SAC and the Swedish welfare state – quote from Black Flame

•October 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Black Flame, the excellent new book by Michael Schmidt and Lucien Van Der Walt has a very good summary of the changes that led to the SAC’s exit from the IWA in 1956 (pps. 222-223). They introduce the comments as part of a section on how syndicalist movements have adapted to reforms and compromise. The authors seem to side with the SAC’s decision to distribute state welfare funds, and in this point I’m pretty strongly in agreement with them. From my side, it would seem very unpragmatic to refuse to distribute welfare out of adherence to syndicalist purism, and thus fail to provide members with the funds they need to survive unemployment. In my opinion, this approach to politics will soon end in irrelevance. What are your thoughts? Can anyone think of any modern correlates of the discussion?

“State welfare systems, which developed rapidly from the 1930s onward, also pose difficulties. Syndicalism stresses the importance of winning reforms, and much of the expansion of welfare is attributable, at least in part, to working-class struggles. Syndicalism also sees improvements in the material conditions of the working class in positive terms, and there is no doubt that state welfare systems have been critical, especially in the West, in improving the quality of popular life. Yet such welfare also serves to promote particular family structures (as, for example, when the state makes child support grants available to married women through their husbands) and foster a profound loyalty to the state asa the benevolent representative of the public.

A case in point of some of the difficulties is presented by the Swedish SAC’s situation; it was one of the only IWA affiliates still functioning as a union after 1945, in large part because Sweden had been relatively unaffected by the rise of dictatorships, fascism, and war elsewhere (although key members were interned during the war along with other “subversive elements”). By this time, the Swedish state was developing into a model of social democracy, introducing an extensive and expansive welfare system as well as a complicated system of collective bargaining. One aspect of this system (partly a concession to the Labour Organisation union federation, or LO, that was allied with the ruling Social Democratic Labour Party) was that the unions played a role in the administration of welfare, including the distribution of unemployment benefits.

Grappling with this issue, the SAC revised its programme in 1954 and decided to start distributing state unemployment funds to its members. This was condemned by the IWA, and the SAC left in 1956, with many feeling that the union could not compete with the dominant Labour Organisation unless it also participated in the distribution of unemployment monies. At the same time, while the SAC grew quickly, it also grew markedly moderate. Key SAC and SUF, notable the veteran activist Helmet Rudiger (1903-1966), headed a “new orientation” current that was not very different from that of mainstream social democracy; it included proposals for participation in municipal elections, stressed that the main struggle was against totalitarian systems, whether of the Left or Right, and is best considered in this period as a form of libertarian reformism, not anarchism or syndicalism.

From the 1970s onward, the SAC swung to the Left and syndicalism – yet maintains participation in the unemployment benefits system to this day. The existence of state welfare was not something that even large syndicalist unions, however purist, could not and cannot ignore. A whole range of issues arise here. Could a genuinely syndicalist union participate in a state welfare system? Could it even intervene in policy debates in order to change that system? Or were such forms of participation altogether incompatible with syndicalism? Finally, should state welfare be supported in the first place?”

Two videos about current squatting wave in Sweden

•October 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here are two short videos about the squatting movement in Sweden. The current squatting movement is very young, it was very active earlier this year, went on a bit of a hiatus and is now back in full force. In contrast to the Swedish squatting movement of about ten years ago which was criticised for being too violent,  activists tend to have a nuanced approach to militancy, being confrontational without very violent. Somewhere between pacifist civil disobedience, and full out autonome madness.

We don’t get anything by asking nicely!

Sweden ends here!

Wikipedia on Economic Crash of the 1990s

•September 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

From Wikipedia

“Sweden has had a unique economic model in the post-World War II era, characterized by close cooperation between the government, labour unions and corporations. The Swedish economy has extensive and universal social benefits funded by high taxes, close to 50% of GDP.[4] In the 1980s, a real estate and financial bubble formed, driven by a rapid increase in lending. A restructuring of the tax system, in order to emphasize low inflation combined with an international economic slowdown in the early 1990s, caused the bubble to burst. Between 1990 and 1993 GDP went down by 5% and unemployment skyrocketed, causing the worst economic crisis in Sweden since the 1930s. In 1992 there was a run on the currency, the central bank briefly jacking up interest to 500% in an unsuccessful effort to defend the currency’s fixed exchange rate.[5] Total employment fell by almost 10% during the crisis.

A real estate boom ended in a bust. The government took over nearly a quarter of banking assets at a cost of about 4% of the nations GDP. This was known colloquially, as the “Stockholm Solution.” The United States Federal Reserve remarked in 2007, that “In the early 1970s, Sweden had one of the highest income levels in Europe; today, its lead has all but disappeared….So, even well-managed financial crises don’t really have a happy ending.”[6]

The welfare system that had been growing rapidly since the 1970s couldn’t be sustained with a falling GDP, lower employment and larger welfare payments. In 1994 the government budget deficit exceeded 15% of GDP. The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden’s competitiveness. When the international economic outlook improved combined with a rapid growth in the IT sector, which Sweden was able to capitalize from, the country was able to emerge from the crisis.[7][8]

The crisis of the 1990s was by some viewed as the end of the much buzzed welfare model called “Svenska modellen”, literally The Swedish Model, as it proved that governmental spending at the levels previouly experienced in Sweden was not long term sustainable.[9]Much of the Swedish Model’s acclaimed advantages actually had to be viewed as a result of the post WWII special situation, which left Sweden untouched when competitors’ economies was in pieces.[10]

However, the reforms enacted during the 1990s seem to have created a model in which extensive welfare benefits can be maintained in a global economy.[4]

Internet Usage in Sweden around 2000

•September 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I think it was Altemark who remarked to me previously that he expected that one of the reasons that initiatives such as Piratbyrån and the Pirate Bay developed in Sweden before anywhere else was the high rate of internet access in Sweden at an early point, propelled in large by the Swedish government’s turn to investment in the emerging IT industry after the crash in the mid 90s.

Anyway, I was happy to find a quote which supports this in the Economist, Apr 27th 2000  (Nordic Netheads) stating:

WHO says entrepreneurs always go where the taxes are low? Sweden, where income taxes are among the heaviest in Europe, has become the continent’s hottest market for Internet start-ups, by some measures hotter than America. Over half of all Swedes are wired up to the Internet, compared with only one in five Germans. Stockholm, the capital, has 900 Internet companies, one for every 850 residents, and more than any other European city.

