Saturday, February 3, 2001


Staughton Lynd, McMaster University, Feb. 3, 2001

A visitor from the imperialist heartland should be hesitant to pontificate about globalization and resistance.
Lynd, photo by Madeleine Kay (age3)
In so many ways, Canada is a more civilized and a more developed society than the United States. In the 1960s, young men subject to the draft or already members of the Armed Forces of the United States fled to Canada. When my passport was taken away for traveling to Hanoi during wartime, I made a point of visiting Canada, for which a passport was not required, I hope that my words on those occasions may have added something to your resolve to provide sanctuary to war resisters from the States.
In that same decade, both of my older children attended the Everdale Place, an experimental school not too distant from where we meet tonight. Later, your public health system gave heart not only to health care advocates in the States, but also to those of us who as Legal Services lawyers or Headstart teachers were trying to provide a public service administered in a decentralized and democratic manner. Less than two months ago, Canada's finance Minister announced a moratorium on $700 million of the $1.1 billion debt owed to Canada by heavily indebted poor countries, so that those countries could spend that money "on urgent social priorities such as health care, education and poverty reduction." You have, I believe, a far more comprehensive and respectful approach to the self-determination of indigenous peoples than do we in the States. And you have abolished the death penalty.
My deepest sense of obligation is to individual comrades like Margaret Keith and Jim Brophy in their industrial health and safety work, or to Bruce Allen, who under his nom de web Praxis 1871 makes me sensitive to things I need to know about not only in Canada, but in the States as well, and indeed around the world.
For all of the foregoing, thank you, Canada.
At the same time, I believe you will join me in recognizing that Canada is still a capitalist economy, deeply enmeshed in the globalization that is our subject tonight. From this standpoint you in Canada and we in the United States are all in the same soup, or perhaps more precisely, all under the treads of the same neo-liberal juggernaut. Because of this common predicament that we share I venture to share some thoughts about globalization and resistance.
What should be the principles of our common resistance to globalization?
I am going to suggest certain principles, but I am concerned that the moment I do so, we will become lost in a discussion of labels. So let me begin in a different way by holding up as a model or mantra the activity of the resistance movement in the third society subject to NAFTA -- and of course, more grievously subject to it than either the United States of Canada -- namely, Mexico.
The Zapatista movement in Chiapas seems to me extraordinary in at least the following ways:
  1. Without participating in electoral politics, the Zapatistas have ended 71 years of uninterrupted government by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. How have they done this? One critical component is a vast effort at popular education. Mayan peasants, who had never before left their native villages, traveled all over Mexico meeting with popular organizations such as the rebelling students at the national university.
  2. Of course the Zapatistas are not nonviolent in any traditional sense. But neither are they a traditional Latin American guerrilla movement. Without giving up either their arms or the principle of armed struggle, they have carried on for the last five years an essentially nonviolent resistance. For example, the Mexican government has sought to build roads into the Lancandon jungle that is the Zapatista stronghold, The government claimed that this was to help farmers get their produce to market. The real reason, obviously, was to be able to move soldiers and military gear into the area. At the western edge of the jungle is a village named Amador. During the summer and fall of 1999, the soldiers seeking to build the road were met each day by a cordon (a picket line) of women from Amador. Since many of the soldiers were indigenous, the women appealed to them to recognize their true interests and to put down their weapons. To prevent this dialogue the government played music through loud speakers, I lost track of this encounter for about a year. Then I noticed that after Vicente Fox became president, he announced the abandonment of a number of military bases in Chiapas. The first base to be abandoned was at Amador.
  3. When my wife and I briefly visited San Cristobal in 1999, we talked with a woman who for years has worked with indigenous communities in the area. She was completing a book of interviews subtitled "Voices from Mayan Communities in Rebellion in Chiapas." She told us:

    In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, three historical forces prepared the way for Zapatismo. The first was Mayan tradition in which, she said, "everything is done through assemblies."
    The second was the Mexican Revolution of 1917. The Mexican Revolution declared a right to land. No one was supposed to own more than a certain amount. Poor people were authorized to form associations called "ejidos" and to acquire land.
    The third historical force was Vatican II and Catholic liberation theology. Base communities were formed: Mayan base communities, in which there was a "marriage of traditions." Alice and I saw the marriage of traditions in a Catholic church we visited in a village called Chamula. There was no priest. The church was administered by its deacons. Pine needles were strewn on the floor. Here and there, kneeling around a blanket, villagers chanted Mayan prayers before lighted candles.
