- Capitalism and Alternatives -

No caste system here, it's getting easier and easier to slide down

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 20, 19100 at 09:33:27:

In Reply to: That might be true in a frozen society, such as a caste. posted by Frenchy on February 19, 19100 at 19:53:24:

: So why is it that I, a worker, having had the 'propinquity' that Lenin speaks of, disagree so forcefully?

That you are an American worker says a lot. Lenin:

The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others.(1)

Written in 1914, that thesis was even more apt for the Strickland / Meany-era union support of American Cold War imperialism than it was then.

Things are changing, though, Frenchy. Workers like you are losing their jobs, they're being forced into low-skill part-time work, the bribes are being reduced.

And with the increased pressure upon the once-prosperous American proletariat, the support for the capitalist overlords is beginning to erode.

: I think that part of the reason is that, by and large, workers are comparatively unsophisticated about politics in general and can be easily led by a skilled pol. A skilled pol who promises 'tax the rich' and hand out free government cheese for everyone will attract a certain type of voter, a voter whose motives may be based on envy of those who are materially better off than he is without bothering to ask how that person got that way.

Yes, during the Cold War prosperity, the bribes were 'generous.' The welfare state kept the blacks quiet, the union rates (which even non-union skilled workers vicariously enjoyed) kept the white workers quiet; a little free cheese here, a little income redistribution there---a modest investment to keep poor and working Americans solidly behind their capitalist bosses (the same people who sent so many of the workers to die in Korea and Vietnam for...what?).

: The things that blue-collar workers talk about are not Mills, Rand or Lenin.

I beg to differ.

(Most) workers do not discuss Mills, Rand and Lenin by chapter and verse, but they are surrounded by their ideas and they do have opinions on those ideas as they affect them. Every time you champion Bill Gates for 'deserving' his riches, you discuss Rand. Every time you question whether or not your boss is really smarter than you, you discuss Lenin. Every worker spends some time being a political scientist, they have no choice, really... Every working day is a political experience...



1. Lenin, 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,' Collected Works volume 22, Progress Publishers 1964, p. 301.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup