Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Urbanicide: the Murder of Cities

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Republithugs“We wouldn’t have any American economy without the automobile business. That’s literally true. This is a great industry that has to go on and keep turning out more cars and trucks, and there have to be places for them to run – they’ll need more roads, and in order to get that done people are going to be inconvenienced who are in the way.”
~ Robert Moses defines Urbanicide as ‘When a city or metropolitan area pursues a gargantuan infrastructure project that is considered mostly unnecessary by the citizenry while there are scant funds to pay for it. The urbanicide then occurs when an appointed authority decides to subject the region’s citizens to user fees/toll/taxes to pay for the extravagance, dividing the community and greatly impoverishing it at the same time.‘
Marxist humanist philosopher Marshall Howard Berman preferred the shorter form Urbicide when describing the ‘murder of the city‘ by such destructive infrastructure. Classically, the term was attached to catastrophes like Hiroshima, New Orleans, Sarajevo, the Gaza strip. Only in the last several decades have urbanists applied the term to the construction of built environments that ultimately destroy lives and depress living conditions.
In his last lecture before his own passing, Berman eulogized the death of the South Bronx by the wrathful, God-like Robert Moses:
“In the 1950s, we read that our neighborhood and many other working-class immigrant neighborhoods had been chosen for destruction. Officials said we all should be grateful; we were being told early so we would have plenty of time to get out. Moses was in charge of many city and state agencies, and he knew how to manipulate federal money. His projects got built because they expressed a total elite consensus, both on what to build and on how. The way to build was this: draw lines from point A to point B, obliterate everything in between. Moses knew how to do that.”
For Berman, watching the urbanicide of his childhood South Bronx under the shadow of a freeway was an act that required revenge, “I became obsessed forever with the destruction of cities.” He wasn’t alone. ”The expressway project got underway…We had moved, but I kept going back. One big assembly point for construction was an overpass at the Grand Concourse and 174th Street. There was once a pocket-park [there], now a storage dump, that offered a spectacular view. It attracted many of Robert Moses’s victims. They were older than me, often involuntarily retired; their homes and jobs no longer existed. ‘That bastard,’ they said, ‘we’ll get him someday.”

You’d think with all we’ve learned from Berman, WEB Du Bois, Jane Jacobs, Gordon Parks, William H. White, Helen Levitt, Lewis Mumford and others, that the destruction of vibrant, livable cities would have ceased. On the contrary, new generations of planners have grown up reading Jacobs, claiming to have taken her to heart, yet continue to look down upon the city with Moses’ godlike petulance. In our increasingly urbanized cityscapes, urban freeways have become a toxic asset. Yet in their place we now see unaffordable tower developments that also divide neighbors, creating vertical gated-communities as isolating as the Sprawlburbia cul-de-sacs urban planners abhor.

Even worse, this new gentrified landscape is being erected for an obedient, technological class with little solidarity for the service class that supports them. Teachers, first responders, sanitation and restaurant workers – they’re being pushed away from the city center due to rising rents, becoming more automobile dependent in the process. We see the very same dismissal of working class issues by Robert Moses now happening at the hands of predatory developers. This is but another form of urbanicide – where glass and steel towers have similarly destructive effects as the concrete freeways built during generations past.
The core tradition of urban dehumanization is the driving force for Western cities: the accumulation of capital. Where people gather to share and commune, there exists a concentration of institutions with profit motives derived from dividing and displacing. After all, you can’t make much money in real estate if everyone stays where they are. You have to leverage political and economic mechanisms to coerce people out of old homes – by force when necessary – and into new ones. Fortunately, there are marketing terms like ‘sustainable’, ‘green’, and ‘smart growth’ to mask the malevolence of disaster capitalism. Linguistic adaptation is the key to socially acceptable economic purging.

Where once negative market pressures were despised by academics and the morally-minded, now intellectual outlets like National Public Radio not only accept displacement, but actively argue in favor of gentrification. From a recent apology for profit-driven real estate, NPR did its best to form a palatable narrative. Claiming far less people are displaced than is commonly believed, the corporately-underwritten network cited rising credit ratings of residents who managed to stay in gentrified communities as proof of progress. NPR failed to cite credit ratings of residents who were forced out.
This kind of metric is designed for one thing and one thing only: framing the narrative as one of ‘improvement’. Talk about how the neighborhood will cease to be poor – but don’t mention this will be achieved by purging out poor people. These so-called solutions to poverty are all about absolving guilt – thereby enabling liberals to go right on consuming without regret for their harmful lifestyles.
If recent ongoing protests to Apple, Twitter, and Google’s gentrification of San Francisco are any indication, national Right to the City and housing justice organizations see right through this bullshit. While many criticize such activists’ tactics as misguided, they do so with historical ignorance to the cultures of resistance that traditionally shape social rebellion. There is much precedent for demonstrations that, while misunderstood by the comfortable classes at the time, are frequently praised by historians years later when observed objectively.
Cities evolve, that is undeniable. What draws us to the city is the allure of community, culture, spectacle, and the routine spontaneity of unexpected experience. The profit-driven landscape of a developers’ urban utopia banishes the creative classes, the working classes, and those economic refugees who struggle to survive in a capital society. Truly good urbanism must be derived from processes far more democratic than we’ve seen in the last century. Reading Jacobs means nothing if we still think like Moses.
To end this bloody practice of Urbanicide, us lovers of cities need to adopt a radically holistic view of who benefits, and who is harmed by patterns of regressive policy. And it’s never too late to undo the damage. Even in death, the spirit of Marshall Berman seeks vengeance. In early 2013, it was announced an expressway named ‘in honor’ of Robert Moses will soon be torn down, granting residents access to the Niagara Gorge for the first time in decades.
“When tall buildings and traffic lanes and business districts become our priority, we forget about people in neighborhoods. We actually forget about what is the Life Blood of a city. One of the things we ended up doing by focusing on the urban form – by building taller, bigger, faster, better – is that by the 1960′s cities were in financial crisis. They were in financial crisis because they neglected the neighborhoods.”
~ Craig Steven Wilder
From: RebelMetropolis.ORG

Los Solidarios!THERE IS A CONSENSUS among democratic socialists today that the struggle for deep social change has to somehow reflect the kind of society we want to build, but this remains inseparable from the questions of power, political strength and effectiveness because prefiguration goes beyond the “pure” ethical sphere to include wider issues of ideological/cultural, political and socio-economic hegemony. The revolutionary syndicalist answer to the problem of integral prefiguration represents a specific and important historical (and contemporary) synthesis. Revolutionary unionism, in the ideologically broader and more modern sense, could be defined as a movement and strategy more closely resembling traditional revolutionary syndicalism on the ethical and organizational “micro-level,” without adhering to the relatively rigid “grand narrative” which the traditional syndicalists attempted to provide. I will try to identify not only the main lines of syndicalist development, but also some weak links of syndicalist strategy, which manifest its inability to produce a sufficiently dialectical strategic solution to the puzzle of social change.


