jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Fri Apr 21 19:11:09 MDT 1995
I'm not saying a union-based mass labor party wouldn't be immense progress
for the US or that we shouldn't work for it. My brief and cryptic remark
was meant to call attention to two facts, as I take them to be:
1. As a means towards socialism the specifically social democratic variant
of this approach seems to be a dead end, based on European experiences.
This road don't go that way.
2. The social democratic moment based on "golden-age" capitalism and a
capital-labor "compact" seems to have passed even in Europe. Globalization
and pressure on capital, combined with the decline of the classic base for
social democracy (the organized industrial working class) means that
capitalists are less willing, and perhaps less able to compromise and
workers less able to force compromise.
I think that a new revitalizatioin of the labor movement in the direction
of "revolutionary reformism," to borrow a concept from Boris Kagarlitsky's
pre-prestroika strategy for dissidents under Communism, requires a degree
of conscious and active internationalismoforeign to the old "national
capitalist" social democratic strategy.
In the era of GATT and NAFTA, Mexico and Korea aren't "foreign countries"
anymore--certainly not to capitalists. Workers haven't a prayer unless the
realizer this and act accordingly.
> I'd just like to say that the "union-linked mass labor party"
> approach has not been tried and found wanting in the U.S.. Everyone on this
> group certainly will know of the A.F of L. - C. I. O "compromise" that led to
> the death of Socialistically conscious unionism (that among other things) in
> the U.S.. I cannot speak directly to the European Labor Party model, except
> to say that perhaps cultures with a defined cultural definition of class and
> what might be called pre-capitalist class divisions, are not fertile ground
> for a movement which must define itself economically first.
> Instead of defining proletarianism, American trade-based
> unionism defined a neo-proletarian middle class - whose collars were
> simply blue instead of white, but whose values were painfully similar.
> Any socialist would decry such a movement as doomed, and it was.
> Mr. Schwartz rightly points out the drop in union membershi
> nationwide. However, there are unions such as the Amalgamated Textile
> and Garment Workers (now U. N. I. T. E., after their merger with the
> ILGWU) that have seen a rise in membership for the first time in
> decades. Furthermore, there is a movement called LAMAP, in Los
> Angeles, which is rediscovering the combination of social and union
> activism. There have also been increasing calls for a third, Labor.
> party as unions find that there are no political candidates that they
> can support. And lastly union buyouts such as United Airlines are
> real moves towards worker control. The workers themselves may not
> recognize it, but we must.
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