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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:19 pm 
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You find nothing instructive about it? Well, you initially brought up the racism of the socialist inspired unions. I was just pointing out that such racism was, in California at least, one of the organizing principles of the AFL unions.

Now it's more than just a failure of solidarity when this occurs; for one, the anti-Asian drive required collaboration with the police, the courts, the legislature-- all the organs of bourgeois government; for another it is an articulation of the limits of the "union-form" in that it reproduces all the schisms, fractions, divisions in the class, and in fact raises those divisions to the level of economic canon.

And of course the citations are irrelevant- and miss the point-- as it's not "foreign" vs. "native"-- particularly when the "native" is only native in so far as it is European; the same fundamentally skewed "logic" can be applied against any workers trying to find employment-- like "every job taken by a black worker is a job taken away from a white worker;" "every job taken by a woman is a job taken away from a man;" etc. etc. etc.

The essential characteristic of unions is the classification, categorization of workers; the separation of members of the class from the other members of the class.


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:12 pm 
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as Marx makes clear, the class struggle of the proletariat is about emancipation of labor; it may express itself as a struggle over wages, or working conditions, but that is only because surplus value is what it is-- the expropriation of social labor time for private accumulation. The conflict is between the conditions of labor, i.e. organized as a commodity for exchange, and labor-- the power to satisfy, deepen, expand, and create anew social human beings. That's how Marx makes it clear that in emancipating itself, the proletariat emancipates all others, as there is no longer the expropriation of labor; no longer the expression of labor-power as a commodity. And that's why to emancipate itself, the proletariat has to do away with the conditions that create it.


This is tangling the potential hosted within labor’s class struggles with its content. I’m arguing that:

4 Reproduction of capital/negation of capital are implicit to wage labor, forming its content. All opposing forces within trade unions and trade unionism—armistice/resistance, reformism/anti-formism [4]—are derivatives of this dichotomy internal to the working-class: the class defined only by its (existing or potential) relation to capital. Every competing tendency in the lived experience of organized and organizing labor emanate from this dual content of wage labor. (Theses on the Trade Union Question, #4, Class, Bureaucracy and the Union-Form)

Labor’s class struggles are a reflection of the content of wage labor itself, personified in the class of wage laborers who can potentially produce capital and not-capital in the immediate process and point of production, regenerate or abolish capital. All potentiality can be reduced back to this fundamental content at the origin of both capitalism and the proletariat (the “mutual presupposition” of capital-wage labor).

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we can argue about the trade union being a form or process or a condition and it doesn't make any difference. The issue is if the organization of trade unions makes, impels them, to seek accommodation with the bourgeoisie, or if in fact trade unions become "combat organizations" of the workers in the class struggle.


You say it doesn’t make any difference, but immediately after saying this raise a question in which it is the difference.

I’ve been working on the next supplement on precisely what I see as the theoretical root of this perspective: cutting the dialectic of the class struggle in half. For brevity and an opening salvo I found this brief quote that distills this:

“"Since development appears as a unity of quantitative (continuous) and qualitative (leap-like) changes, in practice and in cognition it is necessary to take both these stages of development into account. To ignore any one of them means to distort the process of development, to lapse into metaphysics ", V.G. Afanesayev, Dialectical Materialism, p.81

Quote:
Think the evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of the compulsion to seek accommodation rather than act as combat organizations. In Chile, it was the cordones, taken over by the workers after the Unidad Popular initiated them that became the combat organizations.

In Bolivia, the "lost decade" in Latin America, and the decline of tin prices took a devastating toll on the unions and they were unable to recover and counter Morales' retread of "Goni-ism."

In the UK-- we have the example of the miners' strike in 85-- and while the bourgeoisie knew it was all about "who rules?" and acted accordingly, the unions would not, because they could not.

Are trade unions the organs by which class struggle will be articulated, advanced, and made "real"? That's the issue. And the answers are "possibly" or "in some cases" and "up to a point" and "at that point the unions reveal their intrinsic limitations and inabilities." Everything else is just a dog, or dogs, chasing its, or their, tail. or tails.


There are a few separate-distinct conceptions displayed in your examples.

