In a message dated 1/27/2010 7:46:16 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
markalause at gmail.com writes:
My point, though, is that radicals, particularly Marxists, should not not
shun alliances, so long as they're on a solid, principled footing--that is,
independent of the capitalist parties.
Agreed. Those screaming for independence of the workers without a precise
description of their meaning and what they are talking about are not helpful
at this stage of the social process.
Further, at this stage of the social process, the proletariat cannot
express itself organizationally independent of capital, because those sections
of the proletariat in external collision with capital and the state are
decidedly outside the electoral process, and perhaps a decade away from
perfecting any kind of organization. I hope I am wrong and such organizations
began formation yesterday. We are on the right path.
We are at the front of a new development and transition in the form of the
working class movement.
And we are traveling a path that must be hewed out as we go. There is a
material spontaneous movement generating the impulse for a class party. In
Detroit and Ohio this process is material.
Let's back up a bit.
In 1996 when the Labor Party was formed it was a pretty good idea to speak
of basing it on the trade unions as a practical solution to the question of
growth and development. 14 years later - 2010, it seems the activity was
premature, but not wrong. 14 years later the trade union moment has further
decayed and is leaping - in transition. I have not the slightest clue as to
what will constitute phases, other than the abstraction about boundaries
and junctures. Let me try and make this as concrete as possible.
There has always existed layers of the proletariat with a disconnect with
commodity production. Today's disconnect is different.
Retried workers are a case in point. We want to look at the retired workers
as part of the new proletariat formed in the wake of the technological
revolution, or what is the same the emerging new form of proletarian movement.
For instance the UAW has roughly 90,000 working members in the automotive
industry, in contradistinction to perhaps 800,000 plus retired workers, with
huge sections of these workers in Ohio and Michigan. These workers tend to
vote. Retired workers are outside the ?point of production? or the
process of bourgeoisie commodity production or production of surplus value. These
numbers express the new form and features of the working class movement in
real time. External collision of classes is not a clever conception
formulated to intellectually impress ones neighbor. Rather, we are fighting for
our life and I am told by a narrow section of these workers, "for life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
I'm like "damn, I hope this does not mean I have to stand and say the
pledge of allegiance in our meetings because that is out of the question" At
least where I live.
The attempt is to try and describe what is in front of us without thick
These retired workers are stirring into motion around the issue of health
care. Our premiums have jumped since VEBA was enacted 27 days ago. We lost
dental and eye coverage in 2008. Non company coverage of dental and eye care
has jumped at least 50% since July 2008. Another reason the government did
not allow Chrysler and GM to collapse is that pension obligations would
have collapsed the federal government retirement fund after 60 days, even
with 60% payments. There is a small core of retired workers between the age of
49 and 59, which is a new thing in American history. I am 57 and have been
retired since 2001 or since age 49. All of this is new to our history.
Now, these retired workers pay $2 a month in union dues, a minuscule
amount, yielding $1.6 million a month or over $19 million a year to a trade
union organization. I have been told that there are over 800,000 of us but
these figures are closely guarded.
90,000 active workers paying 2 hours a month in dues, say $50, = $4,500,000
or $54 million a year. Whose voice must inevitably dominant the working
class movement and trade unions as a new form of struggle? 90,000 or 800,000?
Retired workers have the economic basis for a radically different kind of
organization and the legacy of collectivity to carry out the task of
building such an organization.
We are outside the conflict between employer and employee. We are not about
to march on the company, which is bankrupt. Because some of us are former
union representatives we are deeply aware that Federal law does not require
the company - any company, to negotiate with retired workers or groups of
workers the company does not employ. The impulse is to leap outside of
the trade union form because there is no other path of struggle available. We
face a new form of struggle.
Here is the concrete motion and logic driving the need for a class party
rather than a third party grafted onto the two party system. I understand it
is not popular amongst Marxists to follow the utterances of a Newt Gingrich
but what is one to do where he calls for a struggle against the right wing
and advocates the possible formation of a Third party?
There is only one thing we can do. Dig into our own history using Marx
method rather than utterance of ideology.
Seems to me a concerted effort is needed to describe what we face as social
and economic reality, and not surrender to old concepts of a class
struggle that never existed in America in the first place. The wage struggle is
not the class struggle. The wage struggle is a reform movement seeking a
greater slice of the pie of exploitation or a greater share of the social
product. As such it is part of the equality movement or the fight of the workers
for equality of wages based on skill, trade, industry and classification.
Exciting times lie ahead.
Let us march on til victory is won/one.