Rob Kall: So, you're basically saying there are big problems with centralized unions and centralized activism, is that part of what you're saying about accompanying?
Staughton Lynd: Yes.
Rob Kall: Then there's hierarchy as well. Where does that fit in with accompanying?
Staughton Lynd: Obviously, the kind of self-organization that people create when they're in involved in a struggle that's built from below is likely to be a circle of people in which decisions, as much as possible, are made by consensus in which no one gets paid if they're paid at all much more than anyone else, and so forth. That is the kind of organization that, according to my research, and oral histories, and documents I've consulted, existed in the early and middle 1930s in the Labor Movement in this country. I think we've all had moments in our lives when we've been part of such a thing.
In the South, in the Civil Rights Movement, Stokely Carmichael says in his autobiography that "Consensus was not a Middle-Class fad, consensus was the natural thing to do when the consequences of your decision might get somebody killed"; and nobody was going to let that decision be made by another person for them. So I feel that both the early Labor movement in the 30s, and the Civil Rights movement in the deep South, especially in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, had this horizontal character. It was only when people entered into deals, gave away the right to strike, etc., etc., that you began to have -- you can describe it many ways -- but a simple way to describe a labor organization of the kind I have in mind is, nobody wants to go back to the plant floor, and so they brown-nose whoever is above them in the hierarchy, and when that person moves on, they entertain the hope of moving up.
Rob Kall: "Nobody wants to go back to the plant floor, and so they try to rise in the hierarchy," eh?
Staughton Lynd: You got it.
Rob Kall: I need to do a station ID.