Thursday, January 14, 2010

Call for Solidarity and Funds for the Working People of Haiti!

01/14/09- A natural disaster has descended upon Haiti whose scope we only are seeing the surface of at this time. The Haitian people will be struggling to rebuild their lives and their home possibly for decades in light of unprecedented collapse, both physical and social. Yet despite the unpredictability of earthquakes, this disaster is unnatural, a monstrosity of our time. The extent of the damage of the earthquake is part of the cost of unrestrained exploitation which at every step put profit above the health, safety, and well being of the Haitian people. While the world watches on ready to help, power is being dealt an opportunity. The Haitian workers and peasants have been fighting for their rights to even the most basic level of existence for decades, while the UN-occupying force, the state, and the ruling elites maintain the social misery without relenting. Now as Port-Au-Prince is in rubble, new opportunities arise for rulers to rebuild Haiti in their own interests, and likewise for the Haitian workers and peasants to assert their right to their own Haiti, one where they will be not be forced to live in dangerous buildings, and work merely to fill the pockets of elites, foreign or domestic.

As we move from watching in horror to taking decisive action, progressives can offer an alternative. There is a strong and beautiful desire to do something, to help others in this time of need. Our actions are strongest when we organize ourselves, and make a concerted effort in unity. Right now we can have the deepest impact by committing ourselves to act in solidarity with the autonomous social movements of Haiti directly. They present the best possible option for the Haitian people, and are in the greatest need. At the same time, we are in the best position to help them out our common interest as people engaged in struggling against a system that works to exploit us all. We are calling for solidarity people-to-people engaged in common struggle. It is not only a question of money for AID but also an autonomous and independent act of international solidarity that illuminates the bankruptcy of the occupying forces, multinational corporations, and Haitian elites that are primarily responsible for the decayed state of Haiti. There will be aid flowing and money givenas a form of charity until the next disaster. Our act of solidarity should, in no shape or form, be solely an act of humanitarian aid. It should not be an apolitical act, and we shouldn't give the green light to those that wish to capitalize on the suffering of others. It should be an act of solidarity to the struggling people of Haiti and their organizations while at the same time rejecting the totally inept Haitian elites and their state apparatus for bankrupting Haiti. The earthquake is a natural disaster, but the state of Haiti, the abject poverty of the masses and the vile injustice of the social order, are unnatural.

We have a relationship with one organization, Batay Ouvriye, and are putting our resources and time into helping Batay Ouvriye to help rebuild from the catastrophe and maintain the struggle for a better Haiti and a better world. Batay Ouvriye is a combative grassroots worker and peasant’s organization in Haiti with workers organized all over Haiti, especially in the Industrial sweatshops and Free Trade Zones. We have set up a means to send money to Batay Ourviye. If others wish to send money to Batay Ouvriye, please DONATE HERE or mail checks payable to “Miami Workers Center” with a note “for: MAS/BO” in the memo line to the following address:
Miami Workers Center
6127 Northwest 7th Avenue
Miami, FL 33127-1111

Miami Autonomy & Solidarity and Batay Ouvriye Haiti Solidarity

BATAY OUVRIYE is an organization that regroups factory unions and committees, workers’ associations and militants, all struggling in Haiti for the construction of an independent, combative and democratic union movement, and to organize wage-workers, self-employed workers as well as the unemployed for the defense of their rights. Theorganization is an alternative to the traditional bureaucratic, corrupt union movement that upholds the dominant classes’ power amongst the exploited masses of Haiti. Not only does it take the initiative of developing spontaneous direct issue struggles, but also it incites the working class to fight and to organize themselves to defend their independent interests. Batay Ouvriye also links these particular struggles with those, more wide-ranging, of the people. In this sense, it takes part in all types of popular democratic struggles by encouraging the involvement of workers.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Workers Solidarity Alliance Statement on the 2009 US-Afghan Escalation

The following has been issued by our

friends in the Workers Solidarity Alliance. - sd



Workers Solidarity Alliance Statement on the 2009 US-Afghan Escalation

On December 1, 2009, President Barack Obama announced that he will send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, escalating the war in central Asia. Obama claims to want peace while he orders more war and death for poor and working people. He claims that the US fights for freedom and democracy, but he allies himself with tyrannical Afghani warlords. He does this with the backing of both Democrats and Republicans and the corporate interests they serve. None of this is new or unusual for the United States Government and its NATO allies. The only thing “new” is the person issuing the orders today: Obama, the “Candidate of Hope” was elected promising “Change.” Now in office, he delivers more of the same—using the US military to install pro-capitalist governments in countries around the world in order to maintain and expand access to raw materials, cheap labor and consumer markets for Western corporations.

Obama and his cohorts have lured many sincere working people into supporting the war in Afghanistan by promises that it will curb terrorist attacks against the US and bring freedom, democracy and women’s rights to Afghanistan. The real facts in Afghanistan show such “humanitarian” concerns to be nothing but lies: US/NATO aerial bombardments relentlessly murder thousands of Afghan civilians in their homes, villages and cities; in fact, air bombings in Afghanistan have significantly escalated under President Obama US/NATO forces have allied since day one, and remain allied, with the “Northern Alliance” warlords responsible for mass atrocities against civilians in 1992 and who now dominate the corrupt regime in Kabul, through which they secure immunity for their past and present crimes Afghani women activists—to whose cause the occupiers pay lip service have consistently denounced the US-led occupation and puppet regime, demanding that foreign troops leave and calling for prosecution of both Taliban and pro-US war criminals.

The escalation of the war is a disaster for the oppressed poor and working people of Afghanistan. As such, the “surge” will inevitably fuel more terrorist attacks against civilians in the US and elsewhere, attacks which elites will then use to justify the far bloodier terrorism of “Western” military powers against cities and villages in the Middle East. US elites will then seek to manipulate workers’ fear of terrorist attacks into support for the so-called “War on Terror,” increased defense spending and decreased funding of education, welfare, healthcare and social services, increased militarization of the domestic police, and increased spying and repression of workers organizations and anti-capitalist political organizations in the United States. All in the guise of “fighting terrorism.”

It is our stance that authentic peace and security can only be achieved through worldwide working-class solidarity against all forms of oppression. The Workers Solidarity Alliance firmly stands with the oppressed people of Afghanistan and with progressive organizations such as the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and others, who we know are risking their lives at this moment to defy imperialists, warlords and fundamentalists alike. The WSA unequivocally supports the aspirations of all oppressed Afghanis for a free, democratic and peaceful life.

There can be no hope for liberation of Afghanistan by foreign occupiers—only the struggle of oppressed Afghanis and authentic solidarity from struggling people around the world offers any such hope. American workers who wish to stand up for oppressed Afghanis should stand against the war-mongering of “our” government.

It is heartening to see the anti-war movement stirring in the US and internationally against the troop surge in Afghanistan. However, the movement as it stands now suffers grave limitations. It is telling that many liberals and Democrats who have spoken out against the war in Iraq are willing to compromise with the Afghan war. This fact alone speaks to the dire lack of coherent social principles in the broadly defined anti-war movement. Many who criticize it do so (as with Iraq) out of “strategic” or “pragmatic” reasons—that the war is a “mistake” or “cannot be won.” Such reasoning is not anti-war. These reasons imply that the war would be just fine if the US could achieve its aims.

That is but a flip-side argument to those now clamoring for “victory.” On the other hand, in our experience, many in the protest movement seem more concerned to prove their moral righteousness, while neglecting to build an anti-war movement that can actually defeat wars. We find both the “pragmatic” and “moral” arguments against the war unsatisfactory.

The WSA proposes a different orientation for the anti-war movement. As an organization of working-class militants rooted in the traditions of anarcho-syndicalism, libertarian socialism and class struggle, we are convinced that militarism can only be defeated by the rank and file of working people, in common struggle against the class of bureaucrats, politicians and capitalists who profit from the slaughter of war. Only through a mass struggle against all bosses and the overthrow of capitalism and its supporting political structure will war and imperialism ever be definitively ended. While we firmly support anti-war protesters, we know full well that news-grabbing marches by a small crew of professional activists are no substitute for the kind of mass working-class resistance that wreaked havoc on the US war effort in Vietnam: rank-and-file refusal, sabotage and mutiny, social upheaval in the ghettos and working-class communities from which the soldiers are recruited, and so on.

Here we find the Achilles heel of US imperialism. The US military is an army made up of recruits largely from working-class backgrounds. With rampant unemployment and underemployment in precarious service industry jobs, many workers increasingly see military service as their only viable career option. Many immigrants join the US military in exchange for US citizenship, interpreted as a path to a decent job and a better life. Frontline GIs are enlisted largely from working-class neighborhoods, towns and ghettos suffering economic hardship. The rank and file of the US military do not simply enlist because of blind patriotic loyalty to the ruling elite. They often enlist out of the economic hardship inherent for working-class people forced to live under an economic system in which basic necessities such as shelter and health care are treated as luxuries for those who can pay rather then necessities that all people are in need of and have a right to, in a word—capitalism. Already we have seen the first stirrings of resistance in the military's rank and file, from soldiers who have refused to serve in Iraq. We deeply respect the courage of those soldiers and technicians who have taken a stand against the madness of war, asserting the value of working-class lives. Their brave example serves as the clearest manifestation of the fact that US soldiers do not fight simply out of ideological faith in the objectives of US imperialism.

The anti-war movement, if it is to have a chance at success, must encourage the growing resistance in the lower ranks of capitalism’s armed forces. The rank-and-file soldiers of capitalist empire, recruited from the working class, could turn against the brass to become a true workers' army dedicated to fighting the real enemy at home: the ruling class of capitalists, politicians and the middle managers who do their bidding.

We pledge our support for rank-and-file soldiers who refuse the orders of their commanders. We extend our support in particular to the Iraq Veterans Against the War, an organized grouping of veterans and active-duty soldiers that seeks to undermine support for imperialist war in Iraq and Afghanistan from within the US military. We also encourage efforts to establish solidarity across battle lines with the rank-and-file of state militaries around the world.

While supporting anti-militarist resistance within the armed forces of the US, NATO, and other imperialist states, we also acknowledge the right of oppressed Afghanis to resist all forms of aggression and despotism at home, whether it be in the form of foreign imperialism or homegrown autocracy. Thus the Workers Solidarity Alliance extends its solidarity to all who struggle to build a truly democratic Afghanistan that respects the humanistic aspirations and needs of all working-class Afghanis, male and female alike. We affirm again our internationalist, anti-authoritarian principles and our solidarity with oppressed and struggling people everywhere.

Workers Solidarity Alliance (W.S.A.)

Video: A Voice from RAWA: Zoya on Afghanistan


Barack Obama announced last night that the US would be sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. (No word on how many private contractors would be accompanying them.) He did not explicitly use the Afghan women as justification, but many politicians have, claiming that we cannot leave the women to their fate.

RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, is an underground women’s organization and one of the groups that predicted a long, deadly engagement. Zoya is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of RAWA and she joined us to talk about what would really be best for the women–and all the people–of Afghanistan. The Afghan Women’s Mission has coordinated her speaking tour.

Zoya is a pseudonym and her face is obscured to protect her identity.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flying Squad pickets and the need for independent workplace groups

from our friends at Gathering Forces. - sd

One of the innovative things that came out of the Teamsters Rebellion in 1934, was the flying squad picket. The flying squad picket is a rapid response group of members who are ready to mobilize on short notice to provide direct support for pickets or actions. It is important for how it mobilizes many workers in real time. Farrell Dobbs talks about how the flying squad pickets then included not just union workers, but also unemployed workers and people from the community.

This sort of direct action seems particularly relevant given the times that we are in right now. Unions are weak, union busting is normalized, unemployment is rising, and social services budgets are slashed with no qualms. Many workers are losing confidence that the contract negotiation process is going to help them keep their jobs, or tide through the lows of the economic crisis. The recent resounding No vote by 75% of UAW members and up to 90% in some locals,against the concessionary UAW/Ford contract, is the clearest testament to this utmost lack of faith and indignation against the union bureaucracy. This has not happened for decades. It is clearer than day that union bureaucracies have cowered at the economic crisis and perpetuated this sense of inevitability and legitimacy of attacks on workers. This can be the only foreseeable result after decades of racism that have only too conveniently shifted the blame unto third world workers, as well as economic nationalism that is more about keeping US companies afloat rather than fighting for the working class in the US.

This raises the question: What can sufficiently fight back against this economic crisis? What kind of actions and organizations can counter these endless attacks and criminalization of workers struggles?

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