Submitted on Wed, 11/30/2016 - 2:13pm
Statement on Opposing All Oppression from the Twin Cities GDC Local 14
1. ANY SUCCESSFUL WORKER REVOLUTION WILL REQUIRE PARTICIPATION FROM DIVERSE MEMBERS OF THE WORKING CLASS, CURRENTLY DIVIDED BY MANY OPPRESSIONS.
We fight against capitalism. We do so because capitalism is organized theft based on hierarchy. We unionize because fighting this authoritarian theft can be done most successfully in the workplace, at the point of production. In unionizing we face many challenges, from creating strategies and tactics to accomplish our goals, as well as maintaining morale, fighting spirit, and solidarity with each other.
One of the most difficult challenges the working class faces is that of oppressive social divisions. We may be of a single class, but we are not the same as a result. In addition to experiencing the oppressions of our class, we have differing experiences of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism and Islamphobia, along with other types of oppressions. Some of us experience privilege on the basis of our race, sex, gender, or religion, while others among us experience oppression on precisely the same grounds.
The ruling classes know this, of course. It is one of their favorite strategies for destroying organized workers: divide and conquer. Many of these oppressions exist in starkest relief in America’s massive prison-industrial system, where wardens encourage and enforce racial segregation and violence among prisoners, precisely as a system of maintaining control. These forms of control through oppression are not limited to prisons, of course. We see and experience them in our daily lives, and in our workplaces as well.
To maintain solidarity with all workers requires that we maintain explicit solidarity with workers on the diverse grounds of their oppression. Our revolution cannot maintain a merely minimal, workerist, program which concentrates on the oppression of labor and leaves other problems solely to those workers who face them. Given the still relatively homogenous makeup of the Industrial Workers of the World, to do so sends a clear message to the working class experiencing such oppressions that the class struggle and their struggles against racism, gendered, or religious oppression are separate issues. If you were already struggling to keep the basics of your life together in the face of constant attacks on your person, would you be interested in taking on another massive but unconnected struggle in your workplace? By pointing out the ways in which struggles against all oppression support and further our collective freedom from class and other oppressions, we gain strength as a union.
Neither have we proceeded, historically, with a minimal program of workplace organization that leaves other oppressions unchallenged. The Industrial Workers of the World were founded in 1905 in part precisely to overcome the divisions of race, sex, religion, language, nationality, etc., among the working class. Militantly in favor of the organization of the entire working class, Wobblies quickly turned toward the power of young women in garment factories, racially-mixed work-gangs on the waterfronts, and nationally diverse immigrant groups. The IWW took on the Ku Klux Klan and other racist organizations that attempted to divide the class on the grounds of race. More recently, some IWW branches have begun to successfully undermine the divisions of oppressions based on gendered identities in ways that seem truly revolutionary.