2011 August Archive

A New Workerism: Capitalist Crisis, Proletarianization, and the Future of the Left

| Filed under Our writings

Recomposition is subtitled “notes for a new workerism.” We take the phrase “new workerism” from this piece written by Alex Erikson before we started Recomp. This piece was originally circulated at the US Social Forum. We’re glad to put it up here. Alex advocates an emphasis on workplace organizing and an orientation toward some historical experiences that he believes contain resources for us in the present, including the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and various groups who have practiced what they called industrial concentration.

A New Workerism: Capitalist Crisis, Proletarianization, and the Future of the Left
by Alex Erikson

I. The Crisis

In fall of 2008, capitalism underwent its worst market crash since 1929, leading to the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Nearly two years and over $11 trillion in bailout funds later, financial capitalism has stabilized. But while the worst of the crisis for our capitalist masters seems to have passed, it is clear that the crash of 2008 was only the beginning of the worst for the North American working class. Since the onset of the crisis, over 1 million homes have been foreclosed, 8.7 million workers have been thrown out of work, leading to a real unemployment rate hovering around 20% which translates into at least 30 million people in the US without jobs, with many more without sufficient employment. While corporations have seized on the recession to demand bailouts from the federal government, they have used the crisis as a pretext to slash benefits, freeze wages, and reduce staffing. In the last two years, despite the decline in consumer spending, productivity increased by over 7% in the last quarter of 2009 due to management’s ability to intensify exploitation of workers who are held hostage by the threat of layoff.

US elites seized on the economic crisis as a pretext to impose a “Shock Doctrine” acceleration of trends that began in the 1970s with the rise of capitalist globalization. Since the late 1970s, multinational corporations have battered the North American working class with union-busting, outsourcing of jobs, deindustrialization and automation, stagnant wages, and cuts to social services. The result of these trends is the fundamental remaking of the global capitalist production system, resulting in the destruction of working class communities in much of the United States and the disappearance of what once was the US middle class. The economic crisis has now given the green light to corporate elites to launch an even more aggressive offensive against workers. (more…)

Proletarian management: Informal workplace organization

| Filed under For discussion

We recently posted Stan Weir’s classic article on informal work groups. This recent piece by the Swedish group Kämpa tillsammans (Struggle Together) talks about similar workplace dynamics. The article talks about how management sometimes tries to make use of informal organization in the workplace, and how radicals can do so as well.

Proletarian management: Informal workplace organization
by Kämpa Tillsammans

The emancipation of the working class can not only be conquered by the working class themselves but the emancipating practices of the working class are its own making too. So the question about workers autonomy isn’t primarily a political question but a question about organization and this article deals with concrete and actual workers autonomy and how it exist in Sweden today in the 21st century. (more…)

by recomposition | tags : | 1

The Nature of Our Period: looking to an autonomous working class alternative

| Filed under Our writings

In this article Scott Nappalos argues for an account of the present historical moment and our tasks within it.

The Nature of Our Period: looking to an autonomous working class alternative
by Scott Nappalos

The end of the twentieth century was a time of transition. The regime of low-intensity warfare, the dismantling of the welfare state, and neo-liberal privatization schemes ultimately was running its course[1]. The final defeats were to be dolled out across the world in the eventual collapse of finance bubbles, widespread resistance to austerity, and the implosive of the economies of Latin America[2]. Before this was all but said and done, there was the gradual and later meteoric rise and fall of social movements against neo-liberal reforms and the militarism leading to the afghan and Iraq wars. Revolutionaries played an active and disproportionate role in mobilizing the social actors in what would become the largest mobilizations of their kind. (more…)

by recomposition | tags : | 0

Update on translation of Waves of Struggle

| Filed under Administrative/housekeeping

As mentioned in the last post, we recently found a translation of Phinneas’s Waves of Struggle article. With some help we’ve gotten more info about this. Farideh S. did the translation, thanks very much Farideh! Farideh also wrote a good introduction to the piece. That introduction in English is pasted below. The people who posted the article describe themselves as “anti-wage-labour activists,” they also maintain this web site in English – www.againstwage.com. Check it out.

Thanks again comrades, and great to meet you.

