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.

Socialists Debate Nuclear, 2: Still No Nukes!

By Michael Friedman - Climate and Capitalism, November 18, 2013: a response to A socialist defends nuclear energy, by David Walters.

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.

Retired nuclear power plant operator David Walters seeks to make a socialist case for nuclear power as the alternative to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, he parts from the unfortunate and worn-out progressive infatuation with capitalist productivism, the technology that it employs and the technological determinism that justifies it and brings forth a host of magic bullet non-solutions for every problem it engenders. This is succinctly confirmed by his assertions that “the center of this discussion can be narrowed down to one technological and scientific issue: the generation, use, and distribution of energy” and “human use of energy set us apart from all other species, including the higher ones such as dolphins and apes.”

These formulations fly in the face of a Marxist understanding of human development, reducing ‘all hitherto existing human history’ to the history of energy development. That is technological determinism, no more. For Marxists, the “center” of this discussion is the capitalist mode of production, and concretely, its method of appropriation of human labor and natural resources.

Driven to privatize and turn the natural world into marketable commodities incorporating human labor, capital rips natural processes such as biogeochemical cycles or trophic webs to pieces in order to isolate profitable components. We are presented with abominations like monocrop agriculture, fracking and Fukushima.

This mode of production and the reductionist, mechanistic worldview attendant upon it, has turned Homo sapiens’ biological connections to the rest of the natural world upside down; under capitalism, humans are not only alienated from their labor, and each other, but from the nature with which they are inextricably bound. This is the cause of the environmental crisis. Global warming is far from the only major element of this crisis. Many ecologists regard the dramatic decline in biodiversity as just as devastating to humans and all life on this planet as global warming. Deforestation, ocean acidification, the proliferation of human waste and toxic contaminants, the introduction of genetically engineered organisms and invasive species, all of these are, of course interconnected consequences of the market economy, but it is meaningless to subsume them under the rubric of “generation, use and distribution of energy.”

Deep Roots United Front Introduce Themselves

By Jessica Garraway  Original Published in Burnpile Books Magazine 2013 Fall edition 

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.

There are many stories of resistance, from the communities most impacted by colonization, poverty, militarism and cultural genocide. Struggles are intensifying against liquor stores owners of White Clay, Nebraska, to call out the liquid genocide that has been perpetuated against the Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation for over 100 years. In Memphis, people have marched against the KKK to be faced with 600 militarized Memphis Police Department cops responsible for killing over 20 people, in a short span of only 13 months. Meanwhile, Moccasins on the Ground trainings, led by indigenous communities, bring people together from all directions, to learn practical skills in civil disobedience, as they prepare for the passage of the northern half of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

This past July, in Utah, people came together to shut down the first commercial tar sands mining operation in the US. This destructive project poses to poison the water for the 36 million people living downstream and to countless non-human communities. This massive direct action cost the company (US Oil Sands) 13% in stock prices that day. Meanwhile, in NYC, the Occupy Sandy network created alternative channels of distribution of resources during a time of crises for survival. It challenged the power dynamics and the role of private and public property through community engagement.

Bonds forged and experience gained in these struggles laid the groundwork that was to become Deep Roots United Front. Reflected in our mission statement is both our experience being on the front-lines and our commitment to those struggles:

“As people of color we recognize that the lethal dominant culture is waging war on alllife, destroying cultures, traditions, stories, and communities deeply rooted in the Earth.  Through the colonization of our minds, bodies, and spirits, we have continuously been stripped of our lands and inflicted with violence and poverty.

Our liberation will not come through politicians, political parties, or governments.  No one will come and rescue us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Holding the wisdom of our ancestors, our people have survived centuries of oppression through daily acts of resistance. Now is the time to reclaim those stories. Time to end the conflicts that plague our communities, and join together in mutual struggle for liberation.

Who Gets Paid When Machines Do the Work? A Look Back at the Luddites, and Why Capitalism and High Technology Are Incompatible

By members of the Southern Maine IWW - November 13, 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.

200 years ago in England, artisan cloth workers launched what became known as the Luddite uprising, smashing machines which were “destroying their trades, undercutting wages and forcing them into unemployment and destitution.” Although their legacy has been distorted over time, the original Luddites were primarily concerned about the introduction of technology into their field which was “hurtful to commonality,” or the common good. A thoughtful web site celebrating their intent is here: http://www.luddites200.org.uk/

Although labor-saving technologies definitely have their advantages for those who own them, as long as economies are governed by the principle that social members’ access to the commodified essentials of life — food, shelter, medical care, etc. — is regulated by one’s access to money (which typically comes in the form of wages), there is a limit to how helpful these technologies actually are to workers. For example, since the 1970s, the introduction of computers into the workplace has exponentially increased workers’ productivity per hour, increasing company profits likewise, yet the capitalists who own the workplaces (and the technologies) have refused to share the wealth. Rather, workers’ wages have stagnated over the last 40 years, and layoffs have abounded — because we do not control the technology, also known as the means of production.

