What do the Wobblies Seek to Deliver?

Ian Donnis writes in this week’s Providence Phoenix about the Industrial Workers of the World’s August 26 protest and the IWW mission in general. Donnis asks a sensible question, too often glossed over by the MSM when covering events like the North Providence rally…

Considering how the IWW has mostly been a barely perceptible entity since its pre-World War I heyday, one has to wonder whether the protest at North Providence High will mark a contemporary high point for the union in Rhode Island.
In other words, how much more to this movement is there than protest itself?
Donnis mentions a perspective offered by some observers at the rally to explain the group’s limited appeal…
To a few curious onlookers at last Sunday’s protest, the band of gathered liberals and lefties were remnants of discredited political theories.
Rocco DiPippo discusses this perspective in great and colorful detail, over at the Autonomist website.
When asked about IWW goals and its fealty to the ideas of the past, organizer Mark Bray gave a similar answer as he did when asked by Anchor Rising if the goal of his organization was to criminalize private income
“We are not a communist organization, or a socialist organization, or anything ‘ist’ ” Democracy in the workplace, he says, is “perhaps our most important value.”
However, “democracy in the workplace” is not mentioned in the IWW Constitution, though “abolition of the wage system” and the “the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism” are. Those ideas are pretty difficult to separate from old-line, conventional Marxism.
The caution for young idealists to be aware of here stems not just from the specifics of what the IWW may or may not stand for as a group, but from the consistent unwillingness of local IWW leaders to state their most fundamental organizational goals when given the opportunity to reach a large audience. Such unwillingness to put to the public their ultimate objectives is difficult to reconcile with a legitimate belief in the system of democracy, be it in the workplace or elsewhere, as democracy depends on honest deliberation and exchange about the purposes and limits of what can be achieved collectively by the people.
Not coincidentally, the idea that the mechanics of building a movement are more important than its ultimate goals, and therefore saying anything to win hearts and minds is acceptable in the pursuit of power, is one that has corrupted collectivization movements throughout history. That idea may be one more point of commonality between today’s IWW and those discredited ‘isms from yesterday.

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16 years ago

It could be argued that the guy who protested in front of CCRI for years had more cred than the IWW.

16 years ago

It could be argued that the guy who protested in front of CCRI for years had more cred than the IWW.
Posted by PDM at September 1, 2007 4:47 PM
LOL. You’re exactly right. He ended up getting a settlement. I’d like to see them sprend some time in North Korea’s worker paradise to taste the “world without capitalism” they crave.
The real sad part is that more discrete Marxists control both the GA and most municipal governments in RI.

16 years ago

Listen, whether it be the IWW, PETA, or any other acronym, these organizations are simply ideological goose chases for those who are are young and filled with energy. This is by design. Keep them in the maze.

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