The Subversion of Collective Bargaining
Unhappy is a society that has run out of words to describe what is going on. So Thurman Arnold observed in connection with the language of private property- the myths and folklore of capitalism-which even thirty years ago was hopelessly out of date. How to find real words to describe the recent strike in the steel industry, or the consequences of the wage-price negotiations of the past decade? Two parties are locked in struggle, each seeking to articulate its claims over the other, while from the sidelines arise the moralistic alarms of spectators worrying about damage to the innocent public. But the desiccated language of collective bargaining is a trap; its syntax too constricting, its images too mechanical. The complex fact? The combat is a mimetic one, painfully real in the sense that emotions are aroused, but unreal because no economic loss can occur; in fact, each party, knowing in advance the price it will have to pay, pretty much gets what it sets out to get, and both end up with a profit-the corporation, usually, the greater gainer.
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