History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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working class illusions…//Stop Whining and Start Organizing

July 1st, 2018 · No Comments

The era of working class radicalism is either passing or in a kind of limbo that, as much as the implacable emnity of the capitalist class, has undermined the fervor of a real proletarian movement, once a revolutionary impulse, now nothing much…

We have attempted to analyze the question by making a distinction, one either to be realized or else a kind of deliberative dialectic, between the working class and a ‘universal’ class. (It is important to start with engels and his classic study of the working class, in cottonopolis: manchester, england in the 1820’s and 30’s. That was the birth moment of marxist proletarian analysis, by two bourgeois members of the ‘universal’ class).
Since the working class is ‘almost’ the universal class this might seem egregious, but it can be a tool to diagnose some of the problems with the perennial working class invocations of the left. This ‘distinction’ might help the left see that working class formations have shifted and that that class is far broader than the kind of factory labor contingent that monopolizes proletarian mythology at the expense of the larger set of classes and subclasses that are equally working class. The idea of a working class revolution is flawed in the way in antagonizes a huge set of groups who are really working class but (demeaningly) classified as some spurious grouping that are ‘low class’ relative to the heroic working class.

In the end the working class concept invokes rather than transcends the nature of class and it is an uphill battle, if not an exercise in futility, to expect a larger range of classes to submit to working class domination after throwing off that of the bourgeoisie: all parties should move toward a new equality beyond class to a universal class. Nonetheless, the framework of working class/proletarian activism is so classic that it would be counterproductive to challenge it. We aren’t actually doing that but showing how it can be made to work in a different age in which categories have shifted.
We have noted a number of times here the ‘class’ character of the OWS movement. You could hardly find a working class representative: the radicals were mostly middle class and didn’t conform to stereotype.
A new left can shift gears between working class formations, critically examined, and universal class formations, taken as tools of abstraction to clarify thinking, or even as real trans-class majoritarian neutral forms of membership…

But there is a downside too to the once wide-spread practice of negotiating contracts requiring all member in a unionized workplace to join the union, or to pay some kind of agency fee to the union in lieu of dues in the case of workers who simply don’t want to be union members. That downside is that it encouraged a shift during the last half century or more away from unions as part of a vast political movement of workers to a kind of business-unionism featuring well-compensated executives and staff, costly office buildings, and expensive annual conferences held in places like Orlando or New Orleans or Las Vegas — generally all-expenses-paid for those attending as representatives of their locals.

Source: Stop Whining and Start Organizing

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