Stanley Aronowitz, Labor Scholar and Activist, dies at 88

Stanley Aronowitz, a blue-collar organizer, college professor, and prolific writer who argued that electoral policies have failed American labor and that unions must adopt militant strategies to pursue a broad social agenda, died Monday at his Manhattan home. He was 88 years old.

His daughter, Kim O’Connell, said the cause was complications from the stroke.

Professor Aronowitz, a social theorist who teaches at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, has described himself as a “working-class intellectual.” He argued that direct action is a more powerful weapon for workers than collective bargaining or traditional politics.

“We’ve been relying on politicians for too long to solve problems,” he told the magazine. in these times He said in 2014 that “union membership no longer really rests on his own strength.”

“Direct action, political education and cultural politics are the right ways to go,” he said in an interview. Brooklyn Railroad, a cultural magazine, 2012.

As a student of the sociologist C. Wright Mills and the philosopher Herbert MarcuseProfessor Aronowitz believed that labor had lost the class consciousness that had once placed it at the forefront of broad movements for social change.

He argued that labor should broaden its agenda to include topics such as education and affordable housing, and flex its muscles with concrete tactics such as one-day strikes and boycotts, rather than remaining “the pleas of the Democratic Party.”

“Capitalism is not a rational system,” Professor Aronowitz said in an interview. New York Times “The only way to return is mass struggle.”

Professor Aronowitz predicts that the middle class will shrink and that both manual and intellectual labor will replace wholesale technology in more than two dozen books he has authored, co-authored, or edited, including False Promises: Shaping American Working-Class Consciousness (1973), “ The Jobless Future: Sci-Tech and the Dogma of Work (1995), “How the Classroom Works” (2003), “Turning Left: Creating a New Political Future” (2006), “School vs. Education That Matters” (2008) ) and “The Big Take: C. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals” (2012).

“It broke the labor studies paradigm,” Michael Pelias, a professor and former colleague at Brooklyn College and Long Island University, said by phone.

Professor Aronowitz helped write New Jersey’s unemployment compensation law while working for the state’s Industrial Association Council in 1961; Hired workers and organized boycotts for the United Clothing Workers; In the 1960s, she received worker support for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and other civil rights groups.

She ran for governor of New York on a Green Party ticket in 2002 and campaigned on a platform that unites “opposition to corporate power and wealthy government with sustainability, racial equality, feminism, gay freedom, and individual freedom.” It received 41,797 votes, just under 1 percent of the 4.6 million cast.

Professor Aronowitz’s path to academia was unorthodox; he was a college dropout who was laid off as a metal worker.

Stanley B. Aronowitz (the first letter in the middle didn’t represent anything) was born on January 6, 1933, in the Bronx, to Nat Aronowitz, an engineer, and Frances (Helfand) Aronowitz, an accountant.

After graduating from the High School of Music and Arts in Manhattan, he enrolled in Brooklyn College, but was suspended in the fall of 1950 for participating in a sit-in to protest the suspension of the campus newspaper against the dean’s refusal. to endorse a left-wing student body. Instead of going back to college, he transferred himself to New Jersey, where he became a metalworker. He also worked for several unions and contributed to the Port Huron Proclamation, the 1962 Student Democratic Society manifesto.

In 1965 he taught at the Free University of New York, a haven for academics dismissed for their leftist views. He earned a BA in sociology from the New School in 1968 at the age of 35, and a PhD from the experimental Union Graduate School (now Union Institute and University) in 1975. .

Professor Aronowitz taught at Staten Island Community College (now the College of Staten Island) from 1972 to 1976 and was associate professor of social sciences and comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine from 1977 to 1982. He retired from City University. in New York in 2017.

as founding editor of Duke University magazine Social Text and Cultural Studies Center (now Center for Culture, Technology and Business Studies) Professor Aronowitz at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center lamented what he called the decline of the public intellectual.

Complaining that “almost no one in the social sciences is concerned with the question of power,” he said: “What we do not have is an organized left. If you don’t have an organized left, you don’t have an organized political public intellectual.”

His marriage to Jane O’Connell ended in divorce in 1962. In addition to his daughter Kim O’Connell, he is survived from this marriage by his son Michael O’Connell; daughter of a writer, Nona Willis-Aronowitz, from her marriage to writer and cultural critic Ellen Williswho died in 2006; two other children, Hampton and Alice Finer; four grandchildren; and three grandchildren.

“Before Occupying Wall Street, before Bernie Sanders, before Squad,” Ms. Willis-Aronowitz said by email, “there was Stanley Aronowitz singing ‘Solidarity Forever’ to me as a lullaby, ‘Tax’. He was running for governor of New York. and Spend’ at a time when everyone on the left is trying to control each other.

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