detroit strike

Walter Daum WGDCC at CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU
Mon Sep 25 09:58:00 MDT 1995


MIM's reply on the Detroit strike takes their theory to the point
of absurdity.

MIM writes:
     ...  "The class struggle" according to Daum is something
     that doesn't even target the state. Even if we presume that
     these workers are exploited, which they aren't, Engels would
     say they have yet to advance class struggle "one iota."
          When the various chavinists DO speak out to lead the
     workers against the government, they call for closing the
     borders, opposing GATT and opposing NAFTA, just like the KKK
     did at a recent rally by the way.
          The other thing to raise is how heated is this
     conflict? And how typical? The bourgeoisie has its own
     in-house fights, but they never lead anywhere for the
     proletariat in themselves except when the bourgeois factions
     kill each other and leave a vacuum. ...
     ...  Meanwhile, in the Third World, the state imprisons
     people for organizing or kills them regularly and the
     classes really do engage in class struggle, not class
     collaboration or negotiation. From time to time the
     bourgeoisie sends its members to country-club prisons with
     regard to its intra-class fighting--Watergate, Iran-Contra,
     how to embezzle etc. How does this Detroit struggle compare
     with that?


"How heated is this conflict?" "Between bourgeois factions"? Not
against the state? This in a struggle where the pickets have
fought bloody battles with the state's cops every weekend!

And "how does this Detroit struggle compare" with intra-class
fighting when "the bourgeoisie sends its members to country-club
prisons"? If you have to ask ...

For all MIM's fondness of citing Lenin in or out of context, is
there ANY instance of Lenin not siding with workers, however
labor-aristocratic, in pitched battles against the capitalists
and cops? Inconceivable.

The fact that conditions for third-world workers are much worse
does not negate the reality of class struggle here.

MIM does have a point about chauvinists leading the workers. The
workers' struggles have not at all been aided by union officials
and politicians whose "solution" to U.S. workers' troubles is to
keep out foreign workers. But the union leaders' strike tactics
have not all been followed by the militant workers, especially
when it comes to proposals for non-violent civil disobedience
against armed and violent cops.

One example from a report today on several newsgroups from "Scott
C." in Detroit:
     When it comes to betraying the union membership, however,
     the bureaucracy never gives up without a fight. Their next
     tactic was to try to turn the mass picket into a "non-
     violent civil disobedience". Among several hundred unionists
     that had bussed in from across the country, were a number of
     "marshalls" who -- absurdly enough -- were urging people to
     sit down "when the cops come across" and "let them to drag
     us to the paddywagons". But Detroit pickets would simply not
     permit this. "No" they flatly told the marshalls.
     "Absolutely not." Many blankly stared when they first heard
     the plan, not believing their ears. Then, after hearing a
     marshall's windy explanation: "You mean you just want us to
     sit down? That's crazy!" Some just pointed at the cops armed
     to the teeth, and shook their heads. "We'd just be giving
     them the gate. So what's the point?!" In the end, they
     wouldn't even allow the marshalls themselves to sit down,
     telling them to go home if they couldn't do something
     positive. Sizing up the situation from across the street,
     the cops wisely chose to stay where they were.

Certainly workers in struggle are capable of overcoming their
misleaders' betrayals in politics as well as tactics.

I do have to correct one thing I had read about Mexican workers
being used as scabs. The same report also says:

     Throughout the strike, rumors have circulated that the scabs
     include many Mexican immigrants, and this has produced
     periodic displays of bigotry on the part of the mainly older
     white male strikers. The truth is that the vast majority of
     the scabs are themselves white American males. But that
     didn't stop Conyers, a supposed anti-racist Congressional
     activist, from inflaming the racism and national chauvinism
     that has historically been the key roadblock for the
     American labor movement.


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