Report from the 30 September Rally to Oppose the Alt-Right

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Southern Maine IWW members joined the organizing efforts of a broad coalition of community groups last Saturday to put together a demonstration of working class solidarity against the alt-right organizers of a cynical “Rally to Denounce Political Violence” in Augusta.

 

The alt-right led rally was held on the west side of the state house, where they attracted a crowd of roughly 20 people in front of a banner reading “No Antifa No KKK No violent USA” Their speakers included apologists for white nationalist groups. Many of them advanced the narrative that civil rights and anti-fascist activists occupy the same moral realm as the KKK. Some held that they were worse.

 

Meanwhile, in Capitol Park, on the opposite side of the state house, SMIWW members gathered together with a crowd of about 100 fellow workers to present a different point of view. Speakers from a variety of organizations including the IWW, the Socialist Party of Maine, Showing Up for Racial Justice, CONFRONT, the International Socialist Organization, and the Green Independant Party expressed a message of solidarity with oppressed and marginalized peoples and support for community self defense.

 

After the lineup of speakers, a contingent from our side, led by a few comrades affiliated with Maine TransNet, decided to take the initiative and marched across the way to verbally confront the alt-right group. They spent some time facing off in spirited debate with Samson Racioppi, one of the organizers of the 2nd Boston “free speech” rallies (the one that was shut down by 45,000 counterprotesters). After this they returned and rejoined the main group.

 

As the lineup of the “denounce political violence” speakers reached it’s end, their final speaker stood up and faced the small crowd. “Who here is against white supremacy?” she asked. Some expressed their approval. “If you’re against white supremacy then come with me, because this rally is about white supremacy,” she said, then led half of the group in a defection to join the counterprotest, while the last alt-right holdouts in the crowd, one dressed up in a “Pepe the frog” costume, heckled her.

 

The counter-demonstration then slowly drifted apart, with like minded activists and fellow workers hanging around and networking. A few alt-right agitators came around trying to antagonize people but were sent on their way without violence.

 

This action was a clear win for working class Mainers. A collection of bigoted trolls was effectively prevented from their purpose by the social pressure of a broad spectrum of community groups.

 

Their message and purpose was exposed to the light of day by Southern Maine IWW members. An organizing committee assembled and put together a counter-demonstration on short notice, inclusive of a variety of labor, political, and racial justice groups. The press picked up on our work and exposed it to the people of Maine, ensuring that the public would not be duped by the disingenuous message of the “denounce political violence” organizers. And finally, their rally was taken down from the stage by one of their own speakers.

 

In the grand scheme of things this was a small action and a small victory, but it showed us all, in a small way, that working class Maine people, standing together in solidarity, can still make a stand for what is right, and can still win. Today, we took down a few reactionary trolls out to divide us. Tomorrow, we take down the employing class.

 

Solidarity forever!

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New York: Wobblies at Singing Restaurant Win Major Victory

 

 

In a major victory for the singing servers at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, their employer has reached an agreement with their solidarity union, Stardust Family United, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). By entering into the settlement agreement, the company will narrowly avoid a trial on some 19 violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including 31 retaliatory firings.

Under the terms of the agreement, all 31 employees terminated over the last year in retaliation for union activity have been offered immediate and full reinstatement, and will receive back pay from the time they were fired. Of the terminated employees, 13 will immediately return to work at the popular Midtown diner.

In addition, the restaurant is required to mail official notices to all employees, informing them that the company will not violate federal law by engaging in certain unlawful practices such as surveilling and threatening workers, interfering with their use of social media, and discouraging them from taking action to improve working conditions.

For the singing servers, this has been a long road. The union, which is a branch of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), initially went public in late summer of 2016. Weeks after making their efforts known to management, 16 active union members were fired. Over the fall and winter, the workers continued to engage in direct workplace action to improve health and safety conditions, as well as pursue other demands. Another mass firing in January 2017 brought the total of terminated singers up to 31.