    The key demand that emerged from this confluence of traditions (we were told) was for autonomy, that is, self-administration by the indigenous according to traditional law, "uso de costumbre." When Marxists showed up in Chiapas in the mid-1980s a movement formed by these forces was already in being. The movement influenced the Marxists, we were told, more than the Marxists influenced the movement. The way it works in an individual village is as follows.
    The village may be wholly "autonomous" (the word the Zapatistas use to describe themselves) or it may have some autonomous families, and some families loyal to the PRI.
    In the assembly of the autonomous, trusted individuals are asked to perform certain full-time functions: as storekeeper, or as a worker in a health clinic or a school. These persons "lead by obeying." Someone else cultivates their corn fields so that they can performs their new tasks. The store, the clinic, and the school serve all the families in the village, even those that are pro-PRI.
    The Zapatista communities make joint decisions by a representative process. Each local assembly of the "autonomous" -- whether it be all or some of the families in a particular village -- is open to persons above a certain age. Each such assembly comes to a consensus and sends delegates to the next higher level. The delegates are bound to be spokespersons for the decisions of the local assemblies they represent.
    It is an honor to be chosen as a representative, just as it is an honor to be chosen as a storekeeper or teacher. Consensus is sought at every level. A "straw vote" may be taken, only to give participants a sense of how widely particular outcomes are desired.
    In the opinion of this woman, the Zapatista movement does not resemble other guerrilla movements. The movement it most resembles is the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s.
I shall attempt to generalize form Zapatista reality as I have tried to describe it. I propose the following principles:
  1. In resisting globalization, workers should rely on their own self-activity expressed through organizations at the base that they themselves create and control.
  2. We should seek to win over or neutralize the armed forces.
  3. We need to build more than organization, more even than a movement: we need to build a community of struggle.
In offering these words as guiding principles, I once again emphasize that they are only words, and plead with you not to fetishize these words and not to engage in what the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, following Marx, called the "misplaced concreteness" of mistaking words for things.
Finally by way of introduction, of course I understand that these principles will only take on life as the contradictions of capitalism provide opportunities for social transformation. Just since the first of the year, world over-capacity in the production of steel and automobiles has resulted in two steel company bankruptcies in Youngstown, and last Tuesday's announcement by Daimler Chrysler that it will halt promised renovation of its Windsor truck assembly plant and law off an entire shift on July 1. The issue is not whether there will be economic instability. There will be. The issue is whether we, the movement for change, will be ready to do something with it.

1. Self-activity
First, then, self-activity. The closest equivalent in a language other than English I have thus far found is the Russian word samodeyatelnost, used by Trotsky in his youthful critique of Leninist centralism, and by Alexandra Kollontai, who used the term in the early years of the Bolshevik Revolution on behalf of the emerging women's movement and the Workers' Opposition. The closest synonym in English to "self-activity" is, perhaps, "participatory democracy." But there are others: government from below, self-organization. Again, it is not the words but the thing that matters.
I champion the idea of self-activity in contrast to the practice of national, bureaucratic, top-down trade unions. National trade unions, as they exist in the United States and Canada; as they existed in Great Britain, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe in the early 20th century; as they have existed anywhere in the capitalist world and will exist anywhere in the globalized economy, are inherently opposed to the practice of self-activity by rank-and-file workers. This is true regardless of what persons may hold the top offices in those unions. The first principle of a resistance movement against globalization must be not to concentrate energy on campaigns for national union office, any more than we make campaigns for national political office our first priority. Of course it makes a difference who wins these campaigns, that doesn't mean we should spend our time working in them. Like the Zapatistas, we should influence national electoral campaigns by our non-electoral self-activity at the base.
Why is it that national trade unions will never be able to play a leading role in our movement to get rid of capitalism and substitute something better for it? Because national trade unions are irrevocably linked to capitalism. They will inevitably find ways to make their peace with profit-making corporations. They will always stop short of fundamental social transformation. They are and will remain Social Democratic, meaning, their historical project is reform not revolution, their nature is to try to make capitalism liveable. This is a necessary project but, as Rosa Luxemburg said, it is a labor of Sisyphus: it could go on forever and never really change the system.
It may be helpful in this connection to explode certain historical myths about particular labor leaders. As a guest in you country, I shall avoid criticism of Canadian labor leaders, including all persons with the nickname "Buzz." Let me instead offer desperately short vignettes of two American labor leaders, and through them, of the myths surrounding the birth of the CIO and of the post World War II labor movement in the States.
Lewis It has long been recognized, even by historians who celebrate the major thrust of his work, that John L. Lewis was a dictatorial leader.
Lewis became International President of the United Mine Workers of America in 1919. Up to that time, the local unions, district organizations, and national conventions of the UMW had involved miners in the process of legislating wages, working conditions and production methods. Local unions began the collective bargaining process by proposing terms. Activists debated their merits in the pages of the UMW Journal. Hundreds of elected local union delegates assembled in national convention to adopt a program of demands, usually consisting of a compromise among the local union resolutions. The wage scales eventually adopted left plenty of room for elected pit committees to exercise considerable control over the timing, methods and distribution of work.
Lewis changed all this. Even according to the UMW's official history, Lewis "transformed [the UMW Journal from] what had once been an organ for miners to speak to each other into an organ for the administration's use." Bu 1933, according to historian Walter Galenson, Lewis had removed the elected leaders of a majority of districts and replaced them with his own appointees. Would -be reformer caucuses were branded as "dual," and their leaders subjected to expulsion and physical attack. In confronting the Save The Union Movement in 1926-1928, Lewis resorted to massive election fraud and ordered the home local of Save The Union leader John Brophy to expel him. International conventions were dominated by paid organizers and delegates from suspended districts. The union's tradition of bottom-up lawmaking was displaced by a regime of top-down command.
But, you may say, it's still the case that Lewis used section 7(a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act when it was passed in the spring of 1933 to rebuild the United Mine Workers, sending organizers through the coal fields with the slogan "The President Wants You To Join The Union"; and that this successful organizing drive, together with parallel efforts of the clothing workers under Sidney Hillman and David Dubinsky formed (in the words of Irving Bernstein) "an axle upon which trade unionism was to turn" for the next decade.
In work still to be published, Professor Jim Pope of University of Rutgers Law School has shown this received narrative to be a myth. It is true that between February 1933 and July 1934 the United Mine Workers grew from a demoralized remnant of less than 100,000 miners to a union with more than 500,000 paid-up members. It is untrue that these event were masterminded and controlled by John L. Lewis. Beginning well before Lewis initiated an organizing campaign, often proceeding in the face of opposition by UMW staff representatives and Lewis himself, 100,000 miners spread out over 1,000 square miles of mountainous terrain began and carried out an unauthorized strike movement that recreated the union from below.
I don't have time to tell the whole story, and in any case, it is Professor Pope's story that he will tell in print at an appropriate future hour. Let me quote a portion of Pope's conclusion:

[T]he western Pennsylvania coal strikers of 1933 were attempting to establish a democratic form of unionism that diverged sharply from the predominant American pattern of hierarchical, business unionism. In the coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, New Mexico, Washington, and other states, insurgent movements pursued similar objectives. John L. Lewis used the UMW apparatus to influence and his political influence to defeat these movements....He outlawed their organizations, broke up their meetings, made sweet-heart deals with operators, blocked representation elections, and packed the UMW convention with his own appointees.
Walter Reuther To turn from John L. Lewis to Walter Reuther is to turn from a life-long Republican to a man whose parent's home Eugene Debs is said to have visited, a man who did assembly line work in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Here, if anywhere, should be the model of a so-called "social movement unionist." Many people in the labor movement say, If only we could go back to Walter! The New Directions caucus in the UAW, TDU, the Association for Union Democracy, and Labor Notes lend credence to this view by lionizing Victor Reuther, Walter's surviving brother.
Perhaps the single most devastating rebuttal to the Walter Reuther myth is the story of what he did to prevent the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) from being seated at the 1964 Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City. This story is close to my heart. I was director of Freedom Schools in the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. I saw the effect of what happened in Atlantic City on my associated in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), on the fragile interracial character of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, on the hopes we all shared for fundamental social change.
This story can be found in two recent books, neither of them anti-Reuther: Nelson Lichtenstein's biography of Reuther, The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit; and the second volume of Taylor Branch's work on the life and times of Dr. King, Pillar of Fire. For those interested in scholarly confirmation, I have brought copies of a newsletter that we publish in Youngstown which includes page citations for the various facts asserted.
