- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Continuing from Krasny's post: better version

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on January 23, 19100 at 11:56:58:

Continued from here...

: *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.'

SDF: Frankly, I think that the debate dominating McS C&A has centered around three social diseases:

1) 'Revolutionary' nostalgia: "Once upon a time, gods walked the Earth, and we should carry out their plans even if they are irrelevant to material conditions today." To be distinguished from those who ask: "What can we do here and now with what we've got?"

2) Neurotic escapism: this one's the opposite of 1), and is characterized by "My utopia is better than your utopia, so I won't be needing your help in bringing it about." To be distinguished from utopian dreaming, which is the floating utopian light of human imagination that illuminates by contrast the injustice in today's conditions. Also to be distinguished from the utopia of the lucky and privileged (i.e. not you, though you can watch others enjoying it on television) that is sold to the world every second of every day by the culture industry.

3) Social amnesia, the procapitalist social disease: "let's forget there is a working class, let's forget global poverty, let's forget the conflict between the crisis of overproduction and global carrying capacity, don't worry, be happy, now what was your argument again?" To be distinguished from those who strive to portray the world as it really is and was.

: 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.

SDF: See, people don't know this unless they're stuck in it already, this is why I started this thread with Freire's appeal to democratic education... please read carefully what he asked for, w/ relation to his own native Brazil -- a discussion of democracy and social classes, democracy and economics...

: 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.

SDF: Time to organize a grassroots rebellion?

: 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.

SDF: And haven't a lot of the higher-ups in the big unions sold out to the Democratic Party? The 'two-party' system keeps the union elites in a jail of its own, doesn't it?

: 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

SDF: Problem is, the conditions of our lives make us incapable of struggle, because they're dominated by ideologies that we believe, and so we capitulate in our own oppression.

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