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View Diary: Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Working Class Self-Activity: Leading the USA to Democracy (81 comments)

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  •  Collective action also worked (5+ / 0-)

    a whole lot better before globalization created, for the first time, a truly global working class, or as the bourgeois economists like to call it, a truly global labor market. Absent real transnational solidarity and organization, workers in a globalized economy will usually lose to capital, which really can move its capital elsewhere.

    I think workers realize this, and that's why they have such serious doubts about the efficacy of collective action.

    "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

    by Le Gauchiste on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:05:57 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Workers, en mass (5+ / 0-)

      Can stop the trains, the ports, refuse to open the doors, keep the elevators from moving, keep the planes from taking off and landing. It would take a lot of people to do this, which of course, is the whole point.

      I don't think workers have well formed doubts of collective action. I think they have been distracted from it by consumerism. They've simply forgotten. They don't know the history. And they have bought into the negative memes which have been deliberately foisted on them about unions and collective action, and are left with only one thing to be proud of in American society: Getting up and going to work as an individual.

      So... we need to change this meme somehow.

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:14:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course they can, however, that (4+ / 0-)

        requires workers to accept their power, to have subjective consciousness of their power and that is what is absent in the US. It is easy to say the words "general strike," it is quite another thing to actually be able to build such a thing. When I hear people in the US saying that we are even close to such a thing, it indicates to me that people do not understand what it means to be able to do one successfully.

        In Greece, they have been able to do this, everyone (including all shops), transport, energy, workers of all types walked out.  The ministry of finance was occupied by retirees. They have been building towards these for years and Greece has a far more conscious working class than the one in the US (and the UK) which has been beaten down for years (you need to go back to Reagan and Thatcher and deliberate de-industrialisation to see how this was done). if you think that we are close to that situation in either the UK or US, you are seeing something that no one else is seeing. Occupy is wonderful and they have been doing good work, it is fantastic that this has taken off. However, we need an international response on the part of the working class in response to the internationalisation of capital and we are nowhere near that at this point. The working class is separated, divide and rule has been very effective in preventing unity not only internationally, but even in one country. That is all Le Gauchiste was saying, you may not like what he is saying, but you have no right to talk to a comrade this way; it is inappropriate. In the anti-capitalist meet-up, we treat each other with respect and respectfully disagree. Otherwise, it is impossible for Anarchists of various perspectives, Marxists of various perspectives and Social Democrats to work together. Please respect our writers.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:30:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think the diarist was saying more than that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          isabelle hayes, NY brit expat

          which, I think, if you reread his comments, should be obvious. Most of the replies to me have been strawmen. You're both, to at least some degree, replying to things I never said.

          I think you both have such well developed opinions, so long ago hashed out, that when some of us weigh in with a comment, it triggers a slew of a thousand things you've read and formulated over many years of time. You belt out an answer long ago settled in your minds, and there is a bit of expectancy on your part that the rest of us are here to absorb what you have to say.

          This topic is important. It is truly the People's Topic. It should have a wider readership.

          There was a phenomenon I noticed at the Occupy events. Old time activists would come, try to dominate, find themselves having to start at the beginning of the line just like everyone else, then get mad, and stomp off. No tolerance for these smart kids who had so much to learn, but also much to teach the rest of us. Their generation is seeing the world with new eyes, which is a gift, since that can lead to new ways of perceiving things that older people overlook.

          In other words, their inexperience is an advantage for these kids. They can start fresh without all the preconceived notions.

          We should value all comers to the table. We each have experiences that may be of value. We shouldn't assume a hierarchy of knowledge or superiority. You can't know in advance what another person has to offer.

          Anyway...

          Peace.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 12:18:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was totally with you until you (0+ / 0-)

            called a comrade maestro, I am assuming that you understand that it means master; at which point, I took offense. If you talk to people like that, they will respond accordingly.

            I work alongside kids, I work alongside everyone. I only ask for mutual respect. There is an old, but very important position which members of the left have maintained, I suggest that you consider it. You do not have to accept it, but I will know where you stand if you do not.

            "from each, according to their abilities; to each, according to their needs"

            It is sort of a golden rule and not only describes how we want things under socialism, it is a rule of conduct for comrades and activists.

