[Marxism] [Fwd: An emerging labor-led left in the DP?]

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jul 27 11:37:39 MDT 2004

Marvin Gandall wrote:
 > In fact, the local and national labour full-timers I've met have seemed a
 > lot less alien to the working class than left-wing intellectuals who
 > regularly denounce them.

This might be related to the fact that you were a trade union
functionary for over 25 years.

 > Sure, some have been corrupted and have literally sold out their 
 > in exhange for a few perks from management and many betray the same 
 > prejudices as their members, but in most cases the conservatism of union
 > leaders usually stems from an often quite realistic assessment of the
 > balance of forces between their organizations and the employers, 
rather than
 > any inherent venality or spinelessness.

Yes, why rock the boat especially when there's conventions in Miami,
golf, restaurant outings on the union expense account, etc. at risk.

 > Their compromises and retreats are
 > not infrequently reluctant and in contradiction to their original 
intent to
 > engage in confrontation. In most cases, they are able to win the 
support of
 > their members at ratification and other meetings because they reflect the
 > cautious mood and instincts of their base, and they often do this in 
 > with more militant oppositionists who are present in every major local.

This is what used to be called business unionism. It was the calling
card of Gompers's AFL. The CIO was set up to transcend this kind of
reformism, but eventually became corrupted itself as the Cold War and
post-WWII prosperity ensued. It obviously is in crisis now since the
economic base for traditional high-wage union jobs have evaporated.
Instead of coming up with a bold new vision for recruiting new members
and challenging the 2-party system, the trade union bureaucrats would
rather see the ship sink than challenge the status quo.

 > Kerry and the DP and labour leaderships are "inimical to the interests of
 > working people", if you solely define their interests, as Proyect and 
 > disaffected intellectuals seem to, in terms of the overthrow of 
 > and see the workers'  continued support for the system and the
 > pro-capitalist parties as a product of "false consciousness" rather 
than the
 > (historically unexpected) material improvement in their working and 
 > conditions.

Even on the basis of material improvement, the AFL-CIO has been a
failure. Wages have stagnated and job insecurity remains very high. This
can only change through class struggle, just as the success of the early
CIO proves. Sitting down at the same table with the John Kerrys of the
world will not cut it.

 > Within this context, the workers, especially those in trade
 > unions, perceive the Democrats, with some reason, as more sympathetic 
to the
 > Republicans in terms of  collective bargaining rights, minimum wage and
 > employment standards, unemployment relief, social programs, and other
 > economic and social issues of concern to them.

Yes, the Democrats are more sympathetic. But Mussolini was also better
than Hitler.

 > Left intellectuals, whose
 > living conditions and interests may be very different, may not think this
 > counts for much and that the Democrats are only only marginally 
better than
 > the Republicans in terms of the big picture, but to workers struggling to
 > maintain their living standards, these issues are of more than marginal
 > importance, and it is their own experience of the two parties -- as 
much as
 > the exhortations of the union leaders -- which explains their stubborn
 > refusal to buy the argument that the Democrats are "inimical to the
 > interests of working people."

Gus Hall used to say the same thing with much more conviction.


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