Monday, November 16, 2015

We need a true mass movement: Critiquing Aronowitz's "The Death and Life of American Labor"

I was reading this short book quickly, as Aronowitz is a good writer, and I mostly agreed with his descriptions of the weakness the the labor movement in America. I wanted to give it to my Democratic friend who works for SEIU to show him that he’s leading himself down a dead end, with a glee that was not comporting with my friendship and respect for the man.

But it was in the second part that I was lost. He lays out a manifesto for the labor union (168-170), which several are already planks of a party, but one that grows internal to the labor movement that he just spent the rest of book decrying. If there is to be mass change for the workers and citizens of the world, I don’t think that his manifesto would work because it seems to accept the irrelevance of the power of the movement (Item one emphasizes that contracts aren’t necessary) but also want to use the movement. Unions need work as the percentage of the labor force in them make them almost irrelevant now what with the neoliberal ideology pervasive but they are held up as what is bad since the main concentration is in government. Perhaps it is time to let labor die and grow a new mass movement where the key identifier is not as worker (since who knows how much longer any of us will actually continue to be full time employees) and instead look at making larger changes where our identifier is as citizen.