            You are still continuing your behaviour, it is inappropriate. I do not care how old you are, I simply ask people to treat other comrades with respect. I do not expect that from mainstreamers, we are used to being red-baited, but we ask that from other members of the left.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:45:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, its a wonderful way of putting it (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              congenitalefty, NY brit expat

              "from each, according to their abilities; to each, according to their needs"

              Did you really presume I didn't know that, or did you just do that to piss me off? Heh.

              I was set to come here this morning and apologize. Profusely. My personal circumstances are, at the moment, rather horrible, and I'm stressed beyond anything I've experienced in my entire adult life, due to the economics of my situation. My living conditions are awful. I work in an awful job, which was both a miracle to have found, as well as a curse. The world does look very different from this perspective.

              I'm angry. Really angry at this society. I'm hurt. There is stress from every direction. I don't know what I'm going to do, how I'm going to make things better. I may have a dismal future awaiting me.  I'm struggling, as if clawing my way up a cliff by my fingernails. I really shouldn't come here to comment. I'm probably not in the best frame of mind for public discourse.

              And then I read your latest comment. Shit. I truly should stay away from this series. I won't elaborate further.

              I do apologize. I barely slept last night due to this disturbing discussion. I've given it considerable thought. I think there were several factors that caused this tension between us. I clearly created the discord, and I was the principal catalyst, and I apologize. I was reacting to social dynamics I observe here, but which should be left unspoken. Most people seem to get through their lives avoiding these situations, but I tend to voice things which are better left unsaid. I was rude and there are far better ways to get across a point.

              And for what its worth... in Spanish, maestro also means teacher. It is commonly used for teacher in the Hispanic world. I had that definition in mind. It has a much more potent impact in the English language since we don't use it to mean "school teacher" in North America.

              I'd forgotten I even said that...  I must admit that is an awful thing to say to someone, no matter what meaning I had in mind. I don't blame you for getting upset over that.

              Peace.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 10:16:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No worries (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ZhenRen, NY brit expat, Gordon20024

                These are serious issues and affect all our lives in very personal ways. I too used to work as a professional, now I live on soc. sec. disability, so I totally sympathize with the pain of downward mobility.

                Also, in my first reply to you, I should have started off more positively. Rather than jumping straight into why globalization makes direct action so difficult, I should have acknowledged the fact that I agree with you far more than I disagree.

                Peace be with you.

                "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

                by Le Gauchiste on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 11:26:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I know that you knew it, I was reminding you (0+ / 0-)

                of the maxim as that is an important point, it holds for everyone. I am so sorry that you are going through tough times ZhenRen, I am also furious; everyone that I know is beyond angry. We all work in whatever ways we are able to work in; some of us are well and others have illnesses and carer responsibilities which prevent them from doing some things. We participate and fight in whatever way we are able; no one is above the other. That is my maxim, privilege in any sense infuriates me. I am sorry that I lost my temper, but I will not let any comrade disparage the efforts of another.

                Thank you for apologising, I was so upset when you used the term maestro which even if you meant it as teacher was beyond an appropriate level of discourse. When I hear someone use that it sets off a position of privilege which sends me reeling and I thought that it was unfair. I meant what I said, if you would like to write a piece, we would love to hear what you have to say. I always appreciate your comments and perspective as they are important. We are all, I think, on the same side and all we are asking is that we treat each other with respect. Thanks again, if you want to write something, please let me know. Justina is currently without an internet connection and TPau is very busy and I am doing the scheduling for the series.

                "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                by NY brit expat on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 02:07:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  very important to suss out (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NY brit expat, congenitalefty

        why the american workers aren't ready for a general strike

        the people as a whole are beguiled, gulled, stupified by the msm and (most of) public education

        but if we ever have the proper (desperate) conditions...

    •  So... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueDragon

      A Marxist who doesn't think labor strikes will work.

      What's your plan?

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:17:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point of emphasizing self-activity (5+ / 0-)

        is precisely that the solutions, or plans, will arise out of that self-activity, not out of the brains of self-professed radicals, myself included. Marx himself learned an immense amount from the workers of Paris in the late 1840s, and then from the workers of London after he began his long exile there.

