La Tarcoteca

La Tarcoteca

jueves, 16 de febrero de 2017

Beyond the IWA: an interviewed with the CNT’s International Secretary: the New International Relaunch (1 of 2)

Tarcoteca translation from: Noticias Amor y Rabia - Más allá de la AIT (1ª parte) 25.12.2016

Discreetly, could be almost said in silence, an event that will have serious consequences for the future of the International Libertarian Movement is taking place: the reorganization of anarcho-syndicalism at the international level, at the initiative of the CNT.

Following its December 2015 XI Congress agreements [1], the CNT organized, together with the German FAU and the Italian USI, an International Conference of anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist organizations on 26-27 th November 2016, Bilbao. To know the objectives of this conference we [Noticias Amor y Rabia] have interviewed members of the CNT International Secretary Work Team in a conversation that tries to go to the bottom of the question, without dogmatism or myths.
[CNT- Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, is/was the spanish section of IWA- International Workers Association, call AIT- Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores in spanish]

THE BILBAO CONFERENCE AND A DISASTROUS COMMUNICATIVE POLICY

Noticias Amor y Rabia: For those of us who have been in the organization for decades, the CNT's decision to relaunch the AIT/IWA, and even more, the way to do it is a surprise: it is assumed that it is impossible to change it through a consensual agreement, and instead of withdrawl from IWA tries and create a new organization [that would be the organic way], CNT calls to "Refoundation the IWA" out of the organic channels.

The CNT change in its international strategy is the result of an agreement taken at the XI Congress, but for almost a whole year nothing has been heard, the information has been glaring by its absence.

This silence contrasts sharply with the informative activity of the IWA Secretary, which uses internet to accuse CNT, FAU and USI (90% of the AIT membership) of scisionist. At the same time those were not informed about the next IWA Congress in December 2016... Why this policy of communication, bordering on secrecy and delights of any good conspirator? Why do things get carried out in this way, giving arguments to the IWA Secretaryto act against organizations that form the vast majority of the militancy of the IWA?

CNT International Secretary: This may be the result of being the target of the unique, and therefore easily frenetic activity of the IWA Secretary and some of its sections. On the contrary, from CNT we have resisted to enter on dynamics of wasting time awnsering to "trolls" in the Internet forums and we preferred to focus on carrying out our project. In fact, the development of the agreements reached at the CNT XI Congress regarding to ​​IWA and internationalism has been an arduous task of contact with unions in other countries, attendance at Congresses of brother unions, such as FAU and USI among others, as well as an intense collaboration with these last two organizations in this matter.

We have come to assume that it was not worth to spend time from the many other constructive activities of the CNT to get trap answering accusations that the most of the time have no other basis than generate noise enough to make lose the sight of what is happening, and the logic is bring to a second plane. 

This is not happening just now, a lot of things that have been done in recent years and have become visible have been defamed and surrounded with lies, responding to certain attitude of some of the sections of the IWA and its secretary. In fact, much of the IWA's problems stem from this vigilant and censoring attitude, follow by some sections with a lack of real activity, with an exclusively digital existence, centered on the defamation of the positive developments of other syndical active sections.

<<FULFILLING THE AGREEMENTS OF THE XI CNT CONGRESS: The
International Anarcho-syndicalist of Barakaldo Conference 26-27 November 2016.

Arrived at this point and seeing the negative effect that have had on social networks the lies that have been repeated a thousand times with the intention of turning them into truth, it is possible that our discretion has been one of the several mistakes we have made in this matter. Comrades in several countries have told us so. We are now aware of this, mayby we do not give it enough importance. However, we insist, ours is a commitment in the real world, union struggles at the workplace and not discussion forums or social networks. 

Finally, this is not the moment to enter to discuss the impact of Internet on the recent development of the libertarian and anarcho-syndical movement, but is enought to say that, often, there is a supposed purism that only subsists in the cristal mirror that is the digital world, without existence or relevance in the real world.