Farideh’s interoduction to the translation of Waves of Struggle:
CUPW writes, “Canada post is planning to invest two and a half billion dollars in the modernization of postal delivery”. The union believes that these investments will have a negative effect on the workers. These changes will decrease safety for mail carriers by forcing them to carry more letters. Less time will be spent on sorting mail and a larger burden will be put on workers involved in mail delivery. One potential problem for mail carriers will be the fact that it will be harder to read address’ while carrying too many bags of mail. The mechanization of parts of Canada post will also be used to justify hiring freezes, even though there is a significant labour shortage. Another result of this mechanization will be that there will be more night shifts and less day shifts. The work will be harder and more dangerous. CUPW says that none of the supposed benefits of this new system will be seen by the workers. Management has not acknowledged any of this and has kept very tight lipped about any potential problems with these investments. Canada post is currently hiring temporary workers to deal with it’s staff shortages, instead of permanent employees to make it easier to get rid of them later. Another reason for hiring temporary instead of permanent employees is they can be offered lower wages and less benefits. This is also an attempt to weaken the union and divide the workers.

I believe in the struggles of any worker fighting anywhere in the world for better working conditions. And that workers should determine their own fate and take on all decision making. The best workplaces are the ones where the workers are in charge without government or private ownership. The workers should continue the fight until they control the means of production. When a workplace is not run by it’s workers there are significant problems with bureaucracy and the hierarchy that separates the decision making at the top and the actual work at the bottom. I attempted to translate this web posting as closely to the authors intentions as possible. I believe the author to be a union supporting radical left winger.

by recomposition | tags : | 0

در بارۀ مبارزات کارگران پست کانادا

| Filed under life on the job Our writings

We just found this, a translation of Phinneas’s Waves of Struggle article. We’re pasting the translation below. Since we don’t speak the language we’re not entirely sure what to make of this but we’re flattered and pleasantly surprised. If the translator(s) read this, thank you for translating this article! Regretfully, we mostly just speak English so it is hard for us to read your web site. We would like to know more about you, if there are any English-language writings of yours, and if you want to correspond with us please email us at recomposition.blog@gmail.com. If anyone who can tell us more, please do so, we appreciate it.