        Take the General Strike: that tactic arose spontaneously out of worker self-activity, as did the sit-down strike in the 1930s.

        So, "What is To Be Done?" Pay attention to the working class, especially its most politically active elements, and follow their lead.

        "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

        by Le Gauchiste on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:26:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  At the moment... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          loftT

          I am in the working class, maestro, and I have been among those taking the lead in my local area, at least until I became so poor I can no longer spare the time. But this will change.

          Have you ever participated in an occupy gathering (for more than a drive by visit, that is?)

          Here on the ground, there is discontent. But thanks for the advice. I'll check with the rest of the strikers the next time we shut down the ports, as we did in this area last year.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:41:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Since the author is disabled and let's (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Richard Lyon, Gordon20024

            be frank, Occupy is not disabled friendly (perhaps you can read something on that), it would be rather difficult for him to do so. I am hearing a lot of ugliness in your comment, you know nothing of this person, yet you seem to enjoy disparaging him. I am rather tired of your attitude, it is unacceptable.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:08:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh... and I particularly liked that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayRaye, congenitalefty

          "seek out a leader" comment about following the lead of someone in the labor movement, as if we're all just lost without a leader to guide us. It's the "leaders" who often are the problem. What about "self-activism" as in, me getting active?

          Many of the common people are fed up with the leaders of organized labor.

          If this keeps getting worse and worse, I could envision a real change in attitude in the next ten years.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:49:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with the paragraphs 2 & 3 completely (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NY brit expat, DavidW

            One of the biggest problems, for many years, has been that the leaders of organized labor become co-opted, for a variety of reasons. This creates cynicism not just about this or that leader or this or that union, but about collective action and collective organization in general.

            Paragraph 1 has nothing to do with anything I've written here, as I never said to seek out or find or even follow "a leader."

            "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

            by Le Gauchiste on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:56:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ahem... (0+ / 0-)
              So, "What is To Be Done?" Pay attention to the working class, especially its most politically active elements, and follow their lead.
              I suppose it is beyond you to realize how condescending that was.

              Think about it.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:05:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think it's a whole lot less condescending (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NY brit expat

                than "I don't think workers have well formed doubts of collective action. I think they have been distracted from it by consumerism. They've simply forgotten. They don't know the history."

                In fact, my statement was not condescending at all: leadership has to come from the working class, not from outside it.

                Lecturing the working class about how they've become distracted by consumerism, otoh, now there's some good old-fashioned condescension.

                Apropos of this, I remember while working on a textile mill organizing campaign in NC in the mid-1980s, going door-to-door in a mill village I spoke with a retired, elderly woman who had lived through the Textile General Strike of 1934. Although she sympathized with the aim of organizing workers into a union, she said she could not support it because she "did not want to see the children eating out of garbage cans again." While I of course argued that this time would be different, etc., even at that young age I understood that I was walking a fine line, and I did not want to condescend to her: I could not deny the reality of her lived experience, even as I disagreed with the conclusions she had reached.

                "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

                by Le Gauchiste on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:24:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's your projection (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  isabelle hayes, NoMoreLies

                  As I said, I'm about as low on the scale of workers as it gets. I experience condescension from those who perceive me as uneducated, unintelligent or even stupid on a daily basis in my job. The worst are the liberals who work in professions, as I once did. Classism is everywhere, and often lurking in the minds of those in which you'd least expect it. We're all classists. Lets not kid ourselves. Even the lowest on the wage scale have absorbed classism.

                  I very well know condescension, and the bigotry of classism. It's something I am reminded of everyday.

                  So, no I wasn't being condescending, just making an observation. I think we all have forgotten the power of collective action. We all are distracted by consumerism. We all have been a little brainwashed to think we don't have any power as workers.

                  And of course, if you ask an 80 year old who suffered through those years they would answer that they are tired, that they don't want to see the starvation and beatings and imprisonment that occurred in those days.

                  But I saw the youth in Occupy Portland, and they willingly put themselves in the path of the police baton, willingly went to jail, willingly went without food in some cases, willingly slept in the rain and cold. It was humbling to me, since I had a bit more trouble going outside my comfort zone, since I'm in my 50's.