ALTHOUGH EARLY ATTEMPTS AT COMBINATION were already made in the pre-Chartist period (The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union of 1834 being a well-known example), it took several more decades of betrayal by craft unions and union bureaucrats for the ideas of industrial unionism and revolutionary syndicalism to flourish.1 To the narrow sectionalism of contemporary unions, industrial unionists counterposed the idea of organizing all workers in the same industry into the same union regardless of skill or trade, and organizing across industries — in such a way building collective leverage and workers’ power through unity and solidarity beyond the boundaries imposed by capitalist society. Free associations of producers were the ultimate goal of this vision. The idea of a system of labor councils, or Chambers of Labour (Bourses du Travail), which were to be the protection of workers in the existing system and the nuclei of the future society, was already present in certain sections of the First International (especially among Spanish and Belgian delegates, the Swiss Jura Federation, and many French sections,2 but its practical implementation within the International came to an abrupt end when the two rival groups exemplified by Marx and Bakunin split at the Hague Conference in 1872, and it suffered further setbacks with the defeat of the Paris Commune and the incipient spread of reaction across Southern Europe. Revolutionary Syndicalism, which first flourished in France at the end of the 19th century, developed both as a practical response to the exploitation of workers, bureaucratic and craft unionism and — especially in its more explicitly anarcho-socialist forms — as a response to the parliamentary strategy of the Second International, when the understanding that the real strength of workers ultimately lies in their character as producers began to rapidly develop. The French Confederation Generale du Travail (General Confederation of Labour, CGT, founded in 1895) became one of the main initiators of the syndicalist movement. It was captured by the syndicalists, and was largely a result of patient anarchist and syndicalist radicalizing work from within the mainstream trade union movement. As opposed to the largely negative program of many anti-capitalists of the time, revolutionary unionists propagated (somewhat idealistically, arguably out of context from the actual dynamic of the development of class consciousness and class power) “constructive” libertarian socialist activity based upon the ideas of self-help, mutual aid and struggle from below and the reorganization of socio-economic life on the basis of workers’ self-management.3

General Characteristics

LIBERTARIAN REVOLUTIONARY UNIONISTS are generally distrustful of leaders and the principle of hierarchy. Their views on the subject usually correspond to the “iron law of oligarchy” concerning the danger of bureaucratization inherent in hierarchical organizations, as identified by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his anarchosyndicalist phase. Revolutionary unionists therefore emphasize the importance of local branch and workplace assemblies, with union officials being directly elected, accountable and recallable delegates in direct contact with their fellow workers. Ultimately, independent rank-and- file thinking and initiative are seen as the basic precondition for liberation, since “the emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class itself” (Marx). Related to the detestation of bureaucracy and the managerial approach is the rejection of the goal of centralized “state socialism.”

As an alternative to the politics of states and parties, revolutionary unionism posits the economic reorganization of production, replacing the rule of man over man with the simple administration of things.(…) Revolutionary unionism considers that along with the disappearance of a property owning caste, must come the disappearance of a central ruling caste; and that no form of statism, however camouflaged, can ever be an instrument for human liberation, but that on the contrary, it will always be the creator of new monopolies and new privileges.4

Revolutionary unionism is therefore distinguished from most other approaches by its unequivocal endorsement of self-management and strong commitment to socialism from below. Its ideas of direct working class power precede and resemble the early Russian soviets and factory councils as a form of anti-capitalist dual power. Furthermore, there is distrust of parliamentary politics,5 which is often extended to suspicion of party politics and conquest of state power in general, especially among anarchosyndicalists. However, there have also been and continue to exist revolutionary unionists who — while subscribing to the goal of socialism from below and genuine participatory democracy — still recognize a certain role for socialist revolutionary parties. Antonio Gramsci’s Ordine Nuovo brilliantly epitomized (and served as a catalyst for) the fiercely democratic, councilist spirit of the Italian factory occupation movement of 1919-1920 (“biennio rosso”).6 The Marxian syndicalism of James Connolly is another prominent example of such an approach which, in a strategic and dialectical way, cautiously attempts (primarily through a revolutionary party) to utilize the political system, elections and the concrete, existing social structures and movements, but nonetheless appreciates and supports the central role of workers’ self-government in the creation of a genuinely democratic socialist society.7 Another trait of most syndicalist organizations is federalism, IWW being a notable exception with a somewhat more centralist organization, mainly because of the enormous territory it had to cover (and still does), at the same time basing itself on the democratic principles of (relative) local autonomy, recallable delegates with limited tenure, membership referendums etc., principles which were first put to practice on a grand scale in the Paris Commune of 1871. Additionally, revolutionary unionists are united in their desire for truly combative unions, either through transforming existing unions, starting new, alternative ones, or combining the creation of autonomous rank-and-file structures with work in existing mass organizations, but universally stressing the value of creative militancy and primacy of direct action.8 They share the supposition — syndicalists in the narrow sense especially — that the working class must prioritize the industrial, economic front.9 Following from this, syndicalism can largely be defined as “hardline workerism,” which quite often (although not always and automatically) degenerates from an uncompromising commitment to egalitarianism into vulgar anti-intellectualism and rejection of organic intellectuals as possible allies in the struggle, one of the important reasons for syndicalism’s lack of greater, longer-lasting counter- hegemonic ideological influence (somewhat ameliorated by a typically vibrant and creative workers’ culture of resistance). Finally, it is important to note the syndicalist “myth” of the revolutionary general strike — sometimes propagandized as an isolated, final act (especially by early French and American revolutionary unionists), and as a possible nonviolent/unarmed path to socialism. However, it was generally seen as a prototypical “insurrectionary general strike,” and it remains so both in syndicalist10 and more popular contemporary Marxist approaches.11

Syndicalism’s Greatest Moment – CNT and the Spanish Revolution

SYNDICALISM’S MOST ILLUSTRIOUS CHILD has to be the historical Spanish CNT (Confederation National del Trabajo, National Confederation of Labor), and it was among the more “prodigal” ones as well. The development of the Spanish libertarian labor movement, especially from 1910 when CNT was founded, and in the early stages of the revolution itself, is one of the most encouraging stories of democratic empowerment in the 20th century. Many thousands of libertarian revolutionaries, workers and peasants sacrificed their lives for a world based on genuine equality, decision-making by common people and freedom from oppression in the multiplicity of its forms. For a short time that new world seemed very near.

