Why Dave Stratman and John Spritzler Resigned from Solidarity Now
by Dave Stratman and John Spritzler
June 13, 2006
As many readers of NewDemocracyWorld.org know, we attended the founding meeting in 2005 of Solidarity Now, an organization for which we had high hopes because it adopted five key principles that we had been advocating for many years:
The founding members agreed that Solidarity Now will:
---be controlled by its members;
---build solidarity in the workplace, across industries, across races and genders, across employed and unemployed, across generations, across borders;
---be independent of union officialdom;
---take action to support the values and struggles of working people;
---fight to revolutionize society and create a true democracy based on equality and solidarity.
Unfortunately, at a subsequent Solidarity Now national meeting, members turned away from the heart of these principles, following a campaign by a couple of members to stifle serious discussion of key questions by engaging in unprincipled personal attacks on anybody who disagreed with them, especially us. Our letter below to Solidarity Now explains why we resigned from the organization.
Two of the five founding principles of Solidarity Now made the new organization historically significant and gave it huge potential for building a movement of the US working class. One was that here was an organization of working people openly challenging capitalist rule and declaring itself for revolution. A second was that here was an organization composed mainly of present or retired union members with long experience of betrayal at the hands of their unions declaring that the new solidarity organization would be "independent of union officialdom."
These two founding principles were mutually dependent and were based on decades of experience demonstrating that real workers’ power comes not from union structures but from the solidarity and friendship of the workers themselves; that the unions work with the corporations to undermine working class power; that it is impossible to reform the UAW and unions like it into democratic, pro-working class organizations; that it is necessary to build a movement independent of unions like the UAW.
At its national meeting of April 7-8, Solidarity Now voted to abandon one of these two key founding principles. Solidarity Now no longer declares itself to be independent of the unions. The meeting refrained from abandoning the principle declaring itself for revolution only because the chairman threatened to resign if it did.
In spite of its retaining the call for revolutionizing society, Solidarity Now has effectively renounced being a revolutionary organization. Dropping the "independent of union officialdom" principle undermines the revolutionary principle of Solidarity Now in practice. SN can hardly build a revolutionary movement among working class Americans if it refuses to assert the need to be independent of capitalist-controlled unions like the UAW and instead caters to those who promote the pie in the sky notion that one day unions like the UAW will be good unions if only the current bad leaders are voted out and replaced with good ones.
At any given time there are key lies which the capitalist class relies on to control the working class; today one of those key lies is the "unions are, or at least can be, your friend" lie. It is impossible to build a revolutionary movement without aggressively refuting these key lies. Dropping the "independent of union officialdom" principle undermines the revolutionary principle of Solidarity Now in practice. It seems from the draft "preamble" circulated on the "solidarityforallnow" list that Solidarity Now hopes to become a kind of super New Directions, a "hub" uniting all the "spokes" of reformers from different unions. While what is most needed at this time is searching, incisive examination of the many ways in which unionism has betrayed, demoralized, and demobilized workers, Solidarity Now has instead reversed the positive steps it had taken in this direction.
We were saddened to learn of this development, but this is the tendency in Solidarity Now against which we have fought from the first. This abandonment of revolutionary principle is entirely consistent with the negative elements that have characterized the organization almost from the start: the climate of relentless personal attacks and refusal to have respectful discussion on the Solidarity Now list of critical issues; the refusal to entertain critical discussion of the Delphi workers’ struggle; the constant pressing of religious and other diversionary issues; the establishment of a separate "solidarityforallnow.com" list from which some members of Solidarity Now are banned at the whim of the owner of the list. All of these elements of SN have been part of an effort to divert Solidarity Now from a revolutionary path back onto the dreary and futile path of union reform.
These things have combined to destroy any real spirit of solidarity in the organization and make it impossible for us to engage in serious discussion with any hope that Solidarity Now can regain its original principles or revolutionary commitment. While there are many good people in Solidarity Now with whom we would like to continue to work toward a revolutionary movement, we see little value in our remaining in the organization.
For these reasons, we are hereby resigning from Solidarity Now.
April 25, 2006