Debating Fortress Unionism

by Henry on July 9, 2013

As Chris’s post below suggests, Crooked Timber is a kind of anarchist collective (albeit in ways not appreciated by David Graeber …), which reflects a variety of views. We’ve also tried over the years to encourage argument between different views (mostly on the left). In that spirit, we’re publishing a short and vigorous back and forth on the future of unions. A few weeks ago, Rich Yeselson wrote a piece defending what he called “Fortress Unionism” for “Democracy”: (PDF version “here”: John Ahlquist and Margaret Levi, have written a “response”: to Rich’s original piece; Rich has in turn “responded”: to the response. For those who prefer to read in printed form, here’s a PDF of the argument.

Rich Yeselson is a writer, all-round public intellectual and former labor organizer. He has contributed to Crooked Timber book seminars in the past

John Ahlquist is Trice Family Faculty Scholar and Associate Professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Margaret Levi is Jere L. Bachrach Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington and Chair in Politics at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Their book _In the Interests of Others: Organizations & Social Activism_ will be published by Princeton University Press later this year.



Foppe 07.10.13 at 8:50 pm

I would humbly note that it is very easy to be an anarchist collective, when the collective consists of such kindred spirits..


Simon 07.12.13 at 12:12 am

What was the decision of yours that Graeber wanted to overrule???


Henry 07.12.13 at 12:34 pm

My understanding is that he was pissed at the piece that I wrote, and outraged that Chris had “allowed” me to commit such a blatant act of impertinence. Chris wrote up a brief account of his difficult interactions with DG in a comment at the “Savage Minds” blog, in response to a wildly inaccurate account that DG had previously provided there of same (many of the difficulties preceded the publication of my post – DG is not an easy person to deal with). Both DG’s and Chris’s comments were then deleted by the moderator, who didn’t want to see an already unpleasant discussion get any more unpleasant (Chris was absolutely fine with this – I imagine, given his track record, that DG was not).


Henry 07.12.13 at 12:38 pm

In general, I should also note that we have a policy of not editing contributions to seminars beyond fixing typos and such. We allowe people to write what they want to (while occasionally providing fair warning if we think that a piece might have unexpected consequences for debate). I can imagine circumstances under which we might deviate from this policy, but they would have to be pretty extreme (complete irrelevance; libel; other major weirdness).

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