It is the great merit of Libertarian Socialism in Spain, which now finds expression in the CNT and the FAI, that since the days of the First International it has trained the workers in that spirit which treasures freedom above all else and regards the intellectual independence of its adherents as the basis of its existence.12

The Spanish CNT had over 550 000 members in May 1936.13 It was ostensibly the strongest revolutionary organization at the onset of the civil war, main organizer of anti-fascist resistance, initiator of expropriations, agrarian collectivizations and factory councils.14 Although external factors (mainly the civil war and the sheer superior force of the reaction backed by Mussolini’s and Hitler’s military might) shouldn’t be underestimated, the defeat of the revolutionary forces was also partly a result of their mistakes and weaknesses. The CNT in particular had to sacrifice its program in order to maintain an alliance with the Popular Front government, with a few of its leading members (who were also militants of the explicitly anarchist FAI) even becoming government ministers.

Radical land reform in the Republic endorsed and proclaimed by the government, would have allowed the Republicans to appeal to the peasant soldiers of the fascist army over the heads of their officers. If the Madrid government had proclaimed the Spanish colonies, Morocco for instance, liberated, they could have appealed to the Moorish soldiers of Franco’s army to rise against the generals, or desert to the Republic. They did none of that. Their self-imposed “bourgeois” limitations ruled out everything of that sort. Above all, in the Republican areas they stood against a socialist revolution.15

A minority current within the union (and the independent Marxist POUM) advocated a political takeover, but that would have led to the breaking of antifascist unity and an open confrontation on at least three fronts: against the fascists, the republican and authoritarian left government as well as capitalist owners themselves. The CNT proved unprepared (or unwilling) to develop and carry out an independent program for workers’ power; it was unwilling to wage a battle for dominance against other currents fighting for control under the guise of the popular front, and was forced into submission and compromise politics, ultimately being pushed aside by the Stalinist, “left-bourgeois” and fascist reaction.

Major Criticisms

ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONTROVERSIES regarding syndicalism has been its tendency to form alternative unions determined to compete with mainstream, craft and reformist ones, and organize the unorganized workers that the existing unions usually weren’t interested in. It is necessary to take into account the important, although often not entirely clear-cut distinction (stressed by Hal Draper, for instance) between dual/alternative unions that came out of actual struggles and the actual mass labor movement (like the CIO), and ideological dual unionism: “artificial” attempts at “inventing” mass alternative organizations “out of the blue,” and often with a radical phraseology that is alien and intimidating to most workers, therefore being an impediment to organizing. Following from Lenin in “‘Left Wing’ Communism — an Infantile Disorder”16, Trotsky argued strongly against dual unionist strategies and stressed the absolute necessity of working within existing mass unions vs. the tendency to form ideologically pure unions and turn backs on the workers stuck in bureaucratic trade unions.17 Some syndicalist unions grew out of the existing workers’ movement by boring from within (e.g. French CGT, partly CNT & early American IWW). The Australian IWW largely pursued the “boring from within” agenda, with considerable success and a very strong position in the early Australian workers movement. It was based on the concept of a “conscious minority” and dual membership in the mainstream trade unions as well as the IWW, constituting the fighting spirit of those organizations. In the U.S., William Z. Foster (later a Communist Party leader), influenced by French syndicalists, produced a brilliant, powerful critique of dual unionism that all proponents of this approach would do well to consider.18 However, see Max Eastman’s and Karl Radek’s more nuanced position regarding the IWW in Max Eastman, Foster, The Liberator, 1921, as well as Hal Draper’s greater “tolerance” of the IWW in light of the fact it was breaking new ground in terms of organizing the unorganized etc. (Hal Draper, Marxism and the Trade Unions, 1970, not to mention James P. Cannon’s unwillingness to directly cross swords with his past (James P. Cannon, The I.W.W., Fourth International, summer, 1955). Moreover, “boring from within” also holds grave dangers for the revolutionary movement, and has so far largely failed to produce expected results (or perhaps live up to its true potential).19 Other important charges have been that of economism and anti-politicism. It has often been argued that syndicalist neglect of the political sphere obstructed the creation of democratic revolutionary parties, in the end leaving vanguardist options as the only serious party-political response to social-democratic betrayal. These charges were less of a problem for Marxist revolutionary unionists like Connolly, Debs or De Leon who had their socialist parties and could therefore also easily mobilize around issues that weren’t strictly economic. Yet there were and are obvious, significant antinationalist, antiracist, and antisexist implications of syndicalist battles, if little explication. IWW was for instance far more open than most to women workers and workers’ wives. “The IWW has been accused of putting the women in the front. The truth is, the IWW does not keep them in the back, and they go to the front.”20 It was also among the first to make an attempt at breaking the racial boundaries between the American working class, and the first to include all “races” (Knights of Labor excluded the Chinese). “During its active life, from 1905 to about 1924, the IWW issued about a million membership cards, of which about 100,000 were to Negroes.”21 Furthermore, syndicalist involvement was important in general strikes for universal suffrage, they were heavily involved in free-speech, anti- war, anti-conscription and community struggles etc. Indeed, while syndicalists have often been accused of vulgar economism (by Lenin and Gramsci for example), others have actually attacked the tendencies towards (universalistic) “revolutionary romanticism” instead of simply concentrating on bread-and-butter issues. A considerable number of IWW and CNT radicals (for instance) even attempted to further countercultural ideas such as free love. A major, indeed central criticism, as previously stated in relation to the CNT, is that syndicalists — especially anarchosyndicalists — have on the whole failed to effectively address the issue of state power and construct an offensive program with regard to the state, a program for taking power. This evasion of the problem of power has gotten worse since the days of the practical syndicalist unions, and the current position of workerist ideas is particularly unfavorable on the anarchist Left. The centrality of the labor movement in Left, and especially anarcho-socialist politics has been seriously challenged, and the workers’ movement as a whole is in many ways lagging behind “new social movements.” Libertarian revolutionary unionism has largely lost its natural ideological base, at least for the time being.


THE RISE AND FALL OF SYNDICALISM as a mass movement that dominated the revolutionary left landscape at the beginning of the 20th century22 has been compared to a shooting star by some, and a plainly failed concept by others. The beginning, as with some other revolutionary movements, was very promising. Between 1902 and 1908, the French CGT experienced a rapid growth from 100,000 to 400,000 members — “out of a total unionized population of 900,000 workers. Its fight for the eight-hour day, […] for a day off work each week, for wage increases and improvements in working conditions — a fight often crowned with success — made it the representative of the finest of the labor movement’s aspirations to emancipation.”23 That same CGT later fell under reformist, governmental and jingoistic influences, and is today the biggest — and one of the most mainstream — trade union confederations in France. Although some have argued that the “golden age of syndicalism” is confined to the period prior to WWI, it was actually largely still a formative phase, with early 1920’s marking syndicalism’s zenith (at least in terms of membership), even though the Spanish CNT’s heyday came later. Nonetheless, the Russian Revolution meant the “beginning of the end” for syndicalism, which was increasingly being seen as “old hat,” without any such “successes” like the Bolsheviks had to point to, and unable to grasp the new political arena that was unfolding. Third International anti-syndicalist policies and the rise of communist parties didn’t help either. Stalin’s “Third Period” (with the establishment of “red unions”) eroded the position of the syndicalists even further. In 1922, the International Workers’ Association (IWA) was founded in Berlin as a syndicalist counterweight to the Second and Third Internationals. Present at the conference were, among others, Argentinian Workers Regional Organization (FORA) apparently representing 200,000 members, the Industrial Workers of the World in Chile representing 20,000, the Free Workers Union of Germany (FAU) with 120,000, the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) with 500,000, General Confederation of Workers in Portugal with 150,000, the Swedish Workers Central Organization (SAC) with 32,000, National Workers Secretariat of the Netherlands representing 22,000, the Committee for the Defense of Revolutionary Syndicalism in France [a breakaway from the CGT] with 100,000, and the Federation du Battiment from Paris representing 32,000. “The Spanish CNT was unable to send delegates due to the fierce class struggle being waged in their country under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. They did, however, join the following year.”24 Secondly, another major factor that has to be considered with regard to syndicalism’s demise was the extreme repression that often frustrated organizing efforts and destroyed gains that were already made. Workers and union organizers (often one and the same in the case of syndicalism) were subjected to methods such as red baiting, mass deportations, long imprisonment, or vigilante “justice” among other things.25

The Argentine FORA, in the middle of an internal wrangle in 1931, was suppressed by the military, never to regain its importance within the trade union movement. The Chilean IWW was beaten into the ground by the Ibanez dictatorship. The German movement was liquidated by the Nazis and a left-right combination of Stalinists and falangists destroyed the Spanish CNT in 1938-39.(…) Salazar wiped out the Portuguese movement. Brazilian syndicalists felt the lash of the Vargas regime. (…) the Castro regime finished off the Cuban syndicalists – something neither the Machado nor the Batista regimes were able to do.(…) Communist, fascist and military dictatorships crushed the movement in Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain and Portugal. Government repression also played a part in the weakening of the Chilean and American IWW and the Mexican CGT. 26

Cooption proved more fruitful in other cases, such as the one of the Polish Solidarnosc (its full name, reflecting its early semi-syndicalist spirit, is still “Independent Self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity”). Furthermore, other factors such as the changing economic structures with new, hard to organize, non-unionized industries impermeable by political unions; agricultural collectivist principles — plausible in Spain or Ukraine, not in places where individual ownership was traditional; militant anti-clericalism which actually aided in the separation of the working class along the lines of religion, instead of truly helping to annul its negative effects; cooption and competition from conservative, mainstream and business unions, now infinitely superior when it comes to organizational size in the vast majority of countries — have all added to the demise. Ultimately, the centralization of political and economic power was the overwhelming tendency of the 20th century. Syndicalist ideas ran contrary to the tide of history.

Today & Tomorrow


syndicalism of the period 1900-1920 now appears as the great heroic movement of the proletariat, the last desperate attempt before society took the plunge down the managerial abyss to emancipate the proletariat by its own exertions, to build up a distinct proletarian culture purged of any traces of bourgeois ideology, and to evolve a uniquely proletarian method of social action.27

The resurgence of traditional syndicalism and separate “free unions” does indeed seem an unlikely prospect, at least in developed countries. Syndicalist unions still seem quite plausible in Third World countries where low levels of union density, coupled with hyperexploitation, lower level of political representation and a greater level of direct class conflict offer opportunities for combative, class unions. The energetic Mexican FAT (Frente Authentico del Trabajo, about 50,000 members and a working relationship with the American class union UE) and the great proto-syndicalist Indonesian union FSPNI (allegedly with a membership close to a million) are better-known examples. The militancy of the South Korean labor movement is particularly notable. Also, considerable inroads have been made by some less ideological, “reformist” class unions (some of which are gathered in FESAL – European Federation of Alternative Syndicalism), such as the SUD unions in France that are influenced by democratic socialism and base committee ideas, the Swedish syndicalist SAC (about 10, 000 members) which controls a portion of shipyards and the postal service, the Spanish CGT (with membership claims ranging from 60,000 to 100,000.28 Particularly interesting is the Italian base union movement expressed through the COBAS (“Comitati di Base,” committees of the base) unions originating from the radicalization of the 60s (reaching its political peak in the “hot autumn” of 1969, although the number of Italian factory councils continually increased from 1969 to 1973) and with a couple hundred thousand members, mainly in education but also among metal workers for instance.29 Their presence, it could be argued, contributes to the atypical militancy of the Italian labor movement. Some non-sectarian revolutionary unionist organisations could also provide one of the bases for highly progressive work in mass organizations, if they transformed themselves more into militant rank- and-file networks which would actively intervene in these conservative organisations. When ultra- leftists state that trade unions “may now be considered as a special police force deployed against the workers,”30 that is a recognition, but also an exaggeration of structural tendencies that are certainly present and even dominant at this stage of trade unionism in the “developed” world. However, trade unions aren’t static entities — they are themselves spaces in which a continual class struggle for power between the union bureaucracy and the workers takes place. It is a struggle which mustn’t be neglected, but the enslavement by the trade union machinery has to be actively resisted.31 Socialists should work with, but also against trade union officials when necessary; they should help build strong and direct- democratic shop-floor, sectional organizations; combine struggles, encourage cross-sectional solidarity; and point to the political connection between fighting for immediate goals and building a better world. Syndicalism itself is an ideology that is here to stay, although some of its past strategies — especially those that fetishist organizational purity over engaging with the working masses in less than pure organizations and movements — haven’t withstood the test of time. Principled, daring opposition to the bureaucratic stifling of labor organizations is a necessity, but it should keep clear from well- intentioned, yet ultra-leftist fantasies that can ultimately only frustrate the efforts of libertarian revolutionaries. The only way ideas of workers’ power and solidarity are to have relevance for the present and for the future is through engagement with average (and below-average) workers and an organic connection to the actual, existing labor movement through immersion into mass popular struggles and organizations, with a clear strategy centered at empowering the rank-and- file of labor.

