Overtime (was Re: happy autoworkers)

Jim heartfield Jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Mon Jul 13 03:57:27 PDT 1998

In message < at pop.igc.org>, Michael Eisenscher <meisenscher at igc.apc.org> writes
>Having spent time on both college campuses and in more traditional
>workplaces with both blue and white collar workers in all sorts of
>occupations and sectors, I can say that I find less sexism and racism, not
>to mention elitism, among those union members than their more privileged and
>educated counterparts in academia. But that does not excuse or explain away
>the substantial array of prejudices that remain, some quite virulent and

I think Michael tells an important truth here.

There is a saying: the fish rots from the head, or the dominant idea of any age are those of the dominant class. Reactionary ideas of many stripes have gripped the labour movement to a debilitating extent. But we ought not forget the origin of those ideas. It was not the working class that set nation against nation, race against race or sex against sex. Those ideas filter down from the elites in society. Often it seems as if the working man or woman is more uncouth in the expression of such prejudices, but that is to be taken in by the hypocrisy of the elites, who disdain to say directly what they think.

There is a world of difference between challenging racism in the workforce and attacking workers for being racists. In the first instance you are interested in their views because you value their potential. In the second you satisfy yourself that workers are beyond the pale of polite society. -- Jim heartfield

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