The article goes on to blather about the innovative anti-establishment spirit of these Internet start-ups,  and I’m forced to wonder how many of them survived the collapse of the IT bubble a year later?

This graph shows the effects of the IT bubble’s collapse in terms of very low growth in GDP after 2000.

Real GDP growth in Sweden, 1996-2006

Graph from the Economist on Sweden’s economic crisis in the mid 90s

•September 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Video of SAC speaker in Amsterdam

•September 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This is a video from a conference earlier this year in Amsterdam organised by Anarchist Group Amsterdam. The conference was called ‘Modern Syndicalism’ and had speakers from different anarcho-syndicalist groups as well as the Irish platformists WSM. Anyway, the SAC speaker gives an overview of the SAC, including some history, info about present activities (including the Registry Method) and discusses the ‘new direction’ within the SAC. The SAC speaker starts at about 4 minutes in.

Interview with Planka.nu

•September 19, 2009 • 2 Comments

The following is an interview with Planka.nu, it was carried out a while ago, but hasn’t been published before. I will use Planka and Piratbyraan as examples of how the Swedish movement has developed forms of struggle and organisation outside of the workplace. I was interested to learn that Planka are involved in parliamentary lobbying in tandem with direct action, not what I would have expected.

When and why did you form?

What is the name of your group?
Planka.nu
When and why did you form?
We formed in the autumn of 2001 as a response to the ever-rising ticket prices in the public transport system in Stockholm. It was also a result of the discussions connected to the summit protests, an attempt to bring global issuses down to a local level.
What do you see as the main achievements of your group? (i.e.magazines published, strikes involved in etc)
Our biggest achievement is that of opening up a new area of conflict. By organizing fare-dodgers (commuters who don’t pay for themselves in the public transport) we’ve taken class-struggle and the fight for commons into the public transport. Since our start we’ve organized several thousands of commuters in a fare-strike and we feel that by doing so we’ve not only put the question of tax-financed, fare-free public transport on the agenda but also politicised an activity that, before us, was only looked at as a security problem.
We’ve also been active in the new climate movement fighting against the plans for new highways around Stockholm – and trying to put the whole transport sector in Stockholm in a broader perspective of class and struggles around commons. By doing so we also hope to plant some of our ideas in the newborn climate movement, so as to push them as far away from green capitalism as possible.
Can you please give an account of your current activities and strategy?
We’re working really hard to broaden our activites. To combine more classic political work such as releasing reports, lobbying and working towards politicians, as well as keeping up our fare strike. In other words, to combine the best of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary work. Currently we’re working hard to put a climate smart and economically just transition of the transport sector in Stockholm on the agenda.
One of our recent actions was a response to when the politicians planned to spend NN millions on new high-tech barriers, claiming that it would stop fare-dodging. We made a short film from Lyon, where the new barriers was already installed, and showed how easy they were to dodge by. This got a big response in media and among the opposition. We are also working on a new report a the moment, named “At every cost?”, where we summarize the economic costs of NOT introducing tax-financed public transports.
We have also just released the website freepublictransports.com which was the main outcome of our participation in the european social forum in Malmö in 2008. The aim of the website is to be a meeting point for the global free public transport movement, a place to get in contact with other groups, learn from each other and co-operate in our struggle.
On the 7th of March 2009 we will take our first steps in co-ordinating actions around the globe as freepublictransports.com is hosting the free public transport day, a day that was first celebrated by Planka.nu in Stockholm on the 1st of March 2008.
For what reasons have you chosen these activities and strategy?
We feel that our double roles – the (professional) lobbyists and the extra-parliamentary leftists – is a good way to move forward. Because people have a problem to put a label on us they also have a harder time to resist our demands. Our controversial methods are a really good way of getting attention for the demands we present, which are very much possible to introduce in the current political system. But would still lead to concrete improvements in both the class and climate struggle.
What direction you would like your group to go in future?

We think we are going in the right direction, but one thing we’d like to put more effort behind is to spread our experiences and try to inspire and help with the start-up of similiar activities in other cities. Something that we hope we will accomplish with the freepublictransports.com project.Planka.nu

When and why did you form?

We formed in the autumn of 2001 as a response to the ever-rising ticket prices in the public transport system in Stockholm. It was also a result of the discussions connected to the summit protests, an attempt to bring global issuses down to a local level.

What do you see as the main achievements of your group? (i.e.magazines published, strikes involved in etc)

Our biggest achievement is that of opening up a new area of conflict. By organizing fare-dodgers (commuters who don’t pay for themselves in the public transport) we’ve taken class-struggle and the fight for commons into the public transport. Since our start we’ve organized several thousands of commuters in a fare-strike and we feel that by doing so we’ve not only put the question of tax-financed, fare-free public transport on the agenda but also politicised an activity that, before us, was only looked at as a security problem.

We’ve also been active in the new climate movement fighting against the plans for new highways around Stockholm – and trying to put the whole transport sector in Stockholm in a broader perspective of class and struggles around commons. By doing so we also hope to plant some of our ideas in the newborn climate movement, so as to push them as far away from green capitalism as possible.

Can you please give an account of your current activities and strategy?

We’re working really hard to broaden our activites. To combine more classic political work such as releasing reports, lobbying and working towards politicians, as well as keeping up our fare strike. In other words, to combine the best of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary work. Currently we’re working hard to put a climate smart and economically just transition of the transport sector in Stockholm on the agenda.

One of our recent actions was a response to when the politicians planned to spend NN millions on new high-tech barriers, claiming that it would stop fare-dodging. We made a short film from Lyon, where the new barriers was already installed, and showed how easy they were to dodge by. This got a big response in media and among the opposition. We are also working on a new report a the moment, named “At every cost?”, where we summarize the economic costs of NOT introducing tax-financed public transports.

We have also just released the website freepublictransports.com which was the main outcome of our participation in the european social forum in Malmö in 2008. The aim of the website is to be a meeting point for the global free public transport movement, a place to get in contact with other groups, learn from each other and co-operate in our struggle.

On the 7th of March 2009 we will take our first steps in co-ordinating actions around the globe as freepublictransports.com is hosting the free public transport day, a day that was first celebrated by Planka.nu in Stockholm on the 1st of March 2008.

For what reasons have you chosen these activities and strategy?

