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(en) Union International - The IWW* and the Other Campaign

Date Thu, 10 Aug 2006 20:34:05 +0300

Disclaimer - The following is an editorial by members of the Bay Area;
it is not currently the official position of the IWW.
By Zapatita and Dean Dempsey - Bay Area General Membership Branch, IWW
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation, (EZLN), has been fighting
for democracy, liberty and justice in the Southern Indigenous lands in
Mexico well before 1994. Today, the Zapatistas are struggling for
more than the indigenous people in Chiapas, but for all those across
the world who have been exploited and robbed by the rich and the bad
governments that serve them. Like the I.W.W., the EZLN is a
humanitarian internationalist organization, who fight for the "humble
and simple" people, the common, everyday working folks who belong
to "civil society", the majority who do not belong to political parties.

It was these folks, the working class, who from all over the globe,
stood up for the Zapatistas when they first publicly began to defend
their lands in Chiapas. The large international support that was
received in many different forms, was really what prevented worse
state funded attacks against those resisting in indigenous
communities. Yet again recently, in Atenco and Oaxaca, the world
witnessed the same brutal class war against organized indigenous and
Mexican workers and their communities. The electoral fraud in
Mexico has left the doors open to growing violence and repression.
Once again, the need for international support from fellow workers is

In the Sixth Declaration of la Selva Laconda, the Zapatistas recognize
and thank all who demonstrated support, from those individuals and
organizations within Mexico and from all over the world. Prior to the
declaration, many international 'Encuentros', (encounters or
gatherings) have allowed the Zapatistas to learn from the other
struggles against capitalist empire. They express in the declaration,
that after listening and learning from others,

"...our hearts were not the same as before, when we began our
struggle. It was larger, because now we had touched the hearts of
many good people. And we also saw that our heart was more hurt...not
wounded by the deceits of the bad governments, but because when we
touched the hearts of others, we also touched their sorrows. It was as
if we were seeing ourselves in a mirror".

The EZLN reports that since the first few years of the Zapatista
communities organizing, government documents show that it was
only in those indigenous territories which show significant
improvements to living conditions. Zapatistas note that the progress
has only been possible by the support they had received from the
support of "civil societies", the working class, grass-roots
organizations throughout the world. "As if all these people have made
"another world is possible" a reality, but through actions and not just

Now, twelve years after the EZLN declared war against neoliberalism,
against oblivion, they understand that the only way to continue going
forward is by being united with other communities with similar
struggles. In Zapatista words, "A new step forward in the indigenous
struggle is only possible if the indigenous join together with the
workers, campesinos, students, teachers...the workers of the city and
the countryside". This "globalized rebellion" includes not only the
working class, but also focuses on the resistance of women, of the
youth, of the LGBT community, of immigrants and migrants, and
many other groups who are not seen until they rise up against empire,
against capitalist exploitation and in defense of their own human
dignity, and that of others.

The Zapatista’s Other Campaign is organizing in a national
campaign, (that is non-electoral), to listen and help organize the word
of the Mexican people in order to create real democracy, liberty and
justice. This other form of political organizing, for a "program of
national struggle" is aiming to create a new Constitution, from below
and for below. It is also a way for the Zapatistas to communicate to all
those who are resisting and fighting, to show them they are not alone,
to learn from other people's struggles, and to both give and receive
hope and strength to continue.

The Other Campaign is not interested in leading the movement, or to
demand that others do as they have done...its purpose is to find
agreements between communities in resistance, and at least in
Mexico, to develop a "national program of struggle".

Internationally, the Other Campaign’s international Encuentros
for its adherents have already helped create new relationships of
mutual respect and support, with those who are against neoliberalism
and for humanity. Autonomy and independence of organizations is
respected, as the purpose is to build alliances among those with
mutual interests, and mutual enemies.

The Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee, which is the
General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, has
by the Sexta Declaration, send out an inspiring invitation to every
(non-electoral) organization and individual who are also against
capitalist globalization, who believe in national sovernty against
corporate privatization, to become adherents to the Other Campaign,
and to participate to encourage the growth of alliances, and help
further develop another form of organizing, that is from the workers
and for the workers, and of course, very much from the heart.

