BART workers are under attack. Whether its the 30-day cooling off period called by Governor Wilson or the 60-day cooling off period preferred by union bureaucrats, BART management and their friends want a "cooling off" period for BART employees'sense of self-respect. These delays are efforts to shoehorn BART workers into accepting an "offer" from management that will pave the way for more humiliating measures - and a major attack on BART workers' wages, benefits and jobs in the near future.
The news media have reminded viewers and readers that BART carries more than a quarter million riders daily, the majority of them to jobs they hate. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS...
- Talk to employees of other transit companies, especially AC Transit in the East Bay and MUNI in San Francisco. MUNI employees are at the boiling point, and will soon be facing the same kind of standoff with management when their contract comes up for negotiation next year.
- Raise the prospect of joint action with other transit workers now. If BART workers go on strike, employees of other transit companies should stage actions in solidarity with BART workers, up to and including a full-scale wildcat walkout. MUNI workers have an immediate interest in supporting BART workers - MUNI workers are going to get the shaft in '95. If management sees that transit workers won't take it, they'll cave in - they'll have to. Without you, the economy of the entire Bay Area will grind to a halt. If you accept a defeat, other transit workers will come next.
- Use BART phones and fax machines to contact Los Angeles transit workers. They walked out on July 25th. Express solidarity with their struggle by refusing to be fooled by BART management.
- It's not in BART employees' interest to enforce the payment of fares. Let riders on for free. It's a great way to make allies. Look the other way when people jump the gate or piggyback in and out of the system. During a French rail workers' strike in 1987, strikers issued leaflets calling on passengers not to pay fares. During a recent job action by public transit workers in Seoul, South Korea, millions of passengers were allowed to ride for free. Let Dick White and Pete Wilson pick up the tab.
- Spread the idea among BART riders that when you go on strike, everyone who rides BART should call in sick to work, and keep calling in sick for the duration of the strike. There are literally tens of thousands of wage workers in the Bay Area who hate their jobs and would be happy to go along with a suggestion of this sort.
The news media have acted against your interests by referring to your future strike action as an "inconvenience" to commuters. Instead of freeway traffic hassles, hundreds of thousands of wage workers, many of them just as exploited and angry as you are, can take a wildcat vacation at their bosses' expense. This would bring extra pressure on BART management to settle the dispute on your terms.
Ask people who ride BART to call in sick in the event of a strike. Vast numbers of pissed off working people are likely to be on your side. Many will call in sick. This is a good way to break the isolation that the news media is attempting to impose on you.
The unions that supposedly represent your best interests in the conflict with management are already acting to undercut your position.
SEIU Local 790 and Amalgamated Transit Workers Union, Local 1555 issued a "BART rider bulletin" that gave phone numbers for obtaining "alternative transportation information". This undercuts the effectiveness of a possible BART strike. Stunts like this typify the way labor unions stab their members in the back. The unions' only goal is to get a chunk of your paycheck. The size of that paycheck is always negotiable to them. Timid actions by union functionaries hold you back and rob you of the leverage you need to win. Take direct, collective action outside of and against the control of the unions.
Working class people in the United States today face some of the worst working and living conditions found in any of the wealthier industrialized countries. Key to this fact is that for the past ten years relatively few workdays have been lost to strike actions. Bosses and their allies in the unions depend on employees being docile and willing to accept any attacks that management has to offer. A loyal and obedient working class is a defeated working class. It's time to turn this around.
The system that rules the world today needs our compliance in its plans for our exploitation and total impoverishment. This system depends on our atomization and passivity. A major strike by BART employees could reverse attacks by employers and the state on the living standards of all working class and poor people. Victory in a strike could set an important precedent for the near future.
Cooperating with the system, and with attempts by the unions to prevent solidarity actions, leads in one direction only - to lower wages, worse working conditions, and eventual unemployment. If you don't want to end up stuck in a $6 an hour shit-job doing temp work in the Financial District, or flipping burgers at Wendies for $5 an hour - TAKE ACTION NOW.
