Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Opinion: IWW "Regional" Organizing Committee

The dictionary calls "region: a large and indefinite part of the earth; a district; a division of the world; an administrative district; a part of the world characterized by a specific kind of plant or animal life." For the IWW, a 'region' is any of the above, except plant and animal life. It is even a nation-state even though the IWW doesn't recognize national borders. Who in the IWW decides what 'region' means and which 'region' an organizing committee belongs to? Somebody in the International Solidarity Committee (ISC) decided our 'region' is Taiwan. It makes no sense.

If one chooses a common language to define a region, then Taiwan is not a region. Mandarin Chinese, which is the dialect read in Beijing, is called "the national language" (guo-yu) in Taiwan, the common language (pu-tong-hua) in China, and is also read by many people in Hong Kong, and Singapore. Taiwan is not a region. "Mandarin" would be a better description and function of our region.

Geographically, Taiwan could not be considered a 'region' and I'll tell you why. While Taiwan, like our closest neighbors, the Philippines and Japan, are on islands and Korea is on a peninsula, we don't share languages. However, in China where Canton, Beijing, Sichuan are about 1200 miles away from each other, share the same language. Taiwan is physically closer to Hong Kong (502 miles) and Shanghai (426 miles.) It is easier and faster to travel between us by plane. Geographically, Taiwan is part of the Asian 'region' but not one Asian language. Our literature is English and Mandarin. We should be called the "Mandarin Asian Region."

The General Executive Board of the IWW has voted us a provisional Regional Organizing Committee (R.O.C.).  On my delegate card, it says I was elected/appointed a delegate for "Taiwan Region" but on the IWW website, on the masthead under 'directory" our blog on the International Directory is listed as the only resource under the "Asia Region.”We have been given an identity conflict. We should be called the "Asian Mandarin Region" since it is with Mandarin readers in Asia that we communicate with and help workers organize their work places.

Precluding another R.O.C. within Asia, the R.O.C. headquartered here in Taiwan represents all of the Asian Region. Unfortunately, at this time, our only common languages are Mandarin and English. We include both Mandarin and non-Mandarin reading areas in Asia as well as India and Pakistan to the west, Russia and Japan to the North, Malaysia and the Philippines to the south, and the Northern Pacific Islands west of Hawaii. Our R.O.C. in Australia can more closely identify with New Zealand, Tasmania, Micronesia and Indonesia. Call us the "Asian Regional Organizing Committee" until further notice.

A member of the IWW living in the Asian region would be wise to pay their dues to our R.O.C. in Taiwan. We can best serve their interests in translating and reaching out to Asian workers here. We would be much obliged if GHQ referred all Asian members, foreign and domestic, to their R.O.C. in Taiwan. In this way, we can decentralize the over-burdened headquarters in Chicago, USA. Furthermore, all dues and contributions in our first year of existence (up to September 2014) remain with us here in Asia to grow and expand our services and influences. I am asking all Wobblies visiting or living in Asia to sign up keep in good standing through their Asian R.O.C. in Taiwan. Contact us at to do so.

For One Big Union,
x 347367
Del. # 13-3235

No comments:

Post a Comment