General Strike in Myanmar

From ASR 82

A week after a military junta took over the country and declared a state of emergency, protests have spread throughout Myanmar. Textile workers and students quickly went on strike against the army takeover; an initiative which grew in size and scope until it became a nationwide general strike.

Among the unions calling the strike was the Federation of General Workers Myanmar, which has worked with the syndicalist International Confederation of Labor. Demonstrations, strikes and marches continue across the country, including in the factory areas of Shwepyithar, Hlaingthayar and Mingalordon, in the industrial belt of Yangon.

Together with other organizations of the Anti-Junta Mass Movement, the FGWM has signed a declaration demanding the abolition of dictatorship, full democracy and respect for civil liberties, repeal of the 2008 Constitution (imposed by the military) and the immediate release of those arrested by the army during the coup and the protests.

All too often, the media focus on prominent political figures when reporting on events such as these. However, now, as always, it is the workers who make things move forward, who take to the streets to confront the repression, who bring the country to a halt with a general strike and, ultimately, who can stop the coup.

This is not the first time that working people have risen up to confront military dictatorship. When this happens, the army can only back down or unleash bloody repression. All the sections of ICL wish the best for our comrades in Myanmar. They know that they can count on our solidarity and support, as always. [ICL]

ASR 82 • Spring 2021

Contents:

2 Wobbles: Voters Don’t Count, What Price a Worker’s Life?, Rich Getting Richer…
4 OSHA Ignores Covid-19 Deaths and Infections
5 Militant Worker Actions by John Kalwaic
6 Syndicalist News: General Strike in Myanmar, Indian Revolt, Amazon Day of Action… compiled by Mike Hargis
8 Lost Causes and Stolen Elections by Jeff Stein
9 Articles: Pipelines, Pandemics & Capital’s Death Cult: A Green Syndicalist View by Jeff Shantz
10 Green Syndicalism in the Arctic by Jeff Shantz
12 Big Strikes and the Sabotage of the Labor Movement by Marianne Garneau, Organizing Work
16 Kronstadt: The End of the Bolshevik Myth by Iain McKay
19 The Kronstadt Uprising and the fate of the Russian Revolution by Ante Ciliga
22 Anarchism, Marxism and the Lessons of the Paris Commune, Part III by Iain McKay
31 Reviews: Opposing Collaboration in Spain by Jeff Stein
34 Bookchin Revisited by Tony Sheather
39 Union by Law: Filipino Workers by Jon Bekken
39 Dialogues with David Graeber by Wayne Price
40 Kropotkin Conference Reflections by Jeff Stein
41 Letters: Capitalist Parties, Decline of the IWA…

Finding The Man — Bookchin Revisited

Janet Biehl, Ecology or Catastrophe – The Life of Murray Bookchin. Oxford University Press, 2015, 332 pp.

Review by Tony Sheather. A condensed version of this review appears in ASR 82

Murray Bookchin died in 2006 at the age of 85. He was less widely known than Noam Chomsky as a libertarian internationally, yet a dynamic American voice in the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. Where Chomsky became the academic voice of conscience and dissent in challenging U.S. foreign policy, Murray Bookchin fought on the edges of society, urging social and political transformation. While praised widely for his revolutionary wisdom in earlier years, towards the end of his life he became a figure of conflict and controversy.

Nonetheless, despite conflict and controversy, his influence as a leading American anarchist and social ecologist in articulating modern perceptions of these philosophies has been profound. Ecology or Catastrophe, the Life of Murray Bookchin by Bookchin’s later life lover and collaborator, Janet Biehl, reviews his life and legacy. It explores the development and the impact of his ideas particularly on the radical youth of his era, notably those of the 1960s and 1970s, in the United States. The theoretical and personal divisions of the late 20th Century within the anarchist and ecological movements are described. These themes will be discussed here. Continue reading

IWW Preamble (as amended in 1908)

Industrial Workers of the World Preamble

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system. Continue reading

Conferences commemorate the centenary of Kropotkin’s death

An international conference will be held Feb. 5 – 7, 2021, to commemorate the anarchist thinker and geographer Peter Kropotkin, a century since his death.

While some events will have limited local audiences, the conference is being held online. To register for a free or by donation ticket to the event please visit: https://kropotkinnow.eventbrite.ca. You must register to receive the conference links.

“The main problem of modern realistic ethics is … to determine, first of all, the moral end in view. But this end or ends, however ideal they may be, and however remote their full realization, must belong to the world of realities.  The end of morals cannot be “transcendental,” as the idealists desire it to be: it must be real.”

