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A Wobbly Report-back from the MWM

A report-back from a Wobbly with the IWW, FRAC, NEFAC and WSA contingent to the Million Worker March.
To see the red and black IWW banners, flags and balloons flying above the gathering of Wobblies on October 17 at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, you'd think you had stepped back in time. Considering the efforts undertaken by bosses and the state to crush the Industrial Workers of the World in the first half of the twentieth century, this was perhaps the largest showing of Wobs in 70 years.

Close to 100 Wobblies joined several thousand other workers, students and activists for the Million Worker March in Washington, DC as an organized contingent. The rally and march itself was initiated by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU. While the overall turn-out for the rally itself was disappointing, numbering perhaps 5,000 or less due to a de facto ban by the AFL-CIO leadership, police interference with union buses and internal labor coalition shortfalls, it was inspiring to meet, sing and march in a large and visible presence.

An initial contingent comprised of the IWW, the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives, or FRAC, the NorthEastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists, or NEFAC, and the Workers Solidarity Alliance, or WSA, met between 11:00 and 11:45 am on the west side of the Washington Monument until police demanded the gathering leave, calling the convergence a "demonstration" that was not allowed on monument grounds. The contingent then left the area marching along the southern edge of the Reflecting Pool singing songs such as "Solidarity Forever," "There is Power in a Union," and "A las Barricadas" among others. Wobblies set up a merchandise and information table at the edge of the Reflecting Pool near the Lincoln Memorial that drew large crowds throughout the day. Additionally, a massive amount of literature was distributed, both by the IWW (the Industrial Worker) and NEFAC (Strike!) as well as through FRAC's table, and folks were incredibly receptive.

The rally itself consisted of speaker after speaker addressing the crowd from noon until just after 4:00 pm, leaving many wondering if there was going to be a march at all. A Wobbly had initially been invited to speak only to be "uninvited" at the last minute. A feeder march assembled outside of AFL-CIO headquarters as the "Coalition of Imaginary Anarchists" before the rally, but there were some concerns among Wobs as to the choice of assembly points and in the end, plans were not worked out well enough in advance to facilitate coordination, thus the IWW, if not others, did not participate. As a union, the IWW's power rests in its ability to organize and energize workers and perhaps the most persuasive argument against the business unionism of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy is the example set by solidarity unionism in a constructive and practical form.

One criticism of the rally itself, apart from the external actions of police or AFL-CIO leadership, was the seeming lack of accessible information as to how it would progress. There were plans for a march to take place after the rally in support of HERE hotel workers, but conflicting reports and a lack of specifics confused many. A discussion took place among the IWW, NEFAC, FRAC and WSA regarding post-rally plans but a solid consensus could not be reached, prompting many to leave before the march in support of hotel workers occurred. All present wished to support the hotel workers, but again, information on how to plug-in was next to non-existant. Regardless, many Wobblies who traveled from as far away as the Bay Area, Lawrence, Kansas and Detroit, Michigan had a time limit for any further activities and were unable to participate.

An incident did occur during the discussion that should be addressed. When an African-American organizer with the ILWU approached the meeting, unfamiliar with its process, he was rather rudely told by a non-Wobbly that he should leave as he was not a member of any of the groups present. This reaction was apparently due to a misunderstanding, but lead to an open argument that was only resolved when members of the IWW and NEFAC apologized to the ILWU organizer for the indiscretion of the person in question. To that person's credit, he later apologized face-to-face and hopefully resolved any outstanding issues.

As Wobblies, or as others whether you consider yourselves anarchists, socialists, workers, unionists or just plain folks, we must strive to fight the bosses and the ruling class first and formost in solidarity with our sister and brother workers, no matter what their affiliation, so long as certain consistent principles are held in common. This means working side by side with those who support our principles while maintaining a clear focus on our objectives. As a Wobbly, rallies, marches and mass mobilizations are important but can never replace organizing and action undertaken on the job by workers for workplace democracy and the abolition of the wage system.

That being said, it is always good to see others and hopefully the momentum our larger movement has been building in recent years will continue through sustainable organizing campaigns, reinvigoration of our traditions and solidarity as we head into the coming years.

homepage: homepage: http://www.iww.org

Stop the War... on Choice 19.Oct.2004 21:01

Red neck

That flopping sound you heard was labor hitting the liberal establishment.
This march was a success considering it had minimal support,10,000. I was quite encouraged by this demonstration.
Seeing so many people really committed to progress come together. I met a man who has been fired 7 times for trying to organize. I felt like a wimp only being fired once. These people are not going away.
I can't even fault the name, that hype was about all it had to go on.
Could we get a million workers out on the lawn? Sure we could. Get Michael Moore out there for starters. Reactivate Anti-Global, Anti-War. Actually publicize and network, no problem. But that's not on the agenda, only the one pathetic thing... with this movement driven to a narrow almost mechanical anti-Bush hysteria. The Left has wasted a year when it had everything handed to it on a silver platter. Allowed itself to be co-opted by the most crass, craven efforts of the Democrats. Can I have a Dean scream?
I still have the 'March for Women's Lives' stuck in my craw. With Whoopi Goldberg, Janeane Garofalo and Sandra Bernhardt and lets not forget former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A tried and proven tactic that the Democrats used in 1992 to draw huge crowds for Clinton. Brazenly held on the annual IMF/World Bank demonstration, crushing Anti-Global. Turning stop the war into stop the war on choice. Yet another all to forgettable "historic moment"
If you didn't know (you should now after this year) that the majority of so called activist in this country are just petty liberals. This even shows itself in the IMCs. Look around at the various sites look at the articles, the priorities, the agenda.
Liberals can smother this movement but they can't kill it.
This is truly a global movement and it's alive and well outside of the US. The real protest news last weekend was 75 thousand anti-war demonstrators marching on Trafalgar Square in London. It wasn't even covered (or highlighted) by antiwar.com
The left has not failed this year. The American left has failed this year.
We need to move our leadership and direction away from American hegemony. We can't have a consumer advocate of all people as the only real opposition in this country. We can't have one of the least political developed, political aware, political motivated countries in the world leading this global movement.... Do you want some freedom fries with that?

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket 20.Oct.2004 06:55


The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket
By Robert Scheer
The Los Angeles Times

Tuesday 19 October 2004
The agency is withholding a damning report that points at senior officials.