Pro-revolutionaries in academia

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Picket
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Nov 28 2011 19:53
Boris Badenov wrote:
I'm glad I stayed away from this mess, but I can't help notice that all of this ultimately boils down to two possibilities. Either

1) some jobs are more moral and communisty than others
or
2) no job contributes or takes away anything from one's allegiance to communist ideas.

If anyone subscribes to 1), obviously there is nothing to discuss here. Such a person would lack even the most basic understanding of material reality. If 2), this is a false problem, as there is really no such thing as a "radical academic". One can have a profession in academia, and be involved in radical politics given specific circumstances, but the latter never follows from the former.
As for the supposedly unique role that academics as a whole have in propagating the "ideology of the ruling class," it is a fairly spurious proposition as it implies that it is possible to neatly calculate the exact percentage of "ideology upholding" that academics do, whereas ideological hegemony, as a self-reproducing and self-sustaining phenomenon, is infinitely more complex than this.

"moral and communisty", odd conflation, or maybe not.

I worked for a company that made missile guidance systems, for a short time. I was excited by wires and stuff, I never thought about the fact that people were going to die thanks to the systems built at the company. Looking back, yes it was morally repugnant and I wouldn't take a job doing that now (unless I had no other option, that or starvation sort of thing).

Please fill me in on the basics of material reality.

nastyned
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Nov 28 2011 19:48

confused Surely no one believes point 2.

bzfgt
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Nov 28 2011 19:56
Boris Badenov wrote:
I'm glad I stayed away from this mess, but I can't help notice that all of this ultimately boils down to two possibilities. Either

1) some jobs are more moral and communisty than others
or
2) no job contributes to, or takes away anything from one's allegiance to communist ideas.

If anyone subscribes to 1), obviously there is nothing to discuss here. Such a person would lack even the most basic understanding of material reality. If 2), this is a false problem, as there is really no such thing as a "radical academic". One can have a profession in academia, and be involved in radical politics given specific circumstances, but the latter never follows from the former.
As for the supposedly unique role that academics as a whole have in propagating the "ideology of the ruling class," it is a fairly spurious proposition as it implies that it is possible to neatly calculate the exact percentage of "ideology upholding" that academics do, whereas ideological hegemony, as a self-reproducing and self-sustaining phenomenon, is infinitely more complex than this.

Nastyned is surely right that nobody believes 2), and furthermore, nobody has argued 1). Thus, you are presenting a false dilemma, in which both horns are straw men. For instance, it has explicitly been stated by lines that one cannot be a communist postman (or whatever) any more than a communist Academic.

Nobody has suggested that it is "bad" to be an Academic, in fact in coming to this conclusion you are formulating an enthymeme the suppressed premise of which is "it is better to be a communist than to be an Academic," which as far as I know nobody has proposed either.

Second of all, the question isn't whether Academics sling a greater percentage of a knowable quantity of ideology, but what their role is in relation to existing ideology and to what extent there are pressures on them to internalize it, as well as whether the form of Academic engagement with communist questions is formally ideological even if it is radical in content--whether organizations like Aufheben exhibit an Academic "logic."

tastybrain
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Nov 28 2011 20:08

I think people have in fact argued 1 and have argued that it is bad to be an academic. Can't bother to quote examples, but I think many of the arguments do basically boil down to this.

As for number 2, I don't think any job contributes to one's communist orientation, but surely some jobs subtract from it?

Boris Badenov
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Nov 28 2011 20:34
bzfgt wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
I'm glad I stayed away from this mess, but I can't help notice that all of this ultimately boils down to two possibilities. Either

1) some jobs are more moral and communisty than others
or
2) no job contributes to, or takes away anything from one's allegiance to communist ideas.

If anyone subscribes to 1), obviously there is nothing to discuss here. Such a person would lack even the most basic understanding of material reality. If 2), this is a false problem, as there is really no such thing as a "radical academic". One can have a profession in academia, and be involved in radical politics given specific circumstances, but the latter never follows from the former.
As for the supposedly unique role that academics as a whole have in propagating the "ideology of the ruling class," it is a fairly spurious proposition as it implies that it is possible to neatly calculate the exact percentage of "ideology upholding" that academics do, whereas ideological hegemony, as a self-reproducing and self-sustaining phenomenon, is infinitely more complex than this.

