Monument to Fools

English

On April 1, a friend wrote an good April Fool's article for this anarchist service. 1 Like all good April Fools' jokes, the article had to look plausible and people should be fooled by it. The „news” that some anarchists had gone into an electoral coalition was realistic enough to make the joke effective. Unfortunately. Because the facts are that there are people we were making protests with one day, who became candidates the next and that in Warsaw one of the most influential people on the „anarchist scene” recently ran for the Senate. And as we speak, some self-styled anarchists are trying to get some lists together for the upcoming elections.

The article thus was not only an April Fool's joke, but for those of us disgusted with this situation, a way to make a criticsm without naming names and unleashing the furry of the reformist troll army.

On April 1, I also came across something interesting: a (new?) pamphlet about joining the „alternative” union, Workers' Initiative. At first I thought it might also be an April Fool's joke – because a lot of the stuff inside it was so obviously untrue, that it read like a good satire. However I quickly recognized a well-known pattern of bullshit and came to the conclusion that, no, it was not meant to be a joke. Nor was it published just for April Fools. Rather than being for April Fools, it is just for fools, or people made fools by the misleading information. A monument to fools, so to say.

What are some of the points in the brochure which don't match up with the facts. The first two things are the claims that they „avoid bureaucracy, don't have professional unionists and are independent of bosses, governments and political parties”.

The first chairman of the union infamously was a member of the management board of the Ciegelski company in Poznan. 2 2 For such work, board members are entitled to extra remuneration and „motivational bonuses” if the company is more profitable. And during disability or retirement, very high pay, like the other board members. It is hard to imagine that a union which started its legal activity in such a way can claim to be „independent of bosses and bureaucracy”. The bureaucratic element was put into the statutes of the union, giving the chairman sole powers to do things such as join international federations. (This „power” has been since moved from the chairman to the national committee.) But the definition of a union bureaucrat is a person who has executive power such as this, and, as a member of the management board, he also had discretionary power that did not need to be consulted even with his minority union – let alone the whole staff.

Those aboard the ship of fools might argue that „this was a long time ago”, etc. etc. This type of retort to these criticisms are commonplace. However, at the same time that this union claims to not have professional unionists, the official page of the union prints instructions on how to get „union hours” at work. 4 For those not aware of the system, this means that union leaders who have a certain number of members can take hours off from work for „union business” and will be paid. The amount of union hours is determined by the membership rate. The Polish term used in the brochure „etatowy związkowcy” means the people who do not work their full time or any time, because they do „union business” all or part of the day. The union who is marketing itself as not having „professionals”, instructs its members how to get paid for doing union work. In addition, it does something that we haven't seen others do. It also says that if there are not enough workers in some place, you can make an inter-company union and the leaders of that can take hours. And even people from the National Committee and editors of the newspaper can get time off work.

This is the first big contradiction between what they write and want they do. In their brochure they say that the majority of their commissions (groups) do not use the offices or phones of the bosses and or not professionals. This could be true – after all, the many of the commission are just local groups, not workplace unions. And many of the unions are inter-company, without a minimal amount in one workplace, or with too few people to qualify for full-time professionalism. But anybody who reads this and thinks that this is related to the official tactics of this organization is being made a fool. If an organization doesn't believe in this, they can say that being on the management board is forbidden, that taking union hours is not allowed, etc. But they suggest just the opposite.

Returning to the topic of bureaucracy, a union bureaucrat is not only a person who gets paid. Bureaucrats are also people who make decisions. Any union which has a small executive organ which has wide ranging decision making powers has a bureaucracy.

About the claim of people independent of politicians, the jokers who wrote the brochure write that „people who fulfill functions in the union's national powers...cannot run for elections to the Parliament, Senate, Europarliament or President of Poland”. Knowing all the history behind this rule, it is hard to keep a straight face. First of all, let's look at their claims that they are something like „independent of politicians”. In fact, what the rules mean is that those in the Union's National Committee, etc. CAN run for Mayor, City Council, Local Council, Wójt (a local political office, hard to translate) soltyś (like a mayor of a small town), head of the Voivodship (region) and a number of other political offices that carry an incredible amount of power. The decision is part of the left-reformist ideology of the leading figures in the union who have for years been arguing for participation in local elections. According to them, all the other political positions are „devoid of real power” and that „on the local level, you can make a real difference”. Of course this is hogwash. Positions like President of Warsaw carry with them much more discretionary decision making ability than an MP, and well, if you DID believe in making a difference through being in government, then we can see that you can get more done at the higher level. For example, none of these people like Mayor, City Council person, etc. has any influence of the labour law, whereas people in the Parliament do. So the argument that workers' activists should run for City Council to „make a real difference” is completely devoid of logic.

Now if such a limitation is set on union leaders, what about on the regular members? Of course they have no limitations, not even if they were elected.

This is unfortunately not a theoretical question. A number of different members have been candidates at different times, using the union to promote themselves politically.