مقدمۀ مترجم

اتحادیه کارگران پست کانادا می نویسد: “پست کانادا مبلغ دو ونیم بیلیارد دلار برای مدرنیزه کردن پست، قصد سرمایه گذاری دارد“. اتحادیه معتقد است که برخی از این سرمایه گذاری ها اثر منفی دارد. مجموعه این تغییرات سبب می شود که نامه رسانان زمان بیشتری صرف حمل و نقل، و زمان کمتری صرف طبقه بندی کردن نامه ها، خواهند کرد. با تغییرات جدید کار تحویل خیلی مشکل خواهد شد، زیرا کارگران باید، ضمن راه رفتن، کار خواندن آدرس ها را هم، انجام دهند. نیاز به نیروی کار، بدلیل ماشینی شدن، بخش هائی از کار، کمتر خواهد شد. شیفت های شب کاری نسبت به روزکاری افزایش خواهد یافت، زیرا محموله نامه ها، اغلب در شب به اداره پست می رسد. شدت کار، بالا خواهد رفت، زیرا ماشین های جدید، سریع تر کار می کنند. اتحادیه می گوید که سود این کارها فقط به جیب شرکت پست می رود، و می خواهد که شرکت پست، کارگران را هم، در سود سهیم کند. در هیچ سطری از این تحلیل، نشانی از مبارزه جوئی دیده نمی شود. حتی حرفی از مقابله با عواقبی که در انتظار کارگران پست است، دیده نمی شود، بلکه فقط پیشنهاد می کند، که پست، کارگران را هم در سود حاصله سهیم کند. حرفی از این که این سود چیست، چگونه سود حاصل می شود، در میان نیست. حتی “سعدی” وار در پند و نصیحت به ملوک، از مثال هایی که تقابل با آن ها بود حرفی نمی زند، یعنی از مبارزات کارگران حرفی بمیان نمی آورد. به همین سبب است که، وقتی کارگران، خواه عضو اتحادیه، خواه غیر عضو، تصمیم به تقابل با کارفرما می گیرند، و آماده اعتصاب عمومی و سراسری، هستند، این مبارزه جوئی عمومی، را به مبارزه گردشی، یا دوره ای در شهر و ادارات، تقلیل می دهد. با این حرکت، از اتحاد کارگران، که قدرت آن ها را، بالا می برد، جلوگیری می کند. با این حرکت ضعیف، کارفرما، قوت قلب می گیرد، و به معلق کردن کارگران، ابتدا جزئی و سپس کل حدود ۵۰ هزار کارگر پست، اقدام می کند. کارگران برای دفاع از منافع خود تصمیم به عمل مستقل از اتحادیه و با مدیریت و هماهنگی خودشان می گیرند. و در نهایت موفق می شوند جلوی اخراج کلی کارگران را بگیرند. اما سایر موارد از جمله بیکار شدن کارگران با طرح ماشینی کردن، کاهش انواع بیمه ها، جانشین ساختن تدریجی، کارگران قراردادی موقت، با کارگران رسمی، و پرداخت دستمزدها و مزایای کمتر، به آینده، و به مذاکرات سه جانبه بین اتحادیه، کارفرما و دولت سپرده می شود. یعنی، دستاورد مبارزه مستقل و جمعی کارگران، در تقابل با کارفرما، تجربه دخالت پایه ای کارگران، در چگونگی حرکت، و دفاع مستقیم از منافع شان، به چیزی در گذشته، نه راهی برای آینده، تبدیل می شود. به همین سبب می بینیم که در مطلبی که کانون مدافعان حقوق کارگر با عنوان؛ ” اعتصاب کارگران پست و درس های آن” می نویسد، “رد پایی از کارگران نیست“. از آغاز تا پایان، در مناقب اتحادیه کارگران پست کاناداست. تنها در جائی به این بسنده می کند که ” کمتر دیده شده که اعضای سندیکا، علیه سیاست های اجرائی سندیکا، معترض هستند“. اما هیچ از نوع اعتراضی که این بار وجود داشت، و به شیوه ای که کارگران، در مقابل شیوه مرسوم اتحادیه، بکار بردند، اشاره ای هم نشده است. برای نشان آن چه که کارگران به شخصه انجام دادند، و تصمیماتی که گرفتند و نظراتشان، به ترجمه مقاله زیر اقدام کردم. اما ترجمه این مقاله بمعنی توافق با نقطه نظرات نویسنده در کل نیست. اما معتقدم هر مبارزه کارگری در هر کجای دنیا که انجام گیرد به ویژه اگر به موفقیت هائی مخصوصاً در زمینه خود سازمان دهی، خود تصمیم گیری، ارتباطات کارگر به کارگر و حذف واسطه های تقلیل دهنده، دست یابد، باید، دستاوردهای آن؛ برای اطلاع و درس آموزی، برای تجزیه وتحلیل و نقد، جهت ادامه مبارزه ، در اختیار سایر کارگران قرار گیرد. بنظر می آید نویسنده از زمره چپ اتحادیه ای است و اشکال اتحادیه را در بورکراسی آن و دوربودن آن از پایه های کارگری می بیند. این مقاله در حقیقت می تواند به عنوان دنباله مقاله ” اتحادیه از توهم تا واقعیت” به همین قلم، به حساب آید.

کلمات داخل پرانتز و تاکید ها از من است. (more…)

by recomposition | tags : | 0

The Informal Work Group, by Stan Weir

| Filed under For discussion life on the job

Stan Weir is a big influence on some of us in the Recomposition editorial group. This piece talks about some workplace dynamics that we think radicals on the job ought to think about. The article begins with an introduction by Staughton Lynd, which appeared in a book he edited called Rank and File: Personal Histories of Working-Class Organizers.

During more than twenty years as an industrial worker, unionist, and organizer among seamen, auto workers, teamsters and construction workers, Stan Weir became impressed by the importance of informal work groups. The informal or primary work group is: “that team which works together daily in face-to-face communication with one another, placed by technology and pushed into socialization by the needs of production. It is literally a family at work torn by hate and love, conflict and common interest. It disciplines its members most commonly by social isolation and ridicule, it has a naturally selected leadership, makes decisions in the immediate work area, and can affect the flow of production.” (more…)

by recomposition | tags : | 10