I Episodes and forms which take place outside of, parallel to and/or against the union-form and established labor organizations are able to be isolated and examined in isolation

II That the trade unions’ fortunes are in a direct, economically determined relationship to the fortunes of capitalism (local, industrial, regional, national, international) demonstrates something significant on its own

III There is something significant in that the trade unions, either always and everywhere or sometimes and in some places, are unable to maintain a linear trajectory—or put another way, that because they cannot always or mostly or sometimes extract new durable concessions or protect past material gains, this is significant on its own

IV An expectation for the trade unions, without revolutionary intervention (defined whichever which way), to regularly produce results which mirror the desired effect of revolutionary intervention, and that because they don’t (with any qualifier—often enough, on a big enough scale, over a long enough timeline, etc.), they never will and never could or can

Quote:
So what does this mean practically? Particularly since union memberships have declined so precipitously? Concretely, look at the events in Madison, Wisconsin-- the battle was lost when it was maintained as a struggle to defend the unions-- when it was contained within the "union form." In Madison, what was required were general councils, not controlled by the unions, not meeting according to union classification. But that was anathema to the unions, not to mention the Michael Moore types who wanted to tie the struggle to the electoral fortunes of the Democratic party.


I have a lot to say about Madison, so to start with what you’ve raised in your response:

At what point do you think the episode was not contained within the “union-form”?

I’ve been collecting references and notes as it relates to other groups (IWW first and foremost, Trotskyists, the labor-left) and communist perspectives (ICC, IP, ICT) and one thing that comes across is the need to write a prescription for past events rather than an analysis of what the dynamics were at the time and what could have been done and said at the time, what were the apparent balance of forces, what were the strengths and weaknesses of the moment at each stage of the struggle, what was the real potential, etc. in other words, what practical lessons can be taken away from it?

It’s a bit like the old Communist Party of America printing up leaflets for the national rail strike of 1922 saying that the real issue at stake in the struggle was the formation of soviets, arming the workers and overthrowing capitalism. Is that what revolutionaries wanted? Absolutely. Was it based on anything other than the pen of said revolutionaries? Of course not.

Quote:
You say you are not "choosing" good vs. the bad, but of course you are. You bestow the legacly of the IMWA on Gompers and Strasser and the AFL. You take issue with Farrell Dobbs leaving the Teamsters for the SWP, as if that were somehow "betraying" the legacy of Marx and the IMWA. You blame Debs for the WFM throwing in with the IWW, and dismiss the IWW altogether although the IWW opposed entry into the war, and the IWW organizations actively combated racism in Louisiana among other states.


You’re combining separate statements as though they were different ways of saying the same thing.

On Dobbs, it was a demonstration of the effect of adopting ideological narratives as one’s own personal perspective on real, concrete practice. I’m not characterizing that as a betrayal but as an example of the power of ideological narratives to shape real life. The earlier exchanges with Noa brought some of this out. If it were only a matter of historical record, for the simple sake of accuracy, I wouldn’t have bothered to write THOBU. Another example directly relevant to our discussion: the actual, concrete, real life practice of the IWW in Madison in 2011. That’s why I view labor history as just another terrain of struggle, because it is an active element in the most practical politics of the ‘left’ and socialist movement.

I exposed the destructive role Debs played in the dual union movements which preceded the IWW (American Railway Union, Western Labor Union and his personal role in the creation of the American Labor Union as an anti-AFL dual union center) up through the IWW itself. That says nothing of his white chauvinism, his support of colonialism and imperialism (Foster references a congress of the Second International where Debs joined the faction which considered imperialism as progressive, calling the punitive military expeditions, subjugation and capital development of China ‘another of the White Man’s Burdens’) and his questionable, rudimentary understanding of Marxism. Exposing his union wrecking is merely one dimension of what should be relentless skepticism of the starry eyed hero worship he is the subject of. What value do you place on the legacy of Eugene Debs, is he worth his posthumous status as a grand figure of the socialist movement?

Ditto for the IWW. If you look for it you can find redeeming qualities in anything and anyone. That doesn’t make them immune from criticism and exposure. But again, this is only necessary because this history has practical, concrete relevance to real life political practice.

Did the IWMA not have its share of reactionaries, opportunists, demagogues, etc.? Does that detract from its legacy? That it was able to embody a genuine advance for the working-class despite this is similar to how I view the formation of the FOTLU-AFL. Defending this legacy from falsified history is not a role reversal, of replacing ‘De Leon’, Debs and co. with Gompers and those around him as objects of worship (what you called ‘totems’). Again, I’d like to return to it and have some notes for what I see as the basis of legitimate criticism. But criticism of Gompers and the group around him, of the generation of trade union leaders who were active in the early years of the FOTLU-AFL, has to be grounded in the whole story, otherwise it’s a capitulation to the likes of Buhle, Brecher and co. as though there is any value in their liquidationist histories and the political mythology of groups like the IWW.