At the UAW convention in March 1964, it was arranged that UAW general counsel Joseph Rauh would represent the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) at the national convention of the Democratic Party in August. The MFDP asserted that its delegates, rather than the segregationist "regular" Democrats from Mississippi, should be seated at the convention.
President Lyndon Johnson was determined to prevent this. He feared a walkout by Democratic delegates from other Southern states, as well as defections in the North, where George Wallace had taken more than 30 percent of the 1964 Democratic primary vote in Wisconsin, Maryland and Indiana.
Johnson discussed the Mississippi situation with Reuther on June 24 and 26. Whatever his previous views on the matter, Reuther adopted the president's agenda. Johnson expected Reuther to order Rauh out of the MFDP challenge.
MFDP prospects soared on August 22 when Fannie Lou Hamer testified before the convention credentials committee. Johnson called a meaningless press conference just to cut her off the air. The next day he telephoned Reuther, who was in the midst of bargaining with GM. Reuther broke off his Detroit talks, chartered an airplane, and rushed to Atlantic City. He arrived at 3:00 a.m. and spent the rest of the night with Hubert Humphrey (who wanted to be vice president), Walter Mondale, and White House operatives. They agreed that the MFDP would be required to accept a "compromise": the Mississippi regulars would continue as the official delegation and the MFDP would have two "at large" delegates named by Johnson. The two MFDP delegates acceptable to the White House were Aaron Henry, a black pharmacist associated with the NAACP, and Rev. Edwin King, the white chaplain of Tougaloo College.
At a midday meeting on August 24, exhausted MFDP partisans agreed to hold out for at least a number of seats equal to those of the regulars. Rauh was instructed to bargain for nothing less.
However, as Rauh approached the room where the credentials committee was meeting, he received a message to telephone Reuther. Reuther told Rauh: "Here's the decision. I am telling you to take this deal." Reuther added that if Rauh did not do what he was told, he would terminate Rauh's employment with the UAW. (Branch, p. 469; Lichtenstein, p. 394.)
Reuther was calling Rauh from Humphrey's bedroom suite, where Humphrey and Reuther were meeting with civil rights leaders. Reuther reminded Martin Luther King how much money the UAW had provided his organization. "Your funding is on the line," Reuther said to Dr. King. "The kind of money you got from us in Birmingham is there again for Mississippi, but you've got to help us and we've got to help Johnson." (Branch, p. 469; Lichtenstein, p. 394.)
At this meeting, Reuther told Robert Moses of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that Negroes who got the vote often misused it to elect irresponsible people. Humphrey told the group that Fannie Lour Hamer would be unacceptable as a delegate: "The President will not allow that illiterate woman to speak from the floor of the convention." (Branch. Pp469-470.)
The negotiations in Humphrey's bedroom dragged on. Meantime, at the convention center, the credentials committee accepted the so-called compromise. On the other side of the boardwalk, frantic knocks and cries of "It's over" caused participants in the meeting to move to the suite's TV set, on which Mondale was presenting the compromise to reporters as a finished deal.
Moses whirled to accuse Humphrey and Reuther. "You cheated!," he exclaimed, convinced that the two had held sham talks as a diversionary trick. Rauh recalled that Moses flinched from the settlement as from "a white man hitting him with w whip." (Branch, p. 470) He literally slammed the door on Hubert Humphrey. Fannie Lour Hamer told reporters, "We didn't come al this way for no two seats." (Lichtenstein, p. 395.)
The next morning, the MFDP delegation gathered again to see if anyone had had second thoughts and wanted to accept the compromise. Rauh, Senator Wayne Morse, Aaron Henry, Bayard Rustin, and others urges acceptance of the compromise. Dr.King was neutral. All three MFDP candidates for Congress -- Victoria Gray, Annie Devine, and Fannie Lou Hamer -- as well as Bob Moses and other SNCC staff, opposed the deal. "We're not here to bring politics to our morality," Moses said, "but to bring morality to our politics." Moses was one of many civil rights workers who felt that Atlantic City was a bitter turning point for the Mississippi movement and all of American politics. (Branch, pp. 473-475)
Meantime, Walter Reuther flew to Washington DC and had an 80-minute talk with President Johnson. He told Johnson that Martin Luther King would campaign for LBJ among Negroes. (Branch, p. 474.)