For workers to be able to embrace labor-saving technology, which could afford us all a four-hour workday (or less) at the same rate of pay or better than we had forty years ago if it were distributed properly, we must unionize and put massive pressure on the capitalists who own our workplaces to do so. Ultimately, we must also change the social norms which state that it’s permissible for a handful of 1%er fat-cats to own and operate productive industrial infrastructure on which the common good depends according to their whims, for their own private profit, and often without regard to natural resource limitations and pollution. After all, what good is high technology when all it does is make your boss’s situation more stable and enriched, and yours more precarious and disposable?

Save the machines; ditch the 1%. Join the IWW and help to abolish wage slavery worldwide.

Green Syndicalism vs. Anti-Civ: Social Revolution or Primitivist Reaction? A Polemic

By Javier Sethness Castro - A talk given at the Boston Anarchist Bookfair, November 11, 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 will begin concretely by acknowledging the undoubtedly dire environmental situation of (post)modernity—to consider the most devastating facet of the crisis, let us consider catastrophic climate change. In May of this year, the global atmospheric carbon concentration was found to be 400 parts per million, or about 1.5 times that which prevailed in preindustrial human history. This is a level that has not been seen since the Pliocene geological epoch some 3 to 5 million years ago, when average global temperatures were 2 to 3°C higher than they are today, and no sea ice existed in the Arctic. Climatologists have determined that, since the onset of industrial capitalism, the Earth has warmed 0.8°C, and they estimate conservatively that the planet will experience an average warming of 4 to 6°C by the end of the twenty-first century. This is likely an underestimate, given that scientists find it difficult to integrate the observed and projected contributions of the various positive feedback loops which global warming gives rise to within their models.

If we contemplate contemporary history, we can very clearly see the profound effects catastrophic climate change has wrought on the world: consider Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines, which is said to have killed more than 10,000 people last weekend—the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall, Haiyan was an intensification and repetition of sorts of Typhoon Bopha, which struck the archipelago nation last year. Similarly, we can think of Cyclone Nargis (2008) in Burma, Cyclone Phailin in South Asia just a few weeks ago, Superstorm Sandy last year, Hurricane Katrina (2005), the Horn of Africa drought and famine of 2011, the two major droughts which have struck the Amazon in recent years (2005 and 2010), the 2010 fires in Russia, the unprecedented flooding events seen in Pakistan in 2010 and India in 2011, the record-shattering Arctic summer-sea ice extent in the years 2007 and 2012...

To examine these admittedly disconcerting realities, I will disclose my own political bias, that of an anarchism influenced greatly by Marxist political economy. I take catastrophic climate change to result from the second contradiction of capitalism, whereby the move from M to C and M' (money → commodity → money prime [original M plus profit])—or what is the same, the ceaseless imperative for economic growth—leads the capitalist class to undermine the very material basis on which its exploitation of nature and humanity depends. Given such a disclosure, you can already see that I do not accept this outcome as the inevitable result of “civilization”—indeed, as I will explain, I find such a claim to be intellectually lazy, disingenuous, and rather dangerous.

Capital Blight - What is it?

By x344543 - November 19, 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 suppose I should explain why I chose the name "Capital Blight" for my column-blog-thingy.

To begin with it's a play on words, a sort of send up if the term "capital flight" which is the process by which capitalists withdraw their capital (equipment, physical plants, investments, etc.) in a particular community or region. Their reasons for doing so include the quest for cheaper labor, lower taxes and tariffs, and more lax regulations. Sometimes capital flight occurs after the extraction of locally available resources peak or become depleted. Other times advances in technology make hitherto impractical relocations in production more feasible.

Regardless of the cause, the results of capital flight tend to negatively impact the communities which have been abandoned by the capitalists, particularly in the loss of jobs (both direct and residual) and tax revenue. It also shakes up political and social relations in such places, as much of these are influenced by the suddenly missing elephant in the room.

The less diverse and resilient the economy of said community, the more devastating the short term damage can be. While capital flight can literally spell doom for small rural hamlets, even big cities can be broken by it. This partially explains the desperation experienced throughout what is known as America's "rust belt ".

Noam Chomsky: Indigenous People Are In The Lead

Staff Report - tworowtimes.com, November 9th, 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.

MONTREAL – Noam Chomsky, the celebrated 85-year old American linguist, peace activist and social critic who is the author of more than one hundred books and the world’s most frequently quoted intellectual, was in Montréal on October 26 to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the magazine Canadian Dimension.

During his visit, Chomsky delivered a lecture at the Université de Montréal in which he analyzed the decline of American power.

In the Western hemisphere, he argued, the US and Canada have become marginal to the major discussions now underway: only in the most vulnerable countries like Haiti and Honduras have US- and Canadian-supported military regimes taken power.

Chomsky also spoke out forcefully against Canadian tar sands, shale gas, and mining developments, and underlined the importance of indigenous resistance to the devastation they are causing.

According to Chomsky, “Canadian mining operations are just destroying large parts of the world.” He said that “Canada is trying to take the lead in destroying the possibility of decent survival: that’s what it means to exploit the tar sands, and the gold mining in Colombia, and coal mining, and so on…. That means destroying the world in which your grandchildren might be able to survive: that’s the Canadian idea now.”

Chomsky added that “There is resistance: in Canada it’s coming from First Nations. But it’s worth remembering that that’s a world-wide phenomenon. Throughout the world, the indigenous populations are in the lead. They are actually taking the lead in trying to protect the earth. That’s extremely significant.”

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