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Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT)

CNT-AIT muestra su rechazo frontal a la construcción de una gasolinera en el solar adyacente al IES Cantabria

By staff - CNT-AIT Enseñanza Cantabria, May 30, 2022

Loosely translated and summarized, this CNT branch is protyesting the establishment of a gas station for both class and ecological reasons:

Desde el sindicato CNT-AIT queremos mostrar nuestro mayor rechazo a la construcción de una gasolinera en la parcela colindante al IES Cantabria. Este rechazo se basa en las siguientes razones:

  • Peligrosidad asociada al tráfico: la gasolinera lleva consigo, lógicamente, un aumento del tráfico de vehículos, de arranques y detenciones, que aumentan las posibilidades de que se de una colisión o un atropello, asunto especialmente grave en el entorno de un centro educativo.
  • Peligrosidad asociada a los accidentes: la gasolinera es, en realidad, un depósito de combustible. Las posibilidades de que se pierda el control sobre ese combustible, por pequeñas que sean, hace necesario que estas instalaciones no se realicen en zonas urbanas, muchísimo menos cerca de edificios donde se hacinan adultos y jóvenes.
  • Peligrosidad asociada a la contaminación ambiental. La emisión de gases puede resultar problemática y empeorar afecciones respiratorias.

Desde el sindicato CNT-AIT creemos que estamos, de nuevo, ante una maraña burocrática en la que ninguna institución se hace responsable. Ni Ayuntamiento, ni Autonomía, ni Estado Central: y el peligro sigue ahí, para trabajadores y estudiantes, y la falta de responsabilidad no va a hacer que ese solucione el problema.

En otras ocasiones, en otras Autonomías, se ha conseguido evitar la construcción de gasolineras. Basten los siguientes ejemplos: Getafe en la Comunidad de Madrid (diciembre de 2020), Villaverde en la Comunidad de Madrid (diciembre de 2013), La Pelusa en Andalucía (octubre de 2021), Murcia en la comunidad homónima (enero de 2020) o Aravaca en la Comunidad de Madrid (1992).

Así las cosas, señalamos que:

  • La construcción de la gasolinera debe ser detenida, dado que las personas que más van a sufrir sus consecuencias (la comunidad educativa del IES Cantabria) así lo ha demandado públicamente.
  • Existen posibilidades reales y, si desde las instituciones públicas no se dan, entendemos que es falta de interés y voluntad y no incapacidad real.

Political and Economic Power in a Period of Social Transformation

By Tom Wetzel - Ideas and Action, March 21, 2021

How does the working class liberate itself from being a subordinate and exploited class? This is where we need thinking about the overall strategy and our vision about new structures to replace the capitalist regime.

The working class has to build its capacity to actually do this. This capacity is built through the more or less protracted process of class formation. This is the process through which the working class overcomes fatalism and internal divisions (as on lines of race or gender), and builds the confidence, organizational capacity and the aspiration for social change. This is the process through which the working class “forms” itself into a force that can effectively challenge the dominating classes for control of society. This is likely to require a kind of social movement alliance that brings together the grassroots worker organizations (such as unions) and social movement organizations that have emerged around the various other areas of struggle in a particular period — tenant unions, environmental justice organizations, and groups that emerge around racial and gender fault lines. And thus the agenda for change is going to reflect the various priorities of these movements.

But what steps should this movement aim at in the transition to socialism? In fact it’s going to be essential for a consensus to emerge already within such a mass movement about the basic structural changes that we need to initiate.

Syndicalists have always argued that a crucial initial task in the transition to a self-managed socialism is direct worker takeover of the workplaces — creating new democratic organizations through which workers can exercise direct power over the labor process. An impressive feature of the Spanish worker revolution in 1936–37 was the widespread expropriation of industries and collectivization of land in rural areas. Although the political events of that moment were not entirely predictable, the movement for worker control was not simply “spontaneous.” The militants of the unions in Spain had discussed for decades the need for workers to take over the industries and re-organize them under worker self-management. This was part of their revolutionary preparation.