WHEN YOU ACT IN YOUR OWN INTEREST, YOU ACT IN THE INTERESTS OF OTHER WORKING CLASS AND POOR PEOPLE AS WELL
Dear people at the A.V.A:
Alexander Cockburn began his August 10 National Notes column by describing a speech by union official Jack Henning, at a convention of the state AFL-CIO, as possibly the most radical speech ever given by a high official of the AFL-CIO. Cockburn admits that to be radical in this regard is not a challenging task, but I'll go further and say that this is like praising the least anti-semetic speech ever given to a beerhall full of brownshirts.
Being stuck in a never-ending series of six to nine dollar an hour shit-jobs I view belches of commercial militantism from America's trade union functionaries more ironically than Cockburn does. I won't waste time on a point by point refutation of Henning's exclusively verbal brand of trade union radicalism. Even if the opinions he expressed had been more far going and coherent than they were all Henning really has to offer is sour grapes over the historically declining market share of his enthusiastically supine labor merchandizing outfit.
So what's a labor-faker to do?
Since the 1930's, and definitely with the rise of the CIO, unions in this country have functioned as auxilliary organs of capitalist exploitation. Union leaders, most union functionaries, economists, elected officials and most intellegent businessmen recognize this fact. The only people who seem to have trouble grasping this are a small number of bovine sentimentalists whose fealty to laughable Stalino-Trotskyoid nostrums always outweights the mundane realities of life as it's actually experienced by working class women and men.
As one of America's greatest trade union leaders and (wage)labor statesmen, John L. Lewis, stated in a rare moment of candor and clarity in 1937:
"Contrary to communism, syndicalization presupposes labor relations. It is based on the wages system and fully and wholehartedly recognizes the institution of property and the right to profit stemming from investments."
Calls by Henning for "global unionism" in response to global capitalism are nothing more that an appeal for Henning's ass-backwards, behind-the-times fellow managers of a declining capitalist enterprise (the AFL-CIO) to catch up with the sophisticated multinational exploiters who've superceeded their mid-twentieth century need for enthusiastically supine labor merchandizing rackets supplying wage-slaves for U.S.-based industries.
All of Henning's suggestions were couched in terms of laws and legality, and never in terms of collective struggles involving the use of force. It can only be this way. Unions are an integral part of capitalist legality and the state, and they cannot last outside of a bourgeois legal framework antithetical to a no-holds-barred struggle of the poor against capital, the only kind of fight that can gain even short term concessions, much less anything more than that.
In a society where market relations have successfully invaded and colonized all aspects of life economic and political life cannot be seperated; political figures are business figures, and that goes for the unions as well. The subjective intentions of labor union functionaries, even sincere ones or ones more radical than Henning, can't alter the wholly capitalist and conservative function of unions today.
Noticeably absent from Henning's remarks were suggestions for the exploited and the poor to destroy the root basis of exploitation and poverty; aggressively extend mass, collective struggles of the working class and poor against laws and borders, destroy wage labor and the state, suppress the rich as a class, abolish all forms of money and market relations and create a society worthy of the human beings living in it, a society utterly unlike this one. To expect union functionaries to act in such neccessary terms would be as absurd as expecting a stockbroker or police chief to do so. Major outbreaks of social struggles may not be right around the corner, but even if they aren't, and especially if they are, it has to be recognized that unions have only played a reactionary role in the class war for many decades.
When it comes to what they want, rapacious exploiters can be refreshingly remorseless and amoral. They don't waste time boring anyone with tedious homilies to the virtues of fair play, or beg for pity by wallowing in a victim's morality. Neither should we.
Henning is quoted as claiming, "The AFL-CIO enjoys international prestige because of its leadership, because of its integrity, because of its commitment to freedom..." Prestige among who? Employers? The wannabe George Meanys of Chile and South Korea? I know the AFL-CIO has prestige with the State Department and the CIA, but if Henning is claiming the respect of class conscious working class people he is either lying or hallucinating. Perhaps a drug test may be in order.
Labor merchandizing racket managers unite! You have nothing to lose but your role in the exploitation of an ever diminishing fraction of the working class!