Lichtenstein sums up as follows: "[T]he legacy of this work would roll on and on. For SNCC and the generation for whom it spoke, there was an enormous sense of betrayal that extended from Johnson, Humphrey, and Reuther at the top to all those well-established civil rights advocates. Like Rauh, Rustin, and Wilkins, who had advocated MFDP acquiescence."
In the bitter debate that consumed Movement circles, Lichtenstein goes on, Reuther became the symbol of "realpolitik" and the devious use of power. Bayard Rustin argued for a broad Reutherite coalition, saying: "We must think of our friends in labor, Walter Reuther and the others, who have gone to bat for us. If we reject this compromise we would be saying to them that we didn't want their help." Moses, as Jim Forman recalled it, replied: "He didn't want anyone telling him down in Mississippi about Walter Reuther needing help, Reuther hadn't come to Mississippi." (Lichtenstein, p. 395)
It is instructive to remember the experience of Joseph Rauh, a decent man who tried to serve two masters, The Atlantic City convention cost Rauh the trust of both Bob Moses (Branch, p. 472) and Walter Reuther (Lichtenstein, p. 395). Looking back Rauh said of Atlantic City: "Reuther always thinks he knows more than anybody else when he gets into a fight like this....Walter Reuther mad the greatest mistake of his life." (Lichtenstein, pp. 394, 395.)
Before trying to sum up this discussion of self-activity, let me make one quick further point. We have in mind the emergence of an international resistance to capitalist globalization. It is tempting to suppose that the evils of bureaucratic business unionism in North America have been avoided by more radical, socially-minded union movements in South Korea, or Brazil, or South Africa. May I voice a concern that we not suppose these pastures greener than our own? Professor Peter Rachleff of Macalester College in St. Paul has written an article, as I understand it soon to be published in Labour/Le Travaille, wherein he describes and analyzes a strike in winter 1999-2000 at a Volkswagen plant in Uitenhage, outside Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Sadly, his heavily-documented story is one all too familiar to activists on this side of the Atlantic. The company demanded the so-called flexibility required to remain competitive in a global economy: continuous run production, compulsory overtime without advance notice, 12-hour shifts and 70-hour workweeks, and so on. The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) agreed to all these changes without giving the workers an opportunity to vote them up or down. New shop stewards organized in protest. NUMSA suspended the stewards. Hundreds, eventually thousands of workers wildcatted on their behalf, and formed a crisis committee made up of representatives from nine local plants. The Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) supported NUMSA, as did President Mbeki. Rachleff details at length what he calls "a widening gap...between leaders and members in unions."
So what is the difference between the path of our labor movement Founding Fathers, like John L. Lewis and Walter Reuther, and the path that many of us are trying to walk today?
Those in the tradition of the Founding Fathers are preoccupied with taking power in national unions. Local union office is seen as a stepping stone. The rhetoric is of "taking back our union," when, in reality, no national union -- not the Miners, not the Auto Workers, not the Steelworkers, not the Teamsters -- has ever been controlled by its rank and file.
The other path takes its inspiration from the astonishing recreation from below throughout the past century of ad hoc central labor bodies: the local workers' councils known as "soviets" in Russia in 1905 and 1917; the Italian factory committees of the early 1920s; the solidarity unions in Toledo, Minneapolis, San Francisco and elsewhere in the States in the early 1930s; and similar formations in Hungary in 1956, Poland in 1980-1981, and France in 1968 and 1995.
These were all horizontal gatherings of all kinds of workers in a given locality, who then form regional and national networks with counterpart bodies elsewhere. Unlike national trade unions, local unions can provide continuity between the moments when such ad hoc bodies come out of the ground like mushrooms, and indeed -- to vary the metaphor -- have the potential to be more important building blocks and organizing centers for more spontaneous formations. This is what workers do when they are truly emancipating themselves. It is the participatory democracy of the 1960s alive and well in the movement of the new century.

2. Fraternizing With The Troops
Much more briefly, let me touch on the other two principles proposed.
Seeking to win over the armed forces responds to the question, What do we do about the fact that the other side will always have more weapons?, and offers the simple answer, We seek to won over or neutralize the soldiers. This goes for police officers, including the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia; for prison guards; for self-appointed deputies like members of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi; and for members of each nation's armed forces, We don't call them "pigs" or "fascists." We try to understand them as human beings.
