File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2001/bhaskar.0110, message 16

Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 20:07:58 -0500
Subject: Re: More ont he master-slave dialectic was Re: BHA: <fwd> Fukuyama: 

Gary MacLennan wrote:
> ... for the purposes of my argument I
> would suggest that there is within the labour movement a tendency that
> seeks reconciliation through reform and that which seeks the negation of
> the capital-labour relationship through revolutionary change. There is also
> a crucial differentiation within labour between those who manage the system
> - union officials, labor politicians, and those who are managed, that is
> rank and file trade unionists.

Gary, as I was reading this I began to have an inkling of what I have
been on the verge of arguing before but never quite formulated. My
present formulation is pretty crude, but I want to offer it for serious

In the paragraph above you identify "labour movement" and "unions." I
want to suggest that it has to be exactly the opposite. The core of the
working-class movement is _always_ among those workers that do _not_
belong to unions but are moving towards unionization. In the United
States _all_ the great worker-management battles have been over union
recognition, over the formation of unions. In Czarist Russia and England
of the 1840s Unions were illegal. Where unions are legal, they are
almost certain to be a conservative force.

The importance of this is that all estimations of working-class
consciousness that focus on unionized workers are essentially
irrelevant. Hence all current marxist analyses of contemporary class
consciousness in the United States (and I suspect in Australia) are
neither wrong nor correct but simply irrelevant because they aren't
focusing on the real working class, the mass of non-union members.

This idea is only about 15 minutes old, so I can't develop it further at
this time.


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