What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

By David Graeber - The Baffler, February 13, 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.

My friend June Thunderstorm and I once spent a half an hour sitting in a meadow by a mountain lake, watching an inchworm dangle from the top of a stalk of grass, twist about in every possible direction, and then leap to the next stalk and do the same thing. And so it proceeded, in a vast circle, with what must have been a vast expenditure of energy, for what seemed like absolutely no reason at all.

“All animals play,” June had once said to me. “Even ants.” She’d spent many years working as a professional gardener and had plenty of incidents like this to observe and ponder. “Look,” she said, with an air of modest triumph. “See what I mean?”

Most of us, hearing this story, would insist on proof. How do we know the worm was playing? Perhaps the invisible circles it traced in the air were really just a search for some unknown sort of prey. Or a mating ritual. Can we prove they weren’t? Even if the worm was playing, how do we know this form of play did not serve some ultimately practical purpose: exercise, or self-training for some possible future inchworm emergency?

This would be the reaction of most professional ethologists as well. Generally speaking, an analysis of animal behavior is not considered scientific unless the animal is assumed, at least tacitly, to be operating according to the same means/end calculations that one would apply to economic transactions. Under this assumption, an expenditure of energy must be directed toward some goal, whether it be obtaining food, securing territory, achieving dominance, or maximizing reproductive success—unless one can absolutely prove that it isn’t, and absolute proof in such matters is, as one might imagine, very hard to come by.

Open Letter to the MI CATS 3 from Tar Sands Blockade

By the MI-CATS 3 - February 2, 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.

As some double-down their efforts to engage in the corrupt political process surrounding the northern leg of Keystone XL, we want to take some time to honor three brave womyn currently imprisoned by the state for resisting another tar sands pipeline in their backyard.

On Friday, Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio, and Barbara Carter of Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) were found guilty of trespassing and “resisting and obstructing an officer”, a felony charge in Michigan that carries a maximum jail sentence of three years. They were arrested while blockading construction equipment being used to expand Enbridge’s Line 6B – the same tar sands pipeline which caused the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history when it leaked over one million gallons of tar sands bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

Obama’s State of the Union: Fantasy, Fact, Fiction or All of the Above?

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

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.

During Obama’s State of the Union address last night the presence of the star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty might have been the most real part of a very surreal evening.

Of particular note were Obama’s comments on energy and climate change.

While the US Southeast was being hammered by a highly unusual winter storm which stranded thousands in the metro Atlanta area, (no, this does not disprove climate change you nitwits, climate scientists have warned for years that a warming globe means extreme and unpredictable weather) Obama was proclaiming a desire to address climate change so that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, [we can say] yes we did.”

This sounds wonderful until we consider the “all of the above” energy strategy Obama touted earlier in the speech, which gives a nod to some of the dirtiest, most polluting and destructive energy sources.  It includes shale oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota–the gas flares of which can be seen from space.  This shale oil is so extremely volatile that in the past year two trains carrying bakken oil have exploded.  It means more coal; it means more deep water offshore drilling of the type that caused the BP oil spill disaster.  It means more nukes, even in the shadow of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima.  And it means more fracking.  Obama made a big show of his support for natural gas “if extracted safely,” which it is not.

Reinventing the Wheel - Teaching Old Hydro New Tricks

By x356039 - January 22, 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.

When discussing green, renewable energy something of a holy trinity of sources consistently emerges in every discussion: solar, wind, and water. Of the three the one receiving the least press these days as a possibility are those options and opportunities based on water power. This is understandable when one considers the first image that springs to mind when discussing the subject: towering tons of cold concrete caging the roaring rivers of the world to work for the whims of the wealthy and powerful.

There is little debate in spite of the incredible potential hydroelectric dams offer that they come at enormous environmental costs. At internationalrivers.org the consequences of these projects is summed up with very strong, damning words. In spite of the extensive studies regularly conducted on new dam sites the changes caused by construction lead to a number of unintended and deadly consequences for the local ecosystem. The most obvious is, of course, the diversion of the river's flow but the impact of this happens on more levels than immediately meets the eye. The creation of massive artificial reservoirs that result from the construction of these dams destroys the previously existing green water habitats of the rivers making them quite hostile to the native species. This leads to massive influxes of invasive species like snails, algae, and non-native predatory fish ensuring further ecological havoc. Added to this is the blocking of new sediment deposits, resulting in increased erosion and the lowering of the water table denying plant life of the needed moisture to thrive.

