There is a common notion in the United States and other powerful Western nation that the process of deindustrialization is complete and total. According to many, this process has left the workplaces of American merely small hubs of service work, totally unorganizable and not worth our time. However, along many industrial lines there remain a number of mass workplaces, especially along the supply chain. These circuits of capital flow every day and night and create huge logistical challenges – the permeation of warehouses has been one way for companies to cope with the difficulties of logistics. With the creation of these hubs, capital creates a dangerous situation for itself, because if these chokepoints are organized they can severely cripple the flow of goods. The recognition of this fact has spurred many revolutionaries to organize in these sectors. In this essay, IWW organizer Coeur de Bord analyses the first year of organizing at a United Parcel Service hub in Minneapolis outside of the preexisting trade union structure. They show how even a small core of organizers can engage large numbers of workers and mobilize them around concrete demands.
This week we bring you a piece from our friends at Unity and Struggle. They’ve written a longer assessment of trying to navigate a revolutionary path in our time. Engaging ideas of some of us in Recomp and others around the country, this strikes us as important conversations to have as things are still up in the air from the events of 2008, 2012, and continuing. The intermediate moment is the first part of a two part series, the second of which is likely to be about their experiences organizing a solidarity network that has worked on housing issues in largely immigrant neighborhoods in Houston. We’re looking forward to it.
by Adelita Kahlo and Tyler Zee
*The perspectives advanced below are those of the authors and do not represent an official “line” of U&S. U&S, as will be seen below, does not have formal positions. While many of the ideas will be common starting points for U&S, there will be nuanced differences and perhaps some disagreements according to individuals and locales.
This is the second of two pieces our comrade Mordechai just sent us on the current Canadian Union of Postal Workers strike, a topic dear to our hearts (and for some of us, our livelihoods) here at Recomposition.
In his article “Replace Yourself,” J. Pierce recommends “reveal your sources so others can think with you” and “encourage other members to read what you’ve read.” This latest post — Stan Weir’s “Unions with Leaders Who Stay on the Job” — does both at once. Weir’s piece inspired some of the ideas in all of the recent posts on leadership.
Questions About Leadership
By Nate Hawthorne
What is leadership? What makes someone a leader? Why should we care who is a leader? Who should be a leader? What should leaders do? What is good leadership?
On Leadership, by Phinneas Gage
Miguel was charismatic. Middle aged yet still handsome, a principled family man, an open communist and refugee from Chile. He was part of the left, of the left, of the left, those who desperately argued that the working class had to defend themselves even as Allende their socialist President was dragged away and shot in a basement. As an entire generation was exterminated or disappeared, buried beneath soccer stadiums and dropped into Volcanoes Miguel managed to make it to Canada, like an entire generation of Chileans he vowed not to give up the fight. He was a survivor, a militant and a leader.
In organizing, you have to develop a theory and an understanding of society, make a plan for action, and fully devote yourself to carrying out the plan and reaching your goal. There can be no half-measures if you want to be successful. Only by carrying things through to their logical conclusion can we decisively determine whether we were correct in our strategy.
This kind of committed, dedicated, singleminded attitude is the polar opposite of the mode of operation of much of the rest of the activist left, which typically proceeds from a fuzzy, hazy theory of society, does not clearly identify goals, and does not follow through with tasks, instead jumping from project to project in what a friend of mine has dubbed “fast food activism.”