With respect to nearly anyone who is trying to fight back in our current context, I differ from what most people think about the current state of US unionism.
Of course, none of that can be split away from an analysis of our current circumstances which I believe is an international hot war, and economic war, of the rich on the poor and the rapid emergence of fascism as a popular movement.
It does not have to be that way.
Let us hope that another scenario is possible if we take on the hard tasks of the immediate future and connect them to a vision of what can be. One of those tasks is to determine the role of the unions and the relationship of radicals to them.
Labor bosses at all levels are the nearest and most vulnerable of workers’ enemies. Rather than “move unions to the left,” better, “demolish the labor quislings, take their treasuries, seize their buildings, as we build a mass class conscious movement to transcend the system of capital.”
Why does that make better sense?
Since the Industrial Workers of the World (a grand vision but fatally flawed practice) were nearly demolished in the Palmer Raids of 1919, American unionism has been a false flag operation: not what most people think of as unionism.
*Every major labor leader in the US adopts the corporate-state view of unity of Labor Bosses, Government, and Corporations in the national interest. These are hardly “labor” unions in the strict sense of the word. They are the empire’s unions. I assume the connections of labor and US intelligence are fairly well known and do not need to be explained. They are the unions of what now is, surely, the US corporate state.
*It follows that the Labor Bosses deceive people from the moment they join a union, the key lie being that none of labor’s elites believe that workers and employers have contradictory interests–the very reason most people agree to send them money.
*The remarkable salaries of US Labor Bosses (past National Education Association president Reg Weaver made $696,949 in his last year in office) come directly from the fruits of US imperialism and war. They know that. They have been war hawks for decades, using the unions to promote the Empire’s desires. They sit on the boards of the Social Democrats USA, the National Endowment for Democracy, The Albert Shanker Institute, The George Meany Center, and other fronts for the Central Intelligence Agency. Following the history of the American Federation of Labor, which sought to organize white men into craft (skill based) unions, and exclude most of the working class, the international operations of the AFL-CIO seek to demolish indigenous workers’ struggles so, in theory, American workers will do better. Clearly, this failed.
*Union tops sell a pacified or disciplined work force for money from employers. That is the nucleus of “collective bargaining.” Employers collect dues (check off) on behalf of the union, send it to the union heads, while the labor tops promise labor peace for the duration of the contract. That is precisely the traditional exchange.
Labor heads use violence to “protect the contract,” because employers can sue them if the rank and file wildcats, strikes within the contract’s time period. Unions become the bosses enforcers.
Henry Ford fought unions for years. When he finally came to understand this devil’s deal, he said, “You mean I’m the union’s banker? Sign me on!” Today, Ford management organizes Ford plants on behalf of the United Autoworkers Union. The upshot is, labor leaders (1) condition the work force for passivity, (2) urge members to think of the union as a vending machine, (3) consider the treasury, and thus mis-leaders own jobs and pensions, to be more important than the interest of the rank and file members–the union becomes a bank.
*When labor tops cry, “Save Collective Bargaining,” they really mean, “Save My Job and Pension!” The last 40 years of labor history show they are willing to concede everything the members have (wages, hours, working conditions, pensions) to management, often under the guise of “Save Our American Industry,” but what they really want is to preserve their money. “Save Collective Bargaining!” becomes, “Save Our Automatic Check-off and We will give you Labor Peace!”
*The vast majority of unions are corrupt and hierarchical at the core, usually mimicking the structure of the employers. So, those seeking to reform those unions are not learning lessons to transcend capitalism, but rather they learn every opportunist and corrupt maneuver that has kept US “unionism” afloat when it should have been put to death years ago.
* When one gets close to “reforming” a US union, one will face serious violence. That will come from not only the union bosses, but their allies in the courts, the cops, joint union/Boss firings, intelligence, and the mob–one or all. Those unprepared for that should, at the least, be forewarned.
*The unions accept without question the multiple divisions of labor that, in part, lay at the base of the capitalist system. The unions divide people far more than unite people. And each union’s structure mimics the structure of the management of their workplace.
*The divisions between elements of “Labor” are easy to see. Look at any airport–five or six unions representing people with different jobs, skills, etc. The American Federation of Labor was founded to preserve divisions–skilled craft workers from everyone else; usually meaning white men vs everyone else. The Congress of Industrial Organizations, founded mainly by the Communist Party USA (sic–the wellspring of the greatest betrayals of American radicalism), pits one industry against another: steelworkers vs autoworkers, etc. While the CIO did indeed lead heroic cross-industry struggles that won significant reforms, concessions, in the thirties, by the early 50′s the CIO evaporated into an appendage of the empire, turned into something many of its founders set out to oppose.
*Further evidence of the divisive nature of “unions” is the incessant raiding that takes place. The Service Employees International Union grew to super-size by raiding other unions and independent organizations–and they are still at it. SEIU can rightly claim to be victimized by raids as well. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers spent a decade and millions of dollars raiding each other: the “Teacher Wars.”
*Unions routinely scab on each others’ strikes as harshly demonstrated by the California grocery strike of the not-too-distant past.
*The old labor saw, “I paid my dues,” conceals the marriage of unions and capital and the boundaries the wedding created. For example, in a teachers’ union, students are not about to be invited to meetings as active participants and voters. They didn’t pay their dues. But they are the most valuable allies teachers, especially professors, have–and the people most likely to see the necessity of militant direct action.
*The “Labor Movement” is full of police, prison guards, and others dedicated to the promulgation of the violence that is the stick behind capital’s carrots (vanishing fast).
*The empire’s war industry is nearly fully unionized: Boeing, shipyards like NASCO, etc., indicating the nature of imperialist unionism: war means work. More war means more work.
*Other labor unions are so mobbed up that it is impossible to distinguish the labor leaders from the gangsters–an indicator of the relationship of those who do crime, and the cops who often help them organize it. In this case, the relationship has a third party, the members, who are thrice robbed: by the cops, by the gangsters, and by fetish that is their union, but is not a union.
*Fake unions like those that exist in the National Football League, or Major League Baseball, win a lot of support when they claim to be part of the working class–while making millions a year, living in gated communities, negotiating individual contracts, and polluting a popular culture where adults dress up in team uniforms and slug it out, occasionally killing one another.
*Construction unions collude with developers and politicians to fleece the public: building unneeded sports stadiums and convention centers. This deepens the divides in the working class, creates a population of superfluous very well paid workers eager to get into the pockets of the rest of the working class. More importantly, the practice underlines the unity of unionites, bosses, and pols in the corporate state.
*The last thing the Labor Movement and its aristocrats wants is a mass of class conscious workers who are willing to fight in solidarity to control their work places and communities. That would mean the Labor Bosses would have nothing to sell to the Big Bosses (labor peace/no strike clauses for check-off). Instead the ability to control the work place becomes confused with ability to control the union, which is often a contradiction. There is no way to overcome this structural and psychological poisoning of the well.
*The prime maneuver union tops use to distract, divert, and finally demolish any hint of class consciousness is to herd people into electoral work, the fake “democratic,” process where people are offered the chance to choose who will oppress them best while asking the question, “What about me?” (capital’s favorite question) to the executive committee and armed weapon of the rich that is the government. This scam reinforces the dangerous false, nationalist, belief that we are all in this together in a democratic society, when every message from reality says we are not.
*The Labor Movement is not about to teach people Grand Strategy (overcome capital), strategy (how to study concrete conditions about how capital works in specific places and make broad plans to fit the Grand Strategy) and tactics (direct action on the job: sit down strikes, mutinies, etc) not only because the Labor Movement bitterly opposes that, but also because there is nearly no one left in Labor who even knows how to fake it.
*The “Labor Movement” is not a movement and it is not where most people who work are. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who are likely to be early change agents are not in unions: soldiers, immigrants, and students. To lure them into some bogus kind of US unionism, or nearly any other “unorganized” person, is to just add a layer of enemies for them. Why do that?
*The argument that people “must learn by baby steps,” rises out of a bizarre idea that people need to be lied to from the outset so they can learn not to be lied to later. Just as far too many radicals are unwilling to use terms like “capitalism and exploitation,” “imperialist war,” and “corporate state fascism,” so are they unwilling to unmask the realities of the US’ bogus unions.
*Yes, some people are in unions and those who are serious about transforming capitalism need to be in those unions, attacking the leadership, the corruption, the hierarchies, the betrayals, the theft of treasuries, nationalism, etc. But they need one toe in and nine out.
*There are, nearly, no progressive lessons to be learned from the Labor Movement, except when the rank and file fights the union — with the goal of overturning it entirely. The IWW notion that, “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common,” applies to workers and their union leaders as well.
*Repeated efforts to reform “Labor” have either been silly like Aronowitz and others’ “Scholars, Artists and Writers for Social Justice,” etc, or simply failed, if pretty heroically: Labor Notes.
*Today’s imitation “unions,” their leaders backed by the majority of their members, made a mockery of the history of labor in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They have spit in the faces of their grandparents who fought and often died for a vision of unionism that recognized the fact of labor/management opposition. They have wittingly made concessions that gave back nearly everything the fighters of the past won. They scab on their own children’s future when they cut newer workers’ wages in half, setting up two tiers where only the cheaper will prevail–again and again.
The emergence of fascism will not mirror its predecessor movements in precise ways. However, if as that process deepens, the US union offices would be where people would be instructed to pick up their brown-shirts.
It is well past time to get beyond the genteel idea that AFL-CIO top, Richard Trumka, the picture of narcissism, is going to be “moved left,” or voted out of office, just as it is well beyond the time to grasp what capitalist democracy is: capital trumping whatever democracy may be at every turn today.
I am sincerely sorry UAW members have not yet assaulted Solidarity (sic) House, thrown the vile leaders of the UAW in the Detroit River, grabbed membership lists, needed machinery, and whatever of the treasury they can, and either fled or held the building as long as possible while reinforcements have a chance to arrive to fend off the UAW’s goon/staff a la their action at the Detroit Mack Avenue plant in 1973.
I am sorry workers have not stormed podiums, grabbed mikes, thrown off the labor hacks, and made speeches to their co-workers about what a real workers’ organization would look like (see Paris Commune for starters).
I am sorry there have not been more wildcats like the Detroit Teachers Wildcat Strike:
Harsh, harsh measures to those union hacks who seek to foist concessions on the rank and file when 40 years of labor history show that concessions do not save jobs. Like feeding blood to sharks, concessions only make employers want more. Harsh measures.
I look forward to all of that happening, and more, and I think it will.
The core issue of our times is the rise of color-coded inequality and the real promise of perpetual war met by the potential of mass class-conscious resistance for the clarion call that has driven social movements for centuries: Equality!
This is not a utopian scheme that aims at a far distant tomorrow and refuses to address the necessity to win some kind of reforms today, or to even defend what is minimally left to poor and working people today. It is, instead, to insist that unionism as it is cannot win even short term reforms and, moreover, to split the needs of today from the requisite need to transcend capitalism is to lose both.
Or, perhaps more abstractly, to abandon both the theory and practice of revolution is to deny science (evolutionary leaps), philosophy (dialectics into materialism), history (revolution on revolution) and passion itself–a cornerstone of any movement for change.
At issue is connecting reason to power.
So far, the entire national agenda, including the education agenda, is a war agenda.
Dr Rich Gibson is a co-cofounder of the Rouge Forum (, an organization of school workers, students, and community people whose only line is: Class is important. He is an emeritus professor of history education at San Diego State University. . With perhaps ten others, he is primarily responsible for organizing what is now the largest local in the UAW, local 6000, not auto-workers but Michigan state employees. For his efforts, he was repeatedly fired and jailed attempting to build a union that recognized that workers and bosses have opposing interests. He also served on the staff of several unions including AFSCME and the NEA.