The negatives of hydroelectric dams don't stop there. Adding further insult to injury is the displacement of indigenous populations that often results from these massive building projects. According to a report titled, “Social Impacts and Social Risks in Hydropower Programs” submitted to the 2004 United Nations Symposium on Hydropower and Sustainable Development the number of people displaced in China and India over the past 50 years by such projects is staggering. Of the estimated 45 million people in China displaced by new industrial projects during this period at least half were forced out of their homes due to the construction of new dams with a new project in the Yunnan province expected to add tens of thousands more to their number. In India the number is believed to be at least fifty million and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. A recent report by Survival International argues hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced as we speak by new projects in Brazil, Malaysia, Guyana, Ethiopia, and Peru. The Ethiopian Gibe III Dam, expected to be the highest dam on the continent when it is completed in 2020, has already forced over 200,000 people from their homes and it still has six years to go.

If this was all there was to the story of hydropower then there is little doubt that any sane environmentalist would stay as far away from this source as possible and consign it to the same category as nuclear, coal, and other dirty sources of energy. Thankfully there are a number of recent innovations, many inspired by pre-industrial uses of water power, that show hydropower has a few more tricks up its sleeve that make it an equally necessary component in any green energy future. These new developments harness the potential offered by flowing rivers, the roll of the tides, and crashing waves in non-invasive, minimally impactful ways. What makes these even better is, like wind and solar power, these inventions can be implemented on a far smaller, more evenly distributed scale ensuring that all forms of renewable power remain truly grassroots power.

Stop WesPac: Pittsburg Workers Stand Up

By John Reimann - Oakland Socialist, January 15, 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.

Pittsburg, California, is a solidly working class town if there ever was one. Like workers in other parts of the country and the world, residents here are building a working-class environmental movement, in this case to stop the construction of a facility to receive and store the highly volatile oil from the Bakken deposit. 

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Here is a video of a protest on January 11 in Pittsburg.

This movement is taking up the most immediate effects of the destruction of the environment – from pollution of the air, water and soil to threats posed by tanker car explosions. Much of this threat is due to capitalism’s determination to burn every last drop of fossil fuel, and ultimately this working class environmental movement will have to take up the struggle for the alternatives.

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!!!)

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.

Capital Blight: a Green-Syndicalist Responds to David Walters "Socialist" Defense of Nuclear Energy

By x344543 - 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.

I read with interest David Walters's recent article, "A Socialist Defends Nuclear Energy, wondering what I would find. I soon discovered there was very little credible "defense" and for that matter, not much "socialism" (other than the citation of various Marxist quotations that Marx and Engels would have bristled at given their context here) in it. In fact, it read to me as a typical capitalist defense of its standard operations wrapped in a rather threadbare and tattered red flag.

Michael Friedman has thoroughly debunked Walters's claims about the "safety" of (conventional) nuclear (fission) energy and the "ease" at dealing with the nuclear waste in his own piece so there is no utility in elaborating further on that matter. It is my intention to address the issues that Friedman didn't cover.

To begin with, if David Walters is so willing to overlook peer reviewed science and factual evidence that clearly shows that conventional nuclear fission energy is unsafe and the problem of nuclear waste not easily handled, he may as well also argue in favor of thorium based breeder reactors, nuclear fusion power, fracking, tar sands, "clean" coal, or even hydrogen fuel cells which are equally questionable technologies (and please note that I am not arguing in favor of any of these things here, though I think hydrogen fuel cells are worth a look at least).

Additionally, Walters lumps in all greens into a single, monolithic group, dominated by primitivism and Malthusianism. This is as inaccurate as arguing that all communists take their marching orders from Stalin. This is the rhetoric one expects to hear from the most reactionary elements of the capitalist class's punditocracy rather than an informed anti-capitalist. To me this is a clear indication that his entire argument is mere propaganda and has very little substance.

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