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What if my Grandparents were working class, But my parents (esp. my Mum) have become middle class?

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No borders No state No war's picture
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Dec 16 2010 17:47
What if my Grandparents were working class, But my parents (esp. my Mum) have become middle class?

My grandparents were working class teaching assistant, railway workers and factory workers. But my dad (through amazing luck and hard work,) has got a job for a massive coporation and earns enough for my mum not to work and for the family to take several holidays a year (untill a couple of years ago) and live in comfort. I know this isn't right, but when i argue that we should be giving alot more to charity, the homeless and (to laughs from my parents) the AF, they say that they "donate time", this seems simply a way of avoiding parting with there money. Can i be an Anarchist without being a hypocrite?

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Dec 16 2010 19:57

In my humble opinion you would only become a hypocrite if you yourself began employing people (and therfore stealing the produce of working class peoples labour) or you yourself accepted your class role rather then rejecting it.

You can't be judged for your parents actions or class position, you had no choice what family you happened to be born into. I wouldn't call Alexander Berkman, Peter Kropotkin or Mikhail Bakunin hypocrites because they came from wealthy backgrounds, they wanted to reject class not reinforce it's division.

All in all I don't think you should worry about it to much, if you happen to be middle class, ultimately you probably still have to sell your labour (and in turn be exploited) in order to survive. The ruling class are the enemy, the middle class just tend to be severly indoctrinated.

_LIAM_
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Dec 17 2010 10:31
No borders No state No war wrote:
But my dad (through amazing luck and hard work,) has got a job for a massive coporation and earns enough for my mum not to work and for the family to take several holidays a year (untill a couple of years ago) and live in comfort.

Nothing wrong with your dad having a well paid job. Class is NOT defined by the size of your pay packet but your relationship to the means of production. If you dad is paid a wage/salary and is not in the position of managing groups of workers for the bosses then he is working class.

Class isn't about personal aspirations, the number of holidays you take, whether you shop at Asda or M&S or any other factor. These are sociological things that liberal social commentators use to pidgin hole sections of the proletariat. The fast majority of society belongs to the working class. Not because they openly identify themselves as such but because that is how capitalism is. Yes outside of this there is a small management class that is used by the bosses to administer the needs of the economic system but being a well paid worker does not put you in this group.

The often patronising notion of what constitutes working class that many of the left hold only serves to divide us.

I work in a so called professional job and earn a relatively high wage. However I have no more control over the means of production than fellow workers in other industries and consider myself part of the proletariat.

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Dec 17 2010 12:56

Yeah, what Liam said.

Personally, I don't even use the term "middle class", I go with "middle income"---and with a middle income one can be on either side of the class divide.

If you sell your labor power, you're a worker. If you own the means of production (or manage workers in the interests of capital, i.e. you have the power to hire/fire or discipline workers) you're on the other side.

In other words, don't stress. No one (here anyway) is judging you for what your dad does, how much money your family earns, or whether they give to charity. To paraphrase the IWW preamble, building class power is about 'achieving the good things in life' and if you do that without exploiting others (i.e. make a profit off the labor of the working class), good on ya.

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Dec 17 2010 16:14

Agree with most of the above, and i'm not the type to believe that all Working Class people are heroes and all middle class people are villains.

But i do believe that there is a working class culture and a middle class culture (and, to finish it off, an upper class culture). Yes, there are loads of cross overs and axes (axis'?) but when it comes to social relations, i believe class background can be distinguished amongst all the other factors.

This is neither here nor there, apart from when it makes itself apparent as a culture clash and is not recognised or accepted. Most (not all) anarchist institutions and groups, i believe, have a middle class culture and i believe that working class people have problems fitting into them, which explains why so few people, i believe, in them are working class.

I also believe that this 'class imbalance' in the movement can be explained by the fact that people brought up in middle class households see through the consumerist myth and tire of it a lot easier, and so more rebel against it, whilst proportionally more working class people revel in the cotton-comfort of it.

But now i am truly in cod psychology territory, so I'll shut up. Good day to you.

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Dec 20 2010 23:22
Chilli Sauce wrote:
If you sell your labor power, you're a worker. If you own the means of production (or manage workers in the interests of capital, i.e. you have the power to hire/fire or discipline workers) you're on the other side.

