Founded in November 1984, the Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) is a self-defined “anarchist, syndicalist” movement that advocates the total rejection of capitalism in favor of a grassroots workers alliance that will lead a socialist revolution in America. Viewing the United States as a nation rife with “racism, gender inequality (patriarchy), and oppression of gay people,” WSA believes that “the working class” is now “in a prime position to overthrow the power of the bosses [capitalists].”
WSA traces its roots to the International Workers Association (IWA), a radical labor group founded in Berlin in 1922. IWA disclaimed identification with socialism or communism and instead advocated labor syndicalism, a system by which labor would identify its own interests and provide its own leadership and, in that identification, develop the “hegemonical” organs to guide politics as well.
WSA summarizes its worldview as follows: “Under the existing social system — capitalism — we can only live by selling our time, our talents and energies, to employers for a wage. When people must work, not simply to do things for each other, but to build up the power and wealth of a few, this is exploitation. … This hierarchy or pyramid of power divides society into ‘classes’ with a basic and irreconcilable conflict of interests. … The capitalist market, which subordinates human life to money-making, is a global system. … We believe that the capitalist system and the modern state play an increasingly negative role in the organization of production, distribution and social life in general. … Since governments and capitalism have always rested upon domination and exploitation, both are inherently oppressive and cannot be reformed, won over, or used in a progressive way in the modern-day struggle for human emancipation.”
WSA endorses a variety of techniques to bring about social change. These include walkouts; sit-down strikes; “squatting” (where people jointly occupy unused buildings for their own use); and “social strikes” (where workers continue to provide their labor for others in the community but deny the revenue or control of their labor to the bosses). WSA does not renounce the use of violence to attain its ends, claiming only that it would like to minimize violence in labor struggles. It alleges that the state, in support of capital, already wages violent struggles against labor, and that labor, if it resorts to violence, is only acting in self-defense.
WSA has demonstrated against the U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq; it supports radical feminist, gay, and racial preference agendas; it endorsed the “Million Worker March” on Washington in October 2004, in conjunction with the Green Party and a number of trade unions; and it urged a boycott against Taco Bell, on grounds that farmworkers picking tomatoes for the restaurant chain’s supplier were allegedly being underpaid.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, WSA lamented that “[i]mmigrants, communities of color, the entire diverse yet interdependent web that makes up the American working class was attacked.” It ascribed the attacks, while condemning them, to the fact that: “There are real and pressing problems for many people in the world today, particularly in what is generally called the Middle East. Many live in despair, poverty, and see no hope at all for a better life.”
Condemning the Bush administration’s plan for a military response to 9/11, WSA stated: “Now the war drums beat loudly, and the flag is waved everywhere, and the emotions of those who grieve are submerged into a call for ‘national unity.’ Yet it is our view that this is the very thing that got us into this mess, and it will not solve the problems, but simply make it worse. … [T]he government of the United States … has been an exponent of terrorism since its inception. The thread starts with the massacre of Native Americans and kidnapped labor of Africans, to he repression and killing of working people who fought their bosses and the recent ‘interventions’ that the American state has engaged in since the end of World War Two. … The real war for us must be class war, not military conflict.”