Mar 14, 2010

Student and worker struggles

two new posts from our friends at Gathering Forces:
March 4th Student Strike Wrap Up &
March Fourth Seattle by Mamos

"So what approach should we have to social democratic union and student government leaders in the meantime? I don’t think we should needlessly antagonize them or call them out just for the sake of calling them out even though we have obvious disagreements about whether change comes from above or from below. I think what we can do is push them as far as possible to implement their social democratic tendencies because doing this further exposes all of the contradictions I’ve laid out here. We can encourage them to keep mobilizing the rank and file to fight the cuts and can hold them to their word, trying to explain to them the limitations of trying to make the bureaucracy more progressive. Every action they call we can use as an opportunity to flyer, talk to workers and students, and to build up independent rank and file fighting organizations. At some point some of them will have to go back on their word and they’ll start opposing these actions and then we should call them out and continue to organize independently. If this happens, other social democrats will probably want to continue fighting and they will realize the need to rely on rank and file power as they start to clash with the bureaucratic higher ups… this could open up cracks in the bureaucracy and makes it easier for rank and file workers and students to seize the initiative. In any case, we need to maintain our organizational independence from progressive union officials while working in a friendly united front coalition with them against the cuts"

and later

"There are forms of spontaneity that fail to advance the struggle and forms we would oppose; in the case of March 4th Seattle though, the spontaneity we experienced helped bring new layers of students into the struggle. It is crucial to emphasize that spontaneous militancy and direct action here is coming from everyday students and workers, many of them women and people of color; it is NOT coming from the insurrectionist “occupy everything, demand nothing” tendency because that tendency is not very widespread in Seattle, at least not yet. I hope that as militancy increases we can start to cohere a different tendency, independent of the liberals and bureaucrats on the one hand and independent from the insurrectionists on the other hand. What happened on March 4th points in this direction.

The debate going on in California about whether or not the insurrectionists should have occupied the highway in Oakland is very different than the debate here about whether we should have blocked I-5. Here, the drive toward the highway was not the result of organized insurrectionists breaking off from a larger march. It was something that emerged from what was (at least at one point) a majority of the crowd. If anything, those who backed the idea of the freeway occupation are the student counterpart to the furstrated social democratic workers I mentioned earlier, folks who are tired of following labor laws that are stacked against them and are starting to consider wildcat (unauthorized) strikes as a viable option. So too are students open to taking risks to advance the struggle. Folks who would previously have been trying to push the Democrats to the left are getting fed up with how unresponsive the system has been do their efforts and now have only one place left to go: into the streets, where they are joining radicals and revolutionaries in mass, democratic direct action"