                  Oh, and you should know that my father, born in the 1910's, lived through starvation as a youth, and experienced those awful years. He would box the ears (metaphorically) of any person presuming to speak for people of his generation. He had more gumption and spunk than anyone I've ever met. My first protests were at his side when I was ten or twelve, against the war in Vietnam.

                  He was a socialist. I wish he'd lived long enough for us to discuss anarcho-socialism and other topics that we never had a chance to discuss in my youth, when he died. (He was already in his 40's when I was born).

                  No, I hold to my premise: People have far more power by collective action on a local level than you're acknowledging, and I think this contemporary disregard for direct action is a disservice to the worker's movement.

                  "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                  by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:16:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  And should socialists (0+ / 0-)

              Still be calling workers "the working class"?

              Have to think about that.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 07:06:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why is that something that needs (3+ / 0-)

                to be thought about? it is not a worker as an individual, it is those that are self-actualised as a class that can change things. They are a class of working people in direct contradiction to the owners and managers of capital. I honestly think that Dumenil and Levy's argument that those managers and workers in the financial sector are not potential allies, they serve the interests of capital and always have done so.

                "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:13:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Okay... (0+ / 0-)

                  So, in relation to other classes in capitalist society, that would seem proper as a term. But apart from that, I think we should start viewing people as classless... but maybe that is asking for too much.

                  "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                  by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:22:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But people are not classless ... (3+ / 0-)

                    we are divided by our relationship to the ownership of means of production, to our control over wealth (or lack of it) ... we do not share commonality of interests between the upper class and the working class and the poor. We are not classless, we have never been classless and we have never shared the same needs or interests. Why should we not say something that implies such?

                    Who has the wealth, who has the ownership of means of production, who makes the decisions and in whose interest. The ruling class has worked very hard to convince people that class is not relevant as a recognition of class divisions, class interests and class contradictions is a massive threat to their continued control. That is an essential step towards a general fight-back on the part of the economically and politically oppressed and disenfranchised; without that, they can play us off against each other. Divide and rule or divide and conquer is especially effective in the absence of class consciousness; they can use racism, sexism, nationalism, jingoism to divide us. If we can look and see that is my brother or sister they are trying to separate me from, those tricks are less effective.

                    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                    by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:51:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  People are not classless (0+ / 0-)

                      because we create class. But we can begin making certain changes in attitude. For example, when a doctor calls me up, in the function of my employment, he can fucking try to realize not talk down to me because he incorrectly assumes I have no intelligence or skills simply because of the economic class I am in. The stereotypes of class are the issue.

                      I'm talking about stereotyping people according to class.

                      Happens to me all the time, and I have to go through this dance to get people to realize that I actually may be as smart or smarter than they are... first they get snippy, then angry (no, you still have to fill out the employment verification if you want to cosign for your daughter, even if you're a big name dentist who teaches at the fucking university....) Then they profusely apologize, taking up lots of time about themselves, based on their sense of privilege, as if their explanations are sooo important for me to hear, and then I get them to move on and cooperate, just like anyone else would have to do.

                      Is that plain enough for you to understand? I am not in a class, as a stereotype... Class is illusion in many instances. There is a lot of cultural overlapping. But otherwise, I agree with the rather rudimentary observations you've made about class.  Thanks for the lecture to presumably teach me something I experience everyday of my life. My god... does it ever fucking stop?

                      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                      by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:12:24 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yeah, we are all equally creating class ... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        gooderservice, DavidW

                        sure yep.  I guess we all equally control wealth, power, society, culture and juridical relations. Do you understand the importance of a materialist analysis? Seems not ... the notion of class is not a stereotype, I am sorry that you do not understand something that people have understood (including the ruling class, see Smith and Ricardo for example in economic theory and any number of politicians from the 17th century onwards). You can pretend all you want that we are not a classless society, but that does not eliminate the existence of class, racism, sexism and all the other charming things that do exist but cannot be fit into your cosmology.

                        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                        by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:35:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You're reading too fast... (0+ / 0-)

                          That is my conclusion based on your latest reply, because I don't think you're imperceptive (but I admit I don't know you that well).  Go back and read my post. You've misunderstood.

                          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                          by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:46:11 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I am not reading too fast ... I understand (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Gordon20024

                            exactly what you are saying ... I do not care if you think I am imperceptive at all ...

