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Author Topic: Can the Working Class change the world
Boinker
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posted 31 May 2004 09:05 PM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Do you think Marx was wrong in selecting the working class as the agent of revolution?

This is classic Marxism but it is wide open for the Polanyi critique. Polanyi says that Marxism is a critique of a disembodied market but it still places the relations of the market economy at the centre of the struggle.

The working class is a statistical entity. People do not identify with some mystical world spirit in reality. They identify and exist in communities that while paying lip service to the free market in reality opt for their own community's best interest.

Perhaps I don't get the strategic argument as to why a demographic must acquire class conciousness. Ii feel part of a larger class of humanity but it is more humanist than rudely economic.

But perhaps this is a problem with my socialization:

quote:
What went wrong? Looking at the broad sweep of history, we can perhaps identify some of the forces at work and bad decisions taken. First, as Marx pointed out, capitalism creates workers in its own image. It is hard for workers to grasp the nature of their circumstances, to see that they create capital rather than the other way around. So even when organized, they strive for a “fairer” wage and better conditions rather than an end to the wage labor system that is the ultimate source of their circumstances. The system appears to them as inevitable and immutable, though they might win a better deal. Of course, this notion is reinforced by a vast propaganda machine, including the media and the schools.

Is there a working class conciousness? Who is its most eloquent spokesperson? Does it move the masses in some way that transcends media, school, work, social relations, etc., etc.,?

[ 31 May 2004: Message edited by: Boinker ]


From: The Junction | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ReeferMadness
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posted 31 May 2004 11:46 PM      Profile for ReeferMadness     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Having spent about 12 years of my working life in unionized environments, my observations of unions are:
=> they tend to be dominated by a small core of true believers, undermining the effectiveness of their claims to being democratic

=> the vast majority of the membership are not ideologically committed; rather they are in it for what they can get and if they can get a better deal outside of the union (even if that means someone else gets less), that's what they'll do.

=> they are engaged in a continually adversarial relationship with management, even if they have it relatively good compared with non-union workers.

In fact, on the whole, I'd say that unions and corporations have a lot in common. They want the most they can get and tend to downplay the damage caused to others interests in their pursuits.

I'd say that unions are as much a part of the problem as they are a part of the solution.

I can only think of four types of events that would seriously threaten the hegemony of capitalism:

1) A critical mass of people lose hope, resulting in a new Russian or French revolution

2) A critical shortage of a key resource (see peak oil) halts economic expansion and forces rationing.

3) A major environmental catastrophe (e.g. global warming) erupts and is tied unequivically to capitalism.

4) A new renaissance causes people en masse to abandon materialism in favour of education, critical thought and spiritualism.

(I know #4 is so unlikely but we can always hope).


From: Way out there | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 01 June 2004 05:34 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

1) A critical mass of people lose hope, resulting in a new Russian or French revolution

We know the results of violent revolution, and those who stand to lose wealth and power will always use the troops(unemployed victims of militarist Keynesianism) to fight to the last drop of our blood in protecting their assets and positions of power.

quote:

2) A critical shortage of a key resource (see peak oil) halts economic expansion and forces rationing.

We know that the 1970's energy crisis was what really caused soaring inflation of the 1970's and not wild social program spending as Linda McQuaig mentions even the most conservative economists now realize was the case. But the search for proof of the evils of modest to healthy levels of inflation did not suffer from a lack of effort.

There are talks of a coming oil crisis in the news recently which could upset global economies in Europe, China and the U.S. . OPEC has produced reports that show which oil producing nations are estimated to reach peak production in the coming few years time.

I think Marx and the far lefties were concerned about the wide array of commodities(stuf they gouge us for) subject to price fluctuations exemplify the vulnerabilities of the free market house of cards. And the silicon based IT economy of the roaring 1990's was predicted to avoid causing inflation that was true of older industries that relied on oil production, steel making and all of those ingredients that were there to cause domino inflationary effects. By what I've read, that was proven with the roaring '90's. We cana decent economy with "fuller" employment(fuller than now or what it was leading up to 2000 and 2001) and not suffer wild, runaway inflation which the wealthy see as a tax on their wealth and assets. But the business cycle that was hoped to disappear is still with us. Clinton's bunch sat back and allowed some deregulation of financial and stock markets as recommended by free market gurus. And what a disaster that was. Telecom was/is 12% of their economy and about 8% of Canada's. Nortel laid off 10 000 world wide. Yours truly has to resort to breaking a sweat to make ends meet. And the ends still don't meet very often.

quote:

3) A major environmental catastrophe (e.g. global warming) erupts and is tied unequivically to capitalism.

As Linda McQuaig says, at least the money spent on massive repairs and cleanups would add to the GDP. Maybe they could call it "nature" induced Keynesianism ?. It's even better when wealthy friends of their political parties are awarded no-bid contracts for such cleanups and security though.