At times it has been tried to compare the situation with the cism that gave rise to CGT in spain, but this is something that we deny. In that case there were elements of dissension with the ideas that are not present here. That is, CGT was betting on a model that renounced anarcho-syndicalism. Whereas now it is a situation of paralysis that prevents the practical development at the international level of a truly anarcho-syndicalist model of implantation and growth. The problem is not the one of ideological differences, but of attitude and mood.

What is really regrettable is that this situation has escalated, due precisely to the vigilant and censorship attitude of which we spoke before and to the interference of the secretary in the inner affairs of the sections, reaching a situation of rupture we have.

THE IWA NAME 

Noticias Amor y Rabia: The agreement reached at the XI CNT Congress talks about the "re-founding of an international anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary syndicalism" and a "New IWA", as well as preparing "a serie of conferences and contacts with those IWA sections interested in a process of International refounding". However, the call for the Bilbao Conference ends with ¡Viva La AIT! [Long life IWA!], despite the clear intention to leave this organization and create a new one. Why this fetishism with the acronym, especially when the agreement of the XI Congress qualifies the IWA as "inoperative"? Would not be better to start from zero, with a new name, instead of dragging out an expensive process of confrontation? Does the loss of the surname have legal consequences to CNT, or just sentimental?

CNT International Secretary : It may be so, but it is something we have not decided yet and will have to be clarified in a Congress to be call this coming year. The boast does not represent the will of the militants too well.

There are people who think that acronyms are just a dispensable fetish and others have it as an historical internationalism symbol that they do not want to give up just because a handful of people in some European countries have decided to take unfair advantage of the loopholes in the statutes to impose its destructive will. And we say destructive because it seems that for them to build our alternative and fight capitalism, churches and States is much more ungrateful.

Of course, keeping the acronym IWA or taking another will not have much to do with any legal consequence for the CNT. Our acronyms and identity are at safe, regardless if linked to the IWA or not. But as stated in the question, the Congress agreement is not definitive in this sense and this is therefore an open question that will decide the CNT affiliation in a Plenary and that will take shape in the Refoundation Congress, because we must count also with the opinion of the other organizations involved in the process.

THE SCISIONISTS SECTION OF THE IWA

Noticias Amor y Rabia: The decision of the CNT to rethink its international strategy and the Bilbao Conference have resulted in the immediate convocation of a "National Conference of Syndicates for the Re-Structuring of the CNT-AIT (25, 26 Of June)" [es] [en] and even another "CNT-AIT Congress" [es] in Benissa the past 5 and 6 of November. Nowadays, after some defederations (voluntary or expulsion) there are anarcho-syndicalist groups all over the peninsula, critics with the current direction of the CNT, especially in Galicia, Murcia and Levante. That is why the recent Benissa "Congress" seems more like an attempt to unify the several unions that or have been expelled or voluntarily left the CNT, and are trying to create a new organization that could be recognized as the IWA Spanish section.

In this way, fighting for the restructuring of international anarcho-syndicalism has the direct consequence of a new struggle for acronyms. In addition, the decision to refound the IWA was taken by a slight majority, and there are unions within CNT that do not agree with it, such as Granada, Puerto Real (these are not in CNT), Oviedo or Tarragona (these about to be defederated because they have not paid the quotes for some months), to name a few. Puerto Real for example, on 2016 November 10 call for a monographic general Assembly of Affiliates entitled "In Defense of the AIT." How do you expect to react to an hypothetical new conflict for acronyms? There is any danger of a new internal rupture in the CNT because of the IWA issue?

CNT International Secretary: We should start by putting all these statements in context in order to understand the answer to the final questions.

None of the unions cited (of those who are still in the CNT) went to the Congress of Zaragoza [where the refoundation was choosen] and did not send 'positions', so their disagreement is even less significant than those syndicates that did attend and voted against the agreement, and this didn't meant that they left the organization. 

In addition, we have to add that both the votes the one of the majority as well as the vote of particulars from the international commission that took place at the XI Congress differed only in one question: when to launch the whole process of "refounding the IWA."

<<THE "CONGRESS" TO CREATE A NEW "CNT-AIT": The meeting of a handful of defederated syndicates celebrated in Benissa (4, 5 and 6 of November of 2016) was a smokescreen, since neither took decisions, nor created a new organization with its own statutes.