                            We cannot eliminate class in a society based upon class, just like we cannot eliminate racism or sexism by pretending that it does not exist. We have not transcended these things; in order to eliminate them we need to change the whole structure of the economy, society and politics ... we need to fight against capitalism, we need to build new structures together ... I honestly do not know what we have done without you to lead us! If I believed in god, I would thank him for your existence to deliver us from a system which has plagued us since the 18th century! Who knew, all we needed to do was to pretend class does not exist, and it would be so!

                            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                            by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:59:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My comment was nuanced... (0+ / 0-)

                            You're overlooking the nuances. This is tiring. Of course we live in a society with very real class divisions with implications that are deep, lasting, and detrimental to most of us.

                            My use of the term was also in the sense of having judgmental stereotypes based on class... something I've expereinced a lot in my life, which if you bothered to learn about, has been filled to the brim with these issues. Semantics... you're not getting this.

                            But feel free to keep kicking my ass based on your strawmen.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:21:24 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I am missing the judgmental stereotypes (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Gordon20024

                            to which you are referring, perhaps that is the basis of the problem ... no one is judging anyone, there is no need for judgement; it is a discussing of the state of the movement, nothing more.  While I think that Occupy is perhaps the best thing to come out of the US since the IWW, we need to analyse where the movement is, that cannot happen without an understanding of why the labour movement is so weak, why we are unable to get people to move beyond reformist arguments. I do not get where you are seeing judgements.

                            The trade union movement has long been co-opted (I am not talking about IWW), I am talking about the leadership of the mainstream unions. That is a truth, there was a capital-labour compromise conducted between the ruling class and the trade union leadership. That does not mean that the rank and file have been co-opted, but we do need to recognise that the trade union movement has, irrespective of the compromise, been facing a long term and deliberate sustained attack by the ruling classes, hand in hand with the mainstream political parties, democratic and republican. The left was driven out of the mainstream unions or driven into hiding (yes, I am quite aware that they are there), they are weak because the sectors that they were strong in have been deliberately shifted overseas, now they are going for the state/public sector. We need to understand objective and subjective conditions to understand the situation

                            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                            by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:39:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh my... (0+ / 0-)

                            You're continuing to misinterpret my comments. Never mind... let's move on.

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 11:56:58 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  oops, typo (0+ / 0-)

                          You can pretend all you want that we are a classless society, but that does not eliminate the existence of class, racism, sexism and all the other charming things that do exist but cannot be fit into your cosmology.

                          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                          by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:55:42 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I understood it was a typo... n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            NY brit expat

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                            by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:16:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  thanks you two (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            jarbyus, NY brit expat, Gordon20024

                            enjoyed the repartee despite the wee bit of rancor

                            this diary is amazing, and the subject is at the heart of our hopes and dreams

                            am almost ready to publish a little something on trotsky, and foremost for me is his dedication to the ordinary human's welfare

                            which is giving me the moral strength to recognize and even to act

                          •  fantastic Isabelle, cannot wait ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            DavidW

                            am so happy that the piece is coming together. just tell me when you are close to finishing or when you have an idea of when you will be ready and we will set up a date. you are writing about one of my heroes! :)

                            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                            by NY brit expat on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 09:22:18 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Again, you are confusing Marxists (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gooderservice, isabelle hayes, DavidW

        with syndicalists ... Marxists know the fact that mainstream unions are not revolutionary organisations. While we certainly believe in general strikes, we also know that it is building these strikes so that they can have revolutionary impact rather than reformist goals is the essential component for change; it is the process which enables a successful general strike. Neither in the US nor UK is there anything close to the subjective conditions to pull off a successful general strike linked to a revolutionary situation. Madison WI had possibilities for building a coherent working class moment, but this was sabotaged both by the mainstream union movement leaders (as opposed to the rank and file and their interests) and the democratic party which worked hard to destroy the momentum of the movement by focusing direction on a recall effort rather than face the possiblility of true class reaction and strengthening of the working class movement. This is not in the interests of a neoliberal controlled democratic party which wants a passive working class to accept the crumbs it throws from the table nor a mainstream unions movement which has sold its soul to the capital-labour accord to the point where they essentially destroyed their power.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:20:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think I'm confusing anything. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NY brit expat, isabelle hayes

