Monday, November 30, 2009

Planning on getting away from it all for the holidays ? If so this item from the AFL-CIO Blog may be of interest. A guide to which hotels are unionized, a better deal because it's a fairer deal. The original guide comes from the Hotel Workers Rising website, sponsored by the Unite Here union. My only objection...the guide only lists hotels that are organized by this one particular union. Here in Canada (and I suspect the case is the same in the USA) there are a number of hotels that are organized by other union such as The Nova Scotia Union of Public and Private Employees, Local 17, the UFCW and, most prominently the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW). You can find a substantial guide to the many hotels organized by the CAW HERE. Think of this addition to what comes below as Molly's little pre-Christmas gift.
Union Hotel Guide before you book a room. The user-friendly online directory helps you identify union-staffed hotels across the country.

Just plug in city and state( or province-Molly ), and the site will display a list of hotels in the area that employ UNITEHERE! members and are doing right by their workers. You also can add the name of a hotel chain as part of the search. Click here for the Union Hotel Guide.

A link on the site also enables you to quickly see which hotels are on the union’s boycott list and where workers are on strike.

UNITEHERE! is working across the country to bring a better life to hotel workers who often are underpaid and who work long, hard hours to make our stay comfortable and safe. For example, the union is urging customers to boycott three hotels in the San Francisco area, including the Westin St. Francis, where 650 workers ended a two-day strike on Nov. 21. The Palace and the Grand Hyatt, the sites of previous strikes also are on the boycott list.

Members of UNITEHERE! Local 2 voted by a 92 percent to 8 percent margin to authorize strikes at any of the 31 upscale hotels in San Francisco. Despite earning record profits over the past five years, the hotels are using the recession as an excuse to demand changes in eligibility for the employees’ health care plan that would eliminate coverage or put it out of reach for many workers.

Way down south way, at the antipodes, the new anarchism is growing just as it is across the northern hemisphere. Here's a report, via the A-Infos website, from the Aotearoa Workers' Solidarity Movement about their recent involvement in the campaign against their government's wage freeze on the public sector.
Let’s Melt The Wage Freeze:
On Friday November 27th, thousands of workers took part in rallies and marches in 27 cities and towns across the country, demanding that the Government’s wage freeze for state sector employees was lifted. The protests focused on the struggles of hospital and school support staff, and employees at the Ministry of Justice, but many people from other sectors supported the demand and turned out to show their solidarity. Many of the attendees were on strike for the duration of the rallies. Members of the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) were present at rallies and marches in Auckland, Palmerston North, Levin, Wellington and Nelson. Below is the text of a leaflet handed out by AWSM members at the protests.
Let’s Melt The Wage Freeze
OK, you’re here at the rally about the wage freeze for low-paid government workers. Yeah, the recession has hit us hard, with mass layoffs and pay freezes, and the prices of food and stuff keeps going up and up. At the same time CEOs get hefty pay rises and the banks get bailed out. And bosses and managers still treat us like shit.
So what are we gonna do about it? Passively listen to speeches from union bureaucrats in well-paid, cushy jobs? Clap a bit, yell a bit, and then go home?
It’s time to start organising ourselves in our own workplaces. We don’t need to rely on others to do stuff for us. We can do it ourselves together with our workmates. By looking out for, and supporting each other — we call it solidarity — together we can win. This grassroots action is the key to melting the wage freeze.
Ministry of Justice court workers at Manukau and Waitakere have shown the way recently. During the MOJ strikes, they have gone out of their own accord, in addition to the strikes organised by the Public Services’ Association. Their wildcat strikes have shut down many courts. It is when us — the rank and file — get together and control the strikes ourselves that we are more likely to win (and be harder to break).
Action controlled from above, by union bureaucrats, leads to hollow strikes that are not well-supported. Sure, let’s use them to negotiate more pay for less work (stuff their productivity deals!) for us, but in the process you get the feeling you are being kicked around like a football for their own ends.
That will needed to be worked out by us ourselves. But here are a few rough ideas, based on past successful struggles:
First of all, vote for industrial action where possible and encourage others to do the same. Build a culture of supporting each other at your workplace.
Make links between workers. Invite all staff at your workplace to your pay dispute meetings whether temps, permanent, members of your union or not.
Often you don’t need to strike. You can stay on-the-job and take action like go-slows and work-to-rules, which can be quite effective. Also it is a good idea to take regular common breaks.
Take control of the strikes and actions. Make decisions in open workplace meetings with as many people involved as possible rather than leaving it to union full-timers. Call for mass assemblies of workers to control action. Make sure these meetings are run from the floor and not by union officials.
Visit other workers’ picket lines and discuss how you can help each other. Form support groups if you are not on strike.
Form strike committees or informal groups at your workplace. Think creatively on how you can collectively stuff up your job, as you know your work better than your boss. Take local action against layoffs, bullying and overwork.
Call for all union officials to be elected by and constantly accountable to the membership. Officials to subject to immediate recall, and to be paid the average wage.
Above all, don’t trust bosses, union bureaucrats or politicians. Trust yourselves!
Related Link:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Molly has blogged on the subject of water in the past. Here's a report from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) on an ongoing (at this time) conference in Ottawa, talking about this matter.
Blue Summit tackles key water issues:
The opening day of the Blue Summit highlighted major challenges to public water systems and resources, and drew lessons from winning campaigns.

The two-day conference has drawn more than 300 participants from across the country and internationally, including a group of more than 80 CUPE delegates from every province.
CUPE and the Council of Canadians organized the summit, being held in Ottawa, to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of Water Watch.

CUPE national president Paul Moist’s opening speech celebrated how the water movement has grown over the last decade.

He stressed the importance of working in coalition at the community level, as well as nationally and internationally. Key to that work is strengthening solidarity with First Nations communities, to support their struggles for safe drinking water and proper sanitation services.
The economic crisis creates a moment for change, says Moist.