This practice has three ideological variations. The first is pacifism, broadly defined. At the Pentagon demonstration in October 1967, a man who had named himself "Superjoel" relates:
I was between Abbie [Hoffman] and Dr. Spock. We're walking up on the grounds of the Pentagon. And on top of this pile of trash there's this bunch of flowers, daisies, right. I grabbed them. I saw these soldiers and they're all standing there, and they were my age. So I just took the flowers and one by one, boom, boom, boom, put 'em in the gun barrels.
(Steal This Dream: Abbie Hoffman and the Countercultural Revolution in America, ed. Larry Sloman, p.99.)
The crowd began to call out to the troops, "Join us!" More than three years later, on May 3, 1970, a student at Kent State University named Allison Krause -- one of the four students killed the next day -- put a flower in the gun barrel of a National Guardsman, saying: "Flowers are better than bullets." These events signified a change in the attitude of the anti-war movement toward the GIs, whose refusal to fight would ultimately bring the war to an end. A second strain of ideology that calls for fraternization with the armed forces derives form Vatican II and liberation theology. Its most celebrated exemplar was Archbishop Oscar Romero. On March 23, 1980, Romero delivered a homily in which he addressed the Salvadoran armed forces and stated:
Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your brother peasants....No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God. Now it is time for you to recover your consciences so that you first obey conscience rather than a sinful order....In the name of God, then, in the name of this suffering people, whose cries rise to the heavens, every day more tumultuously, I ask you, I beg, I order you in the name of God, stop the repression.
The next day Romero paid for these words with his life.
The third ideological tradition that calls for doing everything possible to win over the armed forces is Marxism. Leon Trotsky, after the triumph of the Red Army which he commanded, discussed this theme in his History of the Russian Revolution as it applied both to the revolution of February 1917, which overthrew the Tsar, and to the Bolshevik revolution the next fall.
Trotsky sketched the February events along lines that later scholarship has only confirmed. On February 23, International Women's Day, "the February revolution was begun from below, overcoming the resistance of its own revolutionary organizations, the initiative being undertaken on their own accord by the most oppressed and downtrodden part of the proletariat -- the women textile workers, among them no doubt many solders' wives." (History, v.1, p. 102.) Detachments of soldiers were called in to assist the police, but there were no encounters.
The next day, February 24, the number of demonstrators doubled. As the crowd moved toward the center of Petrograd, injured soldiers in some of the war hospitals waved whatever has at hand in support. At length the crowd stood face to face with mounted troops, the Cossacks. The Cossacks charged repeatedly. The crowd parted to let them through. "The Cossacks promise not to shoot," passed from mouth to mouth.
It was very much in the streets of Petrograd as it would be eighty-two years later in the road at Amador.
When women and soldiers faced each other on the turbulent streets, old women at the head of the demonstration stepped toward the mounted soldiers, pleading: "We have our husbands, fathers, and brothers at the front. But here we have hunger, hard times, injustice, shame. The government mocks us instead of helping us. You also have your mothers, wives, sisters, and children. All we want is bread and to end the war." According to Trotsky, the women went "up to the cordons more boldly than men, [took] hold of the rifles, beseech[ed], almost command[ed]: 'Put down your bayonets--join us'." Again and again the Cossacks refused to ride down the demonstrating women, in the most famous incident disregarding four direct orders. (History, v. 1, p. 109; Tsuyoshi Takegawa, The February Revolution: Petrograd, 1917, chaps, 12-13.)
And what about Serbia? There one saw last fall what can fairly be called a nonviolent revolution. A political movement won an election. When the incumbent regime initially refused to recognize the election results, an outraged populace poured into the streets. On the evening of Friday September 29 the coal miners of the Kolubara region, who produce the coal required for half of Serbia's output of electricity, declared an indefinite general strike. The general in charge of the armed forces, and police from the Interior Ministry, showed up on Tuesday October 3 and Wednesday October 4. The miners adopted a dual strategy. On the one hand, they removed vital parts from the mine machinery and challenged the soldiers to mine coal with bayonets. On the other hand, they summoned 20,000 supporters from nearby communities. The police held their ground but made no arrests. The next day, Thursday October 5, hundreds of thousands of people in Belgrade--forty miles away--seized the parliament and the state TV station, and the police in Kolubara melted away. The Kolubara strike was coordinated not by a "trade union," but by a "workers' committee." All over Serbia following Kostunica's accession to power, local committees of workers displaced hated factory managers. I realize that a cynic might say that this was a transition from socialism to capitalism, not the other way around. But surely, Serbia also shows us that fundamental social transition, revolution, remain possible in the 21st century, and that neutralizing the armed forces by mass nonviolent direct action can be a critical component of the process.

