This weekend, nearly 300 workers took over their factory at Republic Window and Door in Chicago. This type of Direct Action is not new, but has not been seen in the U.S., the hq of capitalism, since 1937. Oddly enough, it was the workers of GM who staged that event in '37, and who are now on the brink of collapse in Detroit, but it was the United Electrical Workers Union who took action in Chicago. Six members of the collective here took the charge and went to Chicago to be in support and solidarity with these workers. What we found when we arrived was simultaneously inspiring and enraging.
Upon arriving at the factory, we were greeted by a hundred or so workers of Republic, carrying signs and passing out hot Chocolate to the supporters, which consisted mostly at that time of local union #105 Construction Union, a few marxist/socialists and us. The anarchist response in Chicago was not to be found.
We left out after a couple of hours in the freezing rain, to head over to find the Weiser House, an anarchist collective living space in Chicago. After finding the collective, and being welcomed in with food and smiles, we were told of a radical library in town hosting a weekly radical thought meeting. We left the space and went to the factory again, where we stayed for another couple of hours, talking with workers and watching the media have a fit over the conditions. The rain began to pour down and the major media outlets were told that if they were going to get a statement from local congressman Guittierez (sp?) they would have to move the set-up inside. They whined and pouted as I laughed, being that I was obtaining media coverage on a cellphone, to be broadcast internationally that night, and their millions of dollars of equipment was being rendered useless as the make-up ran on the faces of their "in the trenches" reporters. They won and the conference was held outside the building where we learned that nothing was changing and the bank had pushed off meetings to the next day. Same story, "we'll work on our terms, not yours".
So we headed off to meet up at the leiken radical library, where we encountered around a hundred anarchists, gathering for food and to watch a film about a factory take-over, called "The Take". It is a great film by Naomi Klein which covers the take-over of factories in Argentina. Problem here is, none of these anarchists were at the factory, but gathered to watch a film about the taking over a factory instead. I addressed the crowd and felt that there would be a critical response the next day.
Later that night, we returned to the Weiser house for some great conversation nd critique, and wonderful hospitality of the folks there. Thanks to them for that.
We were woken in the morning by a desperate plea for help, the factory was being raided! the report said. We quickly mobilized to the factory where there was no police raid, rather a gathering of interfaith church goers, there for a program they had organized. Problem here is, there is a factory take-over and these people had gathered for a program with THEIR agenda. I rose to speak at this gathering and was quickly silenced by the church. Nothing changes, these groups have historically come out for the cameras and pray holding hands at actions, then abruptly leave when the cameras are turned off. This is a vulture tactic used to appear to be in solidarity, but to remain safely removed from any movement that is there. Not only was I censored by the church, but the church had some other support....the local anarchists.
I was told that I was inappropriate for speaking "out of line" and that I was exerting "white male privilege" by speaking. No other resistance came against those claims, only bowed heads and silence from the small, very small group of anarchists that came. The person that called for the gathering under the distress signal of "raid" wasno whjere to be found, and the locals all split when the church group left. This is not to say that local wobblies were not there, they were, and Neil, a local wob, radical and seasoned veteran of action, brought drums, black flags and energy, but was not met with much support from anyone else.
This is meant to be a critical analysis of our lack of cohesion in movement today. This is not to say that anarchists are not doing good things, rather that when there is a calling for action, there does not seem to be much support if it is not within their realm of what is "good action". This is ridiculous. These workers started the flame and said repeatedly that they hoped this would be the catalyst for more action, and they were left hanging. They ended with recieving payment fromt he banks and bosses, and the action has, as of yet, been left to be singular. There was scattered action around the country that took place, ranging from strike lines at banks and actions against them, but mostly it is still unseen as being what it could have been, the beginning of real shift in power structure and worker/non-worker revolt.
This Saturday, at 5 PM, there is an emergency meeting in St. Louis, at Black Bear Bakery, where we will discuss how to move this forward. I would implore all who can, to be there.
Meanwhile, Greece has been in upheaval since a pig killed a kid last week. The events there are an inspiration and a call to arms for the world over, to begin to finally stop asking and start taking back our lives. With these events taking place, both Greece and Chicago, I feel that there is a calling to take action here, and up the fight against capitalism.
Our inability to mobilize, with all of the technology we now have, is sickening. In 1886, there was an incident at a small factory in Chicago, where pigs killed a few workers, and overnight thousands of fliers were printed and distributed and the nex day whousand of workers showed up to incite what we now know as "the Haymarket Affair". Without further action by us, this latest activity in Chicago will be seen as a small blow for labour, but a victory for capitalism. Let's not let this stop here.