Interest In Forming An Online Study Group-US Communists

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Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
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Jan 7 2011 11:33

Whatever form this ends up taking, I thought I'd list a set of topics that I think may be interesting assessing or worth considering. I recognize that some of these topics or subjects could constitute entire books or even volumes of books in and of themselves.

-Early attempts of multiracial/multiethnic agitation or rebellion
-The establishment of race as a dividing category that grants privileges to sectors of our class
-Slaves in relation to capitalism
-Role of European and Chinese immigration to class conflict
-The expansion westward and its effects on class conflict
-The Labor movement's exclusion of people of color, women & immigrants
-Trade unionism Vs. Industrial unionism
-The IWW
-Effects of Russian Revolution
-First Red Scare
-The Great Depression and the communist and socialist parties
-1930s upsurge in strikes
-World War II
-Black and white southern migration to the north industries and women entering the workforce in large numbers
-Post-war strikes and displacement of black and female workers by returning soldiers
-The GI Bill and the establishment of the white 'middle class'
-Unions and organized crime
-Second Red Scare
-The 'red purging' of the unions
-Civil Rights movement and the working class
-The New Left and the working class
-Wildcats and worker offensives during 60s-70s
-White flight
-The 1980s swing to the right and the PATCO strike

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Hieronymous
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Jan 8 2011 18:56

I counted 24 topics (all of which are excellent) and I could think of about 75 books covering them. Taking some of these topics to their root causes then extrapolating how the effects played out over time, I could think of around 100+ texts. I can think of at least 10 decent pieces covering the period of the Great Depression to World II alone. The main subtext of what Brecher brings forward is how we lost the strike weapon. And racial, ethnic and gender divisions and the way class-against-class struggles became subsumed within the quasi-state NLRB and rule-of-law institutionalization of "industrial relations" (rather than class conflict), giving birth to bureaucratic legalistic top-down business/service unions, played predominant roles.

I think we need to start simple by reading Brecher's Strike!, then people can read some of those texts and bring summaries to extend the argument. I paid a small fortune for Wilfrid Crook's (out-of-print) Communism and the General Strike and would be willing to scan relevant chapters that match the strikes mentioned by Brecher.

So I suggest that we should quickly look at the Ted Allen pieces and then start with Strike! when everyone has a copy. And I fucked up again; I kept throwing out Allen texts, but I really think the best one is Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race. Sorry about being so clueless about which text.

Also, I agree with the proposals that devoration1 put forward earlier. We could have subtopics, like some of the ones Juan Conatz mentioned, on separate threads.

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Steven.
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Jan 8 2011 18:52

devoration, that idea sounds great to us, so we would be happy to help out in any way.

So if you start the first thread in either the North America or history forums (maybe history would be best?) then we can make it sticky and have links to all chapter discussions and things there. This is what we did with a capital reading group online which worked quite well.

devoration1's picture
devoration1
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Jan 11 2011 02:52

Sounds good.

One thing before we start: what does everyone think would be an appropriate way to divide up the book and the time frame for each part for everyone to read it? Once we settle that we can start the thread and begin.

gram negative's picture
gram negative
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Jan 11 2011 19:46

If anyone is having trouble finding the book for cheap, abebooks.com still has a couple copies of the 1973 edition wall for $6 + $4 for shipping.

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smg
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Jan 11 2011 19:21

Anyone gonna start this up?

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Jan 11 2011 19:29

i'm gonna start tomorrow...

devoration1's picture
devoration1
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Jan 12 2011 18:03

Alright everyone, the thread has opened with instructions for how we are going to do this.

http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/libcom-study-group-strike-discussion-12012011

Things can be changed if we don't think they're working out (too fast or too slow etc). The deadline will be February 15th to read and start discussing the first 2 Chapters.

We'll keep this thread for the time being to use for discussion about the study group and future projects.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
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Jan 13 2011 00:43
devoration1 wrote:
Strike! is broken up into a first and second part; Part 1 'The History Of American Strikes' contains the Prologue and Chapters 1 - 6. Part 2 'The Significance Of American Strikes' contains Chapters 7 - 9 and the Afterword and Index.

This will be the first project of the group. Discussion will be centered in this thread- if a participant in the group wishes to discuss or debate a specific topic in-depth, or doesn't feel it is getting the attention it deserves here, can start a seperate thread in the history subforum. If this is the case, please start with the initials "LSG" in the title of your new thread so we all know it pertains to the study group and the discussion and debate around Strike! (example of a new thread would be titled, "LSG - The Importance of Race in the Great Upheavel of 1877").

We will need a time frame to keep things moving along. This can be changed along the way if the participants feel we are moving too fast or too slow, but to begin with let's divide our reading up into 2 chapter blocks (since there are 9 chapters and an afterword), with approx. 4 weeks for everyone to read and begin discussions for each block. On the 15th of every month, we move on to the next 2 Chapter block.

Deadline: February 15th for Chapter 1 'The Great Upheaval' & Chapter 2 'May Day'.

I'd like to make an alternative suggestion: we should discuss each chapter every 2 weeks. There's too much rich material to combine the chapter on "The Great Upheaval" of 1877 into a discussion together with the equally complex "May Day" chapter about the 8-Hour Day Movement culminating in Haymarket.

Also, we should delve a little into the background of this history like having someone summarize the ramifications of Bacon's Rebellion, emphasizing the unique way race and class are intertwined in the U.S. (like from Ted Allen's writings). Someone suggested reading WEB Du Bois' Black Reconstruction in America, which also could be summarized. Another excellent account of the daily life experience of slaves, refuting some of the mainstream mythology, is From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community by George Rawick, which I'd be willing to summarize.

Maybe we could begin with a brief discussion of the role race has played, since its origins, in the class dynamic in the U.S.

devoration1's picture
devoration1
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Jan 13 2011 06:19

Fair enough- the initial timeframe was just a shot in the dark to work from. I just read the first chapter on my lunch break at work- it isn't a long or difficult chapter (or book, so it seems thus far).

I'll edit the original post and make the change.

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gram negative
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Jan 14 2011 06:48

Here's a link to a scanned pdf of the beginning of Strike!, including the two chapters to be discussed here, all from the 1973 edition, for those who were not able to get a copy of the book. It is a little rough of a copy but it is readable.

http://ifile.it/gt32yim

devoration1's picture
devoration1
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Jan 14 2011 06:52

Great work! I hope this means more people get a chance to read the book and participate.

Jeremy Brecher
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Oct 3 2013 01:43

Hi, I just stumbled onto this thread. I can't tell you how meaningful to me it is to see that people still find Strike! worth engaging with. By the way, PM Press is bringing out a fortieth anniversary edition in 2014, with a new chapter on the mini-revolts of the 21st century.

Thanks!
Jeremy

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Chilli Sauce
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Oct 3 2013 08:46

Always exciting to have a celebrity post on the forums wink

The Strike! discussion did go through, or at least got started, here:

http://libcom.org/forums/history-culture/libcom-study-group-strike-discu...

I know one of things that came up was that later editions of the book were viewed as more social democratic and less, maybe, council communist. Would you agree that's a fair criticism? And, given that subsequent versions of the book were updated, why did you choose to change the parts that you did?

P.S. Lest I sound too critical: http://libcom.org/blog/books-have-shaped-my-politics-08052012