Tag: Working class

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Toward a Leftist Program for Working Class Consciousness by MrJayTee

The original title of this diary was to be “Toward a Leftist Program by the Working Class, for the Working Class”, an neat, academic-sounding title reflecting an admirable goal: how can we, whatever our class background or position on the left, understand the needs and goals of working people in the United States and help to catalyze the development of a political program that reflects those needs and goals, one ideally led by the working class itself?

Looking at the critical ingredients of such a program, the lack of one especially stands out to me: the paralyzing absence of any significant consciousness among American workers of themselves as a class apart, one locked in a harrowing and historic struggle with the ruling class for the control of their lives and futures. The purpose of this diary, then, is to consider this problem in general programmatic terms using the thoughts proffered below as a point of departure.

Before going further, I hasten to note that I am not an academic, theorist, or long-time activist, just a working class guy and ecumenical socialist who was lucky enough to get a broad education. I am intent on understanding how my own class, so numerous and possessing a proud history of action and achievement, can embrace and use its own enormous power and what, if anything, the serious left can do to catalyze revolutionary working class consciousness.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Fast Food Workers Movement – The Ants on the Elephant by Geminijen

“We are the Workers, the Mighty, Mighty Workers

Everywhere We Go,

The People Want to Know

Who We Are, So We Tell Them…

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As I walked toward the demo of the Fast Food Workers in Union Square, I heard the words and sounds of this song and couldn’t help but grin.  We were back!  The workers that is – not the “middle class,” not the “deserving poor”, not “the 99%.” As a working class kid from a union factory family, I got it.  Not only because you can’t really go around shouting “Middle Class of the World Unite” or “We are the Mighty Mighty Middle Class” – let’s face, it, it just doesn’t resonate – but because the very concept of “worker” which this movement seems to grasp intuitively changes the very nature of the struggle.  

“The Middle Class,” “the poor” and even “the 99%” define us in terms of how much wealth we have or do not have, regardless of how we got it, in the upwardly mobile mantra of Capitalism. As workers we are defined, instead, by what we do, how we appropriate the materials and provide the services necessary for the survival and comfort of the human species. And that is a pretty important difference.

Obama’s “middle class” framing of all that is good and important in society (and god know we all want a better lifestyle) is no more than the standard capitalist divide and conquer, the promise of individual upward mobility for the few at the expense of the many.  You too can be one of the chosen. And we often buy into it. We want to see ourselves as “better” because we have been able to buy our own home, or send our children to “private” or “charter” schools.  And we rationalize that it is because we deserve it – we’re smarter, more industrious, stronger, our skills are more necessary–not due to the whim of the time and place we were born into or that our skills and success are built on the back of the skills and hard work of others.

All of us have known an aunt who raised kids, worked outside the home all her life, carried on intelligent conversations about the world’s problems, worked for the community and has ended up relatively destitute.  What is her value? Is she poor because she deserved it?  How about many of our young people today who bought the American Dream, worked hard, even went to college if they could afford it and now, through the vagaries of capitalism are jobless or working in low paying jobs that will not allow them to get that middle class dream (unless they can still inherit it from their parents)?

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The term “workers” reunites the labor movement by removing the distinction between the mostly white, working middle class (who usually got their middle class lifestyle through union benefits that their grandfathers fought for) and the less affluent workers who are often people of color, single mothers, immigrants, and increasingly young college educated workers who missed out on the brass ring due to the recent failing economy. As one worker put it:

“I don’t care if you’re blue collar, white, collar, pink collar or no collar — all of us have value.  Have you ever stopped to think how hard people work?  The people who cook for you, the bus driver who drives you to work in the morning?  The people who clean your house and your clothes?  Have you ever stopped to say ‘thank you’?  If you don’t know how to do that job, or if you don’t want to do that job, the best way to say thank you, no matter how much you make, is to stand in solidarity with us and RAISE THE MINIMUM wage!”

AC Meet-Up: Hellraisers Journal, The Labor Martyrs Project, and WE NEVER FORGET by JayRaye

Back of Envelope Containing

Joe Hill’s Ashes


At Joe Hill’s funeral, sashes were worn by many in attendance with “WE NEVER FORGET” written on them in big bold capital letters. This slogan was also written on the program for the day’s events. A year later, the ashes were handed out to IWW delegates from every state of the USA (except Utah) and from countries all around the world. The envelopes also carried this slogan. The Labor Martyrs Project uses this slogan to honor all of our Labor Martyrs, quite certain that Fellow Worker Joe Hill would not mind.

