Teachers of the World Unite!

I’m still in Uni, but I’ve been contemplating becoming a high school (A levels and GCSE for you brits) teacher. I was curious what folk’s thoughts were on anti-authoritarians, anarchists, radicals etc. in the education field? The knee jerk reaction of most “anarychists” is to attack anyone that’s a teacher, because well, they’re”brainwashing” the kids and “telling them what to do.” Though I disagree. In many ways I think organizing in the teaching sector is as paramount as organizing in the military, in that it can serve to subvert fundamental functions of social control in a number of ways. Here’s a semi detailed list that I’ve come up with so far.

1. Secondary Education is the prime tool in the indoctrination of future workers and young workers into a system of hierarchy and exploitation. This is where we take young idealistic children and turn them into little automatons. Thus it’s important to have educators that utilize a radical pedagogy. By this I mean a classroom that encourages critical thinking and dispels various social myths. They can stop most of the “official story” from ever getting into these kids.

2. Anarchist educators can provide organizing resources to their students. They can hand down hard learnt lessons of organizing and struggle to help kids set up mass organizations and campaigns centered around student and youth concerns. Draconian security? Exhaustive standardized testing? Well, then its time to get those kids a “Troublemaker’s Handbook” and help them fight the power!

Any kind of collective action at that age can build up a sense of confidence in both the student and in young folk’s ability to make collective change. I know that when I was in high school, not long ago, our main problem was that we had no conception of direct action struggle. We funneled our frustrations into advocacy, or small subversive propaganda groups. I tried both, neither worked.

3. Education is a huge industry, growing by the minute. Capital is demanding higher and higher levels of qualifications for ever more menial jobs. Education is an industry we are sure will exist for the indefinite future. It’s not getting outsourced and it’s not getting any smaller. A strong network of anarchist and radical teachers can affiliate with other militant workers in the education sector, building real industrial strength. This not only builds class consciousness and militancy, but creates a mutually beneficial relationship between students and workers. Workers strike to help students walk out, and student riot to help workers picket. Most importantly, it sends a clear message to young folk that class struggle is universal and will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

4. Teachers get a long summer vacations every year. While a radical teacher could use this time for leisure, tutoring for extra money, travel etc. He or she could also use it as a resource for the class structure. Teachers are specially positioned to provide the volunteer hours necessary to build up new projects, and to support ongoing struggles.

I’ve often thought of creating a network of alternate summer programs for working class children. Something like a radical day camp/youth center. It would be structured on the Modern school movement of Francisco Ferrer. Children would self manage the curriculum, devoting learning and play according to their own wants and needs. With our summers free, militant teachers could provide the critical mass to get this project off the ground. Of course just providing extra bodies on picket lines, meetings, and other day to day needs of any people’s struggle, is a great advantage in and of itself.

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American Airlines and Labor Union Bureaucrats: Both Dens of Evil

Surprise surprise everyone! As the economy takes a dive into the shiter for the umpteenth time, American Airlines announced that they will be cutting 900 jobs. This is pretty expected. American Airlines is getting slammed hard with the price of gas these days and with their general managerial incompetence. Remember, these are the same idiots whole stole their employee’s pensions because of “bankruptcy.” Pensions are considered part of a worker’s differed salary, so they were technically stealing, but who cares? Anyway, American is feeling the heat, and of course, the workers are taking the brunt of it. But guess who’s helping Corporate along? Why it’s the Flight Attendants Association and Transport Workers Union! Aren’t they just delightful?

Airlines and union officials said they would try to reduce layoffs through attrition or by employees voluntarily taking leaves of absence or sharing jobs…

American said it reached agreement with the union to offer voluntary measures such as leaves of absence to U.S.-based flight attendants 50 and older with at least 15 years of service. The airline said it struck a similar deal with the Transport Workers Union, which represents mechanics and bag handlers.

Because as you know, unions shouldn’t fight for their worker’s jobs, they should facilitate “profitability” i.e. getting fucked over by the boss. Of course it’s all because “times are different.” We live in an era of “increasing global competition” and we better realize that. If we don’t become better workers, then we should expect layoffs! Why can’t a flight attendant spontaneously produce gourmet meals on demand, out of thin air? Come on people, this is the technological revolution here; we need to compete with China somehow! Or at least this is what the union bureaucrats seem to think:

“We’ve all been sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for a number,” said Frank Bastien, a spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Most of us were pretty pleased it wasn’t higher.”

God, what a bunch of pathetic little cowards, spokesman my ass, Frank Bastien is a shill for the ownership class. When workers organize unions that are democratic and bureaucrat free, then it’s a real representation of working people’s power. But most unions these days are woefully inadequate. They hire defeatist little tramps like Mr. Bastien and prattle on about “acceptable losses.” Especially American unions, which have layer upon layer of paid staff, many of them hired outside of the industry that their union represents! American union executives also make exorbitant salaries. Change to Win labor federation leader Andy Stern, annually earns around a quarter of a million dollars!

This is a real problem. When workers form a union, they expect that union to help them fight management. But labor has become fat with paid positions and cushy job security. These people don’t know what it’s like to work at these jobs everyday. They don’t feel the urgency of the long hours and painful work hazards. No, they are no longer workers, they have evolved into labor negotiation and organization “specialists” and they feel it’s their “job” or “skill” to deal with this stuff. When workers start taking action that’s too militant, labor “specialists” feel their positions threatened. Their job is to mediate disputes between workers and management; it’s the only justification for their cushy jobs and influence. When workers actually fight for what’s theirs, union’s bureaucrats are put in danger. Mediation is thrown out the window, and the real dynamics of class war come into relief. They start thinking: Why the workers might stop listening to us! The company might sue us! Or worse! The company will lose faith in our ability to speak for the workers! There go our jobs! By god! We need to rein these ungrateful factory grunts in!

That’s why any movement of working people needs to be a movement of working people organizations, run on bottom up democracy, not top down, undemocratic, professional driven fiefdoms. Otherwise we will see people co opted into bureaucratic positions. Suddenly fighting the boss won’t be a priority for them and the new boss will look just like the old boss.

There’s an old lefty phrase, “the people united can never be defeated.” We should make an addition to it, “the bureaucrats united will always be defeated.” So, if there any American Airlines reading remember that taking action on the job can stop these firings. Even if your union doesn’t like it, even if your union hates it, direct action will save your jobs. Stand up and fight back fellow workers, we will stand with you.