Last Thursday night, workers for Serious Materials in Chicago occupied their factory. The night before, Occupy Philly’s Education and Training Working Group held a meeting of its ten-week “Dissecting Capitalism” workshop, at the Lancaster Avenue Autonomous Space. Viewpoint editor Salar Mohandesi spoke on the topic “Contemporary Labor and Workplace Struggles,” along with Sean West Wispy, an organizer at Occupy Philly with experience in the labor movement.
On January 8th, 1912, the business and property owners of the San Diego Common Council passed Ordinance No. 4623. The function of the ordinance: to criminalize free speech in a zone centered around the intersection of 5th and E streets, populated primarily by workers. By January 16th, the IWW had responded by forming the “California Free Speech League,” with the support of socialists, churches, and other union locals. The Wobblies, with the benefit of sheer numbers and little else, sought to test the ordinance and its enforcement with aggressive soapboxing and incessant speechifying in the restricted zone.
The “internecine ultra-left argument of the moment,” says the Wall Street Journal, is the debate over the “black bloc.” And if this debate has led the WSJ to talk about “ultra-leftism,” it’s clearly a debate we have to address.
Twenty-four hours into my incarceration in Santa Rita Jail, I found myself in yet another tactical conversation, dissecting the numerous failures that had led to the kettling and mass arrests of about 400 Occupy Oakland demonstrators. This is one of the few upsides of a mass arrest. After getting the rowdy activists off the streets, the police find themselves hosting a three-day strategy conference inside the jail. Whenever a conversation begins to get stale, the guards show up and shuffle people into new discussion groups, and the debate begins afresh.