: October 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
0This is the text of one of the speeches I gave at the SYRIZA Youth Festival in Greece over the weekend.

I come to you tonight from the belly of the beast, from the heart of capitalism and crisis. In the US, we experience the crisis in some ways differently than you do in Greece, but the consequences for the working class are still devastating.

Just to give you a very brief picture of the last few years, we have had millions of people lose their homes, leaving up to a third of some cities completely depopulated. This includes Detroit, the old industrial powerhouse that was once the heart of working class power. Detroit now exists under the dictatorship of an unelected financial manager. He decides which workers will be paid, who will receive pensions, and which union contracts he will honor.

In Chicago, where I live, our dictator is nominally elected, but despite a mass movement to save public education, he closed fifty of the city’s 300 schools this year, cut the remaining schools’ budgets by more than $200 million, and laid off more than 3,000 teachers.

In states across the country, due to slashed budgets and the ideological warfare of the right, the right of women to abortion does not exist in any meaningful way. It took weeks of protests and demonstrations just to have a group of high school athletes held accountable for gang-raping a classmate and posting the video online.

Programs like Stop and Frisk criminalize Black and Brown youth. More than one million African Americans are in the claws of the New Jim Crow prison system, and last year, the police extra-judicially murdered a Black person every 36 hours. A racist vigilante was acquitted by an all-white jurt after murdering 17-year-old Travyon Martin while a Black woman was sentenced under the same law for 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband but injuring no one.