The next supplement uses a 1975 letter from Dunayevskaya on the matter of seniority as a foil to elaborate the criticism of splitting the dialectic of the class struggle. In that letter she writes:

“When we get to the American scene in the 1920s, we find that we Bolsheviks couldn't for the life of us see that either the damned American Federation of Labor would ever organize the unorganized, or the Blacks would be permitted in anywhere. So we organized the American Negro Labor Congress, the Trade Union Educational League, women workers in isolated places but especially garment and textiles. But after many years of struggle and failures, from below did arise the Congress of Industrial Organizations. By "from below" I do not mean out of nowhere because we certainly were there too, but from within and outside at one and the same time...” –Raya Dunayevskaya, Practicing Proletarian Reason: On Seniority and Emancipation

https://www.marxists.org/archive/dunaye ... reason.htm

Every claim in this paragraph is demonstrably false. Is that important? I’d say so, because this ideological narrative plays a strong role in her formulation of a political position on a concrete contemporary issue (the socialist position on seniority).

Quote:
As I stated before, dual unionism is rarely a revolutionary strategy, but that doesn't make every "dual union" an exercise in reaction and "anti-working class struggle" politics.

Nor does it mean that trade unions are to be ignored, pilloried, or should be made targets of government intervention to "clean them up." Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? Because, as he put it, that's where the money is. Why are class struggles circumscribed by trade unions important? Because that's where [some of] the workers are.


I fundamentally and unconditionally disagree with this characterization and perspective.


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:36 pm 
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First point:
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This is tangling the potential hosted within labor’s class struggles with its content. I’m arguing that:


For somebody who uses the terms "dialectic" and "negation" a lot, you seem to have missed out the very basics of Hegel-- that is to say that the potential is or becomes the content. The distinction is temporal, real but apparent, momentary, and the movement of the object, or relation, through history is the process of bringing the potential into manifest existence, into "reason," into content. I think Hegel says it concisely with something like this: "to know the potentialities of a thing is to know the 'thing-in-itself'," [not sure if I remember the quote exactly] summing up the distinction between "reason" or actually, history, and Kant's metaphysics.

Me? I try never to use the words dialectic, dialectical, dialectical this or that or dialectical in between, or negation, or negation of the negation, because all this serves only an ideological purpose-- an intellectual one-up-manship rather than any clarification of the issues-- as your specious distinction between potential and content demonstrates.

Quote:
4 Reproduction of capital/negation of capital are implicit to wage labor, forming its content. All opposing forces within trade unions and trade unionism—armistice/resistance, reformism/anti-formism [4]—are derivatives of this dichotomy internal to the working-class: the class defined only by its (existing or potential) relation to capital. Every competing tendency in the lived experience of organized and organizing labor emanate from this dual content of wage labor. (Theses on the Trade Union Question, #4, Class, Bureaucracy and the Union-Form)


Uhhh...all you've done is transpose and transfer and identify the struggle of the proletariat as the struggle within and of trade unions. Not a big deal, or in the unHegelian vernacular, "no ****, Sherlock." Except.......there's far more to the class and to class struggle than the struggle within unions, and the struggle of unions.

More to come, but first I have to shake off the shivers that re-expressing Hegel always creates in me.


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:16 pm 
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For somebody who uses the terms "dialectic" and "negation" a lot, you seem to have missed out the very basics of Hegel-- that is to say that the potential is or becomes the content. The distinction is temporal, real but apparent, momentary, and the movement of the object, or relation, through history is the process of bringing the potential into manifest existence, into "reason," into content. I think Hegel says it concisely with something like this: "to know the potentialities of a thing is to know the 'thing-in-itself'," [not sure if I remember the quote exactly] summing up the distinction between "reason" or actually, history, and Kant's metaphysics.

Me? I try never to use the words dialectic, dialectical, dialectical this or that or dialectical in between, or negation, or negation of the negation, because all this serves only an ideological purpose-- an intellectual one-up-manship rather than any clarification of the issues-- as your specious distinction between potential and content demonstrates.