“We don’t accept a society built on greed and private profit, we want a country and a world built on public services and community values, and we won’t rest until that happens,” he told the plenary.

An opening panel moderated by Morna Ballantyne set the stage for the conference by examining the state of Canada’s water.

Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow dismissed the Canadian government’s “bogus arguments” for continuing to oppose the right to water at the United Nations. The real reason, she says, is it would conflict with the government’s position that water is a tradable good under NAFTA.

Canada is actively promoting new trade deals – such as a Canada –European Union agreement under negotiation - that put our water services in jeopardy, says Barlow. The Canada EU deal is “more dangerous than NAFTA in terms of everything we hold dear in this country,” she said. This deal, along with changes to the Agreement on Internal Trade, are part of a ‘perfect storm’ of trade deals which seek to open up the $100 to $200 billion in provincial and local spending on public services, including water.

Water policy expert Ralph Pentland outlined how Canada is “in a state of general confusion and gridlock just when a sense of national direction is urgently needed.” He emphasized the need for strong legislation and a national water policy to protect Canada’s water resources.

Assembly of First Nations water expert Irving Leblanc painted a stark picture of the challenges facing many First Nations communities. Poverty, underfunding, a massive infrastructure deficit and the absence of legislation dealing with on-reserve water and wastewater issues have combined to create a First Nations water crisis.

Over 120 First Nations communities live with undrinkable water today. Some of those reserves haven’t had safe water for nearly 15 years, Leblanc told the plenary. He called for full consultation and participation in a planned federal First Nations safe water act – something which has not yet happened.

CUPE researcher Blair Redlin reminded delegates that Canada’s public water and sewage systems were established in the wake of widespread public health problems in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These fledgling services were initially privatized, but were taken over by governments when they failed to deliver.

Redlin criticized how the federal government forces communities to privatize by making funding contingent on P3s. Corporatization of some public utilities is a growing concern he said, pointing to the activities of Edmonton-based EPCOR as well as recent moves to corporatize Winnipeg’s water services.

During the mid-day break, participants rallied on Parliament Hill, saying bold action on climate change can’t wait any longer, and that countering the global water crisis must be part of the solution.World leaders will soon travel to Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference on December 7-18.

CUPE and the Council of Canadians will bring a banner signed by summit delegates to Copenhagen.

“Our government’s climate record speaks for itself, said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux. We rank 59th out of 60 countries. And it keeps getting worse. A prime example is the pollution and destruction spewing out of the Tar Sands.”“That’s why we must stand our ground. Together. For water, for the planet, and for our children’s future. The message on our banner makes it crystal-clear: ‘Climate justice is water justice,’” concluded Généreux.

Delegates also participated in workshops and heard an afternoon panel focusing on organizing to win.

The conference opened last night with a party celebrating Water Watch’s birthday. CUPE members, including a number of water and wastewater workers, also held a lively afternoon caucus to share their experiences and strategize about CUPE’s water work.

Couldn’t make it to the summit? Listen in at in the coming weeks for podcasts from the weekend.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The arrogance and dishonesty is almost unbelievable. Bonuses paid for driving a company into bankruptcy. Unless, of course, you believe, like Molly does, that managers are a parasitic class who contribute nothing to the production of goods and services and who have replaced the nominal owners of most companies (the shareholders represented by diversified stock in RRSPs and pension funds) as the real "ruling class". If you believe as Molly does then looting a bankrupt corporation is pretty well much par for the course, and thus I am not surprised by the following. Merely disgusted. First, from the Toronto Star is the mainsteam media report on what has happened.
Ex-Nortel staff slam executive bonuses
Payment in leaked file to keep bosses on board:
Iain Marlow Business Reporter
Nortel Networks Corp. pensioners reacted with disgust on Friday to reports of new lavish bonuses for the company's top executives.

It was yet another blow to Nortel's distressed pensioners, retirees and long-term disabled former employees, who have dealt with financial uncertainty since the former Canadian tech darling declared bankruptcy in January.

"It seems so aberrant, in terms of the executive of the company awarding themselves really, really rich pay raises for doing the job of taking the company apart," said Tony Marsh, who retired from Nortel in 2000 after 30 years.

"Those of us who built the company up, into arguably the world's No. 1 telecom company, could never have dreamed of such riches," Marsh added.

An internal Nortel file "outlines a new compensation scheme for 72 Nortel executives that will see them get a total of $7.5 million U.S. on top of their current salaries in 2009," according to CBC News.

The company has argued that bonuses are necessary to keep executives aboard what is essentially a sinking ship following Nortel's filing for bankruptcy protection and the subsequent selling off of the company's assets. ( Molly would suggest the least educated, experienced and effective accountants in the whole country of Canada as better people "on board" than the past Nortel executives. Wanna argue ? )

Nortel would not comment on details of the plan. It issued a statement saying: "As Nortel works through the highly complex tasks of this restructuring, it is critical to have the right specialist resources in place ... Any steps taken around these individuals has been within the context of a previously approved compensation plan, taken in consultation with the creditor committees, external legal counsel and the Canadian Monitor."

Earlier, former CEO Mike Zafirovski claimed $12.3 million (U.S.) for back pay and bonuses. In March, some 100 executives were awarded $45 million in retention bonuses.

The company's divisions are being auctioned off in a process dragged out by bankruptcy court approvals. Retirees are worried that when Nortel's various global divisions are entirely sold off, they will be stuck with even less than they are now, which is not much, Marsh said.
Here's what the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) who have the misfortune of representing the Nortel workers and the pensioners/disabled workers have to say about the subject.

CAW Condemns Corporate Bonuses at Nortel, while Retirees and Former Workers Left for Broke:
November 27, 2009, 10:55 AM EST
CAW President Ken Lewenza is denouncing the news of more corporate bonuses and salary increases at Nortel Networks Corp, while workers are still fighting to get their due severance, termination pay and pensions.

"This is the worst kind of abuse of corporate power - laying off workers and leaving them with nothing while the executives who drove the company into the ground fill their pockets," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This is deplorable and must be stopped."

Lewenza criticized yesterday's Ontario court ruling that Nortel retirees and former employees will not receive the severance or termination pay as set out in their separation packages.

"This is another example of why we need urgent changes to the bankruptcy laws in this country," said Lewenza. "Companies like Nortel can go into bankruptcy protection and eliminate their financial responsibilities towards former workers. In the case of Nortel, it is even more offensive since they are still paying out huge corporate bonuses, while completely ripping off retired or laid-off workers."

"It is exactly this kind of manipulation of the system that plunged the world economy into crisis last fall - it's truly repugnant that we've learned nothing from this experience."

Lewenza said that the union will continue to fight on behalf of the current and former Nortel workers. The union will be ramping up pressure on government to bring about necessary changes to the bankruptcy legislation, which currently sees workers bumped to the end of the line when companies go into bankruptcy. The union is also pressing for a national guaranteed pension fund which would help cover the pensions of workers whose employers go into bankruptcy protection or bankrupt.

In the company's heyday in the mid 1980s, the CAW represented approximately 5,000 Nortel workers in five locations.

The story of a new round of corporate bonuses at Nortel surfaced yesterday through a report by the CBC, who obtained the internal corporate document.

The following story is from the American AFL-CIO blog. the country of Colombia is one of the most repressive in the western hemisphere and it is particularly unsafe for those who oppose the narco-terrorists who hold power as American allies in that country. Molly has blogged repeatedly on this subject before, telling just how dangerous it is to be an ordinary unionist in that country, fighting for simple rights and a slight improvement in living conditions. Just as here in Canada the political elite in the USA want to reward the Colombian government for its sins of both commission and omission by granting a free trade agreement with that country. Just like here in Canada labour is opposed to awarding murders such privileges. Here's the story from the AFL-CIO giving one more reason for their opposition.
Colombians Mourn Colleagues Killed in Past Two Months:
by James Parks, Nov 24, 2009
When 14 Colombian trade union members were in the United States for a training program, they were unable to forget just how dangerous it is to support unions in their home country. During the two months they were here, four of their colleagues were assassinated.

In a memorial service at AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., yesterday, we joined the Solidarity Center and the Colombian workers to honor those who were killed and to reaffirm our determination to fight for workers’ and human rights in that country.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told the group:
"We want our Colombian sisters and brothers to know that as we fight for basic trade union rights in this country, we are totally dedicated to their struggle to organize and collectively bargain in an atmosphere free of fear, terror and violence."

Shuler noted the AFL-CIO has recognized the courage, strength and valor of the Colombian union movement by presenting the 2008 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to Colombian human rights activist Yessika Hoyos.

The Colombian workers participated in the Trade Union Strengthening program sponsored by the Solidarity Center, with funding and support from the U.S. Department of Labor. As part of the program, the Colombians joined union organizers on the ground for three weeks. They worked with organizers from AFSCME, TCU/IAM, North Shore (Mass.) Labor Council, Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Teamsters. TCU/IAM, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Teamsters also provided training for the Colombians.

Colombia is the deadliest country in the world for trade unionists. At least 34 trade unionists have been killed this year in Colombia, with 10 deaths in the past eight weeks alone.

Jose Diogenes Orjuela Garcia, organizing director of the Colombian CUT union federation, said at the memorial service:
"We want to have a country where union rights and human rights are respected. If you add up all the acts of violence [against union members] there have been more than 10,000 in the past 20 years. "

Both Shuler and Garcia made it clear that the United States should not sign a free trade agreement with Colombia until the violence against union members ends. Says Shuler:
"The AFL-CIO stands with the…entire Colombian labor movement in their continued opposition to the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. We cannot permit a permanent trade instrument that incorporates a labor market based on the literal assassination of workers and their unions.

For us, these struggles are one and the same. We are fighting for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act not only to help end the unchecked violations of organizing and collective bargaining rights by employers in this country, but to set a new standard for the United States and its corporations operating in Colombia and throughout the globe."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ce qui suit est du blog Voix de Faits de ville de Québec. Il est agréable de Molly que les gens en Europe doit reconnaître les progrès que nous avons ont fait ici en Canada. Mon seul problème avec l'article initial de la France est que l'anarchisme au Québec n'a pas commencé avec l'année 2000.
The following is from the Voix de Faits blog in Québec City. It is pleasing to Molly that people in Europe should acknowledge the progress we have made here in Canada. My only problem with the original article from France is that anarchism in Québec did not begin with the year 2000.
[À signaler] Hostie d’vieux monde ! L’anarchisme au Québec:
Le périodique La Sociale, du groupe lillois de la Coordination des groupes anarchistes (CGA), propose ce mois-ci un survol ma foi fort bien documenté du mouvement anarchiste québécois.
* * *
Hostie d’vieux monde ! L’anarchisme au Québec
Depuis le début des années 2000 le mou­ve­ment liber­taire au Québec reprend force et vigueur. Soit qu’elles le reven­di­quent expli­ci­te­ment dans leurs prin­ci­pes, soit qu’elles le reconnais­sent en pra­ti­que, les orga­ni­sa­tions d’affi­lia­tion anar­chis­tes par­sè­ment la société civile et ten­dent à gagner en visi­bi­lité, mal­gré leur mor­cel­le­ment rela­tif..../...
...And in English
[Notice] Fuck*** the old world! Anarchism in Quebec:
The periodical La Sociale, of Lille Group of the Coordination des groupes anarchistes (CGA), offers this month a faithful and well docomentedurvey of the anarchist movement in Quebec.
* * *
Fuck the old world!
Anarchism in Quebec:
Since the early 2000s the libertarian movement in Quebec has once again gathered strength and vigor. Whether they claim it explicitly in their principles, whether they recognize it in practice, the anarchist organizations scattered amongst civil society have tended to gain visibility, despite their relative fragmentation..../...
Read the text
While I can read French very well (as opposed to how I can speak, write or understand the spoken word) I am often thrown for a loss when I come to translate profanity. "Hostie" refers to the "host" at a Catholic Mass(take it from the ex-catholic Molly). The usage above goes a little bit beyond "damn" in the English language, and I have decided to use the more expressive "fuck" as opposed to the less expressive "screw". Perhaps I am wrong in reading the connotations of this word, and I await correction from a francophone. Profanity can be the hardest thing to translate from one language to another and retain the original connotation as opposed to the denotation. English, despite some of its other disadvantages, is one of the better languages for swearing, I have, however. heard tales that Russian, Hungarian and Italian are pretty good as well. The advantage that English has is that it can combine blasphemy (a big thing in French) with sexual, animal, geneological, scatological and other references, often in one string of invective. Ah, but that's the subject of another rambling post.

