[lbo-talk] Why Is America So Violent?

andie nachgeborenen andie_nachgeborenen at yahoo.com
Sun May 13 14:25:03 PDT 2007

Bitch is right. If we can believe Thompson, the average workyear in pre-industrial England was 150-120 days a year, about four months of which (Spring sowing and fall harvest) was pretty brutal, can't see to can't see. The rest of the year was extremely leisurely. In England took a great deal of savage class war, enforced by poor laws and state power, to break the working class to factory discipline. Gutman and Montgomery say similar things about the US. Basically it's really only in the late 19th century that you get the kind of extension of the working day and year that led to the struggle for the eight hour day. One reason that struggle was so militant was that it was bring imposed on people who were not accustomed to it. So drawing the baseline is a tricky thing. Is it 1888, when factory workers are fighting against 40 hrs days, or 1840, when most Americans are farmers living on the old pre-industrial rhythms? Or 1950, after industrialism and the progressive protection, hedged by unions, are in place? None of these are "natural." Pre-modern, pre-industrial farming is the oldest and longest lasting, but that world is lost.

I think, also, that we have to respect people's perception. You cannot, a la Heartfield, tell people who feel harried, oppressed, pressured, to shut the fuck up, don't bitch and moan, they never had it so good. Even if it is true in terms of objective conditions, something's wrong with something, the tabulation of hours or the conditions of life if people feel like shit.

--- bitch at pulpculture.org wrote:

> Also, I dimly seem to remember that 19th century
> farming was extremely
> seasonal in terms of labo/leisure. During winter
> there was not a lot
> you could do. Some repairs. and wood chopping and so
> forth, but no
> planting,weeding or harvesting or crop processing.
> So there were
> periods when you had tons of leisure, were maybe
> working a 20 hour
> week. But maybe this is a myth.
> --
> E.P Thompson wrote an important book about the shift
> from task-oriented
> work to time-oriented work.
> on the blog somewhere, I have some quotes, among
> which is an industrialist
> in New England bitching about farmers in town. He
> wanted to see to it that
> they weren't milling about town lest the factory
> workers see them. They
> were a bad influence, he said, because they were
> slackers. IOW, when there
> was little work to do -- not the harvest or planting
> time or whatever --
> farmers hung around town and made mill workers long
> for that kind of life,
> rather than the drudgery of living by the time
> clock.
> as for this issue, it seems pointless to wonder
> about whether it's really
> true -- if the epxlanation for why the disparity
> between what's really
> true and perception is wrong. Which is to say, if
> people expect more out
> of life, so? They should. Dismissing people for
> feeling overworked and as
> if they deserve better lives surely does us little
> good. Instead, the
> point would be to get people to ask the bigger
> question. How do we change
> things so that we do get out of life what we expect.
> Beating people over
> the head for having the temerity to watch
> television, rather than deal
> with the bullshit that goes on in some leftist
> enclaves at meetings hardly
> seems worthy of a dicsussion list inspired by the
> notion that pop culture
> ain't such a bad thing.
> :)
> ___________________________________

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