When I was a young leftist I couldn’t wait each year to go to the annual Socialist Scholars Conference (SSC) held over the Easter weekend in New York City. The Believers would all be doing their church thing that holy weekend, so we non-believers had the run of the venues where the conference was held. Attendance was usually around 2,000. (A factoid of interest is that we were crossing paths with future president Barack O. He was attending Columbia University in those days, circa 1983. After he got lambasted for hanging around with DSA’ers in Chicago during the ’90s, Obama thereafter always took pains to downplay the radical inclinations he exhibited during his college years. He was with us at some of the SSC’s and other leftist gatherings in NYC. He would’ve seen Bernie Sanders there. Obama went mainstream; Bernie retained the fire in the belly.)
I couldn’t wait to hear the latest thoughts of Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Cornel West. One or another of them would keynote each year, and you could have an intimate dialogue with them during many workshops.
We were all old left and none of us yet understood about scale.
Stanley died disappointed.
“The member is now generally a client of the union rather than its owner.”
Leftists didn’t then, and many still don’t, understand the implications of the fact that the unions are institutions of mass society. The 700,000 members can’t feel like or act like owners of the Leviathan-scale CWA. The 400,000 members can’t feel like or act like owners of the Leviathan-scale UAW.
Re: the 350 million people of the United States of America: Crazily, some of the patriots feel as if “This Is My Country.” And leftists don’t disabuse them of the delusion, adhering to the ideology that “the people” [the 350 million people] can assert control of it.
All who never came to understand about scale were disappointed. I was lucky to start reading alternative stuff: