[Marxism] (Prognosis for US workers?) was: Forwarded from Anthony in Colombia

LouPaulsen at comcast.net LouPaulsen at comcast.net
Thu Jun 10 15:04:36 MDT 2004

> In a message dated 6/10/04 7:11:04 AM Mountain Daylight Time, lnp3 at panix.com 
> writes: [quoting Anthony]
> > Detroit, as awful as it may be, is a bastion of imperialist privelege and 
> > illusion. Automobile workers in China make less than $5.00/day. 
> > In Mexico they make less than $10.00/day.
> > 
> > That - and the consciousness it creates - is the problem with the 
> > US .working class. Everything else is secondary, tertiary, or wrose.

Doug Vaughn writes:

> [T]he moralistic condemnation of the variation in rates of exploitation as 
> "privilege" amounts to a denunciation of, for example, black auto workers as 
> "bought off" in Detroit, or brown workers in Mexico (where VW finally 
> closed its 
> last "bug" plant in San Martin outside Puebla) compared to the Chinese who 
> replaced them, or Chinese workers are "bribed" compared to
>  their unemployed or 
> peasant compatriots, without recognition that the wage-rate 
> is also the result of
> class-conscious struggle by workers, not merely the redistribution of 
> imperial "super-profits" through unequal exchange.

It seems to me that we had a big argument here a couple years ago over this issue - whether the huge wage differences between the US and other imperialist countries, on the one hand, and the colonized world, on the other, was due to superoppression, class struggle histories, differences in productivity, etc.  As I recall we didn't reach a consensus last time. 

Before we get into that, I would like to ask Anthony: ok, this is your diagnosis, but what's your prognosis (which is the practical half of the "problem of the U.S. working class")?  Do you see the consciousness of "imperialist privilege" ameliorating over time, or is it as bad as ever?  Do you believe it is so bad that we have no realistic hope of counteracting it, short of a global cataclysm of liberation war or interimperialist war which would dethrone the U.S.?  Is the US such an exceptional location, such a solidly bourgeois and bourgeoisified enclave, that revolutionary working-class organization is just a dead end here?  Lou Proyect writes that sooner or later the average worker will see socialism to be in her/his interest; do you, Anthony, believe that he is right, or is he whistling in the dark?

It seems to me that this question has practical implications.  Marx wrote in 1848 that the Communist participates in movements against the established order of things, but with the future of that movement in mind.  So it matters what future we can reasonably expect.  If we believe (as I do) that the working class in the U.S. does have revolutionary potential despite everything - which has to do with an assessment of trends, and questions like whether the global wage rate is leveling or not - then it makes sense to continue to do socialist propaganda and outreach.  If we do NOT believe this, which is to say, if we believe that U.S. imperialism can not be overthrown from within, but only from without, then those of us who adhere to the cause of the international working class are basically moral and political saboteurs on the enemy's home ground, condemned to a future of organizing anti-war demonstrations, reform movements, etc., on whatever basis we can, not in the hope of revolution, but in the hope of weakening the U.S. so that the workers of other countries can grow strong and defeat it.  

Of course, "I don't know" is a legitimate response to the question also....

Lou Paulsen

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