(1935 words long as of June 27th
2796 words long as of July 26th
4392 words long as of August 8th
4974 words long as of August 15th
5293 words long as of August 16th
5690 words long as of August 17th
6094 words long as of August 18th
Why we did it
In the spring of 1993, San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan launched a series of attacks on the living standards of the exploited class in San Francisco. One of the chief forms of these attacks was in the form of a demand for a .25 c per ride fare increase on MUNI. MUNI is San Francisco's primary public transit system, made up of busses, electric busses and railcars carrying (___,___) passengers daily.
-(brief summary of other attacks by Jordan, chief among them MATRIX, police state measures under the ultra-liberal police chief Hongisto, Food Not Bombs, ect.)
As we pointed out in the first issue of our magazine in the context of a similar action aimed at BART workers, class struggles occurs not only in the context of wage struggles by employed people, but wherever the exploited are, and their potential social power is greatest wherever they are gathered together in large numbers. The overwhelming majority of MUNI riders are wage workers and poor people, and we engaged in a seven months-long agitation, largely inspired by similar social struggles in other countries, particularly movements for self-reduction of prices in Italy in the late 1970's. One year after the riots of '92 we hoped to catalyse potentially explosive anger in San Francisco against an attack that had a great potential for evoking a united response from an otherwise divided working class. (PUT IN STUFF from Bruno Ramirez's 1975 article)
Our first step was to draft and distribute a leaflet to MUNI drivers and station agents, drawing the clear connection between the impending attack on proles who ride MUNI, and inevitable future attacks on MUNI workers. We began with only the vaguest notion of how to go about getting copies of our stuff to (____) drivers, train operators and station agents.
Our leaflet mimiced the layout and font of the San Francisco Examiner, which had run a series of attacks on city employees, especially MUNI workers, under the guise of protecting the honest, hard-working obedient taxpaying consumers of the city. We began by (FLESH OUT DISTINCTION bETWEEN UNDERGROUND-bOARDING VS. STREET LEVEL, ETC.) boarding a MUNI streetcar, giving a leaflet to the driver, leaving the train car at the next station, and going in this manner from one car to another up and down the main inbound and outbound MUNI line. After several days we saw a number of the same drivers that we had earlier leafletted, and moved on to leafletting bus drivers.
(__) percent of MUNI is the streetcars & (__) is the busses. Conviently for leaflet distribution,
(-) number of MUNI bus lines originate at the end of Mission Street, and also in front of the Transbay Terminal (see accompanying map). After doing this for a number of days, we were told by drivers that other drivers had reproduced the leaflet on MUNI photocopy machines and distributed the leaflet in workers' mailboxes at the (YARDS? bARNS??)
We received a letter in the mail from two MUNI workers running to be delegates to the Transit Workers Union's International Convention. They said, "We agree with No Fare. We are organizing at Muni around that concept and others. Please send us more details on fare boycotts and fare strikes. We would like to publicize this. Also let us know what you plan to do at Muni besides leafletting at the Ferry Terminal." They sent a copy of their electoral program. It included shorter hours with no loss in pay, part-time work by choice only, and also, a third point: "Increase transit funding by a transit assessment district on the downtown. [Getting employers to pay] No fare increase or service cuts." Point four was "Strength through working class unity and organizing. Unite with riders and other bay area transit unions. Our goal: through education every transit operator to become an organizer."
-we're not for remaining within the framework of union politics, rank n' file unionism, etc.
-front group for INCAR- anti-racism front of the P.L.P.
-We would up not dealing with them by default, i.e: we didn't get around to writing them
-perhaps we should have explained our perspective, however, what they were trying to do
We put no specific references to the union in our leaflet because we didn't know what the union apparatus was up to,
-Go into detail here about the Union's insipid leaflet & reproduce leaflet
(PUT IN HERE ABOUT:
1. public meetings, held by the city to allow the citizenry to petition their rulers to rule them more effectvily,
And this is where the suggestion that transfers should be eliminated was first pulicly floated by some clowns in the audience
THE MASS PSYCHOLOGY OF DEMOCRACY...
2. Our analysis of the function of these meetings...the sham of democracy, elaborate here...
3. THE SHIFT FROM FARE INCREASE TO ABOLITION OF TRANSFERS
4. The actions of the ladies and gentlemen of the All-Peoples' Congress.....
-What they do in S.F.....
