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 Post subject: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:47 am 
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This question would ideally be answered by a Frenchman.

In England whenever we turn on the news and see that there is a massive strike going on in France, we usually ask only 2 questions, "will it affect us" (like many of them do, on purpose I might add), and "why".

Most of us dont really care why, its just something to know when someone says "I hear the french are on Strike again, and idea why, I didnt bother to find out. In the UK, we have strikes, but the French have huge, enormous strikes, and seemingly very often, can anyone tell me why strikes are so common in France.?

Before anyone starts pointing out all of the strikes in the UK over the years, and tries to defend the regularity of mass French strikes - please dont, I simply want to have an explanation, and not cause upset feelings to anyone.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:02 pm 
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Hi,
Let me try to answer that question : it depends !!!

This time, it's because the government is trying to reform the way the retirement system is funded (it's a growing deficit). To do that, the government (ie Sarkozy) is trying to push a law that, amongst other things, pushes the retierement age back a couple of years (60 to 62). According to Sarkozy, doing so will help fund the retirement system (people work loger, so they and their employers pay taxes longer, and those taxes fund the system). And people don't want that. Also, doing this will only fund the system for another few years, then, we'll be back to where we are now... This is something the government knows : cf. the report by the "Conseil d'orientation des retraites" (retirement advisory comittee) : in french only : http://www.cor-retraites.fr/IMG/pdf/doc-1327.pdf

It is proved that there are other means to fund the system : tax the profits companies make more fairly (go through all the avantages major companies have to reduce their taxes, that small companies don't have), tax all those huge bonuses some people make (not taxed today), tax private company funded savings accounts (not taxed today), and taxe whatever money people make outside their salaries that is not taxed (ie whatever untaxed financial perks there are). Using those means to fund the system will garantee a steady source of financing for the system for many decades to come. Another intresting read in french again, sorry : http://www.france.attac.org/spip.php?article11488

Hope that helps :)
(I'm not an expert on the topic at all, but if you have questions, please ask, I'll try to answer them)

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Thanks for the reply, the UK (and many other countries are in the same situation), there are plans being drawn up to increase the age at which we get a state pension as well.

However our state pension ages are currently unfair for men (who generally live shorter lives anyway) as the current pension age is 65, and only 60 for women. The pension age for women will be drawn into line with men by 2020, and both will likely be increased by then anyway.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsand ... /DG_183754

As you can see the state pension age in the UK is already higher than France, and even if the French government increase the age to 62, the UK's pensionable age will still be higher (average of 62.5).

Although you have given a good reason for huge numbers of people to be upset, and as is their right - to protest against the plans, this does not account for 2 important points.

1, A very large number of the people in the videos I have seen were not even close to 40 (on the younger side), thus they would not be affected for a long time, while those who are nearly of the pensionable age should be the ones who are the most concerned.

2, The French protest more than any other country in Europe, and by an awful lot, an average of over 5 times as much as people in the UK for example. Surely all of the protests cant be attributed to politics - can they.?


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:55 am 
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Announced today in the UK.

The pensionable age will be raised to 66 by 2020 for both men and women (currently 65 for men, and 60 for women), this plan has bee brought forward by 4-years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11581935

The question is, will the UK, have huge protests and demonstations like those in France, personally I expect some protests, but not on the same scale as those in France.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:58 pm 
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andyb wrote:
This question would ideally be answered by a Frenchman.

In England whenever we turn on the news and see that there is a massive strike going on in France, we usually ask only 2 questions, "will it affect us" (like many of them do, on purpose I might add), and "why".

Most of us dont really care why, its just something to know when someone says "I hear the french are on Strike again, and idea why, I didnt bother to find out. In the UK, we have strikes, but the French have huge, enormous strikes, and seemingly very often, can anyone tell me why strikes are so common in France.?

Before anyone starts pointing out all of the strikes in the UK over the years, and tries to defend the regularity of mass French strikes - please dont, I simply want to have an explanation, and not cause upset feelings to anyone.


Andy


1: because they're the french.

2: because they have no chance of getting fired, so they strike whenever they want.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:00 pm 
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andyb wrote:
Announced today in the UK.

The pensionable age will be raised to 66 by 2020 for both men and women (currently 65 for men, and 60 for women), this plan has bee brought forward by 4-years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11581935

The question is, will the UK, have huge protests and demonstations like those in France, personally I expect some protests, but not on the same scale as those in France.


Andy


considering women have longer life expectancies, why is the pensionable age available at a lower age than men? that's kind of messed up.

it's good that they're moving to the same age.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:54 am 
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Fayd wrote:
considering women have longer life expectancies, why is the pensionable age available at a lower age than men? that's kind of messed up.

Children is the answer. I think it compensates for the maternity leaves and so on....

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:55 am 
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To answer andyb's questions, France has a tradition of political strikes. The reason why young people are involved is, again, political. Compare the electoral results of the French communist (13% in 2002) and fascist parties (19% in 20002) to their equivalent in the UK and you will see that the political situation in France is somewhat more unsettled than you're used to.
Elections are arguably less important in France than in the UK. In spite of some feudal remnants, the elected government and the ruling class pretty much rules the UK. But sections of the French working class still hold to some of the power they historically enjoyed. They do so through strikes and other direct actions. Sections of the public support the actions of some working class organizations out of self-interest or political allegiance. One of the resons the French trade unions rely more on politics, spectacular events and outside support is that, considered purely as trade unions, they're actually quite weak.

Sure, not all strikes are political. But this one clearly is. If you want to look at the causes of non-political strikes than you have to look at the strength or unions, labor laws and the processes through which they are implemented, unemployment trands, wage trends and so forth.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:52 am 
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I feel I have to correct the previous numbers (even though I agree with the analysis) based on the last election that took place in France in 2010 (regionnal election). The percentages represent the number of votes, not the number of seats.

Parti Comm. et du Parti Gauche (LCOP) 0,26 % [Communists and Left Party]
Parti Socialiste (LSOC) 3,11% [Socialist Party only]
Verts (LVEC) 0,98% [Green Party]
divers gauche (LDVG) 3,30% [Other Left parties, alliances between left parties, including Socialists, Communists and Green parties]
Union de la gauche (LUG) 46,40% [Union of the Left, an alliance of Communists, Socialists, and other left parties]
Régionaliste (LREG) 0,56% [not sure who those are... Regionnalists ?]
Centre-MoDem (LCMD) 0,84% [Center]
Majorité (LMAJ) 35,38% [Majority, read UMP and friends]
Front National (LFN) 9,17% [National Front, read right extremists]

Source : http://www.interieur.gouv.fr/sections/a ... 10/FE.html

[Edited for clarity]

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:32 am 
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Sorry, but if you want to "correct" my numbers by bringing up something unrelated and arguably irrelevant (these elections are not high-profile like the 2007 election), please try not to deceive people. Here are the actual results reflecting how people voted: evidently communists 9.2%, evidently fascists 12.3% plus 13.5% of various, unaligned and others I don't care to tell apart (this is a regional election with a wealth of candidates I've never heard about). Various includes many candidates from various communist parties including the biggest ones who have participated along with their parties in local electoral alliances for instance. The presidential election is much simpler.

