[Marxism] The problem of the US working class (brief response to Melvin)

Craig Brozefsky craig at red-bean.com
Fri Jun 11 11:37:07 MDT 2004

* Mark Lause <MLause at cinci.rr.com> [2004-06-10 22:33:37 -0400]:

> One of the toughest things I ever had to do in my life was make the
> transition from functioning in the world of work to which I was born
> and bred--wage earning blue collar factory fodder--to salary-earning
> white collar "professional" work.  I have never seen the latter
> display a fraction of those examples of knee-jerk solidarity I
> experienced in the former.

An old freind of mine had a job at SBC, the telephone company here in
Chicago, and spent several years as a systems administrator and
software developer.  He was classified as a manager, even tho he
really managed noone.  This status as manager meant that when the
recent telecom worker strikes were brewing, SBC trained him as a 411
operator and required him to be a scab, commuting to Michigan and
working 12 hour shifts.

The day before the strike was announced, he resigned.  He called me
that evening and told me all about it, explaining that he would never
be a scab.  I let him know it was the right thing to do, and something
he should be very proud of.  I've been going around telling people the
story ever since.

> Frankly, I think that this divide is vastly greater than most people who
> never have to cross it would realize.

The anecdote above is a welcome exception, but it is surely an

However, I believe that this situation will change (how much, I cannot
tell) in the coming years.  We have only seen the first round of
complaints about the export of technical jobs to India and elsewhere.
While the majority of it was banal khakified Bruce Springsteen
impersonations, there was a sliver of internationalism.

I saw it in the Bicycle Retailer magazine articles and editorials
which emphasized that the well-being of workers here is tied to the
well-being of workers in China and that the fight must unite them.

I had conversations with Indian Free Software programmers who in their
dealings with their US and European counterparts, went out of their
way to explain the level of exploitation and gross inequality the
market for telecom and service jobs was creating there.

More anecdotes, but since the BLS books are cooked, I don't know what
else to use.

My point?  Well, simply that when we start talking about the US
working class, blue-collar, white-collar, whatever... we need to
ascertain where it is going in the future, and what forces are
creating, destroying, changing it.

Sincerely, Craig Brozefsky <craig at red-bean.com>
Kontact -- http://www.red-bean.com/kontact/wiki.cgi

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