Marxism influenced the labor movement and gave rise to labor unions

Marxism influenced the labor movement and gave rise to labor unions

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Karl Marx, German Philosopher (5 May 1818-14 March 1883) offered in “Das Kapital 1,2,3” and “The Communist Manifesto,” an economic worldview via the use of political, social and economic “critique.” “Critique” by Marx became a means of observation and questioning, in this case, social questions.  The main crux of Marx’s argument had to do with how class struggles elicit social change and inevitably overthrows capitalism and subsequently the ruling class or “bourgeoisie.”  Marx’s “ideological writings” such as “Das Kapital 1,2, & 3” and “The Communist Manifesto” propagandize, lead to movements, frame  and provide ideas from which a movement can evolve “ideologically.”  Key Marx concepts like the use of the “left” or Communism or Socialist or capitalism or labor or class struggle or bourgeoisie or Proletariat were incendiary and gave rise to militancy.  The disciples were those who adopted Communism or Socialism and became the key drivers of labor movements that formed unions in the twentieth century.    Around the turn of the twentieth century, Marxist ideas influenced the goals of the labor movement and gave rise to its subsequent labor unions by way of its militant minority.

The bourgeoisie according to Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto” are “untenable and destined to fall.”  The companion and enabler of the bourgeoisie  was the “Proletariat,” whose nomenclature suggests an obedience word “pro-let,” or a professional renter or personage for hire “pro-let,” where ..tariat could suggest torn apparel or tare suggestive of weight or worth weight in gold or a professional renter, who is without property.  Needless to say, the word is infused with working-class description and suggestive of this personage or group who lives so far as his self- sale permits it.  “The Communist Manifesto,” details it, “Development of a class of laborers who live only so long as they find work and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital.” The last lines in “The Communist Manifesto” claim that “The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.  Working men of all countries unite!”  Marx’s audience, therefore, became the working class and his mission in their regards was to overthrow diverse established regimes of ruling class in favor of a Socialist model which was meant to replace capitalism. Who became this ignited group of organizers was thought to emanate from The Communist Party in search of working-class revolutions or Socialists who were also meant to replace capitalists.

According to Micah Uetricht, in her seminal article which details the rise of the unions, “U.S. Union Revitalization and the Missing “Militant Minority,”” in the “Labor Studies Journal,” “Militant minorities were radical leftists with a commitment to militant unionism and were the hardest fighters, dedicated organizers, and built union cultures of solidarity.” Within the context of the Great Depression, New Deal Era, World War II, the Bolsheviks, the Civil Rights Movement and post emancipation-activism during this period of the 20th century was strong, forceful, successful and enduring.  According to Uetricht, unions during this period were building “worker power,” and during the “60’s and 70’s public sector workers walked off jobs in mass illegal strikes.”  Unions were beginning to map a movement.  They used campaign strategies and paid for candidates to represent workers.  Uetricht states that unions “made political fixes using politicians for minimum wage hikes.”  It was a period where employment relations were stirred and workers connected to management.  According to Anam Ullah, there were “worldwide labor problems” and “those arguing from a radical perspective draw principally from the work of Karl Marx.” (Ullah, pg. 36) Archer shared this point and cited in his paper on “The State and its Unions,” “(His) approach can be seen as an early example of the new institutionalism then emerging as a response or development of neo-Marxian class theories.” (Archer, 201)

Socialists were thought to look at abolition in “The Communist Manifesto,” and improve conditions for all, even the most favored. (Marx, 52) Brewer goes on to describe how “’collective action’ achieves a genuine socialist society.” (Brewer, 93) Brewer describes the evolution of socialism “Slavery was just in a slave society and unjust in a capitalist society.  Exploitation is just in a capitalist society, but unjust in a socialist society.” (Brewer, 92) People began to utilize “’Social Science’ according to Brewer as a process by which to see inequality as exploitive.”(Brewer, 91)  Social science was used for small experiments and to write social laws and was thought to be miraculous.  Unions were dreaming of experimental realization of social utopias as was suggested by Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto.”