I am employed by a Town Council and manage others on behalf of the Council to deliver public services using public money (a mix of Council tax and surpluses generated from hiring out public buildings etc). Which side am I on?! All comments welcome!

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Dec 21 2010 02:11

Very briefly, it's about roles not intentions. If your boss tells you to interview each worker you line manage so your boss can sack one of them (due to budget cuts, for example), that's what you do. Politics aside, the role of even low level managers is to manage in the interests of capital, no getting around that...

_LIAM_
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Dec 22 2010 10:49

Boydell you say you agree with most of the above but then you go on to continue with the same old working class culture verses middle class culture nonsense. What patronising drivel!

T La Palli
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Dec 22 2010 13:29

I definitely don’t think that you can be judged for your parents actions or class position. And obviously class has nothing to do with whether you shop at Asda or M&S*, or whether you should like opera or the footie. *As I write this, somebody at work is talking about how posh and sophisticated M&S lemon roulaaades are.

So whether you sell your labour or exploit others labour is the only real factor? I do believe this is key. But I still often resort to find my self use the term middle class as a term of abuse. Usually without thinking about it, and in reference to some of the many people I come across who ooze privilege plus have other traits that I don’t like, like for example selfishness. I certainly don’t think there is a definite working class ‘culture’ that is ours and middle-class ‘culture’ that is theirs, and an upper class culture for the elite. But there is a feeling of relation to one or the other. I’ve personally found ‘working class’ inverse snobbery and an artificial identification with ‘working class’ culture (attitudes, lifestyle, and aspirations) to be claustrophobic and damaging. But there do seem to be such vast difference in experience that perhaps there are different outlooks, but still not ones that are uniquely one or the other.

Maybe its sociological subterfuge, and it all seems pretty messy when you try to attempt classification. A Call Handler, Taxi Driver, or Shop Assistant sell their Labour. So does a Project Manager, Data Analyst, or Legal Consultant – none of whom have any more control over the means of production than the former workers. I accept that all are part of the working class, but the wages of one lot is so much lower that the other the other lot that their experiences of everything is just so much different. And surely this creates a big divide. I feel this divide still colours my understanding and relation to people.

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Dec 22 2010 14:19
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A Call Handler, Taxi Driver, or Shop Assistant sell their Labour. So does a Project Manager, Data Analyst, or Legal Consultant – none of whom have any more control over the means of production than the former workers.

I guess this kind of the crux of the matter (much like Duds alluded to an earlier post), while the owners of MOP/sellers of labour dichotomy works to explain capitalism in the abstract, there is the management grey area. For me, even if one doesn't own the means of production (even today, "capitalists" are likely to be large investment firms rather than a single individual), if your job involves managing others in the interests of capital, your interests no longer coincide with the interests of the larger working class.

Culturally, I do think there's differences between folks in different income brackets and different jobs (white collar v. blue collar, for example) and it is interesting to see and understand how these differences play out. I actually take on some of the points Boydell makes about anarchist organizations. But economically--which should be the way communists seek to understand the world--class can only be understood in relation to the MOP.

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Dec 22 2010 21:33
Quote:
But there do seem to be such vast difference in experience that perhaps there are different outlooks, but still not ones that are uniquely one or the other.

This is basically what i was trying to say.
I agree with this as well:

Quote:
I’ve personally found ‘working class’ inverse snobbery and an artificial identification with ‘working class’ culture (attitudes, lifestyle, and aspirations) to be claustrophobic and damaging.

And i agree with this:

Quote:
But economically--which should be the way communists seek to understand the world--class can only be understood in relation to the MOP.

Altho i feel that class culture is a different conversation, it's not as important as the above, as its just another cultural difference, along with all the others like gender, sexuality, race, urbanisation etc. The only issue for me is that we maybe accept the first three as real, because they are more important, and maybe don't accept class and urbanisation (i.e whether you were brought up in a village, town or a city) divisions because they are not as important, but i think are still very real.

I don't think that's tired old hypocrisy, and don't understand who would be patronised by that.