Well if this were a competition of oneupsmanship I think we can agree that round qualifies as 'Point goes to SA'.

But in all seriousness that's the second time you've accused me of dishonesty in this discussion--'sleight of hand', 'oneupsmanship rather than clarification'.

Is there an agenda here beyond clarification? I don't think there is.

Quote:
Except.......there's far more to the class and to class struggle than the struggle within unions, and the struggle of unions.


Indeed. Which makes it fortuitous that that isn't the position I'm arguing.


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:18 pm 
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Maybe we can simplify this "round and round," and maybe not. But, here, to me is the critical issue: Can a trade union or unions organize or lead an anti-capitalist struggle by the working class against the bourgeois class as a class, as expressed in the state power, for the overthrow of that state power, and for the creation of organs of workers state power?

My answer is that unions cannot. The closest to that condition was perhaps the Spanish Civil War, and even there, the revolutionary unions abjured state power-- shrugged their shoulders so to speak and let state power rest in the hands of a liberal, or radical, or progressive bourgeoisie and supported the popular front.


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:30 pm 
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I'm not accusing you of dishonesty. If I were I'd simply say you're being dishonest. I think you're using words and terms to suit your goal-- for example when you respond to the AFL's support of police, court, state action against Asians as being connected to the IMWA's principles of class organization uncritically, missing how poorly the IMWA itself, and its "heirs," dealt with the issue-- how behind the curve of capitalist development the IMWA already was.


Maybe if you dealt with those concrete issues-- the specious nature of applying the "foreign" workers vs "native" workers specifically to the US when the "native" workers were in fact Europeans who had destroyed the native population; the inability to see that supposedly "class" principle for what it was and is-- a transposition of the same impulse supporting racial segregation and gender exclusion, I wouldn't be tempted to call the citations you provide, or your approach a "sleight of hand."

You think that for all those years the inability of African-Americans employed by railroads to advance to operating positions as conductors, locomotive engineers, yardmasters, train dispatchers, etc. was somehow not justified, explained, preserved, as a principle of "solidarity" within the unions and against the "manipulation" of African-Americans to "reduce the standards" of the organized locomotive engineers?

Keerist, you won't even respond concretely when your misuse of "dialectics" is identified and you throw out a distinction between "potential" and "content" as somehow being in keeping with "the dialectic."


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:18 pm 
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So after a bit of back and forth let me see if I can illustrate the two sides of the argument here accurately and concisely.

Arty argues that while the union form may have its initial uses in the class struggle, perhaps as the initial site of struggle for most workers, the union form is, as demonstrated by history and not by abstract speculation, ultimately conservative and fosters divisions within the working class. In order to carry the struggle on to a higher stage, that is, to actually begin to answer the question of state power, new forms of organisation are required.

mhou argues that the union form carries the content of the entire working class struggle, and that the working class is inevitably tainted by capitalist ideology (it couldn't be any other way), but that through the practical lessons of the struggle, the unions are forced to recouncile the fact that a divided working class is one that loses in their struggles. I'm not entirely clear on your position with respect to the question of state power as far as unions are concerned though. Care to elaborate for the rest of us?

And please, both of you, correct me, as I'm sure you will, if I have misrepresented you.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:27 pm 
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Keerist, you won't even respond concretely when your misuse of "dialectics" is identified and you throw out a distinction between "potential" and "content" as somehow being in keeping with "the dialectic."


Going for the jugular is fair. I wanted to grant you a concession in the sense that I’m no Hegelian scholar and certainly have no pretension to be, and also to clarify whether you’re responding under the impression that I’m deliberately engaging in intellectual dishonesty. To take from that that I refuse to “even respond concretely” is ridiculous-- did that even appear to be a substantive reply? In addition, Class, Bureaucracy the Union-Form and THOBU combined, if memory serves, use the word itself once outside of a couple brief quotes in the former, largely to avoid the ridiculous assertion that merely using the word means something and in itself says something about a text and its author. That’s all well and good that you find the word and the subject tedious and a marker for this or that, I’d rather be in the **** as it were, it’s the only way I know of to properly absorb and apply ideas and experience. Construction on that ivory tower must not have been a union shop.

My interest in Marxist dialectics lies solely in its practical use, like this:

SA: “why do you think that specific transformation was not able to "reproduce" itself in class struggles in general?”