          I'm simply alluding to the idea that labor, in any brand of socialism, is usually viewed as undervalued in capitalistic society, and here we have modern Marxists seemingly ignorant of the power of labor as a collective movement (in other words, not understanding the real value and power of labor). I never suggested that the time is ripe for massive strikes, although I don't think anyone has the authority to decide that. People will rise up and strike when they have enough motivation to do that, and a worker's movement can take root and grow, over time, if the public discontent is great enough. Every time the youth, the workers, and the students go forth into direct action, they're getting valuable experience that will be of benefit as momentum grows. I understand that one strike creates possible reform, while a massive movement can create comprehensive change (revolution). You're presuming that I don't understand this. Not true. But one strike can teach. People of new generations need this experience. And they will be the ones who move this forward, thankfully, because they will bring new energy that is lacking in the old academic socialists of yesterday who think they have all the answers. Try telling the kids at occupy they have no power. They would laugh in your face, and then ignore you. They feel it in their bones... something the rest of us have apparently forgotten.

          I don't like this pseudo expertise and presumed authority by people who really aren't in the trenches.  

          What I tend to object to are these authoritative pronouncements by socialists. How the hell do you know when the time is ripe? Who appointed you to be those who decide?  It will happen when it does, and you can either join or get the hell out of the way, but goddamn it, you certainly aren't going to be in control of it when it happens.

          "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

          by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:51:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you're being a tad optimistic (3+ / 0-)

            which is not a bad thing, but "motivation," "public discontent" and experience with "direct action," while invaluable, are only necessary, but by no means sufficient conditions for successful mass action. If they were, Germany would have had a successful socialist revolution in 1919, and the German working class would have been able to stop Hitler in the early 1930s. The objective conditions of capitalism must always be taken into account as well.

            I should point out that our stories and situations are, based on what you've written at other places in this discussion, quite similar. No reason to let things get personal.

            I'm sure that when you referred to "people who aren't really in the trenches," you weren't referring to anyone in this discussion. NY brit expat, for example, is not only in the trenches, she often takes the lead in digging them!  

            "Karl Marx and Frederick Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11 Marx was skint - but he had sense Engels lent him the necessary pence What have we got? Yeh-o, magnificence!!" (The Clash, 1976-1983)

            by Le Gauchiste on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:09:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              isabelle hayes

              Try telling the kids of OWS they're being overly  optimistic. What purpose does that really serve? To prove your prediction is correct? And why do you need to point out I'm being too optimistic? Why does that matter to you? Who really cares?

              But am I optimistic? You never really asked what I think, you just ran ahead with your presumptions.

              The only thing that keeps me going is the notion this could all change, but my personal perspective, my gut sense, based on the pattern of the last several decades of human behavior, rampant human addiction, unbridled consumerism, human incapability to adapt to the modern world of excesses, is we're doomed.

              I'm generally not optimistic at all. My sense of the doom that will likely be our future is the reason for all that I have said here. These are just opinions. None of us know half as much as we think we do.  I'm generally not that impressed by all the blathering, to be frank. The pretentiousness, the arrogance, the attitude people have that they really have an answer. Just look around... there are a lot of people in this world, down through history, who are a lot smarter than I am, or than you are, and yet, we are inexorably heading toward the abyss, while we argue over such things as whether the "time is right" or not, as if you or I have any real say in a collective uprising that will depend on major discontent that seems a long, long way off.

              But then, I have to think maybe I'm wrong, maybe I should believe in the youth, who have impressed me far more in their activities than anything I've ever read here on Dkos or in this series... which largely seems to ignore what is going on in the streets, which I can now guess derives from the sense many of you have that now isn't the moment, so you can blithely go on as if nothing matters until you say it does...  my god. So you all retreat into abstractions, which bores the hell out of me.

              I think my sense of where we are in the world, of what is possible, is as accurate as yours, since honestly, history has never been anything most historians could predict accurately. But I'm willing to admit I really don't know shit about what is possible. I'm betting on the kids. Maybe you should join me.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:40:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  We are discussing several distinct things (0+ / 0-)

            Is union activity a tactic or strategy towards socialism? So what I am asking is are unions inherently revolutionary or are they reformist? Anarchosyndicalists build revolutionary trade unions; they do not work in mainstream trade unions which they view as reformists (look at both the IWW and CNT for this perspective).

