Bought off workers?

Greg Schofield gschofield at one.net.au
Sun Jun 17 17:47:51 MDT 2001


Alex I am afraid you have misread my post, I am very much against any idea
of the working class having been bought-off.

Even so the position I am arguing against in this list is not the same as
3rd International on you refer (though I don't know how wide spread even
that was in practice - bought-off by reforms).

>Greg's notion of white or western workers being "bought off" by the spoils
>of imperialism is a static, not to mention unhelpful, relic of Third
>International Marxism which must be discarded if the revolutionary
>socialist movement is to move forward.

The Labour Aristocracy is also a notion I wish to bury and while I was
unaware of CLR James' position (or perhaps he made me first aware of it - I
am not sure) bureaucracy internal to the workers movement is the greatest
immediate brake (I mention Australia Trade Unions especially in this)

>When I saw Selma James speak here in Detroit a while back on the legacy of
>the Johnson-Forest tendency, she mentioned that one of the great
>contributions of C.L.R. James was that he put to rest the notion of the
>"labor aristocracy" acting as an impediment to the working class attaining
>revolutionary consciousness.
>
>James correctly theorized that it was the labor *Bureaucracy* which acted
>as a brake on the class.

Now this is the position I am arguing against: In fact I find the early
70's date the exact moment where there was a leap by capitalism, which I
believe broke asunder classical imperialism as well. The working class here
had one summer of joy in 1972-5 where something of the old measures still
stood and the platform of social change placed up since WWII were at last
being implemented, things have never been the same since, economically and
politically.

>The notion of some mythical privileged white working class living off the
>spoils of imperialism has been superseded by the actual development of
>capitalism since about 1973.  I don't know what reality Greg is living in,
>but the internationalization of lean production has decimated the
>proletariat of the advanced capitalist countries.

Alex, I have not said it on this list, but I will now, the intensity of
work in 1st world capitalism has risen enormously, in some areas it is no
different from any sweated factory in the 3rd world. Overall the working
day has been increased and considering how many workers hold 1.5 and 2 jobs
in order to manage we could be talking about an increase from 8 to 14
hours,  12 hours is not uncommon, covered legally by casualisation - the 10
hour day is something of a norm now.

>I make $8.50 an hour part-time throwing heavy boxes around at a rapid
>pace. If I'm lucky, the opportunity for a full-time job might present
>itself in another ten years or so.
>
>While this ain't exactly the conditions that workers in a Maquila zone
>face, it's certainly not the imagined cushiness of an industrial job
>during the era of social peace between capital and labor.

Measured in work intensity in some areas there is no difference, however,
that is where social infrastructure comes into play and where there is some
padding for the 1st world worker that is missing for the 3rd. Yet this
infrastructure is daily under attack, in Australia vast sections of society
have recently said that raising taxes is the price of better health and
education, then raise the taxes (that is how I am reading the response -
the pollsters never actually pose this question - or at least do not
publish the results).

I would express it differently , but in essence I would be saying the same
thing

>If you Marxist intellectual types want to actually build a movement to
>destroy the social relation of capital, you'd better get off your fucking
>high horses about the proletariat.
>
>I'm amazed that you guys can spend so much time critiquing the revisionism
>of the likes of Hardt and Negri while adopting the most insidious and
>poisonous form of revisionism: the abandonment of the most fundamental
>tenet of revolutionary socialism; of the proletariat as capitalism's
>ultimate grave-digger.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia





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