labour aristocracy, cont.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Feb 3 18:52:07 MST 2003

At 08:15 PM 2/3/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>Oh Louis, please don't bring that stuff up about Walmart and the cornucopia
>of cheap goods as being the offset for the decline in real wages since 1973.
>Sounds like an argument from the Heritage Foundation.

Does it? I don't think that Robert Biel was defending capitalism, but I
might be wrong.

>Can't wait to tell those workers at Wal-Mart, you know, the ones who get
>fired for organizing, the ones who are forced to work overtime without pay,
>just how lucky they are.

I wasn't talking about them. I was talking about many of the customers who
have better-paying jobs, but not as good paying as those found in auto,
steel, rubber, teamsters, etc. in the 1950s and 60s.

>Better you should read NICKLED AND DIMED.  Or maybe the Statistical Abstract
>of the US.  Here's a benefit for the US working classes:
>  Since 1979 the proportion of children in the United States being born into
>poverty has increased steadily, with the exception of the period 1995-1998.

Of course it has increased, but we are trying to understand the mainstream
of social reality in this country. Engels wrote about the conditions of the
working class in England. How do working people live in Staten Island,
suburban New Jersey and elsewhere? For the most part, they do not work as
chamber maids or burger flippers as Barbara Ehrenreich did, but as civil
servants, bus drivers, technicians, etc. The big battalions of the American
working class are on the defensive, have to go into debt, etc. but this is
not Germany 1921 or France 1935. Let alone Turkey, Argentina or Venezuela.

>Used to work in Jersey, Ironbound section of Newark.  Not exactly a boiling
>cauldron, is right. But it's one thing to talk about objective conditions,
>it's quite another to claim that such conditions are permanent.

I didn't say it was a permanent condition, but when it changes we will see
obvious signs.

>You think it would be great to involve working people in the war, but you
>don't expect any of them to become revolutionaries?  Did I get that right ?
>Huh?  Why is that?  Workers in Europe have joined the demonstrations.
>Unions have taken forthright positons.  Workers in the US have joined and
>supported demonstrations.  So what makes them less likely to "see the
>light," than a university student?

I don't know how I can make this clearer. When a worker becomes a
revolutionary, that requires an enormous sacrifice in terms of time (they
tend to have families) and the risk of losing jobs because of potential
victimization. An undergraduate at Columbia is less exposed. A worker
becomes a revolutionary when they have lose confidence totally in the
capitalist system. That is not the reality that confronts NYC bus drivers,
UPS delivery people, schoolteachers, bank employees, phone installers, etc.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

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