It is also curious that a couple of years ago a document  with precisely that same name  ("In Defense of the AIT") was put on circulation with the intention of looking for supporters, and its only incidende was to make a fool. 

Among the arguments to ensure that the CNT was self-destructing was the one that said that Noam Chomsky (among others) was one of the intellectual leaders responsible for our "reformist" drift. 

Anecdotes aside, we are talking about a very few bunch of people in a few places, yes, talking bombastically. But nothing else. Neither syndical  nor social reality, but rather virtual, because the computer screen is what is best given to them. 

Our reaction to anyone who tries to usurp the acronyms we carry with pride is not going to be a threat but a forceful response, as we did in the day with the CGT.

These groups have long tried to play the trick of a false ideological purism, in the absence of their own trade union achievements, to criticize the developments of the anarcho-syndicalist model that has raised CNT in recent years. It is not surprising that their membership and number decrease over time. In front of their null reality, they have start play the card of the IWA recognition to ensure their subsistence, since their ability to act is non-existent, and they know that time plays against them. In fact, it is necessary to interpret the meeting of Benissa in the light of this bet. It is not surprising that they had to hold their supposed congress in two parts.
<<ARTIFICIAL MAJORITIES - The 26th IWA Congress picture (Warsaw, December 2-4, 2016): 6 newly created organizations with a total of approximately 325 affiliates, some of them microscopics, expel 4 organizations that helped found the IWA, with 7,100 affiliates.

In the absence of concrete preparations and proposals, and facing the inminence of the IWA Congress at Warsaw, a grotesque meeting was held with no other purpose than to build an organization skeleton to present to the IWA, even if it has a completely lacking of content beyond some high-sounding statements about the supposed reformist drift of CNT, such as we have heard since many years ago, without substantiated anything concrete. After the expulsion of CNT from the IWA at the Warsaw Congress, this is the new Spanish section of the IWA: an organization that has not even been established, without statutes, without organic regulations, etc... There is no doubt that it is a sad end for the IWA.

However, this dinamyc, more important tham for CNT, as it lacks of fundamentes, is relevant to understand how the IWA has arrived to the current situation.

For some time now, the attitude of the current secretary and some sections of the IWA (especially KRAS, Russia) has been to prompt and encourage this brake down. Not in vain KRAS has done several announcements in which they welcome and celebrate this development of facts. Meanwhile the secretary of the IWA has maintained a direct contact with the CNT-Levante defederates, from which comes the initiative of Benissa Congress. Even circulating Levante Documents to the rest of the sections of the IWA through the mailing list. All this as the same time that CNT-spain remained as the official IWA spanish section.

This injerence in the internal affairs of a section constitutes a flagrant violation of the most basic associative pact, in view of which, any call to respect the common agreements lacks of foundation and verisimilitude, especially when the decision-making situation in the IWA is as has already been discussed.

In view of all this, it should be not surprise that is reached a situation of total rupture inside the IWA.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE IWA

Noticias Amor y Rabia: Whatever happens in the future, the truth is that the CNT, the FAU and the USI have passed the Rubicon, and the rupture within the IWA is a fact.

A probable future scenario is that in wich the British Solidarity Federation 'Solfed' will become the most important section of the IWA, while the weight in decision-making would move to Eastern Europe countries, where are set the large number of sections with voting rights in congresses, but with a lacking of the minimal social influence.

An example of the situation that would have to face the IWA in future is the financing of the secretary activities, which nowaday spends 1,000 € per year only in photocopies; The ZSP, the Polish section currently in charge of the secretary, only pays € 100 a year despite being the largest section of the AIT in Eastern Europe. Only with the CNT disissal means for the IWA the loss of an annual income of € 30,000, so the march of 90% of the current militancy will turn the IWA into a purely testimonial and completely inoperative organization, lacking of a source of funding for its propaganda and international activities.

