Can the Working Class Engage Political Power and Win?
READING ASSIGNMENT – 35 pages of new reading.
1. ZWEIG, Chapter 8. “Power and the Government” (Pp: 157-171)
2. ZWEIG Chapter 9. “Into the Millennium” (Pp: 173-193)
3. FILM GUIDE: “SHIFT CHANGE: Putting Democracy to Work.” (This doc. is attached here & also posted up in the FILM GUIDE Folder on the RESOURCES
— Without organizing as a working class, people do not fight for working class needs.
[ATTENTION STUDENTS: Do you see how the class has come full circle in our investigation of Class, Labor & Society? Everything you first became
acquainted with at the beginning of the semester – the film, Class Dismissed and Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel & Dimed should be making more
sense to you at this point in the course.]
Zweig argues that, because U.S. people do not *see* the problems in class terms, and do not claim a class identity, they cannot mobilize to defend
Other distortions of working class reality pointed out by Zweig include the way that African American and Latino votes are identified in racial
terms, and never described as working class – for example, when they voted for President Obama (Pg. 176).
Zweig identifies some of the reasons that create this conundrum or contradiction for the working class majority, including the lack of financial
resources and access to mainstream communications networks to project al alternative perspective on class.
Zweig is also critical of what he considers to be a lack of vision on the part of the current trade union leadership. He is angry about the
concessions or give-backs that trade unions agreed to (this refers to a cut in established rules, including reductions in wages and benefits).
Zweig calls for energy, vision and coalitions to build working class power. He wants to see trade unions link up with other social movements (women,
African Americans, Latinos, and other racially oppressed peoples, environmentalists, immigrants and the LGBT community) to build coalitions that can
In the 2012 Presidential election, Obama did not win the state of Indiana, but it is interesting to note that he won 60% of all young people’s
votes, 55% of women’s votes, and 65% of all votes by union members (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/11/07/after-election-labor-leaders-plan-
next-steps/). This is in addition to winning the vast majority of votes cast in the African American, Latino, and Asian communities. Could this
coalition of young people, women, union members and communities of color (also referred to as racial/ethnic minorities) be interpreted as one
example of a coalition of working class people?
FORUM # 10 – SEVEN (7) QUESTIONS FOR STUDENTS TO ADDRESS
(This FORUM is worth up to TEN (10) Points, for high quality responses)
Don’t forget to post twice, once in response to the questions, and once more in response to a posting by another student, also with a strong
references (pg. # citation).
In your 2nd posting in response to another student, be sure to discuss the debate between YOYO & WITT. For full credit, be sure to include
references to the text, with page number citations.
From the Lecture Notes:
1. (2 pts.) How do you understand the differences between YOYO and WITT? If you disagree, how would *you* describe the tension between
conservatives and liberals over the role the government should play?
2. (1 pt.) What are your thoughts about these two belief systems? Where do you stand on this tension?
3. (1 pt.) Have your opinions changed at all, as a result of taking this class?
… from Chapter 8, “Power and the Government”
4. (2 pts.) What is Privatization:
5. (2 pts.) According to Zweig, how does privatization impact working class people, specifically?
6. (1 pt.) What is the Social Wage?
… from Chapter 9 “Into the Millennium”
7. (1pt.) What is the Labor Party, as conceived of by Michael Zweig?