We feel that our double roles – the (professional) lobbyists and the extra-parliamentary leftists – is a good way to move forward. Because people have a problem to put a label on us they also have a harder time to resist our demands. Our controversial methods are a really good way of getting attention for the demands we present, which are very much possible to introduce in the current political system. But would still lead to concrete improvements in both the class and climate struggle.

What direction you would like your group to go in future?

We think we are going in the right direction, but one thing we’d like to put more effort behind is to spread our experiences and try to inspire and help with the start-up of similiar activities in other cities. Something that we hope we will accomplish with the freepublictransports.com project.

Feminism is part of the class struggle

•August 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This is another article published in the ESF reader 2008, this time by Stockholm based feminist group ‘Kvinnopolitiskt Forum’ (Forum for Women’s Politics). Kvinnopolitiskt Forum grew out of the Stockholm autonomist environment, after they decided that a separatist space for the discussion of feminist and socialist theory was necessary. Since then they have been active in developing a gendered analysis of work and class struggle within the movement and in the public debate. More on KPF coming soon…

Feminism is part of the class struggle

In this article we seek to summarize the situation of women in Sweden. We offer an analysis of why we haven’t progressed farther and why we need to keep up the struggle. Many examples used are specific to Sweden, yet typical of the ongoing love affair between capitalism and patriarchy, in Europe as well as globally.

Every day we read in the newspapers about new proposals hatched up by Sweden’s neo-liberal government. One day brings cut downs in social funds. Another day it is tax deductions for domestic services, making it cheaper for the well-off to employ a maid or a nanny (this is known as pigavdrag – “maid deductions”), or a new child care allowance for people who stay home and take care of their children (vårdnadsbidrag – care support). We know that these schemes, that seem to bring us back to the 1950s, are bad and that we need to stop them, but often we fail to discern how each proposal paves the way for further proposals to be implemented.

Lacking such an analysis, we risk once again ending up viewing issues as separated from each other. A feminist and/or leftist movement with no insight into the way issues are interrelated is doomed to fail.

Groups pitted against each other

Conservatives and liberals know this, and they are clever enough to divide us, playing one group against the other. As a result, we witness how senior citizens are led to believe that their well-being depends on closing the country’s borders, or how federations within the trade unions compete to get the biggest piece of the little cake. Government officials talk with a straight face about “normal people” profiting from reduced social funds. “Normal people” are apparently understood to be young, healthy, employed people who don’t need any help from the social system.

The trade unions refuse to help undocumented immigrants, out of fear of wage-dumping. An historical precedent for this is the male trade unionists who, based on the same fear, opposed the employment of women. The idea of struggling for an equal pay for men and women never entered the heads of these men. After all, it was quite convenient if the wife had all day to clean, wash, and cook. Unpaid household work was, and still remains, the historical plight of women.

A new market is created in the households

Socio-geographical mobility is severely restrained by a privatized, deregulated real estate market, and certain living areas come to be consolidated as low-income areas. On the opposite side of town we find the gated ghettos of the rich, where poor people come every day to work as maids. This is made possible on a bigger scale than before by the recent tax deductions (pigavdrag), a way to use tax money to feed capitalism’s need to create new markets, this time in the domestic sphere. Thus, class and ethnicity conflicts enter the households of the wealthy, and sweep gender conflicts under the rug. One woman replaces another, the man is exonerated from responsibility, and the conflict of the sexes remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the maid still has to clean her own house when she gets home since she can’t afford to hire someone else, but the government is obviously not concerned about her predicament.

———————————————

“It doesn’t matter if a man, woman, or undocumented immigrant does the work as long as someone is exploited.”

———————————————

How to produce new and cheaper workers

After the pigavdrag was introduced in July 2007, a meeting was held between government representatives and staffing company managers. The staffing companies complained about the troubles they had in finding people for the maid jobs. One of the solutions presented was to shorten the free language courses for immigrants, since “anyway, the best place to learn Swedish is at work”.

This suggestion hasn’t been implemented yet, but is frequently discussed. This is a very clear example of how the neo-liberals in government fuse together several types of oppression to maintain control. Capitalism, to stay vital, must depend on a reserve of unemployed labour and a divided working class. A desperate worker is always preferable, which means women and immigrants are consistently targeted.

Women become more dependent

Vårdnadsbidraget delivers the final blow meant to send women back into the household. After the long struggle to free women from their homes, women are now offered 3000 Swedish crowns (ca 320 ) per month to stay at home with their children. This is obviously not an offer aimed at single mothers: it is impossible to survive on this sum in Sweden. Those lucky women who have a real man who brings home a big salary, however, can contentedly stay at home and accept the pocket money. And so women are again made financially dependent on men.

The pigavdrag and the vårdnadsbidrag are both solutions only for the upper classes, who don’t want to pay the real price for a maid or send their children to a kindergarten. They represent the government’s mobilization of several types of oppression, which they have the guts to call a new “gender equality politics”.

Stopped from two directions

All the collective systems that we have today, like public kindergartens and well-functioning women’s shelters and support groups, have one thing in common: they are the result of political struggles. As the present right-wing government smashes all this to pieces in the name of “gender equality,” it simultaneously pushes the everyday problems faced by women back to the personal level. Women’s struggles for collective solutions are not merely a fight against the Right, but have often involved fighting the men of the labour movement. Just as the capitalists have tried to stop any reform that would diminish their power, working-class men have done exactly the same thing when it comes to women’s autonomy.

Even so, women have always supported the struggles of working men, because they rightly regarded these struggles as their own.

————————————-

“A feminist and/or leftist movement with no insight into the way issues are interrelated is doomed to fail.”

————————————-

Solidarity – but only in one direction

A telling example is the 1899 bookbinder conflict in Stockholm, where women played a leading role. The workers, half of them women, went on strike demanding higher wages. The employer agreed to raise the wages for the women but not for the men. The women wouldn’t accept the bid, but instead continued the strike until the employer caved in and raised the men’s wages as well.

Unfortunately, men didn’t show the same level of perceptiveness when the situation was reversed. In the early 20th century, the Swedish government wanted to prohibit women from working at night. This affected women who worked as bookbinders, seamstresses, and typographers. Women in the Social Democratic party and in the trade unions demanded that the worker’s movement should fight for women’s right to work under the same conditions as men. The men responded by accusing the women of running the conservatives’ errands.

As a result, these jobs, with pay slightly above average, were no longer available to women. The prohibition of female night work did not, of course, include badly paid jobs, which women were still allowed to perform. The law was not repealed until 1962.