In 2007 we observed the first political spectacle, when an infamous member of the union, known for writing diatribes against anarchists in its official publication, took the number one spot on the list of the Self-Defense Party. http://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/ikonowicz-lokomotywa-samoobrony... It is important to know that not only is there nothing against doing so, but also there is no consideration of what party anybody is actually running with. The Party at this moment in time was infamous for a number of things including the coalition with fascists in the government and rape incidents. When a member of the Party was arrested in Brussels for rape, the leader of the Party laughed and said „how can anybody rape a prostitute”. The leader of the party went about promoting this guy's political campaign, paid his overdue rent bills and gave him a campaign manager: a well-known former neo-nazi who turned Euroasianist (also a form of fascist scum). "a href="http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1394946269" 8 9 When feminists publically upbraided the candidate for being with the rape apologist, he strongly defended him as not being a sexist.

What was the reaction of the union to their member running for Parliament and going around with a rape apologist and a fascist? The reaction was that on the day before election day, the head of the union made a public appearance with the two, sitting on the panel of a conference. 10 Which was moderated by the questionable Okraska 11 and opened by Marek Jurek, an extreme right politician (whose new party was also running that year). 12
He is always attacking the limited abortion rights that women have in this country (for example if they have been raped or were victims of incest). Not only did the union not try to distance themselves from this, but instead their trolls spent most of their time harrassing anybody who criticized this.

The second incident at least drew more of a protest from inside the union. This time the union advertised the political campaign on the official webpage, publishing a bank account number where people could send money. The members of the union used it to promote themselves in local elections which they participated in with some nationalists. 14 Reading into the biography of one of the nationalists, member of the union, one could also find out that he was the owner of three driving schools. It is curious how the owner of driving schools in three different towns could also be a union member – but with that organization, clearly anything is possible.

At that point, the remaining decent anarchists made a loud exit. 15 That doesn't mean that some anarchists still didn't stay there. They got convinced that this type of stuff is „normal” and some of them convince themselves that they are there like „boring within”, trying to „radicalize” it. Except it looks to me that those people just got to uphold the status quo.

Finally, to discuss „independence from politicians”, one can also look at the more recent Chung Hong conflict. Instead of immediately organizing actions around Poland and abroad against Samsung (whom the factory was producing for) the union made just a couple of small actions – some of them actually made by our union, not theirs. Instead, the head of the union went with the workers to the Sejm for a press conference with the Speaker (Vice Marshall) of the Parliament. 16 17 There she did her PR bullshit – and nothing happened for the workers. Some time later, workers were asked what they were planning – but they were doing nothing but waiting to see if some politicians would help them.

It is amazing to consider such actions as having anything in common with „independence from politicians” and the union did almost nothing and put the fate of the workers in the politicians and (for a couple) in the courts.

The brochure also says that the union defends workers rights „without compromise”. OK – that is our slogan. And they do it without going „over the heads of the workers”. But how true is that? First, it is interesting to know that workers actually cannot defend themselves in court in that union – they have to be represented by a member of the National Committee. About not agreeing with bosses without the workers, we know of cases, like Chung Hong, where the chairman of the union was negotiating and where they even openly describe how the chairman changed the postulates during the negotiations. We also know of how they set up a new union in the town of Torun after we started with a work conflict there. 18 The freshly-baked unionists then went to „negotiate” with the boss and wound up signing a false statement claiming that all workers had been paid. In fact, many workers were not paid and this was just a result of people shitting in their pants when the boss threatened them. So the union that does not „go over the head of the workers” actually has signed off on the claims of workers who they didn't even represent.

One last inconsistency coming not so much from the brochure, but in general their propaganda. At the end it claims that it has been systemically developing the union. Well, that's true – we see that they have gained some new people here and there. However, let's look at the propaganda of success they have been pushing, especially since the time that our union was founded (2007). After the founding of our union, with a tiny group of activists around the country, that organization, which had no more than a few dozen activists and another few dozen on paper (including a long list of dead souls), started with amazing claims that it had over 2000 members. I remember quite interestingly the fooled guests arriving from different unions such as CGT, ESE, IWW and CNTF who sat down to an audience of less than 10 of that union's members to give a talk and the then chairman of the union claiming to have over 2000 members. It was a laugh, but even more laughable were the people from other countries who had existed for decades in countries with large social movements hearing how this paper organization from Poland was supposedly a bigger than most of them.

Such claims were repeated many times, usually by their small clique of not-so-anonymous trolls.

Nowadays they only claim a few hundred members, which is closer to the truth, if you include all the paper members. At least this is what some foreign comrades have been told recently. (Of course the numbers always do change depending on who you talk to.)

So the question is: did this union lose well over half its membership while it was „systematically building” or were they just bullshitting to everybody with their numbers for years? If you have been reading attentively, you can already figure it out.

For some the union may be a „leftist alternative”, but for others we can only look at it as a monument to fools for anybody who actually wanted to get away from bureaucracy, politicians or vertical structures and chose that organization wound up with something very different and are just riding on the placebo effect.

For the international

For the international audience: That text have never been published in Polish. Why? As very few people in Poland believe the author after all those years. This text was designed for the internatioanl reader who is not familiar with the local polictical context. Don't get mislead: think for yourself, ask directly if you have questions, don't support hate speech and black-and-red dog fights.

There are many texts in

There are many texts in Polish like this http://cia.media.pl/oswiadczenie_ip_slask_w_zwiazku_z_udzialem_lubuskiej... and there are many facts which are not mentioned in this text. For example, why u never mentioned that your member was candidate to the parlament is active member of PSL? http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/wiadomosci/1,114873,10275594,Wybory_2011__Ka... Veeeerryyyy easy to investigate.

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