Despite this, Stardust Family United remained active, both inside and outside the restaurant. “I’m thrilled and proud to know our struggle and vigilance over the last year has paid off,” says returning employee Matthew Patterson. “I’m looking forward to returning and making a positive impact inside the diner.”

Anarchist Unions Take Lead in Catalonia General Strike

 

By Monday night, the Guardia Civil [national police] had left Calella [small Catalan town near Barcelona], leading a spokesman for Spain’s main police union, to complain that officers were “fleeing from hotel to hotel; they are like rats who have to hide”.

– The Guardian

By now, the images of the brutality and ferocity with which Spanish and Catalan police were attacking people on October 1st, in order to prevent a referendum on Catalan independence, have circulated everywhere. So have the images of people in Catalonia pushing back lines of police. The government threw gasoline onto smoldering embers, and the general strike which occurred on October 3rd was the result. The mix of empowering and disempowering images on Sunday has been replaced by a real sense of collective power and solidarity.

From North America, it seems hard to grasp what “general strike” actually means on the ground. In the US at least, we haven’t had officially had one since 1946, in Oakland (although the Detroit uprising of ’67, for example, was a more authentic general strikes than many things which go by that name elsewhere). [Editor’s Note: We would argue that the 2006 strikes against HR-4437 and during the Occupy Movement could be considered general strikes.] For radicals in North America, we have a sense that “general strikes” are good things, but we’re in the same position as Europeans first trying to understand the platypus – we’ve never seen it, we only know its characteristics from writings, and we have a sneaking suspicion that it’s either fake, or not as good as we want to believe. What we forget – what we as a class and a culture have been made to forget – is that there’s nothing mystic nor exotic about general strikes. Our grandparents pulled off 6 citywide general strikes in 1946, plus nationwide strikes in coal and rail. Since then, “unionism” has been channeled into a very narrow workplace contractualism that makes solidarity impossible. They’ve happened here before, and they can happen again, when we build a new kind of unionism and throw out workplace contractualism.

But let’s return to Spain, which had a massive strike wave in the 70s after the death of Franco, and where the state and capital still haven’t been able to fully exorcise the memory of militant, class-wide solidarity. There have been a number of nationwide general strikes since then, but always organized by the two business unions in Spain (CCOO and UGT). There are a number of independent, militant, and radical (often anarchist) unions, as well as regional unions in Catalonia, Andalucia, and the Basque country, but they have always had to follow the general strikes called by the business unions and fight to make them more militant. In 40 years, they’ve never been able to pull off their own general strikes. Until now.

The independent dockworkers union (Coordinadora) voting unanimously to participate in the general strike.

The strike had been called originally almost two weeks ago by a coalition of regional and radical unions, including several that refer to revolutionary and anarchist unionism (the most well known of which are the CNT and CGT). They attempted to articulate a fine line, that they were not for the creation of a new Catalan state, but were against police repression and austerity (including when repression and austerity are carried out by Catalan police and politicians). This coalition of unions has been working together since the economic crisis erupted in 2010, with the goal of jointly organizing general strikes outside of the control of the business unions. That was the theory, but it had never been tested before, and it wasn’t clear how effective it would be.

Then came the police attacks across all of Catalonia, and the people’s response of anger and outrage. In several areas people forced police to retreat, including from the hotel where they have historically stayed when needed in large number in Barcelona (see quote above).

On the night of October 1st, the business unions in Catalonia signed on to the general strike for October 3rd. This was the first time that the radical unions had taken the initiative and been followed (rather than ignored) by the business unions, and nobody knew quite what it meant. The next morning, the business unions held embarrassing press conferences where they announced that they actually they were only calling for a “civic protest” together with the chamber of commerce. They weren’t calling on workers to strike, but only to go to their bosses and politely ask them to close the business for the day. This is a new low for even reformist unions in Spain (although it’s more than unions try to do in North America). It’s not clear why the business unions changed their mind but one suspects they received panicked phone calls from their central offices in Madrid telling them not to stir the flames up too much.

Their waffling only cemented the moral and practical leadership of the radical unions. Nobody in Catalonia talked about a “civic protest,” everyone was talking about THE General Strike. In smaller towns or areas where the radical unions had a small presence, the “Referendum Defense Committees” that had formed over the last week became “Strike Committees” and engaged in flying pickets. Anywhere where the radical unions did have a presence (including several of the small towns), they were the clear leadership of the movement, organizing flying pickets as well as mass marches in order to both halt production and prevent police maneuvers.

In the small town of Olot (pop. 33,000), ignored by the business unions, the CNT have methodically built themselves into a major radical force. The results are visible in the General Strike.

Although the spectacular images of protest seem to have all been spontaneous, we know that there is a relationship between spontaneity and organization. The ability for the CNT and the other radical unions to take leadership of the situation was based on their very patient day-to-day organizing in workplaces and communities – as revolutionaries.

This is an important point for us in North America, because when we say “revolutionary unionism,” we can’t just settle for building some general kind of unionism that will hopefully later, someday, eventually, maybe become revolutionary. As another IWW member put it recently:

We are not trying to build a union and figure out how to make it revolutionary, but rather we are trying to support a liberatory revolution and figuring out what role workplace organizing today plays in that.  Another way of saying this is that we’re trying to build an organized front within the workplace for a revolutionary movement.  Specifically, we have some perspective and analysis of how working class revolution happens that implies “unionism” plays some important role in such a project at this historical moment.

The CNT have a clear program for building revolutionary unions, and a clear articulation for how building revolutionary unions now plays a role for a future liberatory revolution. Since the 2008 crisis began and the Spanish and Catalan governments have insisted on more austerity (backed every time by the business unions), the CNT has methodically inserted itself into both workplace and social struggles, and built a strong and well-rooted presence in many important workplaces in Barcelona (the airport, the docks, the metro) as well as in many smaller towns in Catalonia, such as Olot. (The same pattern is true across most of Spain.) They have also engaged very deeply with independent workers groups such as Las Kelly’s (hotel cleaners) or Deliveroo riders – both of which groups were sold out by agreements made by the business unions but have continued their struggles just the same. (The CNT is the focus here because, of all of the radical unions, they are the most similar to the IWW, and we are coordinating together internationally – but the coordination in practice with other unions is an extremely positive and exciting development.)

These are important lessons for revolutionary unionists in North America (or almost anywhere outside of Spain) to learn, or re-learn. We need to combine a revolutionary vision with a coherent program for revolutionary organizing in every part of society, including by building strong organizations in the workplace, especially as business unionism in North America continues to collapse. We don’t have this program yet, and we won’t have it tomorrow. We can’t simply elaborate it in our heads, nor by importing a program from another context. The program we need will be built through engaging in mass struggles, as well as building clearly revolutionary unions at the point of production; it will be built by thinking big about what’s possible, and what kind of struggles will get us there. We don’t have this program yet, but we can begin putting it together, learning as we go. We should try to imagine revolutionary unionism being as relevant in St Louis as it is in Barcelona; if we can’t, we aren’t serious, we’re just role-playing.

In Catalonia, and all of Spain, the tension continues to simmer. Nobody knows what will happen next. The King of Spain just gave a speech which calls for more repression. The struggle is unlikely to die down soon. It’s a complicated struggle, but the elements of class solidarity, rejection of the police, and distrust of politicians are clearly major positive factors to pay attention to. The business unions have embarrassed themselves thoroughly and will be completely marginalized in the coming struggles. The CNT and the other radical unions are clear players for hegemony in this struggle involving hundreds of thousands of people. None of their members have ever been in this situation before, and they might make mistakes, but any mistake they make will be worth more than 1,000 correct decisions made by internet commentators.

Let’s keep our eyes peeled. The lessons that our comrades in Catalonia and Spain learn in the coming days will be important for all of us.

No cops, no bosses, no borders!

