Rethinking class: from recomposition to counterpower

| Filed under Discussion

by Paul Bowman

We’re reposting this article from the Workers Solidarity Movement of Ireland:


In Paul Bowman’s article ‘Rethinking Class: From Recomposition to Counter-Power’, he poses the question “Is class still a useful idea?” or “should we instead just dispense with it and go with the raw econometrics of inequality?” He draws a line between revolutionary class analysis and universalist utopianism and goes on to explore the history of different ideas of class and the elusive revolutionary subject. After exploring the intersecting lines of class and identity, he poses the challenge that we as libertarians face as we strive to create “cultural and organisational forms of class power [that] do not unconsciously recreate the… hierarchies of identity and exclusion” that are the hallmark of the present society.

If we were to strip the anarchist programme of the early 21st century down to its irreducible components, they would have to include at least these four – direct democracy, direct action, recomposition and full communism.

Most readers will have at least have heard of the first two and the last one – even if the latter passes nowadays, albeit undeservedly, more as a humorous internet meme, than a viable goal. However this article is about the less familiar third term, recomposition, and particularly around the category that gives it life – class.

Against universalism, against utopianism

The term class divides people into two camps. One which seems to uphold its validity with an almost cult-like intensity, and a much larger camp that is at best undecided, but mostly turned off entirely by it – and especially so by the apparently religious fervour of the small minority in the first camp. (more…)

Building the One Big Union: The Organizing Campaign

| Filed under Our Writings


An article by Alex Erickson on IWW organizing campaigns on how they are what will build the IWW.

Building the One Big Union: The Organizing Campaign
by Alex Erikson

In “Building the One Big Union: A Strategy for a Strategy,” I laid out a roadmap for building a union of 10,000 Wobblies- 100 branches of 100 members. We have several branches of 100 members currently, so it should be possible to reverse-engineer and replicate these successes in all of our local groups. Sounds great, right? With thousands of members, we would theoretically be able to take on more ambitious campaigns, deploy more powerful tactics, and add more strength to the workers’ movement. But of course, quality is more important and quantity when it comes to building workers power. 10,000 paper members who don’t show up to meetings aren’t a threat to the bosses. The promise of growth of our union is only meaningful if we build the union in a particular kind of way, in a way that organizes workers to engage concretely and directly in the class struggle. In the IWW, we do this primarily in what we call “organizing campaigns.” Organizing campaigns are the focus of our organization.

Other unions also run organizing campaigns. IWW organizing campaigns are unique. Our organizing campaigns have specific short-term goals, each tied to a specific long-term goal of our union: