Charles Brown CharlesB at
Wed Jan 26 10:15:27 PST 2000

>>> Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at> 01/26/00 11:44AM >>>
At 05:35 PM 1/24/00 -0500, Charles Brown wrote, not necessarily in that order:

WS: I did not say that labor does not get the short end of the stick anyomore - I said that criminal justice system is not used to that end today as it was in the past. That is to say, federal troops are not dispatched to shoot striking workers, labor organizers are not jailed on trumped up criminal charges, etc. The fedral takeover of the Teamsters you mentioned was ostensibly done in the name of protecting workers interests from the criminal element - and in some sense that was the truth.

That is indicative of the strategy the capitalist government uses today to deal with labor - it presents itself as the "protector" of working class people from criminal elements - be it the mob or petty criminals. That claim is not without a factual basis - so mere appeal for being soft on crime is a losing strategy, because working class people ARE victimized by various criminal elements.


CB: Why are you focussed on today without placing it in historical context " Aren't you a historical materialist ? Or are you a presentist materrialist ? You end up being an apologist for the capitalist system.

The government is not trying to protect working people from criminal influence in unions. It is using the fact of some criminals exploiting unions as an excuse to control the unions and create a sense in the public that unions are somehow uniquely vulnerability to gangsters. Corporations are more prone to gangsterism, but you never see the government take over corporations for criminality in order to protect the working people from that. You buy into the whole hoax that the some unions are more criminally influenced than many corporations and many governments.

>CB: If the Left does not make historical arguments and train the masses
and working classes to think historically, we cannot win the class struggle. So, your disdain of connecting historical events to the present is against the interests of the working class. Presentism is a bourgeois psychology.

WS: There are historical arguments and historical arguments. In the _18 Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte_ Marx wrote about "conjur[ing] up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language." That is a "misuse" of historical analysis. That was also the essence of my argument about left's position on crime.


CB: Are you a Marxist ? Is "criminal justice" a category from the _18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte_ ? Is Marx in the 18th Brumaire not a spirit from further in the past than a ghostly commentator on U.S. governement (criminal justice and otherwise) repression of U.S. labor in the 40's, 50's, 60's of the 1900's. ? Mine is a valuable use of historical analysis, contra your analogy. Today's working class will not take up the tasks that ghost Marx has bequethed them if they do not remain conscious of the class battles and bourgeois finesse of the last 50 years.


>CB: Confining your analysis of the present to the present is a
methodological error. The present must be analyzed in historical context. What I described was some of the historical context for the misimpression that the bourgeoisie of the U.S. have not viciously repressed the working class and trade union movement in the U.S. , today's more hidden and lessened repression notwithstanding to the contrary. Dare I say the repression of labor today is more Gramscian hegemonic, though it has a necessary state apparatus/violent premise. Also, the police show up at every significant labor picket, so the steel fist is not fully covered up by the velvet glove.

WS: Again, I never argued that labor is not screwed by the corporate capital and its lackeys in the gov't. However, today's treatment of labor is much more subtle than brute repression. In fact, corporate capitalism operates remarkably free of crude coercion - metaphorically speaking, it manages to make working class dig its grave voluntarily. That is an amazing change from disptaching federal troops against striking workers - which the radical left for the most part missed.


CB: It is not so amazing if one understands that the bourgeoisie have always gone back and forth between democratic-republican methods of rule and open terrorist rule as in slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, and fascism. As Lenin taught, the bourgeois democratic republican form (what you are observing and amazed by above) is the PREFERRED form of bourgeois rule. Why are you amazed when the bourgeoisie use their preferred form of rule ? But this does not mean that the bourgeoisie does not punctuate this less openly terrorist form of rule with open terrorist rule, as when the Communists were jailed or the police kill strikers.

Also, a bourgeoise democratic republic does not rule without terror. The terror is not as "open". It is veiled in bourgeois legality. You let them off the hook by recognizing their system as a criminal "justice" system. The fact that the bourgeoisie do not employ blunt tyranny continuously does not mean that hidden and poised terror are not critical to bourgeois rule in its more democratic forms.

Also, the working class wins certain reforms by its struggle. The bourgoies choice of form of rule is not entirely in its hands. The reforms won by the working class are eroding today. That is what a marxist would emphasize.


Unless we understand how corporate capitalism rules essentially without overt repression - we cannot effectively oppose it or even get our message to the people.


CB: As I said, it is fundamental Leninism that the bourgeoisie prefers to rule without overt represssion or with open terror. If we use Leninist texts such as _The State and Revolution_, and other updated applications of the principles therein, our message to the people will fully inform them that the bourgeoisie move back and forth between open and veiled terror/repression. But without a historical perspective, people will not see in fact that this is true of U.S. capital. They will buy the myth of "democracy" .


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