W speaks

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Aug 19 09:13:11 PDT 2000

Doug Henwood wrote:

> I notice a catastrophism slipping into a lot of left discourse. Gore
> Vidal, Alex Cockburn, John Gulick talking of the depression awaiting
> Clinton's successor. Katha Pollitt told me she doesn't see a left
> revival without a depression. What's that all about? People seem to
> be almost rooting for throwing 30 million out of work. Tight labor
> markets are good.

Twenty years ago I argued (at a Central Committee meeting of an organization I belonged to at the time) that it was during the *recovery* period from a slump that left hopes could arise (and I also assumed that there always *would* be a recovery period: that there are no final crashes). But the recovery came and left & labor activity did not resurface. I would tentatively suggest that at a very general level the slump of the '70s continued to have a disciplining effect of labor until at least very recently. (I think you've published some material in LBO about worker confidence not rising as rapidly as in past recoveries???)

I think I'll stick to my opinion of 1982. *If* the present boom continues for another half decade or so, the outlook for the left will be positive. If a real crash comes: it will provide a context for individuals (liberal-type individuals) to move left personally but will temporarily smash the hope for mass struggle. But it may create a large enough left cadre (as the civil-rights activity of the '50s and early '60s did) to form the core of new mass struggles in a period of recovery. I won't defend any of this very vigorously.

I've printed out Michael Yates post on this but haven't read it yet.


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