[Marxism] Of victory and victories
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Dec 11 16:33:42 MST 2008
First, as Lou said, everyone comes back. Like to think of it as Stoppard
bending time rather than Beckett bending absurdities.
I prefer to think more of Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" -- you know, the one
that can never really end. In that spirit, welcome back, Ghost of Christmas
I'm sure I can't be the only one on list who doesn't find the
conclusion of the occupation in Chicago an unqualified victory.
Reason 1: The factory is closing. The factory owners will have to comply
with the state law regarding factory closings, but the factory is closing.
Reason 2: Apparently the work will be shifted to Iowa, to a non-unionized
factory, for however long that lasts.
This makes me wonder what Artesian's definition of victory would be --
although he seems to concede implicitly that the workers won SOMETHING --
for this small group of workers resisting their dispossession and,
economically, expropriation at a small plant in Chicago. To win, they would
have had to determine the overall economy, in which massive numbers of
workers are currently losing jobs, and determine events in Iowa where they
and their interests have no weight at all at present.
Personally, I think in the framework that exists which is a framework that
struggles like this can affect but not transform, they did pretty damn well
and are right if they feel proud of themselves. I hope most of them are able
to get other jobs, because their experience will be something important in
other workplaces where workers -- Black, Latino, legal and illegal
immigrant, and white -- are currently beleaguered.
I think this struggle has left some scratches on the mind of millions of
working people, thoughts which will remain planted even though I am not sure
that it will find imitators soon except among people who find themselves in
similar ripped-off situations (rather than more normal, contract-governed
Of course, this struggle did not achieve workers control over production and
management. Frankly, under the present economic circumstances, I don't think
self-management would have worked for very long or solved the workers'
problem with the interruption of their income (value of their labor power)
I think in the present circumstances they were right to bypass such an
adventure on such a small an unsupported scale, and to get themselves their
legally owed payments, sign up for unemployment, and generally get back into
the job hunt. I don't think they feel defeated and I don't think this is an
illusion. In fact, I think the opposite view is a dis-illusion, which I
think is a way bigger problem today on the far left than illusions.
This was an important struggle, and the message that it is possible to take
arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, SOMEWHAT LESSEN THEM, will
be received well by other workers. To put it mildly, they are not utopians.
Of course, these workers did not achieve socialism, nationalization of the
means of production, workers management or control of production or any
numer of similar measures. It was a small victory. In a time when small
victories in the labor movement have been rare, and MAY continue to be so
for a while
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