Angela Terrano died on Oct. 1. She was the managing editor of ‘News & Letters’ from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s and the co-editor of the 1976 Marxist-Humanist pamphlet ‘Working Women for Freedom’. She made an important contribution to Charles Denby’s 1960 pamphlet ‘Worker’s Battle Automation’.
Sept. 14 was Day 1 of the United Auto Workers’ Union strike against all Big Three automobile manufacturers. We are at a crossroads, where either the working class will push back the capitalist offensive with their own counteroffensive, or the capitalist class will keep taking more and more for themselves.
Readers’ Views on: Labor: Teachers Face Politician Bosses; Labor: Automation and the New Humanism; Socialism, Statism and Philosophy; Fake ‘Right to Life’; Eviction Tsunami; Agribusiness vs. Planet; Afghanistan Exploited; Taiwan Faces China and U.S.; Desmond Tutu; With the Migrant Caravan; U.S. vs. Palestinians
Readers’ Views on Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives 2021-2022; Labor shortage?; Workers as reason; Support El Milagro workers!; Detroit women’s march; Chapelle’s sexism; Afghans dead and buried; Betrayal of Haitians; and Which side are you on?
Questions raised by the actions and words of the workers in today’s militant labor insurgency demand a philosophical response. Marxist-Humanism in the U.S. began with taking seriously what workers have raised since the onset of automation in the coal mines: What kind of labor should a human being do?
Rideshare drivers struck on July 21; and trucking bosses want robots behind the wheel.
Large trucking companies are teaming up with others to inaugurate test runs of “Autonomous Relay Convoys” where an autonomous truck is programmed to follow a human driving a leader truck, as a way to eliminate human truck drivers and lower wages.
May Day and its celebrations became a good moment to explore the relationship between theory and the movement from practice by revisiting Marx’s intimate connection to the issues that led to May Day.
In the union vote at Amazon in Alabama, the overriding issue was the dehumanization of laboring activity underlying Amazon’s brutal working conditions. The tyrannical conditions begin from an algorithm that runs an army of robots that don’t get sick in a pandemic.
A veteran of working in the gig economy shares first-hand experience and analysis.
Workers in meatpacking plants across the country are being sacrificed to what Karl Marx called capital’s “werewolf hunger for surplus labor” as packing companies try to reap the benefits of the prevailing level of automation—but substituting intensified sweated labor for the capital investment of automation. If workers die from COVID-19, the capitalist doesn’t care.
A Marxist-Humanist analysis of the 40-day strike by the autoworkers at General Motors and its ramifications for the labor struggle in the U.S. and abroad.
Homelessness shot up in Los Angeles. A major reason is unemployment. Homeless people are harassed and criminalized, while an area near Skid Row is gentrified.
A Marxist-Humanist analysis of the state of the U.S. economy and the revolt of labor in the wake of country-wide teachers’ strikes, an historically long government shutdown, and an unsteady, uncertain worldwide economy.
Marxist-Humanist analysis of the Trump-Kim summit and G7 summit shows Trump is not charting a path to world peace but rather toward a more openly brutal world order. .
We look at the world economic situation that must be changed: the role of state-capitalism, labor, climate change, the law of value, exploitation, alienation, and revolution and counter-revolution in Syria.
OFFICIAL CALL FOR CONVENTION
to Work Out Marxist-Humanist Perspectives for 2018-2019
February 25, 2018
To All Members of News and Letters Committees
The deeply ingrained rape culture, already widely known but often hushed up, has been exposed in the broadest way yet by the #MeToo movement. How deep and total is the needed uprooting [=>]
Readers’ Views on: Puerto Rico:Trump’s Katrina; LGBTQ in Australia; Transgender in Texas; Women’s Liberation; Racism in Canada; Detroit and “Detroit”; Labor and Robots; Haitian Revolt; Why Read N&L?; and a Correction.
A participant reports on a series of protests, rallies and marches of thousands taking place in September in Los Angeles against President Donald Trump’s attacks on youthful immigrants called Dreamers by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program.
On the 50th anniversary of the Detroit rebellion, “The Origins Of The Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit,” written in 1996 by Thomas Sugrue, is again timely.