Throughout its history, the IWW has not only encouraged, but has
very much been a part of international movements for working class
solidarity. Today, a great opportunity presents itself again, to unite
with those, from below and to the left. As adherents, the IWW could
demonstrate their support to the Zapatistas, and many other worker
communities in resistance. IWW members can be invited to future
Encuentros, and individually or as an organization, contribute in how
we may. Perhaps by participating in the “Other Campaign”,
our hearts will also grow a bit more, as we learn and unite with fellow
workers in different but very similar struggles.
The Industrial Workers of the World was the first American union to
truly welcome all workers, as equals, regardless if they were
immigrants, women, or African Americans, with our organizational
structure free of bias and segregation. We have always organized
industrially, as a class, emphasizing the importance and potential of
cross-cultural, ethnic, and national relationships. Some of the most
influential members of the IWW have been immigrants, women, and
people of color, such as Ricardo Flores Magón, Mother Jones, Carlo
Tresca, Lucy Parsons, Ben Fletcher and even the token Joe Hill. The
tradition of this commitment to include all workers carries on to
contemporary union organizers of all branches of our union, from all
parts of the globe.

When we formed, the IWW wasn’t “sympathetic” for
foreign-born workers, many of whom were unskilled. To be
sympathetic for immigrants would imply them as a secular set of
workers. Rather, many of our founding members were immigrants
themselves, and some of our main resources were geared entirely to
immigrant members and communities. For example, the Industrialisti,
the Finnish-language IWW newspaper, printed daily at 10,000 copies
per issue, and even Tie Vapauteen, another IWW publication in the
Finnish language, was printed monthly. These efforts by the
ethnically-diverse members of the IWW to include minorities in the
union was a practice not taken by other labor unions at its time.

Within a year of our union’s inception, a branch formed in the
UK, and shortly after that, in Australia. They are still active today, and
IWW branches and contacts also exist in Canada, Japan, Finland,
Greece, Luxemburg and Germany. The IWW has always had, and
still has, international standing.

As the new movement for social justice unfolds in the United States,
there is fresh impetus for the expansion of IWW and immigrant
worker relationships. As globalization escalates, migration and
displacement is reaching all time highs, working conditions are
dropping and under-class families are provided less economic options.
Consequently, the working people of the world are made more
vulnerable to under pay, little or no workplace benefits, insufficient job
security and exploitation of our labor. As global capital expands, the
need for international solidarity unionism becomes evident.

The heart of the Industrial Workers of the World has been
trans-national solidarity and the belief that “An Injury to One is an
Injury to All.” An example of such camaraderie was made earlier
this year when the International Solidarity Committee released the
IWW Resolution Of Solidarity With Striking Miners In Mexico to
demand that “all levels of the Mexican government end their
repression of protesting miners and steelworkers and withdraw their
police and military forces from the SICARTSA steel mill and that the
union autonomy of the SNTMMRM is respected.”

The recent American immigrant rights movement is occurring
concurrently, among many movements, with the Other Campaign, the
current tour and campaign launched by southern Mexico’s
Zapatistas. The Other Campaign encourages all, especially
Mexico’s indigenous and working peoples, to abandon the corrupt
electoral system and to alleviate their problems by taking matters into
their own hands. Similar to the IWW, the Other Campaign advocates
for worker’s empowerment rather than abdicating our collective
strength to the political ruling classes. Although organized by Chiapian
Indians, the Other Campaign extends past the compañeros and
compañeras of Mexico, into the work fields of Central and South
America, on north into the United States, and across all oceans on all
parts of the earth.

It has become a popular idea in the Bay Area, and perhaps elsewhere,
for the Industrial Workers of the World to become adherents to the
Other Campaign, which has the theme, “from below and to the
left,” providing us the ability to mutually share resources and
organizational skills while reviving the wobbly spirit of multi-national
partnership. This will also expand our international contacts and
relationships, introducing us to like-minded individuals and
organizations. It is clear the historical diversity the IWW was made of
(as we have always been a worker-based union, not a national or
racially-based union) all types of world people. Such alliances with
native, foreign or foreign-born individuals, is still essential in building
an international union of industrial workers.

As Staughton Lynd mentioned during the Chicago IWW Centenary,
business unions such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,
endeavor to keep Mexican truck drivers from crossing the Rio Grande,
when perhaps a conference should be held with workers from both
north and south of the Rio Grande to work together in developing
unified demands. These ideas of collective dialogue are not new to the
IWW, and we need to organize to be on the forefront of trans-national
comradeship, bringing workers together in a common cause of
organizing as a class to ultimately create a better world for ourselves.