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Dec 26 2010 17:51

1. ‘Through perpetual “revolutionary gymnastics,” workers and peasants will make contact with revolutionary theory and their practice will shape their theory. It will be a dialectical give and take in which theory and practice inform one another. Obstacles will disappear, the sacred “truths” of bourgeois ideology will break apart, and taboos will dissipate. Workers will start to imagine the future society and assimilate that vision into their beings as tangible, accessible reality.’
Abel Paz, Durruti In the Spanish Revolution, p. 217

2. ‘Certainly nowadays there aren’t precise boundaries between the classes. It is during various episodes of the class struggle that division occurs. There are not precise boundaries but there are two poles - proletariat and bourgeoisie (capitalists, bureaucrats etc.); the middle classes are split in periods of crisis and move towards one pole or the other; they are unable to provide a solution by themselves as they have neither the revolutionary characteristics of the proletariat, nor real control of contemporary society like the bourgeoisie as properly defined. In strikes for example you may see that one section of the technicians (especially those who are specialists, those in the research departments for example) rejoins the working class while another (technicians who fill higher staff positions and most people in supervisory roles) moves away from the working-class, at least for a time. Trade Union practice has always relied on trial-and-error, on pragmatism, unionising certain sectors and not others according to their role and occupation. In any case, it is occupation and attitude that distinguishes a class more than salary.’
George Fontenis, Manifesto of Libertarian Communism, Anarchist Federation, pp. 8-9

3. ‘The absence of any freedom of speech and of the press, as well as the absolute prohibition of all meetings with political or social content, rendered impossible all criticism, all propaganda, all social activity, the circulation of all ideas, in short, all progress.’
Voline, The Unknown Revolution, p. 45

Please read the A&P also.

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Dec 26 2010 22:25

I don't think there's much to prove that the higher income working class are less likely to become revolutionary than the lower income working class in fact I think there are instances where this has been proven not to be the case. It's fair to say I think most of us still fall into the trap of these sociological cultural definitions to some extent. I know I do but I still understand that class is defined exclusively by your relationship to the means of production. Nonetheless there are certainly some members of our class who fit the "middle class" sociological analysis as T La Palli said and my experiences with such people have lead me to adopt middle class as a slur against people, which I'm sure some more do as well.

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Dec 30 2010 13:37

4. ‘The proprietor may, if he chooses, allow his crops to rot under foot; sow his field with salt; milk his cows on the sand; change his vineyard into a desert, and use his vegetable-garden as a park: do these things constitute abuse, or not? In the matter of property, use and abuse are necessarily indistinguishable.’
PJ Proudhon, Anarchism, p. 25

5. ‘Thus aggressive reactions form a continuous series, from the violent, unmotivated outburst of the act, through the whole range of belligerent forms, to the cold war of interpretive demonstration. This series parallels another, that of imputations of harm, the explanations for which - without mentioning the obscure kakon to which the paranoiac attributes his discordance with all living things - run the gamut from poison (borrowed from the register of a highly primitive organism), to evil spells (magic), influence (telepathy), physical intrusion (lesions), diversion of intent (abuse), theft of secrets (dispossession), violation of privacy (profanation), injury (legal action), spying and intimidation (persecution), defamation and character assassination (prestige), and damages and exploitation (claims).’
Jacque Lacan, Ecrites, p. 90

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Jan 17 2011 21:03

In capitalism we al make our money by selling a commodity. Some people sell commodities that other people made, these are capitalists, some have no external commodities to sell, and can only sell the commodity we all have, our labour. These are workers. If you sell your labour, you're a worker. You can even be a cop or a sweat shop manager, you can sell your labour for a thousand quid per hour, you're still a worker, and your class interests are still opposed to those of capitalists (including the capitalist state). Put simply, the less you sell your labour for, the more they profit from it, the more you sell your labour for the less they profit. However, when other workers wages or employment rates go up, your and my wages and employment security tends to rise, and vice versa.

P.S. Most charities are patronising and leech off other people's misery and exploitation (via poverty, disablism, ageism, etc.) in order to sustain their self-satisfied smug existence. There are alternative models. Check out the Catholic Workers' Houses for one for fighting homelessness, or the Disabled People's Direct Action Network for fighting the shit disabled people have to deal with.

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Jan 17 2011 22:54
Quote:
a sweat shop manager

Don't we have to make a distinction for people whose job it is to manage workers in the interest in capital? Especially given the fact that classical capitalists (one dude in a top hat owning a business) is getting rarer and rarer. It's more likely companies are owned by hedge funds and conglomerates of investors (often including pension funds!) than an individual.

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Jan 18 2011 02:13

I have a hard time with the dividing line I heard in the IWW a lot "as long as you can't hire/fire workers". There are certainly times when this is a power of a 'boss'- but there are times when it isn't.

A typical meatroom in a grocery store (that still has meatcutters) often contains a couple journeymen meatcutters, packers/weighers/wrappers, clerks, custodians/stockers. Usually, the department manager, 'Meat Manager', is simply a journeymen meatcutter who has been given the power to control the ordering of product, lineup of the case (in some cases) and yes, hire and fire members of the department. This lead to a big problem in the UFCW which initially did not want to allow meat managers into the union (though they did). A meat manager generally makes the same salary of a veteran journeyman meatcutter (since they are almost always one and the same)- only with clerical duties. I don't believe the personnel aspect of their work automatically excludes them from the working class as they are clearly wage laborers like everyone else in the department; the real 'boss' is the store manager and higher ups (regional heads, etc). When it comes to management and supervisors, I think there is more to it to determine which side of the class divide they fall under.

Supervisors in most service businesses are simply senior (in service that means been there a year or longer wink) workers- I don't think it's a correct categorization to say they 'manage capital' and therefore are not working class. Same goes for lower echelons of management in retail, service, etc. Even when these groups in the lower rungs of management or supervisory positions are directly involved in doing interviews, reading resume's, and disciplinary proceedings.

In practice I think most of us could differentiate a worker with clerical or administrative duties and a very small pay raise from an actual 'manager of capital'.

Quote:
Especially given the fact that classical capitalists (one dude in a top hat owning a business) is getting rarer and rarer.

Right- which is why I don't think holdovers from an earlier era of capitalism are relevant to making these kinds of distinctions today. Capital has been changing since the '70s in this direction, we need to keep pace with analysis. It reminds me of the debate on here about one of the Philadelphia members of the IWW- that he was 'petit-bourgeois' and thus 'not a worker' because he lost his wage-labor job and was selling junk on eBay to pay the bills and thus "a shopkeeper".

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Jan 18 2011 08:14
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
a sweat shop manager

Don't we have to make a distinction for people whose job it is to manage workers in the interest in capital? Especially given the fact that classical capitalists (one dude in a top hat owning a business) is getting rarer and rarer. It's more likely companies are owned by hedge funds and conglomerates of investors (often including pension funds!) than an individual.

if you try to use class as a system for classifying individuals then you're always going to tie yourself in knots.

If you think that classifying individuals may be important in terms of who you allow them to revolutionary organisations, then that would mean that you would have to expel someone from Solfed if they won the lottery (as they would then be a capitalist).

What's important about class is not classifying individuals but explaining history and society, and how to change it

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Jan 18 2011 11:01
Steven wrote:
if you try to use class as a system for classifying individuals then you're always going to tie yourself in knots...

What's important about class is not classifying individuals but explaining history and society, and how to change it

Yes, I agree with Steven.

'Class' is a means of analysing the exploitative structure of society, not of identifying characteristics of individuals (even though society consists of individuals).

In the same way, 'aerodynamics' is about studying the flight of aeroplanes, not the chemical characteristics of metals (even though the plane may consist of metal parts).

We're Communists concerned with the analysis of social relationships and their development over time, not liberal sociologists concerned with mere description of individuals' ephemeral fads, like 'top hats'.

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Jan 18 2011 17:44

There was a short exchange of views in the 'Subversion' article entitled, ' What's the Working Class Anyway' in the Libcom library which relates to this discussion. It's not definitive (what is?) but does make some good points.

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Jan 18 2011 19:40
Dev1 wrote:
Supervisors in most service businesses are simply senior (in service that means been there a year or longer wink) workers- I don't think it's a correct categorization to say they 'manage capital' and therefore are not working class. Same goes for lower echelons of management in retail, service, etc. Even when these groups in the lower rungs of management or supervisory positions are directly involved in doing interviews, reading resume's, and disciplinary proceedings.

Yeah, but the post in question said that sweat-shop managers are members of the working class. I agree that Starbucks "supervisors" (who make the schedule and earn an extra 20 cents and hour to do it) are workers. But my line manager at work enforces the needs of capital on my co-workers and myself everyday in terms of pay, conditions (constantly pushing for unpaid overtime), and labour discipline. Although they may be a worker in that they are a teacher, their role differentiates them from teachers who don't have that management responsibility.