The following call for a demonstration against planned transit fee hikes this December 12 is from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
TTC Fare Hike? Hell No!:‏
TTC Fare Hike? Hell NO!
Make Transit Affordable!
Public Action Against the Transit Fare Hikes
Saturday, December 12th
Toronto City Hall (Queen and Bay)
City officials and TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone have announced that the Toronto Transit Commission is facing a $100-million deficit in its operating budget for next year. On November 17th they voted for a TTC fare hike of 25 cents/fare and almost $30/monthly pass that will kick-in on January 3rd. That is $6 for ONE round trip on transit! This increase is outrageous and unacceptable.
Lately, we've been hearing a lot about shortfalls and deficits. We cannot forget where these deficits come from. When this economic crisis hit, the federal and provincial government quickly found BILLIONS of dollars to bailout banks and corporations. Now these same governments want us to believe that they can’t find any money to support public transit?!? Riders already cover more than 80% of TTC operating costs and it is by far the least-funded mass transit system in North America. THEY created this crisis, THEY ran up these deficits, and now WE are paying for it.
For poor and working people in this city, especially for families, transit costs are already too high and often unaffordable. This fare hike will hurt the people who are already struggling to make ends meet in these hard times. The TTC deficit should not be loaded onto the backs of people who need transit. It should not be paid for by poor and working people and it should not be paid for by the workers who run the buses, subways and streetcars.
We must act now. Paying more for transit is only one attack on already inadequate public services. Lay-offs and deeper cuts to all essential services are coming next if we don't fight back. Our communities need affordable transit, we need real income levels, affordable housing, childcare, and affordable education. Transit is a necessity and it is basic right. Not only should this fare hike not go through, but transit should be federally funded and affordable for everyone. Come out December 12th - say HELL NO to Fare Hikes in Toronto!
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)

The following interview with American left libertarian theorist Kevin Carson of the Mutualist Blog first saw the light of day at the Isocracy website. Molly reprints it here from the Mutualist Blog. One of the "privileges" of sitting in the hospital recovering from surgery was that I was able to begin reading Carson's first book, 'Studies in Mutualist Political Economy', and I hope to review it here at Molly's Blog when I am finished. Aside from the people gathered around Z Communications Carson is the only anarchist in North America doing what I would consider serious theorizing in economics. Not that I agree with everything he says, but he definitely says it very well, and makes a far more scholarly case for his views than the half-hearted borrowings from Marxism so common amongst anarchists or, worse, total ignorance of economics.
In any case it is refreshing for a more or less traditionalist anarchist socialist like myself to read about the case for "free market socialism/anarchism". Once again, I have my differences, particularly around the concept of "externalities" and the ability of a market to accommodate them in cost. I still think, however, that those of us who have more traditional (outside the USA) views have a lot to learn from people like Carson. Personally I am a "pluralist" when it comes to economic forms of some future libertarian society, and I have a hard time accepting any of either the traditional or newer anarchist economic theories as being sufficient in themselves. But more of that in the planned review. For now check out Carson's blog and purchase his books there. Here's a taste of what he thinks.
Mutualism: An interview with Kevin Carson:
Kevin Carson Interview
Kevin Carson, an American political theorist and a contemporary leader in discussions concerning mutualism and author of three extremely important books on co-operation, mutualism and capitalism (Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand). Describing his politics as being "the outer fringes of both free market libertarianism and socialism", he certainly will find a welcoming audience among our group - which is why he's been asked several difficult questions.
The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand is available in html format and Studies in Mutualist Political Economy and Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective are both available as PDF files.
Q.Firstly, thank you Kevin for agreeing to this interview with The Isocracy Network.
A.Thanks for inviting me.

Q.Could you begin by giving a description of mutualism from the initial definition offered by the anarchist Proudhon to contemporary examples and your own involvement in this sort of analysis of political economy?
A.Well, first of all, it's important to distinguish between mutualism as a general form of praxis, and mutualism as a theory. Mutualist practices (friendly societies and lodges, guilds, arrangements for mutual aid, etc.) are probably old as the human race. Proudhon, Owen, Warren, et al simply created a theoretical framework that emphasized such forms of organization as a building block of society. It's a bit like the centipede trying to figure out how it's been walking all this time, or the man who was astonished to learn he'd been speaking in prose all along and didn't even know it.

For that matter, there have been important anarchist thinkers like Kropotkin who emphasized mutual aid and other mutual organizations, without in any strict sense being mutualists. Cooperatives and mutuals have been central to the counterinstitution-building of much of the decentralist Left in the U.S. since the 1960s, but their thought is not explicitly mutualist either.

I n fact, I'd go so far as to say that most of the important examples of mutualist practice (the cooperative movement, the local currency and alternative credit movements, etc.) are not explicitly or self-consciously mutualist in ideology.

