[Marxism] organizing in cyberspace -- and in reality

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Sun Jul 11 17:53:57 MDT 2010


After reading Ron Jacobs' review of Cory Doctorow's new novel, "For
the Win" (http://counterpunch.com/jacobs06302010.html) I rushed out to
buy it, and having just finished it I strongly recommend it to anyone
interested in global labor organizing: you'll love the moving
portrayal of the young worker-militants.
I'd also strongly recommend it to anyone interested -- as we all need
to be these days -- in the relationship between real and virtual
economies. This matters, on the one hand, because of the trillions of
dollars in speculative capital currently traded in cyberspace for no
useful purpose, and, on the other, for the potential for using a
virtual economy to model and thus plan a democratic, worker-run
economy.
How the workers in "For the Win" organize around that relationship is
fascinating. One of the organizers challenges workers to ask, "What is
the system FOR?" as a way of getting them to think about what they can
DO. If we're lucky this book will spawn a genre of sci-fi/speculative
fiction about organizing --and if it does, it will be interesting to
see how other authors depict workers answers to that question (for one
particularly striking and unsatisfactory answer, see Jack London's "A
Dream of Debs").
PS: One quibble -- not with the book, but with Ron's review: just as
many mistakenly say the "I" in "IWW" stands for "International" (it
really stands for "Industrial"), he makes the same mistake in
explaining the acronym for the Industrial Workers of the World Wide
Web (IWWWW, or "Webblies") featured in the novel.
Yours for the Webolution,
Andy Pollack




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