            There are distinct positions from within a Marxist perspective. From Rosa Luxemburg who held a position that was more syndicalist, to Lenin who held that they were reformist but could be developed into "schools of communism" (read "What is to be done" for Lenin's position).

            No one is making any authoritative statements here, except you. I do not think that I will be ruling anything or in charge of anything; that is not what I am fighting for in the least. I believe in a grass-roots formed democratic (not bourgeois democratic mass party), but you are assuming rather strong things and I find it rather presumptious. Morever, you do not speak for anyone but yourself. You have no idea of what I do or have done, or of anyone else here, who are you to judge anyone?

            It is not us to determine when the time is right, it is for the people in the movement to determine this, but if you think the revolution is coming tomorrow you sound as delusional to me as the Maoists of the 1980s who insisted the revolution was coming in 5 years following Reagan's election. What revolution? We do not have a conscious working class that has a perspective beyond that of mainstream bourgeois democracy and is fighting to hold onto pathetic insufficient reforms and crumbs being offered from the ruling classes running both the democratic party and republicans. Have you noticed the rising racism in the country, rising sexism, and the fact that the working class is incredibly weak that mainstream trade unions do not have the power to even maintain pensions, wages and decent working conditions. Certainly, the objective forces are strong, what is lacking is sufficient development of the subjective level of class consciousness and response.

            All the people that you are disparaging are long-term activists, trade union organisers and people that have been fighting for years; you claim to speak for people that you think you understand, but have no relation to at all. I do not have the time or patience to listen to your arrogance; yes, you have all the answers and we have no knowledge irrespective of spending our lives fighting against people that you just discovered existed and for people that you have decided that you can speak for. Please, talk like this to working people that are desperate to hold onto their jobs, their homes, their work conditions and benefits and tell them that you have the answers, I want to see them laugh in your face. My whole family were trade union organisers; some of them were socialists that survived McCarthyism. But we have no knowledge and no experience, keep on talking. Thank heavens you have come along to solve all our problem, where would we be without you!

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:21:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My god... (0+ / 0-)

              have you not read my other comments? Apparently not. My objection is to the reply to my comment about the power of collectivism, and collective withholding of labor. I was talking about this as a principle. I did not predict when there would be an uprising, did not indicate I thought some revolution was imminent, I just spoke of the power of collective action, and I stand by that completely.

              That is the long and short of it. But then the diarist answers with his notion that global markets make labor so insignificant that such a concept is passe', and I disagreed. Now you're both going on and on as if I think a revolution via labor strikes is just around the corner.

              Never said that. But I do think it is destructively dismissive to write off the importance of direct action, even if there is no real possibility of that occurring today on such a large scale that the current capitalist order is over turned.

              And, as to the rest, I just sense an arrogance here, worse than anywhere else on this forum, and I suppose I'm reacting to it.

              As to this:

              Please, talk like this to working people that are desperate to hold onto their jobs, their homes, their work conditions and benefits and tell them that you have the answers, I want to see them laugh in your face.
              I've lost everything. I didn't just discover working people. My family experience is middle class with elements of working class.. complicated story. We were often poor while living in Puerto Rico, and later as well. I've lived a varied and unusual life. I've seen a lot more than I cared to have seen. My god... get off it.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:13:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  you get off of it ... you have been (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                isabelle hayes, Gordon20024

                behaving in an incredibly obnoxious manner. you know nothing about the people here, you pass judgement upon others with no knowledge, you are being incredibly uncomradely which is not how we do this series which is based upon mutual respect for all participants. We are trying to share ideas and to build a united more powerful left, we discuss objective and subjective conditions and try to discuss various tactics and strategies. It is impossible to build something when people are disparing those participating, that is unacceptable behaviour in any context. I am certain that you would be called out in occupy for your behaviour and I have called you out, so cut the crap.

                You can disagree without being personally insulting, that is unacceptable. I took objection to how you were talking to a number of people in this discussion.