Continuing to mark the 150th anniversary of Karl Marx’s Capital, we present excerpts from “Marx’s Transcendence of and Return to Hegel’s Dialectic,” taking up the profound humanist transformation from Marx’s Grundrisse into Capital.
Continuing to mark the 150th anniversary of Karl Marx’s Capital, Vol. I, we present excerpts from “Marx’s Transcendence of and Return to Hegel’s Dialectic,” a draft chapter for Dunayevskaya’s book Philosophy and Revolution, taking up the profound humanist transformation from Marx’s Grundrisse into Capital.
The capital relation is spelled out as alienated labor, automation, destruction of jobs, unraveling of the social fabric–fertile ground for reactionary ideology, scapegoating, and fascism. Yet the human Subject’s quest for freedom continues.
Htun Lin’s Workshop Talks column takes up his experience as a refugee from Burma to the U.S. and today’s plight of the Rohingya, who are experiencing ethnic cleansing at the hands of the state and Buddhist nationalists in Burma today.
The lightning move by Republicans in Congress to prepare to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare—before Donald Trump even took office, with only the vaguest idea of what is to replace it, and with full knowledge that a large majority of Americans oppose the repeal of its most important provisions—gave a sign of how far the new single-party government intends to roll the clock back, with dizzying speed.
Review of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg.
Olga Domanski’s summary of the series on “Women as Thinkers and as Revolutionaries” by Raya Dunayevskaya.
Escalating bankruptcies in the nation’s coal industry paint a grim future for the industry and for coal miners and their families. The bankruptcies, sweeping the coal fields everywhere, have affected the largest and smallest mines. As a result, thousands of coal miners have been laid off.
In the absence of successful social revolution, today’s total crisis is shown in a world capitalist order that is falling apart economically, politically, environmentally, and in thought. That does not mean that we can wait for capitalism to collapse and step aside for a new society. On the contrary. Its desperation makes it that much more vicious, and it threatens to doom all of humanity with it.
We workers see from the inside that capitalism is coming apart. The 1949-50 Coal Miners’ General Strike is significant, not only because it highlights resistance to the early stage of automation, but because the miners’ self-activity signified “The Emergence of a New Movement from Practice That Is Itself a Form of Theory.”
From the News and Letters pamphlet The Coal Miners’ General Strike of 1949-50 and the Birth of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S. we excerpt from Raya Dunayevskaya’s “The Emergence of a New Movement from Practice that Is Itself a Form of Theory,” on miners’ contributions to the philosophic birth of Marxist-Humanism.
Working in healthcare has been transformed in a very alienating way. The workplace is drowning in fancy hi-tech machines. Cadres of bureaucrats spend their working hours promoting the product of healthcare with marketing campaigns. The rank and file hear daily admonitions to smile more and are told, “Just be glad you have a job.” Bureaucrats preach “customers come first,” while cutting service and staffing. Hospital and HMO executives are in a race to eliminate labor as much as possible in their “product.”
The recent wave of strikes at Walmart and fast food restaurants signals the discontent brewing among the growing number of low-wage U.S. workers. They give notice that the far-reaching restructuring of jobs that was accelerated by the Great Recession also has a subjective side of revolt.
A week of strikes and demonstrations at Walmarts across the country peaked with events in 20 cities on June 4 alone. Chants of “Respect! Now!” joined the official demands of “$25,000 per year and enough hours to support our families” and an end to retaliation against workers who strike or speak up.
Reliance on metrics in healthcare has become a new Taylorism, or management by time study. Everything in the hospital workplace is now tracked by sophisticated computer programs, down to every last pill, gauze and penny, and down to every last motion. This vast pool of information becomes Big Data.
Ongoing national strikes and demonstrations by fast food workers demanding a $15 an hour living wage show that workers’ reality is not the media-touted economic “recovery” enjoyed by the super-wealthy finance capitalists. In real life the 2008 depression drags on. In a punitive move, Congressional Republicans wouldn’t even allow a vote for long-term unemployment benefits to continue, in spite of the record 1.7 million, or 37% of the officially unemployed, who have been out of work for six months or longer. Previously, a rate anywhere near this was called an emergency, compelling an automatic extension of benefits.