—Kropotkin, from Ethics: Origin and Development

Continue reading

ASR 81 (Winter 2021)

Editorial: Death Squad America
Obituaries: Stuart Christie, David Graeber
Wobbles: Anti-Labor Law, Shorter Hours, Billionaires…
Syndicalist News: Black Lives Strike, Belarus, Columbia
Articles: International Actions Against Wage Theft
10 Hitler’s Election as Metaphor for the 2020 Election: A bad argument for supporting Democrats by Wayne Price
12 Italy After 1918 by Marie-Louise Berneri
17 Intersecting Crises: Intersecting Resistance by Jeff Shantz
19 Direct Action to Save the U.S. Post Office
20 Anarchism, Marxism and the Lessons of the Paris Commune, Part II of III by Iain McKay
27 Reviews: Piketty’s ‘Participatory Socialism’ by Wayne Price

Continue reading

Death Squad America

Editorial, ASR 81

As we write the U.S. election is still impending, and so we cannot know which candidates won. What we do know is that once again workers have lost.

We faced a grim choice between a president who cheers on police and neofascist thugs as they shoot down protesters and a former vice president who suggests it would be better to merely maim us; a president who encourages his followers to ram their cars into anti-fascist protesters and his opponent’s suggestion that instead “anarchists and arsonists” be arrested and prosecuted for our thought crimes; a president who loots the treasury for his personal benefit and a man who spent his entire career shilling for the banks and insurance firms, helping them pick our pockets and shielding them from being held culpable for their crimes. Continue reading

Accumulation of Freedom: Writings on Anarchist Economics

review by ridhiman balaji, ASR 81

A shorter version of this review was published in ASR 81 (Winter 2021)

Deric Shannon, Anthony Nocella & John Asimakopoulos, eds., Accumulation of Freedom: Writings on Anarchist Economics. AK Press, 2012, 375 pp., $21, paperback.

Accumulation of Freedom is a collection of essays written by various anarchists and libertarian socialists. They provide their own take on issues such as revolutionary strategy, globalization, class, hegemony and many others. Many of the contributors are anarcho-communists. The book is very much a mixed bag; some essays are really good, while others are quite bad. Accumulation begins with a preface by Kinna, who begins by presenting a critique of mainstream economics, which many believe is based on unrealistic assumptions. Kinna blames the ideology of neoliberalism for the emergence of a global economic system in which economic institutions such as the market are under-regulated and ill-planned. Contrary to the “anarcho”-capitalism of Murray Rothbard, Kinna argues “anarchism offers a strong and rich heritage of anti-capitalist thinking.” (6) According to Kinna, neoliberal globalization has produced three sets of problems: 1) Corporate capitalism, 2) environmental and ecological costs of industrialization and modernization, and 3) the unfairness of global market regulation and, in particular, the Western bias of institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. Although Kinna does a good job discussing issues raised by neoliberal capitalism, readers would have also benefited from a discussion of potential solutions to these problems. Continue reading

Life, Freedom & Ethics – Kropotkin Now

February 5-8, 2021, Montréal, Québec & Online
The main problem of modern realistic ethics is … to determine, first of all, the moral end in view. But this end or ends, however ideal they may be, and however remote their full realization, must belong to the world of realities.
The end of morals cannot be “transcendental,” as the idealists desire it to be: it must be real. Continue reading

Hitler’s Election as Metaphor for the 2020 Election

A Bad Argument for Supporting Biden for President

by Wayne Price, ASR 81

In the debates among leftists over the 2020 elections, one particular historical argument has been raised. It has been cited repeatedly by Noam Chomsky, among others, to argue why radicals should vote for Joseph Biden, despite his flaws. Chomsky has asserted, “What led to the rise of Hitler was the decision of the huge Communist Party to condemn the labor-based Socialists as ‘social fascists,’ not different from the Nazis, and to refuse to join with them in barring the Nazis from political power.” This is similar, he claims, to “the behavior of some of the left” which opposes voting for Democrats today.
(I am not interested in discussing here how individual radicals should vote or not vote. My question is what radicals should advocate be done by organizations and large groups of people, such as unions, the African-American community, Latinx, feminists, LGBTQ people, organized environmentalists, etc. — whether to support bourgeois politicians or to put efforts into non-electoral activities.)
What is Chomsky referring to? In the early 1930s in Germany, popular support for Hitler’s Nazi Party had been exploding. They won a third of the votes to the Reichstag (parliament). Their uniformed thugs marched in the streets, beat up leftwing newspaper sellers and speakers, broke up union meetings, and murdered prominent socialists. Continue reading