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From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Thu Mar 1 15:13:23 2001
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 09:08:49 -0000
Reply-To: peter waterman <waterman@antenna.nl>
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: peter waterman <p_waterman@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: The Real World and the Virtual WFTU
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The Real World and the Virtual WFTU

By Peter Waterman, 1 March 2001

Charlie Brown does us yet another service by providing us with formal documents from the WFTU's Congress in Delhi, 2000. At least I think this is where they came from, since they look very much like what is up on the WFTU's virtual website (began and ended with that Congress, on last check).

The general style of the document recalls the formalism, self-referentiality and evasiveness I recall so well from 30-40 years ago. Check out the language it uses to deal with the self-subordination of WFTU and its major member organisations to the Communist states and Communist parties.

Perhaps Charlie can also explain to us what this material is meant to prove or serve?

If, for example, I produced a sharp critique of the ICFTU, and some defender thereof retorted by sending me its constitution or official declarations, neither I nor Charlie would consider this an adequate response.

Perhaps Charlie can tell us what either the WFTU or its member organisations are proposing as an alternative to the ICFTU's policy for advancing international labour rights by lobbying for a Social Clause within the WTO? As someone engaged in criticising this and dialoging on the matter with international union officers, I would love to know.

Charlie's documentation, rather, demonstrates what I initially suggested: that the WFTU is an institution without a function, a form without content. Its only role is to provide the romantic, the ignorant and the fundamentalist with a symbol of resistance, or revolution, of anti-imperialism and class-struggle unionism. A symbol, however, stands for something real. When it stands instead of the real thing it becomes a token - something which replaces the real thing.

Life is elsewhere.