...

“I never said the working class is only capable on the basis of revolutionary intervention. I said it is only capable on the basis of revolutionary struggle”


Your explicitly stated temporal creation of two distinct class struggles: a ‘class struggle in general’ and a ‘revolutionary struggle’ as though they have two distinct identities, two distinct physiognomies. Ignoring quantitative for qualitative changes in the development of labor’s class struggles and, apparently, hoping to craft political practice on this basis:

SA: “Are trade unions the organs by which class struggle will be articulated, advanced, and made "real"? That's the issue. And the answers are "possibly" or "in some cases" and "up to a point" and "at that point the unions reveal their intrinsic limitations and inabilities." Everything else is just a dog, or dogs, chasing its, or their, tail. or tails.”

Here’s the practical application of this quarantining and elevating the ‘leap-like’ (couldn’t resist throwing in some more ‘misuses’) changes manifested in labor’s class struggles: a search for an authentic, legitimate form that can solely express the ‘revolutionary struggle’ as distinct from ‘the class struggle in general’. While your position on the existing trade unions is somewhat less rigid than those so common among existing communist milieus it suffers from this same defect—whether in the theory of ‘regime unions’ that the trade unions represent continuity with the fascist syndicates/corporations, in the theory that the trade unions are an agency of the capitalist state operating within the working-class, in the position that the proletarian revolution will be made over the corpses of the trade unions or in the position that the only revolutionary political position is to agitate that workers abandon and smash the trade unions: all deny that ‘in general’ and ‘revolutionary’ are merely moments of the same, singular, unitary class struggle indicative of capitalist society for the working-class.

Despite protests to the contrary, you refuse to accept that the position you’re arguing against can exist at all, which is disappointing. Earlier I explicitly rejected the terms of “the political cul-de-sac that passes for The Trade Union Question: 'win the unions, outside and against the unions, build new unions' aka 'maneuver for union office, tell workers to abandon and smash the unions, form ideal-on-paper organizations that call themselves unions'”, though you continue to attribute all of these positions to me depending on the point you’re trying to make at the moment.

Earlier you said:

SA: “You are right-- FOTLU/AFL were NOT revolutionary organizations or parties, and for just that reason, you are wrong-- these unions were NOT built for the entire working-class irrespective of qualifiers; Unions were built on qualification and maintaining qualification-- anti-Asia; qualification by race; qualification by gender. That "qualifying" process is embraced by the unions in its support of wage differentials "up and down the line" [pardon the expression] among workers”

To which I responded: I'll come back to the idea you expressed earlier (and I've seen this elsewhere) that an organization which defines itself on any basis (by craft, trade and/or industry) is therefore exclusionary and by extension is not a 'class organization' because it is not open to the entire working-class.
You objected that this was a mischaracterization, so I let it drop. Then you return with:

SA: “The essential characteristic of unions is the classification, categorization of workers; the separation of members of the class from the other members of the class”

You may respond that you didn’t mean this classification/categorization in the sense of who can join (re: craft, trade, industry), but on who can’t: you have brought up the unskilled, immigrants, women, oppressed minorities, so I’ll assume here that you’re talking about the latter categories. But you have as of yet not broached the subject of these same organizations which classify and categorize, that reflect the divisions within the class originating with and fostered, fomented, nurtured, engineered, cultivated by capital-capitalists-capitalism-capitalist society, and have altered their structure, altered their mode of organization, altered their criteria for membership on the basis of their practical, concrete experience of the class struggle outside of “revolutionary struggle”—unless of course that because they did this, the struggle then was ipso facto revolutionary.

Let’s return to the question of potential and content.

