Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Master and Servant Revisited

“One hand washes the other”
Labor and Capital, Master and Servant

Once upon a time, the labor movement was the most radical movement in the world. Unions promised not only to improve the living and working conditions of everyone in the union, but they also promised to be vehicles of larger social and economic transformation. While contesting visions and methods have always struggled against each other within the labor movement, it is fair to say that today the labor movement is in a universal crisis. The crisis is particularly apparent in the United States, where unions are ever less capable of delivering on either their immediate or long-term promises. From the perspective of greater social transformation, the US labor movement today is a historic embarrassment: If unions were once synonymous with change, struggle and the greater good, today they are more associated with conservatism, survival and the status quo. How has this happened? By what logic and dynamic has this metamorphosis taken place? If we are to engage seriously in the many debates today about the revival and renewal of the labor movement in these times of unprecedented crisis, we must have answers to these questions. To find them, I propose that we must return to the root and origin of the labor movement: the relationship between capital and labor, and between master and servant.

In 1807, Georg Hegel published what remains today perhaps the most intriguing and insightful (if controversial) essay on the relationship between master and servant. While an incredible number of volumes have been written analyzing this single essay alone, some of the principal arguments can be briefly summarized as follows: The servant is ultimately the real master, not only because the master depends on the servant, but because while masters only need to be conscious of themselves, servants must have a more sophisticated double consciousness, both of themselves and of their master. However, the servant does not automatically become the master or equal to the master. Servants must first realize themselves, Hegel explains, through labor, and also through a confrontation with the master, which alone can force the master to recognize the servant as an equal. Before servants have realized themselves completely and have not received real recognition, they tend to recapitulate the master’s ideas and commands, believing them to be their own.

Hegel’s understanding of the relationship between the master and servant can go a long way in interpreting, if not completely explaining, the relationship between labor and capital that has culminated in our current historical moment: If capital is master and labor is servant, labor is ultimately the real master because capital depends on labor for the creation of value and hence profit. While capitalists can afford to entertain mystical ideologies that justify their rule, the working classes must not only understand bourgeois consciousness, but also have a concrete understanding of the world from their own perspective.1 However, has history has clearly demonstrated, labor does not overthrow capital automatically, despite its innate ability to do so. The working class must first realize itself through the labor process and through struggle against capital. Absent this critical struggle, labor is not recognized as equal but remains subordinate. And moreover, absent this struggle, labor recapitulates capital, not only in economic and organizational terms but also on the terrain of consciousness.

My intention here is not to engage in a complex debate about the influence of Hegel on Karl Marx.2 Nor is it to argue that the answers to our questions are to be found through the close re-reading of philosophical essays. Hegel, after all, was not a labor organizer. If the allegory between the master-servant dialectic and the labor-capital dialectic is not scholastically precise, it remains nonetheless practically useful for understanding how the labor movement has largely failed in its historic mission.

Recapitulating the Master

The organizational nexus through which labor recapitulates capital is the trade union. This recapitulation, or internalization of capital’s ideas and commands on the part of working class organizations, finds its most acute expression in what is known as ‘business unionism’. Even the name betrays the dynamic at work! Both in the realm of economics and psychology, business unionism is a crystal-clear example of how labor has taken on the characteristics of capital, just as servants take on the characteristics of their masters.

Economics. Business unionism is not an epithet coined by radicals but a well-established and powerful economic force. Perhaps no one said it more clearly than John L.Lewis, founding father of the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO):

“Trade unionism is a phenomenon of capitalism quite similar to the corporation. One is essentially a pooling of labor for the purpose of common action in production and sales. The other is a pooling of capital for exactly the same purpose. The economic aims of both are identical -- gain.” (Moody p56-7)

Business unionism not only implies a certain economic prerogative which is analogous if not identical to a corporation, but a political imperative as well. In the 1950s, Teamster president Dave Beck famously admitted that “[u]nions are big business. Why should truck drivers and bottle washers be allowed to make big decisions affecting union policy? Would any corporation allow it?” (Moody p57) Just as business unionism reflects the economic logic of the profit system, it also re-enacts the anti-democratic logic of the corporate political system. In 1940, Max Horkheimer recognized that “The leading man and his clique become as independent in the working-class organization as the board of directors in an industrial monopoly is from the stockholders.” (Horkheimer 1940) Business union leaders also take on the role of the foreman in the factory. These tendencies are generally apparent through the enforcement of no-strike pledges, etc, but are always particularly apparent in times of war. Steelworker president Philip Murray announced after Pearl Harbor that “[l]abor is determined to place itself in the forefront in the battle of achieving maximum production.” (Zieger p143)

In the last thirty years, unions have continued to mirror the development of capitalism as it has undergone perhaps the greatest transformation since the industrial revolution. Just as corporations have accelerated the trend towards monopoly, labor has followed, with a pattern of mergers that Kim Moody has called the transition from industrial unionism to general unionism. (Moody p196) Just as corporate mergers have brought together previously unrelated industries under the same corporate brand, so unions have merged workers across equally unrelated industries under the same union banner. The reason in both cases has been the same -- money. As it has become easier for corporations to generate profit by buying each other than by investing in the production of new value, so it has become easier for business unions to increase their coffers by merging with other unions than by organizing new workers. As AFL-CIO regional director Kevin Kistler explained to the master newspaper the Wall Street Journal “It’s a hell of a lot quicker and cheaper to add members through a merger than it is to organize new members.” (Moody p198)

A great deal has been written about the economic, political and cultural consequences of business unionism, both throughout history and today. But there has been no effort to my knowledge to take business unionism at face value and apply a frank economic analysis to unions as this analysis is commonly applied to capitalist firms. As business unions grow to resemble their corporate counterparts more and more, this seems increasingly possible. Unions today, in the words of their own leaders, are big business, and their business is the accumulation of capital. Just as there is a capitalist regime of accumulation, there is a unionist regime of accumulation. If their motives are distinct, and if profits and dues are utterly different animals, their methods of accumulation are strikingly similar.

The rising organic composition of capital prophesied by Marx which results in a declining rate of profit3 has a direct corollary in unions today. Just like corporations, unions are increasingly investing in fixed capital, that is, in resources that do not directly generate new value. The increasing primacy of service providing, carried out by business agents, health fund and pension fund managers, along with the increasing importance of research departments and computer database managers in unions today, contribute nothing directly to the accumulation of new capital (through the form of members’ dues) in the union coffers. Organizing, whose corollary in the business world would be investment in new production, is a very small percentage of the budget of business unions. All of this is difficult to quantify, however, because unions also share with corporations a vested interest in burying the numbers, if for different reasons. (For example, see Voss and Sherman 2000) The tendency towards financialization is evident in the union world as well. Union credit cards and finance plans are on the rise. The investment of union funds in the stock market is particularly consequential. In the stock market, the accumulation of capital by both corporations and unions follows the exact same pattern and logic, effectively binding the interests of union members with the interests of capitalist accumulation. If a falling rate of density as a result of increased composition of fixed union capital is as difficult to prove today as a falling rate of profit, it is enough for the purposes of this essay to point out that the resemblance is there, and that the consequences for the working class are highly inauspicious.

Psychology. Business unionism is not only about economics, it is also a world-view, a weltanschauung that both arises from the economics of unions as institutions, but also drives these institutions and manages their economic decisions. Here in particular the relevance of Hegel’s master-servant dialectic is relevant. Labor recapitulates capital and unionists adopt the ideology of businessmen as their own. This goes beyond the famous trite declaration of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) president George Meany at the end of his career that he “never walked a picket line in his life.” Meany himself was more specific about the world-view that guided his practice as a labor leader. “We are dedicated to freedom,” he wrote in 1955, “through a system of private enterprise. We believe in the American profit system.” (Moody p56) David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) went even further in announcing the complete subservience of labor to capital when he wrote that “[t]rade unionism needs capitalism like a fish needs water.” (Murolo and Chitty p241) Indeed, renouncing the existential struggle between labor and capital on both economic and epistemic terms seems to be a prerequisite for the presidents of the largest US unions.4 United Auto Workers (UAW) president Walter Reuther, using the royal we, insisted once and for all that “[w]e make collective bargaining agreements, not revolutions.”(Murulo and Chitty p240)

Labor leaders have not only adopted the ideology of capitalists, but they have also inherited the short-sightedness which is characteristic of the business world. Just as financiers from the 1920s to today do not see much beyond the horizon of quarterly profits, so a startling number of labor leaders throughout US history have had no long-term vision of their work or their movement. “We have no ultimate ends,” said Adolph Strasser, an early AFL leader, who continued, “[w]e are going on from day to day. We are fighting for immediate objects -- objects that can be realized in a few years.” (Moody p56) Decades later, William Olwell, director of collective bargaining for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) said in 1986 that “[w]e don’t have a national picture as to what we want. We can’t say we want 12% across the board for each year of the contract, in all areas of the country. It doesn’t work that way. We have to look at each local situation.” (Moody p204) This tendency has accelerated into our times. The most die-hard supporter of unions today will be hard pressed to point to a long term strategy and vision for the labor movement in the post-9/11 context of late US imperialism.

The psychology of the master pervades not only the union leadership, but the union membership as well. While the working class has always identified to some extent with capitalists (just as all servants identify to some extent with their masters), the trend towards business unionism has deepened this dynamic. The investment of union money in the stock market in particular forces workers to directly identify their material well-being with the ruling class and capitalist system as a whole.

However, many union members see through this, and in general have recognized the collaboration of their unions with corporate management. Dave, an African American worker at the General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio saw the relationship clearly when he said that the union and management “work hand in hand. One hand washes the other.” (Aronowitz p45) Labor absolves Capital of its exploitative excesses and Capital also absolves Labor -- due to capital, even a bad union is better than no union. But while there is an innate consciousness on the part of workers as to their real relationship to the boss and to capitalism, this consciousness is muted and blunted by the union bureaucracies which tend to repress or redirect most if not all the more subversive inclinations of its members.

The 1950s serve as an excellent case study of business unionism at its height. There were more strikes in the 1950s than any other decade in US history (Metzgar p207), but the profoundly conservative status quo was also more firmly entrenched than ever before. Bureaucrats had firmly seized control of almost all the major unions, and in spite of much resistance from the rank and file, (Moody p31) unions had never been more accepted and respected in US society at large. Because labor recapitulated capital, it was allowed to receive marvelous concessions in return.5 At the price of accepting the terms of the master, certain limited sectors of the organized working class achieved remarkable social mobility, illustrating Max Horkheimer’s maxim that “[i]ntegration is the price which individuals and groups have to pay in order to flourish under capitalism.” (Horkheimer [1940] 1983, italics in original) However, these victories were dubious on two counts. Firstly, they were not shared. If members of the Steelworkers union were catapulted into the middle class, larger sections of the working class were left behind. This disparity would grow over time, to the extent that Stanley Aronowitz could write in the 1970s that

“[t]he last thirty-five years of industrial unionism have failed to effect any substantive change in the distribution of income. Trade unionism under conditions of partial unionization of the labor force can do no more than redistribute income within the working class.” (Aronowitz p254)

Secondly, the labor-capital/servant-master relationship itself was never challenged. It’s still at the top of every union contract, titled “Management Rights”. Union members were afforded greater freedom, but remained wage workers whose labor power continued to be expropriated by capitalists.

Hegel foresaw that the servant could achieve a measure of independence while remaining a servant, writing about the master that “the aspect of its independence he leaves to the bondsman, who labours upon it.” Jack Metzgar’s account of the real victories of business unionism in the 1950s should be put into context, perhaps, of the famous quotation of Frederick Douglass, that “slaves are generally expected to sing as well as to work.”

The current stage of economic development in the United States today is often referred to as ‘late capitalism’. The qualifier ‘late’ indicates not necessarily that capitalism is about to end, but that it has reached a stage where it is both caught in the culmination of all of its fundamental contradictions, and also constitutionally incapable of resolving these contradictions in the old ways. Corresponding to this era, we might define the current stage of the labor movement as ‘late unionism’; in which unions are caught in their own web of crises from which they seem by all accounts incapable of extricating themselves. The servant’s recapitulation of the master has been carried to its utmost point, from where it can only continue to labor upon what independence it has left, but go no further. The servant must either accept mastery whatever the cost, or set about overcoming both itself and its master. To achieve this, however, several things are necessary. Following Hegel, the servant must be recognized by the master, and this can only be achieved if the servant experiences both “service and fear”, and finally, the servant must also pass through a “trial by death.”

Overcoming both Master and Self, Capital and Labor

The struggle to overcome the master is also a struggle to overcome the self. Both must happen at once and each is the precondition for the other. For centuries, the primacy and priority of the economic struggle (and the whole detailed history of discourse insisting on this point) has distracted many from understanding the real nature of this struggle. Because fundamentally the economic struggle is a struggle for the liberation of human consciousness. Our minds must be free for us to struggle. “Men live by fantasies as much as by reality,” as Melvyn Dubofsky wrote (Dubofsky p4), and animal spirits govern the shop floor as much as the stock market. Until these fantasies are overcome, the economic struggle against capital is a doomed struggle: “Only the consciousness of the proletariat,” wrote Georg Lukacs, “can point to the way that leads out of the impasse of capitalism.” (Lukacs p76, italics in original).6 The struggle of the servant to both overcome its illusions, and to overcome its master, is an ancient struggle. In fact it is older even than the struggle between capital and labor. “[T]he law of master and servant,” wrote Karen Orren, “was at the foundation of capitalist development and industrialism, and was not their result.” (Orren p70) Overcoming this ancient law is no small task, but it remains as urgent as it is daunting.

Recognition. When the servant overcomes itself and its master, the master will finally recognize the servant as a self-consciousness unto itself. For real recognition to be achieved, the moment must come when both master and servant see each others as equals. But Hegel foresaw the possibility of a false or partial recognition. “[A] form of recognition has arisen that is one-sided and unequal,” Hegel wrote. The corollary today is union recognition; the recognition that a capitalist firm gives to a labor union, in the form of a contract. This form of recognition is not only false but pernicious; it serves to actively preempt the struggle for real recognition. As part of a recognized union, workers and labor leaders mistake their own elevated status for emancipation from the master-servant relationship.7

In her book Belated Feudalism, Karen Orren undertakes an extensive review of the roots of US labor law in the feudal English common law, discerning “an unbroken line stretching from labor regulation in Tudor England... to labor regulation in Gilded Age America.” (Orren p14)8 She demonstrates persuasively that the law of master and servant defined centuries of law in the United States. But she takes a leap of faith when she argues that the common law was overcome in 1937 with New Deal labor legislation. While unions in this era did obtain a formal recognition from employers and the right to collectively bargain with them for the first time, this was, in Hegel’s terms, a one-sided and unequal recognition. First and foremost, this recognition obligated unions to enforce uninterrupted production. Collective bargaining and contracts disguised a one-sided and unequal class war. “The product of the charade that is characteristic of much of collective bargaining today,” writes Stanley Aronowitz, “is a mammoth document which reads more like a corporate contract or a mortgage agreement than anything else. In fact, it is a bill of sale.” (Aronowitz p220) As much as collective bargaining and contracts make an immense difference to workers, they do not challenge the law of servitude, and only grant workers a greater degree of independence. Servants obtain a recognition which does not liberate them from servitude.

Service and fear. In order for the servant to become truly conscious of itself and thus overcome its mentality of servitude, Hegel insisted that both service and fear are necessary. Furthermore, “both must exist in a universal manner.” Servitude and fear of the master must be so pervasive that the servant understands the full depravity of its position in relation to the master. If service and fear are only partial, Hegel argues that the servant may not come to understand the necessity of its own complete emancipation. If the consciousness of the servant is not “tottered and shaken” by fear and coercion, then the servant’s emancipation may be similarly limited, both in body and in mind. For the unshaken servant, “having a ‘mind of its own’ is simply stubbornness, a type of freedom which does not get beyond the attitude of bondage.” (italics added)

This is exactly what business unionism delivers to its members. While workers are granted a substantial measure of freedom, this freedom does not go beyond the attitude of bondage. Collective bargaining, the contract, the grievance procedure, and even the picket line or strike, by delivering the laborer from absolute service and fear of capital, does not challenge the law of the master but “is rather a piece of cleverness which has mastery within a certain range, but not over the universal power nor over the entire objective reality.” (Hegel) By protecting workers from the ruthlessness of capital, in Hegel’s terms, unions may actually serve to preserve the master-servant relationship. “If the trade union remains an elementary organ of struggle,” writes Aronowitz,

“it has also evolved into a force for integrating the workers into the corporate capitalist system... Even the most enlightened trade union leader cannot fail to play his part as an element in the mechanisms of domination over workers’ rights to spontaneously struggle... The role of collective bargaining today is to provide a rigid institutional framework for the conduct of class struggle. This struggle at the point of production has become regulated in the same way as have electric and telephone rates, prices of basic commodities, and foreign trade.” (Aronowitz p217-218)

This will come to many as a paradoxical and somewhat bewildering argument -- that the principal organization for the defense of the working class functions as a mechanism to prevent the working class from overcoming both capital and itself. But it must be reckoned with. To reject unions certainly seems suicidal for the working class, but if unions are preventing workers from overcoming capital, what then?

Trial by death. The final test which the servant must pass to overcome itself and its master is the trial by death. If the servant does not risk its own life against the domination of the master and enter into a mortal contest with it, the master will never recognize the servant as an equal and the servant will never recognize and overcome itself. This trial has its corollary in the labor-capital relationship in the class war. However, as with false recognition, Hegel foresaw that this trial by death can by preempted by a half-hearted struggle wherein the master-servant law remains ultimately unchallenged. In this false trial,

“there vanishes from the play of change the essential moment, viz. that of breaking up into extremes with opposite characteristics; and the middle term collapses into a lifeless unity which is broken up into lifeless extremes, merely existent and not opposed.” (Hegel)

This is the state in which the labor capital relationship as mediated by unions finds itself today. Unions negotiate a struggle that substitutes for a trial by death. Instead of a class war in which labor faces off against capital in a fight to the finish, unions facilitate a muted contest between employers and employees in which the real nature of the master-servant relationship is often largely obscured. The culture and procedures of the union itself can have many adverse consequences for the class consciousness of workers, who in many unions are systematically mis-educated about their ultimate relationship to the boss. Insofar as unions serve to prevent the trial by death of class war, they will preserve the master-servant law. Unwittingly, unions thus undermine themselves. For unlike labor leaders, capitalists are not fooled, and recognize in unions a real existential threat.

Seen in this light, the world-historic mission of servants and the working class to overcome themselves, their masters and the capitalist system, is in serious ways impeded by unions. They preempt the service and fear, the trial by death, and the ultimate real recognition which would signify the end of bondage once and for all. Until labor leaders understand the true nature of the master-servant relationship from which the labor movement arises, and until the union apparatus reflects this understanding, it is unlikely that unions or union members will be very successful or effective in struggling against an adversary that understands this relationship much more clearly.

Survival or Liberation?

The final promise of Hegel’s essay on the master and bondsman is that “bondage will, when completed, pass into the opposite of what it immediately is: being a consciousness repressed within itself, it will enter into itself, and change round into real and true independence.” (Hegel) It is in this framework that we should situate the debate on the revitalization of the labor movement. However, most of the discourse on this important subject does not acknowledge the master-servant relationship at the root of the problem. This leads to discussions that mistake the struggle for liberation with a struggle for survival.

Business unionism and its ideology is so pervasive today that we must be careful not to confuse the revival of the labor movement with the revival of business unions. Lukacs warned that “the highest degree of unconsciousness, the crassest form of ‘false consciousness’ always manifests itself when the conscious mastery of economic phenomena appears to be at its greatest.” (Lukacs p64) In the United States and throughout the so-called advanced capitalist world, we must ask ourselves honestly if we can even imagine what a revitalization of the labor movement would look like. Can we conceive of it? If a revived labor movement arose, would we recognize it?

We are forced to ask this question because declarations of victory and revitalization abound even in conditions where the master-servant relationship is firmly entrenched. Jack Metzgar for instance writes that “[i]f what we lived through in the 1950s was not liberation, then liberation never happens in real human lives.” (Metzgar p39) While his story is important and touching, we must wonder if the social mobility of steel workers is really comparable with a whole world history of successful revolutionary movements, from decolonization to communism. (His claim is further complicated by the fact that these steel workers were making Polaris missiles (Metzgar p74), and that the US in this period “consumed about one-third of all goods and services in the world.” (Metzgar p147))

Another example of dubious revitalization is illustrated in another story about members of the Steelworkers union, this time decades later, in Ravenswood, Virginia. “Never in the history of the labor movement has anyone achieved a victory of the magnitude that you have won,” union leader George Becker told a crowd at a victory rally. (Juravich and Bronfenbrenner, p196) Becker’s statement was more than slightly over the top. While workers at Ravenswood ultimately won an incredible victory and got their jobs back after being illegally locked out, the fugitive criminal financier who was the target of their campaign went free, scabs kept their jobs in the factory, hazardous working conditions were not improved, environmental issues were never resolved, and workers ultimately received only a symbolic pittance of the back pay which was owed to them. Moreover, the social movement which they had built dissipated immediately after their victory. (Juravich and Bronfenbrenner 1999)

While Metzgar and Juravich and Bronfenbrenner provide isolated historical examples of revivals in particular unions, in her book Forces of Labor, Beverly Silver provides a broader picture of the labor movement from 1870 to the 21st century. She describes how labor unrest has followed capitalist production around the globe, particularly in the auto industry. Wherever capital has gone, labor militancy has followed. Absent from her book is a discussion of the price paid for this labor unrest. In the United States, Germany, Brazil, South Korea and elsewhere, workers were exploited and the environment was despoiled for years before a labor movement arose which was capable of making headlines. When these unions did come to power, they did not challenge capitalism on a systemic level. And when industry moved elsewhere, unions were powerless to stop them. For all these reasons we must wonder if her book couldn’t just as easily be titled Forces of Capital. Silver’s book highlights the danger of fetishizing “labor unrest” – the struggle against capital and against the law of the master is obscured, and once again survival is mistaken for revival.

These examples demonstrate that the debate about revitalization of the labor movement has a long way to go. In this discourse it is especially apparent that unions must be emancipated from their illusions about themselves to truly move forward and play a role in the revival of a labor movement worthy of the name. The labor movement needs to free its collective mind. “It is an ideological crisis which must be solved,” wrote Lukacs, “before a practical solution to the world’s economic crisis can be found.” (Lukacs, p79)

A strategy to revive a labor movement must understand the immense and unprecedented crisis upon whose edge the world today hangs. Immanuel Wallerstein wrote in 2009 that “[t]he crucial battle... in the middle run (next 15-25 years)... is a battle not about capitalism, but about what will replace it as an historical social system.” (Wallerstein 2009) In these end times, the master-servant relationship remains as entrenched as ever. It may easily outlive capitalism.9 Meanwhile, as corporations have become transnational, unions are reaching in that direction as well -- for better or worse. Will labor continue to recapitulate capital? “Global unions are the future,” we are told. (For example see Bronfenbrenner 2007) Will they outsource strikes, and exploit cheap labor movements abroad? Or will labor, locally and globally, realize itself, overcome itself, and transform itself, from a movement of servitude to a movement of independence?

1 “[W]orking-class thought operates in a universe where it recognizes its general inferiority in knowledge without ever relinquishing the validity of its own point of view.” (Metzgar p134)
2 In fact, Marx never once mentioned Hegel’s Master-Servant essay in all of his writings. (Arthur 1983)
3 For readers unfamiliar with Marx’s economic theory, a good summary of the theory of the falling rate of profit by Ernest Mandel can be found here:
4 Max Horkheimer reserved some harsh words in his description of the job qualifications for such capitalist labor leaders: “Robust health, the good fortune of being acceptable to the average member and not unacceptable to the ruling power, a dependable aversion to adventure, the gift of being able to deal with the opposition, a preparedness to proclaim the greatest incoherence as a virtue to the crowd and to oneself, nihilism and self-contempt -- these are the necessary qualities.” Horkheimer 1940
5 “By 1980 the individual steelworker’s average wage was nearly 40 percent higher than the median income of all U.S. households.” (Metzgar p182) It is essential here to understand here that steel workers were near and at the very bottom of the social and economic hierarchy of the United States prior to the 1930s.
6 “As long as this consciousness is lacking,” Lukacs continues, “the crisis remains permanent, it goes back to its starting-point, repeats the cycle until after infinite sufferings and terrible detours the school of history completes the education of the proletariat and conveys upon it the leadership of mankind.” (Lukacs, p76)
7 “Status-consciousness -- a real historical factor -- masks class consciousness; in fact it prevents it from emerging at all.” (Lukacs, p58)
8 “The American preoccupation with liberalism,” she writes, “has been caused not by the absence of feudalism but its persistence... (p3) [T]he labor system in place in the U.S. after the Civil war was in its essentials changed since the late Middle Ages... (p4) Despite enormous differences between the feudal landowner and the American entrepreneur... labor regulation has been entrusted to institutions associated politically with the employing classes; the original justices of the peace were employers... legal formalities and their ancient pedigree provided social cohesion as well as legal.” (p12-13)
9 “Capitalism’s ability to outlive the market economy was announced long ago in the fate of the working class organizations,” wrote Horkheimer in 1940: “The call to unite in trade unions... was carried out to the letter, but these organizations carried out not so much the unnatural tasks of the united proletariat, namely the resistance to class society in general, as that of submitting to the natural conditions of their own development into mass organizations. They integrated themselves into the transformations of the economy.” (Horkheimer)

An Injury to All, The Decline of American Unionism, by Kim Moody, Verso, New York 1988
From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend, A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States, by Priscilla Murolo and A. B. Chitty, illustrated by Joe Sacco, The New Press, New York 2001
The CIO 1935-1955, by Robert H. Zieger, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1995
History and Class Consciousness, Studies in Marxist Dialectics by Georg Lukacs, translated by Rodney Livingstone, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1968
Striking Steel, Solidarity Remembered, by Jack Metzgar, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2000
False Promises, The Shaping of American Working Class Consciousness, by Stanley Aronowitz, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1992
Belated Feudalism, Labor, the Law, and Liberal Development in the US, by Karen Orren, Cambridge University Press, 1991
Ravenswood, The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor, by Tom Juravich and Kate Bronfenbrenner, ILR Press, Ithaca and London, 1999
Global Unions, Challenging transnational capital through cross-border campaigns, edited by Kate Bronfenbrenner, ILR Press, 2007
Forces of Labor, Workers’ Movements and Globalization since 1870, by Beverly J. Silver, Cambridge University Press, 2003
Master and Slave, excerpt from G.W.F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, first published in 1807
Hegel’s Master-Slave Dialiectic and a Myth of Marxology, by Chris Arthur, New Left Review, November-December 1983
The Authoritarian State, by Max Horkheimer, [1940] Telos Press, Spring 1983
Breaking the Iron Law of Oligarchy: Union Revitalizaton in the American Labor Movement, by Kim Voss and Rachel Sherman, The American Journal of Sociology, September 2000
The Current Conjuncture: Short-run and Middle-run Projections, by Immanuel Wallerstein, Monthly Review Zine, December 15 2009

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