[Marxism] Re: Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Lou Paulsen)

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Thu Jun 10 19:06:18 MDT 2004

Lou is right, we did debate the question of a "labour aristocracy" in
the west, and I don't want to go over old ground. Though I will say in
passing that if anyone thinks black workers in Detroit are "privileged",
I don't see how they can hope for revolution in the US.

I do want to make one point, however. I've just spent a month in
Indonesia, and it's quite obvious that Indonesian workers are not very
"revolutionary" at all. The relatively small minority of the working
class which is organised in independent trade unions is overwhelmingly
in reformist unions, ranging from vaguely social-democratic to
religious.  The one, small national union led by revolutionaries is
really led by ex-student activists, and it has just suffered a split in
which it lost its key worker militants.  As I understand it, the workers
were not so interested in the politics.

The upheavals in 1998 which brought down Suharto mainly involved
students and the urban poor, not workers organised on a class basis.

Does anyone think the entrenched reformism of the Indonesian working
class is due to "privilege"? Wages are some of the lowest in Asia.
Students, however, are indeed (relativelly) privileged compared to
workers -- but it is they who have been the most politically active.

I continue to vote for bourgeois hegemony rather than material privilege
as the explanation for reformism.

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