                No one is dismissing collective action and if somehow you read that, you misread. The author is discussing why there is a lack of it and the problems of the subjective level of class consciousness. Nowhere has he dismissed it and not a single one of us has been doing so. What we are trying to analyse is why the working class is so weak in the face of the culmination of a long-term assault (that has been going on probably since before you were born).

                General strikes and collective action require a level of class consciousness that we want to build, but does not exist as yet. It takes a long-time unfortunately to build this, recognition of that is not an error; it places the state of a movement currently and analyses what is needed to build towards the future.

                "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                by NY brit expat on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:27:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well... (0+ / 0-)
                  I am certain that you would be called out in occupy for your behaviour and I have called you out, so cut the crap.
                  I never encountered anything quite like this at occupy. No one tried to own the group, it was wonderful, and I felt as if I belonged. People tended to be tolerant of each other, of our mutual foibles and the occasional need to voice something. I fit in like a fish to water. The one time I got a bit testy was handled by my cohorts with the most touching understanding I've experienced in ages.

                  I suppose that doesn't fit anything you've ever heard about occupy, recalling a discussion we once has long ago.

                  But in contrast, I clearly don't belong here. I've never felt welcome here.

                  I have a good sense of why this is happening. Quite clearly. But it would serve no purpose at this juncture to explain it.

                  As to no one dismissing collective action, there were nuances that statement doesn't acknowledge, but I'll let it go.

                  Not to worry, I accept this is your place to moderate. I'll leave it to you.

                  Peace.

                  "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                  by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 11:52:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "We once had long ago" n/t (0+ / 0-)

                    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act". -George Orwell

                    by ZhenRen on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 11:53:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  ZhenRen, you are always welcome to (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Gordon20024

                    participate here, we only ask that you treat people with respect especially those you do not agree with. That is a simple code of conduct. We would love for you to write a diary for us, but I ask that you respond to queries and comments respectfully. That is all.

                    I always enjoy your participation and think that you raise good points, what I did not enjoy was your disparaging others. Disagree, but never make it personal, we leave that to the mainstream. OK?

                    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                    by NY brit expat on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:53:54 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  In terms of collective action, I, along (0+ / 0-)

                    with a number of Marxists agree support it strongly, both in principle and in practice. We also support cross-class movements, but would clearly prefer them to be led not by the upper and middle class, but by working and poor people, but will participate to fight for working class issues and issues of race, class and gender to be incorporated.

                    What we need to understand and analyse is how to get the beginnings so sparked by occupy and spread it outwards. I think you would agree. We also need to know why this has not occurred, I also think that you would agree. Analyse, understand our successes and failures, we learn, we grown.

                    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                    by NY brit expat on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:57:47 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  we have to remember the numbers of years (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  NY brit expat

                  it takes to make the revolutions that succeed

                  our lifetime is meaningless to the movement which has to happen globally or we certainly doom the planet as a human resource

    •  except that we seem on the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      loftT, NY brit expat, isabelle hayes

      verge of a true international movement in the sense that we can communicate as never before.

      this is why open media are crucial in the present and near future.

      it seemed as if occupy was truly the first international movement this past year.  is it still viable?  i have no idea.

      clearly of the global economy crashes again, as it seems certain to do very soon, the prospects for resistance on a global level are real if tenuous.

      what was '68 if not the first manifestation of this?

      squelching that was top priority which is why obama turned the other way as Americans were maced and driven out of the public square.

      it isn't okay to bring that up on these pages, but there it is.

      will it return after the election?  are we all too afraid to make waves in this moment lest we get rmoney and his fascist sidekick?

      i keep repeating: i've never been this negative about the bigger picture, but i completely believe that from great crisis does come great opportunity.  

      all the old great leftists are dying off and we do not have anyone even close with which to replace them.

      worse, the lashing we are taking is unprecedented in my lifetime.

      i have to go back to my grandfather's time (he died before I was born in the 40s) when just being a union leader meant his life was on the line and he had to take secret routes home from the mines in order to get home alive.

      are we working ourselves back to that?  at 64, I am not physically capable of that kind of struggle.

      i could write while stowed away in someone's figurative attic.

       

      Donate to Occupy Wall Street here: http://nycga.cc/donate/

      by BlueDragon on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 06:23:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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