By Brandon. Not an official statement of Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement

 

Statement from the CNT on the situation in Catalonia

Open letter from CNT’s International Secretary

Our position on Catalonia

Dear comrades,

First of all, thanks for the support that so many of you have provided with translations, putting statements up on social media, planning actions, etc. CNT, as a whole, and the comrades in Catalonia, particularly, are really grateful for your support.

As you know the days are momentous in Catalonia and, to a lesser extent, in the rest of Spain. As I write these lines, riot police and the infamous military police, Guardia Civil, are attacking masses of people in the streets of many towns across Catalonia. CNT, together with other unions, is calling for a general strike on the 3rd of October against this repressive wave.

You probably know that the unity of Spain has always been a rallying flag for the far right here. Therefore, any calls for self-determination from any part of it, as is the case now in Catalonia, spark a vicious response. We are already seeing an increase in the presence of fascist groups in many towns across Spain and the conservative government is taking an increasingly authoritarian stance, trampling on many fundamental freedoms. These are ominous signs of what might lie ahead for us. Repression is only likely to worsen on many fronts, may be even involving the military.

On some international forums, CNT is being criticised for, allegedly, playing into the hands of the nationalists with our call for a general strike. That’s understandable. As we’ve said somewhere else, it’s a fine line we’re trying to walk here and it’s only normal that its nuances are lost in the distance (or in translation). It is also difficult for us, and there are lots of internal discussions/debates going on about our strategy, as you would expect in an open and plural organisation like CNT.

Make no mistake, while we firmly oppose repression from an increasingly authoritarian state and their fascist allies, we are in no way supportive of the nationalist agenda. All along this week there have been countless demonstrations in Catalonia to defend today’s referendum, independence, self-determination…you name it. CNT has not called for or supported any of these. In fact, where comrades have a local presence, they’ve been busy making themselves uncomfortable for the nationalists, bringing economic and social issues to the fore, reminding people that the Catalan government was very keen to introduce social cuts only a few years ago, etc. This, in fact, is stated in our call for the general strike, in a very similar wording.

So much so, that the call for a strike is not directed only to Catalonia, the only place where, for obvious reasons, the strike will actually take place. No, the text makes it abundantly clear that it is addressed to the whole of the Spanish state. It is understood that, in this situation, to achieve our goals as a class, we have to spread resistance everywhere. This should not be a fight between nations, but between classes. Between an oppressive regime and its fascist allies (as much a part of the “people” as anyone else) and those of us who stand for freedom and rebellious dignity.

We expect repression to increase during the following weeks and days and we will use our weapon of choice, the general strike, to make it difficult for police to move around, get supplies and do their work in general. We’ll see how things move forward from today on, but an already difficult situation can actually get nasty, in terms of repression. As revolutionaries, we don’t believe we can just remain idle, while the police attack the people in the streets and fascist gangs roam our towns freely.

Again, thank you for your support. We’ll keep you updated.

Miguel Pérez, International secretary, CNT.

AFnA

Statement on rights of members to be involved with GDC without IWW GMB approval

The General Defense Committee (GDC) is a committee of the Industrial Workers of the World. Much like other committees (like IWOC, Gender Equity Committee, or Junior Wobblies) members do not need permission from an IWW General Membership Branch to be involved with the IWW General Defense Committee. Members can join the GDC, become delegates for the GDC, initiate other new GDC members, and organize towards chartering a GDC Local and this activity does not need to be connected with or approved by an IWW General Membership Branch.

At the same time, the GDC Steering Committee recognizes that programs of community self defense are strongest when operating in close cooperation with our presence in the workplace, and that our union’s organizing is well served by the close support of the GDC. In GMBs where there is not broad consensus to form a GDC, we encourage members to work out a cooperative strategy, rather than obstruct efforts to form a General Defense Committee.

Currently GDC Locals are organized in different ways in their relationships with local GMBs. They range from operating as committees of a Local GMB (as is done currently with the Michiana Local) to being independent from GMBs, to even existing as Locals in places where no GMB exists.

If you want to talk about joining the GDC, becoming a GDC delegate, or organizing towards chartering a GDC Local feel free to contact GDC Central at iww.gdc.central@gmail.com.”

