Friday, October 9, 2009

Options – Fragmentation of the Working Class/Attempts of the Working Class/This now has more titles than it will ever need

(So this title is a reference to this: which I think of anytime someone mentions the proletariat)

During the late 1800s, the working class became increasingly organized, spurred on by a rise in urbanization, literacy, and nationalism.  But if all of these factors simultaneously aided workers’ attempts to organize, and their efforts to recreate a political system that benefited them, in most cases, the workers failed in those attempts.  Why did that happen?  As with any historical event, many factors contributed to the lack of workers’ states and the lack of successful revolutions, or even peaceful takeovers through the political system.  One of the main factors seen has to be the lack of organization by the working class.  Workingmen of all countries (as Marx put it, slightly less catchy than workers of the world) unite was certainly a catchy and logical idea, but workers of different sectors found themselves unable to unite with one another.  Not only were workers divided by trade, but, as so often happens on the left, members of the working class who differed on methods or slightly disagreed on the final goal worked separately, splitting their support.  It can also be true that these similar groups often spent much of their time fighting each other, rather than their real enemies. (I imagine it being like this fair notice: not clean language:  This can be seen throughout history as Communist and Socialist Parties, as well as the mainstream party of the left frequently either did not work together, or, as seen most particularly during the Spanish Civil War, will actually fight one another ( ).  Another common issue is the division amongst various groups of workers.  One merely needs to look at United States Presidential elections from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century (I recommend 1896 and 1892 [yellow is a Populist candidate] ) when Populists (and Populist leaning Democrats) attempted to gain traction by winning the votes of the working class.  While they were able to have a great deal of success in Western states among agrarian workers, yet were unable to connect with the industrial workers populating the East of the country.  This disconnect often allowed conservative, anti-labor candidates to win the election, setting workers back further.  Another reason for the failure of the labor movement is the success of the labor movement.  Workers and organizers looking for a violent overthrow of the current political system were very disappointed when the anger tended to dissipate when they were able to win fair wages, collective bargaining, a safe working environment, and fair hours.  The fact that the workers’ rights movement was so successful in improving the lives of workers lessened the demand for a violent overthrow of the entire system, if newly created labor unions could develop it.  Finally, the workers of the world were not in control of the system.  This severely hurt them, as those in power can often easily manipulate the power in order to maintain power.  These was seen as workers organizing to take control of various electoral districts led to the abolishing of those districts in favor of proportional representation.  I feel that all of these (and more) contributed, and can’t quite pick out one reason above the others.  What do you think was most important/what do you think I’m neglecting to mention?

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