Since you seem to accept the premise as a simple truism (I don’t know how else to interpret ‘no **** Sherlock’), beyond that it’s only that the contradictory competing potentials derived from the content of wage labor are the reproduction of capitalism and production of communism, and that the content of labor’s class struggles is the social expression of this contradiction made manifest in the existence of the working-class itself. I defined this content of labor’s class struggles as trade unionism on the basis of what is truly the only original contribution in the text and its supplements: that the lived experience of labor’s class struggles, how it presents itself, is comprised of a practice (spontaneous resistance to and contingent demands of capital), substance (concerted/mass actions manifested as strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, insurrections, etc.) and structure (the human architecture distilled and selected from among co-participants in labor’s class struggles that articulate and define, consolidate and defend material gains); the processes by which all forms engendered by labor’s class struggles are created. On the basis that the contradictory potentials (capitalism and communism) made possible by and through the inherently contradictory content of wage labor itself are the sole and determining factor in labor’s class struggles as demonstrated in its contradictory lived experience of its struggles against capital in all spheres of life—that neither capitalism or communism are alone inherent to its class struggles in any sense (by form or by process) but each remain latent and impossible to liquidate or render extinct so long as wage labor and capital exist, and since each implies the other, the content of labor’s class struggles is trade unionism: on the basis of its lived experience of this class struggle indicative of the capitalist social relation. In this way there is nothing surprising in armed coal miners taking over 400 square miles of West Virginia, exchanging 1 million rounds of ammunition with private detectives-deputy sheriffs-coal company police, expropriating entire regional lines of railroads and the goods and services of towns, stores and local professionals therein to facilitate their struggle with the non-union coal mining operations in Southern West Virginia in 1921, and their enthusiastic welcome and fraternization with the US Army troops sent to repress them with force (including dropping conventional and chemical weapons on them with the new Army Air Corps planes), or a domestic working-class in the Russian Empire who did not have an established official-legal-juridical labor movement on the lines of Western Europe and North America producing trade unions alongside factory committees, workers’ councils and red guards, or building trades and steel workers beating up anti-war demonstrators in displays of jingoistic fervor who also greatly (negatively) impacted war production efforts with their strikes and other forms of concerted action in the same historic moment.

Scoff if you will at my vulgarizing and butchering Hegel, at my specious use of words, like I’m a peasant dressed up as queen for a day: but I’m doing what I can to be in the ****, which for now means crafting a framework to understand, interpret and apply ideas and experience as it pertains solely to constructing a contemporary, legitimate socialist practice.

To be clear, I’ve been hesitant to be the one to raise the issue of the framework from Class, Bureaucracy and the Union-Form (the practice, substance and structure of trade unionism) because this thread began about The Hoax of Business Unionism, which is 3x longer, was written for a related but different purpose and departs from that terrain into a subject that allows it to be semi-independent as a piece on its own.

Prior to posting I saw Broletariat’s reply, so I’ll pick up with that in the next response.

That is also not a ‘refusal to respond’ to the IWMA-FOTLU comments, though I’m really not sure where this came from:

SA—
Quote:
You think that for all those years the inability of African-Americans employed by railroads to advance to operating positions as conductors, locomotive engineers, yardmasters, train dispatchers, etc. was somehow not justified, explained, preserved, as a principle of "solidarity" within the unions and against the "manipulation" of African-Americans to "reduce the standards" of the organized locomotive engineers?


I intended to clear the decks in this single response, but for the life of me I can’t find where any of this comes from on the basis of the prior exchanges.

Which is more pressing: connecting the experience of the IWMA with the formation of the FOTLU-AFL, the nature of racism and related reactionary ideologies, prejudices, habits and co. of capitalist society, the history of said ideologies, prejudices, habits and co. in the working-class/the trade unions/the socialist movement, the relative 'good' and 'bad' of the IWMA, episodes where the working-class independent of revolutionary struggle and on the basis of its lived experience broke through or shook free of the dominant ideas of capitalist society, etc. etc. etc.?


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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:17 pm 
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[quote="Broletariat"]So after a bit of back and forth let me see if I can illustrate the two sides of the argument here accurately and concisely.

Arty argues that while the union form may have its initial uses in the class struggle, perhaps as the initial site of struggle for most workers, the union form is, as demonstrated by history and not by abstract speculation, ultimately conservative and fosters divisions within the working class. In order to carry the struggle on to a higher stage, that is, to actually begin to answer the question of state power, new forms of organisation are required.

mhou argues that the union form carries the content of the entire working class struggle, and that the working class is inevitably tainted by capitalist ideology (it couldn't be any other way), but that through the practical lessons of the struggle, the unions are forced to recouncile the fact that a divided working class is one that loses in their struggles. I'm not entirely clear on your position with respect to the question of state power as far as unions are concerned though. Care to elaborate for the rest of us?

And please, both of you, correct me, as I'm sure you will, if I have misrepresented you.


You have not misrepresented me.

I do not consider Mhou to be intellectually dishonest, or any other sort of dishonest. I disagree with the notion that the trade uniform does carry the "content" (or potential) of the entire working class struggle.