EDIT: the only radical party of note in the UK during the latest election was the BNP with 1.9%.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:42 am 
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It not irrelevant at all as a matter of fact, it shows how the French have changed their voting habits !

Also I don't know where you get those 2007 numbers from, but here are the real ones :
Olivier BESANCENOT 4,08 % (extreme left)
Marie-George BUFFET 1,93 % (Here are those Communists you're talking about)
Gérard SCHIVARDI 0,34 % (let's call him a communist too, it makes things easier)
François BAYROU 18,57 % (center)
José BOVÉ 1,32 % (green)
Dominique VOYNET 1,57 % (green)
Philippe de VILLIERS 2,23 % (extreme right)
Ségolène ROYAL 25,87 % (Socalists, left)
Frédéric NIHOUS 1,15 % (weird green/rightist party)
Jean-Marie LE PEN 10,44 % (extreme right)
Arlette LAGUILLER 1,33 % (extreme left)
Nicolas SARKOZY 31,18 % (UMP, right)
(Source : http://www.interieur.gouv.fr/sections/a ... 07/FE.html)

Let's add those up :
- communists = 1.93 + 0.34 = 2.27 %
- facists = ... I don't know who you'd put in that category... I don't see any fascit candidates here.
- extreme right = 10.44 + 2.23 = 12.67 %
- extreme lefts (other that communists) = 4.08 + 1.33 = 5.41 %
- green = 1.32 + 1.57 + 1.15 = 4.04 %

All that those numbers tell me, it that, in 2007, the extreme right was still around (~13%) and that to the left, the only party that got a decent number of votes was the socialist party (green + communists + extreme left ~ 11% altogether).

Time to get back on topic :
Quote:
1, A very large number of the people in the videos I have seen were not even close to 40 (on the younger side), thus they would not be affected for a long time, while those who are nearly of the pensionable age should be the ones who are the most concerned.

I don't think the new law will affect those who are just about to retire. It will gradually affect those who are still the strenght of the workforce (people in their 30s or 40s).

Quote:
2, The French protest more than any other country in Europe, and by an awful lot, an average of over 5 times as much as people in the UK for example. Surely all of the protests cant be attributed to politics - can they.?

No they can't, but those are the ones that tend to move the most people since very often, everyone will be affected by the decisions made by the politicians.
As previously mentionned, the power of some major unions, even if sometimes they only represent the minority of the workforce of a company, is great. For example, you only need a dozen of motivated people to block a factory that employs thousands (it is also illegal BTW). So the factory is closed down, it looks like people don't want to work, but really, they just can't !
Just to clarify, I'm not spitting on any of the unions. Their actions have led to a lot of good things and improved the quality of life of everyone. To me, in the 21st century, you need to grow up from the let's block everything routine, and start communicating more effectively. Put out your (realistic) ideas and fight the government with those !

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:37 am 
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I've not put forth any numbers about 2007. I suggested you use those numbers because they are lower than the 2002 numbers I used to contrast France and the UK.

Besancenot's organization was named "Revolutionary Communist League" (now rebranded as "New Anticapitalist Party"). So he's obviously a communist. Not only that: he's the main communist politician in France. Yet don't count him as a communist! I don't know what's going on where you live but, around here, it's usually his crew who are waving red flags, not the increasingly irrelvant "communist party" which used to support the USSR. Besancenot's organization did not: they were more radical.

So please give these ludicrous "corrections" a rest.

The fact is that millions of French citizens have voted for people who claim to be inspired by Marx and Lenin and who glorify paramilitaries, dictatorships and the like. And, on the other hand, millions of French citizens have voted for people who walk like fascists and quack like fascists. They don't call themselves facists because Italy and Germany lost the war. There's nothing like that in the UK.
I'm sure many of these voters would not actually want the people they vote for to win and that others have no conception of who they're voting for. But still, I think it indicates they're angry and willing to support agitators. And that's only the voters. I don't think most people who are angry and willing to support strikes, blocades, riots and the like are bothering to vote. Some are in fact explicitely refusing to.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:40 am 
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Quote:
Just to clarify, I'm not spitting on any of the unions. Their actions have led to a lot of good things and improved the quality of life of everyone. To me, in the 21st century, you need to grow up from the let's block everything routine, and start communicating more effectively. Put out your (realistic) ideas and fight the government with those !

The problem with this logic is, on what terms is "realistic" defined...
...on the basis of preserving the economic organization as is, the distribution of salaries, benefits etc, and then dealing with what can be given to the workers, again presupposing and not questioning the functioning of an enterprise, how decisions are taken, what goals are set, how are these being realized, etc?
Or on the basis of what can be the salaries and benefits be when all those are questioned and set to the table (pragmatically treated), when hierarchies and priorities, along with the mindsets and logic that produce them are deposed from a "self-evident", "given" status?
These are very practical matters really...

Even if unions deal with particular problems, on particular fields, it becomes very soon evident that to deal with these matters a more encompassing view is needed that relates the short-term with the long-term, the present condition with the dynamic realities formed out of the practices and understandings of different groups and people.
So, a union cannot act only on occasion basis and only short-term and also "un-politically"...

On the more general issue, ways of mobilizing and acting are products and producers of political traditions...and France does have a strong and assertive political tradition...
And although it is related historically to (and reinvigorated by) left-wingers and left-wing groups, it is more of a "social" political culture, not directly and exclusively corresponding to political parties...


Last edited by Pierre on Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:09 pm 
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Agreed, Pierre.
But it's not clear the main unions have such an encompassing view or even a coherent strategy. They act out the tradition and it gives them some power for a little while. It must be quite the ego-trip for some of the leaders but where are they going with this?


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:22 pm 
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Pierre wrote:
The problem with this logic is, on what terms is "realistic" defined...

Let the people judge ! I would be happy with a productive debate on the topic on TV :), where ideas (and not childish opposition) are brought to the table. If the leaders of the unions came together to TF1 or France 2 and asked for a debate, that, IMO, would be moving forward, showing the government that there are other possibilities !

HFat wrote:
Agreed, Pierre.
But it's not clear the main unions have such an encompassing view or even a coherent strategy. They act out the tradition and it gives them some power for a little while. It must be quite the ego-trip for some of the leaders but where are they going with this?

