The Promise and Peril of the Third
Wave: Socialism and Democracy for the 21st Century
(page 7 of 7)
By Carl Davidson, Ivan Handler and Jerry Harris
The Chicago Third Wave Study Group / May 1, 1993
must find new ways for uniting the many to oppose the few.
While seeking the unity of the entire working class, we think
two sectors are crucial: first, the main victims of the transition
to third wave, those excluded from production or at risk of
exclusion; second, those engaged in third wave production.
The starting point to rally the forces for change to a new
society is to take a stand among those with the least stake
in the old order.
we place the survival problems of the urban poor, people of
color and displaced workers at the top of our list of priorities.
But we also take up the social priorities and concerns of
the progressive wing of the third wave workers. These include
ecology, disarmament, peace and human rights issues, and expanded
access to information and education.
not always the perspective of organized labor. Crucial sectors
of its leadership have always been hamstrung by the prevalence
of undemocratic, racist and shortsighted environmental views.
The racism in white labor and white society generally also
continues to do its damage. As long as racism goes unchallenged
in any sector, it will continue to keep workers ineffective
in the pursuit of their own self-interests, as well as blocking
all attempts to unite all progressive democratic forces for
we do not see this way of making distinctions among the people--their
relation to the third wave--as replacing or liquidating earlier
conclusions drawn by our movement on the centrality of the
national question, racism or sexism. Nor do we believe that
third wave workers are "the vanguard" while all
others are secondary and subordinate. These rigid schematics
are part of the old thinking that we want to challenge.
are arguing for genuine strategic thinking, an analysis that
proceeds from a global perspective and takes the whole of
society into account. The main battleground in this sense
is the North-South conflict, i.e., the growing and desperate
inequality among the world's nations, countries and peoples.
This can no longer be a side issue for the workers movement
or other social movements of the West. We think it is ludicrous
that the multinational corporations are the internationalists,
while organized labor and the left remain trapped in nationalist
of the market is daily driving home the lesson that this question
must be placed at the top of labor's agenda. Runaway shops
can only be fought strategically by raising the living standards,
wages and level of organization among the peoples of the impoverished
areas of the world. In the past, trade unions at best dealt
with this issue superficially--a resolution was passed, a
sympathetic article was written in the labor press. At worst,
the top union leadership for decades collaborated with the
CIA in destroying progressive labor organizations in the third
world. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. A complete
reversal of these policies is required for the very survival
of the American trade union movement itself.
the divisions within the ruling class, high technology entrepreneurs
are looking to break away from the old military industrial
complex. They hope to make more profits by exploiting the
application of environmental and computer technology in the
global marketplace, rather than by remaining addicted to the
inflated contracts of old, slow- moving, nationally-dominated
(and nationally limited) military establishments. They need
a vast expansion of education, research and development resources,
as well as new infrastructure.
entrepreneurs may side, temporarily, with reform movements
and progressives. This is the meaning of Al Gore's staking
out a leading analysis on ecology, as well as John Scully
of Apple Computer's sitting next to Hillary at Clinton's inaugural
address. But we must not allow these factors to cover over
the basic class conflict between third wave capitalists and
third wave workers. For all their unique and progressive stands
on certain issues, the Silicon Valley bigwigs are still notorious
union busters and social reactionaries, especially when it
comes to their treatment of the lower-skilled, female and
nonwhite sectors of their labor force.
of the third wave does not mean the end of class struggle.
But it does mean that the terrain on which class battles are
waged has dramatically shifted. We are in a new environment
and on the threshold of a new age. The outcome is not predestined;
we can face a grim future of "Bladerunner" societies
in the North and Somalia-type disasters in the South. Or we
can emancipate our thinking and mobilize our forces to reconstruct
society into an ecotopia with liberatory features still beyond
our imaginations. The choices are ours, but the time is shorter
than we think.
Chicago Third Wave Study Group was initiated by the three
authors--Carl Davidson, Ivan Handler and Jerry Harris--to
produce this document for the discussion on goals and principles
taking place in the Committees of Correspondence.
CoC debate is leading up to a founding convention of a new
organization of the American left in the summer of 1994. The
Authors invite comments and criticisms. People in agreement
with the perspective in the paper are also invited to join
the study group. E-Mail can be sent to Carl Davidson (email@example.com).
Second-wave communicators can write to Carl Davidson, Networking
for Democracy, 3411 W Diversey, Suite 1, Chicago IL 60647.