Unions were trying to address capitalism wrote Brewer, where capitalism, “gets something for nothing or much for little, at the expense of others.” (Brewer, 92)  Brewer wrote about “forced domination or unequal power as the precondition of and consequence of exploitation which was a feature of advanced capitalism.” (Brewer, 91) Pamphlets were distributed by Marx and others and were highlighted in “The Communist Manifesto” as “the enlightenment of the working class.” (Marx, 53) Brewer stated that “collective action eliminates exploitation.” (Brewer, 92)  “Early institutional relations evolved and conditioned union identity, which was in the end the blue print for advancing interests through the unions.”(Gall, 146) Actions like worker representation, resistance to management and collective bargaining preserved jobs and enabled change.  Marx described a torn aristocracy in “The Communist Manifesto,” and “how aristocracy was meant to lose sight of its own interests and adopt the interests of the working class.”

A consequence of the labor unions that Marx may have inspired, were according to (Jun Chen, et al., 775) that “we found that labor unionization is negatively associated with stock price crash risk. However, Chen went on to prove in her paper that “labor unions are able to lower the probability of stock price crash risk by reducing managerial risk-taking behaviors.” (Jun  Chen, et al., 775).  Additionally, many labor unions were said to “use political power to improve profits and reduce competition through regulating capture of government agencies and by lobbying for favorable legislation and government contracts and decisions.” (Jared Stanfield, 1101)  Jake Rosenfeld illustrated how “Rod Blagovich signed an executive order granting collective bargaining rights to nearly 50,000 childcare workers after a multiyear lobbying campaign by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) backed Blagovich’s 2002 Gubernational bid with manpower and financial resources for congressional Democratic  efforts.” (Jake Rosenfeld, 31)  Apparently, to get things passed, unions ascertained how to get leaders on their side.  Legal enactments became imperative when “wages weren’t in keeping with inflation or when the government felt that wages were rising faster than the rate of inflation.” (Williams P. James, 166).  James highlighted how collective bargaining “allowed unions to distort Democracy and public employees had more influence over elected officials than other citizens.”

Marxian theories influenced the direction of the labor movement which led to union organizing in America in the 20th century.  Ideas around class struggle interpreted by Marxist critique as Bourgeoisie and Proletariat illustrated a problematic capitalism destine for social change.  Marxian ideas were said to inspire social change and led a generation to Communism and Socialism.  The particular generation led to Communism and Socialism was thought to form a militant minority who went on to organize unions within the 20th century labor movement.

Bibliography

Archer, Robin. The state and its unions:  Reassessing the antecedents, development and consequences of new deal labor law. Labor History. May 2013, Vol. 54 Issue 2, p201-207. 7p

Brewer, John. Exploitation is the new Marxism of collective action. The Sociological Review, Vol 35(1), Feb, 1987 pp. 84-96, Routledge & Kegan Paul

Chen, Jun; Tong, Jamie Y.; Wang, Wenming; Zang, Feida. The economic consequences of labor unionization:  Evidence from stock price crash risk. Journal of Business Ethics. Jul2019, Vol. 157 Issue 3, p775-796, 22p

Gall, Gregor. Richard Hyman:  An assessment of his industrial relations: A Marxist introduction. Capital & Class. Mar2012, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p135-149. 15p

Marx, Karl. Capital Vol. 1,2 &3 (Das Kapital Vol. 1,2 & 3), Lexington, Kentucky. Stief Books, July 2019

Marx, Karl; Engels, Freidrich. The Communist Manifesto.  Lexington, Kentucky. Brandywine Studio Press. 1888.

Rosenfeld, Jake. What unions no longer do. Cambridge, Massachusetts:  Harvard University Press, 2014. Ebook

Stanfield, Jared; Tumarkin, Robert. Does the political power of nonfinancial stakeholders affect frim values?  Evidence from labor unions. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, June 2018, v.53 iss.3, pp. 1101-33

Uetricht, Micah; Eidlin, Barry. U.S. union revitalization and the missing “militant minority”. Labor Studies Journal. March2019, Vol.44 Issue 1, p36-59. 24p.

Ullah, Anam.  Is Marxism still valid in industrial relations?. Middle East Journal of Business. Jan 2016, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p31-36. 6p

 

An Approach to Art Making #2

An Approach to Art Making #2

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Art could be divided into groups such as:  supply, craft and manufacturing artist.

