Labor & Racism: Construction Trades

hariette spierings hariette at
Fri Aug 30 02:04:01 MDT 1996

>>An important task of Marxists and progressives in the labor movement is to
>>squarely face this phenomenon--which has its echo throughout much of the
>>labor movement.     There is much truth,  unfortunately,  to the
>>charge--leveled by MIM,  Rakesh,  and others,  that the labor movement in
>>America is,  indeed,  permeated with the privileges and the perogatives of a
>>"labor aristocracy",  acting hand in hand with the employers and against the
>>interests of the world's (largely impoverished) workers.
>>The question is:  where do we go from here?
>>Louis Godena
>To recognize this ugly fact is already a big step forward.
>But isn't this section of American workers constitutes a minority
> of US labor force?  The very viciousness of their efforts
> to protect their turf seems to suggest how insecure they feel
> in the midst of the laboring masses who become more impoverished
> and more willing to challenge their privileges.  IMO, to portray these
> workers as representing the US proletariat as a whole towering above the
>billions of exploited toilers of the rest of the world may be very
>dangerous for both sides.  This would only play in the hands
> of metropolitan and national bourgeoisies. Instead, the privilidged
>layers of the working class in the North should be politically neutralized
> wherever their cooperation with the rest of the workers is presently
>out of question.  The problem is how to mobilize the masses without
>antagonizing the "aristocracy" and pushing it into the hands of reaction.

Ah, Vladimir, there is where we - together with Lenin - differ from your
approach to the question.  It is not merely necessary to denounce the
existance of an aristocracy of labour.  The question is to fight against it,
to antagonise it and to destroy it!

As Lenin said: (I am praphrasing here but you can see the exact quote in
"The Collapse of the Second International"): We do not know how long or how
deep the rift in the working class (between those following the aristocracy
of labour and those following revolutionary Marxism) will last or go.  In
the end this split will be overcome, but the struggle to overcome this split
"will proceed AGAINST" the aristocracy of labour.

In seeking to link their theory of the "white working class" with the
question of the aristocracy of labour, MIM fails to understand the question
in Marxist terms, and Bilenkin is also failing to see that the aristocracy
of labour, far from being "semi-proletarians" as MIM holds, are in fact
CLASS ENEMY, bourgeoisie!   A substantial chunk of the so called white
working class - i.e. the "respectable" working class (that imbued of
bourgeois prejudices, the "bourgeoisified workers, in Marx's words) may
follow the aristocracy of labour and in fact does so in the USA.  But these
masses are NOT the aristocracy of labour but their victims and dupes.

When you consider the aristocracy of labour as "semi-proletarians" or
"bourgeosified workers" as both - from different angles - Bilenkin and MIM
do, it is evident that, contrary to the proletarian policy, you would have
to arrive at proposals not to "antagonise" them.

Only consistent Marxism stands for an antagonistic struggle against the
aristocracy of labour, the social-chauvinists and imperialist "Labour"
bourgeosie of the imperialist countries:  The Labour Party in Britain for
example, and the "left Democrats and Union bureacrats" in the USA, for
example, while supporting the masses of the working class irrespective of
national origen or colour under the immortal slogan of the Communist movement:

"Proletarians of all countries unite"!

Adolfo Olaechea

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