This situation will undoubtedly be the source of growing tensions between an marginalized in decision making SF, but still responsible for carrying on with the burden of financing the remains of IWA and the rest of sections. It is even possible to imagine that SF and some other section would rethinking its international strategy, so maintaining a communication channel would be crucial for the future.

Unfortunately, from the experience of the CNT/CGT scission it is easy to guess that the cut in relations between the now facing sectors in the IWA could finish in a total break up. Has been discussed about the relationship of the New International that CNT, FAU and USI intend to launch with the current IWA? Will it seek to maintain contact with the IWA secretary and its sections?

CNT International Secretary: It is not that the weight of decisions will move east, but that is the reality of the recent years that has led us to the situation we are now in. Of course, the decision is now on the SF and only they know if they are willing to put up with what we have suffer. But with the situation at what we have arrived, we believe that with the attitude of the Polish Secretary, or whoever that takes its place along the same lines, will veto any possible relationship of any section of its international (if it survives) with ours.

We in principle have no problem working together with other syndicates from other countries to win the conflicts that arise in the field of companies or state repression, since we do not lose sight on the fact that our enemy are not the workers even those who we hold the greatest discrepancies, but capitalists and their lackey bureaucrats.
<<SCHIZOPHRENIA: One of the attendees to the Warsaw AIT Congress claims to have attacked the Barakaldo CNT offices for having complied with an agreement of the XI CNT Congress together with others pro-IWA "delegates" [es], and then he says that it is necessary to respect the organic regulation

In any case, the real risk that threatens the IWA in the near future has more to do with its internal drift than with financing, since thanks to the quotes paid by the expelled sections for years, the International has a financial statement more than healthy. In the absence of activity in the real world, the illusion of purism can only be kept living in a permanent witch hunt. That is how all kind of organizations that keeps this attitude end up devouring themselves.

In this sense, returning to the question, the obvious target of the supposed 'purists' will be the SF, since, having refused to establish itself as a union, all its militants hold a double affiliation to the official majoritarian unions, becoming representatives of these in their working centres, (which, on the other hand, speaks clerly about the purported purists motivations, who preferred to ignore this fact and focus on a conflict with CNT, based on fictitious accusations). We may venture that the witch-hunt will not be long in focusing on aspects such this, which can make the remain of SF in the IWA really uncomfortable indeed.

RISK OF FAILURE

Noticias Amor y Rabia: The CNT decision of propose reorganize the international anarcho-syndicalism is the answer to a serie of unending conflicts within the IWA. The agreement of the XI Congress states that the refoundation of the IWA is carried out because it is "inoperative" and because of its a "major internal crisis, which erupted with the expulsion of its German section, the FAU". This is an irony of history, since the expulsion of FAU was due in the most part at the CNT initiative, and especially this of García Rúa, former general secretary of CNT-IWA and the IWA, as we have exposed in a extense article In the previous number of Prisma magazine (first part HERE, second part HERE).

However, instead of calling to prudence, to amend the mistakes of the past, it was decided to take a drastic measure and break down with the relationship. In fact, the CNT agreement seems more as reaction to solve a problem than an action to promote anarcho-syndicalism.

The IWA paralysis was due to the lack of agreement on the various strategies adopted by the CNT, FAU and USI to carry out a strategy of syndical action in the anarcho-syndicalist way adapted to their respective specifities of action. These debates provoked clashes between the various sections and have led to the current destabilization of the IWA, by accepting that sections without real existence had a decisive weight on the organization's progress.

Therefore, the organizational change that is intended to carry out now ends with that decision-making system that deforms the reality as decision are taken by a tiny minority of the organization. But fact this does not change the fundamental problem: the necessary balance between the independence of the Sections and their obligation to respect the principles, tactics and goals that define the federal pact of the new organization. Has this issue been addressed by the CNT, FAU and USI by defining how to reorganize the international anarcho-syndicalism? What consequences would it have if you failed to create a new International?

CNT International Secretary: Of course we must recognize that the step that has been taken has obviously been a reaction to a strangulation of the sections with the vast majority of affiliation, but it also follows a strategy of promoting anarcho-syndicalism at the international level.