Corporate outsourcing and anglocentrism has agitated anti-foreign
sentiment in recent years, but as jobs get pushed past American
borders to places around the world, such as in Mexico where labor is
often unorganized and exploitable, the battle ground of class war is not
moved, but rather expanded. Taking steps to promote not only
American job security, but a culture of internationalism, must be

By becoming adherents the Other Campaign, we align ourselves with
all the workers who, as Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas said,
“[are] of those who don't build ladders to climb above others, but
who look beside them to find another and make him or her their
compañero or compañera…or whatever word is used to describe
that long, treacherous, collective path that is the struggle of:
everything for everyone.”

We must offer union support and membership to workers who are a
part of the Other Campaign, just as the Other Campaign would
provide to us the heart of international struggle and resistance of
movements from around the world, putting us in contact with people
and groups with whom we can very well organize. Simply put, the
Other Campaign is a step in the direction of furthering our
collaboration with immigrants from here and across the world, while
expanding the IWW army of production. Too many people who would
agree with our Preamble do not know who we are or how to organize.
Through this friendship, many workers of many different languages
can be introduced to the IWW, harbingering the realization of the
absolute power each worker has.


se a war after it is over, after they
have cheered the soldiers on. I say: the time to oppose the war is now
now when the blood is flowing, when the bodies are buried, when the
war crimes are committed and perpetrated. The time is now!" was
how anarchist Adar Grayevsky, veteran of the prolonged struggle at
Bil'in, put it.

After her, a young man mounted the podium. "My name is Zohar
Milgrom. I am 26 years old, an activist in Yesh Gvul. I have got an
emergency call up up order. Tomorrow I have to show up at the army
and get sent to Lebanon. I will go there to declare that I am refusing.
This is the only thing I can do in face of the public silence, in face of
the war crimes committed in our name, in face of the leaders who
have sent soldiers again into the Lebanese swamp. I will dedicate my
time of imprisonment to all the people who suffer in this war, the
and the Arabs, the Israelis and Lebanese and Palestinians, to stopping
the madness and saving their lives. Before I finish I would like to read
to you the words of my friend, Isma'il abdul A'al of Gaza, who would
have liked to stand here in Tel-Aviv and address you, were it possible.
This is what he asked me to tell you: Stop this war now! This war is
the mother of terrorists and extremists! We are all in danger! We have
to struggle together, to end this horror, to live together in peace, in

After he went down, to the sound of applause, a Yesh Gvul speaker
announced a solidarity demonstration for next Saturday outside
Military prison 6 at Atlit - where refusing Captain Amir Pester has
been for more than week and where Milgrom will probably soon join

Epilogue: we dispersed last night with a rather uplifting feeling - even
though when most activists dispersed, the right-wingers seized the
chance to attack the podium and cause some damage (once again
unstopped by the police). This morning we got up with the diplomatic
arena taking the center, following the agreement between the
Americans and French on the ceasefire terms, and commentators
endlessly analysing and dissecting it and most coming to the
conclusion that it was "good for Israel". Then, at noon came the news
of twelve Israelis being killed by rocket fire in the north, the largest
number of casualties Israel suffered in a single day of this war (though
for Lebanon this number would be rather below average). It took
hours before the confirmation that the twelve were reserve soldiers,
called up in preparation for a possible extension of the ground
offensive into Lebanon and encamped - by the height of folly - under
the open sky in a daily targeted area, though the nearby Kibbutz
offered them its air raid shelter. And towards the evening, the new
missiIt has become a popular idea in the Bay Area, and perhaps
elsewhere, for the Industrial Workers of the World to become
adherents to the Other Campaign, which has the theme, “from
below and to the left,” providing us the ability to mutually share
resources and organizational skills while reviving the wobbly spirit of
multi-national partnership. This will also expand our international
contacts and relationships, introducing us to like-minded individuals
and organizations. It is clear the historical diversity the IWW was
made of (as we have always been a worker-based union, not a national
or racially-based union) all types of world people. Such alliances with
native, foreign or foreign-born individuals, is still essential in building
an international union of industrial workers.
* [Ed. Note: IWW - Industrial Workers of
the World is antiauthoritarian
anticapitalist direct action syndicate.]
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