Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where's the Revolution? Who are the Class Warriors?

Reading the news it's uncanny to see how the winds of change wash back up on these shores. We create a social network, and despots fall. Future historians will have a job trying to untangle the weave of influence that is washing across the Middle East. But let's say for argument's sake that the rise of Facebook, coinciding with the Obama presidency, has given a de facto impetus to democratic impulses across the globe in acknowledgement of the continuing power and sway of the American Revolution. It is ironic and somehow fitting that at the same time things are heating up back home, but in reverse, as lawmakers in Wisconsin of the capital D persuasion seek to forestall a democratically elected legislature from implementing reactionary policies that would curtail basic freedoms, some of the bulwarks of American democracy. I'm talking about the hard won rights to collective bargaining that took working men and women many years of struggle to gain, sometimes in the face of oppressive power that would make Gaddafi grimace in recognition. That's where we are in today's America, looking through a glass darkly as state legislatures try to dig out from the wreckage created by a financial corporate elite, nay oligarchy, by reneging on promises to humble teachers and public sector workers, and attempting to gut the remaining power of organized labor. As a public school teacher, I can tell you that the protection of a union, in ensuring all kinds of workplace equity, not just fair wages, is an essential if not the most crucial factor making this a tenable career.  Anybody who would believe that the people who negotiate with teacher's unions have a vested interest in caving in to union demands because they are elected officials, as David Brooks states in his most recent NY Times opinion piece, is not living in my world. On the contrary, teachers make handy scapegoats for all sorts of ills, and are left holding the bag because the rest of the working class has already been gutted.
Republicans like to point to the work of community organizers and union organizers and wave their finger and accuse them of inciting hatred and class warfare as if there were no such thing as class and therefore no reason for organizing beyond the evil attempts at world domination of Marx and Lenin. But with Scott Walker of Wisconsin, it couldn't be clearer that the power grab has already happened and we're just now waking up.
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