Robotics development has exploded within the past three years. Under capitalism, robotics has made millions unemployed, and robots have also become a means for employers to intimidate workers who oppose management dictates.
The phenomenon of human beings losing a race with machines is especially pernicious in the healthcare workplace. The computer has become the virtual boss of everyone in the shop, by setting the pace of everyone’s job.
Although we, as a state capitalist tendency, had been saying for years that we live in an age of absolutes, that the task of the theoreticians was the working out materialistically of Hegel’s last chapter on The Absolute Idea, we were unable to relate the daily struggles of the workers to this total conception. The maturity of the age, on the other hand, disclosed itself in the fact that, with automation, the worker began to question the very mode of labor. Thus the workers began to make concrete, and thereby extended, Marx’s profoundest conceptions, for the innermost core of the Marxian dialectic, around which everything turns, is that the transformation of society must begin with the material life of the worker, the producer.
The world today is riven between the creativity of masses in revolt and the violent degeneracy of counter-revolution, whose destructiveness even extends to the revived specter of nuclear war two decades after the collapse of the USSR. Such is the degeneracy of the globalized capitalist system, laden with destructive forces and sunk into structural crisis. The deep crisis is seen in the U.S. and abroad, economically, in unemployment and poverty, homelessness and hunger. It is seen politically, in new laws attacking workers and women, and new outbursts of racism. It is seen environmentally, with the advance of climate disruption and fake capitalistic solutions. It is seen in thought, as the lack of philosophy, of a total view, hampers the development of struggles from the U.S. to the revolutions of the Arab Spring facing counter-revolutions.
by Htun Lin
As Congress’s latest self-imposed sequestration crisis makes clear, not all cuts are the same. A campaign slogan of California Nurses’ Association (CNA) goes: “Some Cuts Don’t Heal.”
The looming full launch date of Obamacare in 2014 has the HMO industry imposing cuts, patient care be damned, in a race to the bottom to [=>]
Obama’s re-election doesn’t end clash of two worlds
The two worlds of the rulers and the ruled shone through the suffocating blanket of propaganda surrounding the election in which Barack Obama won a second term. A pronounced gender gap and long lines at the polls in African-American and Latino areas reflected the determination to defeat the [=>]
by Javier, Advance the Struggle
The defeat of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 21 at the highly automated Export Grain Terminal (EGT) in Longview, Wash., shows how capitalism is transforming the workplace. It is a part of capitalism’s permanent offensive. So what happened?
Longview, Wash. Longshoremen stopping a train headed for Export Grain Terminal.
RICH AND DUNAYEVSKAYA: A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
Thanks for your In Memoriam to Adrienne Rich. It revealed a dimension that many who were appreciative of her poetry and feminism may not have known—Rich’s exploration of Marx’s ideas through her reading of Raya Dunayevskaya. One piece Rich wrote was titled “Dunayevskaya’s Marx.” It was crucial how you [=>]
Workers who created a wave of strikes in China from auto and electronics to steel over the past two years have confronted the power of private capital, the state and the Communist Party. In 2011 alone, China’s State Council acknowledged 500 large-scale “mass incidents” per day, including peasant resistance to land grabs as well as [=>]
by Htun Lin
The “Great Recession” we’re living in will continue so long as we accept that there is no alternative to capitalism. It is a lie perpetuated by the dominant ideology.
In the past year, the Occupy Movement has given many of us hope that things can change. One idea in the movement is that [=>]
by Htun Lin
Over a billion dollars has been spent in the last decade to comprehensively computerize the workplace at the nation’s largest HMO, where I work. For the executives, it’s as if the line between the virtual and the real has finally been eliminated. Not so for us rank-and-file workers, trying to provide real [=>]
by Htun Lin
When the popular game show Jeopardy featured IBM’s “Watson,” a computer, Watson won against the best human players. For capitalists this was not just entertainment, but serious business–a way to replace masses of workers.
As Christopher Caldwell of the Financial Times put it: “If you get paid to answer questions in a structured context, it is [=>]