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A Brief History of the Workers' Solidarity Alliance

category north america / mexico | anarchist movement | review author Sunday August 07, 2005 13:52author by Mitch - W.S.A.author email wsany at hotmail dot comauthor address 339 Lafayette Street - Room 202, NY NY 10012 Report this post to the editors

I am submiting this in part, as historical backgound, to help understand the origins of a part of the US anarchist movement. Quite a few of us continue adhere to the traditional principles of anarcho-communism, while also adhering to the best traditions of anarcho-syndicalism as well.

In part the anarchist communist movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s in the US and Canada was very much a twining of anarchist communism and anarcho-syndicalism. Our initial efforst were a clear break with "counter-culturalism", non-class struggle and and anti-organizational anarchism.

This was best expressed in the formation of the Anarchist-Communist Federation of North America (ACF, 1978 to 1982.Aims and Principles: http://www.anarco-nyc.net/history/history8.html ).

I hope in the near future to write an article on one participants view of the ACF. But for now, please accept this article.

I am submiting this in part, as historical backgound, to help understand the origins of a part of the US anarchist movement. Quite a few of us continue adhere to the traditional principles of anarcho-communism, while also adhering to the best traditions of anarcho-syndicalism as well.

In part the anarchist communist movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s in the US and Canada was very much a twining of anarchist communism and anarcho-syndicalism. Our initial efforst were a clear break with "counter-culturalism", non-class struggle and and anti-organizational anarchism.

This was best expressed in the formation of the Anarchist-Communist Federation of North America (ACF, 1978 to 1982.Aims and Principles: http://www.anarco-nyc.net/history/history8.html ).

I hope in the near future to write an article on one participants view of the ACF. But for now, please accept this article.

The W.S.A.'s Origins

Some members of the WSA can trace their roots to the 1974 effort to establish an
anarcho-syndicalist "Committee of correspondence for an anarcho-syndicalist liaison group". In
their June 2, 1974 circular the Committee established its basic approach to moving forward. The
Committee was to be the "clear expression of syndicalist principles in the face of 'do your own
thing' anarchist movement drifting away from [the] class struggle'." We, therefore, wanted to
clearly establish an organization that was both structured and accountable. Another aim of the
Committee was to form a US Section of the International Workers Association (IWA).

Although the Committee effort did not immediately succeed, new contacts were made and a new and
mainly younger generation of anarcho-syndicalists began to come together. Further contacts and
networks were also established through involvement in the Anarchist Communist Federation of
North America (ACF, 1978-1981), the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and various workplace
campaigns. Many of the founding members of the Workers Solidarity Alliance met and worked
together during this time.

In 1978 the New York City based Libertarian Workers Group (now NY-NJ WSA) affiliated to the IWA.
Soon to follow was the Syndicalist Alliance (SA) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to the
former IWA Secretary General Fidel Gorron Canoyra, we became the "first [US] IWA section in the
history of the IWA."

While a formal "national" anarcho-syndicalist organization was not formed until 1984, a network
of anarcho-syndicalists decided began to work together. By 1981 we came together to publish an
explicitly anarcho-syndicalist magazine titled "ideas & action". "ideas & action" later went on
to become the magazine of the WSA.

Also during this period we worked with like-minded folks on the US and Canadian newspaper
"Strike!" and the informal network publishing it. The informal "Strike!" network also engaged in
some activities aside from publishing the paper. These mainly consisted of various solidarity
campaigns in the US, Canada and abroad. Our internationalism has always been strong and we
engaged in many internationalist activities.

During this time period, many Latin American countries were under US supported military
dictatorships. A number of these countries also had a rich tradition of anarchist or
anarcho-syndicalist activity as well. Given our own proximity to Latin America, we cooperatively
set up the Libertarian Aid to Latin American Workers (LALAW) committees with others in the
"Strike!" network. Our various LALAW committees worked on a number of campaigns and published an
impressive journal "No Middle Ground".

Additionally some of our members, mainly in the New York area, were also engaged in activities
in support of the underground struggles of workers to establish independent unions in the former
"socialist" East Europe, as well a trying to organize the Needle Trades Workers Action Committee
of rank-and-file workers. Members in West Virginia were particularly focused on the coal
industry and rising unemployment and its effects on the rural coal mining communities.
Californian members were active with publishing tasks, community activities and workplace
outreach and activity mainly in the emerging high tech sector. [It is also worthwhile noting
that it was the WSA that first made contact with the anarcho-syndicalist Awareness League in
Nigeria and recently donated it the equipment to set up its own radio station in Enugu! So the
WSA's internationalism has had a strong African connection, too - note by ZACF international
secretary]

During this time period, the main areas of network activity consisted of distributing various
informational leaflets, newsletters, newspaper and magazine ("On The Line" in NYC, "Strike!" and
"ideas & action"), and solidarity activities. Network participants were also involved in their
workplaces, labor unions, on picket lines and in various social issues and student movements.
Particular attention and focus was also given to anti-militarist and anti-nuclear power and
weapons struggles as well.

These events bring us to the period preceding the formation of the W.S.A. in November 1984.

A Brief History of the W.S.A.

2004 marked the 20th anniversary of the W.S.A. Never a large organization, we have always made up for it in spirit.

Originally a network of anarcho-syndicalistsand class struggle anti-authoritarians in the early
1980s. The network included the magazine "ideas & action", began in 1981, and the Libertarian
Workers Group organized in New York City in the 1970s.

It was flexible in its approach to workplace organizing, which was integrated into the WSA when
it was founded in New York City in November 1984. Identifying with the syndicalist tradition,
the WSA affiliated with the International Workers Association in 1984 - until recently. However,
the WSA continues to be sympathetic to the traditions and Principles of the IWA.

Although the WSA's main strategic focus is on the labor movement, the WSA also believes that a
working class-based movement needs to be broadly based in working class communities, not just in
the workplaces, and that the movement needs to be anti-racist, anti-sexist, and internationalist
in character. These concerns are expressed in the WSA's "Where We Stand" statement developed in
the 1980s.

Surely the WSA can not claim credit for the adaptation of other workers' organizations
alternative approaches to workplace and community organizing. On the other hand, we have seen
others draw similar conclusions as we have in developing a variety of alternative and
self-managed movements and ideas. Many very similar to the ideas we envision and have been
advocating for. Examples of this can be seen in the growth of workers centers; the concept of
"solidarity unionism"; "flying picket squads"; independent organizing against sweatshop
conditions and other forms of workers themselves organizing on their own and in their own name.

Related Link: http://www.workersolidarity.org

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Thanks     Andrew    Fri Aug 12, 2005 22:52 
   History     Mitch    Sat Aug 13, 2005 13:15 
   Nefac & WSA     James    Sat Aug 20, 2005 11:06 
   ...     Nicolas Phébus    Sun Aug 21, 2005 22:13 
   differences...     MaRK    Tue Aug 23, 2005 01:26 
   Just briefly this time     mitch    Tue Aug 23, 2005 13:20 
   more on WSA     Tom Wetzel    Tue Aug 23, 2005 14:47 
   November 2014, W.S.A. Celebrates 30 years     Syndicalist    Mon Sep 15, 2014 08:29 
   November 2014, W.S.A. Celebrates 30 years!     Syndicalist    Mon Sep 15, 2014 08:35 
 10   WSA recollections     Syndicalist    Sun Sep 28, 2014 03:19 
 11   W.S.A: the past has never looked brighter!     Alexander Selkirk    Fri Mar 30, 2018 00:59 


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