Staughton Lynd – John L. Lewis and His Critics: Some Forgotten Labor History That Still Matters Today

Link to an article by Staughton Lynd:

“John L. Lewis and His Critics: Some Forgotten Labor History That Still Matters Today”

The point that Lynd makes is much the same as the difference between Lenin and Stalin‘s methods of leadership.  Someone even shared a link with me to some garbage business school article that said much the same thing about humble vs. charismatic narcissist CEOs.

One flaw in Lynd’s article is the statement, “There is the subtle but all-important understanding that the experience of solidarity in action, not ideology, comes first.”  This is not outside ideology, but rather about putting the ideology of solidarity before some other kind of ideology.  Ideology always comes first (to be fair, though, Lynd seems to rely on the old formulation of “ideology” as “false consciousness”).  The other issue with the article is perhaps the historical focus.  In an age of digital telecommunications and globally integrated transportation networks, and the so-called “post-industrial economy,” the ability of workers to strike by setting down their tools and have an impact on employer behavior is not what it was in the historical period Lynd describes.  Strikes succeed primarily because they drive a wedge between capitalists and finance, not merely because the workers slow or stop production as such.  In other words, strikes work primarily where factory owners owe debt to banks/financiers that continue to accumulate as those same machines sit idle in a strike.  There is nothing wrong with Lynd’s history in this regard, but its practical relevance to the present is maybe in question.