[Marxism] YADL (Yet another disillusioned liberal)

Marv Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Thu Apr 2 06:58:06 MDT 2009

Mark writes:

> We'll see.  I think a historical materialist should see society as a
> dynamic process, and avoid these faith-based generalizations about
> what will always be the case and what will never happen....  Political
> coalitions are never simple and homogeneous even if they usually
> manage to pretend to be, and the facade becomes more difficult when
> they're facing rough times.  Nor can I share the cynicism that the
> voters who elected Obama are going to throw the same arguments at us
> in four years if they don't have something to show for it....
> Finally, there are immense upheavals in the works outside of the US
> that are going to provide living models of movements that will weigh
> more heavily than what is still pretty much talk here....
Let's recall also that there was an absence of mass action in the early
years of the Great Depression. The working class was overwhelmed by the
abrupt deterioration of the economy and the soaring rate of job losses, wage
cuts, and home evictions. It was natural that workers in these circumstances
would scramble as individuals to save themselves and their families. They
had little choice. Contracting economies = labour surpluses, lack of working
class confidence, declining unions.

Given their inability to act collectively in the workplace, it was natural
also that working people would invest all of their hopes and energies in
electoral action and a new Democratic administration promising change and
recovery. It was only when the economy began recovering that the possibility
for a higher level of organized mass action, particularly in the industrial
arena, presented itself. Recovering economies = labour shortages, increased
working class confidence, expanding unions and greater militancy.

The general level of political consciousness of the American working class
was no higher and possibly lower at the onset of the 30's depression than it
is today. What differed immensely, of course, was that there was a vigorous
and growing international socialist movement embedded in the unions and
other working class organizations, whose influence extended even into the
US. CP and other socialist activists in the unions and other mass
organizations became the catalysts and organizers of the subsequent upsurge.
There is no longer an international working class left, though it can't be
ruled out that today's tiny sects could grow rapidly in the context of
increased working class confidence resulting from renewed hiring and an
angry determination to fundamentally change a system which produced the

As Mark says, we'll see, it's a process, and one in which it's best to avoid
either triumphalist or despairing faith-based generalizations.

More information about the Marxism mailing list