[Marxism] Class Consciousness Vs Americanism

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sun Nov 5 10:46:27 MST 2006

To state the obvious, the American working class isn't and never was "the
industrial working class."

The lines between distinctly American conditions and those elsewhere are
overblown and exaggerated.  Americans tend to exaggerate class consciousness
and organization elsewhere because there is so little of it here.  However,
there's nothing going on here that we haven't seen in other industrial
countries or in the third world, good or bad.

We need to ask ourselves if there is a way of being class consciousness that
we've not discerned because we've just not been disposed to see it that way.
Although few of us are happy about it, insofar as workers have chosen not to
fight to build labor organizations, the state of disorganization of the
working class reflects what the workers want at this particular point.

Working class people know they're working class in the sense of bumping up
the external limits placed on their lives by conditions, but that does not
translate into anything like a sense that concerted action is desirable. Nor
does it even require that they acknowledge that identity overtly.  Their
awareness is steeped in an ideological skepticism about politics and
organization...things that are viewed as about as relevant to their lives as
a rotary club vote on the other end of the state or as exciting as a
bankers' meeting.  Also a class sense steeped in individualism, even to the
point of fostering what seems to us like pointless or escapist behaviors.
Perhaps, too, we need to be aware of an implicit strategy of nonresistance
and rolling with the punches.

And, absolutely, these are not the results of a "lull" but have
characterized the work force in the U.S. for many years, decades and
generations.  However, none of that means it can't change.  In fact, if we
see these common features of class, we can see the potential for a rapid and
massive shift.

Not only can you not set your alarm to such things, but you wont' need one
when it happens.

Mark L.

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