Nastyned is surely right that nobody believes 2), and furthermore, nobody has argued 1). Thus, you are presenting a false dilemma, in which both horns are straw men. For instance, it has explicitly been stated by lines that one cannot be a communist postman (or whatever) any more than a communist Academic.

I am not saying that anyone has explicitly argued 1), but short of arguing that, what exactly is the issue here? What is it that makes the condition of academia as a profession particularly relevant for a communist critique? Nothing in particular, as far as I can tell.

Quote:
Nobody has suggested that it is "bad" to be an Academic, in fact in coming to this conclusion you are formulating an enthymeme the suppressed premise of which is "it is better to be a communist than to be an Academic," which as far as I know nobody has proposed either.

Err...ok. There is no suppressed premise here, but really the critique of "radical academia" (a recurring theme on libcom; there must have been at least a dozen threads on this topic in the past couple of years alone) seems to be mostly a lot of noise. As Lines correctly points out it is as absurd to speak of a "communist postman" as it is to speak of a "radical academic," so why has this thread degenerated into such intense bickering and name-calling? If the point made here is as banal as pointing out that a job in academia (or as a postal worker) is not an avenue for communist activity, what is the source of this interminable argument? This is what I'm trying to understand.

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Second of all, the question isn't whether Academics sling a greater percentage of a knowable quantity of ideology, but what their role is in relation to existing ideology and to what extent there are pressures on them to internalize it,

Well maybe the question should be that then, because it's fairly obvious that as with any job the role of the academic is indeed to propagate the dominant capitalist discourse and there is obviously pressure from outside forces to internalize this discourse as much as possible. I don't think the question as you pose it is even worth discussing, and I certainly can't see how it would lead to the incredibly confrontational exchanges from the previous pages.

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as well as whether the form of Academic engagement with communist questions is formally ideological even if it is radical in content--whether organizations like Aufheben exhibit an Academic "logic."

It's not terribly clear what you're trying to say here. Academic engagement with communist questions is obviously not communism, not if we take communism to be "the real movement which abolishes the present state of things." I may have overgeneralized with Proposition 2 above (clearly not all jobs are qualitatively the same), but the gist of it was to argue that no job, given the function of waged labour in capitalism, can advance a communist position in any meaningful sense of the word. If Lines and co. agree to that (as I think the comment about "communist postmen" implies), then I don't see the source of the argument.

Communism is not, and cannot be a job or part of one's job. Communism is equally not the practice of an organization (which may nonetheless agitate for communist ideas) or a group.

bzfgt
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Nov 28 2011 20:40
Quote:
If the point made here is as banal as pointing out that a job in academia (or as a postal worker) is not an avenue for communist activity, what is the source of this interminable argument? This is what I'm trying to underst and.

The point is, in part, that no postal worker or garbage man would see their job as having a radical function, whereas lots of academics do.

If the rest of that is too anodyne to argue about, there is little disagreement between you and lines, Blasto et al. as far as I can see. I'm not sure why it inspired so much argument.

bzfgt
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Nov 28 2011 20:41
tastybrain wrote:
I think people have in fact argued 1 and have argued that it is bad to be an academic. Can't bother to quote examples, but I think many of the arguments do basically boil down to this.

As for number 2, I don't think any job contributes to one's communist orientation, but surely some jobs subtract from it?

I don't think anybody from the lines/Blasto contingent argued 1), and I do think they all argued 2).

Boris Badenov
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Nov 28 2011 20:53
Pikel wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
I'm glad I stayed away from this mess, but I can't help notice that all of this ultimately boils down to two possibilities. Either

1) some jobs are more moral and communisty than others
or
2) no job contributes or takes away anything from one's allegiance to communist ideas.

If anyone subscribes to 1), obviously there is nothing to discuss here. Such a person would lack even the most basic understanding of material reality. If 2), this is a false problem, as there is really no such thing as a "radical academic". One can have a profession in academia, and be involved in radical politics given specific circumstances, but the latter never follows from the former.
As for the supposedly unique role that academics as a whole have in propagating the "ideology of the ruling class," it is a fairly spurious proposition as it implies that it is possible to neatly calculate the exact percentage of "ideology upholding" that academics do, whereas ideological hegemony, as a self-reproducing and self-sustaining phenomenon, is infinitely more complex than this.

"moral and communisty", odd conflation, or maybe not.

I worked for a company that made missile guidance systems, for a short time. I was excited by wires and stuff, I never thought about the fact that people were going to die thanks to the systems built at the company. Looking back, yes it was morally repugnant and I wouldn't take a job doing that now (unless I had no other option, that or starvation sort of thing).

Please fill me in on the basics of material reality.

Of course the effects of working in the arms industry are morally repugnant. My point was not to argue that contributing to the misery of other human beings is not immoral, but to argue that in capitalism all jobs essentially do this.
I work in an industry which is the lifeblood of the "free market" (namely freight forwarding), and I also work as a part-time academic. Of the two, the academic job is definitely the less immoral one, but what does it achieve to say that? How is it helpful at all? It's not. The point to a communist critique is to make a radical analysis (i.e. identifying the root cause) of the existing social conditions. The root cause is obviously capitalism itself, not this or that job. The effects of working in the arms or food or retail industry are simply epiphenomena of a capitalist mode of production (as are war, bigotry, famine, prostitution and so on).
As an individual I am daily directly contributing to the exploitation of a great deal of workers all over the world, regardless of what job I choose to do. I can either choose to let this guilt trip me into liberal politics, or I can continue to argue for a society in which "poverty becomes an impossibility" (as Oscar Wilde eloquently put it). My job and everything about it are part of the problem. As a communist I must therefore argue against my job (sounds awkward, but ultimately that's what it is), whatever it is.
So again, what about academia as a profession is so controversial that it doesn't fit into the general communist critique of waged labour and the market system? There seems to be a weird fetishism at play here.

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Nov 28 2011 21:11

While no job is communist, surely different jobs allow different degrees of agitation, class struggle, and spread of class consciousness.

The postman can go on strike and refuse to deliver the post.

The nurse finds it difficult to go on strike but can work to rule.

The academic (depending on their field) can entreat his/her students to read Marx or Bakunin.

I'm not sure what investment bankers can do... they can effect multi-billion [insert currency] losses I suppose.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 28 2011 21:17
Pikel wrote:
While no job is communist, surely different jobs allow different degrees of agitation, class struggle, and spread of class consciousness.

Not really. A job allows for nothing more than the worker's ability to carry on living (ideally in some degree of petty comfort); this is its structural purpose in a capitalist economy, this is what it does. What happens when workers go on strike has nothing to do with the job itself, but with the contradictions inherent in an economic system which relies on alienated labour, and with the particular material circumstances that the striking workers find themselves in.

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The postman can go on strike and refuse to deliver the post.

Yes, but "can go on strike" means very little. Delivering mail does not make one more likely to strike. What decides the likelihood of the strike has to do with the state of working-class militancy as a whole, the state and nature of unionist (or "syndicalist") activity, the willingness of the managerial class to cede reforms, and other factors of the irreconcilable conflict between classes.

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The academic (depending on their field) can entreat his/her students to read Marx or Bakunin.

Leaving aside the fact that reading Marx and Bakunin does not amount to anything concrete, and isn't therefore an instance of "radical politics," an academic does what an academic is supposed to do, i.e. train students in a particular discipline and/or contribute to research projects in that discipline (obviously these things have to be "useful" market-wise, so they are not value-free).
Yes the university is somewhat of a special case when it comes to striking (given the highly hierarchical structure of the workforce), but again, the practical militancy of academics, as with that of postal workers, is not something that is a consequence of the kind of job they perform.

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Nov 28 2011 21:33
Boris Badenov wrote:
Pikel wrote:
While no job is communist, surely different jobs allow different degrees of agitation, class struggle, and spread of class consciousness.

Not really. A job allows for nothing more than the worker's ability to carry on living (ideally in some degree of petty comfort); this is its structural purpose in a capitalist economy, this is what it does. What happens when workers go on strike has nothing to do with the job itself, but with the contradictions inherent in an economic system which relies on alienated labour, and with the particular material circumstances that the striking workers find themselves in.

I don't follow. Take my nurse example, which you snipped! As a conscientious nurse with patients who depend on me for their well being, I am reluctant to abandon these patients to go on strike because I fear for their well-being. What happens when I strike is the well being of the patients suffers. When the posty strikes, the post doesn't get delivered. What happens when workers go on strike is surely something to do with the job.