Quote:
In practice I think most of us could differentiate a worker with clerical or administrative duties and a very small pay raise from an actual 'manager of capital'.

Well, to be fair, I didn't say manager of capital. In my job as a teaching assistant I "manage" capital in the form of books and pens and IT equipment. I said we need to "make a distinction for people whose job it is to manage workers in the interest in capital." Not the same thing.

Quote:
It reminds me of the debate on here about one of the Philadelphia members of the IWW- that he was 'petit-bourgeois' and thus 'not a worker' because he lost his wage-labor job and was selling junk on eBay to pay the bills and thus "a shopkeeper".

Well, yeah, that was mental. But, if as an ebay seller he employed people, that'd change the scenario. And that's kind of the point I'm trying to make.

Steven wrote:
If you think that classifying individuals may be important in terms of who you allow them to revolutionary organisations, then that would mean that you would have to expel someone from Solfed if they won the lottery (as they would then be a capitalist).

I don't understand this, Steven. How does winning the lottery automatically make one a capitalist?

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Jan 18 2011 20:15

Chilli, what exactly is the point you're trying to make? What the importance is one person is or isn't a member of the working class in your view? What is the political relevance of classifying individuals? To identify "goodies" and "baddies"? (I know that of course this is not what you are trying to do, because you can have anarchist Princes like Kropotkin and working class fascists, but I don't understand what you do think the purpose of this exercise is)

My argument is that this has no relevance.

Regarding the lottery, well if they gave it all away they wouldn't be. But if they don't, then they no longer have to sell their labour power to survive - they can live off their capital. Even if they were stupid with the money and just put it in the bank (as opposed to investing it or buying property), then that money is being invested in businesses to make profits from exploiting workers, which is where interest comes from.

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Jan 18 2011 21:08
Quote:
Regarding the lottery, well if they gave it all away they wouldn't be. But if they don't, then they no longer have to sell their labour power to survive - they can live off their capital. Even if they were stupid with the money and just put it in the bank (as opposed to investing it or buying property), then that money is being invested in businesses to make profits from exploiting workers, which is where interest comes from.

Okay so I'm not sure about this argument on a couple of levels.. firstly, I don't think that it's a sound argument to say that because of the blurry cut-off point that could arise in the event that a very unlikely situation occurs (i.e. that a member of a revolutionary group wins the lottery), that owners of companies should be allowed into revolutionary groups.. it just doesn't scan to me..

Secondly, I dunno, I'm not sure that someone who has a lot of money in the bank is the same as someone who takes an active part in owning and running a business.. say for instance, in Solfed, we try and do outreach to workers who have a grievance at their workplace, try to help them organise collectively etc.. if you come into contact with someone, you put them in touch with the local.. so this guy runs a company and has to cut his staff's pay; he's not gonna pass on some contacts of militant staff to Solfed or send them to an organiser training session, is he? He is very much on one side on the class divide in a way much more clear cut than, say, a prison guard, immigration official or union full-timer) who I also wouldn't have in my organisation (shoot me, I'm picky.. wink )

Now to me, that's qualitatively different from someone who can just live off the interest in their bank account because they're not gonna be compromised in any actual class struggle (short of a full scale attack on capitalism itself).. someone living off their interest isn't going to actively take part in putting down a strike in a company that their bank invests in (coz in the 'worst case scenario' the bank would just invest elsewhere).. They're no more compromised than you (or your future retired self) is by your fancy-schmancy 'gold-plated' public sector pension being invested into this or that company.. tongue

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Jan 19 2011 17:44

Well, I think Ed covered the lottery thing well. Living off a large sum of cash (inherited or won or a lucky retirement) isn't the same a investing that money as capital.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that individuals who may not be 'business owners' in the classical sense, but who manage other workers in the interest of capital, fulfill a qualitatively difference role in capitalism than employees who don't. I do think this has implications for revolutionary organizations, but really I just think the statement that "sweat shop managers are members of the working class" draws a very simplistic notion of the role of hierarchy and management in the structure of capitalism and the existence of class domination, exploitation, and control.

