The WIIU has endorsed a project, the purpose of which is to unite revolutionary socialists and anarchists for the purpose of building revolutionary industrial unions.
Four point project for revolutionary unity and action.
1. Initiate an organizing drive on behalf of industrial unionism that seeks to build the Industrial Workers of the World, the Workers International Industrial Union, the Industrial Workers of Great Britain, and the Industrial Workers of Brazil, under the slogans, “Organize everyone! Workers belong in the Union of their class! Spread the industrial organization around the world! Workers are entitled to all they produce!”
2. Campaign to get class collaborationist unions to adopt a class struggle posture, both by correspondence with union officers, and by working with the rank and file to demand a transformation of their union.
3. Organize worker self-directed enterprises and put them under the democratic management of revolutionary industrial unions.
4. Form a coalition of parties and independent candidates that will:
* Raise the issue of revolutionary industrial unionism in the political arena, essentially calling for the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class.
* Defend the interests of all members and all sectors of the working class.
* Educate and organize against militarism and imperialism.
* Articulate the need to respect the planet and develop sustainable technologies.
* Aid in the creation of revolutionary wsde’s
A few words about the feasibility of this proposal.
A proposal of this type is seen as either Deleonist or archo-syndicalist, or both, and both carry a certain amount of baggage that needs to be unloaded.
Daniel Deleon is associated with the Socialist Labor Party, which unfortunately became extremely sectarian in its later years, but Deleon’s work speaks for itself. He and his comrades entered the labor organizations of the day and tried to get them to adopt a class struggle posture. Finding that to be a dead end, they helped organize new revolutionary unions such as the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance, and 10 years later, the Industrial Workers of the World. DeLeon translated works of Karl Marx, August Bebel, Karl Liebknecht, Ferdinand Lassalle and Eugene Sue into English. He was an editor, a prolific writer, orator, socialist candidate, opponent of reformism and opportunism both in and outside of the 2nd international. He upheld socialist industrial unionism as an instrument of general social transformation. He took seriously Marx’ admonition that we “inscribe on (our) banner the revolutionary watchword, abolish the wages system”.
Deleon’s resume notwithstanding, this program is just as closely identified with Eugene Debs who gave the definitive speech on Industrial Unionism in New York, on December 10, 1905. This common work in organizing the IWW had a unifying effect on various elements of the socialist, anarchist, and anarcho syndicalist movements, at least temporarily.
The IWW has limitations in the eyes of some socialists because it rejects the political side of the struggle. That doesn’t alter the fact that the IWW is a great organization that has kept revolutionary industrial unionism alive for over 100 years. If the political side of the movement decides to intervene on their behalf to help build the industrial union movement, they’ll likely not complain too loudly.
The fourth point about worker self-directed enterprises needs to be properly understood. They are not put forth as an instrument of general social transformation, but rather as a method of aiding the larger revolutionary movement. The example of revolutionary workers democratically controlling production through industrial unions is a powerful one. Additionally, wsde’s will provide a material basis for the construction of a larger revolutionary movement. They will be a lifeline to workers who fall victim to the collapsing capitalist order. They will also be a great recruiting tool for those people who, like this author, would much rather pick up a shovel or turn a wrench than organize a demonstration or pass out leaflets. If we can bring sufficient intelligence to bear on the problem, so as to develop wsde’s that function at a high level and use technology intelligently, organizations that are under the democratic control of revolutionary workers and have a formidable educational program in place, organizations imbued with the ability to replicate themselves at will, then these are sure to generate considerable excitement and enthusiasm within the working class. From such a platform, we can project ourselves with greater volume and clarity, onto the larger political and labor movements.
There are those who would suggest that the working class needs to discover the path to socialism by itself out of the stubborn facts of our material reality. They are correct, but the revolutionary industrial union movement is precisely just such a discovery that came out of the American class struggle. It is a good starting point for those who wish to take up the project of building socialism today, a project that has nothing to do with the failed “socialisms” of the 20th century. Eugene Debs seems to be a hero to just about everyone on the left, even in the class collaborationist unions. His speeches on industrial unionism are inspiring, instructive, and relevant. They are outstanding pieces of propaganda that could and should be used by socialists today to help the working class reclaim its forgotten class struggle language and culture. He, along with others like Mother Jones, Lucy Parsons, Daniel Deleon, William Haywood, and William Trautmann, patiently and effectively built class consciousness among working class women and men a century ago. Though a lot has changed in that century, a lot remains the same, and most of what they had to say is still relevant today.
There seem to be more and more people who call themselves Socialist, but who have little idea what to do to begin to build socialism, and have little knowledge of our American working class revolutionary heritage. These four points for revolutionary unity and action seek to connect with that heritage and refit it for the 21st century. They provide a framework from which a myriad of tasks suggest themselves that eager minds and hands can take up immediately. At least aspects of this project should be of interest to both anarchists and revolutionary socialists, and also to the mass of people who are waking up to the obscene inequality that characterizes modern capitalism.
If socialism means social ownership and democratic control of the means of life, as we affirm, then it is pretty hard to imagine that it could differ very fundamentally from what our revolutionary predecessors had envisioned, and were doing their level best to build.
“Most anarchists believe the coming change can only come through a revolution, because the possessing class will not allow a peaceful change to take place; still we are willing to work for peace at any price, except at the price of liberty”. - Lucy Parsons
"this is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism”. William Haywood.
“Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.” …..”I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser”….. “I learned in the early part of my career that labor must bear the cross for others' sins, must be the vicarious sufferer for the wrongs that others do”― Mother Jones
“Industrial unionism is the Socialist Republic in the making; and, the goal once reached, the industrial union is the Socialist Republic in operation. Accordingly, the industrial union is, at once, the battering ram with which to pound down the fortress of capitalism, and the successor of the capitalist social structure itself.” – Daniel Deleon
“In the industrial union movement, the workers will adhere to the great words of a great thinker, Karl Marx, ‘ the emancipation of the workers must be achieved by the working class itself’.” William Trautman
“Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. (Applause.) I would have you make up your minds that there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves.” Industrial unionism 1905– Eugene Debs http://www.marxists.org/archive/debs/works/1905/industrial.htm
These American revolutionaries conceived of an instrument of general social transformation in the form of revolutionary industrial unionism, and for a number of years, they were united in the effort to build the revolutionary industrial organization. Let’s revive this long overdue project, let’s reunite socialists and anarchists and then the rest of the working class, install the necessary upgrades for the 21st century, and build the organization that humanity desperately needs and deserves. Science and technology can no longer be held hostage by the idle drones. They are the product of the march of civilization, and their benefits should accrue to everyone. Revolutionary industrial unionism is not an antiquated blueprint, but rather a set of principles, fluid enough to conform to the contours of the digital/industrial economy of the present day. Call it what you will, we have the where-with-all to organize a class-wide organization that will introduce a new paradigm, and build a new world from the ashes of the old.
In closing, you are strongly encouraged to read Debs 1905 speech, Industrial Unionism. It was delivered at a moment of extreme optimism, when the industrial union movement had inertia and spread rapidly around the world. The comrades really believed that the socialist republic was just around the corner. After reading his speech, get in touch and let us know what part of this project you'd like to work on.