Youth in America graduate college with an average $30,000 in debt which most of us will never be able to afford to repay. Unemployment is high–not as high as in Greece, but still devastating. For the general population, it’s about 15%. For youth, it’s closer to 25%. For Black and Brown youth, the numbers are as high as 60%.

For this reason, many people were surprised when we, the fast food and retail workers, went on strike for the first time in April this year. Some media characterized it as the fight of people who have nothing to lose, but in reality, we had everything to lose. Living on minimum wage in the US (which is $7.25/hour before taxes are taken out), is nearly impossible. Living without any income is much harder. States are cutting unemployment benefits and imposing work requirements to receive food aid and other welfare benefits.

So why, with so much to lose, are increasing numbers of low-wage workers–who, according to conventional wisdom, are unorganizable–walking off the job?

First, we must note that while the crisis and the new age of austerity has ushered in a brutal and vicious attack against working people and the youth worldwide, it has also generated a growing resistance. American workers were inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. I was standing in a line for food benefits one day in early 2011 when the man in front of me turned around and said, “We need some of that Egypt shit up in here.” And then, a week later, we got our first taste of mass struggle in the US as hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets of Madison, Wisconsin and occupied the state capitol to oppose Governor Scott Walkers’s new law that would ban public sector unions. Nurses, students, teachers, municipal workers, and steel workers marched behind banners that said, “Out with Scott Mubarak.”

Two other mass movements erupted that fall. First was a struggle to save Troy Davis from the death penalty. Not only was Davis innocent, but he was a leader of the new abolitionist movement to oppose the racist and barbaric death penalty. Anger over his execution fused with decades of growing anger over class inequality. This turned into the Occupy movement, which also drew inspiration from the movement of the squares in Greece and Spain.

2011 was of momentous importance, because for most American youth, it was their first lesson in how to fight, and how to organize on a mass basis. But every movement I’ve talked about was eventually repressed, often violently. Public sector unions became illegal in Wisconsin. Troy Davis was executed, and the Occupy movement was the target of a massive and coordinated campaign of state repression. And perhaps most importantly, the working class outrage that had been the lifeblood of most of these movements had not found expression in the workplace, the real locus of our class power.

In 2012, that started to change. The Chicago Teachers Union took a stand against the austerity attack on public education that had been closing and defunding schools, laying off teachers, and corporatizing curriculum across the country. They waged a successful seven day strike with massive community support. The strike was built completely among rank-and-file teachers, who held building-by-building organizing meetings, went door knocking in neighborhoods, and organized displays of unity between teachers, students, and parents by packing buses with school contingents to take over hearing meetings.

On the first day of the strike, after holding 300 picket lines around the city, the teachers and their supporters, numbering about 50,000, flooded downtown Chicago, shutting down the city. Massive support for the teachers stemmed from two main things. First, they were drawing a line in the sand against austerity. Second, people understood the teachers weren’t just fighting in their own interest, but they were fighting for everyone in Chicago and for education justice. To give an idea of how the city was transformed: the first four days of the strike in September were the first four days in Chicago where there had not been a shooting all year.

Support for the teachers extended beyond the picket lines and downtown rallies into other workplaces too. For low-wage workers, who at this point were almost completely unorganized, we did little things. We put up “We Support the Teachers Union” signs in our shop windows, wore red (the color of the teachers union) to work, donated our limited money to the strike fund, made tamales to bring to teachers on the picket lines.

But what we did not only supported the teachers’ strike, it also helped ourselves to get organized. It gave concrete lessons in how to build solidarity and the crucial role it plays in a victory. The experience of the teachers’ strike inspired others to walk out: teachers in nearby school districts, symphony musicians, cab drivers, hotel workers, domestic workers, graduate students, and soon enough, fast food workers. Fighting back took concrete form because now we had a playbook to follow. It combined our class’s most powerful weapon, the strike, with new ideas about how to make the strikes more effective and part of social movements.

Over the summer, our union has waged three one day strikes in addition to holding other demonstrations. Each time, the number of workers and stores participating has about doubled, and we have won very concrete gains in our stores. No one has been fired for striking.

There are a few important things to understand. First, in the US, there are very few unions, and almost none in the places where young people work. Many of my co-workers didn’t even really understand what a strike was. Only 6% of US workers have a union. We are in the position of having to start over, to build from scratch.

It is not easy to go on strike. Unions have been hesitant to call them, since the leadership is committed to the false belief that sitting at the table with management can make gains for workers. The bosses try to fire anyone who organizes a union. Sometimes they will even close a shop rather than allow it to go union. In the middle, youth have little to no experience of trade unionism, and so for those of us on the left who understand the central importance of the working class to changing society, and who know that a union is the most basic level of working class organization, we find ourselves in a very difficult position. We must train our co-workers in organizing and fighting the bosses’ attacks while at the same time confronting the old style of bureaucratic unionism that we know is a recipe for failure. It is a tall order, but it is one we must meet if we have any hope of changing the tide of austerity.

And we have other hurdles we must overcome. Perhaps the biggest is racism. In the US, racism has a long, brutal, and powerful legacy that is present everywhere you go. Our cities are segregated, so in Chicago, most African Americans live on the South Side, Latinos on the West Side, and white mostly in the North. Until the 1960s, segregation was enforced through law. Now, it is the marker of continued inequality and discrimination.

To give you a picture of the inequality: more than 90% of the students affected by Chicago school closings are Black. Since taking office, Obama has deported more than one million immigrants. In the place of schools, cities are building prisons, often run by for-profit contractors. The city of Philadelphia closed 23 schools this year, citing a budget deficit, but then announced they would be building a prison that cost more than the size of the deficit. Youth of color are being diverted from schools directly into the prisons, and in the US being convicted of a crime can strip you of voting rights, welfare rights, and legitimate housing discrimination against you. So right now, among the youth there is a very strong feeling that something must be done, because the future we are being presented with is untenable.

Racism has long divided American workers too, so we have to confront it now on a political and organizational basis. For our union, this means going to demonstrations to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. It means having bilingual meetings so English and Spanish speakers organize together and see each other as brother and sister.

And as we have started to struggle together, we have started to lose our fear. There comes a time in all of our lives when we decide that we will not allow our boss to walk over us, mistreat us. A time when we decide that our work deserves dignity and fair pay. The courage that decision generates is contagious.