OPPOSE THE ALT RIGHT IN MAINE

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Organizers across Maine are calling on residents to attend a peaceful counter rally to the Alt-Right inspired “Denounce Political Violence” rally scheduled for September 30. The counter rally will begin at 11:00am and will be held in Capitol Park in Augusta. All who oppose fascism, white supremacy and bigotry are encouraged and welcome to attend. More details to come and more groups expected to sign on.

BACKGROUND:

* Background research via the Industrial Workers of the World

* A public photo on the Facebook page of Jarody which demonstrates a direct connection between alt right organizing and this event. For context, Pepe the frog is a cartoon which has become an alt-right mascot. He is making the OK hand symbol, which has also become an alt-right symbol.

Statement of Unity

We, the undersigned, oppose the so called “Denounce Political Violence” rally planned for September 30 in Augusta, Maine. We view it as a deliberate provocation by ultra-conservatives and conspiracy theorists in order to promote their hateful agenda and their conflation of fascist violence with the right of a community to self defense. This rally was organized by people affiliated with hate groups that were peacefully shut down by tens of thousands of counter-protesters in Boston. In that spirit, we believe that all communities have the right to self-defense and call for all supporters of universal human rights to join us in a nearby peaceful counter-protest. We call on event speakers to remove themselves from this engagement and overtly denounce the principles of the key organizers.  We welcome people of all backgrounds to stand together against the violence and bigotry of alt-right extremists. Through organization and determination, supporters of human rights and racial justice can overcome hateful bigotry.

Signed,
Bangor Racial and Economic Justice Coalition
Maine John Brown Gun Club
International Socialist Organization
Portland C.O.N.F.R.O.N.T.
Socialist Party of Maine
Socialist Alternative Maine
Southern Maine IWW

Identifying the Alt-right in Maine

Disclaimer: this article represents the views of one fellow worker and member of the IWW in southern Maine, not necessarily the views of the IWW.

Yesterday morning an event came to my attention. It sounded innocent enough – even positive. A rally in Augusta on 30 September to “denounce political violence.” Seems ok on the face of it, right? Sounds good. We all detest political violence. The poster also said “Support Speech Press Assembly.” Awesome, right? Everybody appreciates free speech, freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and other civil liberties. These are not controversial topics.

This sounds like a rally we can all get behind, right? Wrong.

Let me explain to you how I figured out that this rally is actually organized by far right wing extremist trolls associated with the “alt right” movement, and intended to advance an agenda that is the exact opposite of its stated purpose.

 

Context – The Boston “free speech” rallies and the Charlottesville connection

In 2017 so far, Boston has endured two rallies by alt right extremists, both purporting to be celebrations of the right to free speech, but actually featuring violent right wing activists.
The first of these “Free Speech” rallies, on 13 May, featured known extremist groups like the “Proud Boys,” who are identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
The Proud Boys have several initiation ceremonies. To become a “first-degree” proud boy, one is expected to recite the words, “I am a western chauvinist. I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” Higher degree initiations involve ritual beatings, adherence to a “masturbation regimen”, tattoos, and getting into street fights with “communists”. I would sincerely doubt the commitment of “Proud Boys” or their associates to “denouncing political violence”, wouldn’t you?
At this rally, Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman, founder of a particularly militant sub-group of the Proud Boys called “The Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights”, famous for wearing body armor and attacking anti-racist protesters in the “Battle of Berkeley” spoke at that rally and railed against communists taking over America, declared the Democrats to be communists, and promised to “crush them, destroy them, humiliate them”.
Other far right speakers at that rally, referred to by the alt-right as the “battle of Boston”, included Augustus Invictus, who exhorted participants to arm themselves for a coming civil war.
On 12 August, the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville occurred, and the terrorist attack which took Heather Heyer’s life and injured 17 others. This event was planned by Jason Kessler, another Proud Boy, and was scheduled to include another speech by Augustus Invictus, as well as by prominent white nationalists like Richard Spencer, David Duke, and Mainer Nathan Domingo, founder of the hate group “Identity Evropa”
This event brought the white supremacist activities and connections of the alt-right to the attention of the general public and changed the game.
One week later, on 19 August, the “2nd Boston Free Speech Rally” was scheduled to occur, with a similar lineup of alt-right and white nationalist speakers. This time things were different. The working class people of New England came together in solidarity to shut the event down without violence, outnumbering the alt-right participants by a factor of 1000 to 1. It was a great victory for the side of inclusiveness, diversity, working class solidarity, and nonviolence.
The 30 September Augusta rally and speakers list
The man behind the 30 September “denouncing political violence” rally is one John Rasmussen. Rasmussen, who identifies himself as “selectman, organizer of the 1st Boston free speech rally”, is notable for having been involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, but since then has apparently self-radicalized on the internet forum 4chan.
John Rasmussen was a featured speaker at the “battle of Boston” on May 13. To quote Business Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/right-wing-militias-recruit-young-soldiers-on-4chan-2017-5):