The Yanks couldn't afford a natural disaster right now though. just like our Liberals hamstrung themselves from dealing with an economic crisis(9-11 forever!) with the massive tax cuts they committed us to just prior 9-11 and insutries requests for bailouts from that crisis effects as well as SARS. The IMF is already warning the Dubya regime that their unprecedented national deficit spending is causing instability in the world financial system. The hawks want China to float the Yuan on world currency markets so as to do away with the trade advantage and deficit that China has advantage with, but world economists are saying that would be irresponsible of the Chinese to do so with the global money situation being in such a vulnerable situation rightnow ...thanks to the big spending Republicans with their "yeehaw" foreign policies and massive corporate welfare statism.

quote:

4) A new renaissance causes people en masse to abandon materialism in favour of education, critical thought and spiritualism

I like this one best. Accessable, affordable education, and a higher standard for education throughout the world. They're moving the opposite way to this in Canada and the U.S. though. A thinking population is what the fascists fear most. Much harder to keep us focused on beer, hockey and sex when people become aware of what's going on around them.

[ 01 June 2004: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Boinker
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posted 01 June 2004 09:39 PM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am still highly supportive of unions because they are essentially lawful organizations. Additionally they can acquire a communitarian approach and can in theory develop long term strategic plans.

Unions have not sought to make ownership of the means of production a long term goal of the organization. This is a deficiency in my view of the essential understanding of the potential of a union. Ownership affords an escape from the demand for immediate profitability. Unions could use their enormous pension reserves and equity in companies jointly owned to reintegrate markets into the community.

But as we write unions are constantly on the defensive, fighting regard action to defend the gains they have made.

The "Capitalist System" does not seem to likely be overthrown through a sudden dramatic social upheaval although there may be some fireworks at the end of a long gradual process of worker ownership.

The basic economics are simple enough. A worker will be more ready to exchange immediate wage gains for ownership so long as it does not jeopardize the independance of his or her pension.

The "system" is inconsistent and can be disassembled and reconfigured into a braoder social organization.

[ 01 June 2004: Message edited by: Boinker ]


From: The Junction | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
thwap
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posted 01 June 2004 10:40 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that to the extent that most people work for a living, then the universal working class will change the world.

As for Marxian social revolution, I kinda have to agree with Murry Bookchin; revolutions have generally been the work of enraged peasants and intellectuals.


From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
lonecat
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posted 02 June 2004 02:33 AM      Profile for lonecat   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mao believed revolution begins with the peasants, and not workers in the cities.
I'm not sure I believe that, but I thought I would throw this in for good measure!

From: Regina | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 02 June 2004 11:21 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Having spent eight years in a union environment, I have to lean toward reefermadness on this.

I agree unions tend to be run by a small clique, but I would also argue that is just the way the membership wants it. They do not attend meetings. They do not remain informed. They have someone to blame when things go wrong.

Also, the membership is primarily self-interested. So auto-workers in Oshawa vote for Mike Harris while nurses beat on teachers and teachers beat on postal workers who beat on ... you get the picture.

Further, workers are easily co-opted, again by their own self-interests. Remember, the greatest threat to the system was in the wake of the first world war. Soldiers returned home from war to poverty and a heavy handed system that thanked them for their sacrifices in war with riot police and goons and the murder of workers during the Winnipeg strike. Then, we had world war II.

This time, because of the ideological threat posed by Soviet communism, their was a social compact established. Full employment, home ownership, creature comforts in exchange for worker loyalty to the system.

Now that the USSR has collapsed, we see that social compact be torn up with a fast and steady rush back to the early 1900's era of wealthy industrialists rolling like pigs in the public and private troughs while surrounded by vast swaths of poverty.

Can the working class change the world? Yes. Will they? No.

Again, I will side with reefermadness. What will change the world will be the inevitable failure of capitalism to infinitely consume finite resources.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
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posted 02 June 2004 03:40 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by WingNut:
I agree unions tend to be run by a small clique, but I would also argue that is just the way the membership wants it. They do not attend meetings. They do not remain informed. They have someone to blame when things go wrong.

While much of this is true, I think it also reflects the North American lifestyle squeeze to some extent. People work many hours, they commute many hours, they get groceries etc. at large stores distant from their houses leading to still more travel time. Generally all adults in any given household are working full time. If there's family in the picture, people nowadays are failures if they don't have their kids in lessons of one sort or another, which takes up more time. Further, the culture of fear of abduction etc., whether justified or not, means that people effectively can't just let kids come home on their own and go play around the neighbourhood. More time added to keep track of them at all times and give them rides and whatnot. Plus, all that stuff is stressful; if you don't have a bit of time to decompress, you'll go psycho.
Nobody wants to do any union stuff for the same reason they don't want to do much of anything else--they're overworked and stressed out. So the work gets done by a few workaholics and/or people with no dependents. I suspect that US and Canadian households nowadays spend more hours doing work and work-related travel etc. than at any time in history. I don't think it's a co-incidence that in say France where work-weeks are shorter and lifestyles generally more relaxed, unions are more militant.