Let me give you an example. In my workplace, a few of us started wearing pins to support the union. Since we’re only allowed to wear pins issued by the company, we took some of the pins we had, painted over them, and wrote “We support the union” on them. The first day only a few of us wore them and our boss told us we couldn’t wear them. But we said we were following the rules, since they were work-issued buttons, and we wouldn’t take them off. We won the stand-off, and soon almost everyone was wearing the buttons.

That was a small thing we did together, but the implications were large. They gave people the courage to do more. Every time we stood up to our boss and didn’t get fired, people got a little bit bolder. Unity and solidarity are not just ideas or slogans. They are our organizational and political basis. We are fighting for a living wage, paid sick days, and a recognized union. But along the way, we win things that embolden people. Those little things matter a lot. Now we are allowed to drink water and coffee while we work. I was able to have my absence excused so I could come here to Greece, when before, people have been fired for leaving work early after being electrocuted on the job or going into childbirth. But now I said, “I need to go to Greece to a workers’ conference,” and they told me I could go. They told me in writing they wouldn’t fire me or retaliate against me so I can enforce it.

My co-workers and comrades wanted me to come here to speak but also to learn. Because they look at you here in Greece and they see people who know how to fight. They see one of the most organized working classes in the world. They are inspired by you, and they are in solidarity with you.

So I want to finish today by talking about what young people of the left can do to help us organize ourselves in the workplaces.

First, organize to solve small problems but always have in your head that you are building people’s confidence to take on bigger problems. Problems in the workplace, but also political problems.

Second, make your workplace political. Confront racism, sexism, anti-immigrant ideas, homophobia every time they arise. This will teach your co-workers to see the workplace not just as a place where we earn money, but a place where the working class does politics.

Third, democracy is our power, and we need to build democratic unions. We as workers have the power to totally transform society, and the everyday practice of unionism–not only in the delegates’ meetings but on the shop floor–is how we prepare ourselves, how we transform and educate ourselves. In this way, we must see the dual nature of trade unionism. It is a way to fight for the reforms we need now, the ones that will allow us to live and to organize, but it also a way to build the basis for revolutionary struggle, and a different kind of society where workers’ power extends from the workplace to the whole of society.


Posted: September 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

LSWA logo final version<

Mike Rogers
This is the GOP crook who clings to a gerrymandered house seat like a big fat tick. There NEEDS to be a serious effort on the part of the Democraps to get this asshole OUT. from “Dail Kos”:
Rep. Mike Rogers was given a free ticket to another term in the House of Representatives, where he can continue with stupid like this, because of some very shifty sleight-of-hand tactics in Michigan’s 8th district. (Details here)
MIKE ROGERS: When you think about any of the operations of a soldier in the field that’s released could lead to their death, that is an act of treason. And an act of treason is a capital offense and it should be,

You have to stop this culture of disclosure. It’s dangerous. It gets people killed.
CENK UYGUR: So would you have supported execution of Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers?
ROGERS: Well, I don’t know all the circumstances around it. If it was information that certainly put soldiers at risk in the field and he was convicted of treason, absolutely.
I have my own opinions about WikiLeaks’ responsibility with regard to releasing names. But I don’t have an argument with them releasing documents, nor do I believe it is an act of treason, nor do I believe anyone should be executed as a result, including Afghans working with the US government.
But this man, Mike Rogers, was just granted another term without any effort. Lance Enderle did not receive enough votes to get onto the November ballot as the Democratic candidate, leaving the ghost rider, Kande Ngalamulume as the non-resident Democrat running for office in that Congressional District.
I don’t usually make it a point to slam Democrats, but this begs for it. There is no excuse for the DCCC to have ignored this race and allowed such nonsense to prevail. For all the money they spent sending me little birthday cards to sign for the President along with my $50 donation, they could have actually spent the time to vet this candidate and look for a contender.
Instead, they just ignored it completely. They ignored the fact that a lunatic who thinks executing people for leaking documents is a good thing will now be the de facto winner in November. How hard would it have been in that state to find one candidate — ONE — who could have actually gotten something done?
The DCCC misses the point of its sheer existence when it allows nonsense like this and likewise, the DSCC in case of the monumental hairball in South Carolina with Alvin Greene.
For starters, it appears arrogant and entitled. It appears as though Democrats don’t really care all that much about districts where they can’t get high profile bang for their buck.
But mostly, it’s undemocratic. That’s all. It’s undemocratic to allow stupid to take the place of democracy.
Lance Enderle received 9% of the vote as a write-in candidate. That’s not so bad, given that write-ins almost never get even 1%. We made a difference, but not enough of one, given the time and money constraints. And so, Mike Rogers will now represent a district that has just about an even split of conservatives and liberals in it.


252318_241903912588205_1286509722_nLansing Workers Center meets every Tuesday at 6pm at our NEW LOCATION:

909 West Saginaw Street, Lansing 48915

new location 1LWC2LWC5LWC has been wandering loose since we lost our space in the Northstar Center in 2012. As of April 2013, we have a new space! It needs a LOT of work, but we’ve finished the hardest parts (plumbing and electrical). We still need to make roof repairs, install a new ceiling, turn a second bathroom into a kitchen area, etc etc etc…but we will get it done! We will have a grand re-opening in late May. But as of the first Tuesday of May, ( May 7), our regular Tuesday meetings will be at the new location. 7pm (call 342-6435 for info).


Posted: April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

General Strike
“Sartana: Yes, I am a woman of the law. And there are lots of laws. But if they don’t offer us justice, then they aren’t laws! They are just lines drawn in the sand by men who would stand on your back for power and glory.” – — Machete
It’s here, now. We have taken enough, it’s time to starting hitting back: a nationwide general strike of all workers; union, non-union, full-time, part-time, permanent and temporary, ALL workers. A strike organized and operated by rank-and-file working people. We cannot wait for the leaders of the unions to do this. They wrapped in a legal web that they cannot escape. If this is to happen, and this needs to happen, it will the brothers and sisters of the working class that do it.
Suggested date: July 14, 2013. July 14 is the date of the start of the Great Railway Strike of 1877, also known as the Great Uprising, Great Upheaval, etc. It was a national strike launched by a beaten labor movement, and the majority of the strikers were not union members. It shocked the nation to its core, and was the foundation of the great labor upsurge of the late 19th century.
The strike will be organized on the ground at local towns and cities. It will include HARD picket lines (lines scabs CANNOT cross because we won’t let them); the goal will be to disrupt commerce for the space of ONE WEEK, from Sunday, July 14 to Sunday July 21. (this is just my suggestion; better ideas may be proposed in future discussion).
If you think this is what we need to do, pass this around, share with all working people you know. If people want to work on organizing this, or just discuss the possibilities, contact: Lansing Workers Center, or call 517-342-6435 (message phone).