The organizing was evident on the dais at Boston Common. During the afternoon, a 4channer who goes by the name “John Rasmussen” took to the dais to give rapid-fire talking points on gaining political power — identifying central causes, sending out letters for a campaign, building roots with influential members of the community, participating in local meetings, finding local allies and, eventually, getting into local government. Rasmussen, who says he has served on his local school board in Maine, wants his fellow reactionaries to get off the internet and into local office.“”You need to be ask to be appointed to the planning board, ask to be appointed to the board of appeals, all of these boards municipalities create to make bureaucratic work for us,” he said. “And once you’re in it, you can get rid of it. You really can. It’s remarkable.”

Rasmussen was an organizer with Occupy Maine before being becoming a self-professed millennial “/pol/ack” — or a devotee of 4chan’s politics message board. He spent time throughout the rally with the small group of teenage organizers he sees as the next big opportunity to put reactionaries into power.

“My generation’s been so cast aside by the political system by the elite who are trying to maintain their generation’s control over everything, they didn’t bring my generation in,” Rasmussen said. “My goal is to get the younger generation, born well after me, to get them back in.”

It’s not entirely clear the younger generations want in — or what they want into. While Rasmussen spoke, the younger crowd, bearing the flag of Kekistan, a fictionalized right-wing country born out of gamers’ imaginations, stood taunting the antifa on the front lines.

The Kekistanis, however, delighted in the speech delivered by Kyle Chapman, or “Based Stick Man,” an alt-right celebrity brawler famous for bloodying anti-fascists in the Battle of Berkeley. Chapman had flown into Boston thanks to a last-minute $1,500 flight; a girl who appeared to be no older than 12 wandered the common collecting donations to make up his cost.

From the dais, Chapman gave a growling sermon about demolishing what he called the George Soros-funded threat of antifa, the apparent foot soldiers of the communistic Democrats. “We need to put our foot down and make sure these sons of bitches don’t have a foothold here like they have in Europe,” Chapman shouted. “We need to crush them, destroy them. We need to demoralize them.”

Garrett Kirkland and Samson Racioppi

Garrett Kirkland is listed as a speaker at the 30 September “denounce political violence” rally with the biographical caption “Activist for Freedom, Organizer of The 2nd Boston Free Speech Rally”.

This Boston rally also originally featured overt white nationalist speakers and Proud Boys such as Kyle Chapman, Augustus Invictus and others, before speakers began withdrawing in the wake of Charlottesville and the event ultimately fell apart as a result of 45,000 people taking to the streets to reject their message of hate and white supremacy.

Samson Racioppi was one of the scheduled speakers at the Boston event. Afterwards, he said, “I really think it was supposed to be a good event by the organizers, but it kind of fell apart.”

Other Speakers

Other speakers for this Augusta rally include Richard Light, Libertarian candidate for Governor of Maine, Jim Bouchard, Libertarian candidate for Congress, Chris Lyons, Libertarian candidate for US senate, Don McCann, Libertarian candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, and incongruously, former Portland school board member Holly Seeliger, and medical cannabis activist Hillary Lister.