He Adopted A Wild Burro And Thus Signed His Death Warrant

No good deed ever goes unpunished.

H. L. Mencken

I never met the man but knew him well.  It is not likely you would know him even had you been acquainted with him for years.  You would have to grow up in America’s Outback to know him.

I heard only the briefest mention of the story from Dad, who owned the Shamrock.  The Shamrock was where the cowboys and Indians, the working class and the top millionaires drank.  

Dad knew everyone in town except the middle class.  That bunch dawdled over a cocktail at Hunter’s Lodge with its own geysers and duck pond in the time a regular at the Shamrock would put down half a quart of whiskey.  Dad wondered how Hunter’s could make any money.

One time I came into the Shamrock and there were three millionaires together on stools at the end of the bar.  That was when a million was actual money. The millionaires were getting free drinks on the house from working stiffs spending their last dime and maybe the baby’s milk money.

I asked Dad why the millionaires were not buying for the house too.

The answer was obvious.  I can be dumber than whale blubber at times.  The regulars could brag forever about buying the drinks for the millionaires.  If the millionaires bought, they would be just showing off.  Even the most desperate down ‘n outers don’t like to be insulted.

Those days all the regular people were Democrats and so were the top millionaires though the latter would not have liked it known.  The very few Republicans were the dawdling drinkers at Hunter’s.

Today all are Republicans because the Democrats chose to go upscale and even the dawdlers don’t want to know them.  The Democrats don’t even know how to talk to regular people anymore.  Listen to any Democrat.  All you hear is middle class.

Middle class folks in a town in America’s Outback would never adopt a wild burro.

The wild burros were saved from being shot to save the area around the Grand Canyon. With the extermination of so many predators (except Republicans), the invasive burros threaten destruction of what little there is in desert country.  

PETA and less violent sorts don’t want no killing and so the quandary.

The adoptive father of the wild burro is single (no wife would allow a wild burro to be adopted), probably retired but never made much money anyway, drinks a lot, lives on a dirt road in a rundown house with falling down barn or shed or something with too little land to support a turkey, let alone a burro, but wants to do some good for once in his life.  

Make that past tense.

When the animal abuse people and prosecutors and judges got on the case, there was no out for our hero but to shoot himself.  There are no hero abuse people.  Praise the Lord there are guns for heroes.  Nobody is going to take those away.

Best,  Terry

The Nouveau Riche Have Always Despised The Working Class

It has struck me that the old timey folk wisdom easily explains the darkness of Obama.  

No, not Obama’s skin pigmentation, racists, but the contempt for ordinary people. Racism blinds and reveals nothing at all.

There are no black, white, red, yellow, pink, purple, fuchsia races.  That is silly and always has been.

My sister got the palomino and I got the common sorrel.  I think my brother’s horse was black, a small step above the commoners but only a small step.  I would remember if it was a large step like the palomino.  

I wasn’t jealous.  You will have to take my word for that because there is no way I can change your mind if it is made up.  You see I had the bestest horse in all the world whatever it’s color.  The color made no difference whatever.  Dad asked me more than once if I would sell Lizzie when I could no longer ride Lizzie because we were off in another place a long, long way away in those days after the divorce.  Dad knew we needed the money real bad but who would sell the bestest horse in all the world?

Color be damned.  It is nice to have pretty colors but that is not all there is.  

We lived in a gray house once.  Why did people paint their houses gray?  Because the paint was a dollar a bucket like the horrible barn red and dark green.  Gray was probably the pick of the lot but what an awful color.  First chance we got, we painted the house pastel.  Didn’t make it a better house but it did look better.

Somehow black isn’t a good color either for a house but a black roof is so admired that all the hurt from black roofs that suck up heat when it isn’t needed and deteriorate faster is set aside when people choose black roofs, the cost and inconvenience be damned.

OK, OK, so color does matter and sometimes even beyond pleasing and prejudice but there are far more important things in life.

Like money.

And power.

And money gives you power even if you are an idiot like some of the comical dunces that surfaced during the last presidential sweepstakes when they were trying to buy a winner.

So money can give you power to make a spectacle of yourself and destroy yourself as well as do something good for someone if you take a notion to help the no accounts that are beneath you.  

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to Ernest Hemingway that the Second of the Great Fallacies was that the rich considered you their equal.  I will always wonder what the first great truth was.  Must have been a true revelation if that was only the second.