Very good point, the one I was trying to make (much better phrased though :) ) !
Hence my point about putting forward a bunch or coherent ideas to make things go forward. The news is filled with protests, that's it ! You never hear anyone come up with a smart idea in the media. They're all against it. Period. Too bad really, if you do your own research, you'll find out that a lot of people have verry interesting points to make on that topic, and a alot of those points would please the unions !!

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:36 pm 
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HFat wrote:
Besancenot's organization was named "Revolutionary Communist League" (now rebranded as "New Anticapitalist Party"). So he's obviously a communist. Not only that: he's the main communist politician in France. Yet don't count him as a communist! I don't know what's going on where you live but, around here, it's usually his crew who are waving red flags, not the increasingly irrelvant "communist party" which used to support the USSR. Besancenot's organization did not: they were more radical.

Oh come on, his party was called Revlutionary for a reason !! he kept the communism reference to attract members of the dying communist party, that's it !! And yes, they have a red falg, that does not make them communists. Read their party lines, and you'll see they don't want anything to do with communism (which they say betrayed the workers, like the socialists)

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:49 pm 
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Well, unionism can be full of faults...
...even if a more dynamic, more encompassing outlook is present either "eloquently", intellectually or practically, by the experience of such practices in time, the main goal can still sometimes be "the more we can get", even at the expense and against similar struggles in other fields...
and this means that a government can e.g. fulfill the "wants" of a limited set of unions and thereby limit the impact of common union mobilization. To the extent that their outlook is "sectarian", their gains and losses may not be registered as victories or losses of unions in general.

Also the practice and power of the unions can still be manipulated by ruling parties...like having centre-right-right union members promote radical strikes when centrist and centre-centre-left governments are in power, and promote non-action or compromises when their own party is in power and vice versa...

So it's a problem of adequate autonomy from micro-strategies of governments and adequate cooperation between different unions
...when coordination and common strategies are absent, then this can cause trouble, for these same goals of those groups even...since to the minds of many people, and even to those participating in them, they lose the "legitimacy" and "right" of their actions...

But maybe in the majority of cases, it's not what the unions do or don't do, it's what and how other people perceive them and how the latter are affected by policies and reactions...because we have to look at both sides to relate what certain people do, who they are and what other people say and do, and it may well be a matter of "positioning"...

Generally, those who are adequately well-off (and up that scale) and not substantially hindered by government measures and business practices based on the logic of saving money by reducing wages and personnel and increasing unemployment (even if in principle they may consider them wrong), they may look as a problem the reaction to a given problem (not a problem to them, not their problem)...because it is mainly then, when those who are affected mobilize, that the original problem becomes evident and manifested more widely...and yet, for them, the (now) former, the problem actually is the reaction to the problem, without which the problem itself may more or less disappear from their vision and area of experience...

So sheer opposition and protest may well be the counterbalance and response to the inaction, passivity, indifference, or conflicting interests of others.

So the question is actually more general, how and where are we going with this??

Quote:
I would be happy with a productive debate on the topic on TV :), where ideas (and not childish opposition) are brought to the table. If the leaders of the unions came together to TF1 or France 2 and asked for a debate, that, IMO, would be moving forward, showing the government that there are other possibilities !

Unfortunately, "discussion" or "debate" for a given government on given economic policy issues is actually skin deep...it functions or is it used merely as a curtain of "democracy" and a means of image improvement, simply to legitimize socially a decision already taken, or to make that decision more acceptable by legitimizing the process by which it is taken...
And as much as an eloquent conversation and exchange of "productive" arguments may satisfy my intellectual ego, it very, very rarely affects what is done at the end...


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:11 pm 
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Union bosses have been on TV many, many times. I liked how Blondel talked for instance... but so what? If he wanted to be elected, maybe it would do him good but that doesn't solve the organizational problem of the labor movement. And I don't care how well he talks: I wouldn't trust him or the likes of him to give me directions to the nearest bus stop. Still, I like the idea of TV becoming a sort of civic forum featuring intelligent topical discussion between all kinds of people but that's not going to happen on the TV that actually exists. And I don't believe that the government would listen. They know very well that there's another way but that's not how they roll. They want to get their way and they want to look tough.
What would probably be a lot more helpful is actual forums rather than virtual ones. That's perhaps the best thing about strikes. But assemblies are very time-consuming and yet too short. It's also often the wrong people who show up. The use of some media technology could probably help but radio has a much bigger potential than TV I think. Autonomous local radios can be set up relatively easily (more easily than TVs anyway) and they reach the people who matter: those who live close enough to the emitter that they might come to a meeting some day. Anyone can give a phone call to a radio station and easily get on the air if they have something relevant to say.
Which is to say that I don't have much hope for national-level politics at this juncture and that there is no "we" that could go anywhere as far as I'm concerned. I forsee many pointless and disruptive protests in the future. That's what people do when they're lost but not beaten yet. It beats following the blind... or liars.

As to Besancenot, I can't believe someone's arguing that the LCR is not a communist org. So Trotskyites just pretend to be communist to get Stalinist votes, eh? I can't bring myself to explain the niceties of Bolshevik politics on SPCR. Just put "fourth internationale" in Google and prepare yourself to be bored out of your mind.

Since we're talking about communists, am I misunderstanding you Pierre or are you arguing for working class unity as opposed to the defense of special interests?


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:24 pm 
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I am arguing that "special" interests can hardly be met and fulfilled on steady and long-term basis, unless through collective action...
This means that one need not give up the "special interests" but consider how advancing and institutionalizing economic changes is dependent on class interests being put forward. e.g. relative class unity or integration is a precondition of effective politics...

Where do you draw the "line" in class interests? Between all those groups, all those different opinions? Tough to say both theoretically and practically, because it's not a singularly objective issue...it would also be utopic to think this process (of class construction basically) as not involving within itself contenting politics, because the crucial character of decisions' results and of their anticipation brings that decision-making process to bear at any given moment...I think the balances are to be found in the specific sociocultural characteristics of the groups brought together...

I don't believe in "locality" that much, it won't work in every setting...it seems to me, it just restates the problem from a different angle, although it carries the essence of "from the bottom" politics...but not many live anymore in similarly structured, fragmented communities/societies...that might be a more appropriate setting for organization based on localization...and people are not vaguely "citizens" or "neighbors" without further categorizations and differentiations...also the local, national, international interconnections that present day globalization brings to bear make organization on locality an ideological return (escape almost) to a different era, being dependent only on specific circumstances for becoming relevant and effective...
This organizational principle to my mind simplifies (and avoids) complex issues of socio-economic nature, but I support it as a means of building active political consciousness and realizing the dangers of conceptualizing democracy as a vote every few years...


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 7:16 am 
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I don't draw lines nor do I belive that the is such a thing as a class interest that can not be understood by every member of the class in question. That's the stuff of dictatorship.
What is or is not in the interest of an actual class is obvious enough. What is politically contentious is which class is to be called "the working class". Specifically, it should be obvious that the interest of the French "working class" is going to depend on whether you include workers who are not ethically French in the class (and then which ones?). In this way, the national question is the crucial political issue IMO.

