Building Power and Advancing: For Reforms, Not Reformism

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Here we’re sharing an article from Miami Autonomy and Solidarity,


Building Power and Advancing: For Reforms, Not Reformism

By Thomas (Miami Autonomy & Solidarity)

“We shall carry out all possible reforms in the spirit in which an army advances ever forwards by snatching the enemy-occupied territory in its path.” – Errico Malatesta[i]

As anarchist communists, we are against reformism.  However, we are for reforms.  We believe that fundamentally the entire system of capitalism, the state and all systems of hierarchy, domination, oppression and exploitation of humans over humans must be abolished and replaced with a direct democracy, egalitarian social relations and a classless economy that bases contribution according to ability and distribution according to need.  However, such a social revolution can only occur through the power of the popular classes themselves from the bottom-up.  In advancing towards such a social revolution and a free and equal society, we must build our power in preparation for this fundamental transformation of the world, building on struggles along the way.  Ultimately our demands will be too threatening to the elite classes for them to bear; and their resistance to our drive for freedom will be too much for us to tolerate any longer.

Against Reformism

We are against reformism.  Reformism is the belief that the system as it currently exists can remain, but just needs to be slightly improved.  For reformists, reform is the end goal.  They are not against the system; they are against what they see as the “excesses” of the system.  We don’t see the harm that the system does asexcesses of the system, but expressions of the fundamental nature of the system.  We see the reformists trying to hold down the lid of a boiling pot of water, or letting steam go from that boiling pot now and then; but they do not address the fundamental problem. (more…)

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Developing the IWW’s Direct Unionism Politics

| Filed under Our Writings

This post by  Juan Conatz rekindles a discussion sparked by the discussion paper on Direct Unionism, which you can find here.

Cleaning out my numerous Google Doc drafts, I found this, which continues the direct unionism debate by taking on most of the responses to the original discussion paper. So I decided to finish it, as most of the written discussion has dropped off.

First off to clear something up, I did not write (not even one word!) the original discussion paper. There seems to sometimes be confusion over that, probably due to the fact I wrote 2 reviews in the Industrial Worker newspaper. Honestly, outside of a few people who later became involved in Recomposition, a former American Wobbly who is now in Solidarity Federation and some folks I associate with the Workers Power column, I don’t know who all wrote the thing. It was a collaborative effort involving a group of Wobblies over a couple year’s time.

Looking back on the discussion paper, I think (the authors would probably agree) it should be seen as an unfinished draft. Further along than a rough draft but not quite a final draft. I don’t view it as a complete program conceived in full agreement. Speaking of ‘direct unionists’ or a ‘direct unionist tendency’, which sometimes happens, is sort of misdirected because it talks of differences and perspectives in terms of factions. This is convenient when speaking in generalizations or to identify commonality, but can also be unnecessarily divisive or destructive. Part of how I interpret direct unionism is not as a sexy self-identifier, but as building a culture of seriously talking about IWW organizing in a way that advances our practice. To put it a bit more clearly, it’s not about being part of a formalized tendency that ‘wins’ out, but about pushing debate in a way where it has organizational ramifications that are discussed and decided upon by membership. Also, another problem of the sexy self-identifier is that it can be more about the term and not about the ideas. I’ve come across a few Wobs that identify with the term, but then advocate ideas that are basically the opposite of what the paper advocates.

Those ideas the paper advocates, in my opinion are: (more…)

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