I'm aware there is another dimension, in which the effects are not to do with the job, but to do with the material circumstances of the worker and their relationships within the economic system, but there are surely two dimensions, one of which is something to do with the job.

Spikymike
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Nov 28 2011 21:36

'As a communist I must argue against my job' says Boris - in fact exactly what lines was arguing??

But are all jobs the same when it comes to engagement in the class struggle - well not in my opinion as I tried to illustrate way back in this thread from my own personal experience.

But then maybe the problem is not with workers at all but with the 'managerial class' except it isn't clear from Boris how deep that managerial class goes in various workplaces?

And by the way postel workers in Britain have a pretty good reputation for going on strike compared with many others (though this is a result of several factors).

Non of this is about the moral value or otherwise of different jobs.

Sorry to be so brusk but I'm starting to think some recent posters haven't really been following this discussion through from the start - I know it's long with some unfortunate sidetracks but people do need to consider the whole discussion or it will just start all over from scratch.

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Nov 28 2011 21:45
Spikymike wrote:
Sorry to be so brusk but I'm starting to think some recent posters haven't really been following this discussion through from the start - I know it's long with some unfortunate sidetracks but people do need to consider the whole discussion or it will just start all over from scratch.

I certainly can't hold the accumulated argument of n pages of discussion in my head nor do I have the time to reread it every time I post to make sure I'm not covering old ground or missing something. And maybe it takes a few "spins" through the discussion to get all the "dirty water" out, to get it into language and concepts which everyone understands.

tastybrain
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Nov 28 2011 21:54
Spikymike wrote:
'As a communist I must argue against my job' says Boris - in fact exactly what lines was arguing??

But are all jobs the same when it comes to engagement in the class struggle - well not in my opinion as I tried to illustrate way back in this thread from my own personal experience.

lines wrote:
No, JD should not talk about his struggles at work in academia (I can’t think of anything more boring) – he should just say that he thinks academia produces nothing of value to human beings whatsoever… including his own sociological/psychological work

In fact, lines has argued that the class struggle between academics and their employers is irrelevant, and we should regard strikes at universities the same way we would regard a strike at a police station. This is almost the polar opposite of what Boris is arguing -- which is that academics are similar to (but of course not identical with) other workers. I doubt Boris would assert that strikes at Universities are of no interest to communists!

tastybrain
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Nov 28 2011 22:00
bzfgt wrote:
tastybrain wrote:
I think people have in fact argued 1 and have argued that it is bad to be an academic. Can't bother to quote examples, but I think many of the arguments do basically boil down to this.

As for number 2, I don't think any job contributes to one's communist orientation, but surely some jobs subtract from it?

I don't think anybody from the lines/Blasto contingent argued 1), and I do think they all argued 2).

From post #116:

lines wrote:
Non-managerial jobs are the best jobs to do - I have always argued this. In a non-managerial job one is able to retain ones dignity to a greater degree, and one is usually more able to organise collectively with fellow workers.

With academics, of course, being classified as "managerial", a classification which I disagree with for reasons which can be read in my posts earlier in the thread.

Hmm, these jobs are "better to do"...sounds like he's saying some jobs are more "moral" and "communisty" than others.

Also, I think they did argue that some jobs take away from one's allegiance to communist ideas; academic jobs!

bzfgt
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Nov 28 2011 22:17

I think I may have mentally edited some of those comments out, you're right that lines said some things beyond what I was claiming. I read

Quote:
he should just say that he thinks academia produces nothing of value to human beings whatsoever

as just an opinion, whereas the main part of his arguments I thought were very much in line with what Boris is saying. But I partially concede your point, it isn't all as clear cut as I remember it, and if someone said something, they said it.

tastybrain
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Nov 29 2011 03:42

Bzfgt, I think you're mistaken about no one arguing for #1 (maybe you just haven't read the whole thread?) Here are a few quotes:

Blasto wrote:
If people feel uncomfortable about having academia questioned, then good - that is self-criticism at work. If people have niggles and doubts about their role, then much better to dig deeper than to bury them by seeking re-affirmation from other academics (or revolutionaries) that everything is just fine. I think it's a bit simplistic to say only cops and prison officers have a problem. We live in Britain, not Burma.

its not necessarily the job we do but what we do within it, but that in itself recognises that the job might be a problem.You recognise the tension between your politics and your job. I do with mine, so being critical of our jobs is relevant, at the very least to maintain our own sanity.

