26 propositions on networking, labour and solidarity under/against/beyond a globalised and informatised capitalism (P. Waterman)

1. Networking is becoming the dominant ‘relational form’ under capitalism;

2. It is a highly contradictory form which can, however, be more fully, creatively and democratically used by popular, radical-democratic and anti-capitalist forces;

3. Notions of networking and internationalism, understood as necessary for modernisation and/or human emancipation, can be traced back to at least the time of the French and Industrial Revolutions. Since that time they have been a matter of political dispute between capitalists/technocrats/authoritarians and socialists/democrats/libertarians;

4. Networking is the most ancient, common, and therefore popular (‘of the people’), relational form, today given worldwide reach and capacity for both domination and emancipation;

5. It engenders new forms of work, workers, products and enterprises, with anti- or even post-capitalist potential;

6. The general understanding of networking in the international labour movement is a limited one;

7. It surpasses the traditional organisational forms (union, party) in so far as it allows for the articulation (joining, expression) of both general and particular interests within and between working classes – and others;

8. The organisation:networking relation should be understood neither as a binary opposition, nor as one of vice versus virtue, but as a dialectical one, in which labour organisations and institutions may survive and even flourish to the extent that they understand and adapt to the logic of the network;

9. CMC is not only a tool but also a community (cyberspace – meaning new supra-national and even supra-terrestrial places, with their own (disputed or disputable) laws, traditions and values, and also utopia (a not yet existing but desirable place, to be imagined and created);

10. Networking is not simply an aspect or process within capitalism but also a way of understanding (and therefore surpassing) capitalism, racism, sexism, militarism, environmental destruction, etc;

11. The networking form allows for the development of a new and complex global solidarity movement surpassing the limited or failed inter/nationalisms of the now-passing national-industrial capitalist era;

12. In so far as networking is a communicational rather than an organisational form, it is itself articulated with the media and culture, which are becoming increasingly central to both capitalist society and social movements, implying for the latter that any new internationalism is increasingly a communicative and cultural matter.

13. If it is to become relevant to labour internationalism in the era of globalisation, the pyramidal international union organisation must be transformed into an information, advice and support service that stimulates multi-directional and multi-level contacts between workers, unions and the labour movement generally. (The same holds for non-labour internationals);

14. The challenge confronting international union organisations is not only a networked capitalism and the networked state: it is also the networked anti- capitalist, anti-statist, anti-globalisation movement;

15. If not informed by a broader vision or leadership, international labour networking can reinforce an enterprise or corporate identity and undermine broader solidarity;

16. The new electronic media make possible and necessary a new kind of fe/male labour activist, reaching out beyond the enterprise and the union office, listening to, linking waged-workers up with, and empowering, the increasing number of ‘foreign’, ‘marginal’ and other ‘a-typical’ workers;

17. The form taken by contemporary democratic international movements – networked, flexible, media-oriented and communication-sensitive – suggests the future model for an effective international labour movement in the age of globalisation;

18. The notion that international electronic networking is the inevitable province of the rich and privileged, or has to be diffused from the rich, advanced, developed countries/unions/people, to the poor, marginal and powerless ones is questioned by certain Third World experiences, emancipatory movements and even technological developments;

19. The desirability of the networked electronic union appears to be required by the nature of labour in the information industries but is today possible and even necessary for all working people, and for any effective international solidarity;

20. The potential of the electronic media is not so much their capacity to ‘mobilise’ working people within and for the old labour institutions, but to make them ‘more mobile’ under and against a globalised and networked capitalism more generally;

21. There must be a dialectical interplay, in a new international labour movement, between the politics of cyberspace and the politics of place, inspired by a meaningful understanding of solidarity;

22. Globalisation, computerisation and informatisation make it possible and necessary for the international labour movement to rethink ‘work’ and the wage-labour relationship in terms, for example, of locally-relevant, ecologically-friendly, cooperatively-controlled but high-tech production;

23. Development of a networked labour internationalism requires political action by the labour movement – in partnership with civil society – in/against the institutions/arenas in which control is exercised over the technology, access to and the content of electronic media and cyberspace;

24. An understanding of the international labour movement in network terms can break down the traditional division of labour within the movement, between the categories of ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’;

25. Those who consider that the future of the labour movement lies in networking are going to have to meet the widespread feeling, within and around the movement, that – unlike other social movements – labour needs its institutions and that this need is justified;

26. The development of networking within the international labour movement would be stimulated by the production and circulation of a declaration or discussion document, expressed in language accessible to not only the computer savvy but also internationalist activists beyond.


* Article: Alternative labour communication by computer after two decades. Peter Waterman (Interface Volume 2 Issue2, pp. 241-269).

URL = http://interfacejournal.nuim.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Interface-2-2-pp.241-269-Waterman.pdf

2 thoughts on “26 propositions on networking, labour and solidarity under/against/beyond a globalised and informatised capitalism (P. Waterman)

  1. Pingback: 26 propositions on networking, labour and solidarity under/against/beyond a globalised and informatised capitalism (P. Waterman) | Social Network Unionism | Mapping Social Network Unionism Worldwide | Scoop.it

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