Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and Union Organization

By Jerry Lembcke | Go to book overview

Preface

This book attempts to advance the theoretical understanding of the U.S. labor movement. It builds on three rapidly developing theoretical areas--class formation, class capacities, and organizational studies-- seeking to unify the advancements in these areas under the general theory of uneven and combined development. The essential argument of the book is that capitalist development begets working-class development. It is argued that the capacity of the working class to transform the social relations of production basic to capitalism are enhanced with the maturation of capitalism and that one facet of that increased capacity can be observed in the organizational forms of labor unions. Specifically, it is argued that the more proletarianized fractions of the working class give rise to union organizational forms that enhance the capacity of the working class to transform capitalist social relations. This book explores the question of organizational efficacy as a single proposition of a much larger theoretical problem bearing on working-class historical agency.

Chapter 1 establishes the demarcation between recent neo-Marxist theory and the theoretical position taken by this book. This chapter argues that the neo-Marxist work of the 1970s failed to break, in fundamental ways, with the basic philosophical, methodological, and ideological tenants of liberal pluralism. The assumption of the labor process literature that flowed in the wake of Harry Braverman's ( 1974) work, for example, has been that as workers become proletarianized, their capacity to struggle in their own behalf is diminished. The theoretical implications of the labor process studies is that Marx incorrectly identified a dialectical relationship between labor and capital; his aphorism that capitalism creates its own gravediggers was wrong. Translated into strategy for labor and the socialist movement, the labor process tradition has resulted in a dismissal of the working class as an agent for social change (e.g., Aronowitz 1983; Gorz 1982; Katznelson and Zolberg 1986).

-vii-

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Capitalist Development and Class Capacities: Marxist Theory and Union Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Labor Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - From Organizational Democracy to Organizational Efficacy: Toward a Class Analysis of Union Organization 1
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - Historical Problems and Theoretical Advances in the Study of U.S. Working-Class Capacities 25
  • Introduction 62
  • Introduction 65
  • Conclusion 108
  • Note 109
  • 4 - Class Capacities and Labor Internationalism: The Case of the Cio-Ccl Unions 111
  • Introduction 111
  • 5 - There Was a Difference: Communist and Noncommunist Leadership in Cio Unions 133
  • Introduction 133
  • SUMMARY 153
  • 6 - Uneven Development, Class Formation, and Organization Theory: New Departures for Understanding Current Struggles 155
  • Introduction 155
  • SUMMARY 174
  • Notes 176
  • Appendix 177
  • References 185
  • Index 195
  • About the Author 205
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