Not saying this is the only reason--but it's a factor.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
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posted 02 June 2004 04:12 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
They do not attend meetings. They do not remain informed. They have someone to blame when things go wrong.

This may be true, but I've found that it's also true that my union is run by some pretty "old-school" union types who can make Woody Guthrie look like a scab labourer. And I think it's time this whole "Union Brother/Union Sister" business gets retired to the Anachronism Closet with "groovy" and "far out". Finally, toss the crypto-marxism element, impose the occasional moratorium on antagonizing the management, talk like regular humans instead of "recognizing the floor" (isn't it the flat thing under your feet?) and maybe, just maybe regular workers might not feel like their union office is some kind of Moonie central.


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Boinker
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posted 02 June 2004 07:19 PM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
talk like regular humans instead of "recognizing the floor" (isn't it the flat thing under your feet?) and maybe, just maybe regular workers might not feel like their union office is some kind of Moonie central.


From: The Junction | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
N-SIGN
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posted 09 June 2004 02:19 AM      Profile for N-SIGN     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The working class money does not want socialism or Marx's "worker state"... they just want more money.

This is why you get the teachers beating on postal workers who beat on nurses who beat on electrical workers and no class solidarity.

Marx also expects people to act rationally, and he who has not wasted a year's pay in the name of love does not have a human heart.


From: Canada | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
abnormal
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posted 09 June 2004 06:05 PM      Profile for abnormal   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The working class money does not want socialism or Marx's "worker state"... they just want more money.

I'd agree with you if you said "they just want to KEEP more money."


From: far, far away | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 09 June 2004 07:52 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Magoo:
This may be true, but I've found that it's also true that my union is run by some pretty "old-school" union types who can make Woody Guthrie look like a scab labourer. And I think it's time this whole "Union Brother/Union Sister" business gets retired to the Anachronism Closet with "groovy" and "far out". Finally, toss the crypto-marxism element, impose the occasional moratorium on antagonizing the management, talk like regular humans instead of "recognizing the floor" (isn't it the flat thing under your feet?) and maybe, just maybe regular workers might not feel like their union office is some kind of Moonie central.

This made me laugh out loud for almost a full minute.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DonnyBGood
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posted 12 June 2004 11:30 PM      Profile for DonnyBGood     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The thing is that unions are powerful because they address one of the main pillars of democratic existence - that of equality. They also deliver better wages, better benefits, shorter hours and overall a relatively better workplace.

But the problem is that they have limits and they treat people in an individualistic society uniformly. I don't think this is that bad because unions respect people's universal and common rights. They don't expect or demand that you exploit your talents or unique abilities for the benefit of the corporation.

So when you go to the union office you will not meet the cardboard cutter personalities you see in a management office.

...or you shouldn't.

Sometimes however, you do and that is a problem. Too often union leaders only give lip service to union democracy and depend on the loyalty of the membership. But in far too many cases the utter indifference of the membership results in union leaders being acclaimed year after year with little opposition.

It is very similar to the Liberal approach to government - convince the membership that the job can only be done by one group of people and then get yourself well placed among the so self annointed. Snuggle up with management and give them assurances that there will be nothing too difficult for them to deal with and well, you get a "Paul Martin" type union!



From: Toronto | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
LeftRight
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posted 13 June 2004 09:15 PM      Profile for LeftRight   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boinker:
Do you think Marx was wrong in selecting the working class as the agent of revolution?

This is classic Marxism but it is wide open for the Polanyi critique. Polanyi says that Marxism is a critique of a disembodied market but it still places the relations of the market economy at the centre of the struggle.

The working class is a statistical entity. People do not identify with some mystical world spirit in reality. They identify and exist in communities that while paying lip service to the free market in reality opt for their own community's best interest.

Perhaps I don't get the strategic argument as to why a demographic must acquire class conciousness. Ii feel part of a larger class of humanity but it is more humanist than rudely economic.

But perhaps this is a problem with my socialization:

Is there a working class conciousness? Who is its most eloquent spokesperson? Does it move the masses in some way that transcends media, school, work, social relations, etc., etc.,?

[ 31 May 2004: Message edited by: Boinker ]


The question is a little suspect. The working class is identified as most moved to change; I suppose that is what you mean when you say 'selected by Marx'? Demographic differentials are in large part due to limits in communication; communication limited due to the number of people, the distance between them and mutual alienation/estrangement.

