I just stumbled on this web site, an e-journal called New Beginnings. I like it a lot.

http://nbjournal.org/mission/
New Beginnings’ mission statement begins “We do not know our own strength and no one dares to tell us.” They describe themselves as “fighting for a world in which everyday people can be self-governing in workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods”, and state their opposition “to all professional classes above society, whether management, union bureaucrats, or party politicians.”

They write that nowadays “the whole of official society is agreed that the old consensus between “labor leaders,” the state and the corporations is dead. This consensus pretended that fair pay for an honest day, loyalty between company and employee, citizen and ruling elite, would bring security and welfare for all in the name of the public good.”

They continue: “Many forget that this old consensus was formed to limit the dreams of working people. It emerged in response to the independent and autonomous mass organizing drives, general strikes, and community-based solidarity by everyday people that were, at their best, loyal to neither politicians and the state, nor the bosses and capital. Against these aspirations for freedom and democracy, so-called progressive leadership collaborated in helping to erect laws, sanctions, and an unaccountable union bureaucracy to police this movement. This regime of labor law and state patronage of union bosses did much to hinder and attack this movement. This contributed to the advance of McCarthyism. What was lost was the sovereignty of everyday people to determine collectively on what terms they will sell their labor or whether to overthrow the whole capitalist system and govern themselves. In the struggles ahead we forget this at our own peril.”

(…)

“The crisis today is not a moral and strategic crisis of union chiefs. It is a crisis of the historical memory, confidence and capacity of everyday people to collectively organize. These have been under attack by employers, the state and union bureaucrats for decades. Yet daily, often unseen, or sometimes localized in one industry or place, there are breakthroughs that give us glimpses of the heroic aspects of the past and what is needed to win freedom in the future.

(…)

We believe we must prepare ourselves to ultimately govern our workplaces, neighborhoods and schools in popular councils and assemblies. This is the only solution to the social crisis today. We can only achieve this if we begin to rely on our own individual and collective initiative and activity; discussing and implementing economic and political ideas and plans, seeing how far we have come, and where we have gone wrong. For independent labor to govern, we must begin by overcoming obstacles of external oppression, but also those we put in our own way. ”

http://nbjournal.org/our-vision/

In their “Why We Publish” document , they write that

“Only through the practice of independent activities, and the new understanding drawn from them, is it possible to achieve a new way of life. By discerning the signs of independent self-activity in the history and struggles of working people, it is hoped that this way of life may emerge as a new beginning: an independent labor movement through which ordinary people aspire to extraordinary acts.”

This practice builds upon small experiences of life in capitalism:

“Only through the practice of independent activities, and the new understanding drawn from them, is it possible to achieve a new way of life. By discerning the signs of independent self-activity in the history and struggles of working people, it is hoped that this way of life may emerge as a new beginning: an independent labor movement through which ordinary people aspire to extraordinary acts.”

They (rightly) emphasize workplace activity and the experience of work:

“our work proceeds under forced conditions and not under our control. What is worse is that people are constantly compelled to accept these conditions. The need to maintain homes and families makes us slaves to the routine of this economic system. Theoretically, people are free wage earners and not slaves. We are told we have “the right” as individuals not to accept these conditions. In reality such freedom cannot be pursued if one is to survive.

(…)

Yet folks don’t only try to avoid or forget about these problems. They also try to overcome them. Sometimes this is done by individuals with noble instincts. People come back from breaks late, leave early or call in sick. Stealing or individual sabotage are not uncommon. Every once in a while someone curses out or takes a punch at the foreman or manager. In extraordinary cases people have killed their bosses. While official society reacts in shock, some stressed workers, who normally reject violence, take quiet satisfaction. This reflects not only that workplace conditions are wretched, but also that people don’t accept them.

However, it is a potential breakthrough when people collectively resist. Sometimes people organize meetings and collective confrontations to get a demand or get back respect. Sometimes the grievances pile up and strikes are undertaken. In extraordinary moments, people begin to reach out to other workplaces and begin to contemplate general strikes. When this happens a great tremor moves through everyone and new possibilities of organizing our lives differently have been grasped if not yet realized.

It is at these times when people confront directly the problems at the workplace and visualize potential ways out of them. In these small workplace struggles, people begin to realize that they have more power within their grasp than they once thought. It shows that there is nothing natural or normal about how these social relations are arranged. Far more than we know, we produce our social relations, whether they liberate us or oppress us. They are within people’s ability to change as they represent obstacles to solidarity and problems of organization.

The greater of people’s waking hours are spent in the workplace. It is here we must learn to think and act for ourselves and as a community. No matter what the conditions of life are in the workplace, it is the basis of making a living; a matter of survival for the family and ourselves. Folks may wish for and try to negotiate a little more security in wages, pension or healthcare; a little more leisure, or better workplace conditions, but to see working people only in this way is to see us as barnyard animals. We must see and expand the battle for freedom within the fundamental realities of our lives.

To provide the necessities of life we work most of the days of the week and most hours of the day. With the daily grind we find ourselves deeply formed by the conditions we face. The need to make a living is central to the way we try to change the conditions of our work or make due with them. This situation leaves deep impressions on our individual lives and social relations. Yet when people come together in solidarity, there is much they can do. They not only resist, but also attempt to take charge of their work and govern the workplace.”

Advertisements