Capital is gender neutral?

To understand why working-class men have colluded with capitalism, we must understand the logic of patriarchy. Men gain from the subordination of women, in the first place through the division of labour between men and women, but also in terms of the big share of unsalaried household work carried out by women, and in terms of the sexual subordination that women are subjected to. Despite all this, we claim that men also lose something when they choose to participate in patriarchal society.

The working class can never really move forward if those who find themselves on its lowest rungs are forgotten. Capitalism wants the greatest possible amount of work carried out at the lowest possible cost. This is facilitated by a white, male and Eurocentric labour movement which fails to practice solidarity with, for example, women and undocumented immigrants. Capitalism, in and of itself, is gender-neutral. It doesn’t matter if a man, woman, or undocumented immigrant does the work as long as someone is exploited. However, capitalism makes use of existing structures to legitimize the exploitation, divide the working class, and render certain forms of struggle illegitimate.

The personal is political

One of the main slogans of the women’s movement of the 70s was that “the personal is political.” This parole put many “new” questions on the agenda. The personal experiences of women were lifted to a collective level, which made it possible for these experiences to be articulated into demands. The main point was to make clear that women’s personal subordination had nothing to do with personal failings, but was instead the product of structural inequality. The relationship between men and women wasn’t given by natural laws, but rather created and organized by society. To realize that this relation was not a biological fact was to realize that it was possible to change it.

We mustn’t forget how it is all connected

The autonomous Left in Sweden has, in its eagerness to throw out identity politics and sectarian tendencies, also thrown out a deeper understanding of how things are connected. We have thereby lost the capacity to understand that solidarity is more than an empty word. Solidarity implies supporting groups that you aren’t a part of and fighting for questions that at first glance seem not to concern you, because you understand that doing so accords with your long-term interests. We are never stronger than the weakest link, and if we struggle to advance the positions of the most oppressed, we will all move forward. We can only win if we see how things are connected and work together. Attack is the best defence!

The basis for successful workplace struggle

•August 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This is a translation made by a SAC comrade of an article published in SAC’s magazine ‘Syndikalisterna’ on June 10, 2008. He has made the translation because the article sums up the reform process that SAC has been through in the last few years, and the new spirit of workplace activism that they now promote. These reforms have also been discussed by Mattias Wåg in an article already published here, but it’s very interesting to have the argument as it was presented by SAC internally. Many thanks to the comrade for taking the time to make the translation.

The basis for successful workplace struggle

The foundation for all workplace struggles is a strong workers collective. The degree of union membership says nothing about the unity and militancy of the workers collective, but it can sometimes coincide.

Developing a collective at the workplace and initiating collective action

In many workplaces the employees don’t act as a collective but instead act as scattered individuals who do not cooperate for a common interest. At worst, they may even compete with each other.

A strong workers’ collective is a group of employees at a workplace who act united, who set limits and struggle against management for the realization of common interests based on a set of common rules of struggle or norms. Where the workers’ collective is strong, the atmosphere is good and you have fun together. The strength of the worker collective can be influenced and you can make a difference.

The worker collective is working class power at the workplace

There are many different ideas about the working class. We believe that the working class exists as a collective group at your workplace. To understand this is absolutely fundamental. Therefore a syndicalist is never alone at the job.

A trade union is primarily a tool for the working collective and should not be confused with the interest community at work. If you understand this you already have a good basis for workplace organizing.

Different types of workers have different conditions for resistance, they are struggling in various ways, depending on the position of production such as industry and working conditions, etc. So it may be difficult to establish general norms and values that are viable in all types of workplaces and worker collectives. But we are still trying to find things that are universal for most workplaces.

We differ from other unions on the crucial point that we want to move the initiative of employees to union members. We want members to be active, take the initiative themselves and build sections at their workplaces. We expect that the members should strengthen cohesion and solidarity of the worker collectives in their workplaces.

A strong worker collective at the workplace has the following characteristics:

1. Awareness of common interests

2. Common norms and values

1. Awareness of common interests means:

a) Being aware of the conflict between our interests and those of the management

b) Knowing that unity and solidarity between workers benefits us

2. The common norms are open or unspoken agreements about the behavior we expect of each other. For example that we will always back each other up and will not be friends with the bosses, etc.

Business strategies

A common business strategy today is that companies in different ways try to tie up their employees emotionally to the company and the management, in order to make the employees feel more loyal to the company than to their fellow workers. In healthcare, loyalty to the users / patients is used in a similar way.

Within management theory it has long been argued that the goals of various methods should be to change employees’ values and norms, thus weakening the workers’ collective. That is why companies are always trying by one way or another to shape the employees’ values and norms to fit with the company’s interests. The strange mood in some workplaces is no more than the outcome of a successful business strategy.

In just the same way, we must try to influence the norms and values in our workplaces. It is actually easier for us to influence these values than it is for our bosses, because our values coincide with our workmates’ real class interests and are not based on lies like those of the bosses.

A clear message to new members

In the SAC, we expect that members will be active and proactive in the workplace struggle, we want them to actively affect their fellow workers to a deeper understanding of common interests and that they will actively influence norms and values at work. We expect members to be workplace organizers.

Workplace organising should follow these steps:

  1. Build a collective based on solidarity and develop a militant spirit
  2. Initiate collective action and challenge power structures at work
  3. Build a workplace section of the SAC at the job

To establish norms at the job

It is important to establish a culture at the workplace where people can trust each other.

  • We share the workload in order to create a collective based on solidarity.
  • We back up and protect each other.
  • We do not talk with management and bosses about other workmates.
  • We are proud and set limits
  • We value our breaks, and never work at lunch breaks
  • We never talk about work with a boss at the break, because then we have a break
  • We accept no understaffing and slow down the work pace if we are understaffed
  • We will stop working when the boss shows up, for him to stop coming
  • We don’t do as the boss says if we don’t like what he/she proposes
  • We defeat hard head bosses who think they can put up on us
  • We do not give any suggestions on improvements, which does not benefit all employees in the long run, which they rarely do
  • We refuse to use equipment that is dangerous
  • We have fun together at work

Faceless Resistance

•August 12, 2009 • 2 Comments

This article is forthcoming for Ideas & Action, the theoretical magazine of the Irish anarchist group the Workers’ Solidarity Movement. It is fundamentally a review of some of the essays produced by Kämpa Tillsammans, and a quick look at some of the concepts behind it. This is placed within the context of the recent history of the Swedish movement. It also discusses a bit about workplace blogging, and closes with a criticism of WSM’s position on trade union organising.