Having read Proudhon for some years, his thought is so complex and at times even seemingly self-contradictory, that I still hesitate to summarize it. But I'd venture to say, as an approximation, that his programme centered on 1) abolishing artificial property rights in land and artificial scarcity of credit, so that the working class could secure cheap access to the prerequisites of production; and 2) organizing the economy around associations of producers. Of course Proudhon was an important founding thinker for anarchism as a whole as well as for mutualism; so these ideas, in modified form, have heavily influenced later collectivist, communist and syndicalist variants of anarchism.

Mutualist praxis was central to the Owenite movement in the UK (e.g. Owenite craft unions organized cooperative production and distribution by strikers in their own shops), as well as such things as the Rochedale cooperatives, the Chartists, and land colonization movements. Owenism, by way of Christian socialism and guild socialism, probably had a significant (if indirect) influence on distributism.

In the U.S. mutualism's primary founder was the Owenite Josiah Warren. Warrenism, cross-pollinated with J.K. Ingalls' occupancy-and-use view of land ownership and William Greene's mutual banking theories, together led to the plumbline individualism of Benjamin Tucker. Tucker focused almost entirely on the abolition of artificial property rights and privilege in land and credit, assuming that when the legal props to rent and interest were removed and cheap land and credit were universally available, the forms of organization would take care of themselves. He displayed almost no interest whatever in cooperatives, associations for mutual aid, etc., as such.

Dyer Lum, John Beverley Robinson, and Clarence Swartz, all heavily influenced by Tucker, supplemented his focus on eliminating monopolies with some positive speculation on cooperative forms of organization; in so doing, they represented a partial fusion of Tucker's version of individualism with the older cooperativist tradition of Proudhon and Owen. Lum, in particular, was also friendly to the radical labor movement and had fairly close ties to the I.W.W.

Q.Would a highly successful large worker's cooperatives, like the John Lewis Partnership in the UK, and the Mondragón Corporation in Spain [centered in Basque Country] serve as evidence that mutualist economics can and does work in the large scale? Are credit unions evidence that mutualist economics can replace capitalist banking?
A.Although I'm quite friendly to both Mondragon and credit unions, and consider their influence to be decidedly positive, I believe their form is still distorted considerably by the capitalist milieu within which they exist. I like Mondragon's federated system of cooperative producers, distributors and banks within a single umbrella organization. But it's much too centralized a system in my opinion, with worker representation only effected at the level of the board of directors for the system as a whole; below the level of the Mondragon system as a whole, it's a fairly top-down system of conventional management, with no significant self-management at the level of individual departments or factories.

I would greatly prefer local markets with lots of stand-alone cooperative manufacturing shops on the Emilia-Romagna model, integrated with cooperative banks in some sort of barter or local currency network of the sort promoted by Tom Greco.

Most credit unions, unfortunately, have adopted the culture of the conventional banking industry, and have almost no ideological affinity for the larger cooperative or counter-economy movement. Of course they are still greatly preferable to capitalist banks; being controlled by many small, local depositors, they are far less prone to the excesses of the capitalist banking system that we've seen in recent years.
Q.Proudhon, although arguing that he opposed the idea of individuals deriving an income through rent and investments, said that he never wished "to forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree" such activities. A contemporary mainstream economist may argue that Proudhon's position here would be particularly utopian in those markets that have high barriers to entry or other monopolistic features, that a worker's cooperative versus an entrenched capitalist enterprise in such a market would require a miracle on the scale of David vs Goliath for success.
A.That sounds a bit like Tucker's pessimistic view of things in his later years, when he seemed resigned to the idea that the large industrial trusts had grown to the point that their market power would persist even after the Four Monopolies were removed.

I think such a view neglects the extent to which capital-intensiveness is a source of high overhead cost and inefficiency, and is only made artificially profitable by the state's subsidies and protections. In fact production as such has become far less capital-intensive over the past three decades, with the old mass-production core outsourcing increasing shares of total production to flexible manufacturing networks and job-shops, and some of them retaining little more than control over marketing and "intellectual property." The development of cheap, small-scale CNC tools in the 1970s meant that the capital outlays required for manufacturing imploded by one or two orders of magnitude. That was the beginning of a long shift from older mass-production industry to Emilia-Romagna, the Toyota supplier network, the job-shops of Shenzhen and Shanghai, etc.

The process continues even further in the same direction with the desktop manufacturing revolution of recent years: cheap, homebrew CNC machines scalable to the small shop and garage.

When physical capital costs are so low, most of the financial role of the old industrial core is becoming redundant. And with small-scale production driven by local orders on a lean, demand-pull, JIT basis, marketing is similarly redundant.

"Intellectual property" is the main surviving buttress to the old corporate walls, and it's becoming increasingly unenforceable.
Q.A follower of Henry George would argue in the realm of natural resources it would be impossible for success and that land-rents should be socialised. How would you respond to these claims?
A.I'm quite friendly to George, and think the lines between individualism and Georgism are a lot less harsh than (say) Tucker would have believed. But I believe a great deal of rent could be eliminated simply by removing subsidies to economic centralization and positive externalties created by taxpayers--not to mention by removing state enforcement of title to vacant and unimproved land. If as much urban infrastructure as possible were funded by user fees, and cities broken up into lots of mixed-use neighborhoods in which residential areas had their own miniature "downtown" cores, differential rent would be far less significant. I think a majority of George's aims could be achieved by Tucker's means, or even by a throughgoing application of Rothbard's means.

