I wrote The Next Upsurge: Labor and the New Social Movements in hopes of stimulating, and participating in, exactly the kind of discussion presented here. These essays engage issues that will be central to any attempt to revive the labor movement. The contributors are generous about my own work, and at the same time raise challenges and add analyses that address the problems labor faces today. The labor movement will advance more through sharp and vigorous debate than by papering over differences. I’d rather that my bold analysis be proven wrong and contribute to the needed debate than to offer only vague generalities that don’t help to advance the labor movement. My comments are written in that spirit. The discussion here is important not just to academics, but even more so to the labor movement, raising concerns that the New Unity Partnership driven debate has failed to acknowledge, much less to examine.
I can’t address all the points raised in this symposium. It seems most useful to focus on four major points, each raised by more than one contributor: the extent to which labor should focus on low-wage workers, the concept of fusion, my US-centric analysis, and the likelihood of an upsurge, including the relationship of troughs to upsurges. All these points (and many others) are, of course, inextricably linked.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/dan_clawson/8/