Faceless Resistance

Although Faceless Resistance as a concept has been discussed among radical circles in Sweden for several years, it has only recently begun to be noticed in the English speaking world, primarily due to delays in texts being translated. In this article I will look primarily at the work of  Kämpa Tillsammans, who developed the core ideas of Faceless Resistance, but I will also situate these ideas in their historical and social context and introduce other tendencies that have been influenced by and adapted some of the theory.

Genesis – Sweden after the anti-globalisation movement

As with many other countries around the turn of the century, the radical movement in Sweden was massively re-invigorated by the anti-globalisation movement. The highpoint of this movement in Sweden was the protests during the EU summit in Gothenburg in 2001, which culminated in several protesters being shot and a convergence centre being brutally raided. Similar to developments in Ireland, America and England, the momentum and energy aroused by the anti-globalisation movement turned to a period of self questioning and internal discussion as activists began to look for the next step. In Sweden, thanks perhaps to an already existing tradition of syndicalism going back almost a hundred years, this next step took the form of a focus on workplace-based confrontation with capitalism.

At this stage, study groups based in cities around Sweden had already begun to engage with the alternative Marxist tradition, from Italian operaismo trends of the 60s and 70s, to the autonomist Marxism of Harry Cleaver, and back to intensive reading of Marx’s original works. These study groups sometimes formed the nuclei of future movement initiatives; in Stockholm for example, fare-dodging initiative Planka.nu, the Women’s Political Forum, the Roh-nin publishing house, strike support group ‘Stockholm United Commuters’ and web-magazine ‘The Daily Conflict’ all developed out of a study group called Stockholm Autonomist Marxists.  At the same time a tendency within SAC (the syndicalist union) called Folkmakt (People’s Power) was engaging with different theoretical tendencies and developing a critique of the bureaucracy within SAC as well as the activism of the anti-globalisation movement.

Kämpa Tillsammans and the other worker’s movement

One group that developed in this fertile environment was a collective with members from Malmö and Gothenburg that became known as ‘Kämpa Tillsammans!’ (Struggle Together!).  They started from the position that while the left wing typically sees class struggle on a formal level, consisting of union conflicts, strikes, pickets and negotiations, they ignore the daily experience of work and the struggle against it.

This position was informed both by theoretical perspectives and practical experience in the workplace. After beginning their first permanent jobs in a factory, members joined the union and tried to work within it to improve conditions. However they found the union organisers completely uninterested in their grievances and unwilling to take the conflicts further. The organisers were in fact surprised that these youngsters working temporary contracts were even members at all! Gradually, the young workers decided that the real action was not happening within union structures, but within the informal organisation of workers.

The group’s practical frustration with union-based organisation developed their engagement with Marxist tradition, particularly that which stressed the importance of our daily experience of work for theory.The Italian operaist traditionargues that the composition of the working class is in flux and thus developed the  practice of ‘workers’ inquiries’ to constantly renew the vitality and relevance of revolutionary theory. The orientation of such inquiries resonated with Kämpa Tillsammans’ own experiences and they concluded that the most fertile space for investigation, and intervention, lay  in what the Indian group Kamunist Kranti called “constant innumerable, insidious, unpredictable activities by small groups of workers” . Such ‘unpredictable activities’ defied acceptance of a passive role in either the production process or in pursuing grievances, and so was constantly hampered by the workers’ own representatives as well as their bosses.


Class composition

“No methods of struggle or organizational models can correspond to the class composition forever. Regardless, a large part of the left is not able to renew politics when society changes. They stick to their old truths and try desperately to represent an out-of-date understanding of the working class. The class struggle has inevitably left the institutionalized left behind and made old political truths obsolete. This is an important explanation to why communist parties, unions, and other leftist organizations that used to have considerable political relevance in the past, are totally out of touch today.”
Kämpa Tillsammans! No peace in the Class War!

Central to the practice of Kampa Tillsammans is the understanding that radical theory must be closely tied to the actual reality of class composition. As the organisation of the production process changes, in response to diverse factors, from  market conditions and new technologies to the development of class conflict, the working class also changes, and this will be embodied in its forms of organisation and methods of struggle.

For example, the early workers’ movement in Central and Western Europe was based upon an organisation of work in which production was carried out primarily by skilled workers, concentrated in factories. These workers organised in craft unions and demanded control of production. Operaist academics argued that both this form of struggle and its goal were related to the specific conditions of work, and not to any objective theoretical ‘correctness’. They pointed out that the resulting struggles forced capitalism to alter this organisation of work, and with the implementation of both new technologies and management techniques (conveyor belt-assembly and Taylorism, respectively), re-arranged the production process, de-skilling work and thus the basis of workers’ power. This in turn undermined the previously dominant organisational form, the craft union; from this re-organisation older forms of struggle became irrelevant, and new forms were forced to develop in order to suit the changed context.

This analysis has a direct consequence for revolutionaries; since class consciousness and methods of struggle are constantly shifting, revolutionaries cannot simply accept the theories of past generations. We have a duty to investigate this changing composition in order to circulate the lessons from it, and derive theory to match the reality. Thus the centrality of the workers’ inquiry; in this process, militants constantly engage with the experiences of class struggle to challenge their own preconceptions and create a constantly evolving revolutionary theory.

Workers Inquiries or Workplace stories?

While traditional workers’ inquiries tend to be quite formal, often involving questionnaires and formal interviews, the members of Kämpa Tillsammans  chose instead to document their own (often humorous) work experiences, draw lessons from them and publish them on the internet. They deliberately chose the medium of story-telling because they wanted workers to engage with the stories in a way that is not possible with formal surveys. Kim Muller of Kämpa Tillsammans explains that they wanted to change the popular idea of what it was to be a worker; workers do not communicate with each other via “written pamphlets or leaflets but by talking and storytelling”, thus stories provide a far better way to develop a new workers discourse than dry analysis and documentation.

This practice has since become popular in the Swedish workers movement, with many militants reporting on their workplaces online on sites such as forenadevardare.se (for health workers) or Arbetsförnedringen (for job seekers). The practice of workplace blogging can easily spread work experiences, showing the political dimensions in daily conflicts as well as giving clues about the changing composition of the working class.
One such blog, ‘Postverket’ is written by Postal Service workers. They see it as a way of developing the discussions that start in the canteen or on the shopfloor and circulating them among other workers in different sections and in other parts of the country. In turn, the discussions on the blog can serve as the basis for further discussion and action within the workplace. The writers have found that, once introduced to the blog, their co-workers start to read it and discuss it with other workmates, helping to develop their ideas and sharpen their criticism of the bosses and the work.