Local organization is a pragmatic approach. It has zilch to do with "localization", denial or nostalgia. If you don't "conceptualize democracy as a vote every two years" than how can it be anything else than local? What form of effective non-local democratic organization do you advocate then?


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:44 am 
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Quote:
don't draw lines nor do I belive that the is such a thing as a class interest that can not be understood by every member of the class in question. That's the stuff of dictatorship.
What is or is not in the interest of an actual class is obvious enough.

Well, history shows this is not the case...class construction (or the movement towards class "for itself") is quite complex really, because within a society there is too much social, cultural differentiation, too many different societal fields of experience and what may be objectively reasonable may not be practically straightforward for the members of that class to unite and act as a class...
With your answer you also display one of such complexities in the process of class formation, that have to do with nationalist ideology...what weight that may carry historically for different members and groups of the working class?, against whom it may be more actively expressed ? (there may be tension between French and French-Algerian workers, but less between other groups), which groups try to bring nationality, race etc to the fore as a criteria of large group formation ?...etc...

In a few sentences you also present a contradiction...on one side you say that common class interest is obvious for the members of a class, thereby adopting an "objective" approach to class definition (I must also add that the more "objective" and deterministic class conceptualizations have generally been historically related to the more totalitarian leftist groups) and then provide a deep separation-line, that of ethnic group or national-origin, a criteria primarily associated with the production of subjectivity...

A different separating force could be particular cultural experience and beliefs, e.g. between working class people of the city and of the villages, that can make understanding and adopting common strategies an issue, since "one" can see in the other properties that are not valued from the alternative point of view (I'm talking about particular "social" cultures)

What stands for inner-state differentiations, is also relative for working class members of different countries and how they can adopt common strategies and common goals and coordinate their actions...will the members of the German working class speak out against the policies of German enterprise in another country, which may allow it to offer higher salaries for German workers?

Quote:
Local organization is a pragmatic approach. It has zilch to do with "localization", denial or nostalgia. If you don't "conceptualize democracy as a vote every two years" than how can it be anything else than local? What form of effective non-local democratic organization do you advocate then?

Nowadays certain limited conceptualizations of "direct-democracy" are popular, but my point is that in a such differentiated societies and within a global environment, you cannot rely on locality as an organizational principle to provide the answer for working class collective action, or as a means for politics of social and economic equality...
E.g. Unless you live in the most degraded areas of a city, where there may be more socio-economic uniformity, or in some village where a foreign corporation may dumb its waste nearby, locality won't work because of lack of common socio-economic-cultural characteristics, of some effective range of common economic interests...
We're not talking about a "save the green park" neighborhood-citizen movement, but about issues of large scale economic policies that may affect both local and non-local population...
In a society economically differentiated, "local-geographical" organization cannot overcome class diversities and inequalities and is certainly not the effective principle of class politics, where you aim for large institutional economic changes, which call for unity of class members from different areas within a country and between countries, especially in fields of higher level administration (e.g. European parliament)...
Internationalism is a practical concept, born precisely out of the inconsistencies and dead-ends of national politics, of mediation of class action against inequality, discrimination, general unequal distribution of capital (economic, cultural) by racism, nationalism etc...which sustains these policies...
Socialism/Communism is either international or is nothing at all (like having jewish socialists effect ethnic cleansing in palestinian villages...not much of a socialism now is it?)...of course you have to work towards that direction, building those bridges, because opposing social powers play the card of such discriminations, they try to reinforce them, which can be general or specific idioms of capitalist policies...
In order to weaken capitalist politics you have to strive for class unity nationally and internationally, because developments are interrelated...
so you can have local organization on the basis of class action/interests (and on specific issues of course which can unite members of different classes, because the success of socialist politics also depends on finding allies within the lower middle class and projecting the more universal aspects of socialism - which as a political principle does not produce exclusion and discrimination, but aims at social-economic integration, doing away with the institution that produce opposing economic groups and make the high-life of one depend on the misery of another) but locality as a universal and present organizational principle I think borders on naivety...it would be reasonable to make such an assumption for a condition following economic transformation, but not before.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Pierre wrote:
Well, history shows this is not the case

You're just being coy now.

Pierre wrote:
With your answer you also display one of such complexities in the process of class formation ... you say that common class interest is obvious for the members of a class, thereby adopting an "objective" approach to class definition

No, I'm talking about semantics, not "class formation".
What you decide to call "the working class" is subjective because you have the subjective experience of making that choice. Any observation about the world such as what people say and how they behave is objective... or you're a brain in a vat and I'm not going there.
I won't fight over definitions. Let people choose for themselves how they want to use words. There's no established definition because there is no influential organized class that calls itself "working class" nowadays.
I'm saying that, for a given definition, class interest is objective. It has to be unless you figure someone can decide for others what their interest is. That's authoritarian. Objectivity is not authoritarian... or you end up being played for a fool by Alan Sokal.

Pierre wrote:
will the members of the German working class speak out against the policies of German enterprise in another country, which may allow it to offer higher salaries for German workers?

Some will and some won't. And if the German corporation doesn't do it, another will so not much would be achieved anyway.

Quote:
you cannot rely on locality as an organizational principle to provide the answer for working class collective action

You cannot rely on anything but my question stands: what do you advocate then? If you don't advocate doing anything, that's cool. Otherwise please be explicit.

Pierre wrote:
locality won't work because of lack of common socio-economic-cultural characteristics, of some effective range of common economic interests...
We're not talking about a "save the green park" neighborhood-citizen movement, but about issues of large scale economic policies that may affect both local and non-local population...

So what? Dockers primarily organize themselves locally. And they're about the best at international solidarity, even on issues which are controversial where they live. Unanimity or uniformity isn't a requirement to do anything. If it was, it would be even more of a problem at the national level.

Pierre wrote:
e.g. European parliament

Your only example brings you back to voting every few years!


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:23 pm 
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First of all, try not to be so selective about what you respond to...

And if you are ,arguing in favor of some specific political goals try to expand more on details and what you see as preconditions for a particular way of organizing or politicizing in order for them to be effected...
...cause until now you've just referred to some basic and at large communication issues and called local organization a pragmatic approach...

What I put on the table was the problematic of: ok, you've got some people from around some blocks coming to meet...these people can exchange views but if they are of much different socio-economic-cultural backgrounds, what kind of dynamics and prospect does this micro-group have for reaching some common ground and advancing their position (and probably relating to other such groups) ?
If topics such as: privatization, state intervention, wages, social security, collective or individual work agreements, pensions, taxation, working rights, treatment of immigrants etc are brought to the table, such differences would emerge...how could this local gathering, as single universal organizational principle, offer a prospect for the advancement of whatever political objectives you advocate (you as one of those going there)?