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Jan 19 2011 22:47
Ed wrote:
Quote:
Regarding the lottery, well if they gave it all away they wouldn't be. But if they don't, then they no longer have to sell their labour power to survive - they can live off their capital. Even if they were stupid with the money and just put it in the bank (as opposed to investing it or buying property), then that money is being invested in businesses to make profits from exploiting workers, which is where interest comes from.

Okay so I'm not sure about this argument on a couple of levels.. firstly, I don't think that it's a sound argument to say that because of the blurry cut-off point that could arise in the event that a very unlikely situation occurs (i.e. that a member of a revolutionary group wins the lottery), that owners of companies should be allowed into revolutionary groups.. it just doesn't scan to me..

I am going to respond to you on this point, but I want to say that I deliberately chose a stupid example to demonstrate the complete futility of using class as a system for the classification of individuals, as opposed to a tool for understanding and changing society. Do you not agree with this? (I would think that you do, considering the article that we are writing together which says exactly that…)

Quote:

Secondly, I dunno, I'm not sure that someone who has a lot of money in the bank is the same as someone who takes an active part in owning and running a business..

I know we have had this discussion in real life before. I also think it is pretty hilarious when we on libcom try to say that being a capitalist is more about being a fat bloke in a top hat who owns a factory, and then you basically say that a capitalist is a fat bloke in a top hat who owns a factory!

Quote:
say for instance, in Solfed, we try and do outreach to workers who have a grievance at their workplace, try to help them organise collectively etc.. if you come into contact with someone, you put them in touch with the local.. so this guy runs a company and has to cut his staff's pay; he's not gonna pass on some contacts of militant staff to Solfed or send them to an organiser training session, is he? He is very much on one side on the class divide in a way much more clear cut than, say, a prison guard, immigration official or union full-timer) who I also wouldn't have in my organisation (shoot me, I'm picky.. wink )

again, it seems pretty redundant to say that hardly any "capitalists" these days or individuals who own one individual company. The biggest capitalists are pension funds, investment funds, hedge funds, etc. So talking about your top hat factory owner example is pretty pointless. However, even if we do talk about this silly example, he may recognise that his economic interests lie with his firm being profitable (and, in capitalist society also for his workers being in continued employment and being able to pay their rent/mortgages) and so not talk to them about Solfed, but he could still donate money or whatever to fund organiser drives elsewhere, pay for propaganda or whatever. Like Engels for example. I'm sure Engels didn't invite Marx down to fire up his own staff to strike and revolt, but he still funded Marx's work, which has been one of the most important individual contributions to the working class movement ever.

Quote:

Now to me, that's qualitatively different from someone who can just live off the interest in their bank account because they're not gonna be compromised in any actual class struggle (short of a full scale attack on capitalism itself).. someone living off their interest isn't going to actively take part in putting down a strike in a company that their bank invests in (coz in the 'worst case scenario' the bank would just invest elsewhere).. They're no more compromised than you (or your future retired self) is by your fancy-schmancy 'gold-plated' public sector pension being invested into this or that company.. tongue

well, they will be "compromised" because their capital will be used as a weapon against workers - disinvestment from areas or companies with a militant working class, for example. And in their case it will be a lot more money than someone on a workers' pension (and of course workers' pensions are paid for by workers themselves over the course of their working lives, just some of their payment is deferred until later).

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Well, I think Ed covered the lottery thing well. Living off a large sum of cash (inherited or won or a lucky retirement) isn't the same a investing that money as capital.

is the cash kept under the mattress? If it's in a bank, it is invested as capital to make more money from the exploitation of workers. Where do you think interest comes from?

Quote:

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that individuals who may not be 'business owners' in the classical sense, but who manage other workers in the interest of capital, fulfill a qualitatively difference role in capitalism than employees who don't.

what is the qualitatively different role then? We all work for capital everyday. Managers aren't even strictly necessary under capitalism, whereas workers are. (For example, you could theoretically have self managed, democratic capitalism for a while at least)

Quote:
I do think this has implications for revolutionary organizations

do you mean you "don't" think it has implications?

Quote:
, but really I just think the statement that "sweat shop managers are members of the working class" draws a very simplistic notion of the role of hierarchy and management in the structure of capitalism and the existence of class domination, exploitation, and control.

how does it draw a "simplistic notion" of the role of hierarchy etc?

