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PORTSIDELABOR  June 2012, Week 2

PORTSIDELABOR June 2012, Week 2

Subject:

Readers Response

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 8 Jun 2012 19:59:38 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (139 lines)

Re: Two Articles on Wisconsin

Thanks for these articles. It is a very disappointing
outcome, but it is wonderful how groups came together
to try to protect the social rights of citizens in a
democracy. It is too bad the White House did not get
more involved, but they are focused on the national
election, which is time-consuming and expensive. The
greatest disaster to democratic procedures in the
United States is the Supreme Court decision to allow
rich people like the Koch Bros. to pour tons of money
to affect the course of votes.

Obviously this is not only unfair and undemocratic, but
it underminds fundamentally the idea of one person, one
vote. Until legislation is passed to counter that
decision or until the president appoints some liberal
people to the Supreme Court to change it, you will have
a country governed without doubt by wealthy and
corporate interests. It is especially important because
unlike Britain and Canada, you have no broad based
national broadcasting system to counter the right wing
propoganda of Fox News and the other private corporate
networks, which makes it difficult to get a mainstream,
relatively progressive message out to the public. It is
an uneven playing field and until some of these
strucural advantages of conservatives are overcome,
there will be disappointing results.

Unions, environmentalists and human rights activists
can only do so much. People need to be politically
educated and that does not happen when all they hear is
the abusive drivel from the TV. Social networking on
the Internet can help but it is not enough. It is
important to get Obama and some more Democrats elected,
but that is just a start; then you have to get some
changes made to the system and some really good,
honest, social activists in Congress.

L. MacDowell



Re: Two Articles on Wisconsin

The Democratic Party and organized labor do one thing
equally as bad - they do not know how to communicate or
educate the public on their philosophy, issues and
programs.

They are organizations that need people to be strong
but act as if they harbor an under current of contempt
for people.  I worked on union staff for over 30 years
- terrible employers generally.  Massive egos who react
to any kind of criticism with "kill the messenger".
Worked for the Democrats in our state
legislature...directionless with no agenda and a mean
spiritedness to their day to day operation.  Look at
Wisconsin - Democrats couldn't even get together on one
candidate...wasted $3 million before they even started
running against Walker....and "a re-call election"?
B.S. - it was just another election.  A "recall" is
when you vote the guy up or down - not elect another
Governor...stupid stupid stupid....!!!

The "leadership" of both organizations on the local and
national levels need a good house cleaning over the
next few years.


William Johnston

re: Class Unconsciousness: Stop Using "Middle Class" to Depict the Labor Movement

30 years ago in 1992 I wrote a book entitled "Argentine
Workers: Peronism and Contemporary Class Consciousness"
in which I faced the same conundrum that Nelson
Lichtenstein writes of in his article "Class
Unconsciousness: Stop Using "Middle Class" to Depict
the Labor Movement." It has disturbed me no end that
the term "working class" has disappeared from the U.S.
lexicon. In interviewing 110 Argentine workers from
teachers, telephone technicians, bank employees to auto
workers, electrical workers, metal workers and textile
workers I was faced with the need to categorize their
disparate and various social background and values. I
determined that for many members of the working class I
needed to change the term "middle class" from a noun to
an adjective so as to more clearly describe large
portions of the working class as "middle class
workers". This change of terminology allowed me to
better categorize and describe increasing proportions
of the working class who, as professional, commercial,
service and government employees, were "middle class
workers" and indeed members of the working class. Their
differences were in sociological categories such as
educational attainment, cultural proclivities, leisure
pursuits and their places of work.  However, they
clearly shared that they derived their living from
wages and fixed salaries, they had no control over
money capital, fixed capital nor managed labor power or
owned the means of production, nor did they participate
in the creation and execution of state ideology and
policy.

Social critics from Karl Marx to E.P. Thompson and Eric
Wright have observed the multiple factions of the
working classes. Marx himself saw that capitalism had
"converted the physician, the lawyer,the priest, the
poet, the man of science into paid wage labourers." 
The Argentine workers I interviewed conform to the
American worker today.  They live by the sale of their
labor power,and receive less than the value of the
production and circulation of the goods and services in
which they are involved. That is their commonality and
their potential for indignation and rebellion.

Peter Ranis 
Professor Emeritus 
Graduate Center, CUNY

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PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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