[Marxism] Why are the writers of NY Times thumbsuckers so blind?

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Sun Apr 5 20:31:40 MDT 2009

Louis has sent to the list what we old-time journalists --the ones who
shamelessly call ourselves hacks-- classify as a "thumbsucker," a "news
analysis" on why the U.S. Labor movement is so passive from the New York

As the most notorious denigrator and poo-pooer of the U.S. working class on
this list, what strikes me upon reading these pieces is how blind and narrow
minded the authors are.

Only three years ago, the United States went through what I believe was the
most sustained and massive series of protest marches ever seen, certainly in
this country, and quite possibly anywhere in the world. Cities like Chicago
and Los Angeles were effectively shut down, not once, but two or three
times, simply by the size of the protests. Though no one (save a few
feverish leftists) called it a general strike, that is what is amounted to
*in practice* in those cities.

And in places where the Latino population is not as large and the community
not as well established, like Atlanta, where I live, the protest was the
largest ever held in the city -- BY AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE -- despite being
on a weekday. 

Okay, I'm a spic, I was involved and can hardly be "objective."

But perhaps the peaceful and well-mannered way in which these mobilizations
were carried out was a first, or at least unusual, leading my fellow
scribbler from the New York Times to overlook it. But the United States has
ALSO provided the stage for the most explosive, transformative and --yes--
violent social and protest movements of the post-WWII era in any imperialist

I remember 41 years ago today, and how in 100 cities the Black community
rose up in semi-insurrectionary rebellions and elemental rage after the
assassination of Martin Luther King. 

And how to prevent that today, such massive, random repression is carried
out against Black male youth, that although only a small percentage of the
population, their incarceration rate makes Amerikkka BY FAR the paragon of
prison camps on a world scale. The repression of the Black and Latino
communities in the United States is so generalized that if the United States
were a country the American imperialists didn't happen to like, next year
there would be no nominees for the Oscars, because the repression is SO
outrageous no one in Hollywood would have had the time to make any movies,
they'd all be too busy protesting and kow towing to Black and Latino

And that's not to mention that the largely student based anti Vietnam war
movement, serving to a significant degree as a vehicle for the impact of the
heroic resistance of the Vietnamese people to be transmitted into the
imperialist heartland itself, and coupled with the undermining of bourgeois
political-ideological hegemony caused by the Black movement, provoked such a
collapse in the morale of the imperialist army in Vietnam that it not only
lost its effectiveness as a fighting force but ALSO represented such a
danger of mass mutiny that the rabidly paranoid and anticommunist Richard
Nixon and Henry Kissinger felt they had NO CHOICE but to withdraw that army
from the fight, leading directly, and quite predictably, to the victory of
the Vietnamese nation against the imperialist puppet regime in Saigon.

That's not to mention that the United States --I believe this is true-- gave
birth to the modern feminist movement as well as the gay movement and
environmental movement, among others.

I believe I know major, important reasons for the passivity of the U.S.
working class acting as such, under that banner, in US society. But we
should remember that DESPITE *this* passivity, socio-economic tensions and
mass struggles in the United States have been the most deep-going and
dramatic of any imperialist country in recent decades with the sole possible
and extremely temporary exception of the French May -- never to be forgotten
but, alas, never to be repeated.

To write *narrowly* about a wages-and-hours, working conditions,
union-movement-type approach and its absence, and FAIL to see that for MORE
than half a century, the discontent of the most oppressed layers of the
working people in the United States has found OTHER ways of expressing
itself, if anything even MORE dramatic and disruptive than the usual tactics
of the labor movement of 70 or 80 years ago, when it WAS a real movement, is
to demonstrate such an utter blindness to social realities and tensions that
it can only be classified as truly "American."


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