I don't bash at inter-societal discussion, but my point is that this organizational principle -simply by location- cannot really go anywhere because it cannot translate into any political group, it cannot represent anyone...
It can deal with or mobilize people in general on particular issues like: preventing that park from being turned into mall, from establishing a disposal center nearby, but not pursuing large scale changes and put political pressure on other groups of interests...
Quote:
So what? Dockers primarily organize themselves locally. And they're about the best at international solidarity, even on issues which are controversial where they live.

Unions (which is where your example comes from) represent a grouping built around an area of profession...these people can come together and mobilize, because governmental measures on e.g. privatizing that port, setting minimum personnel for specific operations, taxing ship-owners, safety measures, working hours etc affect them altogether...so they have a range of common interests, institutionalized presence and can have specific goals...
One should also account for history...in that sets of practices inherited from the past, "tradition" of political nature can define the practices and views of today for particular groups, but that this is not a feature of "locality" nor is it present in all such unions...something has to be added to it to make it what it is, and it is not "locality".

Now if you want to come anywhere close to the realm of specificity and accordance with your own arguments, and before you call be coy, you should find examples where the principle of local organization alone, since you have not even alluded to other criteria, without being complemented by some commonality of socio-economic-cultural characteristics, can be an effective way of advancing some general political objectives (you can speak about your own) and solving large economic political issues...

Quote:
Unanimity or uniformity isn't a requirement to do anything.

...all across my messages I have spoken of "relative" integration, relative uniformity, some range of common interests and characteristics...
I have not spoken of unanimous opinion, complete uniformity of which you speak...

Furthermore, I have said that such relative integration, the formation of common goals is itself a product of political mobilization...it is not preexisting as such, class is not class until it functions somewhat like an integrated group...it is the product of conscious action, practice with that particular prospect...
I do believe there are socio-economic preconditions to class formation, but these represent "objective possibilities", not objective realities - necessary but adequate by themselves for class formation...
This is because class politics, class members, operate within a large societal field, in which people are related in many different ways, and uphold may different beliefs beside the ones originating from their place in working relations and position in distribution of economic capital...
All these different relations and beliefs are related to the economic structure, since this is the more dynamic of all social relations and for the transformation of social relations, but certainly not the only determining factor...

I have also said -against your attributing to me an argument of complete unanimity/uniformity- that within this frame and process of class politics - class formation, contending politics, imbalances of power, inner power struggles cannot be avoided ("it would be utopic to think that")...which makes class a political formation in the sense not only of a group with political aspirations, but also a group created out of politics...and this is because it is precisely not a uniform formation...

Quote:
You're just being coy now.
I could provide literature, but that would be showy...

I do believe that between these statements:
Quote:
nor do I belive that the is such a thing as a class interest that can not be understood by every member of the class in question.

Quote:
What is or is not in the interest of an actual class is obvious enough. What is politically contentious is which class is to be called "the working class". Specifically, it should be obvious that the interest of the French "working class" is going to depend on whether you include workers who are not ethically French in the class (and then which ones?)

Quote:
I won't fight over definitions. Let people choose for themselves how they want to use words. There's no established definition because there is no influential organized class that calls itself "working class" nowadays.
I'm saying that, for a given definition, class interest is objective. It has to be unless you figure someone can decide for others what their interest is. That's authoritarian. Objectivity is not authoritarian...

there is much more than breathing space...

- The first alludes to the existence of subjective definitions of a class interest by members of that class....but it seems that you qualify class membership and class existence on the common definition, on the correspondence of all those subjective definitions, i.e. on a singular definition...

- Then you say that for a given class its interest is obvious enough, i.e. can be determined objectively (you did not say "what they say about their interests is obvious" unless you again assume that unanimity is the condition for the existence of class and you omitted to add "what they say their interest is, is obvious"...but that wouldn't make sense in your proposition).
Then you refer to the existence of classes (therefore being objective, different classes existing, and you're describing here) and you juxtapose the "obviousness" of a given class' interest to the "contentiousness" of naming and attributing content from the ready made other classes to the "working class", of whom that class includes on the basis of ethnic origin...as if other "classes" are not themselves products of political processes, of contending definitions, of differing subjectivities, and the prevailing question, the politically ambiguous issue is whether or not to include these classes within the definition of the "working class"...
- The last propositions complete in exhibiting the source of confusion...

You concede to the existence of multiple subjective definitions but somehow you take it for granted that these must coincide to make a singular definition in order to make a class...you also use "class" quite loosely moving from its established descriptive value to its attribution to a group of any kind and character...you don't treat these other groupings as processual and political formations also, but as formed and existing by virtue of a definitive meaning, a singular definition corresponding to the agreement of all subjective understandings...if anything in you example the definition of "French" is equally or more determining than the definition of "working class"...and even if "non-french" are banished from the "french working class" why assume that the "french working class" have now all other differences of opinion sorted out? You're making the assumption that once this is settled this class's interests are identically defined (while your only reference point is ethnicity or nationality), thereby treating national categories as objective, and class interests (when the "subjective" definitions of working class with respect to nationality/ethnicity are sorted out) as objectively definable...this is clearly demonstrated in the sentence: "Specifically, it should be obvious that the interest of the French "working class" is going to depend on whether you include workers who are not ethically French in the class", whereby you moved from "objective" as in reiterating "what the people say" to "objective" in the sense of "to say of what it is that it is and of what it isn't that it isn't"...and violated your definition of objective in the last sentence.



Quote:
What form of effective non-local democratic organization do you advocate then?

Quote:
You cannot rely on anything but my question stands: what do you advocate then? If you don't advocate doing anything, that's cool. Otherwise please be explicit.

Well, again, if it was my responses you were reading and not someone else's I have no access to, I believe it would have been obvious to you that I nowhere put forward a "non-local" organizational principle, that I nowhere denounced local organization altogether...
I disputed the criterion of locality when by itself...I said it just restates the problem...if one considers a country as a geographical area (a political organizational administrative principle), this includes different socio-economic-cultural groups in unequal relations, with differing power, involved in power struggles...
To the extent that society is differentiated (capitalism produces those social inequalities), the criterion of locality/area does not provide the principle by which one group could promote specific political objectives of social equality and redistribution of economic, cultural, symbolic capital...to those promoting policies that produce inequality, this political/administrative categorization along with its ideology of nationalism (of varying degrees) provides the basis of politicizing, because it legitimizes oppression, discrimination, expoloitation if the subject is of different origin (within or outside of borders)...I'd have to look for people in the same socio-economic condition as me to form a political pressure group within a given administrative area/unity but also between administrative areas, in order to weaken that establishment, that balance of power altogether...
In the example of a smaller area, e.g. a city, or a city area, society is still quite differentiated to achieve both common ground and to promote subversion of unequal economic relations, so locality by itself won't work for political struggle...
The further down one goes in determining "local" the more chances there are for achieving some socio-economic uniformity in the population living in that place e.g. underdeveloped areas of a city, parts of rural areas etc...
So my argument is you'd have to complement local direct-democracy processes with socio-economic criteria...