Q.With examples of worker's self-management in the former Yugoslavia, and modelling by economists such as Jaroslav Vanek and Benjamin Ward, it has been shown in some cases (especially in critical infrastructure) it is advantageous for labor-managed firms, in their objective of increasing income per worker, to either lay-off workers or - like a monopolistic capitalist firm - to reduce productivity and thus derive monopoly profits. How would a contemporary version of mutualism prevent these problems?
A.It's been a long time since I read Vanek's work on worker-managed economies, but my immediate reaction is that there's probably no fool-proof set of governance rules. When the firm is controlled by capital-owners, they'll behave in such a way as to maximize returns on capital; when it's controlled by managers, as in most large Western corporations, they'll maximize benefits to management at the expense of both labor and capital. At least in a worker-managed firm, the decisions will reflect the interests of a bare majority, which can't be said of the other two mechanisms. Beyond that, I think the answer to the kind of behavior you describe lies in exit as much as in voice: the lower the capitalization requirements and the lower the barrier to entry for most forms of production, and the lower the cost threshold for comfortable subsistence, the less catastrophic changes in employment will be. I'd like to see an economy where a much larger share of total consumption needs are met through production for subsistence or barter in the household/informal sector, and the average time spent in wage employment is much less than at present.

That would mean a significantly larger share of the population would be self-employed than at present, a very large share would work hours that we would regard as "part-time," household arrangements for pooling wages and hoarding labor-time would be much more resilient, and even wage-earners would tend to accept as normal prolonged periods of unemployment during which they lived off subsistence resources while waiting for a job to their liking.
Q.Pro-capitalist neoliberals, such as George Reismann, Roderick T. Long have criticised your advocacy of mutualism. Reisman and Long both argue that you do not support John Locke's ownership of landed property that has been mixed with labour or, to use the peculiarly U.S. vernacular, "homesteading". It seems that both this critics have fundamentally misunderstood Locke's concept of land ownership, which recognises a public cost for exclusion and use in addition to the right of added value. How do you respond to these criticisms?
A.To be frank, I can't say with any degree of confidence what Reisman understands about anything. But I think Long acknowledged Locke's Proviso and explicitly characterized his own position as "non-Proviso Lockeanism." I'm not a Georgist myself, although I'd be well-disposed to a local property rules system based on some form of common ownership and community collection of rent. In any case, justifiably or not, when answering Lockean critics I tend to tacitly work from the premise that "Lockean" means "non-Proviso Lockean." And for the most part, I think a radical and consistent application of non-Proviso Lockean rules would go most of the way toward achieving the aims of the Tucker-Ingalls land theory.

... all the fruits it naturally produces, and beasts it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous band of nature: ... Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property... For this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.John Locke: Of Civil Government - Second Treatise

For that matter, over time I've come to see the bounderies between the Tucker-Ingalls and non-Proviso Lockean systems as less distinct, and to perceive some practical problems with the Tucker system (at least the more radical variant--he seems to promote different versions of the system at different times). At times Tucker himself seemed to concede the existence of house-rent, but to argue that the nullification of titles to vacant land would (through market competition) cause the land-rent component of rent to disappear and overall rent to fall to the value of rent on buildings. Now, to me, that seems to imply that Tucker wasn't necessarily (at least at times) dead-set against absentee ownership in principle. That variant of his land theory, at least, seems to imply that the important thing was to eliminate large-scale absentee title to vacant and unimproved land.

In any case, I tend to think that doing so would go a long way to eliminating landlord rent through market competition.
Q.Another critic, Walter Block argues that you are actually some sort of Marxist because you use the labour theory of value for deriving a theory of exploitation. It would seem that (a) Block is unaware that Adam Smith and David Ricardo also used the labour theory of value and (b) using it to calculate a rate of exploitation is hardly the same as using it as an anchor to exchange values.
A.I think the Austrians also, for the most part, exaggerate the extent to which marginalism/subjectivism is a radical departure from classical labor and cost theories. It's closer to the truth to say that marginalism provides a mechanism for explaining the tendency that Ricardo et al described. The marginalist/subjectivist claim that "utility determines value" is true in a technical sense, if you add the qualification "at any point in time given the snapshot of supply and demand in the spot market." But it's not true in the ordinary way we use those words. If you allow changes in supply over time to enter the picture, then supply alters until the utility of the marginal unit reflects the cost of producing it--i.e., exactly what Ricardo said.

It makes far more sense to treat marginalism as a complement or fulfillment to classical political economy, rather than as supplanting it.
Q.Politically, where do you think mutualists should align themselves. Should they spend their efforts in building cooperative organisations, like Proudhon's advocacy of dual power? Or is there some mileage to be made in being involved in existing political organisations, such as the Labour Party - Cooperative Party groups in the U.K.? What about in the United States; is the Libertarian Party salvageable?
A.I think by far the most important, and the most interest, of our tasks is actually building the kind of society we want, and doing so so far as possible without regard to the state. But there's something to be said for putting external pressure on the state, and participating in political coalitions to remove as much state interference with our activities as possible. Of course the primary emphasis of such coalition-building should be forming pressure groups, rather than attempting to become part of a governing coalition.

A lot of this parallels Daniel DeLeon's disputes with the anarchists in the I.W.W. DeLeon argued that "building the structure of the new society in the shell of the old" (i.e. building industrial unions to serve as organs of self-management) would not be enough by itself. So long as the capitalists controlled the state and its armed force, and the significant minority of people whose class interest was tied up with it, there was the danger of the "Iron Heel" being brought to bear against counter-organizations. On the other hand, political victory alone wasn't sufficient; he gave the example of threats by Jay Gould to organize a national capital strike and lockout if the socialists ever captured the national government. Workers, DeLeon argued, should be focused on building counter-institutions, but also be prepared to seize the commanding heights of the state long enough to dismantle them and prevent them from being used against themselves.

What we need is a primary focus on institution building, without entirely neglecting the need for a political movement to run interference for the counter-institutions.

