Convention discussion: The changing composition of the working class

March 16, 2019
Convention discussion: The changing composition of the working class


Question of the week: 
How have changes in capitalist production shifted the composition and organization of the 
workforce, and the working class as a whole? What have trends like automation, 
uberization, and online collaboration meant for the participation and status of women in the 
workforce? Of youth?


Developing class consciousness is tough     ANNIE ALLEN

Building working-class consciousness in my area is difficult for several reasons:

1. Their incomes allow them to drive big trucks and keep the gas tanks filled;
2. They Believe that the enemy are immigrants who will steal their well paying construction jobs;
3. Their xenophobia, racism and nationalism informs their sense of class unity. Theirs is unity against the immigrant and minorities, not unity against the real robber barons of society, the owners of production, the orporations, the billionaires, and their lobbyists who inform public policy.

Solution: Point to their true enemies.
Bumper stickers attacking Corporate Greed, showing that our energy policies result in destruction of the environment, their personal health and not producing the jobs they covet.
Illuminate the facts about the Big Pharma.
Illuminate the facts about who really benefits from Capitalism.
Teach them to look up at the real power – instead of looking down at scapegoats.


Ponzi scheme capitalism   JAMES H. SLACUM

The war against the unions has decimated the middle class. Good paying jobs allowed the workers to enjoy the promise of the American dream. Disposable income allowed the Ponzi scheme of capitalism to limp along. Those gains by workers are siphoned off by shareholders and the same story as before. The rich get richer and the workers continue to struggle!!!!


Contingent workers and the reserve army of labor    NORMAN MARKOWITZ

The composition or strata of the working class is constantly changing as capitalism develops new expensive technologies and seeks to pay for them by deskilling and discarding more and more workers.

But the working class itself in its relationship to the capitalist class does not change. The working class consists of all wage and salaried employees although upper managerial and to a lesser extent middle managerial employees are given incentives often to supervise the exploitation of the overwhelming majority of workers and employees.

In the past, socialists and communists emphasized manual workers and sought to organize at the point of production in workshops and mills and factories. That was even after WWI too narrow an approach. But the argument that those who came to call themselves “neo-Marxists” or a New Left in the 1950s and 1960s, that there was a “new working class” whose vanguard was technical and professional employees at the top and largely minority and female service workers at the bottom, one that dismissed the traditional craft and industrial workers who at the time were heavily unionized, as having been bought off by the capitalist class and now a conservative force in society, was also very wrong. Arguments like that continue to spring up today.

We can say that there are many more technical and professional workers but they are thanks to outsourcing and downsizing far less secure than ever before, just as there was a large reserve army of labor, of the unemployed and the underemployed which capitalists used to divide workers and break strikes in the period that saw the rise of the mass production industries and global transportation distribution systems, there is also a large reserve army of such technical and professional employees, a precariously employed class called now by many a “precariate”

Just as there were significant differences in income among the various strata of workers during the rise of mass production industrial capitalism, differences which translated in the food that different strata of workers ate, whether or not their children had to work to bring in subsistence income, and the kind of housing that they could afford, the differences are there today, with large numbers of workers in effect defined as independent contractors, without health care, pension and other benefits and having to use their own facilities to do the work for the companies which pay them.

Let me conclude that we must and we can develop new tactics to advance our traditional strategy, which is organize and unionize these different strata of workers, work to educate them about their common class interests, offer them through class conscious organization a path to security, which even those in the better paid strata do not have, and as Communists work to transform their class consciousness into a socialist consciousness, meaning a consciousness that whatever gains one strata may make at the expense of another will always be temporary and that as long as the economic and political power is in the hands of capitalists even the even the most advance reforms in terms of workers rights and social welfare policies will be subject to repeal.

Two tactics for raising class consciousness    CHARLIE

Man, that’s a hard one because I live in a predominantly conservative, Republican area in California (Apple Valley). It’s one of the every few remaining places for that oppressive mindset. Probably one of the best approaches is to building such consciousness is to find at least one other person who is as close to mine or equal to mine and then start creating dialogue and from there, branch out by proposing a tactic of reaching out to others, but very slowly.

One very good technique to use, in my opinion, is to illustrate the core beliefs of Communism/socialism by discussing our desire to protect the working class/people, protecting the environment at all costs, creating equality across the board, all of the tents of Communist belief and then denouncing dictators at the same time who use Communism as a platform for their actions, which is very sad in itself. Then when it’s time, announce that the beliefs they hold are actual beliefs of Communism and not something to decry, deny or be against.

Communism isn’t about being dictators. And that’s an image that needs to be denounced and active campaigns against dictators should happen within th eCommunist Party and community at large.The reason I go to these approaches is for the reasons I stated at the very beginning. I live in a very conservative area of California. Something that seems out of place considering the majority of the state’s Democratic, but still not socialist enough for my taste. And if I, or anyone else who believes in and fights for Communism, were to present a lot at once, it’ll overwhelm all of these people, so we must do so very slowly. I think, and this is a suggestion towards the Party itself, we should have a phone app that we can download and have voting options, petitions to sign,whatever else we need to do, even pay dues that way. But, in closing, a major asset to have is knowledge of our tenets of belief sand not being afraid to discuss them with anyone and if someone becomes outraged over them, just remain calm and try to keep explaining if possible and if not, just kindly excuse yourself and move on. Thank you for providing this email address. Now I feel I can talk to the Party directly and that makes me feel really good. IN SOLIDARITY! Communism forever!


Image: Creative Commons 3.0


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