Archive for the ‘Movement’ Category

Austin’s Picks: Boots Riley on Black Bloc Tactics

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Boots Riley on Black Bloc Tactics in Bay Area

October 9, 2012

Boots Riley has played an important role in Occupy Oakland from its inception.

In the wake of mass arrests during a Black Bloc action on Saturday in San Francisco,Boots Riley, a revolutionary artist and Occupy activist, weighs in on the strategic wisdom of tactics being employed by Occupy Oakland and the use of Black Bloc tactics in the Bay Area particularly. The following comment by Boots were posted on facebook.

by Boots Riley
The use of the blac bloc tactic in all situations is not useful. As a matter of fact, in situations such as the one we have in Oakland, its repeated use has become counter-revolutionary.Yesterday in Oakland was a good illustration of this, in which the blac bloc kids- besides busting up bank windows- also busted windows of parked cars and threw stuff at another car- to which the Black driver of said vehicle got out looking to fight the crowd.Similarly, the crowd of folks at Somar were there for the end of Matthew Africa’s memorial- DJs and artists, and generally a group of folks who collectively probably know everybody in Oakland- I’m not exactly sure what or if anything happened before I saw the scene, but folks poured out of the club en masse to protect it, yelling at the march and telling folks to go home.If “the job of the revolutionary is to make the revolution seem irresistible”, the use of blac bloc has been making a revolutionary movement pretty damn resistible in Oakland, CA.When almost every conversation I have with folks from Oakland about Occupy Oakland, has the smashing of windows brought up as a reason people don’t like that grouping, scientifically it means the tactic is not working. It doesn’t matter that technically it’s only smashing corporate windows. It matters that people don’t want to join because of that. It’s not about violence/non-violence. The truth is that it’s not always corporate windows. I’m for certain tactics that would be classified as violent- even ones that have to do with fighting human beings. But what it’s about is a tactic that is detrimental in this situation. I would like to win, thank you. Not just lose with style. A style that the people around you don’t understand. Many folks bring up Greece when debating these things. I’ve been to Athens. What I witnessed there was that the movement was tied in with the people. Most of those involved grew up in Athens, they also are part of militant campaigns that happen throughout the year, which the people support, moreover, they just know the people of the city of Athens. And, perhaps due to this situation, there are way more of them.

It’s not due to lack of outreach that Saturday’s “West Coast Anti-Capitalist March”- meaning, one that not only reached out to the whole west coast- was only able to draw 150-300 people. It’s because it’s not what the people care about- not framed in that way- and because others are either bored with the tactic or scared of being arrested because some kid breaks the window of some used car that probably costs less than their own Honda Civic. But, that was in SF. Most of the folks doing this don’t know anyone from Oakland, and- I believe- don’t plan on doing any sort of base building to find out where the pulse of the people actually are.

If you ask most people in East or West Oakland what their problems are- they’ll say being broke is there number one problem. Campaigns that use militant mass movement tactics to achieve changes in that situation are ones that have a revolutionary potential.

I’ve talked to many a person in Occupy Oakland and even in some anarchist collectives who agree with me on this, but the idea is that to criticize this publicly is to make the movement look divided. But, the public non-critique of this has the effect of making the movement look monolithic, hegemonic and uninviting. Instead, people talk shit about each other behind their backs, split and divide into smaller and smaller affinity groups. All the while, not critiquing the counter-revolutionary bullshit that’s making them irrelevant in the minds of the people they ostensibly want to organize.

Let’s get this shit right and win.

Austin’s Picks: Happy Labor Day to the Working Clas

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

 

From Recomposition

“Just and peaceful labor relations”: Why the U.S. government supported collective bargaining

| Filed under Our writings

 

This post gives a brief account of some of the history of the capitalist state’s sponsorship of contracts for unions in the United States, with an emphasis on the reasoning that politicians and judges gave for their support of collective bargaining. The piece argues that what the U.S. government wanted out of introducing state support for collective bargaining was, in the words of the National Labor Relations Act, to ‘Promote the flow of commerce’ through ‘friendly adjustment of industrial disputes.’ 

“Just and peaceful labor relations”: Why the U.S. government supported collective bargaining
by Nate Hawthorne

The U.S. government increasingly promoted collective bargaining in the early part of the 20th century. To take one important example: In 1919, economically disruptive disputes escalated between the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and capitalists in the textile industry. In response, the New York governor appointed a state commission aimed at preventing “industrial war” which created “distrust and hostility” between classes. This commission recommended collective bargaining in order to reconcile the union and the employers. As the commission wrote, a “collective bargaining agreement calls for the utmost good faith on both sides to perform (…) every term and condition thereof; whether it refers to shop strikes on the part of the worker, lock-outs on the part of the employers, or the maintenance of its terms as to wages and hours. This Board desires to emphasize this point as fundamental in any contractual relationship.” Contracts require such good faith and, from the point of view of the capitalist state, contracts helped create such good faith.

With state help, the ILGWU won an industry-wide collective bargaining agreement, which the industry association soon violated in 1921. The ILGWU sued and won an injunction against the employers. The New York Supreme Court said it issued this injunction to prevent “the continuance of an industrial impasse.” The Court said that no matter who won the dispute, “such industrial struggles lead to lockouts, strikes and acts of violence” and in the end “the employer and employee, instead of co-operating to promote the success of the industry, become permanently divided into hostile groups, each resentful and suspicious of the other.” Therefore, “it is the duty of the court to (…) compel both parties to await an orderly judicial determination of the controversy.” In other words, the capitalist state began to believe that promoting collective bargaining agreements would help create industrial peace. The role of law is not simply to protect individual capitalists but to bring greater stability to the capitalist system as a whole. (On this point, I encourage fellow workers to read the discussion of the English Factory Acts in chapter 10 of Karl Marx’s “Capital.”)

The state’s role and strategy of promoting stability in the capitalist system by promoting collective bargaining explains U.S. labor legislation created in the 1930s. The 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act (hereafter, “Recovery Act”) said “disorganization of industry (…) burdens interstate and foreign commerce, affects the public welfare, and undermines the standards of living of the American people.” The Act argued that one key tool for more efficiently organizing industry under capitalism was to promote collective bargaining agreements. Thus Congress should “remove obstructions to the free flow of interstate and foreign commerce” by “induc[ing] and maintain[ing] united action of labor and management under adequate governmental sanctions and supervision.” The Recovery Act added that contracts would raise wages for workers, “increas[ing] the consumption of industrial and agricultural products by increasing purchasing power” of workers. More money in the pockets of more workers would help stabilize the American economy by providing a larger base of consumers.

Read the whole article at Recomposition?  Hey, you have a day off, take a minute to read and think about labor.

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