Class consciousness is when a person realizes that the hierarchy is no longer working for the common good, but biased to favour the higher class.....Is there any real community out there? People act on their self-interest, however they may understand it, because that's what they can grasp at the moment. Community is rapidly becoming whatever a person can get to as in a group for a sense of belonging. Communities with ancient history are becoming extinct. But, I guess new ones are emerging.

Achieving class-consciousness is normal intellectual develoment. People who fail to do so....? You tell me, what's their problem?


From: Fraser Valley | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
LeftRight
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posted 13 June 2004 09:22 PM      Profile for LeftRight   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boinker:
Do you think Marx was wrong in selecting the working class as the agent of revolution?

From that page: "....The question which immediately comes to mind is whether the working class is capable of fulfilling the role Marx sets for it. Today, the consensus among radicals is that it is probably not; it has had a lot of time to do so but so far has not. I disagree, and in this paper I attempt to say why...."


[ 31 May 2004: Message edited by: Boinker ]


Perhaps we should get these 'radicals' out of the movement.


From: Fraser Valley | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
LeftRight
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posted 13 June 2004 09:34 PM      Profile for LeftRight   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boinker:
Do you think Marx was wrong in selecting the working class as the agent of revolution?

[ 31 May 2004: Message edited by: Boinker ]


I gave the article a little more read and fine, but these articles are for people who are in the business of reading and writing articles, not sociologistics who know what the limitations are imposed on working class intellectually. What is needed is a simple clear goal that pays money and collective power at the end of it, not this self-inflating literary icing (still some good points made: environmental damage etc., except it projects that capitalism will successfully damage the whole thing....far too late to doing anything about it).

TJ


From: Fraser Valley | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Phil
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posted 14 June 2004 05:54 AM      Profile for Phil     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by LeftRight:

People act on their self-interest, however they may understand it, because that's what they can grasp at the moment. Community is rapidly becoming whatever a person can get to as in a group for a sense of belonging. Communities with ancient history are becoming extinct. But, I guess new ones are emerging.

Achieving class-consciousness is normal intellectual develoment. People who fail to do so....? You tell me, what's their problem?


Part of the problem, I believe is that the term "working class" no longer holds any meaning for most people who are indeed working class.

Scan some of the threads on Babble and too often the term is a synonym for low-income groups. Most, but not all people who read newspapers, watch the news, intend to vote, etc, etc, don't see themselves in that way.

In fact, the blue-collar "working class" especially those who are unionized, whether in the private or public sector often earn as much as--or more--than white collar "middle class" employees who are not unionized. [The main exception here is perhaps the "pink-collar" ghettos (hospitality, textiles, care-giving) where women in traditionally "feminine" occupations earn ridiculously low wages--unionized or not. Nursing, perhaps the one "pink-collar" job that challenges this generalization, has fought back with a focus on "professionalism" and has paid a heavy price in terms of the decline in permanent full-time positions--at least in Ontario.]

I've been around too long to think the world will change significantly for the better or that the revolution is imminent... (I'm actually afraid of the revolution because I think I'd be in one of the top 20 professions lined up in front of the firing squad...)

Nevertheless, I believe that organized labour represents the last, best hope for "average Canadians" once it gets its act together and does what it's supposed to do.

Yep, labour has not been especially progressive in the past when it comes to issues of race, gender, disability; yep, internal bickering and the personal ambitions of individual labour leaders even today throw the movement off-track more often than one would like; and yep, as mentioned earlier in this thread anachronistic, cultic jargon on the part of die-hards like me combined with the overall apathy of the rank and file do not bode well. But the times they are a-changing.

(Lordy, even Lou Dobbs is worried about the out-sourcing of American jobs overseas. He just can't shut up about it...)

One day there will be a unionized Wal-Mart that doesn't shut down once the vote is over. The world won't change, but that community, whether it's in Manitoba or Missouri, will be better off...

Sorry--I'm a bit scattered--I need more sleep...


From: Toronto | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
VoiceofTreason
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posted 14 June 2004 11:45 AM      Profile for VoiceofTreason     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boinker:
Do you think Marx was wrong in selecting the working class as the agent of revolution?


But perhaps this is a problem with my socialization:

Is there a working class conciousness? Who is its most eloquent spokesperson? Does it move the masses in some way that transcends media, school, work, social relations, etc., etc.,?

[ 31 May 2004: Message edited by: Boinker ]


I'm still working through my stance on Marx and the role of the bourgeoisie but I did find one particular thinker a little more illuminating on the subject of class consciousness: Gramsci.