Thus for the Swedish movement, workplace blogging has a number of different functions. On the one hand, by publishing online, workers can transcend their individual workplace to connect their experiences and ideas with those of other workers on the other side of the country. It allows for the deepening of political arguments and critique. On the other hand, workplace blogs can create a new discourse of work, and help to form the basis of a new working class identity. For many people, the mention of ‘working class’ summons up a dozen grey clichés, none of which are relevant to their experiences. Stories and experiences from modern workplaces can help to popularise a more relevant conception of work and class, that can in turn help to propel working class mobilisations.

Struggle Together!

“These struggles, or practices, that struck management directly and made our lives immediately easier we came to call “faceless resistance” for lack of a better name. This was during a time when the left, our political environment, to a large degree saw that it was “calm” or “peace” at the workplaces, in stark contrast to our understanding of our situations at the workplaces. I still argue that an everyday class war is occurring and no peace is possible as long as capitalism exists.”

Kämpa Tillsammans! Self-activity, strategy, and class power

What Kämpa Tillsammans found in their investigations led them to develop the term Faceless Resistance. This referred to all of the small acts of workplace resistance that go unnoticed by the traditional left, but are vital to their understanding of class struggle. This list is nearly endless, but can include things things such as taking extra toilet breaks, stealing cash or other things from the workplace, clocking out early or calling the boss an asshole behind his back. While these examples may seemtrivial, they are important since they represent the struggle between our aspirations for a decent human life, and the  constant pressure to reduce our lives to simply another input into the production process. What’s more, struggling in this way can supply their reward immediately, as, for instance, as instead of going through a protracted union negotiation for less work hours, by skipping out early one achieves this goal directly and becomes conscious of one’s own power in so doing.


Of course, this is not to imply that class struggle does, or should, consist solely in these small isolated acts of defiance; but that these small practices build collectivity between workers that canthen be the basis of larger struggles. This ‘worker’s collective’ has much in common with the ‘affinity group’ style of organising that members of Kämpa Tillsammans had learnt from the anti-globalisation movement. They suggest that the collective can be built up in 3 stages: 1) work together, 2) have fun together, 3) struggle together!

In the workplace we often naturally develop a sense of solidarity, as we co-operate to solve problems and pass the time. However, there are nearly always barriers between workers that limit the development of collective action such as hierarchies based on race, sex, work roles and seniority. Management frequently exploit these divisions, assigning different jobs to men than to women, or giving foreigners the worst jobs for example. It is necessary to break down these hierarchies in order to develop the solidarity between workers, and open the door to collective action.

The affinity between workers can be developed by playing around and having fun, inside or outside the workplace. While many companies try to use evenings out and ‘fun events’ for building team spirit and good relations between management and employees,Kämpa Tillsammans argue that having fun together away from the bosses is vital for building a strong workers’ collective.  Of course, the point of that these actions is not to be best friends with all your co-workers; t his is a ‘politics of small steps’, by starting with these small actions one can build the solidarity and trust between workers that will allow progressively bigger struggles to be taken on.

Struggle in, with or against the unions?

One of the unusual features of the Swedish labour market is its high level of union organisation (80% of workers in 2005) in comparison to England or Ireland. This of course raises the question of howthe ideas of Faceless Resistance relate to union organisation ; do they oppose it, complement it or ignore it? The presence in Sweden of the SAC, a large syndicalist union, throws this  question into sharper relief.  Kämpa Tillsammans tend to remain ambiguous on the question of union organisation, stating that they are neither for or against union organisation; unions are a fact of life for workers in capital, and so long as people have to sell their labour, unions will be there to handle the deal.

For Kämpa Tillsammans focusing on the question of union organisation is a mistake, the real power in a conflict comes from workplace militancy, regardless of whether this is expressed through a union or not, arguing that”regardless of the view on the role of the trade unions, every successful struggle at workplaces came from the solidarity between workmates; a strong workers’ collective.”   Thus the role of revolutionaries should be to build the workers’ collective, rather than building the union organisation. The union framework for disputes can be used by the workers when it is appropriate and discarded when it is not, but the foundation for struggle must always be the solidarity and organisation of the workers.

Despite this ambivalent attitude towards union struggle, the ideas of Faceless Resistance have proven adaptable to a union context both within SAC and the LO (the main union confederation).  Kämpa Tillsammans’ ideas helped to influence the recent re-organisation of SAC, which shifted the union’s orientation away from  a service model of unionism, based on the management of disputes, and towards a more combatative position, giving workers more power over their own conflicts and increasing the role of the local sections. This went hand in hand with an opposition to ‘organisational chauvinism’ , i.e. a recognition that helping to win conflicts rather than members should be the primary activity of the union.

Meanwhile a network of workplace militants organised within the LO called Folkrörelselinje have incorporated ideas of Faceless Resistance into their own trade union practice, which works within the union to build strong workplace collectives. For them, Faceless Resistance can be another tool in the organisers handbook, that can be pulled out to suit certain contexts where other tools might not be appropriate.

Conclusion:

The concept of Faceless Resistance is a very useful one for revolutionaries today. The financial crisis and the cut-backs and redundancies it has entailed has opened up again the possibility of a widespread workplace militancy that had for so long seemed dead, and many young militants now have the opportunity to engage in meaningful organising in their workplaces.  Kämpa Tillsammans’ lessons about building workplace collectives as the basis for struggle seem especially relevant when the failure of the union organised fightback has exposed the weakness of their workplace organisation. A workplace strategy that focuses on organising within the union is notobviously useful in situations where there is no union in a workplace, or where the union exists in name only. This is not to say that revolutionaries should refuse to work within unions, but that this decision should always be a pragmatic one, made on the basis of the specific conditions within the workplace and the tactics most likely to develop militancy among the workers.

The practice of workplace stories and blogging is also very relevant. In a society where discussions based around a traditional class identity have come to seem passé and out of date, the formulation of a new discourse of class is vital. This cannot be predicated on the old bases of class identity, but instead on the daily experiences of work and the often invisible struggles against it. Workplace stories can provide a way for revolutionaries to communicate directly with workers, to construct a new class identity, and help build the movement that will abolish class society.