Our program for building socialism needs to address the major structural features of the capitalist regime that we want to replace — structural features that are at the root of the oppressive work regime, vast inequality, and ecological destruction inherent to capitalism. The system of class oppression is rooted in two institutional structures of class power which the movement must break. First, we need to get rid of the private ownership of the non-human means of production, which allows for vast extraction of profit to build the wealth of a tiny, super-rich elite who dominate society.

But private ownership is not the only basis of oppressor class power. And here we need to learn from mistakes of the 20th century socialist movement. The 20th century saw major growth for a newly emergent dominating class — the bureaucratic control class, as I call it. The power of this class is based on their monopolization over the decision-making authority (and some related areas of expertise) in the corporations and state, via top-down bureaucratic hierarchies. The bureaucratic control class includes the managers who control workers day-to-day but also high-end professionals who work with the managerial regime such as corporate lawyers, and the people who run the state, such as professional politicians, prosecutors, judges, military brass. A worker’s liberation movement must have a program for eliminating the power of this class over the working class.

Municipalist Syndicalism: From the Workplace to the Community

By Alexander Kolokotronis - ROARMag, October 2019

Union membership in the United States is at its lowest level in decades. Nonetheless, unions have hit a 50-year high in public approval. Enthusiasm for unions is not manifesting solely in polls, but also in shop floor organizing by young and lower middle-aged workers.

Simultaneously, the 2010s have seen a proliferation of social movements focused on race, gender and other forms of identity. Despite this simultaneity, it is unclear if present-day union structures and leadership are capable of learning from and incorporating the insights of such social movements.

At a national scale, unions have been slow to diversify their leadership, with continued underrepresentation of women and people of color. Even where there is such representation, it is unclear if unions are positioned to convert this newfound mass approval into an inclusive rising tide for the entire labor movement — let alone for, and towards, socialism.

In this context, what should socialists opposed to all forms of domination and exploitation be doing about labor unions? Through what framework might insights and personnel offered by social movements be learned from and incorporated into unions?

A partial answer has come from a broad swath of socialists: rank-and-file power. This means union members exercising control over their unions, rather than union bureaucrats or officials doing so. The 2018 re-release of Kim Moody’s “The Rank-and-File Strategy” has most widely propagated this approach. Moody’s rank-and-file strategy has become the terms of debate within Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and a point of discussion for socialists in general.

However, this strategy overlooks the potential for rank-and-file interventions on various forms of structural racism. Such interventions translate into a rank-and-file strategy that does not consign itself to a simplistic focus on bread-and-butter and the point of production but rather points itself towards the interwoven wealth issues of racialized housing and education. This brings us to a modified union position that accounts for and immediately acts upon the dynamics of an immediate and racialized lived-space: municipalist syndicalism.

Municipalist syndicalism broadly means democratizing unions as a means to democratizing local and regional public power. This is done through advancing an anti-racist dual power agenda for the labor movement by building and acting with communities of color on issues beyond the job. Jobs are simply not enough, even as unions often exclusively focus on them as a means of community empowerment while harmfully conceding total control over land use. Yet, as Marnie Brady notes, “Pitting decent jobs against decent housing is a false dilemma,” particularly where the legacy of “redlining” (housing discrimination and wealth differentiating residential segregation) is still with us.

Thus, a municipalist syndicalist rank-and-file strategy begins with pluralistic “militant minorities” democratizing unions so as to include the rank-and-file of neighborhood, housing and other municipal struggles. It means reorienting labor unions towards funneling resources into constructing and sustaining vibrant tenant unions that in the long term seek to democratize residency and bring about a housing and homes guarantee and reducing harmfully long commutes.

Just as Big Capital increasingly controls real estate, making the lives of workers more precarious, One Big Union is needed to combat this. It means One Big Union includes not just labor unions, but tenant unions and those struggles addressing structural racism head on — and this One Big Union finally takes municipal and regional power and democratizes it.

When labor fails to do this, it fails surrounding communities and fails itself in the process, as shown by the case of 1968 Ocean Hill-Brownsville.

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