His notes on civil society, hegemony and counter-hegemony are fairly enlightening. I'm glossing over it here because it's been about 2 years since I read it but basically the idea of hegemony for Gramsci is as much a cultural phenomenon as a power relationship. Whether Gramsci intended it or not by implication his assertion that social groups (in our case capital) come to power by way of a cultural consensus, those outside the ruling group concede power by either accepting the dominance of one group in exchange for certain concessions or through the use of the states monopoly on the use of violence. In either case a successful hegemonic group creates a culture of acceptance of their right to rule. At present that is a bourgeois culture. Peculiarly I think the answer to your question lies in this observation - a class consciousness doesn't transcend media, schools, work or social relations, it's integral to all of these things.

Class consciousness is cultural which sort of makes the behaviour of labour unions and their members (as mentioned in other rejoinders to this thread) easier to understand. They accept on some level or another, the culture of the current hegemonic class. For Marx's clarion call to the working class to actually take shape would require a counter-hegemonic culture of the working class (or for Mao's sake the peasant class)to emerge. This would need to supplant the hegemonic culture of the bourgeoisie and bring competing groups into alliance with it.

I'm sure there are many stripes of socialist that might take issue with my interpretation - I invite their comments too.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
DonnyBGood
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posted 14 June 2004 08:19 PM      Profile for DonnyBGood     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gramsci is one of those names that is oft cited but I haven't read any of his work that I recall.

But on the idea that capitalistic hegemony is systematic and therefore any community that suceeds at intergrating its communitarian values with existence is coopted, well this is solopsistic argument.

Anarchosyndicalism as a type of communitarian approach would also resist the idea that capitalism was a sytem that was universal that needed total erradication prior to any truly socialistic social form.

The agent of Marxist thought is therefore also an abstraction itself although I have the funny feeling that there is much of the notion of our common humanity in the idea.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 14 June 2004 08:42 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of the most insidious ways the powers that be maintian their power is to debase and humiliate those that have no access to power.

The most vibrant example is making people on social assistance social pariahs. People on welfare, for the most part, don't vote, don't protest and don't participate because they have come to believe what they've been told about themselves.

So, too, have workers bought into the notion that they are easily expendable; that they are employed, not because they are the most vital part of the economy, but because of some charitable notion of their employer.

What we look for in the Union movement, and the NDP is a leader who will restore the truth to workers and the impoverished, to restore their pride so that they can assume their proper leadership roles in our economy and our society.

Sadly, much of the Labour movement and NDP leadership is made up of academics who also buy into the powers that be notion, but want to do something for us poor shlubs because they, having sucked at the royal jelly teat of higher education, believe they know what's best for us.

The revolution will come when workers have thier pride restored to them.

...........'cause it's only then when it will become starkly apparent to them how much they've been fucked over.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 14 June 2004 09:02 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think American presidents Truman, Kennedy and Johnson who credited trade unionism in the States for their improved standard of living in post-world war America.

I was interested in finding out that all political parties in the States are for some sort of global trade mediation authority, including their socialist party. They cite the UN as a possibility. All major parties agree that a central trade authority is needed to decide on everything from fair wages and trade among UN member nations.

American companies like IBM, Microsoft and INTEL have been exporting living wage manufacturing jobs, as well as important research and development work, to nations like China, Russia and India where about 20% of the world's software developers reside. here was a stretch of 43 consecutuve months after 2000 that saw an estimated 3 million American manufacturing jobs exported overseas and more will follow. Indian engineers can live well on $10 000 dollars a year in that country. And both India and China are not having to adhere to economic austerity programs of reform under scrutiny of the IMF. Russia, with its abundance of mineral and oil wealth, was fairing the worst under IMF reforms as are the African nations indebted to the IMF and its engineers of liberal democracy. In fact, the Chinese Yuan isn't even traded on world currency markets as per liberal democratic reforms. Not yet, anyway. Companies like IBM, INTEL and McDonald's restaurants are ceding 51% controlling interest to the Chinese state and proving that they can thrive in a communist-interventionist economy, which is even further to the left than the democratic socialism of Singapore or Germany. The Chinese now have a middle class larger than the U.S. population. Theirs and India's economies have been growing at 6, 7 and 8 percent, with China's expanding for the last 21 years in a row while Canada and the U.S. hobble along at 1.8 to 3 percent when not mired in recession.

[ 14 June 2004: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
VoiceofTreason
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posted 15 June 2004 12:35 AM      Profile for VoiceofTreason     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by DonnyBGood:
Gramsci is one of those names that is oft cited but I haven't read any of his work that I recall.

But on the idea that capitalistic hegemony is systematic and therefore any community that suceeds at intergrating its communitarian values with existence is coopted, well this is solopsistic argument.


The Argument you presented above certainly is solipsistic but has nothing to do with what I was trying to convey.

Perhaps I explained it poorly? There isn't anything solipsistic about Gramsci's understanding of capitalistic hegemony. Hegemony of any flavour be it capitalist, communist, anarchosyndicalist, etc. must in some way establish its dominance over other groups. The bourgeoisie do not cease to hold bourgeoise opinions simply because a competing group (lets say the proletariat) are in power. However, assuming you don't purge all members of the bourgeoisie, those that remain will either aquiess to the dominant culture or continue to be the victims of the state's monopoly on the use of violence.

All Gramsci says is that groups that do not share the same class interests can still exist within a common polity where a dominant culture has incorporated potentially competitve claims to power.

This has two implications:

1. That a working class hegemony is not necessarily the end of history per se, because a competing counter-hegemonic movement could displace it. (Gramsci himself might disagree with me there); and

2. That the prospects for overthrowing capitalist hegemony is not dependent on the full mobilization of the working class, but rather on its mobilization in concert with other groups to supplant the current ruling class.

There is a third point which was the answer to the original question "Can the Working Class Change the World?" Yes but only if they can be convinced to cease granting their consent to the class interest of capital in exchange for the meagre gains they hoard under the modern trade-union system.

Gramsci merely provides a useful explanation as to how the most concentrated areas of working class conciousness (the trade union) has failed to produce a revolutionary overthrow of capitalist forces in control of the state.

The working class has been bought. Marxist dreams of a working class revolution was bought with them.

Right, tomatoes at the ready everyone!!!

Edited because I can't spell past my bed time.

[ 15 June 2004: Message edited by: VoiceofTreason ]


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 15 June 2004 02:42 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The working class has been bought. Marxist dreams of a working class revolution was bought with them.

I think that as prosperous cold war economy disappears and the North American standard of living becomes less and less of what it was in the 1960's and 70's, people's attitudes at the bottom end of the economy will shift to the left.
The student protests at Tianenmen Square were about democratic socialism and not unbridled capitalism as many have been led to believe by corporate sponsored media in the States. European socialists are fighting to maintain universal access to education because they know that literacy and democratic socialism go hand in hand. Here in the far west, the universality of higher education is being attacked by the right wing. Fascism and universal literacy are imcompatible.

As politics move further to the right in what is the last bastion of unfettered capitalism in the U.S.A, world politics tend to sway more to the left. America's "yeehaw" foreign policy is the driving force.

[ 15 June 2004: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
VoiceofTreason
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posted 15 June 2004 11:22 AM      Profile for VoiceofTreason     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think that as prosperous cold war economy disappears and the North American standard of living becomes less and less of what it was in the 1960's and 70's, people's attitudes at the bottom end of the economy will shift to the left.

Fidel, I'm not sure history bears you out on that. Disenfranchisment and disolusionment will likely preceed a leftward move. Poverty tends to breed pig ignorance not enlightened understanding. I'm not sure who said it but the following comes to mind: Only the well fed can afford a social concience.

quote:

As politics move further to the right in what is the last bastion of unfettered capitalism in the U.S.A, world politics tend to sway more to the left. America's "yeehaw" foreign policy is the driving force.

Ok can you provide support for that statement? I'm not doubting the "pendulum's swing" might bring international political consensus towards the left but I'm not sure that French or German disagreement with American military activities has anything to do with the rightward tilt of American politics. I suspect it has something more to do with the fact that the French have always enjoyed tweaking the nose of the current Hegemon. It was the British for a while, followed by the Americans during the cold war.

I will agree that the blatant electioneering around the Madrid blast did prompt a leftward backlash in Spain. And Labour in the UK is being faced with a similar backlash - only this time its likely to be the tories - a right wing party that comes into government.

Can you give me an example of how there has been a decisively leftward shift in global politics?

Best,

[ 15 June 2004: Message edited by: VoiceofTreason ]


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
DonnyBGood
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posted 16 June 2004 07:25 PM      Profile for DonnyBGood     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am reading a discarded library book about the history of the Canadian border with the US.

One of the interesting aspects about it is how flexible people's sense of identity was in 1812 and in 1776. In 1812 border communities who new one another often refused to go to war. Americans showing up to liberate Quebecers from British "oppression" were given the heave ho by the habitants. Habitants remembered the aggressive and piratical attitudes of American "settlers". They were often allied with indigenous people who saw their land gobbled up, etc.

We ought to be careful when we talk about nations being more left or more right or even working poor having some natural affinity simply because they are poor. The fact is communities have their own hegemonies and there own value systems.

Because of this I think it is doubtful that a purely working class revolution is likely even if we stretch the definition to everyone who earns wages.

What is really needed is a huge concious raising experience where people get the sense that there is some way collectively, perhaps even politically to solve social problems.

