Guilt, Shame and Coercion plus a little Gramsci (Re: Intellectuals and working class movements

Mike Yates mikey+ at
Wed Oct 21 03:51:28 PDT 1998


Again, I must say that Nathan hs made some excellent points. In connection to the issue of how intellectuals relate to working persons and the like, first of all it is important to remember that we are workers too with some of the same problems as all workers and this can be useful in connecting with and building solidarity with other workers. Second, Nathan is right that you have to often play things by ear, reading yur audience quickly and making the right decisions. Once I was talking to some glass factory workers about thier legal rights, in the midst of an organizing campaign. One of the leaders said that whatever I did not to mention gun control. The workers were somewhat fanatical about this, and in fact one of them was selling guns out of his truck after the meeting. Now normally I might have thought that a person like this was a bit of a kook. But I read the situation properly and did not reveal how I felt about this. Last night I taught my first class in a prison. I was a little nervous going in, but I found out quickly that the best approach was the usual one: be respectful, pay attention to what the students are saying, do not be afraid to express your own views, challenge them but with respect, encourage them whenever possible, etc. All went very well. Actually it was very exciting and the students liked it too. On the other hand, in a class of auto workers I was confronted with outrageous chauvinism and some racism. Then a more in-your-face tactic proved best, and the workers at least appreciated that I was not some coward afraid to speak his mind.

michael yates

Nathan Newman wrote:
(deleted to save space)

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