I actually think the exposition in THOBU is really quite good; really represents good investigation; and correctly points out how screwed up the "approach" has been of socialists. I've argued strenuously against what I think are the weaknesses in THOBU because a) I think those are real weaknesses, not solely of analysis or conclusion, but of the trade-union form b)I can't help myself; it's my nature to argue strenuously.

This:
Quote:
Can a trade union or unions organize or lead an anti-capitalist struggle by the working class against the bourgeois class as a class, as expressed in the state power, for the overthrow of that state power, and for the creation of organs of workers state power?


for me is the issue.

If Mhou agrees that the unions cannot, well I'm done arguing....for the minute. If he thinks the very construction of that question misses the point he's trying to make in THOBU, then ok, I'll accept that, but then......is the question as I posed it valid on its own terms, separate from the discussion of "business unionism." If he thinks the question is not a valid question in general, in that whether or not unions lead an anti-capitalist struggle is dependent not upon potential or content, but upon the variable conditions presented in the struggle by the struggle, then we go back to the argument. If he thinks something else, please tell me.

And no, I'm not trying to make fun of him,or embarrass him re his use of terms like "dialectic" etc. I'm just trying to make the point that none of us should be using those terms in analyzing concrete conditions-- historical materialism will demonstrate such "movements" in the social actions of the contending forces without requiring the labels, etc.

I apologize if I failed to make that clear and if it did appear that I was "taking the ****," as my friends in Britain would say, at his expense.s

But allowing myself to be myself, I have say this:

Quote:
Since you seem to accept the premise as a simple truism (I don’t know how else to interpret ‘no **** Sherlock’), beyond that it’s only that the contradictory competing potentials derived from the content of wage labor are the reproduction of capitalism and production of communism, and that the content of labor’s class struggles is the social expression of this contradiction made manifest in the existence of the working-class itself. I defined this content of labor’s class struggles as trade unionism on the basis of what is truly the only original contribution in the text and its supplements: that the lived experience of labor’s class struggles, how it presents itself, is comprised of a practice (spontaneous resistance to and contingent demands of capital), substance (concerted/mass actions manifested as strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, insurrections, etc.) and structure (the human architecture distilled and selected from among co-participants in labor’s class struggles that articulate and define, consolidate and defend material gains); the processes by which all forms engendered by labor’s class struggles are created. On the basis that the contradictory potentials (capitalism and communism) made possible by and through the inherently contradictory content of wage labor itself are the sole and determining factor in labor’s class struggles as demonstrated in its contradictory lived experience of its struggles against capital in all spheres of life—that neither capitalism or communism are alone inherent to its class struggles in any sense (by form or by process) but each remain latent and impossible to liquidate or render extinct so long as wage labor and capital exist, and since each implies the other, the content of labor’s class struggles is trade unionism:


when unpacked strikes me as Lenin stood on his head-- which might not be a bad thing (I'm sure Lenin is another area of disagreement between Mhou and myself). Where Lenin is ususally considered to have argued that the proletariat, "left to itself" can only achieve "trade union consciousness," Mhou says that the real content of the proletariat's struggle is the trade union. I actually love the part about lived experience, practice, substance, and structure. Yet on that basis he determines that since wage-labor and capital each implies the other (I would say each exists, is organized in the other), the content of labor's class struggles is trade unionism-- not the abolition of capital through the abolition of itself as proletariat-- of its labor-power as a commodity to be exchange, through abolishing the conflict between labor, as the force of social emancipation and the condition of its labor, i.e as the property of others accumulated for the purpose of reproducing that conflict, through the overthrow of the conflict between the labor process and the valorization process by abolishing the latter-- not that, but rather the trade-union form is the content of labor's class struggles.

Well, not to get too Hegelian about it, the form is inadequate to the content; it cannot, does not express the content, no matter how many West Virginia mine wars we research, no matter how many Blair Mountains we battle. The trade union form has not expressed the struggle for social power.

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 Post subject: Re: The Hoax of Business Unionism
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:07 pm 
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I do want to stress to you, mhou, that Arty does appear to think highly of you and your work. Having read lots of Arty's dialogues with people before, let me assure you, if he thinks little of you and your work, you will have absolutely no doubts about that. I think the conversation held here between the two of you has been very enlightening to me and hopefully to others reading.

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