The right wing has the rhetoric right in that it first alienates or recognizes that people feel alienated from their governments. It then says that, perversely it is government that is the problem, and then proposes that individuals can only solve these problems. But what is the main characteristic of the individual? Self interest.


I may as an individual see that I may realize my self interest in the community but what is a community of self interest but government in the purist sense? What modern bureucratic structures are are artificial communities designed to administer other organic communities.

They often meet with resentment and these two communities do not often get along that well.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 16 June 2004 08:51 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Voice of tReason says:
quote:
Can you give me an example of how there has been a decisively leftward shift in global politics?

I agree that an enlightenment is fueled by access to education and literacy. The BJP party was predicted to win in India as were Uri in S.Korea as were the Popular Party in Spain. The left won surprise victories in all three cases. Brazilians were fed up with poor, hungry children and celebrated in the streets like no other political result. Chilean's have finally felt secure enough to elect another socialist government in 2000, alhtough the fascist bureacrats still lurk in the shadows there.

The IMF and World Bank are seeing their economic austerity reforms turning sour around the world. Free market experiments in water distribution are not going well in every city from Paris to Moncton to Vancouver to Atlanta to Bolivia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Bolivians have railed against paying free market prices for water. They ask, Who can own the rain ?.

I agree that Britain's labour party is further to the right than was expected. We have to realize though that Margaret Thatcher sold off public assets at firesale prices over the course of three terms of conservative rule. She pauperized a nation while Milton Friedman proved to the world in yet another country that monetarism was good at controlling inflation but made high unemployment a permanent feature of the economy. The Bank Of England abandoned purely monetarist policy approach to reserve banking in 1986 and the U.S. Fed in 1982.

But I don't think in India's case that it was U.S. colonialist policies in Iraq. I think that the U.S. colonialists and military industrial complex have been waging a global war on social democracy for the past several decades. Commentators have said that it was the Soviets who ceded the cold war due to bankrupting themselves with cold war spending. Apparently, that wasn't true. The Soviets spent no more of their annual 1980's budgets on military buildup than in prior years. But the American's did spend more of their annual GDP's on cold war spending. The result was Reaganomics and trickle down deficit spending that gave American's the largest national debts in history. And so some people have asked how much longer can the Yanks run around the world borrowing and spending billions in militart to protect the world from an enemy that doesn't exist ?. The Soviets stabbed the American military industrial complex in the back by ceding the cold war. So where is the prosperity that was predicted to follow the end of the cold war as economic growth herein the far west has been shrinking or just holding its own ever since ?.

I think that oligarchs who are on the receiving end of corporate welfare in the States are coming close to breaking the bank in the States with colonialist militaristic exploits in places like Iraq. The IMF is warning the Yanks that their borrowing to fund military and tax cuts for the rich is creating instability for the world banking system. The Yanks have an unprecedented budget deficit of $520 Billion dollars as well as a trade deficit with China. The trade deficit could be put in check if the CHinese were to allow their currency to be floated on currency markets. By what I've read, the CHinese will not give up their low valued Yuan by allowing it to rise against the U.S. dollar for several reasons and one of them is that world economists are telling them it would be irresponsible at this point with world economies and financial systems in volatile conditions. The communists have often said that world commodities each are like playing cards in what is a free market house of cards and that rising prices on one of them makes the entire system fragile and wide open to disaster.

I apologize for the meandering style writing as I'm no word smith. I'd like to improve but sometimes I'm rushed and prolly shouldn't bother unless I can do it proper, but I enjoy reading people's opinions.

Another point is that I think there is a sort of renaissance happening with the internet and access to other opinions and knowledge. I see people obsessed with the internet. I find it to be cheap, interactive entertainment. It's not as anti-social as many believe it is, and I think people all over the world want to know what's happining around them. They can price education out of reach for the poor, but perhaps knowledge won't be as inaccessable as it was when the Catholic church were sole keepers of the written word. It's no substitute for a classic education, I agree, but the internet could turn out to be a factor in some aspect of democracy or another.

The Islamic world is crying out for social justice right now. They know that the various promises of U.S. installed puppets in places like Iran have tended to maintain extreme poverty and concentrations of wealth. Muhammed said that usury and rent are sinful, and yet obscene compound is an important economic mechanism for transferring vast wealth from the poor to the rich. And so we make war with Islam. But for how much longer can the imperialist-colonialists continue to subvert democracy ?. I don't know either, but it can't last forever.

Look on the bright side. We've progressed from slavery, to feudalism to colonialism, and finally, colonialism backed into an American corner disguised as free market capitalism.
The next logical phase for human development, once predatory capitalism burns itself out, is democratic socialism. Social democracy already exists in 13 countries. Tianenmen Square was about democratic socialism. The American's, as Jack Layton said during the debate, want to hear more from the Canadian left in Washington in promoting their own causes for universal health care and fair trade etc. The way I see it, social democracy is still a struggle around the world and is battling hard right now, but change is inevitable. We don't want economies in plastic widgets to be thrown on the scrap heaps. People want the basics first: affordable food,shelter, education and health care. And democratic socialism is still the best approach to achieving that for the greatest number of people.

