[Marxism] Smithfield Strike

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Tue Nov 21 07:29:17 MST 2006

Jon Flanders wrote:

> Coming up in the rear will be the white workers, who undoubtably have
> the best jobs in the plant. Even here though, there will be a section
> who will be energized. So the transmission belt for struggle will be
> started by the Latinos, travel through the African Americans and finally
> drag along some white workers.
That sounds right. It's still quite possible that one day the left will look
back and conclude that the persistent reports of the death of the massive -
and ever-changing - US working class were greatly exaggerated. This includes
the higher-paid white stratum, still the largest part of the workforce,
whose median income (about 45k) is now stagnating and which is consequently
finding life more difficult than it has in many generations.

In any case, as we know, the social weight of the more "privileged" white
workers is rapidly declining as Western populations become more ethnically
and racially diverse through immigration and demographic growth. While
religious and other cultural ties to old homelands is characteristic of
immigrant families - not  least because of nativist antagonism and
discrimination against them - the trend has typically been away from rather
towards ethnic identification as successive generations mix and intermarry
and forge a common culture in their schools and workplaces. If identity
politics seem especially strong today, it is because the wave of immigration
into Europe and North America is such a powerful one.

But we should remember that old identities are shaken when economic and
social crises erupt which demand unity. These are also accompanied by the
development of parallel movements on the right promoting ethnic, race, and
gender division, but, unless I'm succumbing to wishful thinking, it seems to
me the historical trend is such that it is the conservatives and fascists -
and not the left - which is most in danger of losing its traditonal support
base in the xenophobic, white, rural, patriarchal, homophobic, Christian,
small propertyholding part of the population. This is something which is
perhaps not enough taken into account when considering whether class and
class politics have seen their day in the advanced capitalist countries.

More information about the Marxism mailing list