The very rich don’t hate working folk.  They get annoyed with them.  They tolerate them but they mostly just don’t concern themselves.

The nouveau riche on the other hand have reason to actively despise the working class because that is part of the past they wish to bury.

Best,  Terry

At Least They Are Protecting The Middle Class

Weird Turn On Fiscal Cliff: GOP Plan Would Hike Taxes On Working Class So High-Income People Can Pay Less

Somehow, the fiscal cliff tax debate has taken a truly strange turn. No, not the politics, which long ago became a parody of Washington deal-making at its worst. It is the policy that has gotten strange: Democrats and Republicans seem hell-bent on protecting millions of high-income people from deficit-cutting tax hikes.

What strange turn?  Does Forbes not know that both Obama and the Republicans want to protect the amorphous middle class?

However you come down on this, it is fair to say that when it comes to taxes working class families may well end up worse off next year than they are today. So may millionaires. But households making between $200,000 and $1million may be largely protected from tax hikes. Does that really sound like a sensible and fair way to cut the deficit?


There is a real bite in that middle class palaver introduced by the Clintons and the DLC.  You may want to pray to God, if you know of any, that granny’s demise from falling off the cliff isn’t hastened by another famous Obama deal.

Best,  Terry

A statement from a section of the French workers

What I have copied over the fold is a declaration issued recently by a self organized group of French workers, a statement of solidarity and strategy in the face of the global neoliberal push (putsch?) for “austerity”.  They call for global resistance based on the following principles:  

– We can take control of our own struggles and organise collectively.

– We can discuss together openly and fraternally, we can speak freely with each other.

– We can control of our own discussions and our own decisions.

Can the workers of the world unite?

Immigration: it’s simple.

Every once in awhile the media mouthpieces attempt to explain to the public that the immigration issue is “complex.”  Would anyone here like to explain to me in real terms how this is so?  I am not going to name names or point fingers here.

(Crossposted at Orange and at Firedoglake)

Rep. Perlmutter (D-CO7): GREEN Act Like Pay Raise for Working Class Americans

    The Wonk Room (@ ThinkProgress.org) spoke with Perlmutter today, who explained the economic benefit that he hopes the GREEN Act will have for American households, and particularly those with low- to moderate-incomes:

It helps low- and moderate-incomes. It helps all income levels, because utility costs have been going up for, you know, the last umpteen years. And particularly for low- to moderate-income earners, that’s a big part of their discretionary income, what they have left over at the end of the month, after paycheck and groceries and everything else. So if we can help them control or even shrink utility costs, it’s like a pay raise to those people…We’re hoping to shrink energy costs by 30 percent.

    More below the fold on some good news

May Day’s New Roots

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

I had a thought-provoking May Day.

It started on teh Intertubes. The social networking space called Facebook, or at least the small self-created corner of it where I rattle around, was awash in May Day greetings, forwardings and comments. I clicked the li’l thumbs-up button to register my approval of every one that came my way. Literally dozens of my Facebook friends chipped in on the theme.

Some included snatches of poetry, verses to The Internationale, embedded YouTube videos or links to articles on the holiday, like this and others at Kasama and some Rowland Keshena Robinson posted at By Any Means Necessary.

Meanwhile, on Leftist Trainspotters, an oddball internet group for people whose hobby is following left organizations around the world (especially small and peculiar ones), the estimable David Walters, of the Marxist Internet Archives, encouraged everyone to report in on their local International Workers Day activities.

Thus prodded, I headed out to check out two rival May Day rallies called in downtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon. I can’t claim that it was altogether a heartening or uplifting trip.

Ready for the union

Original article, a comment subtitled Adam Turl looks at what unions can do for young workers–and what youth could do for organized labor, via socialistworker.org:

A RECENT study, “Unions and Upward Mobility for Young Workers,” by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) confirms that the need to join unions couldn’t be a more pressing issue for those coming of age today.

Leader of the Socialist Revolution: Jamie Oliver???

Original Article, titled Jamie Oliver: food for thought and subheaded Jamie Oliver has hit our screens again, this time teaching people how to cook. Amy Leather welcomes his take on food and class, by Amy Leather via Socialist Worker (UK):

In the last few years a moral panic over food has taken hold in Britain. Working class people are given rubbish to eat. This can mean a lifetime of health problems such as diabetes, obesity and even early death. We are then blamed for these effects.

The government and the media have made food into a personal and moral issue. What we eat – we are told – is down to decisions made by individuals. So if we make the wrong choices, it’s our own fault and we deserve the consequences.

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