Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Fragment of something I'll touch on more later

It's been argued that one of the main reasons for the rise of McCarthyism was the resurgence of labor activism after World War II, that McCarthyism was in part an attempt to beat back this labor militancy as well as the general left wing trend that had appeared in the United States during the thirties and forties. During the war workers chafed under commands not to strike in order not to hamper the war effort, but they also saw the companies that they were working for make massive profits because of the war. Several groups, interestingly enough tied to Trotskyists, did in fact strike during the war. The groups that were radical that were especially linked to the Communists were forbidden to strike because the United States was allied to Soviet Russia. After the war was over the built up tensions manifested in a wave of strikes.

I want to get away from boutique socialism, at least a little bit. Boutique socialism is a socialism that's rooted in a theory that isn't aware of the independent struggle of labor through the history of the country that it's aimed at. Strange to say, considering that a big whopping part of this blog deals with just that, but even people that are heavy on it sometimes realize what they're doing. It goes without saying that Marx didn't invent the socialist or the working class movement; neither did any of the socialist theorists. At best they were part of the movement already and based their theory on the experiences that they got from that involvement.

What's the history of independent worker activism in the United States? Everyone knows about the AFL, some people know about the IWW, and people at least know the CIO through its unholy merger with the AFL, but what about everything else? Surely there were worker associations, both craft based and based on unskilled labor before the AFL and the IWW. What's the history of that? What's the history of independent labor unions after the war, like the Association of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit? What about even during the era, roughly from the end of the 19th century to post-World War II, that starts traditionally with the founding of the AFL and ends with the expelling of the Communists from the CIO and the formation of the AFL-CIO?

The history of the IWW should of course be much more well known; it provided an alternative to the often elitist craft based unions, that as a matter of course didn't let unskilled workers in. It also was committed to organizing everyone, was much more than a labor union, was a social movement of workers with a revolutoinary perspective.

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