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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
The suppression of class in US society.
The war against the idea that there are classes in society and that this is the dominant division is pervasive. Which Latino's were they? Mostly workers obviously. The bourgeois refuse to talk about class. The Union leaders block any talk about it, the left to be honest fall in to line and relegate it to a minor detail. I mean, I was thinking of a criticism one guy shared recently about the composition of a committee he is in of various leftists of different types, that it is predominantly white.
But there's an even more stark problem in the left, it is predominantly petit bourgeois, but it's beyond that, the bigger problem is that the left has failed to attract workers of any bloody color in the main.
The left has failed to build a left current in the workers' movement in general. This is the major problem with the left and something we need to try to remedy. But the left has to talk the language of workers, listen to workers, understand what the mood is among workers, and orient to the working class if we are to help build such a current. And we have to recognize that if we are to participate in the struggle to change the Unions we have to be prepared to openly campaign against the disastrous policies of the trade Union leadership and help build union oppositions and caucuses on a fighting program that tap in to where workers are at, to what is foremost on their minds.
I was at the UFCW picket lines for a short time this morning. It was the same routine. The workers are out there and not yet demoralized. They make no effort to stop or even address the scabs or shoppers scabbing. One young guy came riding up on a bike all smiles and one woman was laughing with him and he was about to go in as he said he really needed some food. "Hey, you're not going in to shop are you?", I asked, "There's a strike going on. He turned and smiled at me repeating his need for food as he was hungry. The worker with the picket sign, a middle aged lady was very friendly with him. As he turned I saw he had a tee shirt with "Christ" written on it in big letters. "Look at your tee shirt" I said to him, "You shouldn't cross this picket line" and that these people are out here trying to save their living standards. He repeated he was hungry. "I hope you get run over when you come out" I said to him.
The woman told me that we are not to upset people, we don't want to harass. She laughed and joked with him and off in he went. I talked to some of the other workers about this and they said that the Union had told them that they were not to upset or impede anyone from going in. As I delved deeper, one women said that she earns $12 an hour, that she can barely make it now and they want to cut benefits and wages. I put it bluntly that this young guy and others are helping take food out of her children's belly. "Why should I be nice to him?" I said, "This isn;'t a game". A number of them agreed with me but it's just been so long since we've seen real battles that the idea that the scabs shouldn't be harassed and that they have the right to go in and we don't want to upset them because we want them to come back when this is over was quite strong. The trade Union leadership has suppressed militancy well.
I talked to a 30 year guy and he was a good Union man but said the Union doesn't do much. I talked about the 2003 strike when they screwed as they always do the new hires. You get no disagreement when you raise these things, that the new hires get screwed at the contract time because they are not there yet, not union members and can't vote. Then when they work alongside others later on who are earning hundreds a month more than them with better benefits there is animosity which weakens the Union further.
There is no doubt the bureaucracy has a stronger hold than I for one imagined years ago; they have an army of staffers, liberals and former leftists that ensure the enforcement of their concessionary policies. But there is still no doubt in my mind that the Unions will be convulsed also in the period ahead, they will not escape the turmoil when we see the beginnings of a workers movement, not a movement "for" workers, but a workers' movement. I felt a bit sorry for these brothers and sisters today because it's the same old thing. At first they feel empowered and hope that they'll win. But after a week or so on a picket line that stops no one, seeing people just calmly walk by while they're losing pay gets a bit old. They're not really strikes because there's no real attempt to shut down production.