Clearly this is meant to argue that academics play a repressive role similar to cops but in a more subtle way; I don't disagree that some academics do this but to extend it to every poetry professor and teacher's aide is bordering on the absurd. He also seems to imply that "the job is a problem", which to me fits perfectly with #1.

Blasto wrote:
So what I have described is the nature of academia as I see it - the arch recuperator, the mystification factory, the production line of professionals - a key reproducer of class society. People work as academics do so at their own peril. How many earnest lefties have turned to pulp teaching sociology, social policy, psychology, philosophy, economics or cultural studies? This is a job that involves a huge degree of self-recuperation - the bullshit, the institution (just ask any uni admin about that), the student/teacher relationship, the amputation of theory from lived experience... the list goes on and on.

Again, clear moral overtones here. Blasto actually has a more nuanced position than these quotes imply and has conceded that not only might some academics be decent people, a few of them might be decent communists as well. But I am quoting his more blanket anti-academic statements to give an idea of what some of the argumentation on this thread has been in response to.

whatisinevidence wrote:
At private schools (or I guess they're called public schools in the UK?), young people with wealthy parents are taught to manage other people, to dominate discourse, to start businesses, etc. This training also occurs at home and carries on in the universities they go to. In grad schools, there is a lot of training for life as a middle class professional. That's the whole point of it, actually....That academics happen to be poorly paid middle class professionals does not change their role or training... when someone has been trained their entire life (or at least in uni and grad school) to manage others...
whatisinevidence wrote:
Those who do professional jobs receive class training in managing others and producing/dominating discourse...They can be wonderful people and believe the right things, but they carry out their class training unconsciously.

All this talk of "management" and "class training" sounds highly moralistic to my ears, at least in the context of Libcom.

lines wrote:
Non-managerial jobs are the best jobs to do... In a non-managerial job one is able to retain ones dignity to a greater degree, and one is usually more able to organise collectively with fellow workers.

With the "managerial job" being academics. So I guess some jobs are more communisty.

lines wrote:
there is no ‘good vs evil’ dichotomy in this.... teachers are not at the bottom of their ladder: they supervise students and teacher aides, and actively imbue their students with ruling ideology – so their case is clear...Like teachers, [journalists] speak their support of the ruling ideology every single day of their working life. See the thread on Libcom entitled, Being a teacher is like being a prison guard:
lines wrote:
setting up a picket line at a University is about as interesting for communists as a picket line at a police station.

So despite his or her insistence that "there is no 'good vs evil' dichotomy in this", lines ends up comparing academics to prison guards and cops.

As far as I can see, the arguments of lines, Blasto, et al essentially boil down to:

a) Some academics serve a repressive function

which I think we can all agree with

b) academia plays a recuperative role

which again, I agree with.

c) all/most/many academics are suspect as communists because they choose to serve this recuperative/repressive/middle class function

which I don't agree with and I think if we ended up following this logic to its conclusion, as some have suggested, we would end up with maybe 3 or 4 jobs that "real communists" are allowed to take.

and d) one cannot truly challenge capitalism without challenging one's role as an academic; one cannot play a truly revolutionary role while retaining all the comfort and support afforded by a position within the academy.

"d" seems to be the point that they stress the most, usually giving the impression that they think someone is arguing the opposite. In fact no one has argued for the legitimacy of "radical academia" or claimed one can mount a truly subversive challenge to capitalism while ensconced in one's role as a lecturer or professor. Of course the job isn't a fundamental challenge to capitalism! That has nothing to do with the discussion! The reason I want to be an academic is because I want to get paid to write, research, think and talk, not because I think I can be a great "radical professor"!

Mike Harman
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Nov 29 2011 03:16
Spikymike wrote:

And by the way postal workers in Britain have a pretty good reputation for going on strike compared with many others (though this is a result of several factors).

Right but does this mean you should take a job as a postman, so that you have more chance of being on strike?

Auto in the games industry for example has talked about the massive amounts of unpaid overtime that is done (this is also the case with programming for websites which I work in). If you were able to successfully organise that kind of workplace so that people stopped doing 10 (or 20+, 30+ at some places I've worked) overtime per week, then how does that compare to a few one day strikes per year? Is it better, worse, or simply a very different working environment with its own set of challenges?