-What they do elsewhere in the U.S...
-Who they like elsewhere.....
A social democratic Trotskyist outfit that offer an overwhelmingly vicarious support for......
Unlike scumbags like the "Workers" World Party.....
The politics of pro-wage labor leftists are constituted around a defense of the economy and suggestions for how the bourgeois economy can be managed better, or to include the working class in the decision-making process, but to take part in direct mass working class action around our needs, against market relations, against the economy and means an open fight against all politicians and statist outfits.
against the social-democratic icepickheads of the
b All-Policeman's Congress, and
2. The bogus leaflet handed out by the scumbag union, & our tenative future plan to put out a leaflet describing what the union is about to MUNI drivers, using this leaflet as an example, among others.
By the middle of the summer we had recieved sufficient verbal feedback from drivers to indicate we'd saturated the system with the leaflet.
Throughout this period of time we attended a series of public meetings organized around a theme of class war. Out of those meeting we met several people who expressed interest in the ongoing MUNI effort. At this point in time a decision was made to shift our emphasis from MUNI employees, most of whom appeared at that point to be familiar with the leaflet, to Muni riders. To do this we drafted the following wall poster to MUNI riders:
(POSTER GOES HERE---)
Our self-reduction poster to riders was 11 by 17 inches.
We photocopied on average 150 copies of the poster per night, two to three times a week, over a period of two to three months. To pay for a poster of this size, at a rate of ten to fifteen cents per sheet, would have been prohibitively expensive. If we had planned ahead, we could have had them offset printed but we were, as always, severly strapped for cash and pressed for time. Most of the photocopies were expropriated just before we went out at night from a photocopy store with sufficiently lax security.
EVERYWHERE A SMALL PARTY...
Many miles of the city's streets were covered by a small group with a single 1 gallon bucket, one large housepainters' brush and one or two packages of commercial wallpaper paste. The paste costs about $2.00 a package. Mix according to instructions on package in warm water 'till the paste reaches the viscosity of motor oil. The posters dried overnight, and with the exception of foggy nights the posters dried rock hard, and if people who didn't like the posters didn't get at them while they were still wet they had to chisel them off.
Initially we had enough people to form several groups, but more often we had only enough people to form one group. Three seemed to be an ideal number, with one to hold the bucket and do the brushwork, one to hold the posters and one to be the lookout.
We concentrated on main streets that carry the most heavily used routes through predominantly working class neighborhoods, in the Mission, the Western Addition and the Tenderloin.
The feedback we got from people on the street was supportive, and often enthusiastic.
-MENTION HOW THE CITY KEPT ROLLING BACK THE DAY OF THE ELIMINATION OF TRANSFERS--
announcement from the mayors office-Hoax & press clips
At this point, there has been no fare increase, and after six months transfers were reinstated.
2. FLEET WEEK
3. SHOPLIFTING FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
4. BART STICKERS
5. OHLONE JUNIOR COLLGE-DESTROY CAPITALIST EARTH DAY
---SABOTAGE CONTEST SUGGESTION FOR NEXT ISSUE---
This is one respect in which the tract is clearly lacking. We are going to have to work on this. Perhaps with another leaflet.