What's more, there's the very real danger an authoritarian state might make a concerted effort to stamp out the counter-economy through (for example) the kinds of totalitarian surveillance Richard Stallman described in "The Right to Read," intensified licensing and zoning to suppress low-capital producers, etc. It's a waste of effort and probably corrupting to seriously run our people for Congress or the White House. But it's perfectly sensible to carry out propaganda against legislation like the DMCA, to support lobbying campaigns organized by groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and NORML, etc.
Q.Proudhon argued that through a society of contracts between individuals, a federal structure could arise. This of course must presume that individuals have the capacity to engage in uncoerced contractual arrangements. What other political requirements do you think have a particular priority in breaking down authoritarian elements in statist rule?
A.Well, it could be that the authoritarian elements of statist rule will persist on paper right up to the point at which they become irrelevant. But in my opinion it's at least worth a shot to pressure the state from outside, and form ad hoc alliances to pressure the state, in order to minimize its interference and fend off attempts at intensified interference. That includes local efforts against licensing and zoning that impede household microenterprise and micromanufacturing, local pressure to defend peaceful squatters and vagrants, pressure against the regulatory suppression of self-organized mutual-aid efforts, pressure at the national level against further expanding "intellectual property" law, and so forth.
Q.Kevin, thank you for your time and views.

The following appeal is from the Vancouver based Olympic Resistance Network.
Call for Cross Canada Mobilizing: Extinguish the Olympic Torch!:‏

From October 31 2009 - February 12 2010, the Olympic Torch Relay "A Path of Northern Lights" will be traveling across Canada. The Olympic Resistance Network, based in Vancouver Unceded Coast Salish Territories,is calling on and encouraging our allies to coordinate efforts in over 2000 communities to oppose and resist the Torch Relay.

On October 31, over 400 people gathered to oppose the Torch Relay launch in Victoria. An Anti-Olympics Festival and Zombie March, organized by No2010 Victoria, succeeded in disrupting the relay. Security personnel were forced to extinguish the torch, load it in a van, and reroute it in order to reach the Legislature. (Visit or for videos)


The Olympic torch is a propaganda tool that promotes gentrification, repression and environmental destruction. The origins of the Torch Relay lie in the dark history of the 1936 Games in Berlin, where it was devised as a means to spread Nazi fascism and to promote the Third Reich. (See Globe and Mail article here:

The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay is a $25 million publicity stunt to promote the Olympic Brand, particularly its top sponsors. The Royal Bank of Canada and Coca Cola are the main sponsors of the 2010 Torch relay. RBC is the top financier of the environmentally devastating Alberta Tar Sands, while Coca Cola has been responsible for health degradation as part of the junkfood industry, massive depletion of ground water and toxic waste pollution in India, and involved in hiring paramilitary groups to violently repress union organizers in Colombia.

It is becoming increasingly evident that far from being simply about sport, the 2010 Olympics is rooted in displacement, corporate greed, militarization, and repression. While Olympic corporate sponsors aregetting bailed out, Indigenous lands are being stolen, more people are becoming homeless, thousands are losing their jobs and access to public services, the environment is being destroyed, and civil liberties are being eroded as over a billion dollars are being sunk into security and surveillance measures.

While people suffer consequences, the public money invested by the city of Vancouver, the city of Whistler, the B.C. government and the Canadian government is now nearing $7 billion. WHAT CAN I DO?

This Torch Relay will be the longest in-country relay in Olympic history,giving us the chance to make some anti-Olympic history! You might be opposing the Torch due to the rally call No Olympics on Stolen Native Land! Remember the Torch does not represent a sacred fire, it is a destructive force. Or you might be protesting the Torch because of the impacts of its corporate sponsors on your community, such as the link between the RBC and Alberta Tar Sands. Or you are generally concerned about the overall negative impacts of the Games such as homelessness, misdirected public spending, attacks on civil liberties, and the general oppression and repression it represents.

There are many reasons and many ways to oppose the Torch, so whatever your reason might be, get out there and be visible! Create a leaflet and make some placards, and you and your group can protest along the Torch route and hand out information to those along the sidelines. You can lead a march to disrupt and detour the relay, as Victoria organizers successfully did without arrests. Set up a blockade through your community and stop the torch from going through and spreading its false propaganda. Hold educational events prior to and after the Torch going through to spread awareness about the impacts of the Olympics (you can contact for educational materials to assist in this).Do whatever makes the most sense for your context; most important is that you organize something!

==> If you are organizing an event or action in your city, town, or community please email us the details at so we can compile the information and build strength and unity in our efforts by having this information available on our website.

Basic torch route

Nov 16 - Nov 28, 2009: through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick: Sydney, Whycocomagh, Port Hawkesbury, Truro, Paq'tnkek, Antigonish, Halifax, Bear River FN, Lunenburg, Charlottetown, Moncton, Sussex, Saint John, Fredericton, Esgenoôpetitj, Grand Falls, and others.

Nov 29 - Dec 11, 2009: through Quebec: Rimouski, Baie-Comeau, Les Escoumins, Saguenay, Lévis, Saint-Georges, Black Lake, Victoriaville, Sherbrooke, Drummondville, Trois-Rivières, Longueuil, Kahnawá:ke, Beaconsfield, Mont-Tremblant, Montréal, Laval, Gatineau, and others Dec 12, 2009 - Jan 4, 2010: through Ontario: Ottawa, Pikwàkanagàn, Akwesasne, Kingston, Tyendinaga, Peterborough, Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Six Nations, Brantford, Oneida, Leamington, Windsor, Sarnia, London, Stratford, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Barrie, Huntsville,Temiskaming, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Red Rock FN, Kenora, and others.

Jan 5 - Jan 20, 2010: through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta: Winnipeg, Sioux Valley Dakota, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moosomin FN, Edmonton, Wetaskiwin, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Calgary, Canada Olympic Park, Stoney Nation, and more.

Jan 21 - Feb 11, 2010: through BC: Golden, Cranbrook, Nelson, Trail, Osoyoos FN, Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Kamloops,100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Prince George, Smithers, Gitanmaax, Fort St. John, Terrace, Bella Bella, Powell River, Sechelt, Squamish, Whistler, Lil'wat, Merritt, Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland and others.