This is different to taking on a management or supervisory role I think - which has similar pressures regardless of industry or the kind of work people are promoted into it from. Some workplaces have a far higher percentage of people with some kind of management title as your experience in local government confirms, but that is not really related to occupation since workplaces are re-organised in this way all the time and often quite aggressively (unless someone undertakes 'management' or 'business' as a profession in itself which of course some people do).

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Nov 29 2011 12:00
gypsy wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Wow, this thread is really popular. I think that this probably reflects how many people in the 'anarchist movement' are academics these days. I suppose this is probably partly due to the change in access to education over the last thirty years or so, but I think that there is something more than that.

When I was involved in a UK anarchist organisation (I was in South West London DAM, now Solfed), our local branch had between 15 and 20 people, and non of them had done a Ph.D. Only four of them had even been to university. Even today the only people that I know who are doing Ph.Ds are people I have met through politics.

Devrim

Not having a pop at anyone or the anarchist scene in the UK. But I would say the majority of 'anarchists' I have met in the UK are from a middle class background. I'm guessing that in Spain and other countries this is not the case.

It didn't used to be the case in the UK either. Why do you think it changed?

Devrim

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Nov 29 2011 12:08
Boris Badenov wrote:
Yes, but "can go on strike" means very little. Delivering mail does not make one more likely to strike. What decides the likelihood of the strike has to do with the state of working-class militancy as a whole, the state and nature of unionist (or "syndicalist") activity, the willingness of the managerial class to cede reforms, and other factors of the irreconcilable conflict between classes.
Mike Harman wrote:
Auto in the games industry for example has talked about the massive amounts of unpaid overtime that is done (this is also the case with programming for websites which I work in). If you were able to successfully organise that kind of workplace so that people stopped doing 10 (or 20+, 30+ at some places I've worked) overtime per week, then how does that compare to a few one day strikes per year? Is it better, worse, or simply a very different working environment with its own set of challenges?

As has been pointed out earlier, postmen do tend to go on strike. People programing for websites and making video games tend not to. Also postmen don't do unpaid overtime. I think that these things are related to the strength of the workforce and the situation of the workers.

It is also directly to do with what is called 'sociological class'. Postmen see themselves as having collective interests whereas people in the other two groups probably often see themselves as 'middle class'. I would imagine that many of them see themselves as 'advancing their careers, and work on individual contracts being paid different salaries for the same job, all of which leads to a weakening of any sense of solidarity between them.

Devrim

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Nov 29 2011 12:29
Quote:
Also postmen don't do unpaid overtime

Pretty sure this isn't the case anymore - all the posties I've spoken to over the last few years say they have to work beyond their contracted hours to finish their round.

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Nov 29 2011 12:47

Im so fucking pleased I grew up on a council estate so I don't have to answer to the 'middle class' anarchist jibe.

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Nov 29 2011 14:16
Fall Back wrote:
Quote:
Also postmen don't do unpaid overtime

Pretty sure this isn't the case anymore - all the posties I've spoken to over the last few years say they have to work beyond their contracted hours to finish their round.

I don't know for sure, but even back in my day that was the case for some people. The vast overwhelming majority of them would then claim for the time that they had gone over. I presume that is still the case with most people.

Devrim

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Nov 29 2011 14:43

For some information I've just been speaking to a retired nurse about nurses striking, she confirmed my suspicions that they don't abandon patients. They do strike (clearly, they'll be striking tomorrow in the UK), but they always ensure there is a "skeleton" staff and that all the work that needs to get done gets done. So there is no serious degradation of "service", although some things don't get done on the strike day (as we can hear in the media about rescheduled surgical operations). In effect the nurses' strike is a demonstration/protest/show of solidarity. For which they lose a day's pay.

My overall point being that people should be cautious with their generalisations.

tastybrain
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Nov 29 2011 17:39
Arbeiten wrote:
Im so fucking pleased I grew up on a council estate so I don't have to answer to the 'middle class' anarchist jibe.

Immunity! Lol.