We are also thinking about doing a poster directed at riders - H came up with the idea also of banners strung up at strategic locations saying "Don't Pay the Fare Increase - Don't Pay the Fare" or something - but what will happen is unknown because a new factor has come into play, the possibility of getting a bunch of enthusiastic anarcho/class war youth involved. We had called meetings several times, posting flyers for it and through other means, but no one got involved. Then some people called a meeting at Epicenter about organizing some kind of "extraparliamentary opposition" with Class War graphics on it and probably references to anarchism. H went to the meeting, gave out PBAs to great reception and when the time came to talk about "action" he was the only one who came up with an idea: agitation against the MUNI fare increase. According to H this met with great response and there will be a second meeting this coming Saturday (also the day B arrives) where we'll discuss it, apparently. Unfortunately I won't be around to stay involved. A propos, here's a quote from the above mentioned The Unseen:
"the same thing went for the fancy shops in the centre of town for thirty or forty of us to go into a really smart shop was in itself already pretty intimidating and even without having to hurry much it was really easy to make off with a stereo a leather jacket a camera and so on the same thing went for the transport struggles we'd travel in large groups and we'd say we weren't paying then we'd give out leaflets to the rest of the passengers to enourage them to do the same thing until it became routine and the conductor didn't even ask the comrades for tickets not even when they were on their own in the early days the bus company had the idea of putting guards on the buses but then it had to give this up because along with this it had to budget for the cost of wreched bus stations and even a pair of buses that went up in smoke one night"
This article on Macedonia comes from some folks in Athens who have corresponded with H. I think I sent you their article on the high schoolers movement early last year. I wrote them this past Fall, sent them a copy of Wildcat, and only got a reply just last week. Their name means "THE CHILDREN OF THE GALLERY". I'm going to send this also to Anarchy - they're likely to publish it unless its use of Marx puts them off. Their address is...
....in retrospect we definitely should have - not just to say early what I'm going to say to these unionists, but because it is an intrinsic, completely important aspect of what we're saying - that any such struggle is going to have to act "OATU".
What follows is a response to criticisms of my politics in two letters recieved at the P.B.A. mailbox during the first week of August.
To forthrightly acknowledge political differences in a lucid, straightforward, sober manner is a mark of individuals who can be taken seriously. Unfortunatly, these features are absent to a significant degree in George's repudiation of the discussion group we've been engaged in for the better part of a year. When we look beyond the comically paranoid, vengeful, sanctimonious and devious tone of George's first letter a handful of substantive issues are raised, if not really dealt with:
1. Frustration that the discussion group hasn't drawn in more people
2. Frustration that there hasn't been a more favorable reception for George's perspectives, as opposed to those of Hans and myself
3. A desire to blame me for the small size of the group, and
4. Fundamental differences between George's politics and my own, dealt with in a thoroughly devious manner by George.
1. The reason more people don't come to the discussion group and don't participate in or follow up on participation in public actions or interventions is because there is a paucity of individuals in this area at this point in time whose commitment to revolutionary politics goes above and beyond the level of shooting their mouths off over beers. That's how it is and how it's going to be during periods of relative quiescence in the class struggle. When a new social movement begins to rise, more people will become interested and get involved. At this point in time an authentically anti-capitalist class war action group with a sophisticated repudiation of democracy and the left will be more exclusive than any other political group, not out of elitism or an urge to be "just like leninists", but for the obvious and less melodramatic fact that outside of a period of revolutionary struggles only a tiny handful of people feel the need for consciously communist action. There is no "magic bullet" solution to this dilemma, and pandering to leftism or an anarcho-populism is no solution.
(STATE HERE THE NEED FOR A RIGOROUS COMMUNIST POLITICS-
TO FORCE INTO EXISTENCE A QUALITATIVELY DISTINCT RADICAL CULTURE OF STRUGGLE----I can't begrudge George for not sharing this vision, but his dishonesty and pathetic demonization of radical politics that is beyond his limited political acumen.....)
George makes political hay out of what he claims is his effort to build a more "encompassing tendency." How encompasing is encompasing, anyway? Should it include Trotskyists and Maoists, or supporters of Bill Clinton? How about people who invite Angela Alioto to speak at their rallies? Many or most of these people consider themselves a part of the left, as George considers himself to be. How inclusive is inclusive? Any group constituted around political commonalities is going to be exclusive of somebody in one way or another. Some are more exclusive than others, and again, this may not be sectarianism so much as a measure of the unique qualities of the politics in question. To bemoan exclusivity in a political effort in the way George does is evasive and demagogic.
From the start, there were inaccuracies and obvious lies in George's letter which made his polemic resemble a drowning man desperately grasping at straws. For instance, he opened by deploring "largely unsuccesful" attempts by Charles to improve the language of the BART leaflet. If we compare the earlier version of the leaflet with the version issued to BART drivers, we see that most of Charles' suggestions were incorporated into the text. George didn't observe this, since he was too busy guzzling beer and horsing around to contribute to the final rewriting at the computer in my living room. At a later meeting George dismissed the relevance of vulgar material evidence in relation to this question and claimed his juvenile shenanegans were a principled libertarian sabotage of my evil authoritarian leaflet writing.