I would not presume to say, without knowing more about them, whether this clique of libertarians can be fairly associated with the alt-right or white nationalists. All we know is that there is a clear overlap between the Libertarian Party and the alt-right, including many notable Proud Boys, John Rasmussen himself, and other figures like Chris Cantrell, the New Hampshire libertarian media personality who became infamous as an organizer of the Charlottesville incident, who has said, “My goal here is to normalize racism, I’m going to make a commercial enterprise out of saying things that people want to make illegal. I’m going to make a whole fucking bunch of money doing it. Anybody who gets in my way is going to find themselves in a very long list of people who regretted underestimating me.”

By contrast with the others, Seeliger and Lister seem like odd speakers. Both represent a much more progressive world view. What their reasons are for sharing a stage with such unsavory company, only they can say. I have great respect for the work of both of these individuals, and prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt that they have good personal reasons for participating.

Who is likely to attend this event?

The 30 September rally has circulated on Internet spaces frequented by the extreme racist fringe of right wing politics. We can only speculate who is going to turn up, and I am sure the crowd will include many people who have taken the organizers at their word that they wish to denounce political violence. It is unfortunate that such good working class Mainers will be deceived in this way, into serving the agenda of a small group of racist trolls.

We can assume that they will be standing shoulder to shoulder with the most vile white supremacists in our communities – who are likely to come out of the woodwork to advance the cause of the alt-right. There is every reason to think that Proud Boys, KKK members, anti-immigrant groups, and other bigots will be in attendance.

How is this likely to play out?

Again, we have no choice but to engage in speculation. This appears to be a transparent effort by the alt-right to flip-the-script, painting themselves and other white supremacists as being the voices of reason and champions of free speech and nonviolent, civilized discourse, and anti-racist activists as being violent enemies of free expression.

Once you know the players involved, it is easy to see through this – these are folks who have shared a stage with the violent neo-Nazi orchestrators of the Charlottesville incident. Blood is on their hands. However – if their intent is truly to reverse the course of violent extremism that they have encouraged and participated in, and embrace nonviolence as a new strategy, then I see that as a positive development.

It is my hope that this rally will not result in the kind of political violence which the organizers today purport to denounce, but which they have instigated all too often in the last year. It is likely that there will be a counter-protest from working Mainers who oppose the alt-right – let us show them that if they want to denounce violence, we can beat them at that game too. After all, we have been practicing nonviolence for a hundred years – for them it is a brand new, untested strategy. We’ll nonviolence the crap out of them.

The IWW stands against political violence, and against the alt-right too.

The IWW has always represented a movement towards greater working class solidarity against the oppression of the employing class – which all working class people suffer from, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship status, gender identity or any other qualifier. In the spirit of our motto, “an injury to one is an injury to all”, we have always stood opposed to white supremacists, white nationalists, and fascists here in Maine and all over the world. As these movements re-brand themselves into the “alt-right”, a racist mass movement for the 21st century, we stand opposed to them too.

From leading strikes for better working conditions among Franco-American textile mill workers in Lewiston and Skowhegan to confronting the KKK in Greenville in 1925, the IWW in Maine historically has had the backs of oppressed, marginalized, and immigrant workers. We carry on that tradition today. And for those white working class people who also suffer from the inherent inequality of our economic system – believe it or not we have your backs too, but we cannot sit idly by and let you blame your problems on your immigrant or minority fellow workers. In doing so, you become a pawn of the employing class, who love nothing better than to divide us over such arbitrary and meaningless things.

As a working Mainer and member of the IWW, I personally call upon everyone to call this event what it is – an attempt by alt-right trolls to twist public opinion and legitimize their hateful message. I implore you not to fall for it, to reject this event and its organizers, and to even to take direct action to to expose them for who they are and present an alternative message of true non violence and support for all working class people.

In Solidarity.

your fellow worker

Southern Maine IWW