We arrived to the point in wich it was evident that the reality of the International made impossible the necessary promotion of the libertarian vision to combat exploitation, so the first step to globally relaunch anarcho-syndicalism was to break with the inertia we have being dragged for years based in many cases on Myths. The exclusive dedication to the control of others and the constant sermon of a handful of sections made impossible to generate the dialigue enviroment to re-speak about the ever more necessary international solidarity and about the challenges that the workers face in a global scenario where we can hear again the old syren chants of fascism.


Although it is something recurrent in this interview but I think it has to be clear enought what are we speaking [the decision-making system] and it is that we are talking about that KRAS (Russia) or Slovakia, quoting each for less than 10 affiliates, have the same representation in the International that the Spanish CNT with about 5000 affiliates. Neither the size of the country, nor relative to the population, nor the repression, nor the anarchist tradition justified (as they have done at times) that for more than 20 years they are in these same conditions of stagnation if not for the attitude of those who grab to the acronyms of the international in those countries; some old knowns. With the shared position of 6 countries with similar realities the majority decision making in the International has been in their hands [for more tham 20 years].

These realities contrast with those of the one that have always been in the spotlight as it has been USI, FAU and CNT with more affiliates than the rest of the world together.

To have another point of view, we are talking about a Sections with 20 times larger membership numbers tham the Sections of 6 countries together, some of them from smaller countries and another one covering two continents, that is subject to decisions, control and the threat of these.

Regarding to the principles, tactics and goals I think that people have a lot more respect for the agreements they accept than it may seem at first glance. The problem with the faults in this sense comes when you are aware that what looks like a serious organization is in reality a bad taste joke and you are the object of laughter. There have been many shortcomings to the agreements, to the point to ensure that we consider that the current secretary and some sections have effectively breached the associative pact long time ago.

As already mentioned and without going further, there are sections that, before the CNT expulsion from the IWA, have publicly recognized other groups as the Spanish section of the IWA.

Possibly we could pull back the chain of irregularities and we would find ourselves with in the times when the Rúa Secretariat warn about a parallel international with the SAC and the CGT, that never happened, and the use of this speech to attack to the FAU and USI.

In that sense, it is true that the current internal situation of the IWA stems largely from the mistakes made by the CNT years ago, but it is also true that given the situation in which our organization was at that times, it is understandable that this happend. Precisely, the CNT's change of approach, from a defensive and enclosed on itself strategy, without a project beyond the reports of the prevailing syndical model, to the current one, in which we face a stage of growth and openness, with an own, [unique] and effective syndical model, explains in the most part why CNT needs another kind of international coordination, which can not be given in the current IWA.

By all this I mean that when people is taken into account, is respected, work conditions are created and efforts are focused on the real enemy looking outward rather than inwardly, conflicts with internal normative tend to lesser or even disappear.

<<FULFILLING THE AGREEMENTS OF THE XI CNT CONGRESS: The CNT's highest decision-making body, a Congress, decided [es,en] to organize an International Conference to promote the Relaunch of the IWA.

The consequences of failing can not be very serious because we start from Zero, that is, The International does not exist 'de facto'.

If we compare the societies in which we live, the influence or even the existence of the IWA disappears when we stop reading certain Internet forums. In order for us to be considered as a useful reality in defens of the interests of internationally exploited workers, we must try to get out of the trap we are in, and that is exactly what we are doing now without any sense of fear to fail. The current situation is the proper failure.

However, it is true that is not easy to outline an international organization that avoids all the mistakes of the past, while achieving a frictionless operativity. It will require a good dose of work and will. Ultimately it will much depend on the participating organizations to know how to endow it with practical content, common projects, to ensure effective solidarity.

In this way, the discussion will move from the formal and organizational aspects to the practical issues, where unfounded confrontations are less likely to arise, despite the differences that may occur, of course. But because of that, because we want to do it well, CNT, USI and FAU have decided to handle wide times and not enter in meaningless competitions with anyone.

There is, no doubt, the risk of repeating past mistakes, but also the firm will to avoid them.

FOLLOW ... (SECOND PART)

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