3. Building A Community Of Struggle
Finally, and still with desperate brevity, I invite you to look at the most difficult problem of all: building a community of struggle.
During the past fifty years, my wife and I have been associated with a commune in the hills of Georgia where we expected to spend the rest of our lives; with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Students for a Democratic Society; with the work community of a Legal Services office, where I was employed for eighteen years; and with three large local unions led by persons who were, if not radicals, at least militant reformers. Every one of these entities went out of existence or continued, after internal struggle, as a two-dimensional caricature of its former self. And in every case the reason for the disintegration or decay of the community of struggle was that the human beings who made it up could not resolve their problems with each other, could not remain, as we used to say in the South, a band of brothers and sisters standing in a circle of love. It wasn't COINTELPRO, the FBI, or Ronald Reagan that did us in. We did it to ourselves.
In the case of the commune, the issue was whether we had all to believe in the same religious creed in order to resolve deep personal problems. SNCC and SDS fractured, I believe, under the combined pressure of: 1) the emergence of black power, 2) the frustrations of trying to end the war in Vietnam, 3) the advent of Marxist grouplets confident that they had all the answers and we did not. With all three local unions, it was a matter of personalities in each reform slate splitting over issues connected with the next election.
I wish I could believe that these were problems confined to the United States. I fear they are not. Look at the Russian Revolution. Look at the Cultural Revolution in China. Look at Polish Solidarity. Even in Canada, it may be that you have occasionally experienced what I am trying to describe: the apparentlessly [sic] limitless capacity of the Left for self-destruction and fratricide. A resistance movement against globalization, it would seem, must have some response to these intractable evils.
My own response is still very much in process, but let me share it, such as it is. I think there is a difficulty with the concept of "organizing." No doubt most of us would piously reject the idea of a Leninist vanguard party. But the concept of "organizing" that most of us might applaud also tends to be vanguardist. The organizer says--does he or she not?--"I know what you ought to think, or at a minimum, what organization you should join and pay dues to." There is an inequality form the outset between the organizer and the organizee. Moreover, given that inequality, as well as the inequality between the organizer and the supervisor to whom he or she reports, there is less listening and consensual problem-solving than there should be, resentments are not expressed and fester, and individual careerism comes to the fore at the first opportunity.
In Latin American--for example, once again, in the work of Archbishop Romero --there is the different concept of "accompaniment." I do not organize you. I accompany you, or more precisely, we accompany each other. Implicit is this notion of "accompanando" is the assumption that neither of us has a complete map of where our path will lead. In the words of Antonio Machado: "Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar." "Seeker, there is no road, We make the road by walking."
Accompaniment has been, in the experience of myself and my wife, a discovery and a guide to practice. Alice first formulated it as a draft counselor in the 1960s. When draft counselor meets counselee, she came to say, there are two experts in the room. One may be an expert on the law and administrative regulations. The other is an expert on what he wants to do with his life. Similarly as lawyers, in our activity with workers and prisoners, we have come to prize above all else the experience of past success and failure. We too bring something to the table. I do not wish to be indecently immodest, but I will share that I treasure beyond any honorary degree actual or imagined the nicknames that Ohio prisoners have given the two of us: "Mama Bear" and "Scrapper."
I have begun to wonder whether the concept of "accompaniment," in addition to clarifying the desirable relationship of individuals in the movement for social change to one another, also has application to the desirable relationship of groups. A great deal of energy has gone into defining the proper relationship in the movement for social change of workers and students; blacks and whites; men and women; straights and gays; gringos, ladinos and indigenos; and no doubt, English-speakers and French-speakers .An older wave of radicalism struggled with the supposed leading role of the proletariat. More recently other kinds of division have preoccupied us. My question is, what would it do to this discussion were we to say that we are all accompanying one another on the road to a better society?
