Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dreams of His Father?

The announcement tonight that President Obama will escalate the war in Afghanistan will leave a lot of people depressed and cynical. Combined with the administrations over-all lack of progressive policy, much less a shift in capitalist-imperialist ideology, this latest blow can have several effects on those who were invested in the " Hope for Change We Can Believe In" slogans of so-called "democratic" politics. They will either retreat into apathy and dissociation or they may be shocked into a further radicalized analysis. Much depends on the organization of those with positive, alternative narratives such as the IWW.

Combined with the economic shock of failed Market dogma and the realization that climate catastrophe is inevitable, this continuation of a War Without End on Terror should be the final blow, the final betrayal, that lifts the veil behind which too many American workers have been willing to blindly dream for escape. A general disgust with political parties, spectacularized culture and grotesque consumerism may coalesce into positive transformation if we can find the energy and the courage to engage everyday people in dialogue and if we inspire others through loud, risky, direct action which challenges illegitimate, corrupt, venal authority head on.

Unemployment, home foreclosures, falling wages and foreign wars are all connected in ways that the IWW has been talking about throughout it's proud history. At every kitchen table, in every workplace lunchroom, on every street corner and local gathering place, people will be asking hard questions about their core beliefs. They will be confused, frightened and worried and we need to share our ideas about Industrial Unionism with folks and welcome them to a safe community committed to real justice.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We're Back!

I thought the commemoration event came off great. We had good participation, good press and some solid gains in terms of recognition, new members, new collaborations and the promise of an actual monument celebrating some proud Wobbly history. Lots and lots of credit has to go to FW Vicki Watson for her untiring efforts and organizational skills. That is another good reason to do these kinds of events, in my opinion, the capacity it builds in our members to do the actual work of day to day organizing. That means showing up for meetings, returning phone calls, sending out emails, meeting with people from all walks of life in the community and showing them we are reasonable radicals.

Some might wonder at the connection between free speech and labor organizing but I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say building democratic workplaces and a democratic society are linked by the necessity of building a democratic culture. Power is afraid of free speech, it wants weak citizens willing to let others think and speak for them. Actively engaged citizens and a lively discourse are the last things Capital wants to see! Workers who have re-learned how to think and speak will be way harder to keep under the bosses thumb.

Moving forward, we have a new Secretary/Treas. ,Me, troutsky (aka Dave Jones),and hopefully two new delegates, John from N Carolina (sorry I don't remember your last name) and Brent. Casey has volunteered to work on a new, more user-friendly listserve platform and Fig and Dustin agreed to deal with merchandise. I would like to express my appreciation for the incredible job Jay Bostrom has done as interim Sec/ Treas., a job that fell into his lap by de-fault.

Lets all step up this winter and keep momentum and energy level high. Show up at First Friday Free Speech, attend meetings and provide input, make this YOUR GMB. In solidarity, Dave

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Upcoming Commemoration

On Friday October 2nd the Two Rivers General Membership Branch of the IWW will celebrate the one hundred year anniversary of Missoula's most important historical event, our nations first struggle over the exercise of free speech rights.

in 1909 the city began enforcing an ordinance preventing labor organizers and others from speaking on street corners. As the famous Wobblie organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn describes in her autobiography "Rebel Girl", "We sent out a call to all foot-loose rebels to come at once- to defend the Bill of Rights."

As each of the "rebels" took to the soapbox on the corner of Front and Higgins they were immediately arrested, soon filling the jails of Missoula, where they "disrupted the citizenry with their ruckus". On Oct. 2nd the city capitulated and declared that IWW orators could speak wherever and whenever they chose. Following this victory Flynn and her fellow agitators took the fight to Spokane and Aberdeen Wash.,Kansas City and Fresno Calif.,where they taught a young nation that rights are only as strong as the hearts of those willing to stand up for them.

The Two Rivers chapter will start the festivities with an open soap box at 5:00 pm on the corner of Front and Higgins Street Missoula and followed with a re-enactment beginning at 6:00. From there we will go to the upstairs theatre at the Union Hall on East Main Street to view the film "Jailed for Their Words" beginning at 7:00 pm. Following the screening there will be a short discussion on the current work of the IWW. The public is invited to attend and participate.

For more information contact Dave Jones at 363 5292 email at flyfeverdj@hotmail.com

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Time Around- A Response to Progressives

It is not just"free market" capitalism which has failed us in this current global crisis. It should also be recognized that social democracy has also failed to do what it promised, that is , empower the state to protect it's citizens from the deprivations of capitalism and redistribute it's product equitably. After the last great Global Depression, when laissez faire capitalism proved itself both unstable and brutally savage, social unrest brought upon a compact between governments and markets. Unfortunately for those who still believe a social democratic solution will again save society, I believe history is a lesson in how capitalist ideology will always work to successfully undermine this compact and the Right will forever insist on it's "free markets" until we once and for all bury the profit system.

Opposed to social democracy stands the proud tradition of democratic socialism which always stood by the Marxian tenet that capitalism would end in crisis and that it is the socialists job to organize and articulate the possible forms of the new society which will replace the old. This does not mean a socialist cannot work for pragmatic goals such as pensions or health care within the "shell", only that we must always keep the eventual goal clearly in our minds as we do so. The problem for us to solve is how we divide our energy between the two projects. I also don't think it is necessary to say "this crisis is the definitive end of capitalism" as we explain the values we think would make the new society superior. It might be the next crisis or the next, it might come through a ballot box or it might come through a strike, but eventually the system is unsustainable from the point of profit, from the point of ecosystems and from the point of justice.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What Is To Be Done?

The crisis of economic collapse will affect everyone but it is workers who will bear the brunt of the pain. They will be asked to work harder, to expect less, and to be patient in their misery. Many will be searching for answers as to "what went wrong?". After all, they played by the rules, they bought into every aspect of the American Dream as it was advertised, they did just as they were told and their reward is standing in line at a food bank and knowing they could lose everything over a health emergency for which they have no insurance. They look to the "experts" for answers and hear the same message reinforced over and over again. "It is just another recession" say the pundits and media,"after all the over-capacity is cleared out of the system and the bubble deflated we can get back to capitalism as usual."

What workers don't understand ( their heads filled with "liberal" and "conservative" mush) is that HUMAN LIVES are the "over-capacity" that is to be eliminated and bubbles and imperialism are the engines of a state-capitalist economy. Attempts will be made to create a "kinder, gentler" house of cards so as to avoid social unrest but the only real innovation will be the creation of a more elaborate facade to hide the theft perpetrated by one class from another.

So what can workers do? All the decision making seems to be in the hands of politicians and academics and the corporate pirates who made off with the last thirty years worth of wealth. Should workers want the "bailout" to succeed? Should workers support the "Stimulus Plan"? Should workers fight other workers to keep their jobs and be happy it is not THEM getting the pink slip?

I say NO. I say Workers should organize and force an end to the system which only serves to exploit them. Because they are not organized they are powerless and don't sense any possibility for determining their own future. Because they are not organized they thought voting for Democrats was their only possibility for exercising their power. A united force that was unwilling to "work harder" or "sacrifice more" could at this crucial moment demand full ownership and control and get it. They could scrap the absurd system of thievery, barbarity and inefficiency known as capitalism and design their own system of production, distribution and allocation. One that was fair, sustainable, and democratic. If not NOW,... WHEN ?
Dave Jones aka Troutsky