Monday, 5 December 2016

Fighting the Bosses: 40 Years of In These Times

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to say Happy Birthday to one of the best sources of insight and journalism on the state of organised labour (and politics more broadly) in the US. In These Times has reached the grand old age of 40, and is already proving to be a key source of information and analysis on the implications of Trump for unions and the working class:

There are a number of articles in its latest print magazine which bring together some analysis of the past 40 years' of analysis. I thought I'd provide the opening paragraph of my favourite article, Fighting the Bosses: 40 Years of In These Times, to help encourage you to read further articles and to read ITT on a regular basis if you don't already.

Fighting the Bosses: 40 Years of In These Times

Without a strong labor movement, there is little hope for socialism—let alone a more humane capitalism. By

Neither a “red diaper” nor a “blue-collar” baby, I came circuitously to be one of In These Times’ original staff writers, covering labor. I grew up on a farm in western Illinois, where my youthful models of alternatives to capitalism owed less to Marx—whom I didn’t seriously study until graduate school—and more to the collective work of putting up hay with neighboring farmers and the cooperative traditions of the farm supply company my father managed.

My first, minor experience of working-class struggle came in high school, on the grueling job of pulling tassels off seed corn. I led a walkout of fellow workers who shared my resistance to slogging through a muddy field rather than waiting for the ground to dry. We won nothing, but we felt good.
As an early ’60s student “radical” I did win some victories in the modest realm of campus politics—and also a week-long expulsion for publishing an “alternative” newspaper. That led to my first full-time job after college, working for Newsweek in Los Angeles. I had the good fortune to cover the beginnings of the United Farm Workers’ organizing drive under Cesar Chavez, and learned important lessons about solidarity, persistence and the flaws of even labor movement saints.

A few years later, I entered graduate school in anthropology at the University of Chicago. Inspired by Marx to see work as central to the creation of human culture, I did fieldwork for my dissertation not in the usual exotic locales but in eastern Ohio, among the young workers engaged in high-profile conflicts with General Motors at a new factory in Lordstown. Contrary to popular belief, workers there were even more interested in control over their work than in increasing their pay.

Please make ITT a favourite of yours and please consider a financial donation to keep their vital, independent journalism alive. Please also consider a subscription to the print magazine.

In Solidarity


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