According to George, someone who remained nameless (probably George) took offense at my refering to Berkeley City government official Osha Neumann as "Nausea Neumann." I'm mystified as to how any authentic, credible enemy of the present social order could possibly take offense at a derogatory reference to a notoriously irritaiting pacifist politician and funtionary of the Berkeley City government.
When I cut through the name calling, inuendo, comparisions to born-again Christians, etc., what I see is that George is pissed off that his political perspectives haven't found a more favorable reception in the group. I can understand his being upset or angry about this. However, that's no excuse for lying about what's gone on. And, as opposed to what George assumes about diabolical cadre-recruiting on my part, I was open to encountering and accepting new ideas as they arose in the course of our discussions. If I didn't take to ideas George offered it was because I didn't find them to be useful or to lead anywhere. Foe example, I found the Marvin Garson text to be shallow and glib. I suppose this response to the Garson piece made him feel defensive. This isn't necessarily to his discredit, but since he's invested so much of his ego in it it should be pointed out that George didn't come up with useful suggestions for short-term or long term group activities.
George depicts himself as a sympathetic, open minded libertarian defending freedom of opinion from the depredations of cadre-recruiting crypto-"Leninism", embodied by the Poor, the Bad and the Angry. A key example of George's hypocrisy and dishonesty in this regard is that George brandishes Saul and Kevin Maxwell to bolster his polemic after he himself had written both of them off as politically frivolous individuals. Saul bailed on the discussion group in a unilateral, unexplained manner, and did so while we were discussing a text he'd brought for discussion. This was similar to the way he'd previously bailed on MUNI wall postering at a critical point in that effort. If someone has a political or personal problem with a given endeavor I can see the validity of them explaining their differences and then leaving. Unilaterally bailing on a group project without offering an explanation is flaky and unprincipled, a sign that the person who does it isn't someone who can be trusted, and in revolutionary activity trust is most important. On these and many other ocassions Saul has demonstrated exceptionally poor judgement, and he has acted out whatever problems he's had with me by repeatedly being an asshole to my girlfriend. Only time will tell whether his commitment to revolutionary politics was a flash in the pan. Perhaps he'll be more capable of sustained commitment with glamorous revolutionaries in glamorous Paris than he's been able to in bland and unexciting San Francisco.
Kevin Maxwell is a passive consumer of revolutionary literature. His exclusively verbal brand of politics has been nothing more than a meal ticket entitling him to crash at my apartment on 24th and Alabama for months on end and cop cool tourist digs through a buddy of mine in Barranca del Cobre, Mexico. You can always depend on him to be unavailable for anything more than mooching and pathetic attempts to scam on women. The passivity and stupefaction of characters like Kevin Maxwell mirrors the widescale passivity and stupefaction characteristic of what passes for life in the contemporary United States.
From the manner in which George makes his case in relation to Saul and Maxwell:
1. An encounter with me proved to be so overwhelming and terrifying to Maxwell and Saul that both of them were driven out of the revolutionary movement. This doesn't seem very likely.
2. It is impossible to engage in revolutionary activity outside of actions initiated by either Hans or myself. This seems even less likely.
3. Neither Maxwell or Saul fell any compelling need to engage in sustained political activity. This is what seems most likely to me. In the past, George expressed agreement with my perspectives on this matter. For him to pose now as the champion of poor downtroden Saul and Maxwell without acknowledging his previous opinion of them is manipulative, dishonest and lame. His condescending attitude towards Charles and Jerry is of a piece with this.
George's poorly formulated, neither-fish-nor-fowl definition of the left in his second letter is like his jargon about "going beyond democracy". He confuses the issue, and wanting to please everyone he ends up pleasing no one.
