[lbo-talk] Telling the U.S. left what to do

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Mon Dec 21 20:00:51 PST 2009

Michael Perelman wrote:
> I suspect that one of the main challenges for "the left" is to be able
> to
> give a compelling explanation to a working class conservative why we
> have
> something to offer & what that something is.
> We did not do so in the 60s. I think that the left did relatively well
> during the Great Depression.

Damn it! We did. The '60s was themost successful working-class movement in u.s. history. The shallow achievments of the '30s were being watered down almost before they came into being. The CIO refused to unite with Black workers, FDR was phasing out WPA, and by 1947 Taft-Harley butchered the one _real_ power of labor, the secondary boycott.

Take a look a every single event in the last twoo hundred years inany nation that represented anything like a victory for labor, and you will find that it was achieved by avery small minority of the class. I can't think of any more useless activity than persuadign those who (a) won't be persuaded and (b) aren't needed anyhow!

The greatest intellectual weakness aomont leftists today is their failure to take The '60s seriously and learn from the _successes_ of that perod. Nothing iseerlearned from studying past mistakes -- if you look at history you will not find a single instance of anyone avoiding a mistake because they studied history. But positive lessons can be ldarned from studying what the past did right.

The '60s achieved _practical_ unity without a hegemonic party and without a formally agreed on program. Nothing in U.S. history, except perhaps the abolition Movement, can match it.


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