Your class definitions were as follows:

Quote:

If you sell your labor power, you're a worker. If you own the means of production (or manage workers in the interests of capital, i.e. you have the power to hire/fire or discipline workers) you're on the other side.

if I wanted to, I could pick apart the second half of this sentence and tie it completely in knots. For example, loads of permanent or long-standing workers at one point or another end up being on interview panels, and with supervisory capacity over new members of staff or agency workers. Does this mean that none of them are workers anymore? What about workers co-op's where workers vote on hiring and firing decisions? Are they all capitalists? And of course workers don't have to be employed. What about workers-in training, such as children? They can be disciplined by teachers or parents, have their income (EMA or pocket money) taken away by teachers or parents. Teachers and parents also condition (or manage) children to be good workers for capital. So are all teachers and parents capitalists? If working parents hire a nanny, does that make them capitalists? What about a disabled person who hires home help? Are they a capitalist? Or people who hire builders to fix their roof?

I could go on and on and on. But I really don't want to. The substantive part of my point (which you completely ignore!) is that for revolutionaries, class is not a system for the clarification of individuals! if you try to use it as such you just tie yourself in knots and getting completely pointless arguments like this (but what about premiership footballers? Are they working class? But what about Hollywood actors? What about my balls…)

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Rob Ray
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Jan 19 2011 23:54
Quote:
Does this mean that none of them are workers anymore?

He said they were on the other side there, not that they weren't workers. Clearly class is not a system of classification for the individual but what is important is how certain aspects of peoples' jobs clearly do place them in positions which conflict with the needs and expectations of their fellow workers.

When you have any kind of disciplinary role, even delegated, it is obviously going to conflict with the need for solidarity with your workmates. If you're told to make sure someone's in on time, that they work to a certain level of productivity etc etc this is directly conflictual with the desires of the rest of the workforce, so the two options left are a) to ignore your role and risk being disciplined for that, or b) enforce it and take the place of a managerial function - and worse, do so in exchange for fuck-all extra money. This isn't an issue of class position but it IS an issue of collaboration.

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Tojiah
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Jan 20 2011 01:03

Perhaps for lower-management, most of the class struggle happens in the mind?

gypsy
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Jan 20 2011 07:29
Ed wrote:
Quote:
He is very much on one side on the class divide in a way much more clear cut than, say, a prison guard, immigration official or union full-timer) who I also wouldn't have in my organisation (shoot me, I'm picky.. wink )

you put union full-timers in the same class as prison guards and immigration officials?

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 20 2011 17:55
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If it's in a bank, it is invested as capital to make more money from the exploitation of workers. Where do you think interest comes from?

Well that would make us all capitalists then, wouldn't it? We all put money into the bank as it's a basic requirement of modern society. Sure, it then gets invested in markets, but it's not the same investing one's lottery winnings into a controlling stake in a particular company or even attempting to "play the market" by making large investments in stock.

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what is the qualitatively different role then? We all work for capital everyday.

Well, I guess the qualitatively different role is not that we all work for capital, but whether one manages other workers in the interests of capital.

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I do think this has implications for revolutionary organizations
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do you mean you "don't" think it has implications?

Well if my line manager or my headteacher or the chair of my board of governors showed up at an SF meeting looking for membership, I'd fucking well speak out against it.

Where do you draw the line, Steven? Let's use the Starbucks example again. Should store managers be allowed to join a revolutionary organization that has a presence in Sbux? How about regional managers? Are we only not organizing the CEO?

Quote:
Quote:
, but really I just think the statement that "sweat shop managers are members of the working class" draws a very simplistic notion of the role of hierarchy and management in the structure of capitalism and the existence of class domination, exploitation, and control.

how does it draw a "simplistic notion" of the role of hierarchy etc?

Well, I don't think it effectively differentiates between interests particular groups of employees may have in relation to others and to capital.

Quote:
Your class definitions were as follows:
Quote:

If you sell your labor power, you're a worker. If you own the means of production (or manage workers in the interests of capital, i.e. you have the power to hire/fire or discipline workers) you're on the other side.

Well, as RR already pointed out, I didn't say if one manages workers in the interests they become a capitalist, but as far as I'm concerned they've stepped across the class divide.

Regarding the rest of your post, I'm not claiming that this is a flawless system but as revolutionaries (who don't want to just understand the world, but change it) we do need to effectively organize against capitalism. That entails bringing in certain individuals and understanding the role of hierarchy and management in how capital functions. That will inevitably bring us into the realm of individuals.

I will also point out, briefly, that the problems with co-ops is that they equate to self-managed capitalism and the co-op workers do form a collective capital. In regards to nannies, do the parents extract a surplus value from the nannies? Well, then they're not capitalist. In all likelihood they are employed (and someone else is making surplus value off them) or that they are self-employed/petit-bourgeois.

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Ed
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Jan 20 2011 21:00
gypsytimetraveller wrote:
Ed wrote:
He is very much on one side on the class divide in a way much more clear cut than, say, a prison guard, immigration official or union full-timer) who I also wouldn't have in my organisation (shoot me, I'm picky.. )

you put union full-timers in the same class as prison guards and immigration officials?

It's recently come up on the Solfed email list so it was in my mind when I was replying.. I'll say what another member said there: basically, no, I wouldn't put union officials in the same class (I assume you meant 'group' not class as in class struggle) as screws or immigration officers as the reason for opposing them is very different. However, I would still object to them being in my organisation. So I suppose I'd only lump them together in the sense that they're all professions who I'd have a principled opposition to joining Solfed.. not that they're all basically the same.

Steven. wrote:
I am going to respond to you on this point, but I want to say that I deliberately chose a stupid example to demonstrate the complete futility of using class as a system for the classification of individuals, as opposed to a tool for understanding and changing society. Do you not agree with this? (I would think that you do, considering the article that we are writing together which says exactly that…)

Wow man, I feel like I've been sent for.. this is basically an MC battle now.. Anyway, I'd basically say that I agree with what you wrote above but I take a more nuanced approach to it than you..

Steven. wrote:
it seems pretty redundant to say that hardly any "capitalists" these days or individuals who own one individual company. The biggest capitalists are pension funds, investment funds, hedge funds, etc. So talking about your top hat factory owner example is pretty pointless.

Meh, I don't think I was talking about a top-hatted factory owner.. I was more thinking of the Independent Health Food Shop I worked in which was actually ultimately owned by one guy (it's a chain as well, but 'independently owned').. I'd probably agree with you that most people don't work for companies owned by one fat bloke. But I still don't think the amount of people who work in small workplaces/companies that are run/owned by one or a small group of people is so few that mentioning it is ultimately "pointless"..

Steven. wrote:
However, even if we do talk about this silly example, he may recognise that his economic interests lie with his firm being profitable (and, in capitalist society also for his workers being in continued employment and being able to pay their rent/mortgages) and so not talk to them about Solfed, but he could still donate money or whatever to fund organiser drives elsewhere, pay for propaganda or whatever. Like Engels for example. I'm sure Engels didn't invite Marx down to fire up his own staff to strike and revolt, but he still funded Marx's work, which has been one of the most important individual contributions to the working class movement ever.

Yeah, that's cool like, but Engels still can't join Solfed.. tongue Still though, I'm not against revolutionary groups taking money from sympathetic rich people or letting some dude who owns a pharmacy give out leaflets.. but I just don't think they should be allowed to be a member of a revolutionary organisation. Say at my old work I mentioned above, if the owner of company was in Solfed and attacked our wages/conditions, I'd be a bit pissed off come the next local meeting.. now I don't see why a revolutionary group should ignore that behaviour just because no one at that workplace was a member. We don't ignore people's professional lives when they're screws or immigration officers, why does it become different coz they're bosses? Just coz they might pay for some pamphlets?

Steven. wrote:
well, they will be "compromised" because their capital will be used as a weapon against workers - disinvestment from areas or companies with a militant working class, for example. And in their case it will be a lot more money than someone on a workers' pension (and of course workers' pensions are paid for by workers themselves over the course of their working lives, just some of their payment is deferred until later).

Yeah, well I thought I'd already mentioned that I realise that all workers' banked money will 'compromise' them but only in the most tenuous way.. yeah, cool, but it's nowhere near as 'compromising' as making the decision to cut the pay and conditions of your staff.

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Jan 20 2011 21:02

admin -third off topic post deleted. This is a warning. More off topic posts will result in a ban