Bloque Sindical de Base
We are happy to present Beating Back the Bureaucrats from a comrade writing in South Africa. The piece focuses mostly on a recent initiative called Bloque Sindical de Base in Argentina. Argentina’s labor movement and its many divisions are not well known or understood by english-speakers in the workers movement. Having a history of revolutionary unionism that pre-dates the IWW by some decades and has continued through multiple dictatorships, union labor laws modeled after Mussolini’s Italy, and more recently a severe crisis in 2001 that led to 75% unemployment and a broad uprising, Argentina’s history contains a lot organizers can learn from about building the IWW and more broadly militant workplace organization. How do we deal with government control over the labor movement? With efforts that push organizers into bureaucracies? With reform efforts within unions? Beating Back the Bureaucrats is a welcome addition to bring some of the perspectives and debates to our audience.
The author gives a general history of the development of Argentina’s two largest trade union federations today, the CGT and CTA, starting at the birth of the CGT, its unification with the Peronist movement, and the fights and splits that have followed in the past 50 years since. Much of the work focuses on a recent initiative by union militants within the rival federation CTA which split from CGT. These militants formed a current called Bloque Sindical de Base aimed at increasing rank and file participation and combating bureaucracy within the unions it organizes. Bloque Sindical de Base uses union assemblies to mobilize worker participation on the one hand and on the other runs slates in union elections. Drawing from his analysis of Bloque Sindical de Base, the author argues for positions about the development of more combative and libertarian workers movements, and how new unions initiatives could help or hinder that situation. We have some reservations about the strategy presented at least where we live in the US and Canada, but the article raises important questions for anyone that wishes to develop revolutionary unionism, and we hope it can inspire constructive debates over these issues.
The twentieth century went back and forth between two extremes. On one side, individualism would reign supreme in the ambitions of ‘great men’, in the excesses of Wall Street and in the quest for meaning in art and literature. On the other hand, the glorification of a caricature of the human community in the phony communism of nationalized industry under a party dictatorship. On both sides of the Iron Curtain, a battle raged between the need for social action on the parts of large groups of people and the debasement of humanity that happened in the name of this action. A simultaneous perversion of humanity and the individual occurred.
As We See It/As We Don’t See it stand out as one of the best attempts at expressing a politics that both reflects the battle between these poles and cuts to the nature of this tension. No doubt like anything that old, parts of it are now a bit dated, but the basic sentiment and approach are as relevant now as they ever were.
These texts were taken from the on-line Solidarity and Subversion archive at af-north.org
As we see it / Don’t see it
I. As We See It