In your argument it is as if there is no politics, and political-economic issues are just some kind of logistical problems, in which case we only have to create a forum of discussion, in order to find that proposition that solves that problem...

Leaving aside the issue of social differentiation within a given area, even if locality was made an institutionalized principle of direct-democracy politics, there would be nothing within this frame that could prevent the development of conflicting interests and the formation of unequal relations between those different local communities, to the extent that locality became a moral, economic, administrative, ideological principle (as it can commonly function between different cities, villages etc)...
So to achieve both democracy and social equality (and I don't believe one truly exists without the other) local democratic processes along with socialist aspirations to revert inequalities are needed...and those who bear such aspirations are generally the ones who suffer from such inequalities. So we are talking about interconnected local organizations, political groups built around socioeconomic attributes...this interconnection, in order to include and express various local issues and provisions (because the principles of action even in a given locus depend on its outlook and reach of analytical sight beyond their limited realm of experience, to account for the interrelation of different issues and choose a more encompassing strategy as possible, dealing with most of these issues, thus representing the people from various places better) and to balance them, also necessitates some form (or forms) of higher level mediation, whose democratic nature depends on the safeguarding of democratic processes at base level.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:01 pm 
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Pierre wrote:
First of all, try not to be so selective about what you respond to...

I'm going to be even more selective actually. I said I wasn't going "there" and I ain't. And I'm not going other places as well because this exchange is really getting out of hand and you're becoming more and more obtuse and pointlessly argumentative (no offense I hope). So I'll jump straight to your answer to my question:

Pierre wrote:
So to achieve both democracy and social equality (and I don't believe one truly exists without the other) local democratic processes along with socialist aspirations to revert inequalities are needed...and those who bear such aspirations are generally the ones who suffer from such inequalities. So we are talking about interconnected local organizations, political groups built around socioeconomic attributes ... also necessitates some form (or forms) of higher level mediation, whose democratic nature depends on the safeguarding of democratic processes at base level.

Notwithstanding our disagreement about democracy and equality (this kind of simplistic reasoning, while true in a sense, can be dangerous in my opinion), I think our disagreement, to the extent that's it's not a simple misunderstanding blown out of proportion for the sake of having an argument, is about whether the kind of social segregation you advocate should be prescriptive.
While I don't know that egalitarian aspirations are much more common among the downtrodden, I agree they tend to be more motivated to actually do something about them and to put their livelihoods (if not their lives) at risk in the process. I think they also tend to be in a better position to influence their peers. The thing is, since I've been talking about voluntary organizations all along and not about some authoritarian fantasy in which people are somehow rounded up to participate in an organization, a relative social segragation is going to happen without needing to prescribe it. Even if people of all backgrounds are allowed or even encouraged to join, people are going to self-select based on your socio-economic criteria. It's not likely to be close to a perfect segregation however. The effect is going to be particularly strong for unions of course but I think you're likely to find such an effect at work in most local organizations dedicated to any kind social justice, even those claiming to be based on abstract religious or political beliefs.
My experience is that groups with a mixed membership can work just fine while fairly uniform groups can clash with groups made up of people sharing similar backgrounds. So I don't see the point of enforcing social segregation. Not only that: I would strongly resent it in on principle and I would miss people I value who don't share my background. That said, if people a with a particular background feel discriminated against within an organization and want to do something like the feminists who have segregated organizations in which they might feel freer to speak up and better understood, fine. But I wouldn't want all organizations to be like this and I wouldn't want segregation to be prescibed a priori.
Since you seem to have no issues with organizing locally after all, what I'm wondering is whether you're actually calling for active social segregation. Because that would trigger serious alarm bells for me in the context of your call for "higher level mediation": what is to stop this arbitrary orgainzational criteria from being abused by authoritarians? A non-local institution which is able to police democratic assemblies or exclude them from decison-making on the pretense that they include people of the wrong background would distinctly remind me of a past dictatorship of note. And if you were not talking about active segregation then do we have any material disagreement about this (I'm definitely not going back to the subjectivity of behaviour and such)?

Something else: I get the impression you're putting the cart before the horse about people's political culture and their motivation to participate in the type of organizations you seem to have in mind. Most people's sources of informations are largely controlled by states and their allies, if not by reactionary movements. And the political culture of the first half of the 20th century (yeah, I'm being very imprecise) is dead. So I think cultural power would need to shift before many organizations such as the ones you seem to be envisoning can emerge. Organizations with simpler makeup and goals are viable in harsher environments I think.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:58 pm 
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If I tried to read your responses favorably, as I always do in fact (and I believe I've been significantly less argumentative than you throughout this thread, but engaging), I'd say that maybe some of the words I've chosen, the topics I touched upon have caused you to identify me with some particular ideology and ideological practice and the particular meaning which it bears for you...
I'd say this connection is not warranted by the content of my replies, but I cannot know in advance neither do I control the mental and symbolic synapses of one's thought processes, which have various cognitive, moral and experiential grounds...

The overall content of my replies, despite given previous symbolic references, should have, to some degree at least, influenced your perception of what it is I'm writing (I wouldn't like anyway for the proponents of formalist structuralism and cultural mechanics to be affirmed)...on the contrary, however, you seem to have fixated early on on some "suspicions" concerning my ideological standing, what set of beliefs and thoughts fuel and lie behind expressed opinions, which made you ignore the specific content of arguments and propositions and simply revisit, in your replies, initial conjectures - more explicitly expressed in your last message...
This schematic understanding seems both to have both introduced that selective reading and responding, and to have been reinforced by it, in the conversational monologue that you've entered, where some things make sense only when you say in the way that you say it.

The general dialogic behavior on your part, unfortunately, is not representative of someone who engages and becomes engaged in the kind of voluntary organizations that you describe (unless using adjectives and morally accentuated words is your idea of constructive dialogue in such meetings, that is, if I was allowed membership or not been shunned, even if I fitted your ideological profiling of me) and the kind of discussions that emerge in them and the objectives and attempts at maintaining those forums despite disagreement (you conversing behavior, after all, has been intolerant of difference, preferential towards accordance of opinion), or much skilled at recognizing political beliefs (because even though my responses were far from being analytically expansive - what reason for them to be such, when my interlocutor hasn't up to his last response even tried to provide anything in the way of an argument to support an expressed opinion - I purposefully chose some expressions which to someone rudimentarily acquainted with relevant social-political theory as well as with its contemporary bearers and supporters, would have been more clear where I might be placed in the spectrum of leftist ideology).

So, for example, nevermind that I've spoken of class as a construct out of a much differentiated societal fields, of not the direct and necessary result of economic structure, against "objective" definitions of class, of various determining factors, of conscious effort to produce common strategies that encompass different experiences and are as much representative of various people from various settings as possible, of relative socio-economic uniformity, of necessity to cooperate with lower segments of the middle-class...I still get you talking about what I support, by saying:
"the kind of social segregation you advocate "not about some authoritarian fantasy in which people are somehow rounded up to participate in an organization", "But I wouldn't want all organizations to be like this and I wouldn't want segregation to be prescibed a priori"

Well such closed reasoning can be much exhausting, even in comparison to direct contrast of mind...

Quote:
is about whether the kind of social segregation you advocate should be prescriptive.

No, I did not advocate active social "prescripting"...to the degree that I've spoken of people from various social cultures coming together to form a class - and need for them to come together for that class to be formed - I don't see how I would have or on which exact lines I could have placed an insurmountable or absolute boundary...

Talking descriptively, however, I have said that such boundaries are invariably put somewhere ("class formed out of politics") - and we don't have to assume an overarching mechanism to do that "policing". The "distance" between the people separated by that boundary, in its "edges", may be smaller than that of the people being included within it...but as relative and as arbitrary as that boundary might be, it can function as a strong and uncrossable symbolic and practical barrier...
...the specific makeup of the society overall, of those social groups that are implicated and motivated, the specific internal balances of power and influence, (formed) in general socio-economic developments and situations and in particular settings and circumstances, with regard to some stakes that emerge as crucial for what would come next...all of these have the effect that some limits are set beyond which, it is regarded that either opposing powers operate or opposing powers benefit (this seen from either part of the boundary, relationally determining its position) and practices relative to such understandings are adopted...

e.g. In Greece, during the 1970's - under CIA orchestrated and supported military dictatorship in Greece, those who listen to popular rock or hanged out to bars where NATO soldiers frequented, were regarded as reactionary or under the symbolic influence of capitalist foreign and local social powers...
In the recent educational reforms processes, through which the government aimed (-s) to advance privatization of education, to decrease the public sponsorship of education and equate 2-3 year "private colleges" with formerly highest educational classes, (among other things) within these developments, these regarded critical stakes for the immediate future, "battle lines" were formed...they weren't absolute objective, but they did function as organizational principle of mobilization, shaping and reshaping, integrating and disintegrating different parties...
The "radical left" party in Greece, was effectively divided because of the failed attempts to reconcile from Trotskyists to social-democrats and centrist liberals in the party, with regard to economic policies, the strategy against the memorandum etc...
..some spoke of authoritarian practices of the left, some of the opportunism of the centre-left (the center-left party within the party had actually been cooperating with the government for too long on too many issues and it was miracle the division did not take place earlier - they wanted to avoid bringing up the argument of the eternally divided and condemned left - but was it "a common curse" or the opening of new possibilities both regarding the parties and their social base in constructing a wider left front and probably gain momentum in circumstance of wide disapproval?...that depends on estimations, doesn't it?)
Greece has been accepting large number of immigrants (who actually did not want to stay in Greece, but because of European legislature, they had to remain here, where they were indexed) over the last years, which it has trouble integrating...this has set in motion developments that have been reorganizing political groupings - somewhat set with regard to economic policies around (degrees of) nationalist and contra-nationalists discourses...
All these processes result in setting some -historically changing - barriers as to what be "progressive", "socialist", "liberal" etc...
You do not need a ready-made institution or overarching-established organized group to do the "policing"...in fact is disorientating to think so, as then one turns a blind eye to the exclusion processes that develop microscopically and through which standard and normative practices can be both adopted and legitimized...

Wanting to be critical and reflective, I (would) turn my analytical eye to establish the consequences of such actions, to the point of view of the ones excluded in wider tactics and strategies (like how women -underestimated and also bearing the role of mothers, paid the price of establishing standards of working expertise and apprenticeship in order to gain collective working rights, the former being given only lower job-posts) or those luben groups condemned because of their tastes in music in specific circumstances...
But nevertheless, as much as one could analyze and treat this theoretically, in specific circumstances, if he/sh was implicated in any meaningful way in political processes and in their stakes, one would set more or less widely held boundaries beyond which they will transform into something else, or a battle will be lost etc...

This is not only unavoidable but when subjectively taking part, setting such boundaries can be considered - or can be proved to be - a good thing with regard to the goals set.

Quote:
Since you seem to have no issues with organizing locally after all, what I'm wondering is whether you're actually calling for active social segregation. Because that would trigger serious alarm bells for me in the context of your call for "higher level mediation": what is to stop this arbitrary orgainzational criteria from being abused by authoritarians?

My experience shows that local gatherings and forums and groups can also be manipulated without having an "outside authority"
But the real question is how would you envision your political goals, whatever they might be, given that you are not attending such groups out of hobby, but are practically and ideologically interested in seeing changes being implemented - and this is to some respectable degree dependent on how certain political-economic developments "reach" you - being fulfilled without establishing interconnected groups around the most general interests that can be achieved at each certain time, that would mobilize in coordination and with common goals? and without that how could that forum have any general impact? And how, following a demise the "bureaucratic state" - if we assume such a thing did come along and you support(ed) it - all those areas could operate within the globalized environment of easy and powerful outside interference, without having higher level mediation and representation between them and manage to maintain their vested rights ?
One might say, that these may provide the context in which some larger movement or change might in some circumstance develop...and I would not argue against that, even not against the randomness of what characteristics of those groupings might contribute to that, but I would argue that if it is to happen, then people would have to organize around a set of common characteristics, attributes etc. And this "realization" makes many people work and speak in favor of such a prospect, to an extent making its formulation more possible, setting some things in motion...

So as to who puts the cart before the horse, I am not certain...Your argument is that "cultural power would have to shift before" that happens...and what might bring that about, that shift, might I ask? If not the conscious effort (along with random elements brought together in specific space and time) for such shift, the discourse both in favor of it and of its necessity? I see it as a paradox that you regard that in circumstances of acute imbalances of power the conditions for the formation of groups of the "weak" (even of wide social background as I have argued all along) are absent - for the possibility of their formation even...according to you these conditions are met only once cultural power has shifted, out of, because of, as part of, as result of **??? You describe a situation as given and static and claim that it would have to be overridden for the possibility of mobilization to exist...so besides taking any processual character out of politics and society, you don't even provide a way for that to happen in you own argument, discursively, for that shift to be propositionally feasible, before being practically tested or discussing its practical possibility...but you seem to think its possible...
The problem is, it seems, that you have been locked in the paradox of you own logical constructs of antithetical notions: a uniform ready made group, forcibly constructed by an authoritarian power against the wills of those it encircles, and a random "voluntary" group of people (which you correctly add, might attract people of similar backgrounds depending maybe on the specific outcall), a "forum", which conveniently, when you attribute it some more dynamic character you are displaying it as an example of a group on the basis of which I would argue (non exclusive example in my mind), that is, of a range of common socio-economic criteria, or with an expressed ideology of social justice (as I have argued also), but which -the latter- need not even be local (as they are generally not, even if they have local offices and bases)...and guess what, you haven't argued over your proposed universal local organizational principle, you have not provided any arguments to support your own view positively about its effectiveness, but only zig-zagging between antithetical notions, of forced action or vague voluntarist groups denying any need for higher level mediation by alluding to semantically burdened "past dictatorships"...that's sophistic rhetoric, not reasonable argument...
Actually your only argument would be "Organizations with simpler makeup and goals are viable in harsher environments I think" which could hardly qualify as an argument either. And although I would consider this as a proposed remark for discussion - because the antithetical construct you attribute to me is not there - it's actually an axiom which may not even have historical value...that is, to assume that contemporary society is a more harsh environment compared to that of the first half of the 20th century with regard to social and symbolic power...really? Did you think this through? Did you consider social conditions and political situation, the governments in power in Europe (at least) at the time and the practices they employed; social, political liberties, the power of the religious establishment, the power of nationalism? No pogroms, no exclusions from jobs (the public sector mainly), no jailings, no illegitimization, no dictatorships, no civil wars, no bloody dispersals of demonstrations? Harsher today? Or did you just axiomatically - and through the net of prejudices that may make up your thought - assume that because communism and socialism was generally powerful then (or rising at least), the conditions then were less harsh than those of today (in any level)? Where they more simply or more complexly and rigidly organized then? Were they more successful back then or those groups of today, which you advocate?
Could conditions have been much harsher than today's? For leftists more so? Could it be that the social, symbolic and political power was at stake because its legitimacy was questioned by those organized motivated groups and notwithstanding the balance of power and distribution of forces?

Maybe you are right, the argumentation is getting more obtuse as the discussion progresses...


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:53 pm 
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Posts: 1727
Location: Switzerland
I'm surprised you're putting so much effort into these posts. As you noted, this exchange isn't effective as a dialog so I don't know what motivates you to continue along these lines.
What you have to say about Greece in the seventies for example might be of interest to many people (if not on SPCR) and the exercise might be useful for you if you haven't already done it at length elsewhere. So if you want to write a lot, I think it would be wiser to concentrate on expressing memories or your theories about a particular topic instead of trying to have an argument over nothing. There's no reason not to be "showy". If you have something you want to show and time to burn, go ahead!

Aside from a playful one-line rejoinder (obviously many people who aren't communists call for unity when there are strikes and so on), I don't recall "ideologically profiling" you. I have little interest in what ideologies you may or may not hold dear such since we're only strangers chatting on the web. What I tried to do instead was to understand why on earth you were objecting to the notion of people setting up more local media and using it to organize. It's not a terribly original or controversial idea. So I was surprised and therefore intrigued. But it doesn't seem there's much to your objection after all. You figure people would be concerned about "opposing powers operating" if the social "boundaries" they're accustomed to were not upheld. I don't think such bigotry is all that common anymore (at least around here - that sounds like the stories about the late sixties and early seventies people like to laugh about) but this disagreement has no practical implications as far as I can see.
I didn't bother deconstructing the numerous strawmen you erected about me or what I wrote and I don't want to start but, in case you found this "ideological profiling" offensive, understand that when I spoke of an "authoritarian fantasy" for instance I wasn't talking about what you support, verbally or for real. I was talking about your strawman in which people would organize "simply by location" and attempt to work together without having some kind of common purpose. I understand that people prop up strawmen for the purpose of attacking them, not to support them.
I did claim that some of the notions you put forward are authoritarian and/or dangerous but it wasn't meant to imply you are committed to a particularly authoritarian ideology or that you identify with one.

Something else intrigues me now: "one would set more or less widely held boundaries beyond which they will transform into something else, or a battle will be lost etc." What something? Which battles? I know practically nothing about Greece in the 70s so I find the conclusion of this paragraph particularly cryptic.

On the other historical point, yes I mean what I wrote. And that is that the culture and media of the time was more fertile for organizations based on ideas about class. The media landscape was more diverse and vibrant and was, I believe, more fertile for about any kind of autonomous organization. The wealth of stuff with a fragmented micro-readership we have nowadays doesn't replace that. There are more opportunities now but they are wasted when so many spend so much time consuming irrelevant or even toxic cultural products.
The notion that people could change society was mainstream... and people did. Class struggle and nationalism were not the end of it. You had the prohibition of alcohol for instance. People were confronted with new ideas about religion, lifestyles, the relationship between men and women and so on.
While you are exagerating, it is true that there was more violence then. But terrible events such as civil wars have been known to allow class organizations to become hegemonic (if only briefly) rather than to wither in the face of repression. What is devastating for relatively few individuals need not be devastating for their organizations' prospects.
Note that reactionaries and centrists were not shy about setting up class organizations either (autonomous or not) so I'm not only talking about the fortunes of a particular movement (however broadly defined).


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Posts: 2762
Location: NEW YORK WORD AND STUFF YEAH OK
Like one of our Senators from Tennessee said in the 1990's:

"The French, who needs them?" and he sneered and sat down.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 10:39 am
Posts: 455
Location: England
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Like one of our Senators from Tennessee said in the 1990's:

"The French, who needs them?" and he sneered and sat down.

Well, anyone who appreciates good food, fine wine, culture, chic women... oh yeah, I see your point.


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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:13 am 
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Joined: Mon May 30, 2005 11:26 am
Posts: 174
Location: Sunny Swansea
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Like one of our Senators from Tennessee said in the 1990's:

"The French, who needs them?" and he sneered and sat down.


Wonderful insight from an American there. America of course, famous for making such crucial contributions to the world as George Bush and Justin Beiber.

France, however, gives us; Pasteurisation, Braille, the pressure gauge, the Diesel engine, SCUBA equipment, the Stethoscope, digital calculators, the parachute, the sewing machine, and an item admired by billions of men daily - the bikini. Not to mention the philosophy, poetry, art, music, wine and food they have given us over the centuries. Nice arguement there chief.

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 Post subject: Re: Why do the French have so many Strikes.?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Posts: 2762
Location: NEW YORK WORD AND STUFF YEAH OK
how about this freakin internet you are on.

and the fact that europe does not all speak german as their state language.

yeah, america, such a small contributor to the world.

and yes, for the best 70 years, the french are disposable trash. The great one hour of german resistance... oh, I must take a nap, too many baggets and wine, I am too cultured to defend my country.


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