I came to this notion in an interesting way. Marty Glaberman, an honored friend and colleague, kept telling me that the fullest expression of spontaneous workers' councils was the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and that the best book describing them was Hungary '56 by Andy Anderson. Finally he sent me the book. I read it. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but the following:

At the 20th Congress of the Russian Communist Party in February 1956, Khrushchev denounced the misdeeds of Stalin. In April 1956, Hungarian students formed the Petofi Circle, named for a patriotic poet of the 19th century. "Soon, the meetings of the Petofi Circle were attracting thousands of people." The issue was freedom to speak and write the truth. As of September 1956, protest was still in the hands of intellectuals. The demonstrations that became a revolution in October were organized by the Petofi Circle and other student groups. Workers joined in, magnificently, with far-reaching demands. But students came first.
This information set something free inside myself. For twenty-five years I have been conscientiously pursuing the project of accompanying the working class. But in my former incarnation, in the 1960s, it was students who sat in at a Woolworth lunch counter to kick off the civil rights movement of the following decade, and it was students who first went out into the streets against the war. Workers opposed the war just as strongly as did middle-class constituencies. Working-class soldiers, black and white, ultimately refused to fight and ended it. But as in Hungary in 1956, so in the 1960s -- not only in the United States, but also for example in France in 1968 -- students came first.
Having begun to see examples of this sequencing, I started to find it everywhere. In Russia throughout the year 1904 protest was voiced at a doctor's congress, at a conference of teachers, at a series of banquets organized by liberals. At Father Gapon's meetings with workers the demand was voiced: "Workers must join the campaign against the autocracy." The decision to present a petition to the Tsar, which led to "Bloody Sunday" in January 1905 and thus to the beginning of the 1905 revolution, was made in Gapon's apartment on November 28, 1904, "the evening after a bloody assault by soldiers on student demonstrators." ("Russia: 1905," in A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, ed. Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, pp. 21-24.) Only in the fall of 1905, almost a year after rolling general strikes began to spread across Russia, was the so-called soviet formed in St. Petersburg. And where did it meet? According to its chairman, Trotsky, in the universities. "The doors of the universities," he writes, had "remained wide open....'The people' filled the corridors, lecture rooms and halls. Workers went directly from the factory to the university." The first meeting of the soviet was held on the evening of October 13, 1905, at the Technological Institute. The second meeting the next night had to be moved to the physics auditorium of the same institution. Trotsky says that on that evening "the higher educational establishments were overflowing with people." (1905, pp 83-84, 105, 108.)
Why do students so often come first? One can speculate. To whatever extent Gramsci is right about the hegemony of bourgeois ideas, students and other intellectuals break through it: they give workers the space to think and experience for themselves. Similarly the defiance of students may help workers to overcome whatever deference they may be feeling toward supposed social superiors.
I want to conclude by affirming my hope for the rebirth of the movement for social change in the United States. George W. Bush may do for us what we have been unable to do for ourselves since the collapse of SDS and SNCC at the end of the 1960s. He may organize a new Movement. Protest against the death penalty, against George W. Bush as executioner extraordinaire, and against the institutionalized racism of the United States penal system, will be a leading edge of the new Movement. Old issues, such as the right to vote and gender equality, will reintroduce themselves in the context of resistance to the doctrinaire neo-liberalism and lack of compassion of the Bush administration. Students, workers, women, and prisoners will all be involved.
It will be a vast, ragged coalition full of cross currents and internal contradictions, Unions like the Steelworkers and the Teamsters may be in the streets on occasion, as in Seattle, because they wish to protect the livelihoods of their members from imported steel and Mexican truck drivers. Appearances notwithstanding, this is not international class solidarity and does not express concern for what happens to workers in other countries. Yet for countless individuals who were in the streets with one another, the jubilant shared experience of "turtles and Teamsters together at last" was real, and expressed the spirit of accompaniment I have been trying to describe.
Hopefully, then, as social transformation once again comes onto the agenda in the United States, new networks of solidarity will spring into being between our movement and the struggle of Local 3903 at York University and Local 598 in Falconbridge; between our movement and your resistance to a private prison at Penetanguishene; between our movement and the work of Marion Traub-Warner and others to protect Nike workers at the Kuk-Dong garment factory in Mexico; between our movement and current efforts to reinvest in your health care system; between our movement and the Fathers Day Coalition for Peace at the Hamilton Air Show; between our movement and the folks from all over the world who will gather on the Plains of Abraham in April and, for Desert Scorn, in November in Quatar.

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