none-too-subtle message to government negotiators at COP 19, coal industry executives have gathered at the International Coal and Climate Conference, November 18-19, to discuss the future of coal in light of climate change.

If this were a rational system set up to benefit humanity, one might think that, as coal burning releases more carbon than other fossil fuels in addition to small particulates that infiltrate and cause chronic lung damage as well as other toxic chemicals that increase the risk of cancer and cause acid rain - coal industry leaders might be discussing how to shift their investments, to phase out coal and transition to alternative energy production methods that don't rely on burning such a noxious substance.

In reality, the conference was put on for precisely the opposite reasons. Attendees, with the blessing of the Polish government, were there to argue for the future of "clean coal." This technology is known as CCS (carbon capture and storage). And although it seeks to trap and bury carbon emissions from coal plants, it doesn't exist in any meaningful commercial form. Even some supporters harbor increasing doubts that it ever will be made to work on the scale necessary. But, nevertheless, it is being touted as the way to "safely" continue burning coal.

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