Devrim, I think Cooked has a point here:

Cooked wrote:
@Devrim, Perhaps in addition to the increased access to education it's the fact that politics are sadly sort of an extra divorced from daily life. Until the militancy is up again and more people get organised the people in orgs will be the ones who have an ideological interest and a personal tendency towards reading, writing, thinking, organising and these people will try to find work where they can do what they are good at. There is a risk though that this discussing this huge increase in academics is a red herring without basis in reality? There's that line on anecdote and statistics that I cant remember.
Spikymike
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Nov 29 2011 18:08

Yes Cooked makes an interesting point in tastybrains quote, but it is still important to understand what the significance of having a heavy academic and/or 'middle class' influence in a proclaimed revolutionary political group is, in terms of how such an organisations act prior to an upturn in mass working class resistance and when it actually occurs, and that in turn depends on our understanding of the roles of both academia and the 'middle class' in capitalism which is what we have mostly been discussing and disagreeing about in varying degrees.

Though of course most of the groups in libcom wouldn't accept that their politics or activity was divorced from everyday life.

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Devrim
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Nov 29 2011 18:34
tastybrain wrote:
Devrim, I think Cooked has a point here:

Yes, it is reasonable. Another point is that since the 'downturn' in workers struggles in the 90s much fewer people have come to revolutionary organisations through participation in the class struggle, which probably has some effect on their class composition.

Devrim

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Nov 29 2011 18:49
Devrim wrote:
tastybrain wrote:
Devrim, I think Cooked has a point here:

Yes, it is reasonable. Another point is that since the 'downturn' in workers struggles in the 90s much fewer people have come to revolutionary organisations through participation in the class struggle, which probably has some effect on their class composition.

Devrim

Right. I certainly didn't become a revolutionary (still not in a revolutionary org) through participation in class struggle...it was more from looking around and the world and noticing the colossal unfairness of society and realizing there are people who have and are fighting for something better. So yes, in this sense my anarchism is "divorced from everyday life" altho I try to follow my principles throughout my life by refusing to recognize hierarchy (whether I am above or below someone), etc. I certainly don't think of myself as "leading" the poor ignorant workers to anything, more like following. Anyway, I hope people like myself can be helpful when the shit really hits the fan without playing a reactionary or vangaurdist role.

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Nov 29 2011 21:37
Devrim wrote:
Another point is that since the 'downturn' in workers struggles in the 90s much fewer people have come to revolutionary organisations through participation in the class struggle, which probably has some effect on their class composition.

Devrim

Well that was my point, lacking the date though.

The discussion seems a bit circular. Possible because there are two issues.

1. Is there a middle class and are they affected by their jobs and lifestyles?
2. Are middle class communists a problem for the movement?

There are undoubtedly middle class people, I'm surrounded by them these days and I can't get used to it. I'ts clear to me that their position in society has formed their views and behaviors. I still find it more useful to consider the middle class a strata of the working class.

I think it's a mistake to act on and emphasize this cultural and economic difference. The prolier that thou stuff is not productive and very divisive. There should be *no* blurry lines beyond which you become second class, no hesitation or question about whether you qualify. As long as the middle class term is used there will be lots of working class people hesitating and thinking these politics are against them because they work in an office or something.

In the hypothetical scenario of anarchism/communism being of interest mainly to the middle class I would say that I can't see this staying the case through periods of struggle. The middle class sects would be made irrelevant but hopefully the good aspects of their work could live on in movements that better reflect the population that have the most to gain from communism. In other words the threat seems minimal as long as authoritarianism is fought? The contributions of Marx, Bakunin, Kropotkin etc are valuable in my view even though some of these were aristocrats, discussing lecturers seem absurd in comparison.

Spikymike wrote:
Though of course most of the groups in libcom wouldn't accept that their politics or activity was divorced from everyday life.

If they don't accept that going to a political meeting or organising action is divorced from most peoples everyday life they are most seriously deluding themselves.

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Nov 30 2011 17:29
Cooked wrote:
2. Are middle class communists a problem for the movement?

No, not individually, but I think there is a problem when you have organisations that are dominated by those people.

Cooked wrote:
1. Is there a middle class and are they affected by their jobs and lifestyles?

Yes, I think they are effected by their jobs/working environment. I think that they pick up attitudes there that are antithetical to communist politics.

[quotequote=Cooked]If they don't accept that going to a political meeting or organising action is divorced from most peoples everyday life they are most seriously deluding themselves.

Well yes, that is pretty obvious.

Devrim