Although Faceless Resistance as a concept has been discussed among radical circles in Sweden for several years, it has only recently begun to be noticed in the English speaking world, primarily due to delays in texts being translated. In this article I will look primarily at the work of  Kämpa Tillsammans, who developed the core ideas of Faceless Resistance, but I will also situate these ideas in their historical and social context and introduce other tendencies that have been influenced by and adapted some of the theory.
Genesis – Sweden after the anti-globalisation movement
As with many other countries around the turn of the century, the radical movement in Sweden was massively re-invigorated by the anti-globalisation movement. The highpoint of this movement in Sweden was the protests during the EU summit in Gothenburg in 2001, which culminated in several protesters being shot and a convergence centre being brutally raided. Similar to developments in Ireland, America and England, the momentum and energy aroused by the anti-globalisation movement turned to a period of self questioning and internal discussion as activists began to look for the next step. In Sweden, thanks perhaps to an already existing tradition of syndicalism going back almost a hundred years, this next step took the form of a focus on workplace-based confrontation with capitalism.
At this stage, study groups based in cities around Sweden had already begun to engage with the alternative Marxist tradition, from Italian operaismo trends of the 60s and 70s, to the autonomist Marxism of Harry Cleaver, and back to intensive reading of Marx’s original works. These study groups sometimes formed the nuclei of future movement initiatives; in Stockholm for example, fare-dodging initiative Planka.nu, the Women’s Political Forum, the Roh-nin publishing house, strike support group ‘Stockholm United Commuters’ and web-magazine ‘The Daily Conflict’ all developed out of a study group called Stockholm Autonomist Marxists.  At the same time a tendency within SAC (the syndicalist union) called Folkmakt (People’s Power) was engaging with different theoretical tendencies and developing a critique of the bureaucracy within SAC as well as the activism of the anti-globalisation movement.
Kämpa Tillsammans and the other worker’s movement
One group that developed in this fertile environment was a collective with members from Malmö and Gothenburg that became known as ‘Kämpa Tillsammans!’ (Struggle Together!).  They started from the position that while the left wing typically sees class struggle on a formal level, consisting of union conflicts, strikes, pickets and negotiations, they ignore the daily experience of work and the struggle against it.
This position was informed both by theoretical perspectives and practical experience in the workplace. After beginning their first permanent jobs in a factory, members joined the union and tried to work within it to improve conditions. However they found the union organisers completely uninterested in their grievances and unwilling to take the conflicts further. The organisers were in fact surprised that these youngsters working temporary contracts were even members at all! Gradually, the young workers decided that the real action was not happening within union structures, but within the informal organisation of workers.
The group’s practical frustration with union-based organisation developed their engagement with Marxist tradition, particularly that which stressed the importance of our daily experience of work for theory. The Italian operaist traditionargues that the composition of the working class is in flux and thus developed the  practice of ‘workers’ inquiries’ to constantly renew the vitality and relevance of revolutionary theory. The orientation of such inquiries resonated with Kämpa Tillsammans’ own experiences and they concluded that the most fertile space for investigation, and intervention, lay  in what the Indian group Kamunist Kranti called “constant innumerable, insidious, unpredictable activities by small groups of workers” . Such ‘unpredictable activities’ defied acceptance of a passive role in either the production process or in pursuing grievances, and so was constantly hampered by the workers’ own representatives as well as their bosses.
Class composition

“No methods of struggle or organizational models can correspond to the class composition forever. Regardless, a large part of the left is not able to renew politics when society changes. They stick to their old truths and try desperately to represent an out-of-date understanding of the working class. The class struggle has inevitably left the institutionalized left behind and made old political truths obsolete. This is an important explanation to why communist parties, unions, and other leftist organizations that used to have considerable political relevance in the past, are totally out of touch today.”
Kämpa Tillsammans! No peace in the Class War!

Central to the practice of Kampa Tillsammans is the understanding that radical theory must be closely tied to the actual reality of class composition. As the organisation of the production process changes, in response to diverse factors, from  market conditions and new technologies to the development of class conflict, the working class also changes, and this will be embodied in its forms of organisation and methods of struggle.

For example, the early workers’ movement in Central and Western Europe was based upon an organisation of work in which production was carried out primarily by skilled workers, concentrated in factories. These workers organised in craft unions and demanded control of production. Operaist academics argued that both this form of struggle and its goal were related to the specific conditions of work, and not to any objective theoretical ‘correctness’. They pointed out that the resulting struggles forced capitalism to alter this organisation of work, and with the implementation of both new technologies and management techniques (conveyor belt-assembly and Taylorism, respectively), re-arranged the production process, de-skilling work, lessening the skill basis of workers’ power, and thus undermining the hitherto dominant organisational form, the craft union. From this re-organisation older forms of struggle became irrelevant, and new forms developed to suit the changed context.

This analysis has a direct consequence for revolutionaries; since class consciousness and methods of struggle are constantly shifting, revolutionaries cannot simply accept the theories of past generations. We have a duty to investigate this changing composition in order to circulate the lessons from it, and derive theory to match the reality. Thus the centrality of the workers’ inquiry; in this process, militants constantly engage with the experiences of class struggle to challenge their own preconceptions and create a constantly evolving revolutionary theory.
Workers Inquiries or Workplace stories?
While traditional workers’ inquiries tend to be quite formal, often involving questionnaires and formal interviews, the members of Kämpa Tillsammans  chose instead to document their own (often humorous) work experiences, draw lessons from them and publish them on the internet. They deliberately chose the medium of story-telling because they wanted workers to engage with the stories in a way that is not possible with formal surveys. Kim Muller of Kämpa Tillsammans explains that they wanted to change the popular idea of what it was to be a worker; workers do not communicate with each other via “written pamphlets or leaflets but by talking and storytelling”, thus stories provide a far better way to develop a new workers discourse than dry analysis and documentation.
This practice has since become popular in the Swedish workers movement, with many militants reporting on their workplaces online on sites such as forenadevardare.se (for health workers) or Arbetsförnedringen (for job seekers). The practice of workplace blogging can easily spread work experiences, showing the political dimensions in daily conflicts as well as giving clues about the changing composition of the working class.
One such blog, ‘Postverket’ is written by Postal Service workers. They see it as a way of developing the discussions that start in the canteen or on the shopfloor and circulating them among other workers in different sections and in other parts of the country. In turn, the discussions on the blog can serve as the basis for further discussion and action within the workplace.
The writers have found that, once introduced to the blog, their co-workers start to read it and discuss it with other workmates, helping to develop their ideas and sharpen their criticism of the bosses and the work.