Supply relates to those things derivative of materials and supplies that could be purchased, for example, from an art supply store.  A good example of a supply oriented art work may be one that incorporates nibs, brushes and ink like Oriental Paintings or Bonsai garden paintings with fan brushes or outdoor art stations.

Craft may be things oriented to craftsmanship, from an artisan or may even be home spun. Examples may be things like burning into leathers, making candles, or a bricklayers training in tile, marble and terrazzo and making monuments or perhaps building engraved picture frames, cake decoration, or making clay monsters, or a holiday decoration or a cut out turkey made of paper or maybe some type of whittler.

A Manufacturing Artist may make sophisticated art works in a studio or factory based environment inclusive of sculptural works or electronic works or even professional frescoes via fresco printers and architectural works or installations or programmatic/technological works, or even the museum itself and mostly extremely fine art and almost all high art.

Culture is another distinct road in approaches to art making.  Dedication to culture may inspire one to develop a culture or work on a subculture.  An artist may become concerned with cultural branding or contributing an aspect of art or art practice that develops their communities culture.  A cultural offering may set the tone for a business or enterprise or an organization, branding it and guiding its organizational epistemology or setting the tone for employees.

High art practice is often engaged in a curatorial based art making where a group of artists may utilize the same photo to curate a group exhibition.  The photos are sometimes based on iconic imagery or indicative of an era.  Groups of artists and curators may form a temporary or permanent collective group.

What a scholar might find really riveting, that is perhaps buried now is the initial use or heading of “The Arts” that was inclusive of science etc.  In the early days of education, there were three subject’s religion, the arts and medicine.

Use of acronyms in art can be a way of “big talking” -small or formulaic. Acronyms like “HISS” that means “highlight, spotlight and showcase” become important or acronyms like “Quepine” that means “Question, Proverb and News” can be used for art making.

Black Magic is also indicative of a kind of wielding or wizardry or technology use or logic. Black magic use can be something like programming things with thoughts by thinking over them, or digging holes or making connections between objects or talking to things or taking readings or working with numbers like 81 as Magic and Flight where you see in the eight a Spider and the one, a wing.  Black Magic brings as James Baldwin coined it, “force vitale,” to art among other things much like the Chinese technique of calling “chi” or soul or “charming,” or animating like placing eyes on something.

One may draw a right angle with a diagonal cross thread through to create an art technique using perhaps era or time. It’s possible to grid or work on a time-based series using a right angle quick method.

“Era and Charm,” incorporates a black magic technique and has been very successful for making things like teapots.

Another interesting technique used by artists is “what does that make you think of?”  This technique has to do with when you ask continuous questions of yourself or someone else leading to a trail of words away from a root word.  For example, if I said I have an apple, what does that make you think of?  You said red, and then I said what does red make you think of?  You said blood etc. and on and on and connected the trail back to apple to ascertain some unique, hidden, connected or passive meaning.  With this dialogue, one would begin to build their artworks from a kind of “art game playing.”

Another breakthrough in technology that has gotten into art is “the feed.”  The feed has to do with when you send through a host, an agent or program.  The feed can be music or emotion etc. Feeds or programs are particularly interesting in textile printing where a print may be made distinct when it is impacted by a program and made, for example, exciting or sensual, animated or dotted.

Perhaps a breakthrough in approaches to art making is the “eclectic gallery district” or the placement of art or the combining of supply, craft, manufacturing art etc.  All the usual pomp of art but inclusive of perhaps a “home sweet home sign maker” or portrait district or maker galleries or antiques or fiber arts or a variety of textile galleries-eclecticism in art may also be a mainstay. Eclecticism in art may create a greater ability of “treasure trove” and individuality within the home or arts final destination.

Really ultimately what makes or can make a really good fine artist is lots and lots of programs, lots and lots of technology. Artech can be many things including sound technologies or opera voice pieces, or holograph technology or film modulation technology etc.

For This Famine, a Poem

For This Famine, A Poem

For This Poem, A Famine

By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

 

When I was little

I was a pony

I grew up to be a horse

I regretted my complaints

Like the infamy of the raped TV star

Who publicized and reduced her potential

The maraschino, no cotton wool

She sued and price tagged her pain

She shouted

And marked her soul

How much for rape?