* Full route information: Complete listing by day:

Provincial and Territorial Routes:

It's hard to say how well this bird is going to fly. So far, to my knowledge, there have been public meetings and/or demonstrations in Ontario and Nova Scotia. J'ajoute une chose en français pour Québec. To say the least this is the sort of call that should have been made a long time ago, along with the necessary planning. Flying by the seat of your pants may indeed often work quite well in a local context, but the larger the geographical area the more need of greater organization.
d’une source anonyme de Québec
*Merci de diffuser:
Le mercredi 2 décembre, la flamme olympique arrivera à Québec. Réservons lui l’accueil qu’elle mérite en réponse à l’appel du Réseau de Résistance anti-olympiques, basé à Vancouver, dans les territoires côtiers Salish non-cédés.

*Rassemblement le 2 décembre, 18h00 au Carré d’Youville!
*Le relais de la flamme olympique tire son origine dans l’histoire pas très reluisante des jeux olympiques de Berlin, en 1936, où cette activité a été initiée par les nazis pour répandre le fascisme et faire la promotion du troisième Reich à travers l’Europe.

Cette année, le relais de la flamme est principalement commandité par la Banque Royale du Canada et par Coca Cola. La Banque Royale est le principal bailleur de fond des sables bitumineux en Alberta, un projet dévastateur pour l’environnement. Coca Cola pour sa part, en plus d’être responsable de la dégradation de la santé humaine en prenant part à l’industrie de la mal-bouffe, est responsable de détournements massifs des eaux souterraines en Inde, en plus de polluer ce pays par des quantités hallucinantes de déchets toxiques. Coca Cola est aussi impliqué dans l’embauche de groupes paramilitaires pour réprimer violemment les travailleurs qui tentent des’organiser en Colombie.

Les jeux Olympiques de 2010 n’ont rien à voir avec le sport mais sont plutôtune affaire d’expulsions, de soif de profits, de militarisation et de répression! Pendant que les compagnie commanditaires sont sauvées de la faillites à coup de milliards par les gouvernements, les terres autochtonesse font voler, davantage de personnes sont jettées à la rue, des milliers de personnes perdent leurs emplois et perdent l’accès aux services publics, l’environnement se fait massacrer et les libertés civiles s’effritenta lorsque des milliards de dollars sont accaparés par des mesures de sécurité et de surveillance, et ce à travers tout le pays!

Ce relais de la flamme olympique sera le plus long relais de tout les temps à se dérouler à l’intérieur du même pays, ce qui nous donne la chance de faire passer à l’histoire notre résistance aux olympiques! Le monde entier doit savoir que nous ne voulons
* “Pas d’olympiques sur des terre sautochtones volées!”*
==> Pour plus de détails sur les raisons de s’opposer aux olympiques, consultez aussi et
==> Pour plus de détails sur le parcours de la flamme, consultez:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The following story and appeal is from the Wake Up Walmart people. For those of us out here in the civilized world 'Black Friday' is the name given to the first Friday after American Thanksgiving, when the dogs of consumerism are let loose upon the land and bodies fall left and right in the mad scramble for a supposed deal. Sort of like a Boxing day without gun control. The dreaded day is tomorrow which, incidentally, is also the first of two Buy Nothing Days being celebrated this year by others who are not drooling so much to spread their cash upon the fields of useless junk. But hopefully more about that later.

Last year Black Friday became infamous when Walmart employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death upon opening the door to a crowd of "shoppers" in Long island New York. A glance at the wikipedia entry for Black Friday above will show that he has not been the only victim, merely the one whose death was most publicized. This year Wake Up Walmart is asking you to help spread the word about the lack of safety at Walmart during this dark day. Here's the story.
The Dark Side of Black Friday:‏
For Walmart, Black Friday has become synonymous with the tragic death of Jdimytai Damour: the Walmart worker trampled by an ill-managed "doorbuster" crowd at a Long Island Walmart. After a barrage of criticism following the stampede, Walmart characterized the tragedy as a singular "incident." Now, the truth is coming out.

According to Newsday, Damour's Walmart faced a similar stampede in 2007. A Black Friday crowd pushed the store's front door off its hinges before trampling fallen customers. The same article also covers a damning sworn statement by a local Walmart employee. During the Black Friday 2008 investigation, he noted, "I was there, like in past years, to help people up as they fall coming in the doors."

Looking back, the 2008 Black Friday stampede appears to have been a predictable annual affair. Walmart failed to adequately prepare for it. Mr. Damour died because of it.

You can play a part in keeping this year's Black Friday free of disasters like that which claimed the life of Jdimytai Damour. Join our online campaign to alert holiday shoppers and keep tabs on Walmart's handling of Black Friday crowds.
Spread the word to holiday shoppers: hold Walmart accountable for store safety on Black Friday.

Black Friday is likely to be bigger than ever in 2009. Polls suggest the possibility of a near 25% increase in participation this year over last. This, in concert with Walmart's aggressive promotion of holiday sales, will almost assuredly generate massive crowds this Friday.

If Walmart couldn't anticipate the Long Island tragedy, we can't rely on it to handle record crowds this year. We know Walmart has splurged on advertising, but we need your help to ensure it doesn't skimp on security.

Join our campaign for a safer Black Friday: ask holiday shoppers to tell their story about crowds spotted at Walmart stores, send us photos, and spread the word.
Help us hold Walmart to a higher standard of safety during this year's Black Friday blitz

Ogera Charles, Jdimytai Damour's father, has a simple request this year: that "the company and shoppers will do whatever is needed to prevent a repeat of last year’s disaster." Our hopes are the same. In that spirit, please join us in promoting safety and accountability during Walmart's Black Friday events.
Thank you for all that you do, and please enjoy a safe holiday weekend.
The Team,