The Geography of Class Struggle

LeoCasey at LeoCasey at
Sat Jul 8 22:32:40 MDT 1995

So Scott wants to dish out the sarcasm, but finds a return dose unpleasant
medicine. Gus Hall climbed the mountain, received the tablets with the ten
laws of capitalist development, with Commandment Number Five being "Thou
shalt not question the primacy of the industrial working class", and here I
am in the valley worshipping the graven idols. Unfortunately, there are some
cracks in Gus Hall's tablets, Scott. To spell it out...

1. The increased mobility of capital and the internationalization of capital
is symptomatic of a new stage in the political economy of the advanced
economies, one in which basic industries have become more and more
peripheral. No, the industrial workforce does not disappear, any more than
skilled craft workers disappeared with the rise of industrial capitalism. But
it clearly will not be as central as it once was. Now that you don't have a
straw argument to oppose, would you like to tell us how the decline of the
industrial workforce is a figment of my imagination?

2. Industrial unions are _not_ in decline, you tell us. Cite one industrial
union, just one, which has not suffered drastic declines in membership in the
last decade. Whether they be as militant as you present them or not, the UAW,
UMW and IAM have all suffered serious declines. Everyone within 500 miles of
the organized trade union movement recognizes this development. Sorry to
break the news to you.

3. The AFL-CIO would be in considerly worse shape today, as hard as that may
be to believe, if it were not for the growth of the public sector unions.
Clearly there is a changing of the guard going on, with the public sector
unions assuming a new, dominant role in the AFL-CIO. (That is not the only
thing going on; as I said, it is _one_ aspect of the changes.) No sleight of
hand, such as declaring that the public sector unions are organizaed on an
industrial basis, can obscure this development.

4. Where, pray tell, are the BLS statistics that show that the industrial
workforce has not been shrinking, and that the "increase" in employment is
not concentrated in the low-paying, service sector? I for one would be
interested in seeing the "proof" that the "Rustbelt" doesn't exist, that the
steel industry in Gary, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo is thriving, etc., etc., etc.
I always thought that the effects of this decimation of the industrial
workforce was the "primitive accumulation" of our day, with working people
paying the brutal price for economic change and development under capitalism.
Of course, if we don't want to admit that a rather significant change is
going on, we can just choose to ignore the effect on working people.

5. The fact that the Tofflers of the world recognize that something is
changing underneath their feet, but don't have a clue as to what it is,
hardly constitutes an argument for those who believe that nothing has

I will be out of town for a number of days. Look forwarding to hearing news
of the resurrection of the CIO when I return.

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