[Marxism] YADL (Yet another disillusioned liberal)/all

Michael Friedman lycophidion at gmail.com
Sun Apr 5 12:57:39 MDT 2009

Waistline's point is very important. I think the ideological -- and by this,
I mean more than just ideas, but institutions and way of life --
underpinnings of the society are a basic cause of the lack of what Joaquin
calls a "class for itself" movement. And I think this is where Gramsci's
concepts of hegemony and hegemonic blocs are important. It would be useful
for someone with a thorough grasp of these concepts (not me!) to assess the
current juncture.

I agree with much of Marvin's writing on this issue in an earlier post. For
most "blue-collar" labor in the preceding period, the ensemble of living
conditions have deteriorated, not improved. Even the possession of a greater
number of (more cheaply made, purchased on credit) electronic gadgets
doesn't of necessity imply improved living conditions. And Marx spoke of the
socially necessary component of variable capital, new products becoming
incorporated into the wage package.

However, where these gadgets do play a role is as part of the
ideological/institutional matrix that we operate within, generating
expectations of what constitutes "normality" and "security" and "everyday
life." I know I've made use of that latter phrase before: "everyday-ness".
It (cotidianidad) was coined by Chilean media critics Armand Mattelart and
Ariel Dorfmann in the context of the CIA's destabilization campaign against
Salvador Allende, to describe precisely that matrix, that world-view, which
in the Chilean case, the counter-revolution actively sought to rupture.
Ditto in Nicaragua. Now, in the current juncture, the rulers are doing a
pretty-damned good job of rupturing "everyday-ness" and their hegemony by
themselves. How far will this go, and who will be there to pick up the

One point of Marvin's that I don't agree with is his view that the union
bureaucrats are blameless for the decline of unions. While, I agree that the
primary current "cause" (argghh!) for the phenomena lies with decades-long
changes in the world economy (i.e., neoliberalism), I would point out that
the decline began prior to the consolidation of the neo-liberal model, at
about the time that Douglas Frasier began moaning about the "one-sided class
war". I would argue that these bureaucrats "canalized" (to use a genetic
term) the union movement into a position that was poorly equipped to
confront capital, much less do so within the context of an all-out
globalized class war. I mean, as a teacher, my union was good for a)
sweetheart contracts with the City of New York, b) stifling dissent, c)
attacking (a la Albert Shanker) belligerent labor movements elsewhere in the
world and d) offering its members credit cards.

> Message: 2

> Date: Sat, 4 Apr 2009 16:26:03 EDT

> From: Waistline2 at aol.com

> Subject: Re: [Marxism] YADL (Yet another disillusioned liberal)/all

>             class            unity is wrong

> To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu

> Message-ID: <d4a.4ef9dd3f.37091c5b at aol.com>

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"


> Ideology accounts for much of the passivity of the American workers.


> The ideologies of all-class unity have been ingrained in the public psyche

> for generations. My own thoughts is that this ideology is not peculiar to

> America but an important component of the ideological landscape of all the

> leading capitalist countries. These ideologies have roots in the capital

> labor

> relation itself, as systematic production and is reinforced as the self

> moving

> logic of reproduction. Labor at all times live and reproduces itself at

> the

> mercy of capital.


> Perhaps chief among them is the philosophical assertion that lies at the

> heart of the case made for American exceptionalism, i.e. that we are

> essentially

> a classless society because American society is founded upon the primacy

> of

> the  individual. Hence the role of government is simply to provide the

> "opportunity"  for each individual to become all they can be. So the

> workers find

> themselves  pitted against one another in the market place competing for

> fewer and

> fewer  low-wage jobs. It is every man and woman for themselves, and if

> they

> don't  succeed, then it must be because they made bad choices. This

> ideology

> mask the  capital-labor relation, which appears as a law of nature to each

> successive  generation. Beneath the ideology is the proposition that

> capital lives

> and  thrives on wage labor and wage labor rest exclusively on the basis of

> competition between wage laborers. Being pitted against each other in the

> battle

>  for survival is not a natural condition of human existence; most

> certainly

> not  in a society of plenty.


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