[ 16 June 2004: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
VoiceofTreason
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posted 17 June 2004 02:49 PM      Profile for VoiceofTreason     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fidel,
Nothing wrong with a meandering style - Its fun seeing where the brain can take you.

I'm still looking for the proof - here's why I'm unconvinced: The examples were good, in that they demonstrated decisive moves against current neo-liberal policies and muscle flexing. But they all rely on what some might see as the normal oscilation of electoral politics.

As an Africanist I would love nothing more than to see privatization of public resources implode in the faces of the IMF and WB (as it seems to be doing).

But people protesting suddenly having to pay for a service that was free doesn't denote an inherently leftward shift in a country, town, community's politics. Its merely indicative of an unpopular policy.

Where the examples fall down is that they are largely electoral responses to unpopular regimes. The oscilations between Thatcherite and Blarian politics in the U.K. is merely bouncing between two options in a dual party system. A truely leftward shift would see an emergence of a party or group capable of providing a truely leftward choice for the population and then seeing the electorate move towards them.

BJP - fell flat on their faces because they ignored the fact that India is still a predominantly poor country. I don't think the poor are necessarily leftward leaning, especially once they see their socio-economic status rise. Again electoral backlash that benefits the opposition that just happens to be left is not really a good indication of an overall leftward tilt.

If this comes across as undue attention to your comments, please don't take it that way. I'm trying to bring my own thinking to task. I've been too guilty lately of allowing my particular political leanings to colour my understanding of what's going on in my studies and in the real world and I'm just trying to be rigorous in my approach to the questions posed and comments made. I want a world where conservatives are forced to the political fringe. I just don't believe that day is coming.

I look forward to the replies (if any.)

In Solidarity.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 17 June 2004 04:27 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not much to add to that, VoiceOfTreason. I agree with the oscillation of electoral choices. I think that the power brokers and wealthy have learned from revolutions past to conceal their unprecedented wealth, especially in the United States. And I agree that since the perceived threat of Marxist-communism has subsided, we are seeing a general erosion of standards of living, wages and unions etc. I see the colonialist-militaristic policies of the U.S. as having prevented social democracy from happening everywhere from Afghanistan to Africa and Latin America over the past several decades. Patrice Lamumba was caged liked an animal, they chopped off Dr. Che Guevera's hands for attempting to liberate the oppressed and Bernadette Devlin's house was shot to pieces as British soldiers stood down not far away.

But as we've witnessed, it takes money for operations like Cyclone and Condor and "Iraqi freedom." The right wing has to resort to stealing money and selling weapons to despots in Iran and selling opium to fund the war on working class people. The British empire collapsed as did Rome and China under the Kahn's when the rich refused to pay taxes in support of empire. The American's are over-extended on lines of credit now, and in my opinion, I think that vast wealth is already leaving America in what could be another post-renaissance period. Barons and capitalists will void on any port in a storm, and they are in China right now, ceding 51% controlling interest in Microsoft, IBM, INTEL R&D facilities, McDonald's Restaurants to the Chinese state and proving to the rest of the world that they can thrive in a communist-interventionist economy that still has not liberalized its capital markets. The IMF and World Bank have little say in the way China and India's economies are surging ahead at unprecedented growth while ours are mired in recession and anemic growth rates of 1.8 per cent and 3% in good years.

I think that when trade unionism and basic human/workers rights are finally had around the world, then capital will have no place else to turn for cheap labour, and democratic choices will swing to the left for longer, more sustained periods of time. Corporate-statism is waning even in the UNited States, and the last of it to go will be big military spending. That is, if the fascists do not have another plot for world domination up their collective sleeves.


I think that with all of the cold war nonsense and massive death and destruction aside, left wing thought has permeated global society to a greater degree than the handful of elitists in the world would prefer. Gone are the days of Smithian-laissez faire economics that gave us moribund economies with a dollar a day in wages and farmers not affording new farm equipment. On a Biblical scale, Keynes showed that the multiplier effect would produce loaves and fish for the working poor. And they've been trying to extinguish that burning bush ever since. Communism can work in all its forms when not having to fight wars and endure trade embargos, we know that. The ultra-right still believe JM Keyenes was a communist in disguise, but we all know he was a socialist who saved capitalism from itself. As the American's have learned in various immoral and illegal wars, they could not kill an idea.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

salut!

[ 17 June 2004: Message edited by: Fidel ]


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged

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