The farse in Barakaldo

Without knowing more details about the meeting behind closed doors that went on in Barakaldo, I would offer a few commments. First, to set the record clear, regardless of other matters, I have supported some of the work conflicts of some of the organizations present and wouldn't mind more solidarity. However, there are other issues involved with this meeting which overshadow these questions. As various comrades from the CNTE have claimed, there was no CNT Congress decision to boycott the IWA Congress and to hold a „refounding conference” in Spain. This is of major importance to assess the situation of this new and supposedly „improved” gathering of those acting as if they are saving anarchosyndicalism.

Anarchosyndicalism is different than syndicalism or unionism in one major aspect: the decisions are supposed to be made from the bottom up and delegates are supposed to be mandated by the organizations. Although we see in practice that some understand a mandate in a much broader way, the idea is that the base of the organization are presented proposals, discuss, make decisions and expect those who bring the decisions to outside meetings to faithfully represent those decisions made.

With that as a basis, the decision to break the federal statutes of the International Workers Association and try to refound it, cutting out most of the member sections in the process, is bad enough. What is worse it that after the XI Congress of the CNTE, the rank and file membership are being kept out of this process. No agenda for the meeting in Barakaldo was approved by the CNTE membership and the only proposals for the future of the IWA actually accepted at any Congress where those which were supposed to go to the real IWA Congress next week.

Rather than being a process that the base of the CNT is involved with, we see another instance of a handful of CNT leaders sitting behind closed doors. So it will literally mean that many more members of the CNT will be in Warsaw, at the IWA Congress, than at the so-called refounding.(Which, by the way, the leaders of the parallel initiative threaten to expel unions for. So it seems that the "freedom" to associate with whoever they want does not extend to those who associate with federatIon they belong to.)

Another point that should be mentioned in the category of farse were the claims by some, made in private and in certain public forums, that this is some sort of „international solidarity conference” and not related to any refounding of the IWA. The CNT had at first invited some organizations to the „refounding”, then changed the invitation and called it an international conference of anarchosyndicalists. Then, in the days before the conference, started a media campaign in Spain about the organizations coming to „refound” the IWA.

Of course we need to take into account the fact that probably most of the organizations in attendance have no decision of their organization to join a parallel IWA. At most, we were explained by some, people went to observe, find up what's up and report back. Compare that reality to the fact that the Secretaries of the CNT announced this as a refounding conference to all of Spain.

It is unfortunately these types of tactics that leave quite a number of people in the CNTE unaware of what's actually going on. As far as many are now concerned, these outside organizations are in the refoundation committee.

On the local level, we are also aware of the fact that a representative of another organization from this country went to the meeting – without any vote inside the organization to attend. And they don't have to get a vote, because the National Commission decides these things. These types of practices have had many consequences in the local scene. Several people in my organization were among the founders of that organization but we left because of this type of top-down mentality. I concretely left when that group inside that „federation” contravened the Congress decisions and legalized the entire organization, adopting statutes that nobody but they discussed, which gave powers to the Chairperson (which nobody but they elected), among others, to join any international federation he likes.

It is absolutely clear, that the above type of practices have nothing in common with anarchosyndicalism, anarchism or even democratic unionism. Barakaldo was apparently the place where a few leaders of organizations, acting without a specific mandate, met with others, along with some others who are apparently not too interested in such details.

Clearly, some are motivated by what they (mistakenly) think are moves to unite all revolutionary syndicalists, despite the fact, as I pointed out before, that not all were really invited, nor were others coming. We see that this has prompted some others, like base unionists in Italy, to also deem this a farse – although for slightly different reasons.

In the meanwhile, local activists from the organization in attendance, who did not even know they were refounding the international which other people in this country actually belong to (and which their organization spent years criticizing), find themselves caught unaware about the potential problems they face. Despite the huge differences in organizational practice, in some cities (where the members are not from political parties or running in elections with fascists), people at least try to get along and co-exist. None of these actions, taken from above, without proper discussion and voting, help anybody to build any mutual understanding.

Somebody recently commented that it looks like this was more of an attempt to destroy the current IWA than anything else. I would say thanks for the concern, but the IWA will survive. Its future health though will depend on whether more of its member Sections manage to get down to business. But that comment has, sadly, some truth to it.

Dodaj nową odpowiedź

Zawartość tego pola nie będzie udostępniana publicznie.


  • Adresy www i e-mail są automatycznie konwertowane na łącza.
  • Możesz używać oznaczeń [inline:xx] żeby pokazać pliki lub obrazki razem z tekstem.
  • Dozwolone znaczniki HTML: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <small>
  • Znaki końca linii i akapitu dodawane są automatycznie.