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Context : LeftWing

(ReadWith) SpectreHaunting

Quora Answer : Is it true that most of the labour and social rights that we have now are due to communist movements?

Mar 30, 2018

It's certainly true that the rights exist because organized labour fought for, and won them. Mainly under the organization of trade unions.

Some of those movements were explicitly communist. Some were explicitly democratic socialist and rejected the kind of revolutionary Marxism that led to communist revolutions in Russia etc.

But all would be considered far left troublemakers today.

There's also an argument, which I think is plausible, but perhaps harder to prove, that many concessions that governments in Western Europe and the US made to organized labour in the first 60 years of the 20th century, were made because the rich and powerful in the West feared that there could be a communist revolution along the lines of the one in Russia.

And so some things like TheWelfareState and other rights were given as pre-emptive concessions, to keep the working class from falling into the kind of desperate misery where they had nothing to lose.

I think it's rather suspicious that it's exactly in the mid 1960s, when it starts to become widely obvious that Russia and Eastern Europe are not such great successes but horribly oppressive authoritarian regimes, when communism loses much of its attraction for the working class, that this is exactly when you see the beginning of a serious ideological reaction against the welfare state and Keynsian economic consensus from the ruling class.

I think 1968 is the crucial year. While many people on the left sort of look back at it nostalgically, I see it as the moment when it becomes obvious that the working class were not really up for overthrowing the system. And that revolutionary talk was mainly self-indulgent middle-class students.

From then on, the reaction against Keynes and low-unemployment kicks in, both at the intellectual and political level. The new orthodoxy is NeoLiberalism and control of inflation, and the welfare state starts being dismantled.

The point here, is that Keynsianism - and concern with unemployment and social welfare - are NOT "communism" in any sense.

But once the spectre of communism stops spooking Western capitalism, the powers that be start to feel they can safely be dispensed with.

Contrast : Hauntology

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