Among those who are convinced of the need for radical social change in the advanced capitalist countries as the world nears the year 2000 there are two broad streams of thought. One of these adheres to the traditional left view that the working class is (almost by definition) the only social force capable of carrying out a genuine socialist transformation within the center of the capitalist system. Although not denying the fact that workers in the developed countries are far from revolutionary at present, those who adhere to this perspective tend to emphasize the continuing radical significance of class struggles on the job, and would find themselves in general agreement with David Montgomery’s stance that when I thought about the question of socialism, and heard people asking whether the working class was an agent for social change, I found it very hard to even relate to the question. If the working class isn’t going to change its own life and make a new world, why bother? To change one boss for another is not something i’m going to go out and put myself on the line for.
Review of Longshoremen: Community and Resistance on the Brooklyn Waterfront by William DiFazio.