Quick Response II by Richard McIntyre and Michael Hillard

We wanted to establish one point in our June 2013 URPE article, “Capitalist Class Agency and the New Deal Order”: radical economists have been mistaken in believing that a “limited capital-labor accord” existed in the post World War II era and this mistake has had negative political consequences lasting to the present. We understand that class relations are affected (differently) by racial and gender relations.  We do not think the latter are “unimportant” and have written extensively on gender and labor elsewhere (Hillard and McIntyre, 2009a, 2009b, 1992).

We do not deny “the entire history of struggle by African-Americans” either inside or outside the military.  In fact, one of the more lamentable aspects of the capitalist offensive against labor in the 1940s was the elimination of a number of CIO unions that had large African-American and female memberships (McIntyre, forthcoming).

We do draw on Lichtenstein as well as historians like Thomas Sugrue and Nancy MacLean whose work we can strongly recommend. In fact one of our goals in our recent articles has been to try to reconnect radical economics and working class historians (Hillard, 2012, McIntyre 2012). One cannot do everything in one article and neither race nor gender and their effects on class were our focus in this one. We do think that the political shift from class-consciousness to individual rights consciousness was and is an important part of the deepening of capitalist hegemony in the US. We believe the weight of recent historical research supports this, but Quick apparently disagrees. So be it.

We do not idealize trade unions, as Quick apparently believes that we do. Again, the point of our article was not to critique the (sometimes) racist practices of trade unions but to demonstrate that what radical economists have taken to be a truce between capital and labor in the late 1940s was in fact a defeat for labor. This is commonplace among labor historians now but is still largely unacceptable to radical economists.  We remain convinced that understanding this defeat is critical to building a new working class movement across the many cultural, economic, and political divisions that exist in the US today.

References

M. Hillard, 2012. “‘The End of Collaboration’: Industrial Relations’ Re-engagement of the Labor Question and Progressive Labor Policy Activism,” Labor, 9:4, Winter 2012

_______, and R. McIntyre, 2009a. “The Class-Gender Nexus in the American Economy and in Attempts to ‘Rebuild the Labor Movement,’” with Michael Hillard, in Graham Cassano, ed., HOME/FRONT: Overdetermination, Class Struggle, and New Departures in the Marxian Analysis of the Household, Routledge Press, 2009.

_______,  2009b. “A Radical Critique and Alternative to U.S. Industrial Relations Theory and Practice” in Fred Lee and Jon Bekkan, editors, Radical Economics and the Labor Movement, Routledge Press 2009.

_______, 1992. “Stressed Families, Impoverished Families: Crises in the Household and in the Reproduction of the Working Class,” Review of Radical Political Economics Summer 1992 vol. 24 no. 2 17-25

R. McIntyre, forthcoming. “Labor Militance and the New Deal: Some Lessons for Today,” in Sheila D. Collins and Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, When Government Helped: Learning from the Successes and Failures of the New Deal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

_______, 2012. “Radical Labor Economics, Labor History, and Employment Relations: The State of the Conversation” Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, 9:4, Winter 2012.