File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-29.113, message 4

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 1997 11:00:13 -0500
Subject: Re: M-I: Re: Doug's comments, part 1.

At 1:54 PM 1/26/97, Stephen E Philion wrote:

>Doug asks me why I "oppose workers to Blacks/Gays/Women?  Most of B/G/W
>are workers .  How can you think about class w/o thinking about the people
>who make it up?  People are positioned withing the working class by
>Race/Class/Gender/Sexuality..whatever.  WHy follow the pomo in treating
>working and constituencies of NSMs as separate.
>***My first response is one of surprise because I think this is exactly
>the point that my paper makes.  As a matter of fact, it is one of its

Yes, which is why I was a bit surprised to see you not challenging Adam's

>>>The practical debate in the course of whatever campaign
>>>it might be quite often revolves around the question :
>>>"unity amongst whom ?". Do we FIRST unify all blacks/women/
>>>gays across class lines and THEN unite with the workers movement,
>>>or do we FIRST try and unite the workers movement on class
>>>lines and THEN seek to draw in all blacks/women/gays ?
>>I have usually thought more along the lines of the second.  However, I'm
>>sure such a movement could not draw in "all" blacks/women/gays...though I
>>suspect you don't mean that.  I tend to think that we could prioritize a
>>workers' movement and simultaneously involve ourselves in social
>>movements.  The opportunities for alliances are numerous and the
>>precedents are too many.

Adam's wrong to treat this as a sequence rather than some sort of complex
unity. So I was surprised to read you express agreement with the second
sequencing instead of challenging the division. How can you unite the
working class without acknowledging the social groups that constitute it?

>what I find fascinating is that much of new social movement literature ( I
>mean go look at those three I discuss, Melucci, Eder, and Laclau and
>Mouffe) largely talk like the welfare state that was so able to, or that
>is seemed so able to soothe class conflict is still able to to buy off the
>majority of working people today, be they located in the traditional
>manufacturing or service sectors.

This may be one of the dangers of importing so much European social theory
to the U.S. Descriptions of the welfare state as softening class conflict
may be accurate descriptions of life in the richer countries of the EU -
though less and less so in these post-Maastricht days - but certainly not
the U.S., the country with the smallest middle class (defined in income
terms) in the First World.



Doug Henwood
Left Business Observer
250 W 85 St
New York NY 10024-3217 USA
+1-212-874-4020 voice  +1-212-874-3137 fax
email: <>
web: <>

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