Who’s Responsible?

I would like to present a critique of CUNY Struggle’s 10/24/19 document analyzing the present, CUNY-PSC contract proposal, and its justification by the New Caucus leadership, and offering a strategy for challenging it. It is presented here: https://cunystruggle.org/2019/10/24/far-short-of-7k-the-moa-explained/

Fine and insightful is indeed CUNY Struggle’s analysis of how and why this proposal and the New Caucus’s defense of it is insulting, duplicitous, and insensitive. Hats off to them for this! I’m glad to see that all their K-to-postgraduate education has paid off. I accept and agree with their critique.

What I find problematic is their strategy for dealing with this proposal. In its own way, I charge that this too is a cop-out.

On the morning of Thursday, October 24th, in the local NYC news report, the PSC execs get to pose as saviors of the adjuncts, who are now, by the seeming benevolence of theirs and CUNY’s negotiation teams, permitted to rise out of poverty.

How did this pronouncement affect the working people of New York City—the only “community” that can possibly save us from poverty, by supporting a strong bargaining process, backed up by the real threat of a strike?

This is the first time they’ve probably heard there’s such people as adjuncts at CUNY, let alone that we’ve been paid poverty wages. So, they might very well be telling themselves, “Oh, that’s great. Thank God for the PSC bureaucrats! They’re giving my kids’ professors a fair shake!”

So, as a very sleep-deprived Hawkeye Pierce said in his telegram to Harry S. Truman, “Who’s responsible?”

CUNY Struggle justly criticizes the New Caucus for this disinformation, this sheer, self-serving propaganda. But that was to be expected. What has prevented us from building a bridge to the NYC working class, so that such lies could be effectively refuted?

Since last spring, we CUNY Contingents United activists have been proposing a march and rally, to outreach to the NYC working class.

While CUNY Struggle supported this proposal at CAP meetings, this support was pretty much perfunctory (with some members of theirs actually voting no!). After it passed (twice), they did nothing about it. And oftentimes, on the sly, behind the scenes, they actively discouraged any effort to build a movement to support our proposal. Instead, they counterpoised to it, a proposal for a “strike authorization,” before we even got the details of the contract proposal. In the eyes of PSC members who had any common sense, let alone the majority of full timers, who tend to support the New Caucus leadership, this proposal was completely out of touch with reality. (It may certainly be a realistic proposal in a few weeks. But not over the summer! First, CUNY and the New Caucus had to show us they were willing to betray us! That’s what’s happened—but only now.)

Months and months of valuable time, when we could have built momentum for such a march and rally, were thus squandered. CS’ stonewalling gave the New Caucus leadership, never fond of upsetting their cozy, “organic” relationship with the CUNY bosses with any militant mobilization of the largely contingent labor rank-and-file, the edge they needed to vote our proposal down at the last DA.

After defeating our proposal, so hypocritically, the New Caucus now claims they fought hard, they “organized,” to get to the unbelievably great achievements represented by this contract proposal. Organized WHAT? I’d like to know?! And so would CUNY Struggle, like to know. What the hell have these union leaders actually done, except schmoozed with the bosses behind closed doors, and lobbied the Democrats?!

On the other hand, however, isn’t it time CS looks at the mote in its own eye? Or are they going to engage yet again in the very same “bad faith” with which they are so fond of labeling others–merely because and whenever we disagree with them?

Now, instead of outreaching to the NYC working class, CUNY Struggle says we should talk to each other. The most outreach they want to do, is to have us talk to our “communities.”

This is a 21st century, identity-politics version of the old-timey, 19th century middle-class evangelism. It reminds me of a story I heard about the last days of United for Peace and Justice, a reformist group tied into the Democratic Party. That event was a “river-to-river” hand-holding festival for peace, held in Manhattan. Silently. Some of the participants started calling upon the leaders: “could you lead us in a march, now? Could we get a little bit more militant?”

The leaders replied, “No, no, no. That’s too violent! We don’t want to be like the warmongers (besides, it might embarrass the Democrats and lose them the election!)  Go home and talk to your neighbors!”

The leaders of CUNY Struggle may respond angrily that they only have disdain for such obsession with Democratic Party politics, on the part of such outfits as the New Caucus as well as UFPJ. But the fact is that CS leaders are just as much members of the middle class, with a particular, delusional “ivory tower” conception of the world. In the back of their woke, SJW minds, they are just as intent upon securing lucrative positions within the present, corporate capitalist System–rather than toppling and reconstructing it in order to build a truly egalitarian, socialist society.

In such a society, the masses of workers would call the shots and control and become the center of its culture—not the full time professors, the fake “progressive” or “socialist” journalists and politicians, or the university-diversity bureaucrats whom these grad students so much want to emulate and become someday.

So time and time again, the leaders of CS have revealed an even greater disdain, as well as downright aversion and fear, which they share with such Democrat-oriented groups, for our proposals to outreach to the most potentially powerful community in capitalist society for social change: the working class. Another example, as the journal Revolution has pointed out (See “How They Rammed Through Anti-Red Ban,” April 2019, at http://www.internationalist.org/cuny-struggle-anti-red-ban-1905.html), was their sabotage, in January, of the organizing conference that we proposed, so that instead of drawing upon, and in, labor and immigrant activists, this conference became an “anti-communist enclave” where “liberal happy talk” (about how a strike, purely among us adjuncts, would be like “turning on the light”) could predominate.    

During and after this upcoming struggle to vote down this insulting contract proposal, I hope PSC members will grow to recognize whose proposals, whose strategies, they really ought to support.

Our leadership, or theirs?

I wish it wasn’t like this. These young people have a lot of energy and spirit, and obvious intelligence. Unfortunately, they also have quite a bit of vicious, un-principled anti-communism, and anti-working class snobbery.

It wasn’t us CCU activists who broke with the Campaign for 7K. They kicked us out. Time after time, they have sabotaged the efforts we have made to actually fight for 7K.

We need to build up CCU. Please support us, not them: unless and until they abandon their obstructionism and clean up their act, for a change.

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