The politics of the left are the politics of counterrevolution in the 20th century. There can be no confusion or equivocation on this point. This is not a hair-spliting peculiarity of my allegedly obnoxious personality, but one of the crucial defining lines of authentic revolutionary politics at the end of the twentieth century. By the left I mean not only the usual suspects, the social democrats, Leninists, nationalisms of the oppressed, the Greens and the peace movement. I also mean anarchists like the Love and Rage outfit and syndicalists. If George thinks my repudiation of anachro-syndicalism is mere sectarianism I suggest he do some thorough reading about the government anarchists of the CNT during the Spanish Civil War. Political groupings that mouth noble platitudes in quiet times and defend the state and capitalist social relations at crucial times are counter revolutionary, irregardless of the subbjective intentions of their members. There are no two ways about it. If George is unable to grasp this, and if he can only relate to this in a equivocal manner we definately do not belong in the same political group and have no basis for working together. In that event I suggest George should go work with some more inclusive group like Love and Rage or the IWW, a group that's more relevant to the class war than our efforts of the past year have been.
Politics constituted on the basis that George desires in his letters may succeed in briefly gathering a number of people together, but in qualitative terms it will go nowhere and it won't last. I've been engaged in political activity for about 15 years and have participated in countless groups constituted on a similar basis. Every one of these anarcho-democrat efforts was a dud. They went nowhere. They were of no relevance to anything. Missionary work among leftists leads nowhere. For the most part, serious individuals aren't going to be drawn by talk. Most of those who are serious about revolutionary change are going to be drawn by a deeply felt need to take action, by actions that attack Capital, actions that are intelligible and directly relevant to the struggles of working class and poor people. In that regard the interventions we've engaged in over the past year and a half have been exemplary communist endeavors, and the more serious, committed and reliable people will tend to be drawn more by public actions of this sort than by participation in a discussion group.
In practical terms, George's critique, under the very best of all possible circumstances, would lead to a popular front of all the well-intentioned anarcho scene hangers-on, constituted on lowest common denominator politics and barren theoretical discusssions in which any opinion outside the mainstream of tepid dumbbell anarchism is demonized as divisive. Perhaps next time around George should try to entice involvement by offering free toaster ovens or a set of matching steak knives.
George's condescending and dishonest lamentation of the alleged inability of Joe-and-Joan sixpack to grasp the difference between communism and leftism is of no relevance to any of the interventions we've engaged in over the course of the past year. There wasn't a single one of those efforts in which it was even necessary to say anything about the left. In general the left is, happily, irrelevant to social struggles of the poor in the United States. And in the future, when it is necessary to denounce and attack the left we should do so, in terms that are intelligible to working class people. In any case, the BART drivers we leafletted several weeks ago were clearly more receptive to the politics expressed in that leaflet than George is. This indicates to me that my "dogmatic" perspectives are more relevant to the proles George the democrat expresses condescention for than George pretentiously assumes.
In the future, it would be easier to take George seriously if he didn't make a habit of showing up at meetings drunk, the way he did on a number of occassions in the discussion group. Also, he should try to avoid bungling simple endeavors, for example photocopying leaflets within a few weeks of when he says he will and photocopying them in a manner that allows the copies to be readable.
As far as the publication Red Planet is concerned, nobody in PBA has ever discouraged people from doing projects independant of PBA. We've always felt that the more there are the better. No one group can say everything there is to say about revolutionary politics or has the final answers to the problems we face. George's reactionary defense of the Russian Constituent Assembly of 1918 in Red Planet isn't a function of Red Planet's autonomy from PBA so much as it's a logical product of his democratic and leftist ideology.
Given George's affinity for the left, and if the failure of the discussion group can be squarely laid at my door, as George claims, I strongly suggest that George should take the initiative and get together a pro-leftist communist effort, perhaps with Gifford and Kevin Maxwell and anyone else I've scarred off, and initiate public activities that are more relevant to the class war than the activities we've engaged in over the past year.
(5476 words long as of August 17th)
1. Acerbic approach - admit that this is true but that you get no credit when you try to be aware of this and work on it. BUT -
b. Kevin Maxwell
Where was the left during the fare increase struggle?
Where is the left now during the impending BART strike?
If your idea of acting effectively is simply to gather
together more leftists...
3. More encompassing tendency vs. cadre recruiting
-bottom of page 15 here-