How much for slavery?

Where does that Devil come from?

Maybe I should thank my Devil

As a muse

And accept my fate

And cry for nothing

For this famine, a poem

For this poem, a famine

He was so jealous

Not to walk in my shoes

He said even for this moment

They beat each other with bats for a stronger crest

He kicked until the shit fell out

He enslaved her 4 ½ decades and said I am the greatest producer

He staged their wedding several times

And people stashed the Vielchenblau napkins in their bags

That said a Chinese lamb, a blue rose in 14 karat gold

The festivities were gay until

Someone screamed from jealousy

Little Jinn walked out of the closet closing his zipper

The doors of imagination bridal chamber empty

The bride was left in a basement defrosting hamburger

To protest her German Chinese suitor

A voyeur, a squirrel, a cabron

She tipped her glass

In a wino’s voice she said

“I am marrying Little Jinn”

 

 

 

Superb Clavichord Recital by Carol Lei Breckenridge: Fantasia, Rondos and Variations

Clavichord Recital Breckenridge
Carol Lei Breckenridge Photo Credit: Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

“Superb Clavichord Recital by Carol Lei Breckenridge:
Fantasia, Rondos, and Variations”
By Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Pease Auditorium featured Carol Lei Breckenridge on a five-octave Clavichord on May 30th 2015 at 4 PM in Eastern Michigan’s Alexander Building. Breckenridge spoke at length about 18th Century Music including those she played by C.P.E. Bach, J. Haydn ad W.A. Mozart. Breckenridge gave a memorable performance in front of a large room-sized organ that takes up most of Pease Auditorium.
Breckenridge said of Bach’s composition, “ it is a sudden contrast piece with a dynamic effect of expression, new style was exploring contrast.” From Bach, Breckenridge played 4 pieces including Fantasia in F Major, Ronda in D Minor, Ronda in A Major, and Rondo in B Flat Major.
Following Bach, was a delightful piece by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Andante with variations in F Minor (1793). The Haydn composition was described by Breckenridge as “binary and with a long coda attached.” Breckenridge said she plays the Haydn piece on Forte Piano but when played on “Clavichord brings out the soulfulness of the piece.” The Haydn composition was full of “librato” which is characteristic of the Clavichord. Breckenridge said you can hold the keys further down to raise the pitch and oscillate the keys to get a librato.
The Saturday evening recital’s finale was a composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Ten Variations on a Theme by G.C. Gluck (1784). Breckenridge described Gluck: “Gluck was an Opera Composer (of these melodies) who lived in Vienna around the same time as Mozart.”
The Clavichord, according to Breckenridge, is especially prized in Northwestern Germany for its “Expressive qualities and the quiet individual feeling the player gets from it drawing you in.” A poem was recited by Breckenridge’s husband in German and English from a book titled, “De Clavichord IV,” that described the Clavichord in detail: (paraphrased below)
“Assuager softly consoling Clavichord, calm my heart, deprived of my tranquility, I have not yet been made happy, I lament it to you, sing until dawn appears, until I feel no more pain”
Breckenridge played with the latest technology of a “tablet” for sheet music and an electronic digital pedal device that turned the sheet music’s pages.
She said to pretend you’re in a living room, to the audience, who formed a half moon shape around her. Breckenridge played quietly and emotionally on one of the oldest keyboard designs from the 18th Century that started as a small box. Breckenridge utilized advanced keyboarding skills often playing dramatically with two hands and traversing the keyboard.
“The Clavichord keys hit against brass,” said Breckenridge. Many early keyboardists in the 18th Century were trained on the Clavichord. Mozart and Haydn owned Clavichords for performing and private practice. The Clavichord was described by Breckenridge as a “place to go and a sorrowful private instrument to express feeling.”
Breckenridge will play at the Boston Early Music Festival Fringe concert on Tuesday, June 9th 2015 at 3:00 PM at the Goethe-Institut, Boston. “The instrument Breckenridge played for this program was a five-octave unfretted Clavichord built by Paul Irvin, after a 1765 Clavichord by Friederici.” “Carol lei Breckenridge, from Ann Arbor, Michigan specializes in eighteenth-century music played on Clavichord and Forte Piano.” Website: www.carolleibreckenridge.com