Thus for the Swedish movement, workplace blogging has a number of different functions. On the one hand, by publishing online, workers can transcend their individual workplace to connect their experiences and ideas with those of other workers on the other side of the country. It allows for the deepening of political arguments and critique. On the other hand, workplace blogs can create a new discourse of work, and help to form the basis of a new working class identity. For many people, the mention of ‘working class’ summons up a dozen grey clichés, none of which are relevant to their experiences. Stories and experiences from modern workplaces can help to popularise a more relevant conception of work and class, that can in turn help to propel working class mobilisations.

Struggle Together!

These struggles, or practices, that struck management directly and made our lives immediately easier we came to call “faceless resistance” for lack of a better name. This was during a time when the left, our political environment, to a large degree saw that it was “calm” or “peace” at the workplaces, in stark contrast to our understanding of our situations at the workplaces. I still argue that an everyday class war is occurring and no peace is possible as long as capitalism exists.

Kämpa Tillsammans! Self-activity, strategy, and class power
What Kämpa Tillsammans found in their investigations led them to develop the term Faceless Resistance. This referred to all of the small acts of workplace resistance that go unnoticed by the traditional left, but are vital to their understanding of class struggle. This list is nearly endless, but can include things things such as taking extra toilet breaks, stealing cash or other things from the workplace, clocking out early or calling the boss an asshole behind his back. While these examples may seem trivial, they are important since they represent the struggle between our aspirations for a decent human life, and the constant pressure to reduce our lives to simply another input into the production process. What’s more, struggling in this way can supply their reward immediately, as, for instance, as instead of going through a protracted union negotiation for less work hours, by skipping out early one achieves this goal directly and becomes conscious of one’s own power in so doing.
Of course, this is not to imply that class struggle does, or should, consist solely in these small isolated acts of defiance; but that these small practices build collectivity between workers that can then be the basis of larger struggles. This ‘worker’s collective’ has much in common with the ‘affinity group’ style of organising that members of Kämpa Tillsammans had learnt from the anti-globalisation movement. They suggest that the collective can be built up in 3 stages: 1) work together, 2) have fun together, 3) struggle together!In the workplace we often naturally develop a sense of solidarity, as we co-operate to solve problems and pass the time. However, there are nearly always barriers between workers that limit the development of collective action such as hierarchies based on race, sex, work roles and seniority. Management frequently exploit these divisions, assigning different jobs to men than to women, or giving foreigners the worst jobs for example. It is necessary to break down these hierarchies in order to develop the solidarity between workers, and open the door to collective action.

The affinity between workers can be developed by playing around and having fun, inside or outside the workplace. While many companies try to use evenings out and ‘fun events’ for building team spirit and good relations between management and employees, Kämpa Tillsammans argue that having fun together away from the bosses is vital for building a strong workers’ collective. Of course, the point of that these actions is not to be best friends with all your co-workers; this is a ‘politics of small steps’, by starting with these small actions one can build the solidarity and trust between workers that will allow progressively bigger struggles to be taken on.

Struggle in, with or against the unions?
One of the unusual features of the Swedish labour market is its high level of union organisation (80% of workers in 2005) in comparison to England or Ireland. This of course raises the question of how the ideas of Faceless Resistance relate to union organisation; do they oppose it, complement it or ignore it? The presence in Sweden of the SAC, a large syndicalist union, throws this  question into sharper relief.  Kämpa Tillsammans tend to remain ambiguous on the question of union organisation, stating that they are neither for or against union organisation; unions are a fact of life for workers in capital, and so long as people have to sell their labour, unions will be there to handle the deal.
For Kämpa Tillsammans focusing on the question of union organisation is a mistake, the real power in a conflict comes from workplace militancy, regardless of whether this is expressed through a union or not, arguing that”regardless of the view on the role of the trade unions, every successful struggle at workplaces came from the solidarity between workmates; a strong workers’ collective.”   Thus the role of revolutionaries should be to build the workers’ collective, rather than building the union organisation. The union framework for disputes can be used by the workers when it is appropriate and discarded when it is not, but the foundation for struggle must always be the solidarity and organisation of the workers.
Despite this ambivalent attitude towards union struggle, the ideas of Faceless Resistance have proven adaptable to a union context both within SAC and the LO (the main union confederation).  Kämpa Tillsammans’ ideas helped to influence the recent re-organisation of SAC, which shifted the union’s orientation away from  a service model of unionism, based on the management of disputes, and towards a more combatative position, giving workers more power over their own conflicts and increasing the role of the local sections. This went hand in hand with an opposition to ‘organisational chauvinism’ , i.e. a recognition that helping to win conflicts rather than members should be the primary activity of the union.
Meanwhile a network of workplace militants organised within the LO called Folkrörelselinje have incorporated ideas of Faceless Resistance into their own trade union practice, which works within the union to build strong workplace collectives. For them, Faceless Resistance can be another tool in the organisers handbook, that can be pulled out to suit certain contexts where other tools might not be appropriate.
Conclusion:
The concept of Faceless Resistance is a very useful one for revolutionaries today. The financial crisis and the cut-backs and redundancies it has entailed has opened up again the possibility of a widespread workplace militancy that had for so long seemed dead, and many young militants now have the opportunity to engage in meaningful organising in their workplaces.  Kämpa Tillsammans’ lessons about building workplace collectives as the basis for struggle seem especially relevant when the failure of the union organised fightback has exposed the weakness of their workplace organisation. A workplace strategy that focuses on organising within the union is not obviously useful in situations where there is no union in a workplace, or where the union exists in name only. This is not to say that revolutionaries should refuse to work within unions, but that this decision should always be a pragmatic one, made on the basis of the specific conditions within the workplace and the tactics most likely to develop militancy among the workers.
The practice of workplace stories and blogging is also very relevant. In a society where discussions based around a traditional class identity have come to seem passé and out of date, the formulation of a new discourse of class is vital. This cannot be predicated on the old bases of class identity, but instead on the daily experiences of work and the often invisible struggles against it. Workplace stories can provide a way for revolutionaries to communicate directly with workers, to construct a new class identity, and help build the movement that will abolish the wage system.