- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Agreement on More Than We'd Like To Admit(?)

Posted by: Krasny ( Internationale, All Countries... ) on January 21, 19100 at 01:06:14:

In Reply to: Agreement on this part posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on January 20, 19100 at 17:14:41:

: :
: : **Jeesh SDF... you asked what us flesh and blood mortals could do to advance the cause of democracy and I answered 'agitation' as one of the things we could all do. There is no *one* thing that can do it. Which is usually why people end up forming associations of like minded people to try and do all the education, agitation, and informing needed to build a movement.

: SDF: Good, we agree in this.

: :
: : Also, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Internationales as proof of the lack of revolutionary fervor in the working classes.

: SDF: Actually, I had a more significant point, that the Internationals were examples of revolutionary organization gone wrong. The point is that everyone here has been concentrating on how to describe the communist utopia with all the right bells and whistles to the detriment of an understanding of how a movement is germinated and nurtured.

: : Just to take the example of the first internationale alone, 70,000 workers were executed for taking part in the Paris Commune and the international workingmen's association got the lion's share of the credit for that. If anything, the apparatus of the Internationale(s) themselves has been a hindrance... so let's fix the apparatus.** --K

: SDF: Agreed.

*Actually, we agree far more than we disagree. As such, I'm with you insofar as developing a blueprint for action versus all the semantical gymnastics inherent to any discussion of one vision of the classless / stateless society versus another. It's good to have a little blood letting around these ideas now and again... if only to illustrate that we aren't a bunch of Rush Limbaughist 'ditto-heads.'

One of the examples of a movement gone horribly wrong in the US (to take an example I'm familiar with) is the 'labor' movement. Way back when the Wagner Act was passed establishing the right of workers to form unions and collectively bargain with employers, they left out the agricultural sector entirely. The resultant National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not apply to farm workers at all and so, to this day, agricultural workers have no legal rights to organise a union.

Despite this, the AFL-CIO seems not to notice that millions of workers go without the very rights which other workers take for granted (not that organising according to the NLRA is a walk in the park!). Consequently, conditions of work in the fields of this country resemble the conditions one associates with turn-of-the-century laissez-faire sweatshop settings. This also exerts a downward pressure on wages and working conditions for the rest of labour.

So taking all this in mind, how can you 'revitalise' the Labor Movement in the US (John Sweeney's [president of the AFL-CIO] favorite catch-phrase) while ignoring those workers who are the most abused and the least paid? Either the Labor Movement encompasses all, or it can't effectively serve the needs of any. Meanwhile, the United Farm Workers seem committed to a strategy of candle-light vigils and intermittant boycotts on grapes - there is no legal strategy, community outreach, or solidarity programs with other sister unions.

You see the magnitude of the problems? One major obstacle to movement building is that you are shackled to the previous movement(s) in ways which prohibit your ability to mobilise. To old forms, old ideas, old approaches, which, in and of themselves, resulted in capitulation and defeat (see above).

Ironically, that's where Marxism has the most to offer in terms of placing the movement on a firm class basis and clearly delineating the lines of struggle. As for the framework, again, like you (I think) I'm less concerned with the particular form; it is that overall basis of the movement which must be 'revitalised' ...the rest can take care of itself.

Kind of a rant, I realise, but I'm curious if you have any examples of movements which you draw some of your conclusions from?* --K

"The very conditions of their lives make the workers capable of struggle and impel them to struggle. Capital collects the workers in great masses in big cities, uniting them, teaching them to act in unison. At every step the workers come face to face with their main enemy - the capitalist class. In combat with this enemy the worker becomes a socialist, comes to realize the necessity of a complete reconstruction of the whole of society, the complete abolition of all poverty and oppression." --Lenin

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